Surname Saturday 2.0: The Olsens

The Olsen Family

The Olsen family is one I knew almost nothing about for the first ten years of my research into my family tree. It has now become the first line in my search for information.

In 2001, I took a class in women's studies, and our final project was to research three generations of one of our family lines, and write a paper about it. Being a genealogist, this was exciting for me, as I already had the names at my fingertips. I ended up choosing my grandmother, Nana, and her mother Oline, as well as Nana's younger daughter. I chose her because I knew her mother had died when she was very young. She was one of the few great grandparents I knew little about. So I interviewed her, and in doing so, I set out on a path that I am still on today.

Maren Sofie Olsen was Oline's mother, and so in researching Oline, I have come to know quite a bit about her life, and with each piece of information I learn, I find myself more and more fascinated.

Maren was born to Ole and Birthe Marie Larsen, who were married in the Soro district of Denmark, which is near the centre of Sealand, the larger island that makes up Denmark. When she was still young, or possibly even before she was born, her father left Denmark to come to America. This was common enough for the times, as was the fact that he never sent for his family after he settled in Minnesota. I believe his wife had little contact with him after he left.

She already had two older sisters when she was born, though I am uncertain of living arrangements while she was growing up. It is my suspicion that she was probably seen as just an extra mouth to feed in a household that already had three and no husband to make money. That, of course, is only my assumption, but I do know that like many young girls in Denmark at the time, she was sent out to work from a young age.

At some point in her early to mid twenties, Maren met Rasmus Hansen, who was either married or recently widowed. His first wife had died childless, so the two eventually married, and together had 6 children. They had a small farm in Fjenneslev, which is almost exactly the centre of Sealand, and things were going well until three years after their youngest child was born. At that time, Rasmus fell sick with a respiratory illness, and soon died, leaving her with four children under the age of ten. Their eldest was not yet thirteen.

It's been a fascinating story to learn. I often find myself wondering what Maren was like. The third child of an abandoned woman in a time when children were still more commodity than treasure, especially when it came to those who were barely surviving on their own. Which isn't to say people didn't treasure their children, but childhood just wasn't as protected as it is now. And then to marry a man who had just lost his wife, not to mention that she had had the same name as the poor woman, and then to be left with a young family to raise, and a farm to keep up…she did not have an easy life.

I've still got a long way to go, but I'm looking forward to it. Every time I look into this side of the family, I find more, though I have yet to get past Maren's father on this side. Her mother, on the other hand…well, that can wait until I cover her side of the tree.

The Olsen line is as follows, for those interested:

* Ole Larsen and Birthe Marie Schroder married 1851. They had one daughter together, Maren Sofie Olsen.

* Maren Sofie Olsen married Rasmus Hansen in 1881. The couple had 6 children:
+ Herman Hansen, born 1882, married Marie Jorgensen in 1908, and the two had two children and 6 grandchildren, and at least 7 great-grandchildren. Herman died in 1969.
+ Maren Hansine Marie Hansen, born 1884, married Hans Peter Larsen in 1906, and the two had 5 children, 4 grandchildren, and at least 3 great-grandchildren that I am aware of. Maren died in 1968
+ Julie Oline Hansen, born 1886, married Holger Hansen in 1918. See below for descendants. She died in 1929.
+ Hans Kristian Hansen, born in 1890, married Mary Katherine Shawler Deats in the US. He was the only other family member to come to the US aside from Oline and their grandfather. He died in the late 1980s.
+ Johanne Kirsten Hansen, born 1891, and apparently committed suicide in 1916.
+ Ole Hansen, born 1892, died 1910.

* Oline and Holger had three children:
+ Margaret Hansen, born 1919, married Sam Hillinger in 1948, and they have 4 children, 6 grandchildren, and their fourth great-grandchild was just born this month. She died in 2010.
+ Marilyn Hansen, born 1923, married Luther Weare in 1954, and they have 2 daughters, 6 grandchildren, and 2 great grandchildren.
+ Torben Skow Hansen, born 1925, married Eileen Hoban, and they have 2 sons. He died in 1996.

* All of Oline and Holger's descendants live in the US today.

What I don't know:

* I would love to know the names of Ole's parents. I can assume his father's name was Lars, but beyond that I have no other info. I would also like to find out when he left Denmark and came to America, and whether he lived anywhere other than Minnesota. I also need to track down where exactly in Minnesota he lived. We have a general location, but haven't been able to narrow it down. I also need to find out when he died.

* I would love to know more about Maren Sofie's life. I'd like to know when she began working outside the home, and where, though I know that might be difficult to find at best. I would also love to know when and how she met Rasmus. And one last thing about her—I'd love to know if she went by Maren or Sofie or something else entirely.

