All text and images are referenced by Family History Profiles (see below).
Emmanuel began his painting apprenticeship at age 14, after his church confirmation gave him the legal right to stop attending school. Training with a master commercial painter would build the extensive knowledge and skills needed for his craft – whether for house walls or more complicated assignments such as frescos or furniture detail. First, he had to learn how to make the paint, grinding up dry pigment compounds in oil to make a paste, and then tipping in turpentine until achieving the correct color and consistency. The color range was limited, but every decade or so, new hues excited the commercial painting world, like viridian green in 1859. But many new paints were toxic – cobalt violet and emerald green delighted customers but contained high levels of arsenic. Aside from paint mixing, Emmanuel learned painting techniques to keep the color even, disguise irregular surfaces, and ensure any brush marks were orderly. Painters or glaziers added a final top coat glaze. It was a complex trade, requiring technical know-how, as well as an artistic eye.
Alarmingly, cholera broke out in Copenhagen when Hans Andersen was newly a teenager, in 1853. His community was no doubt terrified, with much talk about the 1711 epidemic that killed a third of the city’s residents, although the culprit that time was bubonic plague. The first case was a young man working on a dredger. He was hospitalized and survived, but his roommate died. During the four months that cholera raged, it killed nearly 4 percent of the city’s 130,000 people, including beloved artist Christoffer Eckersberg, and ailed many more. Hans undoubtedly knew some neighbors who succumbed. Everyone in the city had to abide by regulations issued by the health authorities: “Avoid lingering in polluted, entrapped air; guard against colds; avoid fermented or sour beer; and abstain from the enjoyment of the fruit, garden herbs, pork fat, melons and cucumbers.” These recommendations reflect the accepted theory of the day that diseases spread through the “miasma” or atmosphere, although warnings about plants and fruit perhaps reflects a suspicion about other causes. Interestingly, the same epidemic that struck Copenhagen so violently soon erupted in London, and English physician John Snow is credited with associating the disease with water, focusing suspicion on a water pump.
The Dalgaard family would probably have visited the nearby village of Jelling, curious about its ancient relics. Excavation of huge burial mounds began in the 1820s and the site also had an old church and several carved granite stones with drawings and ancient rune writing. One stone, nearly eight feet tall, dates back to 965 AD. Microscopic specks of color revealed they were once painted in vibrant colors, nowadays portrayed in replicas. The most revered stone, nearly eight feet tall, carries King Harald Bluetooth’s declaration that Christianity had been established and it is now daubed “Denmark’s Certificate of Baptism.” Together, the rune stones, nearby burial mounds and church form a UNESCO World Heritage site. Bluetooth technology – ubiquitous in mobile phones and computers for wireless communication – uses the king’s name in recognition of his skills at connecting and bringing people together.
Cathrine Bøtker grew up in Arrild, a little Schleswig village by an area of fens and woods. It lies south of Hønning Plantage and Lindet Forest, once part of an enormous stretch of hardwood trees (especially oak) and a select burial place for Bronze Age people. In 1785, the Danish king bought up much of the forest and surrounding land, and started preserving it – this included a new trench to hold back grazing animals and the planting of conifers. Even before the King’s purchase, local authorities strove to replace the forest. In 1737, they passed a rule that any betrothed peasants living near the woods first had to plant 10 oaks or 15 beech trees and see them live through three springs before they could marry. The king softened this requirement to a recommendation, but the forest bailiff recorded who planted what, and the priests colluded in refusing to marry anyone without the bailiff’s certificate of environmental worthiness.
One of Peder Mathiesen’s main features was his walrus mustache. Large mustaches were very fashionable in the second half of the 19th century and required grooming to keep any errant hairs in place. To help with this, men used a special wax, which worked well until they drank hot coffee or tea; steam could melt the wax, cause it to drip and ruin the look of the mustache. A ceramics company owner in England invented a cup that allowed hot liquids into the mouth, but held back the mustache by a sculptured ledge of china, clay or silver. These practical cups and mugs became popular and it is likely Peder kept one in his home so he could drink in peace.
Gustav Knap spent several years apprenticing to be a baker in Copenhagen. It was a highly regarded trade that set standards for wheat quality and punished bakers who cheated in quality and weight of their products. The symbol for a bakery was, and still is, a pretzel topped by a crown. Bakers had a tough job, starting very early in the day and working indoors near hot stoves. There were other hazards, too, as described in a report about scabies – a mite that spreads by touch and burrows into the skin, causing intense itching. “About a quarter of workmen with scabies who were admitted into Copenhagen’s City Hospital in 1867 were bakers. This prompted calls for stricter conditions for the men, who were housed by the master baker and typically shared beds, sometimes as many as five together.” In his more than three decades of baking, it is unlikely that Gustav escaped a case or two. The treatment for scabies worked, but was very uncomfortable. It required breaking open all the skin areas hiding mites, often by scrubbing vigorously with chalk, and then poring sulfur or another caustic substances onto the wound.
