Christian Nils Friis emigrated from Denmark about 1890. Family tradition says that he participated
in the Yukon Gold Rush. He later settled in the Midwest.
researching this line refer to the Danish book titled, “Familien Friis fra Ribe gennem 400
Aar,” written by R. Friis-Petersen and published in 1949. I
have not had access to this book, but virtually everything on the websites that cite the book matches the records I have been
able to check.
|Christian and Serena Friis, probably about 1903.
Updated: May 2013
CHRISTEN FRIIS and JOHANNE KRISTINE PANDERUP
Christen Friis was born about February 1689 in Denmark. (1)
Married Kirsten Andersdotter and, after she died, Johanne Kirstine Panderup. (See below.)
Children of Christen and Kirsten Andersdotter: (2)
Hans, born about March 1724. Died May 17, 1724.
Anders, born about May 1725.
Else, born in November 1726. Died Nov. 29, 1729.
Children of Christen and Johanne Kristine Panderup: (3)
Marturin, born May 3, 1731.
Else Kirstine, baptized May 6, 1732.
Anne, baptized Nov. 28, 1733.
Birgitte Sofie, baptized
Nov. 17, 1734.
Mette Kristiane, baptized Nov. 17, 1734. Died in April 1739.
Benedikte, baptized Oct. 10, 1736. Died in February 1737.
Hans, baptized Feb. 5, 1738.
baptized Feb. 8 1739. Died in April 1739.
Bagge, baptized March 20, 1740.
Mikkel, baptized May
6, 1742. Died in May 1742.
Mikkel, baptized June 16, 1743.
A girl died at birth on Dec. 1, 1747.
Christen appears to have studied law because he served in a number of legal positions over the course of his life. In 1714, he is listed as a “ridefoged,” or bailiff, in Bramminge in Ribe
County. In 1718, his is listed as a “fuldmægtig,” or clerk, in the same town. (4)
At some point
before July 30, 1721, Christen appears to have moved to Ringkøbing
county. In the Ginding district’s clergy records for 1721, Christen is identified as a “ridefoged,” or bailiff
for Rydhave. In the record, he was appointed guardian for the heirs of a priest
named Peder Lyngby. (5)
On June 8, 1723, Christen married Kirsten
Andersdatter in Tårup, Viborg county. Kirsten’s parents are unknown. And
it’s uncertain what drew Christen to Tårup, which is in a neighboring county but not particularly close to Ginding district.
Kirsten gave birth to three children, but only one lived
much beyond three years of age. Kirsten herself died in 1726. Her burial is recorded under Sept. 12 in the Rønberg parish in Ringkøbing county. (7) At the time of Kirsten’s death, Christen is listed as a
tenant of Nørkær, in Rønberg parish.
It seems that Christen
continued to move around Denmark over the next few years. Other researchers
say he owned property in Holsterbro and lived
in Copenhagen for a short time.
On June 28, 1729, Christen married Johanne Kristine Panderup
in Lading parish, Aarhus County. Johanne Kirstine was born April 30, 1705, and
her father was Peder Jensen Panderup, a priest in Lading. (9)
Kristine gave birth to at least 13 children. Sadly, at least five of them died
young, including two who died in April 1739, perhaps because of an epidemic.
