Family History

Genealogy is a fascinating and time- consuming hobby of mine. The pay-off for your time is the potential to not only discover who you are, and where you came from, a history of your identity, but also new friendships, lessons in geography, social history, culture and customs, as well as a sense of shared kinship.

I have found and tracked my Danish ancestors back to 1620. Many were school teachers or Degns (Parish clergy) or significant people in their community. Some for good reasons, others not so good!

I  see more and more physical traits, preferences and mannerisms that are passed down through the generations of my family. So much of who we are, is who we were.

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Serendipity

I discovered I was related to my best friend, who was born in an overseas country and adopted soon after birth. Who would have thought? – Serendipity

Soender Felding, Denmark

Sønder Felding, Denmark

In 2004, I visited a village in rural Denmark – Sønder Felding. In the past, my family had lived there for many hundreds of years, yet no member of the family had visited or resided  there for over a hundred years. Despite this, the week before I arrive, there is a story, in the Village newspaper, about the oldest house in the village and its history, and my very old ancestor, who built and owned it. Because of this article, and the timing of my visit, after one hundred and more years, I was able to find and see the house for myself and track my family for many generations backwards and forwards through history  – Serendipity.

In the neighbouring village, where my great grandfather was born, I visited the church when some family were married and baptized. When I enter this church, on this day, what do I see in a small Danish countryside church? An Australian flag hanging inside! I am Australian – Serendipity.

I have accumulated many Norwegian friends/penfriends over the last 20 years or so, and my home is decorated in Norwegian ‘hygge’ style, yet I am descended from Danes and Australians, and when searching for the father of my adopted great great Aunt, I found the Norwegian branch of my Danish family – Serendipity.

Trondheim, Norway

Trondheim, Norway

Family history means more and more to me with each passing year and the documented  legacy is one that I hope I might pass on to future generations.

Family history – Something to Ponder About

58 thoughts on “Family History

  1. Thanks for the follow Amanda. Your painting and embroidery skills are really impressive. Beautiful work. My husband is of Danish ancestry too, and we visited Denmark several years ago. It is a lovely country. I am quite interested in all branches of our families genealogy.. You also have an impressive list of Nordic writers! I was going to suggest Henning Mankell, but I see you already have him as well as several others I recognize.

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    • Hello Katyi! Thanks for stopping by. Denmark is very special to me, and so lovely. And it has fabulous family history resources. Where was your husband’s family from?
      I have read a few of Mankell’s book and love the TV series ( swedish version is best, I think)

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      • Henning Mankell wrote Wallander but it was made into a TV series in Sweden in Sweden but also in Sweden with English actors in English. The latter did not work as well as the former. I also have ancestors from Schleswig -H. The borders of Germany and Denmark moved around quite a bit over the years.

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  2. You’ve made some truly serendipitous finds. I’ve had some luck tracing my own family, but hubby’s is proving very difficult. Two generations are okay, but going back more is almost impossible. Hubby is 68. HIs grandfather was 70 when his father was born, and his great grandfather was born in 1796.

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    • That does make it a bit difficult when there was so many years between generations. I have had a lot of luck, for sure, but on another side of my family, there is nothing and no possibilities of finding anything. I think that is the way they wanted it, so I guess it is best to let those sleeping dogs lie? What region is your hubby’s family from?

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  3. Genealogy, what a fascinating subject. I’ve always wanted to know my family lineage but never knew of a way to find out. Maybe that’s why I enjoy the subject so much. Thanks for visiting and following my blog. 🙂

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  6. Stopped by to thank you for the follow and I have been meaning to get back and read more. My daughter is researching her genealogy. She and her brother are the last of their line. No children for either one to pass it onto but she is interested anyway. We had the DNA tested and she was quite surprised. At one time I had a program on my computer to keep track of the family lines but it was quite confusing or not well designed. Some of my German family emigrated to Australia. That is another melting pot with people from all over the world going there. I do enjoy your artwork and will be looking into your writing shortly. Hope you are having a wonderfilled weekend.

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    • Thanks so much for that lovely comment. So kind and DNA IS a fascinating area. Australia is a melting pot yes and now very Multicultural. Which is logical given the geographic place Australia has in the world. I have used a couple of Family history programs with good sucess. Found descendant relatives in Denmark. We brought 5 lines of th email family together after 200 years apart

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      • Wow! My mother tried to find her extended family in Germany and they were not very nice about the fact she waited so long. Wouldn’t have anything to do with her. I’m so glad you had better luck.

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      • That is so sad! Was there communication problems? I guess it doesn’t always work out. The expectation is that we are all going to be one happy family, but it isn’t always so. Thanks for your comment. It is food for thought in my ongoing quest to find that side of my family.

