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The whereabouts of Nels Sorenson - King Rat
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The whereabouts of Nels Sorenson

I think I now have a complete set of census records for my great great grandfather, Nels Hansen Sorenson. He’s part of my grandmother’s branch of the family; she was estranged from the family so everything I know I have to reconstruct from records.

Her grandfather Niels was born in Langelands Denmark to an unmarried couple, Johan Sørensen and Marthe Kirstine Nielsen. A couple years later Marthe had another child out of wedlock, though she eventually married that man.

Perhaps because he was illegitimate or perhaps because his parents were poor, but Nels was not raised by his parents. He is with his mother in the 1855 Denmark Census in Bøstrup when he is about 6 months old. But in 1860 he’s living with his grandmother in Skrøbelev, and 1870 he’s a servant/farmboy for another person in the same parish who at this point I do not know if is related.

Skrøbelev Kirke
Skrøbelev Kirke (CC Arne Alexander Fræer Eckmann)

In 1880, Nels is still in Langelands in Illebølle but he’s married to my great great grandmother. In 1883 they would emigrate to Madison Wisconsin, where he Americanized his name to Nels Sorenson. In the 1900, 1910, 1920, and 1930 United States Censuses, he’s living at 1118 E Gorham Street in Madison. I’ve also got the 1905 Wisconsin State Census for him as well. He died in 1931.

1118 E Gorham Madison Wisconsin
1118 E Gorham St, Madison (Google Street View)

Assembling the Danish Census images was tough because it’s poorly indexed. I looked through them digital image by digital image. Luckily, the places he lived on Langelands are not particularly populated places. I think I only had to look through about 500 pages. Despite the use of patronymics, the name Niels Hansen Sorensen is pretty uncommon on Langelands. I’m not 100% certain the 1870 census I found is him though. The age, location, and birth place match with what he reported on other censuses, but I still don’t have a conclusive way to tie them together.

I am also missing the 1885 and 1895 Wisconsin Censuses for him. Those are theoretically well indexed, but he’s not in the indexes and Madison/Dane County are big places to search image by image. As those censuses include only the name of the head of household, I can’t search for other family members hoping that Nels himself was mis-transcribed.

crossposted from King Rat.

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