* This point actually should have gone on the Hansen line, but since it occurred to me now, and she's her mother's daughter, I will put it here. I would love to know what happened with Johanne Kirsten, and why she might have committed suicide.

* But most of all, I want to know more about Ole's ancestors.

Other information about this branch of the family:

Brick Wall Posts -
Brick Wall Update
Brick Wall Update
Old Surname Posts
Where We're From Posts
Where We're From – United States
Where We're From – Denmark
Other -
Olsen family history
Interview with Uncle Hans
Womens History Month -- Week 3

Surname Saturday 2.0: The Larsens

The Larsen Family

My Danish family roots are some of the best-researched lines in my family tree. Despite the fact that my great grandfather came here from Denmark as a young man, he kept in contact with many of his siblings all of his life, and because of that, his children knew them quite well. A few years after their father's death, my great aunt decided to start up a yearly family gathering for this clan, and so the extended family remained close, despite distances.

The Larsens were my great-grandfather's mother's family, and while we know about her immediate family, more distant ancestors are less well-known. What we do know mostly comes from his mothers's sister's family. Margrethe Isaksen nee Larsen and her husband came to the US in the late 1800s or early 1900s, and settled in New York, and raised three children there. When my great-grandfather came to America, he stayed with them until he got on his feet, and remained in touch with them until his aunt's death.

The Larson family was from the Jutland area of Denmark. She and her family lived right in the center area of Jutland, and all of the children in the family were born in a town called Nyvindbjerg, in the district of Ringive. Their father Jorgen Larsen was a farmer, and aside from Margrethe, most married and settled in and around the district of Ringive with their spouses, most of whom were also farmers, or on farms of their own.

Until recently, that was about as far as I could go for this side of the family, but some help from a couple of friends in Denmark changed everything. From the time I began my search, I had Jorgen's parents listed as Lars Christiansen and Oertha, not even sure if that was a first or last name. Unfortunately, Jorgen Larsen is an incredibly common name, so I had given up hope of finding more until I asked one of them one day. He came up with a record of Jorgen's birth for that parish, and also listed were his parents: Lars Andersen and Birthe Marie Sorensen. Apparently, Oertha was a transcription error, which I discovered when I looked through all the older copies of the family tree, which made the top of the B cut off so that it looked more like an O.

I've since found a great deal more thanks to family search, though I have yet to actually get in touch with this branch for help in determining where they got their information. Still, it gets me a great deal further.

The Larsen line is as follows, for those interested:

* Lars Andersen was born about 1794 in Vejle, Denmark. He married Birthe Marie Sorensen 1820 in the same area, and they had eight children together.
+ Anders, born 1820.
+ Mette born 1823.
+ Else Marie born 1827.
+ Johannes born 1829.
+ Peder born 1833.
+ Soren Christian born 1835.
+ Jorgen born 1837, married Ivare Kirstine 1863, died 1923. See below for more detail.
+ Elias born 1840.

* Jorgen Larsen and Ivare Kirstine had 9 children together:
+ Else Katrine was born 1865. She married Jens Christian Hansen in 1885, and they had 8 children together, the third of which was my great grandfather Holger. She died in 1934.

+ Kristine was born in 1870. She married Peter Andreasen, and died in 1957. I have no children listed for them.
+ Birte Marie was born in 1870 as well, though nine months after Kristine. She married Jens Ibsen Laurberg. I have no other information on her life, so I am uncertain when she died or if she had children.
+ Mette Margrethe (known as Margrethe) was born 1873. She married Isak Isaksen. The two had three children: Peter, Jorgen, and Tula, all of whom had families of their own, and their descendants still live in the New York area today. Margrethe died in 1970.
+ Lars Kristian was born 1876. He married Marie Damgaard, and died in 1955. I do not have any children listed for them.
+ Maren Kirstine was born 1878. She married Christian Christensen, and died in 1957.
+ Soren was born 1880. He married Marie Eskildsen. I have no further information on this family, or if the couple had any children.
+ Dagmar Augusta was born 1883. She married Reiar Aasberg, and died 1973. I do not know if this couple had any children.
+ Ane Marie was born 1886. She married Niels Peter Skov Jensen (whom I believe was a cousin of Else's husband) in 1906. She died in 1960. I am uncertain if this couple had any children.

What I don't know:

* While I managed to get past the block of Jorgen's parents, and have managed to get several generation back further on his mother's side, on his father's side I have not been so lucky. Lars Andersen is unfortunately as common as Jorgan Larsen. I keep attempting to find more, but as of yet, I know little about him.

* I would love to find out who his parents were, and also how many siblings he had.

* In a similar vein, I would love to know more about the rest of his children aside from Jorgen. How many children did they have? When did they die? Where did they live with their spouses?

