Friday, March 8, 2013

The Danes in Chicago

When we last left the tale of the Knudsen's in Chicago...well, they had recently just arrived. Reviewing what we know, my husband's ancestors were Knud Rasmus Knudsen and Kristine Karen Nielsen of Denmark. [Danish Post #1] They came to Chicago in the early 1890's and had at least 8 children in Illinois.

Knud Knudsen was some sort of tradesman. The 1910 census of Chicago categorizes him as a tinner in his own shop. The other census records show:

  • 1900, Chicago: hardware owner, immigrated 1890
  • 1910, Chicago: tinner, own store, immigrated 1891
  • 1920, Chicago: hardware store owner, immigrated 1889

Knud died in Chicago in 1927. His death record abstract confirms most information:

"Illinois, Deaths and Stillbirths, 1916-1947," index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 05 Mar 2013), Knud R. Knudsen, 15 Apr 1927.

My next step was searching passenger lists. I couldn't find a marriage record in Cook County, Illinois, and wasn't sure if Knud and Kristine came individually, as a married couple, or with members of their own families. Maybe they met on the journey! 

Using the census data I had, I narrowed the database to search:  

Knudsen (soundex)
arriving 1891 +/-5 years

There were two potential Knudsen records in the passenger lists. The first was a man alone, no occupation listed, and no other identifying information. The second, who arrived in New York on 7 July 1891, had a wife named Karen! She was 3 years younger! And there was also a notation on the passenger list in the "Date and Cause of Death" column next to their names. Wait, what?! I tucked that one away.

Now I have pretty good details for the Knudsen's in Chicago. I have since found considerably more information, including obituaries and vital records, so have verified without a doubt that this is my husband's family. While I'm glad for the information, it isn't quite as exciting as delving into international records. The next step was learning about Danish records, and hopefully more family history. Are you ready? Let's go to Denmark!

More in the next post...

© 2013 Sally Knudsen