By 1731, Christen had moved back to Viborg county. Maturin’s birth
record indicates that Christen lived at Lundgaard, which appears to be a farm in the Gammelstrup parish. (10)
On Oct. 22, 1734, Christen was appointed “kancelliassessor,” which appears to
be a chancery judge. (11)
Christen died Oct. 1, 1749 in Gammelstrup. The church record indicates that he was 60 years, 8 months old. (12)
Johanne Kristine died in 1781 in Gammelstrup. (13)
(1) Christen’s approximate birth
date can be determine from his death records, which appears in the church books at Gammelstrup parish in Viborg county, deaths
for 1749, page 186. The death record says that he died at age 60 years, 8 months
on Oct. 1, 1749, which would put his birth date around February 1689. Although
I have not found any records that indicate who his parents were, they are listed as Hans Mortensen Friis and Else Baggesdatter
by many secondary sources, including the website www.friis.co.nz, which is very reliable. Most secondary sources list Christen’s
birth year as 1688, but this does not precisely correspond with his death notice. (2)
The births of two of Kristine’s children are recorded in the church books of Rønbjerg parish, Ringkøbing county, as
follows: Hans, births for 1724, page 165; Anders, 1725, page 168. Hans’
passing is in the death records for 1724, page 406. In this and following references,
“page” refers to the number of the image on the digital scans of the records available through the Danish archives
at www.sa.dk. Anne Else’s death and age are recorded in Nygårds sedler,
a collection of cards containing information abstracted from records by H. S. A. Nygård at the Danish Archives in the early
20th century. Copies of the cards are available at the website for the Danish archives at www.sa.dk. (3) Except for Peder, the children’s births and deaths are listed in Nygård’s noted and in
recorded in the church books of Gammelstrup in Viborg county. The connection
to Peder is listed on a Nygård card for Johanne Kristine Panderup. One of the
cards says that Johanne Kristine gave birth to 14 children, but I have seen only 13 listed in the records. It seems likely that this was either a mistake – with Kirsten’s last child being attributed
to Johanne Kristine – or one additional child died at birth. (4) Nygårds
sedler. (5) Transcriptions of Ginding district’s clergy records for 1682-1750
can be found at www.brejl.dk/ringgejst.htm. (6) The wedding is recorded in the church book of Tårup parish,
Viborg county, marriages for 1723, page 151. (7) Her death is recorded in the
church books of Rønberg parish, Ringkøbing
county, deaths for 1726, page 409. (8) The website
at www.friis.co.nz says that between 1725 and 1727, Christen held a “Forpagtningen af Konsumtionen,” or lease
of consumption, at Holsterbro; on April 24, 1727, he “purchased the farm Halborg in Hem district”; and he spent
some time in Copenhagen, “where he owned 95 Pilestæde, which burnt down during the big fire in 1728.” (9) The wedding is recorded in the record of Lading parish, Aarhus County, marriages for 1729, page 400.
Kristine’s birth date and father’s name appear in Nygårds sedler. (10) The birth is recorded in the church books of Gammelstrup parish, Viborg county,
births for 1731, page 52. (11) Nygårds sedler.
Almost all subsequent records refer to him as “assessor” or “kancelliassessor.” (12) Christen’s death is recorded in the Gammelstrup church book, deaths for 1749, page 186. (13) Her death is recorded in the church books of Gammelstrup parish, Viborg county,
deaths for 1781, page 189.
BAGGE FRIIS and CHARLOTTE AMALIE RAVN
Bagge Friis was born March 20, 1740, to Christen Hansen Friis and his wife Johanne Kristine
Panderup in Gammelstrup, Viborg county, Denmark. (1)
Charlotte Amalie Ravn. (See below.)
Kristen, born May 17, 1764.
born April 5, 1765.
Hans Ravn, born March 13, 1766. Buried May
Hans Ravn, born Feb. 14, 1767.
Peder, born Jan. 23, 1768. Buried July 3, 1769.
Johanne Birgith, born Jan. 18, 1769. Buried March 16, 1769.
Peder, born Jan. 31, 1770.
Johanne Kirstine, born Jan.
Anne Birgith, born Feb. 4, 1772.
Christian Michael Rottbøll, born June 7, 1773.
Bagge, born July 2, 1774. Buried March 2, 1775.
Maturin, born July 11, 1775.
Wandborg, born Nov. 5, 1776.
Immanuel, born Aug. 23, 1778. Buried
March 22, 1781.
Antonius Rasmus, born Jan. 10, 1780.
Immanuel, born June 18, 1782.
Bagge, born Aug. 18, 1783.
