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Dragoon Knud Christian Hansen Skov, about 1890

Let's take a closer look on how to find information in the military archive, in this case closing in a specific regiment and a specific conscript, my great grandfather, Knud Christian Hansen Skov. This post is about how I found some of the military records available regarding my great grandfather and hopefully it can be a kind of 'how-to' when you need to find information about your own ancestors.

I started out with nothing more than my great grandfather's name and an old photo of him in uniform as well as a general idea of when he served (my initial guess was 1890 +/- 5 years). Unfortunately noone in my family could give me anymore details than that, except of cource that everyone remembers my grat grandmother telling that "he looked so handsome in his uniform". Not much to go by, but lets see what we can find. Luckily the Danish archives have rather much information available and the resources are generally very well organized.

First step was taking a closer look at the photo. The photo shows my great grandfather mounted on horseback and wearing a dragoon's uniform (dragoons wear a characteristic helmet). Beneath the photo is the name of the photographer, Ed Langhoff in Næstved (in this case spelled 'Nestved').

1. An internet search with the keywords 'dragonregiment' and 'næstved' quickly leads me to Peter Loumann's website 'Huse i Næstved' ('Houses/buildings in Næstved'). Here I can see a military barracks called 'Grønnegades Kaserne'. From the information found here I can see that 4. Dragonregiment ('4th Dragoon Regiment') were stationed in Næstved from 1842 to about 1922/23. Now I know in what regiment my great grandfather served.

2. An additional internet search with the keywords 'langhoff' and 'næstved' leads me to Næstved Museum's website with a section called 'Fotografer i Næstved' ('Photographers in Næstved'). Here I can read that Edvard Langhoff (or Eduard Christian Langhoff) were a photograher in Næstved from June 26, 1882 to April 1889. This information narrows down my search to a specific range of years.

Source: 'Photographers in and from Denmark until the year 1900' A valuable help for identifying old family photos is the reference book 'Fotografer i og fra Danmark indtil år 1900' ('Photographers in and from Denmark until the year 1900') by Bjørn Ochsner which contains an index with biographical information of nearly all photographers in Denmark until 1900, in the duchies of Schleswig, Holstein and Lauenburg until 1864 as well as photographers of Danish descent working abroad.

3. Next step was make a lookup in register with title "Registratur over Forsvarets Arkiver". This register lists all military resources held by the Military Archive ("Forsvarets Arkiver") in Copenhagen and is generally available at every archive and several libraries in Denmark (perhaps also at your local family history center who also holds small collections of published resources. Does anyone know? Post a comment). The register is vital in finding the right resources. Not only does the index tell you what kind of resources are available which years has been preserved but it also provides information about the changes in regiment names and stations etc. through time. Regarding 4th Dragoon Regiment I found both regimental registers, internal and external correspondance, list of punishments/penalties, regimental accounts etc. (The military records below includes a lot of military terms, well, of cource, but I'm not sure how to translate all terms so I just left some of them in Danish):

4th Dragoon Regiment (4. Dragonregiment)

Ressort: Royal Resolution of May 1, 1670.

History: Raised Aug. 1, 1670 af "1. Jyske Nationale Rytterregiment". 1675: "2. Jyske Nationale Rytterregiment". 1748: "1. Jyske Nationale Rytterregiment". 1763: "Jyske Kyrasseregiment". 1772: "1. Sjællandske Regiment Rytteri". 1785: "Sjællandske Rytterregiment". 1816: "Sjællandske Lanseregiment" ("Sjællandske Lansenérregiment"). 1842: "4. Dragonregiment". Disbanded 1923.

Litterature: Hansen, H. D.: "4. Dragonregiment 1670 - 1. august 1920". (Published 1920).

Regimental registers: Indgåede skrivelser 1771-1924. Registraturbøger 1765-1923. Kopi- og korrespondancebøger 1767-1923. Listebøger samt eskadrons- og skolearkiver 1846-1923. Ordrebøger 1763-­1849. Befalingsbøger 1765-1923. Rapportbøger 1828-1924. Straffebøger 1850-1923. Stambøger 1737-1923. Hestesager 1870-1923. Fortroligt arkiv 1856-1924. Varia 1746-1922. Regnskaber 1790-1923.

4. My focus here is the "Stambøger" (pl.) which could be translated to something like "personel registers". As you might have noticed in the above not everything has been archived and preserved, especially not the older documents, but the "personel registers" are preserved from 1737 and until the regiment were disbanded in 1923. These registers holds all information regarding the individual conscript or officer etc. including a physical discription and is available on microfilm as self service in the reading room at the Danish National Archives ("Rigsarkivet") in Copenhagen, but can also be ordered for research at the various regional archives. However, I chose to travel to Copenhagen, as I also wanted to check out some other resources there at the same time. It turned out that my great grandfather where a noncommissioned officer while serving at the 4th Dragoon Regiment, but it also gave me other interestiing information, suck as a physical discription:

Knud Christian Hansen Skov, born June 28, 1861 i Sønder Broby [Svendborg County]

