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  The Bjerregaard's of Copenhagen

My 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 state.

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 died

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 in Charlottenlund.

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 Lovegaard

Hans Jensen, later Bjerregaard 1728 + 1781

Peder Jensen 1731 + 1733

Hans Jensen Bjerregaard 8-8-1728 + 25-7 1781

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 bishops.

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.

Hoor ploven ej vil gaa og Leen ej vil slaa der bor et tro at staa Where 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 It.

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 of 94.

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 + 29-3-1876

Jensine Christine Bj. 30-6-1811 + 12-7-1862 “

Eleonora Christine Bj. 18-5-1813 + 25-5-1813 “

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 +20-02-1928

Mathias Carl Cilius Bj. 01-03-1845 + 12-12-1922

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 (Nielsen)5 children

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.

Cordes

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 children

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 + 7-8-1979

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. Erik Bj.

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 dwellings.

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, continue.

Beth Bjerregaard

 

 

 

 
   
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