Parameters in Preparing This Work
It takes courage to accept a religion that requires sacrifices of the heart, of one’s worldly goods, perhaps of one’s reputation or familial relationships, and sometimes of life itself. When native sons who had left the old country for the sake of that religion were called upon to return to share their new beliefs, the sacrifices were even greater because most of them were now married and had families—and most were not affluent. However, when the call came, they went, sometimes selling all they had to raise funds to accomplish the task. Many left wives and children destitute, sustained only by their faith that their families would survive while husbands and fathers were gone.
It is hoped that some day the true story of the tremendous sacrifices made by the wives and children of the missionaries whose names are recorded herein will be told, so they may also receive the honor due to them.
The main purpose of this work, however, was to identify, acknowledge, and honor some of those missionaries who sacrificed so much to spread the restored gospel of Jesus Christ among their fellow Scandinavians and other Europeans. To provide as complete information as possible, we set three major goals.
1. To provide the dates and places of missionary service.
To assist descendants who might want to locate the places their ancestor served in the old country, we have provided the counties in which the towns were located.
2. To document in original sources to the extent possible the birth date, exact birth name, exact birthplace, and exact names of the parents of each missionary found herein,
so descendants who wish to follow their missionary’s ancestry in the old country will have a valid starting point from which to research. Some “Americanized” versions of the original birthplaces were so garbled or some initial information was so incomplete in various record sources that it took up to twelve hours or more to finally track down just one missionary’s true birthplace.
3. To give brief biographical and historical information about each missionary
as ascertained from compiled resource files, information sent in by descendants we were able to contact, ward records, Scandinavian branch records, U.S. census records, and other sources as needed.
Explanation of Biographical Information
The following is an example of a missionary biography page:
George Daniel Olsen
Residence: Fillmore, Millard Co., Utah
Arrival date in Copenhagen: 4 May 1883
Missionary labors: Copenhagen Conference
Departure date from Copenhagen: 19 October 1883
Name of departure ship: Milo
Birth date: 2 September 1833
Birthplace: Høsterkjøb, Birkerød, Frederiksborg, Denmark
Father: Olsen, Daniel
Mother: Jørgensdatter, Anna Maria
Spouse: King, Delilah Cornelia
Marriage date: 14 November 1861
Death date: 9 May 1893
Death place: Fillmore, Millard Co., Utah
Burial place: Fillmore, Millard Co., Utah
You may find that your missionary ancestor has two names listed on his biographical page, as in the example above. The explanation is as follows:
a. The top name is the one by which he was known in U.S. records, under which he was found in Passport to Paradise: The Copenhagen “Mormon” Passenger Lists, 1872–1894, or under which he was found in the book History of the Scandinavian Mission, by Andrew Jenson.
b. The name in parentheses directly underneath is the name found in his original birth record in Scandinavian parish registers.
In America the custom is to use your father’s family name, or surname, and an English-language version of your first name. Many Scandinavians, including early Latter-day Saint immigrants, adopted those customs in their new land. This includes anglicizing their names, as is evident in the above example. Jørgen Danielsen anglicized his first name to George, then used a shortened form of his true patronymic surname (family name) as his middle name—that is, Daniel[sen]—then, according to American custom, he began to use his father’s surname, Olsen, as his own surname.
A more complete explanation of the various names you might find connected to your missionary ancestor and his parents is as follows:
Scandinavian Surname Formation
Before the mid- to late-1800s, a Scandinavian’s surname was generally formed by using patronymics. The term comes from two Latin words, patro, “father,” and nymic, “name.” This means the first name of a Scandinavian child’s father, plus -son or -datter to indicate gender, formed the family name. Peder Andersen is literally “Peder, son of Anders.” Maria Pedersdatter is literally “Maria, daughter of Peder.” This is why ten Scandinavians living in the same town who were completely unrelated could have the same surname. Patronymics were a good system for those countries because, given the small number of names that were chosen, they always knew the first names of the next generation.
Danish and Norwegian patronymic surnames generally have an -sen or possibly -ssen ending for males, and a -datter (-dtr) ending for females: for example, Jensen, Rasmussen, Andreasen, Thomasen, or Pedersdatter, Jensdatter, Knudsdatter.
Swedish, Finnish, and Icelandic patronymic surnames generally have a -sson, or possibly -son ending if it is a male surname, and a -dotter or -dottir ending if it is a female surname: for example, Jansson, Halvorson, Olasson, or Persdotter, Haakonsdottir, Larsdotter, Olufsdottir.
Note: Beginning in the mid- to late 1800s, all Scandinavian females began to be recorded in the records of their native countries with a -sen or -sson ending instead of a -datter or -dotter ending. In the cities, they may have been recorded with a -sen or -son ending as early as the 1830s. The -dottir ending is still used in Iceland today as part of a female’s patronymic surname.