  • Height: 64' 3/4'' [164,5 cm]
  • Build: Strong
  • Hair: Blond
  • Eyes: Blue
  • Speciel characteristics: -
  • 4th Dragoon Regiment:
    • Compagni: [Særlen] Jan. 21, 1886 - June 14, 1886
    • Compagni: 2. Squadron June 15, 1886 - Feb. 12, 1894
  • (Called in as) conscript: Oct. 6 1885
  • Udskrivningskreds / "enlistment area": no. 2 [Holbæk County]
  • Lægd / "enlistment locality": no. 206
  • Letter and number.: [J] - 24
  • Recruit: Jan. 31, 1886
  • Non-comissioned Officer Academy (Befalingsmandselev): 28/10 86
  • Non-commissioned Officer (Undercorporal): 15/6 87
  • Hjemsendelses- og Indkaldelsesnr.: 12
  • Vedtegninger: -
  • Class (Duelighedsnummer): 1 [the best class]
  • Offences: -
  • Punishments: -
  • Non-commissioned Officer Training passed: Non-commisioned Officers Academi (Underkorporalskolen)
  • Other notes: Farmer
  • Indkaldt til 12/9 88, men fritaget, see K. f. H. no. 45/1888
  • Forholdsattest: 3/10 87
  • From Jan. 1 1894 [xxx] in the reserves at the 2nd Dragoon Regiment. (ref: 4DR 345/1894)
  • Indkaldt til tjeneste:
    • [Særlen]: Jan. 31, 1886 - June 14, 1886
    • 2. Squadron: June 15, 1886 - Oct. 3, 1887
    • 2. Squadron: Sept. 2, 1889 - Oct. 3, 1889

[Source: "Stambøger" > "4. Dragonregiment" > "Underofficerer m.v."; microfilm no. M. 12129, Forsvarets Arkiver/Rigsarkivet]

As you can see I found a lot of interesting information about my great grandfather. Not only information of his military service, but also characteristics such as height, color of his eyes etc. that you might not learn from a photo alone.

Was this information helpful for you? Could it be relevant for you to search the military archives? Why/why not? Have you already found some information and want to tell how you did it. Then please consider leaving a comment below.

]]> (Anders Buch-Jepsen) Tracing Ancestors Wed, 22 Jul 2009 00:00:00 +0200
Court records: Extracts from the Judicial District of Koldinghus

The Judicial District of Koldinghus ("Koldinghus Birk") was in effect from 1719 to the 1765/67, and covered the districs of Elbo, Holman, Brusk, and Jerlev (Vejle County) and Anst and Slav (Ribe County). The Birk, also known as "Birketing" or "Ting" (see also Thing (assembly) from Wikipedia) where both a legislative and judiciary assembly. The term "Ting" is preserved in modern Danish, for example the "Folketing", the Danish Parliament.

The following extracts contains cases of alleged paternity, collection of rewards, illegal distilling of spirits, tithe not paid and even murder!

Being extracts, the information shown here are mainly to give you an idea of what information can be found in the court records in the 1700s rural Denmark. To get the most out of your research effort it is best to know precise who or what you are looking for.

Tips!These judicial resources are mostly used by experienced family historian or professional genealogist who knows their way around the archive and with a good knowledge of the Danish language and transcription of old documents etc.

The court records ("Tingbøger") contain the land registry as well as reports of civil and criminal actions. The records generally require a lot time to study as only a few has not been transcribed, indexed or translated and next to nothing is available online. However, court records can be excellent sources to your family history as you may find names, dates, places, and relationships in these records. At times, especially in cases of inheritance, you may even find the names and relations of entire families. These records must, however, only be used as an addition to the basic genealogical records found in parish registers and census list and perhaps in conjunction with other records such as mortgage records, probate records etc.


May 21, 1726: Dragoon Jens Michelsen from Vork vs. Johanne Jensdatter, ibidem. She had mentioned him as the alleged father of her child. Jens Michelsen had sworn never to have had any physical relation with her except for one single incident, namely July 9, 1725, while cutting grass for the horses on Røj Field. Today she swears that he is the father of her child, and that she haven't had any relations with other. Witnesses called.

May 28, 1726: Peder Sørensen and Peder Pedersen from Billund brought along four living wolf cubs, which they had caught on they field. The cubs were hung in the prescribed wolf gallows and the men received their reward.

September 24, 1726: Prosecutor vs. Jep Jørgensen from Ågård. Case postponed until Oct. 22 (but not seen again later). On Sept. 13 Peder Henriksen and Jens Nielsen from Ågård had been on a visit to Jep Jørgensen together with Anders Eliasen, the assistant to the County Prefect. Anders Eliasen asked Jep Jørgensen to serve him brandy ("brændevin"). As soon as the brandy was served, Anders Eliasen began searching the house for distilling equipment. The equipment he found where sealed and placed in Jep Jørgensen's living room where they could be kept untouched. The witnesses had not tasted the liquid in the distilling kettle, and could not say for certain if is was brandy or not.