Bagge was a priest in Denmark’s
national church, which is Lutheran. On Sept. 24, 1762, he received an assignment
to the parish of Daubjærg-Mønsted-Smollerup. Bagge served the parish, which
is often spelled Daugbjerg, for 20 years. (3)
On Aug. 4, 1763,
Bagge married Charlotte Amalie Ravn in Viborg. Charlotte was born Sept. 23,
1744, to Hans Ravn, a parish priest in Hinge, Viborg county. (4)
some point in the 1780s, Bagge was appointed “provst,” the top cleric in a township. (5)
Bagge died in May 1787. (6)
1787 census was taken after Bagge’s death. (7) It lists Charlotte Amalie
as “widow of the blessed Dean Friis.” In addition to seven of her
children, the household in Daugberg Bye contained six servants and a 20-year-old student who appears to have been a tutor
for the children.
At some point before 1801, Charlotte moved
to Viborg. That year’s census indicates she and her 18-year-old son Bagge
were living at St. Mathisgade 20. The household also included her 13-year-old
granddaughter Charlotte Amalie Friis and lodger named Thomas Vissing, who was a 17-year-old student.
Charlotte died on May 31, 1826, in Viborg. (8)
(1) Bagge’s birth is recorded in the
church book of Gammelstrup parish, Viborg county, births for 1740, page 62. In
this and following references, “page” refers to the number of the image on the digital scans of the records available
through the Danish archives at www.sa.dk. The website www.friis.co.nz has been incredibly helpful in
pointing me in the right direction for many specific dates and locations. (2)
The children’s births and deaths are recorded in Nygårds sedler, a collection of cards containing information abstracted
from records by H. S. A. Nygård at the Darnish Archives in the early 20th century. Copies of the cards are available
at the website for the Danish archives at www.sa.dk. The records are also in
the church books of the Smollerup parish Viborg county. (3) Nygårds sedler. (4) The wedding is recorded in the church books of Viborg Domsogn, marriages for
1763, page 84. Charlotte’s birth is recorded in the church books of Hinge
parish, Viborg county, births for 1744, page 18. (5) Nygårds sedler. Definition of “provst” comes from Holberg’s Danish dictionary. (6) Bagge’s death is recorded in Nygårds sedler and in the church books of Smollerup parish, Viborg
county, deaths for 1787, page 90. (7) Danish census records for certain years
and locations are available through the county’s national archives’ website at www.ddd.dda.dk. Although the records are easily searchable, they do not seem
to be comprehensive. (8) Charlotte’s death is recorded in the church records
of Viborg Domsogne, deaths for 1826, page 258.
and CHARLOTTE AMALIE BAGGER
Peder Friis was born in
1770 to Bagge Friis and his wife Charlotte Amalie Ravn in Smollerup, Viborg county, Denmark. (1)
Married Charlotte Amalie Bagger. (See below.)
Juliane Charlotte, born Oct. 28, 1796.
Hansine, born Feb. 19, 1798.
Caroline Adolphine, born Aug. 9, 1799.
Died Aug. 28, 1799.
Carl Adolph, born Aug. 12, 1800. Died Nov. 10, 1800.
born Feb. 19, 1802.
Christian, born March 28, 1803.
Julius Diderich, born Aug. 10, 1804.
Thomas Wissing, born Nov. 3, 1805. Died Jan. 26, 1806.
Frederich Siegfried, born May 23, 1813.
In Denmark’s 1787 census, Peder is listed as a 17-year-old student in a Latin school in Viborg. He was a lodger in the household of Christian Giørup, a merchant. (3)
He was again listed as a student in 1790. (4)
In early 1796, Peder appears to have been
ordained in Ramme. He was next assigned to be the parish priest in Hygom in
Ringkøbing county. The town is spelled “Hygum” today. (5)
On March 31 of the same year, Peder married Charlotte Amalia Bagger at
Søllested parish in Odense county. Charlotte was born Feb. 21, 1775, to Hans
Bagger and his wife Juliane Gierlev in Søllested. (6)
Peder is listed as the priest of a parish identified as “Ø.V. Assels,” which seems to be Øster Assels in Thisted
county. (7) The family was definitely in Øster Assels by 1813, when Frederich
Siegfried was baptized. In the record of that event, Peder is identified as
the parish priest and “Consistorialraad,” a title that was used throughout the remainder of his life. The Danish Holberg dictionary says this is a title given to “deserving priests.” However, it would seem that the word also indicates an affiliation with a council or advisory committee
since the terms “consistorial” and “raad” imply such.