If your ancestor in this book does not have a patronymic surname, or if any of your Scandinavian ancestors have a name that does not end in -sen or -son, -sson or -datter, or -dotter or -dottir, the following may be the explanation.
Denmark. If your Danish emigrant ancestor or the subsequent generation used a surname that did not or does not end patronymically, there is a 25 percent chance that nonpatronymic surname is the name of the farm or village in Denmark where the emigrant ancestor was born, lived, resided close to, or worked at some time during his or her life. If the name is unusual enough (in other words, if there are only one or two places with that name listed in a Danish gazetteer or postal guide), you could go directly to the church records for the parish to which that place belongs to see if you can find your ancestor.
Finland. Some of the Finns who emigrated also used a “place name” as their surname when they arrived in the United States. If you have a Finnish ancestor whose name does not end patronymically, look in a Finnish gazetteer or postal guide to see if the name or a close derivation of it appears. If it does, you could search the church records of the parish to which that place belongs for your ancestor, as explained in the entry on Denmark above.
It should be noted there are also some areas of Finland where a set surname was used. In other words it did not change every generation like a patronymic surname. If in American records your Finnish ancestor’s father and grandfather are listed with your ancestor’s same surname, he or she might be from a set surname area.
Iceland. A few Icelanders may also have used a place name as a surname. However, since the patronymic naming system is still being used in Iceland today, it is more likely an Icelandic emigrant would have taken a nonpatronymic name after he or she were in the new country. To discover if an Icelander’s nonpatronymic surname might be a place name, check in an Icelandic gazetteer or postal guide.
Norway. Approximately 50 percent of Norwegians who emigrated began to use a place name as their surname after arriving in their new country. This may have been the name of the farm they were born on, worked at, resided on, or just knew about. It may also have been a shortened version of the whole name of the farm. For example, Ramsgaardslie may have been shortened to Ram or Lie [Lee]. That name change may have taken place long before, immediately before, or shortly after immigration or later, such as in the family story that says, “Grandpa Ole Olsen’s mail kept going to the other Ole Olsen down the road, so about three years after he emigrated he began to call himself Ole Tregaard.”
To find out if your Norwegian nonpatronymic surname is a place name, check a Norwegian gazetteer or postal guide. If there are only a few listings for that place name, you could go to the church records of the parishes where those names are located and try to find your ancestor in a life event record.
Sweden. If your Swedish ancestors or subsequent generations carry a nonpatronymic name, it is rarely a place name. It could have come from your ancestor having been in military service, where nonpatronymic names were assigned so the captain would not have to deal with a company full of ten “Per Perssons.” It is possible that tradesmen took the name of their mentor when they finished their training in a particular field. Other times it seems as if they just became tired of being known by their given name and simply chose a new name at random. There were no laws in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, or Iceland or even in early America against doing that. You could call yourself by another family name without having to register it. If such an event occurred, we hope it is still in family memory or recorded in family records.
If you should find your Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, Icelandic, or Finnish ancestor on a U.S. Census record with a nonpatronymic surname and a middle initial, such as Johan A. Pikop, the chances are very good the A is the first letter of his true patronymic surname—Andersen, Andreasen, Augustinussen, Ambrosiusen, for example.
First names of a Scandinavian-American ancestor may also be different. For example, someone known as “Tilly” in America could have the first name of “Mathilda” or “Tilda” in the old country.
Other name equivalents could include but are not limited to:
Anne: Ane, Anne, Anna, Hanna, Johanna, Johanne
Catherine, Karen: Cajsa/
Christine: Kjesty, Kersti, Kirstine, Kristine
Haakon, Haagen, Håkon
John: Johan, Johann, Johannes, Jon, Jöns
Lewis: Lars, Lauritz, Laust
Mary: Maria, Marie, Maja/
Nelly: Pernille, Nilla, Nelle
From the time of the Reformation in 1535, until religious freedom was granted in 1850, all Scandinavians were Lutheran by law. Most Scandinavians remained Lutheran even after that time period. The vital record-keeping jurisdiction of all Scandinavian countries was the Lutheran parish—comparable to an LDS ward—and everyone living in towns or on farms encompassed by the parish boundaries went to a specific physical church building to take care of their religious ceremonies. Since the Lutheran minister was charged with keeping track of all births, marriages, and deaths that occurred in his parish, the parish registers are the official vital records of those countries. If the first name on the birthplace line is underlined as in the previous example of Jørgen Danielsen, or George Daniel Olsen, that is the name of the village or farm where your ancestor was actually born within that Scandinavian parish. For example:
Birthplace: Høsterkjøb (village), Birkerød (parish), Frederiksborg (county), Denmark
Since most Scandinavian, European, and early American births occurred at home, that name is the actual place where your ancestor was born.