October 29, 1726: Sentence: the parish vicar Jørgen Cronius from Vorbasse vs. (Hans Pedersen and Peder Poulsen as well as ) Samuel Eliasen Biener from Vestervig in Vorbasse Parish for tithe. Biener has not paid any tithe of his produce since he moved to Vestervig, and states that the statutory order of April 26, 1723 excludes him from paying being a colonist of an inhabited and desolate place on the heath; he wants, opposite the two other accused who has reached settlement with the vicar, to be acquitted. However, the statutory order only grants freedom from taxes and other contributions to the King and not from paying tithe to the vicar. Therefore Samuel Eliasen Biener should pay the vicar tithe of all crops he has grown since moving to Vestervig based on a fair estimate that both can agree on.

November 19, 1726: Poul Hansen from Seest vs. his father Hans Hansen the older, ibidem. Settlement agreement. The case is about 13 years of interest of an amount of 100 “rigsdaler”, which were inherited by Hans Bertelsen, the step son of Poul Hansen, after the death of his mother. As a part of the agreement Poul Hansen now states that he is satisfied with the payment from his father and Hans Hansen states that Poul Hansen has raised his son properly. Other accusations between each other during the court proceedings are withdrawn.

November 26, 1726: Statutory order of Nov. 8 were read out loud specifying that anyone who buys or sells a church should report the trade to Chancellery ['Danske Kancelli'] and the local Bishop within a month from the bill of sale.

December 10, 1726: Jens Rasmussen Viborg from Nyborg has summoned his wife Kirsten Albertsdatter from Borlev in order to call witnesses that his wife has denied him his marital right. The couple were married 12 years ago. Witnesses called [?].

December 17, 1726: Jens Sørensen from Egum [lod løse obligation af] Hans Hansen from Egeskov, who has the intention to take over Søren Nielsen's farm in Engum on the condition that he marries Søren Nielsen's daughter Maren Sørensdatter. Jens Sørensen, who is her brother, will receive 70 “slettedaler”, which is his full dowry.


March 11, 1727: Lauge Hansen from Stovstrup vs. Birthe Christensdatter from Erritsø for defamation. Settlement agreement.

March 18, 1727: Prosecutor vs. the arrestee Oluf Ebbesen from Håstrup. Sentence by the judge ("birkedommeren") and a jury of his peers; Mogens Rasmussen and Jens Andersen from Viuf, Hans Simonsen from Lilballe, Mads Bek from Eltang, Jacob Pedersen Haar and Søren Kyed from Starup, Hans Hansen Bull from Eltang and Jens Simonsen from Dons: It has been proven that Oluf Ebbesen Bels has lived in an incompatible marriage with his late wife Else Poulsdatter. She was seen hale and hearty in the evening of Jan. 23, where she by the morning of Jan. 24 were found dead in her bed. Witnesses had heard her scream during the night, the last time as if she couldn't scream as loud. From the investigation on the scene of crime there were evidence indicating that she might have been strangulated with a piece of rope. Oluf Ebbesen were immediately arrested and during the questioning he came up with some rather unbelievable explanations until he Feb. 2 at Koldinghus admitted having strangled his wife with an old rag or scarf she had carried round her neck. When she was dead Oluf had placed her on her bed still in her clothes and wiped the blood of her face before he went outside.

Oluf Ebbesen Bels should as a foul murderer be punished in accordance with the law of Oct. 16, 1697. On the execution day he should firstly be pinched with red-hot pincers by the executioner outside the house where the crime was committed, since three times underway between the house and the place of execution, and again one last time at the place of execution. Next his right hand should be hacked off followed by his beheading, both by axe. Next the executioner's assistants should place the body on a wheel and mount the head and hand on a spike. The executioner will receive payment according the tariff.

Karen Nielsdatter, a servant girl at Oluf Ebbesen, had heard screams during the night and again early in the morning. In the morning Oluf Ebbesen left the house, lighted up his pipe and asked Karen's daughter to make the wagon and horses ready for draught so they all could get started working in the woods, and that she could get Else to help her. When the daughter entered the bedroom, she found Else lying on the bed. Karen and her daughter hasted to Oluf Ebbesen in the woods with the message that Else either had fainted or was dead. "If so, I am very misfortuned", Oluf said. "I've lost my sow, my horse, and now also my wife!". Oluf then ordered Karen to get hold of some women from the village in order to place Else on a bed of straw, but Karen had refused. Karen estimated Else to be about 80 years old.

May 27, 1727: Corporal Søren Knudsen from Kolding has summoned the parish vicar Jørgen Fædder from Gauerslund and Maren Nielsdatter from Brøndsted (or Brejning) regarding that the young woman had promised him marriage. He had sent dispatches to the vicar forbidding that the young woman should marries any other than him. However, Maren's legal guardian, Rasmus Pedesen Møller from Pjedsted, states that the corporal never have announced his intentions of marriage to him as Maren's legal guardian nor to her mother or step father, and she has now been betrothal to Jens Pedersen, who's farm will suffer [?] should the marriage be postponed.

]]> (Anders Buch-Jepsen) Tracing Ancestors Sat, 20 Jun 2009 00:00:00 +0200