Small glimpses of my Great Grandfather

Confirmation card from William’s sister Caroline, 4 April 1880 at Holmen’s Church

She reminds him to remember his family who loves him and the trust in God for his life. 

A picture from his first year at school. William is in the blue frame. The boys wear sailor hats.


My grandfather i the blue frame. A school picture from 1871. The school was for the boys who’s fathers worked with ship building or in the Navy

This photo was taken at Stjernevej where sister Caroline lived with her large family. The house is demolished many years ago, but the street is still there in Copenhagen.


From the right back row William, Asta, Peter Caroline’s husband and some of the boys and Caroline their mother, second row from the right Laura, cousin Julie with Ellen and Caroline with Kaj. Third row from the right Svend Asta’s little brother and the rest are Caroline’s children

This greeting card is from his sister Caroline who got a lot of children and many of them died unfortunately.

Nyboder then and now

William Nielsen lived from 1865- 1926 in Copenhagen. My Grandmother Asta has saved a lot of greeting cards from birthdays and Christmas and for celebrations of confirmation both her own and her father’s. I am so lucky to have them in small fine boxes.

For his 24th years’ birthday from his German writing aunt in 1889

The postal system was very effective. Some of the cards were posted and received the same day as there were several deliveries every day and even one on Sundays. (Unheard of today).


William was born in a famous area of Copenhagen still existing today called “Nyboder”. In the linked post you can see the houses. The rows of houses were built for the people working for the navy building ships or attached to the navy as sailors or of higher rank. The streets had very special names as “Fox street” or “Crocodile Street”, or “Dolphin Street”.

This greeting card is from his sister Caroline . The card is from 1884. I feel I “know” the boy on the card. William’s sister wishes him a lot of good things and that he later will look back at his life with joy.

At this time William was nineteen years old and in the Danish Navy


William about 19 years old in the navy

He got married to Laura in 1889 and in 1890 my grandmother Asta was born. They lived in “Hare Street” 11. The house is still there today. This card he sent to his wife in 1897 from Stockholm and the text is like a text message we would send today like when he arrives back home again.

He worked as a carpenter building ships for the Navy

A love letter from William 22 years old to his fiance Laura in 1887

He writes that she is in his thoughts always. They are apart at that time so he longs to be with her.



Greeting telegrams from family and friends as William receives his medal of honor in 1910


His sister’s  Caroline’s wish for him at his confirmation that he would choose to live a godly life wasn’t fulfilled as he left his family and moved together with a woman with whom he got a son. My grandmother was eighteen and her brother was eight years old. This left Laura and the children in a difficult situation. William was back to the family when my grandmother got married in 1919. I have other posts on this issue. I plan to make a post on her greeting cards and old gems from her childhood.


  1. Jumped over from the Senior Salon
    What will our great-grand generation have to tell them who we were? Tweets? Text messages? Christmas cards with engraved names and maybe a signature or two? Selfies, perhaps?

    Nothing so charming as what you have shared above, I’m fairly certain. Thank you for this lovely post.
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to transform a world!”


    • So true Madelyn! Not much written material will be left. I hope WordPress will develop a way to turn blogs into books. One of my blogs is in Danish on memoirs on my life and of family. All these paper treasures will be thrown out after I am gone

      Liked by 1 person

      • I recently came across a site that offers that service for a fee – the books look nice and I believe I recall you can choose which pages you want printed. They support a couple of platforms, and WordPress is one.

        Google it and I’ll bet you’ll find it – I am not ready to do that just yet, and I’m not sure where I filed the link.

        Before you “go” see if a library in your area might want paper treasures. Surely they would find them fascinating. They might know who archives that kind of material, in any case.


      • Thank you so much for this info. If you come across the page you mention I would like so much to have it. I know that we are so many bloggers and a post like this one will disappear in the sea of the blog roll. My mail is
        You are right on the local archives. It will be brought there in time or I will ask my children to bring it. The material is over a hundred years old

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I just read “A Bridgetender’s View,” a fine collection of musings made into a book by Barb Abelhauser. She raises drawbridges, moved 3100 miles from Florida to Seattle. In her spare time she wrote these “notes on gratitude” — blogs that she compiled into an inspiring book that can be read in bits like blogs.

    Madelyn, you are right. We may be the last ones to leave a paper trail. From old papers and one book i’ll soon publish a book about my father, Hans Pedersen a Danish emigrant to America — much improved thanks to the detective work of Maria and her husband Henry!

    Newspapers are disappearing as people grab news on their cell phones. I belong to a book club of older women. Two young ones have joined us, figuring that soon people may not read books any more.

    Hitler burned the books, now they are giving way to technology.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Maria, I was going to remark about how much I enjoyed sharing and learning about all your moments but then I read all the discourse and couldn’t stop smiling. Your post’s commented a true Salon.


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