The family lived in Øster Assels until at least 1819, when Julius Diderich was confirmed. (8)
At some point before 1834, Peder and Charlotte moved to Østbirk in Skanderborg county. (9)
Peder died Aug. 28, 1836, in Copenhagen. (10)
(1) Peder’s birth
is recorded in the church books of Smollerup parish, Viborg county, births for 1770, page 46.
In this and following references, “page” refers to the number of the image on the digital scans of the
records available through the Danish archives at www.sa.dk. The website http://www.friis.co.nzhas been incredibly helpful in pointing me in the right direction for many specific dates and locations. (2) Most of the children’s births are recorded in the church books of Hygum
parish, Ringkøbing county: Juliane Charlotte, 1796, page 139; Hansine, 1798, page 142; Caroline Adolphine, 1799, page 146;
Carl Adolph, 1800, page 149; Maturin, 1802, page 152; Christian, 1803, page 156; Julius Diderich, 1804, page 160; Thomas Wissing,
1805, page 164. Deaths are recorded as follows: Caroline Adolphine, 1799, page
187; Carl Adolph, 1800, page 188; Thomas Wissing, 1806, page 191. Frederich
Siegfried’s birth is recorded the Øster Assels church books, births 1813, page 16.
(3) Danish census records for certain years and locations are available through the county’s national archives’
website at www.ddd.dda.dk. Although the records are easily searchable, they do not seem
to be comprehensive. (4) From Nygårds sedler, a collection of cards containing information abstracted from records by H. S. A. Nygård at the Darnish Archives in the early 20th
century. Copies of the cards are available at the archives’ website. (5)
Nygårds sedler. (6) The wedding is recorded in the church books of Søllested parish, Odense county, marriages for 1796,
page 324. Charlotte’s birth is recorded in the church books for Søllested
parish, Odense county, births for 1775, page 251. Hans Bagger’s wife is
identified in the 1787 census. (7) Nygårds sedler. (8) The confirmation is recorded in the church books of Øster Assels, confirmations for 1819, page 97. (9) Nygårds sedler. (10) Peder’s
death is recorded in the church book of Vor Frue church in Copenhagen, deaths 1836, page 14.
FRIIS and URSULA THALIA RØNNE
Christian Friis was
born March 28, 1803, to Peder Friis and his wife Charlotte Amalia Bagger in Hygum in Ringkobing county, Denmark. (1)
Married Ursula Thalia Rønne.
Adolph Peter Marturin, baptized Oct. 29, 1829.
Amaldus, born July 29, 1832.
Harry Randof, born Sept. 1, 1834.
Otto Christian, born Jan. 7, 1837.
Emma Theodora, born June 29, 1839.
Mathilda, born Oct.
Emilie Eleonore, born April 23, 1847. Died Jan. 19, 1848.
Jacob Theodor, born
July 19, 1851. Died Aug. 14, 1851.
Christian’s father was a parish pastor in the Danish national church, which is Lutheran. The family moved from Hygum to Øster Assels in Thisted county about 1810.
Christian was confirmed there in 1817. (3)
At some point
before 1829, Christian appears to have gone to Copenhagen to study to follow in his father’s footsteps. He was still listed as a “cand. Theol.,” or theology student, when his son Charlot Amaldus
was born in 1832.
While studying to become a pastor, Christian
married Ursula Thalia Rønne on June 25, 1829 at Trinitatis church in Copenhagen. (4)
The birth of their first child came just four months later. Such “early
births” were quite common in 19th century Scandinavia and it doesn’t seem to have been a hindrance to becoming
a clergyman. Both Christian and his father found themselves in the same situation.
Ursula was born June 7, 1810, to Andreas Petersen Rønne and his wife
Anne Dorothea Wilken. She was baptized July 4, 1810, at Helligaand parish in
During their first few years of marriage, the
couple lived in Copenhagen and their first two children were baptized at Vor Frue (Our Lady) church in that city. By 1837, Christian had received an assignment to be parish pastor in Sønder Onsild in Randers county.
