A considerable part of my husband's genealogical background is Danish. As much as he thinks he is a descendant of King Canute, I suspect the family came from humbler origins. He forgets you can't just skip from 2000 AD to 1000 AD to claim your ancestors.
His great-grandparents were natives of Denmark who emigrated to Chicago via New York City in 1891. When I began researching his Danish family, I had very few clues to help. I really knew nothing about Scandinavia in general or Denmark in particular. I did have one scrap of paper written in an elderly hand with two names and what I assumed were cities:
- Knud Rasmus Knudsen Aarhus
- Kristine Karen Nielsen Sjylland
These were most likely his immigrant ancestors. My first stop was a map. Sure enough, Aarhus was a large city in Denmark. What was meant by "Sjylland" was less clear. Next I checked the census. It took a lot of searching, and I mean a LOT. Try finding a foreign name with multiple spelling options and before online indices in...Chicago. I knew that some of the family members ran a hardware store. On the 1910 census of Chicago, I finally found the family.
And sure enough, there is Knud R. Knudsen working as a tinner in his own shop. This census gave me a number of good clues: date of immigration, names of children, and pretty clear confirmation they really came from Denmark.
So I had a family in Chicago:
- Knudsen, Knud R., 42, born Denmark
- Knudsen, Kristine K., 40, 9 children, 8 living, born Denmark
- Knudsen, Anna E., 16, born Illinois
- Knudsen, Nils R., 15, born Illinois
- Knudsen, Frederic H., 12, born Illinois
- Knudsen, Knud J., 10, born Illinois
- Knudsen, Olivia, 7, born Illinois
- Knudsen, Kristine, 5, born Illinois
- Knudsen, Marie, 4, born Illinois
- Knudsen, Ewald, 1 3/12, born Illinois
I have learned quite a bit more about my husband's great-aunts and great-uncles. But I really wanted to 'cross the pond' and see if I could find them in Denmark. I love a challenge!
More in the next post...
© 2013 Sally Knudsen