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      • It all works out for the best. She met another person with the same last name as her mother that was not related and they wrote back an forth for a number of years and we actually went to visit twice. Lovely people and good, new friends.

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  8. I find genealogy intriguing as well. My father became engaged with it in the early 1990s. He traced both sides of his family to medieval Spain where he learned – among other things – that Queen Isabella was an ancestor on his mother’s side. He and I were working on a book about our family history. He died last summer, but I intend to pursue this project, even if I die trying. It’s too important to me.

    On my maternal side, my grandmother was from México (with ancestry extending back to Spain), and my grandfather was of German extraction from the U.S. state of Michigan. I also want to research these family lines.

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    • Wow. You have some really interesting lines to research. It might be easier to find info about high profile figures than common peasant folk. I had an Uncle way, way back that ran foul of the law, (we are talking 18th century), and ran around Denmark as a fugitive eluding authorities, for 3 years, before capture. He escaped from custody 3 times. There is so much info about him because of this. If he was an ordinary person there would be almost nothing recorded. So genealogy is a wonderfully engaging topic. I hope you find it fun. Have you found much about the German side of your ancestry. Such as immigration dates and location in Germany?

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  9. No, I haven’t done much research on either side of my mother’s family. She and her 3 siblings were born México and immigrated to the U.S. in 1943, when their father brought them and his mother-in-law to Dallas, Texas. He’d wanted to move them back to Michigan, but he found a job at an auto plant in Dallas. He had joined the U.S. Army at the age of 17 and returned to Michigan after leaving. He joined an uncle who wanted to travel to México to sell farm equipment. That’s where he met my grandmother. I don’t know which uncle and what happened to him afterwards.
    I have some old photos from both lines, but very little in terms of actual data or documentation. My German-American grandfather was rather vague about his upbringing, even though my mother had met his mother once in the late 1940s. (She supposedly had urged my grandfather to leave his children in the care of their other grandmother because they were all “just Mexicans.”) And I guess my mother lost contact with her maternal relatives after moving to the U.S. Her younger brother, however, says he traveled to México City around 1975 and met up with some of those long-lost relatives.
    Still, I want to seek out more info about my mother’s side and try to locate where in Germany (maybe also Austria) they originate. My father obtained the bulk of his research from the Mormon Library, which contains extensive records of family histories. He used to drive to a local facility in a neighboring community, but the library starting digitalizing their records around 2000. That definitely helped him, as his health started weakening. He printed up literally thousands of documents that had been transferred onto microfiche. I’m now starting to scan all of that, which is an arduous process. I want to get the clearest image possible, so I’m a real stickler for detail and accuracy!

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    • That sounds like quite a job sifting through the documents. Even though the attitudes of some of our forebears might not always be politically correct or even kind, it is nevertheless often interesting examining their heritage. Germany is a fascinating country to do research, as the records go back so far, if they haven’t been destroyed during the war. Finding the name of a little village in Germany where they might have originated from, can be fun to research. And it is important because these forebears are part of us, in our DNA!! Good luck in your project. It sounds like you inherited an eye for detail and accuracy from your forebears. ( this is reputed to be a very German trait).

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  10. Most Europeans spent a great deal of time recording their histories. The same goes for most of Asia and parts of Africa. Even here in the Americas, the indigenous peoples recorded some events on various items, such as stone, wood and parchments. Central México is only 1 of 2 places on Earth where a writing system evolved completely and independently of any outside influence. (The other is Mesopotamia. Writing systems also evolved in Egypt and China, but linguists aren’t 100% certain if they arose independently.) Native Americans in present-day New England, for example, recorded various events on what they called “cadence canes,” which were tubes of wood. Many of those items were either lost or deliberately destroyed.
    I often jokingly tell people my mixed ethnic heritage protects me. The German blood prevents me from eating hot peppers, while the Spanish and Indian blood prevents me from eating sauerkraut and drinking warm beer!

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    • And it is a wonderful heritage that you have. I think that a lot of earlier civilisation were in some ways more advanced than Western contemporary ones. But I have to disagree with you on the sauerkraut!! Lol! I recently had all sorts of pickled foods and various sauerkraut type of foods in Poland and they were excellent eating. I loved them!! But it is harder to find good versions here. The bacteria in those fermented foods are really beneficial for our intestinal health!! Especially as we age. Warm beer on the other hand isn’t so desirable!!! Thanks for your comment.