The family then moved to the town of Asferg in Randers county. This move occurred between the death of Jakob Theodor in 1851 and the confirmation of Emma Theodora in
Christian appears to have moved to Copenhagen after retiring.
Christian died March 19, 1875, in Copenhagen. His death record states that he was a pensioned pastor. (6)
The 1880 census lists Ursula as a widow on a pension living in Copenhagen. (7) The
household also included her daughter Emma and several of her grandchildren: Niels, a bookkeeper; Ernst, a machinist; Waldemar,
a typographer; and Thalia. Most – and perhaps all – were the children
Thalia appears to have died in 1883 in Copenhagen.
(1) Christian’s birth is recorded in the church books of Hygum parish, Ringkobing county, baptisms for 1802,
page 156. In this and following references, “page” refers to the
number of the image on the digital scans of the records available through the Danish archives at www.sa.dk. The Friis family website http://www.friis.co.nzhas been incredibly helpful in pointing me in the right direction for many specific dates. (2) The children’s births can be found in the baptismal registers of Vor Frue (Our Lady) parish
in Copenhagen and Sønder Onsild parish, Randers county. In Vor Frue: Charlot,
1832, page 205; Harry Randof, 1834, page 26. In Sønder Onsild: Otto Christian, 1837, page 22; Emma Theodora, 1839, page 51;
Mathilda, 1842, page 53; Emilie Eleonore, 1847, page 56; Jacob Theodor, 1851, page 30. The birth record for Adolph Peter Marturin
have not been found but his birth date and parents are listed in his confirmation record in the Sønder Onsild parish confirmation
records for 1845, page 7. (3) The confirmation appears in the Øster Assels church
books, confirmations for 1817, page 96. (4) Trinitatis parish marriages, 1829,
page 368. (5) Copenhagen’s Helligaand parish births for 1810, page 150. (6) His death is recorded in
Sankt Johannes parish of Copenhagen,
deaths for 1875, page 170. (7) Danish census records for certain years and locations are available through the county’s national archives’
website at www.ddd.dda.dk. Although the records are easily searchable, they
do not seem to be comprehensive. The 1890 shows most of the same people – with much more complete identifications –
living in the same household: the siblings Niels Christian Eugen Friis, Valdemor Adolf Friis and Orsula Thalia Friis and their
aunt Emma Theodora Friis. (8) Although I have not uncovered her death records, the website www.friis.co.nz, which has an excellent track records for accuracy, indicates that she died on Feb. 7, 1883, in
CHARLOT AMALDUS FRIIS and OLAVIA NICOLINE GREGERSEN
Charlot Amaldus Friis was born July 29, 1832, to Christian Friis and his wife, Ursula Thalia
Ronne in Copenhagen, Denmark. (1)
Married Olavia Nicoline Gregersen.
Christian Nils, born May 29, 1858.
born Sept. 11, 1860.
Johan Otto, born May 10, 1865.
Charlot seems to have been named after the famous Danish queen Charlotte
Amalie, who rallied Copenhagen’s defenders during an attack by the Swedes in 1700.
Many Danish girls, including Christian’s grandmother, were named after the queen, which probably explains why
Charlot sometimes appears among females in transcriptions and indexes.
In the mid-1830s, the family left the capital city of Copenhagen for Sønder Onsild in Randers county, where Charlot’s
father served as the parish pastor. Charlot was confirmed there in 1847. (3)
At some point, he moved to the town of Odder in Aarhus county, possibly
to study to become a teacher. It was probably during this time that Charlot
met his future wife, the daughter of another teacher.
On Aug. 28, 1857, Charlot married Olavia Nicoline Gregersen in Odder. Olavia was born Feb. 21, 1833, to Niels Gregersen, a teacher in Odder, and his wife Maria Charlotte Kjer.
In 1866, Charlot took his teacher’s examination at
Gedved Seminarium. (5)
The Friis family appears to have moved
quite a bit over the years.
lived in Truust in Tvilum parish, Skanderborg county, at the time of Christian’s birth in 1858. They are listed as still living in that town when the 1860 census was taken. (6) The census lists Charlot as the head of the household, which included Olavia and Christian. In addition, the household contain a man and two women listed as servants and another man who worked as
Later that year, the family appears to have moved
to or near Mariager, Randers county, where Olavia Charlotte was baptized. By
1865, the family appears to have moved back to Odder, where Johan Otto was baptized.
