Saturday, December 10, 2011

Surname Saturday - Nielsen in Denmark to Nelson in USA

Surname Saturday
Nielsen in Denmark to Nelson in USA

A few months ago I was fortunate to hear from a 'new to me' cousin in Denmark kind enough to share a couple of generations worth of my family history with me, on my 'shortest' family line. I am one quarter Dane (maternal grandmother born in Denmark), so this was wonderful news, and I made a couple of posts, here and here.

Well, as the Internet would have it, another 'new to me' cousin, Trine, in Denmark, was surfing the web, as we all do from time to time, these days, it seems, and what does she find: "Nielsen home in Denmark" - my blog post. And her email says: That is the house my husband and children and I live in now!

Obviously, this started a new round of emails, exchanges of photos, and family history discussions. She also, early on, mentioned she had a uncle who had come to the USA about 1900 and really didn't know much about him… but she thought he had taken the name of Nelson when he came, rather than Nielsen that he had been born into. His given name was Christian, but from scans of postcards he had sent, it was clear he used Christ Nelson over here. To her, she thought of him as 'her rich American uncle!' - though he really wasn't, of course. So, my research began, with many false starts - that is a really common name, even restricted to one state! And, of course, it turned out to be the wrong state, as well! [I did actually locate him in the 1930 census, before I confirmed it was his family with Flemming, below - but there was much, much more to the story; much still unknown.]

Before long, she mentioned 'her cousin' who did the family history work in the family. We have now caught up with him, and many things become clearer… for each of us. Flemming, the cousin knew more about the 'rich American uncle' than Trine realized; she just hadn't asked. So, now, it turns out, I know 2 third-cousins in Denmark, and there are a 'flock of them' near St. Paul, Minnesota - that Flemming has visited. Small world, huh? Common great-great grandparents. By the way, Flemming did not realize that my great-grand mother (his great aunt) and my grandmother had emigrated to America, also, in the first decade of the 1900s, only a few years after their Christ Nelson. That was nice to be able to share with him.

So, for one more story. Christ Nelson was one of five brothers - who would have been first cousins of my grandmother, Dorothy Sorensen Kinnick. Here they are, in about 1896:

Sons of Morten (brother of my great-grandmother, Jensene Nielsen Sorensen):

Niels b. 19 May 1877
Peder b. 20 Sep 1878
M. Christian b. 14 Oct 1879
Marius b. 28 Mar 1881
Anders b. 1 Jun 1882

Christian - Marius
Niels - Peder

Finally, Flemming is in regular communication with Orla and Bente that I communicated with a few months ago, that got this cycle started. Much of their detailed family information actually came from him. Small world, all over again. And, it will continue.

Families are Forever!  ;-)


  1. Guess I need to start planning my trip!!!

  2. We are certainly now building a fine network of cousins to visit, when you get there, for sure! ;-) And, they are all fairly close together! ;-) Flemming, I believe, has family history back a few more centuries, though we've not discussed it in detail, yet. ;-)

  3. Hi Bill
    Nice and interesting blog you've got here - and I see your daughter is here too.
    What a treasure of family information we now can exchange.
    I can se that there has occured a small misunderstanding. I have never visited any of my American family. But I intend to do son in the spring 2012, and see as many as possible on both my mothers and fathers side of my family.
    But - Ward Nelson and his wife Marilyn visited Denmark and his fathers birthplace (Hvorup) back in the fall 1997, where we held a family gathering. Very nice experience.
    I don't know if you're in contact with him, but as far as I can find out here in Denmark, you can find his address here:
    By the way I have found a direct line from me to the first danis king Gorm the Old (ca 890 - ca 958), but I'm sorry, that is another branch from my grandmother.

    Arrion - You are welcome to contact me: