The Bjerregaard's of
grandfather originally wrote it for my oldest brother Eric
These records are taken partly from
church records at Gentofte, Denmark, partly from a book,
issued in 1871 by the Royal Danish Farm Bureau entitled
Prominent Danish Peasants. This book was printed by the
Bording Printing Co. at Copenhagen, Denmark. From the year
1871, I have relied on what was common family knowledge.
I am also much indebted to a 2nd
cousin on my mother’s side, Dr. Gustav Rendtorff of Randers,
Denmark, who has taken great interest in my father’s
ancestors. He has sent me many pamphlets and newspaper
clippings concerning Hans Jensen Bjerregaard and Hans
Bjerregaard. Dr. Rendtorff is a cousin to Mrs. Ida Kohler of
Granville, Illinois, who came to dinner at your house August
30th, this year, 1965.
In this family register I have
mentioned only persons that are my direct ancestors. Only
where it could be of interest have I mentioned others.
Short Historical Note
All during the middle ages and up to
the second half of the eighteenth century, Denmark, like all
other European countries, suffered under the feudal system.
The powerful nobles owned most of the land, elected the king
and paid no taxes. The peasants tilled the soil for the
benefit of the nobles. They worked without pay on the great
estates and also had to work their small strips of allotted
land and pay most of the taxes to church and state. They lived
in villages and worked the land in common; but they could
leave the land and seek a more lenient master, if such a
person could be found.
In the year 1660 King Frederik the
3rd, with the help of the merchant class and the clergy,
introduced and installed a hereditary absolute monarchy. A
law, binding the peasant to the estates of the nobles from his
4th to his 60th year, was also passed. This was called Stavns
baandet (sp?), serfdom, and proved to be a curse to the
country. The state of the peasant class fell to its lowest
ebb. This was evidently done to compensate nobles for certain
losses of privileges; but the peasant lost faith, lost all
initiative and became a drunkard. What was the use of working?
The army and the nobles owned you, body and soul. The religion
was enforced Lutheranism and ministers were maintained by the
However, in the middle of the 18th
Century, things began to improve. In the year 1788, Denmark
was the first country to institute religious freedom and
compulsory public schools. Stavns baandet was abolished and so
was negro slavery in the colonies.
Denmark at that time owned three
colonies in India, the Nicobar islands, what is today Ghana in
Africa and the three Virgin islands: St. Thomas, St. Croix and
St. John. These islands were sold to U. S. A. in 1917, the
rest of the colonies either sold to England or abandoned.
These important changes were brought
about by farsighted men of the middle class and of the
nobility, but the peasant still remained poor. Certain great
men of the nobility helped their former serfs to independence.
A movement was started by the state to furnish money at
reasonable interest. This led to the breaking up of the large
farms and noble estates and lasted into the present century.
The year 1849 saw the end of absolute
monarchy in Denmark. King Frederik the 7th gave the country a
new constitution and parliamentary rule.
In the early days, people had no
surname or last name. They were known in Denmark as son or
daughter of their father. In this manner, a man named Hans
would be known as Hans Petersen, if his father’s name was
Peter and a daughter, Anna, would be know as Anna Petersdatter.
In some cases, if the father was a blacksmith or a miller, the
children would be known as Smith or Miller. In later times,
when surnames were instituted by law, many people took the
name of their parents’ farm: Ostergaard, Sondergaard,
Bjerregaard, etc. Gaard is the Danish word for farm.
In this register a cross + stands for
Here we begin:
One Jens Sofrensen, according to
church records at Gentofte, 1540 + 1622 occupation unknown
His son, Jacob Jensen 1571 + 1640
His son, Jens Jacobsen 1610 + 1683
married to Anne Hans datter
His son, Soren Jensen 1647 + 1721
farmer in Gentofte
married 1678 to Maren Pedersdatter
children:Peder Sorensen 18-1-1680
(note European day-month-year method of dating)
Jens Sorensen 15-6-1683 + 12-4-1750
serf on the Bernstorff estate His farm was evidently under the
estate Bernstorff owned by a long line of Counts Bernstorff.
Bernstorff castle was within three blocks of my father’s place
married 16-3-1710 to Lene Jensdatter
1681 + 2-4-1780 in her 99th year.
Children: Soren Jensen 1712 +
Anne Jensdatter 1716 + 23-09-1793
(from Bjorn Bj.)
