What do Hans Andersen, Anne Pedersdatter, Anders Hansen, Kirstine Marie Christiansdatter, Jens Jacobsen, Marie Larsdatter, Jørgen Andersen, and Ane Kirstine Jørgensdatter have in common? They’re Peter Hansen’s great grandparents. All of them. Two weeks ago I had none of their names; now I have all eight, with birth years (at least) and, in all but one case, birth place at the parish level or better.
Well, full disclosure, some of the evidence is a little skimpy. Some of these I’m taking to be Peter’s great grandparents solely because they had a child with the right name in the right year in the right parish (and no one else I’ve found did). Better documentation would be good. But I think these are right.
Danish genealogy, from what I’ve seen so far, is interesting… for one thing you don’t exactly have a rich diversity of names. There are lots of Hans Andersens; which one is the right one? (And yes, I am amused by the juxtaposition in the above list of Hans Andersen and Anders Hansen.) It complicates things a little that the last name is a family name late in the 19th century but a patronymic early in the century.
On the other hand, Denmark required parishes to keep vital records from 1645, and from 1812 were required to keep two copies in separate buildings. Having a more monolithic religious structure than the United States probably helped. There are transcriptions of lots of these vital records online at familysearch.org. As for censuses, they began in the late 18th century and were not done as regularly as in the US, but more often: frequently five years apart. Starting in 1845 they recorded birth place for each person, at the parish level. Transcriptions of the census data are being put online at http://ddd.dda.dk.
Most of what I’ve come up with in the past couple weeks has been through baptismal and marriage records and census records. Find person in census, note birth place, look in census records for person of same name born about the right year in the right parish, look for baptismal record, note parents, repeat. Despite the limited diversity of names, I’ve usually found one and only one person with right name, birthdate, and parish, and I’ve found baptismal records for people matching all four of Peter’s grandparents, so I’m fairly confident I haven’t gone wrong yet.
In fact I’ve found (I think!) four of Peter’s great great grandparents, too. Two of them appear in the Mormons’ Ancestral File with ancestors going a further three generations back; so, for example, the claim is that Anders Ibsen and Birgitte Pedersdatter, born 1639 and 1641 in Vejlby, Odense, are two of my ancestors. Of course the Ancestral File data are to be taken with many grains of salt until verified.