Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Hansine Margrethe Kjøller Schrøder, Part 1

 Hansine and her grandchildren, Bill and Betty, ca 1918-1919

This marvelous photograph above of Hansine Margrethe Kjøller Schøder and her two grandchildren, my father, William L. (Bill) and his sister, Evelyn (Betty), was taken about 1918 or 1919 at the family home near Lake Union in Seattle, 2231 Yale Avenue North.  Judging from the finery of their dress, it looks as if it may have been Easter or some other special occasion.

From oral history accounts, Hansine was said to have been a formidable appearing woman.  In an interview with Herb Solwold, Sadie Stean’s husband, he said Mrs. Schrøder was imposing woman.  Sadie was Anna’s niece and had lived with Axel and Anna for a while before she married Herb.  He said he was at the house often before he left for France during World War I and knew the family well.  Lil Anna Hornnes, Hansine’s daughter-in-law, wrote in her journal:  “I was scared stiff of his (Axel’s) mother, and all my friends didn’t make it any better with their advice.”  At 5’ 10” Hansine would have been extremely tall in the early 1900s.  She was born 17 September 1853 in Vestermarie, Bornholm, Denmark, the first of four children born to Jens Peter Kjøller and Anna Magadalena Jensen. 

The other children in the family were: 

Hans Georg, born 8 September 1855
Ane Katrine, born 8 November 1857
Jane Caroline Magdalene, born 11 November 1860.

The picture below taken in 1982 shows some of the flat farmland near Vestermarie with the church on the horizon.  The church is brick and has a hedge fence surrounding it. 

 View of Vestermarie with church on horizon, 1982

Vestermarie Church, 1982

Among the monuments in the churchyard are two standing stones with runes on them.  A remarkable history of Vestermarie compiled by one of the pastors of the church was discovered as an addendum to the parish register and included a runic/Danish alphabet with a translation into Danish of the two stones.  This stone shown below says in Danish: 

Rune stone in the Vestermarie Churchyard, 1982

“Asur lit noa stein ifter Alvard fadur sin truknade han ute med ala spikare,”
and in English: 
“Asur erected this stone in memory of his father Alvard who was drown at sea with all aboard ship.” 

The stones are approximately 4 to 5 feet high and were carted 13 kilometers or about 8 miles from somewhere near Rønne to Vestermarie in the year 1658.  The historical account of Vestermarie in the church register runs about 17 handwritten pages.  One interesting detail in the history relates to the forest, Almindingen.  This is not a natural forest, as first supposed, but was planted by the islanders in the 19th century.  During part of Hansine's life the forest would not have existed and it would have been a small woodland when she left Denmark for America in 1904.  Now it is the third largest forest in Denmark.

The Kjøllers were landowners first in Østermarie and then later in Vestermarie.  According to records searched thus far the Jensen side of Hansine’s family lived in Vestermarie as early as 1727, probably even earlier.  It is even possible that they were living there during the Bornholmers uprising in 1658 when the Swedes were expelled from the island after Jens Kofoed killed the Swedish commandant.  There are many families on the island with the surname Kofoed including some who connect to our family line.  Through FamilySearch.org our branch of the Kofoed line has been extended as part of the shared FamilyTree feature.  

 Monolith to commemorate Jens Kofoed and the Bornholm uprising of 1658
[photo taken 1982]
A translation of an inscription on a tall granite monolith commemorating the 1658 event stands near the castle ruins of Hammerhus and reads:

“This people threw off its foreign yoke
Here, where rock breaks into sea.
Freeborn, men speak mother’s tongue—
Danish still will Bornholm be.”

When she was 22 years old Hansine left Vestermarie in May 1876 to move to Nexø, a seaport town on the eastern side of the island, where she married Hans Christian Schrøder a baker and confectioner on 30 June 1876.  Their first child, Axel William, was born 20 January 1877 while they were living in Nexø.  By July 1877 Hansine, Hans Christian and Axel had moved back to Vestermarie where they stayed for the next two to three years living with her family. 

Hansine Margrethe Kjøller, 1876, about age 22 or 23

Hans Christian Schrøder, 1876, about age 24

The two photographs, one of Hansine and the other of Hans Christian, shown above were both taken by G. Stockel of Rønne, Bornholm.  It is not known if they were taken at the same time; however, they appear to have been taken sometime near the date of the marriage.  While we do have a few other photos of Hansine, including snapshots, this is the only picture we have of Hans Christian.  It is interesting to note that several of his physical characteristics have carried through the generations, the light curly hair, deep set eyes, the mouth and the overall shape of his ears and head for example. 

By using the available Danish census records and parish registers it is possible to piece together some of what must have occurred following their return to Vestermarie.  It appears that Hansine and Hans Christian left Bornholm and traveled by sea at least as far as København/Copenhagen, on the island of Sjæland, that would have been a 7 hour voyage in 1880, and most likely by sea from there north to Helsingør another 2 hours.  Today modern ferries run between Rønne and Ystad, Sweden (about 2 hours) with good roads and a drive across southern Sweden to Malmö, then a short 1½ hour ferry to Copenhagen, and another 1 hour drive up the coast for about a 4½ hour journey. 

The 1880 Danish Census shows them living in Helsingør at Fredriksborg, Lynge-Kronborg, Helsingør Købstad, Sct. Annagaden, [Fredriksborg, Lynge-Kronborg district, City of Helsingør, Saint Anna Street].  However, only Hansine is actually living there.  She is listed with the widower, Franz Georg Wilhelm, a music teacher, his daughter, Julie Franciska Pouline Wilhelm, and Mathilde Bernhardtdine Andersen who is thought to be Franz’s stepdaughter.  Hans Christian is temporarily living at the Hollandske Møll (Dutch Mill).  It looks like the Dutch Mill was some sort of school and dormitory and since he was a baker it is possible he went there to get additional training for his profession.

 The church register for Helsingør, Fredriksborg, Denmark shows the birth and death of a baby girl on 22 August 1880 born to Hans Christian Schrøder and Hansine Margrethe Kjøller. This little girl was born 12 weeks prematurely and died before she could be christened and given a name. 

The next time we see Hansine in the records it is 1885 and she is back on Bornholm living with her parents who have left the farm in Vestermarie and are now in the city of Rønne.  On 13 June 1885 Hansine gives birth to a boy named Camillo Kjøller Schrøder.  She is listed as divorced and Camillo is marked as illegitimate in the church register.  The legitimacy issue probably arose due to her status as a divorced woman.   Camillo was christened at home on 6 July 1885 and dies on 11 July 1885.  There is no indication in the church register to show the name of the father of this child so we do not yet know if it was Hans Christian or another man.

(To be continued in part 2)


Note:  Some of the material posted here originally appeared in "the family gathering" newsletters, Vol. X, issue 1, March 1987, page 122-125 and Vol. XVI, issue 2 (51), July 1993, page 152.  Some new information has been added that was not known at the time the newsletters were sent out.

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