* I would also love to know when Lars and Berthe died, as I do not have death dates for either of them.

Other information about this branch of the family:
> Larsen Surname Saturday Post
> Where We're From – United States
> Where We're From – Denmark
> Women's History Month Week 1

Wow…apparently I don't write about this line much. It's too far back to be a proper brick wall, and it's buried deep in a family line that's fairly well researched, so that's probably why. I'll have to remedy that, though. It's an interesting line. And one that's actually better on the female lines than the male. Both for my g-g grandmother and for her father's mother, too.

Surname Saturday 2.0: The Reichs

The Reich Family

As of writing this, I have only one person in my family tree with this surname, my great-great grandmother Feige Golda Kresch (nee Reich). I have always had her in my tree, but I know almost nothing about her. So this entry is going to be a little different.

Feige (which is what I believe she went by given the records I have of two of her children) was likely born in Galicia to Jewish parents about 1870. Going by her name, she was probably a German Jew, but I have seen the name in many eastern Galician records as well, so it's also possible her family came from the eastern area, where the Ukrane now is.

The first record I have of her is in my great-grandparents' family book. It lists her as being from Czudek, which is where my great-grandmother was born, though I am uncertain if she was born there herself, or just lived there most recently according to that paperwork. I know nothing of her parents at all, or if she had siblings, or how many.

Of her husband, I know little. She married Benzion Kresch sometime before 1890, and the two had at least three, likely more, children. I am certain of the names of three at this time, but little else. I am uncertain when her husband died, but I do know that after, she moved to Frankfurt to be closer to her daughters. She died there sometime in the late 1920s, possibly 1929.

That's all I have. No exact dates, no family outside her husband, daughters and son, no addresses or specific birthplace. I do hope to find more, but given where she lived, I don't expect to find it easily, if I can at all.

The Reich line, as I know it:

>Feige Golda Reich was born about 1870, likely in Galicia. She married Benzion Kresch sometime before 1890. The two had at least three children, and possibly as many as five or more, according to some stories I have heard. The children I know are:
o Naftali Mendel Kresch, who I believe, according to the information I found, went by the name of Mendel, born 1890, married Rosa Lowenbraun, and they had at least one child, a Sabina Kresch, who was married herself by the time the family escaped to Brazil, sometime in the early days of World War II.
o Dora Kresch, born 1892, married Alex Hillinger 1919 in Frankfurt, Germany, where they raised 6 children before leaving for the US in the early 1930s.
o Minna Kresch, who I have little information about, but who came to Frankfurt with her sister after World War I, and who also managed to escape the war, as I have a photo of her at one of my great-aunts' weddings in the late 1940s.
o Of the others, I have no information, though I can guess their possible fates, given the time period. I have yet to have it confirmed, but it seems unlikely, given the area and the time, that my family would have completely escaped that fate.

> Dora and Alex Hillinger had six children, who have been covered in both the Hillinger and Seneft entries.

> Mendel and Rosa had at least one daughter survive the war, and she had a daughter as well. The last records I have of that branch of the family is a few photos of a "South American" cousin who came to visit in the 40s, and Mendel and his daughter's immigration cards to Brazil. I would absolutely love to get in contact with this branch of the family to see if they have any further information on our family.

What I don't know has been detailed above, but I will list it here fore easier reading, too:

> I would love to know anything about Feige's family—her parents, her siblings, where they lived when she was born.

> I would love to know when Feige and Benzion married, how many children they had, and when he died.

> I want to know more about the family of Mendel Kresch, and how they have done down in South America, and specifically if there are any family members still alive there today.

> I would also love to know more about my great-great aunt Minna, and how she survived the years. Did she marry? Did she have children? When did she come to the US? Or did she settle elsewhere?

> Last of all, I would love to know the fate of the other Kresch children, and what happened to them.

Other information about this branch of the family:
Brick Wall Posts -
> Brick Walls –a different listing
> Brick Wall Update
> Brick Wall Update 2012
Old Surname Posts
> Reich
Where We're From Posts
> Where We're From – Galicia
Other -
> On Jewish Names and Naming Traditions

About this blog

This blog is maintained by two sisters who have had a life long interest in geneology.
Mika writes here mostly about our family (Hansen, Hillinger, Bordewick, Park, etc), and her search for more information.
Shannon mostly uses this space as a place to make the many stories written about and by her husband's family (Holly, Walker, Walpole, etc) available to the rest of the family, present and future.

Our blog is named Oh Spusch! mostly because Shannon is bad at naming things. The first post I put up includes a story about the time Walker's great grandfather took his whole family out to see a play and the littlest kept saying "Oh! Spusch!" No one ever figured out what she meant by that.