Thursday, December 29, 2016

Danish Family History Tips, Part 2: Research Strategies

Recently I uploaded my family tree to My Heritage, and immediately I had several hundred Record Hints about the people on my tree. Some are clearly wrong, but several seem to be correct and could give me clues to finding people I have been looking for.

One person on my tree is Peder Christian Jensen, born 27 June 1849 in Lille Kousholt, Dronninglund, Dronninglund, Hjorring, Denmark. His ID on Family Search is 21JN-2TG if you're interested. I have already traced him living with his parents in Lille Kousholt until 1860, but at some point after that he apparently left home and I had been unable to find him.

My Heritage gave me several record hints for a Peder Christian Jensen living with his wife Maren Jensen (born/fodt Thomsen), in the 1901190619111916, and 1921 census records in Albaek Sogn (Parish). His birth date is the same and some of the census records say he was born in Dronninglund Sogn, so it seems likely that he is the same person. On Danish Family Search I was also able to find the same couple in Albaek in 1880 and 1890. Because the birth date and place are the same I am fairly confident that I've found the right person, but to make sure I would like to find their marriage record and the children's birth records to see if any witnesses on these records are people I recognize from his family.

I decided to start with the oldest child listed on the 1880 census, who is Jensine Tomine Jensen, age 4, which would put her birth date in about 1876. The census says she was born in Albaek. I go to and open up the Albaek Parish records, then start looking for Jensine's name in 1875 (census records are often a year ahead on birth years). It only takes a couple of minutes to find her birth record in 1875 since I already know approximately when she was born. Here are some screenshots of the record:

This screenshot has her birth date, name, christening date, and parents:

This screenshot shows her parents on the left and on the right are the godparents/witnesses. One of the witnesses is Ungkarl (single man) Niels Kr. Jensen of Kousholt, Dronninglund Sogn, who I know is the brother of the Peder Christian Jensen who I am looking for, which makes me more confident that I have found the right person.

After this I can read through the Albaek parish records to find birth records for the rest of the children found on the census records. The census records will help since they have birth dates for all the children, sometimes exact dates.

It's a good idea to look through the entire parish record in case there are any children who died without being recorded in a census. In this case, there was a child born in 1877 (Karl Johan Jensen) who was not listed on any of the census records I had. Since he is not in the next census, that's a clue that he died before 1880, which I verify by finding his burial record (line 25). If there are gaps of three years or more between children there is potential that there is a missing child.

I'm still not sure of the marriage date and place for Peder Christian Jensen and Maren Tomsen, but most likely they were married before 1875 because the birth record for Jensine Tomine Jensen doesn't say the parents are single (ugift). The first places to look would be the parish records for Volstrup (where Maren was born), Dronninglund (where Peder was born), and Albaek.

Since I'm already looking at the Albaek parish records I start by looking at the marriage records (copulerede) there, starting at 1875 and going backward. It turns out they were married at the beginning of 1875. You can see the entire page here.

Here you can see Peder and Maren's names. It's clear this is the right person because it says Peder is from Lille Kousholt, Dronninglund Sogn and his birth date matches the one I already had.

Here are the witnesses. One of the witnesses is Jens P. Pedersen of L. Kousholt, Brudgommens Fader (bridegroom's father), who I already know is Peder's father.

The 1916 and 1921 censuses have a plejbarn (foster child) living with Peder and Maren named Bernhard Sigvard Jensen, born 13 June 1911. I have found that often plejbarns are grandchildren or other relatives, so if possible it's useful to try to find their birth records. Bernhard's birth date is later than 1906, which means I can't do temple work for him, but I might as well add him into the tree now while I'm thinking about it, plus his christening record may have information about other members of the family. In this case it's easy to find since the census gives the exact date and place (Albaek). Here is his birth record:

From the first image I learn that the mother is Karen Jensen, who is one of Peder and Maren's children. Karen is unmarried and no father is listed.

I can get information about two more of Peder and Maren's children from this record because they were listed as godparents. I learn that their daughter Annine was living in Agersted, Voer Sogn at the time, and their daughter Martine was living in Sønder Grønheden, Volstrup Sogn.

So this will give you an idea of my general strategy when doing Denmark Family History. Since many census records are indexed I will use those to find people using what I already know about them. If I find someone who seems like a likely match to the person I'm looking for, I will use parish records (like christenings and marriages) of other people in the household to see if it's the same person. Residences and witnesses listed on the records can give a better idea if they are the person I am looking for. Then once I'm confident I've found the right person I will start looking for other census records and finding birth records for any spouses or children who were living with them in the census records. This general strategy will work for doing family history in a lot of other places too.

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