Hometown Histories – Fjenneslev, Alsted-Flinterup and Knudstrup, Denmark – Oline Hansen and ancestors

My great-grandmother, (Julie) Oline Hansen, was born in 1886 in a small farming community a little to the southwest of the middle of Sealand called Fjenneslev. Her father's line goes back at least two generations in that area. The area is directly on the border between two areas of Denmark, Sorø and Roskilde, and is the confluence of three small towns called Alsted-Flinterup, Knudstrup, and Fjenneslev.

Fjenneslev currently has just under 800 people living there now. As stated above, it is located almost directly between Sorø and Ringsted, but it is considered part of the Sorø Municipality. It has a train station and a very famous church. Oline and her siblings attended school near the church until their confirmation, then began working to support the family. There is a second church in Alsted, where Oline and her siblings were all confirmed and where both of Oline's parents were buried.

The Fjenneslev church was built in 1130, and features a large double tower. It is one of the country's most famous churches due to the legend of how the towers were built, and the land upon which it was built. Absalon and Esbern were the sons of the couple who built the church. Legend says that the towers on the church represented the two brothers, but fact seems to suggest the boys built the towers, possibly in honor of their parents.
Fjenneslev Church
The legend goes that Asger and his wife were still building the church when he was sent to war. She was pregnant at the time, and so he asked her to build a tower if she had a boy, and a steeple if she had a girl. When he returned home from the war, he saw two towers, and that was how he knew he had twin sons. The truth is that the boys were a few years apart in age, so it is far more likely they built the towers to memorialize their parents. An ancient stone was found at the church cemetary, which was uncovered in 1830 during the demolition of a dike there. It was re-erected in the churchyard in 1910. The text reads "In memory of Asger Ryg, Absalon and Esbern's father, this stone was erected to testify where Hvide land once was." Little remains of their family land today.

The Hvide family is a very important Danish Noble family from Danish history, of which Absalon and Esbern are two of the best-known individuals. Esbern (known as Esbern Snare) was born in 1127, and Absalon was born in 1128. They were raised with the future king of Denmark, Valdemar the first. Esbern helped to fight for Valdemar's right to gain the Danish throne while Absalon was learning theology in the University of Paris. When he returned to Denmark, he too became involved in the fight to put Valdemar on the throne, and was nearly killed when King Svend (also known as Sweyn)  attempted to poison Valdemar to get rid of him. Svend was defeated in 1157, and Valdemar ascended the throne. In reward for his help, Absalon became the Bishop of Roskilde when the old Bishop died.

Oline was born on a little farm in Fjenneslev called Stubbegaard. According to the census records I have been able to find, and the stories I have passed down to me by my grandmother and great aunt, it was owned by at least three generations of her family. In the 1870 census, it shows Rasmus, her father, as the farmer, with both his first wife (he was married before he married my great-great grandmother) and his parents in residence. They are not in the 1880 census there, but are located elsewhere. And after Rasmus's death, the farm then passed on to his eldest son Herman. It is no longer owned by the family, but I like that we can trace it back at least that far.

Oline (back left) and her siblings, ca 1900 or so
Oline's life was a simple one when she was young. Likely she helped out at the farm when she was not at school, along with her siblings. However, when she was still a girl, her father grew ill and died of a respiratory illness. She was eight, according to my notes. She and her two siblings found their work load at home greatly increased. Oline soon decided she was not cut out for farming, and found a job with one of the neighboring families. The name of the man who was the head of that household was Ole Hansen, who was already heavily into the politics of the area, if not already Minister of Agriculture.

Ole Hansen
Ole Hansen was the first non-noble to act as Minister in Denmark. He was born in 1855, and died in 1928 in Copenhagen. He was the son of Hans Olsen, who had been Mayor of the area he was born in. In 1883 he started his rise in politics. He was elected to the Bringstrup Parish and from 1886 to 1891 he was the chairman. In 1895 he became a member of the Sorø County Council. He served there through 1910. In 1890, he was elected to the parliament. He was Minister of Agriculture from 1901 to 1908, when he resigned, but was elected again in 1914 and served there until his death in 1928.

Oline's father died in 1895, so she likely began to work for the family before Ole became Minister. I know that she moved with them to the outskirts of Copenhagen, as she lived in Frederiksberg for a short time before moving to America. She settled in Chicago for a few years before travelling back to Denmark to visit her family in 1916. It was on that trip that she met the man she would marry, Holger Hansen. After returning to America, the two continued to court, and in 1918, they married and settled in Cleveland together. My grandmother was born just a year later.

Oline, my grandmother, and Holger, ca 1920
The couple had a good life together, adding two more children to their family, and living in a small community of Danes in the suburbs of Cleveland, which included both friends and family. Unfortunately, their happiness did not last. In 1929, Oline grew sick, and soon died of pneumonia. Mv grandmother was only nine. I'm sad to say that the family lost track of Oline's side after that. Holger lost touch with her brother, the only family member here in the states, and her children were too small to be in touch with her family back in Denmark on their own. However, in the 1980s, my great aunt decided to reconnect to the family, and she and my grandmother and their brother were able to visit their Uncle Hans (Oline's brother) in Omaha before his death in 1989. My great aunt also went and visited the family back in Denmark soon after, and got to see the family farm and meet the remaining family in the area.

Absalon (Danish to English)
Esbern Snare (Danish to English)
Fjenneslev (Danish to English)
Fjenneslev Cemetary (Danish to English)
Fjenneslev Church (Danish to English)
Fjenneslev Church (Danish to English)
Hvide (Danish to English)
Hansen Family Tree
Ole Hansen (Danish to English)
Sweyn III of Denmark


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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.