Jens Jensen 1718 + 1771
Jacob Jensen 1721 + 1797
Inger Jensdatter 1725 + 1782 died at
Hans Jensen, later Bjerregaard 1728 +
Peder Jensen 1731 + 1733
Hans Jensen Bjerregaard 8-8-1728 +
married 12-6-1750 to Ellen
Jacobsdatter (29-11-1730 + 08-05-1808 from Bjorn Bj.) Ellen
Jacobsdatter Bjerregaard died on the estate of her son-in-law
in 1808, age 78.
Her son-in-law, Count Justitsraad,
Krigsraad Hans Juul, owned the estates of Viskum and
Himmestrup in Jutland. These estates had belonged to this
family for five generations and Hans Juul had met Hans Jensen
Bjerregaard’s daughter , Else Harrsdatter Bjerregaard. at the
University of Copenhagen and married her. There were no
children. This is mentioned as a point of interest as in 1853
Himmestrup was bought by my great grandfather, on my mother’s
side, Herman Rendtorff, an immigrant from Germany. Hans Juul
will be mentioned again.
Although H. J. Bj. died before public
schools were instituted in Denmark, he must somehow have
acquired an education. Probably Count Bernstorff took interest
in the bright young man. At an early age he started writing
books on care of farm animals, rotation of crops and farming
in general. He became well known and was spoken of as the
intellectual peasant of Gentofte.
He bought a small parcel of land from
Count Bernstorff and built his own little farm, thus becoming
the first peasant to move away from the village. He was given
a gold medal by the king and also the name Bjerregaard. Two
streets in Copenhagen are named after him and the little farm
still exists, being used as a small museum and a monument is
raised for him there. The site of this farm is inside greater
Copenhagen today and it may be of interest to you that your
father’s friends, Gretchen & Fritz Stansell, stopped for the
night, being unable to find a hotel room, in a private home
near this place on Bjerregaard Street.
H. J. Bjerregaard became a wealthy man
and later bought the large farm, Lovegaard, on the richest
land in Denmark, on the island of Zealand. This farm consisted
of some 650 acres of land and supported some 250 cows besides
other farm animals; quite an accomplishment for a former serf.
At this time he was appointed to serve
on a committee with Count Bernstorff and Count Reventlow to
study the question of serfdom. He wrote many articles to
newspapers. He wrote a book on this subject and seven years
after his death the Danish peasant finally gained his freedom.
Stavnsbaandet became a thing of the past. For this he had
worked very hard. He died 25-7-1781 and was buried at Gentofte.
(Sct. Nikolaj Church yard, Copenhagen-Bjorn Bj.) All his
children attended the Univ. of Copenhagen or other
institutions of higher learning.
Hans Jensen Bjerregaard’s children
Inger Hansdatter Bj. 1751 + 1782
Jens Hansen Bj. 1753 + 1785 died at
the Danish colony Trankubar in India as first mate on the S.
S. Lucie Emerance
Elsie Hansdatter Bj. 1755 + 1841
married to Count Hans Juul
Lene Hansdatter Bj. 1757 + 1834
Jacob Hansen Bj. 1760 + 1812 became
owner of estate Sodal. His son Johan Jacob Bj. owned Sodal and
later the estate Hermingsholm. Another son became owner of
Viskum. (J.H. Bj did not own Sodal: Bjorn Bj.
Peder Hansen Bj. 1762 + 1763
Hans Hansen Bj. 1766 + 1860
Anne Hansdatter Bj. 1768 + 1839 died
on her husband’s estate, Sodal
Peder Hansen Bj. 1770 + 1836
Hans Bjerregaard 22-2-1766 + 12-1-1860
married 1808 to Mette Katherine
Sjorslev 11-1-1778 + 10-4-1838 days edited by P. Erik Bj.
Hans Bj. was a student at the
University of Copenhagen 1786-1793. He studied theology,
Latin, Greek, botany and animal husbandry as far as it was
known in those days. He passed all exams with highest honors.
Educated mainly as a minister of the gospel, he nevertheless
had to wait five years for a calling. This was perhaps on
account of his modern ideas and he was not liked by the
Like his father, he started writing
books on forestry and farming. In 1798 he became minister at
Hjermind, Lee and Hjorthede churches. This was not too much of
a position for a man of his education and it is assumed that
his brother-in-law, Hans Juul, helped him, as these churches
belonged to his estates and he had the right to choose. He
could not have made a better choice.
This little rhyme of his signifies his
whole life’s work.
ploven ej vil gaa og Leen ej vil slaa der bor et tro at
the plough will not go and the scythe can not be used
there ought to stand a tree.
