What a great day! I have finally found my Christensen family in Denmark. I had tried to find them in some of the Danish databases several years ago, but never found more than an emigration record for one person. I faced the same problem many people face when searching for their families overseas – I didn’t know the name of the town where they were born.

One day, my cousin Sue, told me that her son, Thoren, was living in Germany and wouldn’t mind taking a trip to Denmark to see what he could find. I only had one possibility for a town name for my great-grandmother’s birthplace. I had found a baptism entry on FamilySearch for a Marie Dorthea Christensen with no birth date. The baptism date was a few weeks after the birth date that I had for my great-grandma. That was a good sign. But her brothers and father did not show up in FamilySearch’s database. That was a bad sign. It was a long shot, but I gave Thoren that tiny bit of information along with the birthdates for Marie’s brothers and her father.

Imagine my surprise when Thoren wrote back to say that he spoke to the Reverend of the local church. She showed him how to locate the parish registers online and view images of the records. She found the baptism record and a confirmation record for this Marie Dorthea Christensen. The baptism record showed that this Marie was born June 20, 1879 – the same birth date as my great-grandma! The father had the same name as my Marie’s father, but the mother’s name wasn’t exactly the same. It was exciting, but I reminded myself that she may not be my Marie. Searching for my Marie Christensen in Denmark is like searching for a specific Mary Smith in the USA. It was entirely possible that there was another Marie Dorthea Christensen with the same birthdate as my great-grandma.

The key to verifying that I had the right Marie was to find her brothers and father. I eagerly searched for their baptism records and struck out again. Drats! Then I remembered that Thoren had found this woman’s confirmation record. If the family moved to Bjoderup after the boys were born, they wouldn’t appear in the baptism register for Bjolderup, but they might appear in the confirmation records. In less than 20 minutes I found Marie’s brothers in the confirmations records. Thankfully, the confirmation records listed their exact birthdate and birthplace. While it was possible to have two Marie Christensens born on the same day, the chances both Maries having brothers with the same names and born on the same days was nearly impossible. At last, I was confident that I had found the right family.

The parish records for southern Denmark can be written in either German or Danish. It all depends on which country claimed the town when the record was written. I also encountered some difficulties with place names. Some places have both a German name and a Danish name. If the record is written in German, you may have to use Google to identify the name of the place in Danish. The Danish databases all use the Danish name. For example, one record stated that Marie’s father was born in Apenrade. Apenrade is the German equivalent of Åbenrå (Aabenraa.)

Another difficulty with the Danish databases was that exact spelling was always required to search the census records. Some creativity is required to search for the surname spelling variations.

Very few of the parish records have been indexed. You will need to know what parish your ancestors lived in to find them. The parish records can be viewed at https://www.sa.dk/content/dk/ao-forside/find_kirkeboger  This section of the website is in Danish. There are a series of drop down menus for the amt (county), herred (district) and the sogn (parish.) You can start by populating the amt field, then working your way down to the herred and sogn. If you don’t know the amt or herred, but do know the parish, you can leave the amt and herred fields blank and look at only the sogn list. Once you populate the sogn field a list of files will appear the search fields. The parish books that can be viewed are under the Kirkebog heading. The fields to the right of the Kirkebog column will show what records are available for each book. F=baptism, K=confirmation, V=marriage and D=death. Windows users should be able to click on the entries in the Kirkebog column to see the images. Mac users may have to download Java first.

Some of the census records (Folketaellinger) have been indexed. They can be searched at www.danishfamilysearch.com. If you find a match in this database, you can go back to www.sa.dk and see if the image of the census record is available.

Happy hunting!

Lisa Christensen