Finding Your Danish Immigrant Ancestors

KathrineChristensen03

Kathrine Christensen at the Christensen family home photograph, 1905, Vestervig, Thisted, Denmark; digital image 2013, privately held by [personal information withheld].

When searching for Danish immigrant ancestors, you might feel as though they have been lost in a sea of Scandinavians. Nielsens, Larsens, and Hansens abound. Given names might be different than those used in American records. Family members might not have traveled together. All of these factors, on top of the typical transcription errors that make life exciting for genealogists, can make Danish immigrants difficult to track down.

I met a challenge of this nature when attempting to locate the siblings of my mother’s grandmother, who carried the woefully common Christensen surname. As it turned out, between approximately 1889 and 1906, at least six of the nine surviving children of Laust and Ane (Nielsen) Christensen of Vestervig, Thisted, Denmark1 left the thatched roof of the only home they had ever known for America, traveling one or two at a time over a period of seventeen years. All came, at least temporarily, to Newell, Buena Vista, Iowa.

Else Marie Christensen was the first to arrive in northwestern Iowa. It was there that she married Anton Mikkelsen in the summer of 1889, when she was seventeen.2 Fully ten years later, in 1899, Niels H. Christensen and Ane Petrine “Anine” Christensen journeyed together to join their older sister in Newell.3 Niels settled there, where he married Kathrine “Katie” Larson;4 Anine moved west to the urban center of Sioux City, Woodbury, Iowa, where she married John P. Hansen.5

In 1900, their brother Laurits Anton “Louis” Christensen arrived.6 He too settled in Newell, and married Anna Marie Godfredson.7 Kristine “Christina” Christensen came to America in 1905, along with her husband, Jens C. Pedersen, and her young niece,8 the daughter of her widowed brother Christen Christensen, who had remained in Denmark.9 They settled first in Newell, before moving to Sioux City.10

The following year, in the summer of 1906, Kathrine Christensen, my great-grandmother, was the last to leave home,11 leaving only her aforementioned brother and sisters Johanne Christensen and Ane Marie Christensen in Denmark.12 Kathrine, twenty, also joined her siblings in Newell before moving on to Sioux City. It is there that she married Jens “James” Jacob Walsted in 1909.13

Where can you find Danish immigration records? If you’ve been over- (or under-) whelmed with your search results on databases such as Ancestry.com or Ellis Island’s Passenger Search, I recommend visiting the Dansk Demografisk Database. By selecting “Emigrants,” you will be able to access an index of Danes who traveled via Copenhagen or Hamburg. The search options are flexible; try searching for everyone of a particular surname who originated in the same parish, or search for anyone bound for the same destination. It goes without saying to be creative with spellings, although, in my experience, this index remains truer to the original Danish spellings than others. With the information you find here, you might just have luck turning up a passenger list with your ancestor’s name!



SOURCES
1 “Denmark, Marriages, 1635-1916,” index, FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org : accessed 30 October 2013), entry for Laust Christensen and Ane Nielsen, 1868.
2 “Iowa, County Marriages, 1838-1934,” index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : accessed 30 Oct 2013), Anton Mikkelson and Elsa Marie Kristensen, 1889.
3 “New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957” digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 30 October 2013), manifest, S.S. Paris, Liverpool, England to New York, arriving 13 February 1899, Niels Christensen and Anine P. Christensen; citing National Archives microfilm T715, roll 47.
4 “Iowa, County Marriages, 1838-1934,” index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : accessed 30 Oct 2013), Niels Christensen and Kathrine Larson, 1901.
5 1920 U.S. census, Woodbury County, Iowa, population schedule, Sioux City, Enumeration District (ED) 232, p. 4857 (penned), sheet 6-B, dwelling 129, family 129, Anine Hanson; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 30 October 2013), citing National Archives microfilm T625, roll 521.
6 “Border Crossings: From Canada to U.S., 1895-1956” digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 30 October 2013), manifest, S.S. Parisian, Liverpool, England to Quebec, arriving 9 June 1900, Laurids Christensen; citing National Archives microfilm M1464, roll 6.
7 “Iowa, County Births, 1880-1935,” index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : accessed 30 Oct 2013), Lewis A. Christensen and Anna Marie Godfredsen in entry for Ludvig Arnold Christensen, 1907.
8 “New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957” digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 30 October 2013), manifest, S.S. Helig Olav, Liverpool, England to New York, arriving 24 July 1905, Karoline M. Pederson; citing National Archives microfilm T715, roll 602.
9 [personal information withheld], to Melanie Frick, Ancestry.com message, 7 August 2013, “Cecelia,” Christensen Family File; privately held by Melanie Frick.
10 1920 U.S. census, Woodbury County, Iowa, population schedule, Sioux City, Enumeration District (ED) 234, p. 5951 (penned), sheet 5-A, dwelling 90, family 97, Christina Peterson; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 30 October 2013), citing National Archives microfilm T625, roll 521.
11 “New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957” digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 30 October 2013), manifest, S.S. Cedric, Liverpool, England to New York, arriving 22 July 1906, Kathrine Kristensen; citing National Archives microfilm T715, roll 744.
12 “Public Member Trees,” database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 30 October 2013), “Christensen Twete,” entries for Christen Christensen (b. 1869), Johanne Christensen (b. 1876), and Ane Marie Christensen (b. 1879); submitted by [personal information withheld], citing Vestervig Church Book.
13 Sioux City, Iowa, Marriage Register, Book E: 1906-1910, James Walsted and Kathin Christinsen, 1909.

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2 thoughts on “Finding Your Danish Immigrant Ancestors

  1. Pingback: Photograph Analysis: A Keepsake from Denmark | Homestead Genealogical Research

  2. Pingback: A Turn of the Century Danish Confirmation | Homestead Genealogical Research

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