In 1872, when Hans Jørgen was searching for work, an autumn storm blasted over the coastline in southern Lolland, pushing water up as much as nine feet above normal and destroying life and property, especially boats and animals. Although he lived on relatively high ground in Raa, 12 miles from the coast, he would have heard about the disaster and quite possibly found work on the subsequent land preservation project. In the aftermath of the disaster, the government quickly passed a bill to construct an enormous dike to protect vulnerable parts of the coast. On Lolland, the dike ran for nearly 40 miles and had 27 locks and 15 miles of canals with brackish ditches. It was labor-intensive work, with men moving soil by shovel and wheelbarrow, but its purpose was urgent and the work teams completed construction in under six years.
Unusually, Charlotte Lindgren did not spend her sunset years in the care of her adult children, but lived in a charitable institution brimming with seniors, known as Vartou Hospital. This rather unusual place seemed to have well-connected seniors or other dependent residents who had fallen on hard times. It ran on donations from the wealthy. Another unique aspect of Vartou was the priest assigned to the affiliated church – fire-and-brimstone philosopher and social reformer, N.F.S. Grundtvig. Charlotte would likely have listed, rapt, to his sermons each Sunday as he boomed out opinions about the spiritualist wealth in wisdom, compassion and equality, and about his then-radical new approach to education. At the time, schooling was focused on learning how to read the Bible; scholarly pursuits at city universities were rigidly structured and left little breathing room for creativity. Grundtvig, highly learned himself, felt that education should be fluid and founded on cooperation and discovery. His revolutionary ideas took hold at home and soon spread to other countries.
One of Family History Profiles’ services is to digitally sharpen and clean up old photos, negatives and documents that have become faded or torn, or have a distracting background, using Adobe Photoshop. Here is one sample:
Sample 1 (painting)
WebExhibits: Pigments through the Ages
DenStoreDansk: Maler (in Danish)
U.S. National Park Service: Technical Preservation
Postcard of Hochbrucke Square, Copenhagen, from the Library of Congress via Wikimedia Commons
Sample 2 (cholera)
Cholera epidemic in Copenhagen 1853, by Niels Andersen for KøbenhavnsBiblioteker (in Danish)
Ministry for Children, Education and Gender Equality: Danmarks læringsportal (in Danish)
Image of 1853 Copenhagen cholera outbreak – tent camp, via Wikimedia Commons
Sample 3 (rune stones)
National Museum of Denmark, Jelling Project
UNESCO on Jelling
Photo of Harald Bluetooth rune stone in Jelling, by Roberto Fortuna, commissioned by the Danish National Museum, posted via Wikimedia Commons
Photo courtesy of the National Museum of Denmark via Wikimedia Commons. Uploaded by palnatoke
Sample 4 (reforestation)
Miljø og Fødevareministeriet: Lindet Forest history (in Danish)
Postcard of Arrild, courtesy of Jessen Research
Sample 5 (mustache cup)
Mustache Cups: Timeless Victorian Treasures by Pauline C. Peck and Glen Erardi. Publisher in U.S. Schiffer Publishing Ltd., (2007)
Everything stops for tea
Photo of mug by Anne-Lise Reinsfelt at Norsk Folkemuseum
Sample 6 (baker’s life)
Scabies among bakers, Fnat og syfilis – aspekter af behandling af hudog kønssygdomme på Københavns Kommunehospital 1863-92, by Jeanne G. Christensen and Henrik Permin, Page 76 (in Danish)
Copenhagen’s Bakers Guild (in Danish)
Photo of restored sign for baker of the guild courtesy of Skilte Fabrikken
Sample 7 (Lolland dikes)
1001 stories about Denmark: Lolland Dike (in Danish)
Denmarks Meteorological Institute: Weather Climate Sea (in Danish)
Painting of the dike by Kramnitze by J.E.C. Rasmussen, via Wikimedia Commons
Sample 8 (Vartou’s Grundtvig)
Denmark.DK on Grundtvig
InfEd: NFS Gruntvig, folk high schools and popular education
Painting by Christian Albrecht Jensen, 1843, via Wikimedia Commons
Sample 9 (photo repair)
Photograph of Hans Jørgen Christiansen owned by Cathy Kristiansen, Family History Profiles