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Danish trunk mystery
Posted by: Wendi Olson (ID *****3493) Date: August 09, 2013 at 02:19:24
  of 18139

I could use any help or ideas to help solve a mystery. My family has a Danish trunk that has been in the family since my grandmothers time. I would like to learn more about it and who it may have belonged to.

First let me describe the trunk. I will email a photo to anyone willing to help who may want to look at it as well. The trunk is a wooden flat topped box measuring apx. 38.6inches long, 21 inches high, and 22.8 inches wide. It is a rusty red color with metal along sides. There are no inscriptions inside and nothing on the sides. Outside painted in black on top is what looks like:
P C Nielsen
Albert Lea, Minn
Amerika (next is unreadable)
Thingvalla Line - the hinge from the top to close the box covers this word but after several attempts of googling I think this is what it reads

Here are some of my theories starting with my family. This trunk currently belongs to my father. His father was from Norway, that line is ruled out. His mother side is from Denmark. She was born in America but both of her parents are from Denmark. Great it should be one of those two, but neither are called Nielsen. Her parents are Peter Jensen and Jorgina "Gena" Holm.

I have not been able to find naturalization papers on either parent, but census records are consistant that Gena Holm arrived about the age 2 with her parents Christian and Karen Holm and brother in 1886. The 1895 Bath, Freeborn Minnesota state census says they have lived in Minnesota since arriving. I got the 1918 alien registration for Gena's parents to see if I learn where in Denmark they came from in hopes of tracking down a passenger list, but neither could write English and the person recording the information just states "Denmark."

Now it has generally been believed that the trunk belonged to Peter Jensen. Now his arrival flips between 1902-1904. He married Gena Holm in Albert Lea in 1905. No naturalization record has been found for him either and he has never been know to have any other family.

So who is P C Nielsen?

At first I thought maybe when Peter arrived he saw their were so many Nelsons that when he Americanized himself might have changed his name to Jensen maybe after his father, possible a Nels Jensen (I do not know who his father really is, but this is just a guess I was trying). Why? Well like the Norwegians, the Danish also had a naming pattern. Peter's first son is Nels Christian Jensen. I thought maybe Nels after Peter's father and Christian after wife Gena's father.

But I ran into another more problem: Thingvalla Line. If I do have the correct name of the shipping line I have a new problem. Thingvalla Line was started in 1879. In 1898 the company was bought by another Danish company and the name was changed to Scandinavian America Line, destination : New York City. More on Thingvalla Line:

Thingvalla Line opperation date works for Gena Holm's family arrival (1886)but I can't find any connection to a Nielsen name let alone P C Neilsen. On the other had, Peter seemed a more likely option but his date (1902-1904) falls after the company has changed its name. I considered that he just had his trunk identified with the old name, but the fact that lid was painted first then put together making the hinge cover some of the word seems to me that this trunk was created for a soon before its departure. It had also been 3-5 years after the company changed its name that I would think the employees were using the new name, but I could be wrong.

I am open to the thought that it just doesn't belong to anyone in the family, but then why have we had it for so long sentimentally?

Please let me know your thoughts or a different angle I should try researching. I will be happy to forward the picture on if someone else wants to try tackling the writting on top. Perhaps I have misread it and so have caused this problem.

Thanks for reading,

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