Day 14: Recreate a single day
Last Friday I was telling you a story while we were having coffee. My husband and I were going to take a trip in the footsteps of a boy from Funen in Denmark who would later become a very famous Danish-American called “The Builder of the West”. He was born in 1864 and died in 1933 and his name was Hans Pederson.
You can read about him in my blogging friend Paula Pederson’s Blog. He was her father and she is reconstructing his life in a future book and on her blog.
Paula and I and my husband have come to know each other entirely though WordPress and the friendship is growing. My husband and I find it very interesting to investigate in ancestries and as Denmark is a small country and it’s not too difficult to search for places in Denmark.
The weather had been very windy and rainy in September, but the day we went to Funen started with full sunshine.
We live in Jutland the part of Denmark connected with Germany and we started the car drive at 8.30 A.M. and had a two hours drive to the place where Hans Pederson was born. I was very excited as I always am when we are going to travel anywhere and had difficulties to sleep. But I said to myself that I could sleep in the car if necessary. I didn’t need to at all, the morning tiredness, was blown away very soon.
Would we manage to find the big estate Løjtved where Hans Pedersen’s grandfather had worked and were Hans had played as a child and probably also helped in the fields and in the garden?
The village looked much nicer than many Danish villages today. Many are more or less abandoned. The Church was a typical Danish white church and the church yard was very well-kept. The graves are divided by low rows of bow trees and the ravel paths are tidily raked.
At this church Hans was baptized and confirmed and from the tower you could easily see the estate where his grandfather was working as a day worker. Hans’s own father has not played any role, but just disappeared from the scene. Hans only got his surname after him. His mother had to find work ten kilometers a way so at that time it meant that Hans grew up with his grandparents. There are a few old houses along the country road close to the estate “Løjtved” we found the house Hans Pedersen lived in by comparing our picture with a picture in a book on Hans Pedersen.
We had breakfast very early so I was so hungry at twelve o’clock so among the few shops in the village there was a lovely bakery with fresh bread. We got some whole grain roles and had our own coffee at a bench in front of the church. Beside the bakery was a flower shop and it was really a fine shop with very fresh flowers. We bought two different kinds of flowers for gifts. In the bigger cities prices are higher. I asked the girl in the shop:
If she knew anything about the famous Dane who came from this little spot? No she was sorry about that and she came from a different town nearby.
We drove to our next destination twelve kilometers away to a church called “Bregninge” where Hans, as a school child, had been on a school excursion. We drove to the island of Taasinge via a bridge, but at that time the schoolchildren had taken a ferry. The church is famous for the view from the tower as you can see 65 other churches on a clear day !
Even on the day we went up other tourists were there as well, families with young children. So it’s still considered an attraction. The area is one of the most charming places in Denmark with water around, woods and small half-timbered houses.
I now make my story about Hans. He wanted to show his good grandparents, who took him in as their son, that he could make a living and he emigrated from his home at the age of eighteen and he really did well in life. He started as a gold digger and learnt to build and then took the next step to become a builder himself.
We had another appointment that day to visit a distant relative of mine, who I had never met. She lives in Nysted on the island called Lolland where my paternal grandfather was born.
To get there we took a ferry from Funen and sailed for an hour, where I wrote a draft to a blog post, and after an hour’s drive she greeted us with coffee and bread and we assured her that we were family. Her father had been put to a workhouse as a boy while his sister had been brought up in my grandfather’s childhood’s home after he had left for the teaching seminary in 1898. The parents had died of tuberculosis. So Hans Rasmussen ( the same first name as Hans Pederson) had closed all feelings for the family as only his sister was welcomed into the family. Hans Rasmussen who lived from (1901-1966), also managed well in life, and built up a business with a fruit orchard and road delivery. He was a kind and friendly man, but unable to have anything to do with the family, who wouldn’t take him in as a child. His daughter really felt that we were relatives and wanted to know more about the ancestors we have in common.
We ended that lovely day in a small province town called Præstø where we had found a room called Bed & Coffee. The sun had shone all day, but was a seldom guest both before and after that day.