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  11. I just found your blog after spending the last three days “going down a rathole,” as my hubby called it when he observed that I was filling in a family tree. All that was prompted by an email I got out of the blue from an ancestry website, (not Ancestry.com) It is hard to stop once one starts researching and trying to understand all the connections. My family on both sides are from Norway. My great grandparents immigrated around the turn of the last century. What are your Norwegian connections? Your “serendipity” stories are fascinating. It’s obvious that unknown forces were at work helping to reveal those “serendipities” to you. I love that kind of thing and love it when something similar happens to me. One of my favorite stories is the “coincidence” between the principal at the school where I worked and a friend of mine with relatives in Sweden. Actually,
    the story is about a high rise apartment building in Bangkok. Yes, Bangkok. My principal’s Chinese/Thai parents live in a certain highrise building on Sukumvit street. My good American friend’s cousin from Sweden lives in the same building. I don’t even remember how I made that connection. It’s a small world. I found your blog when doing my research and googled the small village in Norway where one side of my family came from. I found a Norwegian blog and from that, I found your blog!

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    • Thank you Catarina, for your comment on my blog and my family history! I love delving into my family history. But you are so right, it is so time consuming, but enjoyably so. I do have some tenuous connections to Norway. Suspected and intuitive rather than confirmed. DNA has revealed one connection via an unknown side of my family. I fell in love with Norway when I first visited there in 2004. I began to stydy Rosemaling and fell in love with it after meeting a Norwegian artist and viewinng his exhibition. The world is full of amazing coincidences but they are rather nice when they come close to home! What is the small village your family is from? and in which Norwegian blog did you find my blog. It would be nice to find that connection and thank them for introducing us!

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    • Most populations are a mix of ethnicities, but it is perhaps more important with which place you identify with? But for Australians, who are a country of immigrants, ( unless you are indigenous), it is interesting to find out one’s roots. I have a Polish branch too, hailing from Zielona Gora!

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    • Thanks Fergy. This blog is really my own way of documentating the family history journey. Three might be something to Dna memory.
      You say serendipity has affected you too. How so?

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  13. Family history is important. Very. One needs to know where one comes from. I am lucky that my parents and a cousin researched our genealogy all the way back to the 1600’s and wrote about it, with many documents and photographs all the way to the 1860’s…
    Glad you made it home.

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    • That is impressive! Photos too. I was fortunate also that a kind distant relative sent me a lot of basics that got me started on my journey. Isn’t it quite amazing where this journey take you. And now science appears to back the fact that we do store DNA memory through the generations and that this comes out in our behavior and preferences. Now I am not so surprised at my feelings towards Denmark. Did you relatives publish your history in book format?

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      • Based on observation I’m sure many human behaviours are “hard-wired”, genetically driven, but that’s another issue.
        No, the entire history was typed by my mother on a typewriter. No way I was gonna re-type it. So I found a way to scan the document into a txt file then convert it to a Word file. Now I have to edit the file, so I can send it to all the cousins. And translate it from French to English for the British half of the family! A bit of work ahead…

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      • That will definitely keep you busy during the Quarantine period – if it comes to that in your location. Things are fast heading that way here, thanks to some politicians and celebrities. Thank you Tom Hanks.
        On the more serious matter, the nature versus nurture debate. I felt it was always skewed more to nature. Nurture seems more transient and able to be altered on a conscious and unconscious level. I was listening to a very interesting podcast just yesterday by Neuroscientist Hannah Critchlow that shows that our future is already hardwired in our brains at birth.

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      • Governement here is in denial. As usual. I would have expected the schools and universities to be closed already, but… you know. Politicos… I expect they may close schools and universities next week. Some already have.
        Looked Critchlow up. Briefly. She is quite young (My eldest daughter’s age). Good, the young are picking “up the fight” for Reason. 🙂 I will look up her work in more detail. Thank you for the tip.
        Nature vs. Culture? I am personally strongly against Rousseau. I think it is only culture that stops us from reverting to savagery. Now is Education enough? We will soon see I guess.
        Have a nice week.end. I’m curious to see whether there still is toilet paper in the stores here. 😉

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      • The Governments may not be able to continue the denial when the politicians come down with the virus, as is starting to happen. One of our senior ministers had a meeting with Trump’s family and now has the virus. Conspiracy theories are sprouting that this germ warfare and China’s revenge for Trump’s policies. I have yet to see a conspiracy theory proven. But these days, some parts of the theory might be plausible.
        I am glad you were interested in Critchlow’s work. I found it fascinating and a more evidence based take than some of the lofty theory abounding in psychology. I do not think I agree with Rousseau’s hands off approach to parenting either. But is that because we are invested in the feeling we should be able to control our destiny and influence those of our children? In my experience, I have no doubt that parenting styles can make a difference, but it doesn’t account for everything expressed in one’s adulthood. Our ability to transcend what nature has given us to start with depends on determination and motivation. And it is the level of determination and motivation that I see as dependent on how much our fundamental needs are met. (In that parents, peers and society all play a role). Education is vital but many people need more than that to reach their maximum potential.
        Did you snag some loo paper?