After the Napoleonic Wars, in which
Denmark made the mistake or was compelled to side with
Napoleon, Denmark lost the then Danish province of Norway and
with it, Denmark lost its vast supply of timber. Denmark
itself had no timber to speak of and the whole center of the
peninsula of Jutland consisted of heather, moors and sandy
wastes, useless for agriculture or anything else. Hjermind
parsonage was right on the edge of this wasteland.
His writings on reforestation had
given him no support by anyone, but he lost no time, acquired
land and started raising trees from seeds. When the trees were
big enough, he gave them away to whomever was interested.
According to his bookkeeping, he
raised and gave away one and a half million of evergreen trees
and 58,000 fruit trees. It did not make much of a show in his
lifetime, but today, the desert is blooming. Many of the
cities in Jutland have ornamental parks planted by him.
Hans Bj. became a well known man and
in 1826 he was visited by King Frederik VI. This was quite an
honor for a country minister to be visited by an absolute
monarch and Hans Bjerregaard raised a monument in his garden
to commemorate the event. Of the conversation between king and
priest there is no record; but it was assumed at the time that
the king needed him elsewhere. Hans Bjerregaard stuck to his
beloved flock and plantations. On this occasion Hans
Bjerregaard was given the title of Koncesterialraad, generally
reserved for high ranking church officials.
But after all, what is a mere king?
The world had seen enough of them but only one Hans Christian
Andersen. This famous poet and writer of fairy tales visited
the old minister in August, 1859, and stayed for several days.
There he wrote the poem Jutland, Wedged Between Two Oceans and
read it to Hans Bjerregaard who evidently was well pleased.
His interest in his plantations did
not impair his church work. After his death a book was found
wherein he accounted for every person in his church district
from birth to burial. In his time there existed no school in
Hjorthede. Hans Bjerregaard thought it was too far for the
children to walk to Hjermind, so he and his brother-in-law,
Hans Juul, built a school in Hjorthede with funds from their
own pockets. It is also on record where Hans Bjerregaard, in
times of need, gave grain and potatoes to members of his
flock. And he wrote a book, Superstition And How To Overcome
Hans Bjerregaard retired from active
service in 1857, age 91. He was granted a pension of $200 a
year by the government as he, by that time, was penniless. His
successor, the later Bishop Swane, let him stay in the old
parsonage and a new one was built. He died in 1860 at the age
Grateful citizens had a portrait
painted of him which was placed over the pulpit of the 800
year old church at Hjermind. Later it was taken to Viborg
Cathedral by Bishop Swane. From here it was borrowed by my
mother, who was an excellent artist, and she made a copy of
it. This copy burned in the fire of 1904. Today the original
again hangs in Hjermind Church. A monument for Hans
Bjerregaard was erected in 1920 at Sejrs Hede State Park, the
center of his planting activities. It is recorded that Hans
Bjerregaard gave away several million trees of all kinds.
Hans Bjerregaard’s children several
dates & corrections below from Bjorn Bj & P. Erik Bj.
Hansine Katherine Bj. 23-3-1809 +
Jensine Christine Bj. 30-6-1811 +
Eleonora Christine Bj. 18-5-1813 +
Hans Andreas Bj. 2-9-1814 + ?
(unmarried farmer) “
Jens Just Bj. 22-1-1818 +30-11-1879
“(Carl’s great grandfather)
Jacob Jensen Bj. 23-5-1820 + ? “(Erik
Bj’s great grandfather)
Jens Just Bjerregaard his wife
Kirstine Madsen 19-11-1821 - ? Jorgine Kirstine Madsdatter,
married 1-1-1842 (her father, Mads Nielsen was a farmer in
Tange from Bjorn Bj.
children: Hans Theodor Bj. 31-07-1841
Mathias Carl Cilius Bj. 01-03-1845 +
Andreas Julius Bj. 27-12-1847 +? (to
Victoria, Mich) (the fiddler in Ludington)
Olaf Rye Bj. 11-03-1850 + 31-12-1916in
Medford, Oregon (Bjorn Bj.
Ditlev Trappe Sangman Bj. 21-08-1852 +
19-04-1916 - the composer(Bjorn Bj.)
Jacob Elvin Bj. 15-08-1854 +
26-09-1923 (to USA)(no USA, musician, Bjorn Bj.)
August Volfgang Hertel Bj. 23-04-1857
+ 12-1-1926 (musician, Bjorn Bj.)
