Researching Jens

According to the Danish Emigration Archives:

Following a number of scandals in which unsuspecting emigrants were conned by Danish emigration agents, The Danish parliament passed more stringent regulations on May 1, 1868. According to the new law, The Copenhagen Chief of Police was to approve and monitor all emigration agents in Denmark and authorize all overseas tickets made out in Denmark. This was to be done whether an emigrant would be traveling directly from Copenhagen to the United States or indirectly via another European harbor for destinations overseas. As an extra measure of control, all the information from each ticket was copied down in ledgers, and thus became the Copenhagen Police Records of Emigrants.

I was able to locate my great-Grandfather Jens’ record in the online database. It shows his age as 21 when he registered with the Copenhagen police on July 10, 1903, and his occupation as “Smed” or smith, as in blacksmith. His birthplace is listed as Ginnerup and his destination was New York. The record doesn’t show the name of the ship on which he sailed, but rather shows an entry for “Indirekte,” meaning he intended to transfer ships somewhere after leaving Copenhagen.


The Oceanic, world's largest liner 1899-1901

The Ellis Island Foundation’s database shows that Jens reached New York on July 22, 1903, which would have been about a 12 day crossing in total. His ship was the Oceanic, and he got aboard in Liverpool, England. The manifest for the Oceanic’s July 15th sailing, also available at the Ellis Island site, shows he had $17 with him and was planning to live with a brother-in-law named Louis.

The ship’s “List or Manifest of Alien Passengers for the U.S. Immigration Officer at Port of Arrival” has columns for each of the following inquiries:

Ever in prison or almshouse or institution for the care and treatment of the insane, or supported by charity? If so, which?

Whether a Polygamist.

Whether an Anarchist.

Condition of Health, Mental and Physical.

Deformed or Crippled. Nature, length of time and cause.

The manifest shows that he sailed with other Danes, Norwegians, Finns, and Swedes, both male and female. Their “Callings or Occupations” include labourer, servant, bartender, wife, and steward. Jens was the only blacksmith. I don’t know what drove him to leave Denmark nor how, with $17 to his name, he got from New York to Tacoma, Washington where he settled and started his own blacksmith shop.

About Saint Expedite

Retired early, then took a trip across the Pacific from Seattle by container ship. From China I stopped in Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Turkey, Greece, Italy, France, Holland, Denmark, England and Ireland before heading home to Puget Sound. This blog is an account of my travels. Write to me at
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3 Responses to Researching Jens

  1. M says:

    Probably the same way you saw Springsteen.

  2. Herb Jepko says:

    I thought he hopped a freight train. First freight trains, now container ships. What’s next?

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