Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Dane Called Kesko


According to my files, Andrew Peter "Kesko" Olsen was born 7 January 1832 on a little farm in Hjørring, Denmark called Kjaersgaard. As part of my verification and source citation of "hand me down" information, I obtained his christening record tonight from the State Archives of Denmark online.

Although New Family Search gives his christening and birth dates both as 7 Jan 1832, double checking the original shows that Anders Peter Olsen was christened 8 January 1832 in the parish church at Rakkeby. His parents were farmer Ole Johansen and wife Ane Marie Iversdatter, of Rakkeby. [1]

Rakkeby is about 10 miles south of Kjaersgaard, as shown on the Google map below. Andrew's mother Ane Marie Iversdatter was from Rakkeby, which is probably why he was christened there instead of one of the churches closer to Kjaersgaard. In Danish, Kjaersgaard means "beloved farm." It is pronounced, to the American ear "Kesko," which is how Andrew Peter Olsen became known as the Dane called Kesko. Because the patronymic naming system resulted in so many men of the same name, farm names and other nicknames were used as surnames as clarification. Their farms literally became part of their identity.

I went to visit this beloved farm Kjaersgaard in 2001. I rented a bicycle in Hirtshals and biked out to find the farm. It was an amazing experience I hope I never forget. I had seen black and white photos of the farm in the book The Dane from Kjaersgaard so when I came around the copse of trees and saw the actual farm compound with tidy whitewashed walls and red roof I felt like I had stepped through the pages of the book much like Alice through the looking glass. The new owners were very gracious and, after explaining myself and my story in my terrible Danish, allowed me to take dozens of photos.

Now as I click through the digital images or scroll through the microfilm verifying, citing sources, and looking for new clues, I'll keep in my heart the memory of that photo coming to life and imagine one day my documents will do the same.

View My Danes in a larger map


1. State Archive of Denmark, "Kirkebøger, Rakkeby, Børglum, Hjørring," churchbook, Statens Archiver ( : accessed February 2010), Christenings page 35, 1832, entry #1, Anders Peter Olsen.


Janae said...

I found you by googling Kjeasgaard and we are related to Andrew Peter Olsen through his son Daniel. My husband's name is Kay after the K used to brand cattle by the family. We are going to Denmark, 12 family members and are planning on a trip up to the area. I would love to pick your brain. I tried to email you but the email came back as undeliverable. Janae Anderson

Janae said...

We have the book Dane of Kjeasgaard with the 1964 letter from the Parrish Priest is this the same one you have? Janae

Spotlight-On WM said...

Lovely. Thanks for the photos. I found you when I was looking up info on Ane Marie's gravestone ("Kesko"). Ole Kjærsgaard Johansen and Ane Marie Iversdatter are my 4x g-grandparents on my father's side. It's so cool to see the area they lived in.

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