If your ancestor was born in a city, the entry could look something like this:
Birthplace: Kongensgade (street), Trinitatis-Copenhagen (Trinitatis parish in Copenhagen City), Copenhagen (county), Denmark
Father and mother: The names of your missionary ancestor’s parents appear as they were spelled in the original parsh register entry of the ancestor’s birth.
No attempt was made to research original records to verify names of wives, marriage dates, death dates, or death places, unless it was necessary in able to completely track down and identify the birth date, birthplace, and parentage of the missionary. Many of those pieces of information did come as a result of research done for the missionary, but they have not been verified. It is hoped that descendants of these great men will take this up as a challenge—a place to begin verifying and documenting family records—so they can have a well-documented family history.
Scandinavian Alphabets and Letter Substitution
The following is designed to help the nongenealogist understand the importance of keeping an open mind toward spellings of people and place names and to provide information that will be helpful in using original record sources.
It is important to be aware that record keepers in every country of the world and every age of the history of the world, wrote what their ears heard, spelling words how they thought they should be spelled. There were no spelling rules for most countries until the beginning of the 1900s, so the sounds that were heard were recorded. Even if record keepers copied directly from another written source, they may or may not have copied it exactly. The same process—that is, writing phonetically—was happening in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden, as well as the rest of Europe, at the time vital records were created.
The Scandinavian Alphabets
If you have Scandinavian ancestry, you also need to be aware that the various Scandinavian alphabets are a little different than the standard English alphabet. All Scandinavian languages have the letters A through Z, then some extra letters that come after Z.
Those letters are:
Æ æ = “eh” Å å or Aa aa = long “o”
Ø ø = “ooh” Ä ä = “eh” (sometimes “ē” used instead)
Å å or Aa aa= long “o” Ö ö = “ooh”
The Icelandic alphabet is as follows:
A a Á á B b C c D d Ð ð E e É é F f G g H h I i Í í J j K k L l M m N n O o Ó ó P p Q q R r S s T t U u Ú ú V v W w X x Y y Ý ý Z z Þ þ (“th” combination as in the name “Thorstein” or “Thingeyer”) Æ æ Ö ö
Also keep in mind that because spelling was not standardized in earlier times, spelling variations occurred in the records, both in names of places and names of people. Some letters may have been used in place of others. For example:
aa used for å
b used for p
c used for k
ch used for k
d used for t
e used for æ
fi used for v
g used for k
i used for j
ö used for ø
q used for k
tj used for ki
u used for v
w used for v
x used for ks
See the Swedish alphabet variations below. Finnish records were kept in the Swedish language until 1867.
See also the Norwegian and Danish alphabet variations (Iceland was ruled by both Norway and Denmark).
See also the Danish alphabet variations above because Danish record keepers served in parts of Norway.
aa used for å
b used for p
c used for k
ch used for k
d used for t
e used for æ
f used for v
g used for k
hj used for j
i used for j
j used for gj
ld used for ll
nd used for nn
q used for k
tj used for kj
u used for v
w used for v
x used for ks
Example: kvinne (female and/
e used for ä
i used for j
j used for g, gj, hj, lj, dj
k used for ck, ch, g, gg, c, q
s used for ss, c, z
sk used for skj, sch, sj, stj
t used for d, th, tt
v used for hv, fv, ffv, f, w
Example: änkamannen (widower), spelled as enkamannen
 Much of the initial biographical data came from a compiled record source known as the Ancestral File. This file was intended to be a lineage-linked program, whereby descendants of a common ancestor could find each other. It was an idea and a program far ahead of its time—far ahead of the computer power to support it properly. From the time of its introduction to the world in 1979 to its close in February 2002, hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of names in lineage-linked format were submitted to the file. As the file grew, “merges” were performed, using statistical probabilities and computer algorithms to attempt to make correct merges.
Unfortunately, for the Scandinavian countries (and other countries where the patronymic naming system was used), these merges did not all work properly. Place names, crucial in identifying many “same-named” Scandinavians, were not linked to the right people. For those with Scandinavian ancestry, this means that neither the birth, marriage, and death information nor familial relationships in the Ancestral File may be correct beyond the immigrant generation, if they are even correct to that point.
While doing research for this book, we discovered that many times even the immigrant Scandinavian’s birth date or birthplace information was not correct and that children born in this country were not necessarily connected to the correct Scandinavian emigrant parents.
For this reason we expended hundreds of hours doing original research, trying to find and document each missionary’s actual birth date, birthplace, and parents—all so descendants could trace their ancestral lines using original records of Scandinavia.
We sincerely hope this information will be helpful to you in your efforts to trace your ancestry, thus further honoring your marvelous missionary ancestor.