|original images manipulated by Kat Mortensen|
It's interesting, all the little secrets that can be revealed when one is doing a genealogy search. From watching such programs as "Who Do You Think You Are" and "Finding Your Roots", and even "Heir Hunters", it becomes apparent that many families had secrets or memories that they wanted to bury. Whether it was a criminal past, a horrific experience during the war, or some other awful family story, they often got locked away to save face or sanity.
My husband's family has a few secrets too. Nobody likes to talk about the fact that the Mortensen name could just as easily have been Rasmussen. My husband's grandfather was illegitimately fathered by someone with that surname, but his Great-grandmother chose to retain her own last name for her son.
Nobody will discuss what happened with the two children that Ellen Mortensen birthed between 1911 and 1919 other than that they were raised in an orphanage.
Even his grandmother's side has a bit of a secret of its own: Wera Mortensen fodt (born) Nilsson was the grand-daughter of another "ugift" (unmarried) mother. In this case however, he was christened with his father's last name. I haven't found a marriage record, but I will.
Yesterday, I was focusing on a later branch of this family and had another one of those "a-ha" moments. It turns out that my husband's own father was nearly born out of wedlock too. His parents married in October 1932, and he was born in January 1933.
Of course, in this day and age, illegitimacy has become more or less accepted, but I have to wonder how it was looked upon in Denmark back in the 1800s. It's not that it wasn't prevalent, it was. There are many ugifts recorded in the church books. I also can't help wondering about the circumstances in Ellen's case. In all documents I can find, her place of residence is the workhouse and every hospital reference is to the Almendelig (Almshouse) hospital in Copenhagen.
All I can say is, some of these Danish women must have had it pretty rough.
I still haven't found Gerda's birth notice, but I remain undaunted.