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      • Control our destinies? The Greeks called those goddesses the Fates. Really out of our hands, right? But we can control our decisions. What happens afterwards is another issue… 🙂
        Influence those of our children? Again it is a matter of choice. Neither my wife nor I chose a career even remotely similar to our parents’. In my case it was a clear refusal. My father was Air France and would have liked me to apply to “The Company”. I told him I’d already worked 20 years for them… Time for a change.
        So our daughters? Education for us was to leave as many options open for them as they wished and support their choices. One’s an MD, the other an international consultant in development. Fine by us.
        Do you have children?

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      • I do agree we can only really control our decisions and influence our own destiny in so doing. On influencing our children, I think more of influencing the values that they hold dear, but in the majority of cases, it is entirely their choice, unless you have a puritannical parenting style, which I very much don’t. I have three offspring! One brilliant, an IT guru, anotehr a creative and a struggling musician and then, my daughter who is such a wonderful person with enormous potential but has practical skills rather than academic which works against her. They were all born with a individual entrenched personality and in that, I don’t see we as parents had much of a choice, or influence, on that. Values they may or may not adopt – yes we had a say or an influence. Personality – not. Would you say that of your kids?

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      • Agreed. The difference with prior generations (and still now) is that we let them be themselves. Mostly. We are influencers really. 🙂 which is good enough. And personality? Our two daughters are soooo totally different in personality in yet so close, it is amazing… And very pleasant.
        I like the different sets of your children. Don’t worry about the last one. The world needs practical people. Urgently… Take care.

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      • It sounds as if you have done the job of father well. Whilst I sometimes meant someone who has overcome the odds of turning out well from a disadvantaged or vulnerable background, the vast majority of kids growing up with lack of opportunity or support from parents, appear to have some kind of struggle to ‘right themselves,’ so to speak, in adulthood. My two sons, as you might have guessed are polar extremes in personality, likes, dislikes etc even though they were very close all through childhood. There just isn’t a real connection for them to be anything other than a blood relative in adulthood. Once we are gone, I doubt they will continue the connection unless it is of obvious benefit to them. My daughter is the bridge between the two extremes. I like that your daughters maintain a close relationship, even though they are different people. How is the situation in France now? I went to get some groceries and was limited to how many vegetable I could buy – rice, pasta, noodles, canned fish and funnily enough, broccoli and baked beans were all sold out.

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      • Hopefully your two sons will eventually reconnect. Happens sometimes when kids are born. 🙂 You never know…
        I only know the situation in France from the news and calls to family and friends. (We live in Mexico). They are going into total lockdown. Only trips authorized outside are for food, doctor and pharmacy. We’ll see how it goes. Hospitals in certain regions are beginning to be saturated. The UK will be worse: they only have 5,000 ventilators for a population of 60 mil roughly… Hello, NHS? 😦
        Mexico is closing schools and universities. My wife is a researcher and teacher at the U. She went this morning to grab data and have a technical app installed on her Mac, and supposedly will be off as of tonight. For possibly a month…
        Baked beans? LOL. A high source of protein.
        What do you do for a living? Can you work at home?

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      • So you live in Mexico? As good a place as any, to sit in lockdown. The universities haven’t closed yet but I think it will come. I cannot work from home, as I deliver physical/ physio therapy treatments for folks with a disability in their home or place of residence. Some facilities are now deemed high risk, so they are closed to all except staff and family. Meanwhile the boss replaces these appointments with filing….

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      • My compliments. Therapy has been good to me, since I have an L5/S1 back problem… And a carp tunnel thing which seriously impaired my walking. But with therapy, I’m now almost 98% back in shape… Thanks to your colleagues. 🙂
        Well, I guess files will be spotless then?

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      • I guess so – a good time to catch up with those sorts of job. [smiles in feigned enthusiasm]. Good to hear that you back problem is improving. Pilates is good exercise for your back in a general sense because it strengthens your core which protects your back. (physio tip for the day).

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      • I think it is a good idea to keep away from dodgy practitioners. I do prefer to rely on word of mouth recommendations when there is little regulation/accreditation. I do hope your back comes good. My daughter just got told all her work is cancelled for the foreseeable future asthe hotel is almost empty. And flights into Australia, from overseas are banned from Sunday onwards. Difficult times.

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      • Word of mouth is the best option. TBH, my back is – almost – all right. I’ve learnt the right positions, changed my desk chair, avoid long car trips (those are killers). Overall I’m 95% fine. Which is good enough.
        Sorry about your daughter. Those are difficult times indeed. We all just have to hang on…
        Be good.

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      • Long car trips enforce static positions for on our bodies for far too long. Not great for circulation, muscles or soft tissue. I don’t know how long haul truck drivers manage. Perhaps they do in vehicle workouts whilst driving on cruise control? I just found a few checking on Google.

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