Marie Hansine Katherine Bj. 26-05-1859
+ 2 6 1897 In Manistee, MI. married Terkel H. Nelson
Larsine Petrine Sorine Bj. 09-05-1861
+? (to U. S. A.
Larsine Bjerregaard’s daughter, Mrs.
Rose Decker, lives in Muskegon, Michigan (1965. Ove and Ellen
visited her some years, when in the area).
Mathias Carl Celius Bjerregaard
1-3-1845 + 1922 married Emma Emilie Cordes, daughter of Edward
Cordes, owner of the large estate, Pandum. Edward Cordes was
married to Ida Rendtorff.
M. C. C. Bjerregaard, my father (Ove’s),
came to Pandum as manager of the estate. He married my mother,
Emma Emilie Cordes and bought the estate in 1885 and sold it
in 1909. After that time the family resided at Charlottenlund,
a suburb of Copenhagen.
Pandum, in my grandfather Cordes’
time, was already greatly reduced in size. To the estate still
belonged some 2000 acres. It consisted of the main farm,
Pandum, and smaller farms, Pandum Brohus, Krybily and Hovheden.
Hovheden, with some 800 acres of land was sold, when my father
bought the estate, to satisfy claims of the other heirs, my
mother’s 7 brothers and sisters. In 1904 the old main building
was partly destroyed by fire. It was then that the painting of
Hans Bj, before mentioned, was destroyed. The pictures below
are of the main building. Two other dwellings also existed,
one for the manager and one for the hired help. In the
distance to the left in the lower picture can be seen the
manager’s house and behind that the cowbarn, built by my
grandfather. It had stone vaultings for ceilings and had space
for 250 cows.
Today the 12 acre ornamental part has
been destroyed and is now just an ordinary field. Eight houses
with 5 acres each also existed. Here the married farm help
lived and worked on the farms. Pandum today has been parceled
out into 32 farms, 300 acres still belonging to the main farm.
These photos were taken by me on my visit to Denmark in 1955.
The old church at Vokslev built by
King Valdemar the Great in 1170. This church and also Veggerby
Church belonged to the estate Pandum up to the time of my
grandfather, E. Cordes. In those days the great estates owned
most of the country churches, paid for the upkeep and paid the
minister. Here my grandfather’s 8 children were baptized and
confirmed, my grandparents buried, my parents married and my
brothers and sisters and myself baptized and confirmed. The
walls inside were covered with frescoes from catholic times.
Here I will tell a little story about
this church. Every Danish country church had a little added
entrance building called the ‘weapon house’. Here, in olden
days, people carrying arms, were made to leave them before
entering the church. In my childhood all old people entering
the church would kneel or make a bow to the wall on the left
side of the entrance. Nobody knew why. Years later in Detroit,
when I was eating lunch at my job, my eyes happened to fall on
an article in the Detroit News, in which my lunch was wrapped.
The article told about the old church at Vokslev, Denmark.
Several layers of whitewash had been removed from the inside
walls of the ‘weaponhouse’ uncovering a large fresco of the
virgin and child. I saw this old painting in 1955.
Mathias Carl Celius Bjerregaard’s
Edith Bj. 1884 + 1904
Olga Bj. 5-27-1888 + 12-19-1981
Dagmar Bj. 6-10-1890 + 3-22-1990
visited you in Montague
Ellen Mathilde Bj. 1-12-1892 +
Carl Emil Hans Just Cordes Bj.
7-22-1893 + 1962 visited you in Montague
Ove Theodor Bj. 1-29-1895 + 12-20-73
AdeleBj. 5-3-1896 + ?
Anna Bj. 5-3 1896 + 5-11-1896
several of these dates edited by P.
We used to bike in the attic in the
winter, about 200 feet from wing to wing. In Villa Almely’s
attic were a lot of relics from my grandfather’s time, and
maybe before: my mother’s riding habit and saddle, the kusk’s
(chauffeur’s) uniform, old books and a lot of other things.
Tornvedgaard on the island of Zealand
The main building on Tornvedgaard. My
sister, Olga, took over the farm after her husband’s illness,
operated it alone for 35 years, sold it to her son, Jorgen
Lind, and today lives on the farm in one of the other
Carl Edward Bjerregaard’s children
Eric Carl Bj. 23-6-1955
Chris Edward 20-2-1957
Curt Frederick 9-11-1959
Beth Ellen 17-6-1961
From here on you can, if you wish,