By 1873, the family had moved to Ostbirk, Skanderborg county.
The 1880 census shows the family in Ostbirk, with the household containing the parents, as well as Christian and Olavia
Charlotte. Charlot is listed as a teacher.
Charlot and Olavia
still appear in Ostbirk in the 1890 census. Charlot was still listed as a teacher and Olavia is “wife of the house.” None of their children remained in the household but the couple seem to have take
on boarders because 10 others are listed as members of the household, including a large family named Hansen.
Charlot retired in the
town of Tjele in Viborg county. He and Olavia
appear to have spent their final years living at a facility known as Foulum school. Olavia’s
death record refers to Charlot as a pensioned teacher.
died on Aug. 21, 1914.. Charlot died on May 2, 1919. Both were buried
in the churchyard. (7)
(1) Charlot’s birth is recorded
in Vor Frue (Our Lady) church in Copenhagen, 1832 baptisms, page 205. In this
and following references, “page” refers to the number of the image on the digital scans of the records available
through the Danish archives at www.sa.dk. The website www.friis.co.nz has been incredibly helpful in pointing me in the right direction for many specific dates and locations. (2) The births of the children appear in the baptismal records of three different
churches: Christian is in Tvilum parish, Skanderborg county, baptisms of 1858, page 30; Olavia Charlotte is in Mariager Købstad
parish, Randers county, baptisms of 1860, page 118; and Johan Otto is in Odder parish, Aarhus county, baptisms of 1865, page
46. (3) Sønder Onsild parish, Randers county, confirmations of 1849, page 7. (4) The marriage was recorded at Tvilum parish, Skanderborg county, marriages 1858, page 30. Olavia’s birth information is recorded in her death record in Tjele parish, Viborg county, deaths 1914, page 194. (5) Information provided by “Danish Roots,” which research by Lilian Kristensen. (6) Danish census records for certain years and locations are available through the county’s national
archives’ website at www.ddd.dda.dk. Although the records are easily searchable, they do not seem
to be comprehensive. (7) Charlot’s death record appears in Tjele parish,
Viborg county, deaths 1919, page 180.
FRIIS and SØRINA MATHILDE SØRENSEN
Christian Nils Friis was born in May 29, 1858, in Truust, Skanderborg,
Denmark. His parents were Charlot Amaldus Friis and Olavia Gregerson. (1)
Married Mette Johanne Mathiasen and, later, Sørina Mathilde Sørensen. (See below.)
of Christian and Mette Johanne, born in Denmark: (2)
Karl Amaldus, born Aug. 27, 1883.
Johann Otto, born Oct. 4,
Sylvia Rigmor, born March 14, 1889.
Children of Serena, born in Denmark: (3)
Karen Jensine, also known as Carrie, born May 21, 1900. Married Edwin
Ella Mary, born June 13, 1902. Married Fred Kropp.
Children of Christian
and Serena, born in United States: (4)
Carl, born about 1904
Henry W., born about 1906 in Iowa.
Roy Oliver, born March 16, 1909 in South Dakota.
Raymond, born about 1914 in South Dakota.
about December 1919 in Nebraska. Married Calvin Haas.
While Christian was growing up, his family moved from Truust to Odder, which is in Aarhus
county, and then to Østbirk in Skanderborg county. Christian was confirmed at
the Lutheran church in Østbirk. (5)
On July 19, 1881, Christian
married Mette Johanne Mathiasen in the town of Ry, Skanderborg county. Mette
was born April 14, 1857, to Mathias Rasmussen and his wife Ane Rasmusdotter of Ry. (6)
The couple appears to have moved at least twice. In 1883, their son Harald
was baptized at the church in Ginnerup in Randers county. Two years later, their
son Johan Otto was baptized at Aarhus’ Vor Frue church.
church records listing the children’s births say that Christian was a gardener.
Family tradition says that he had studied botany before leaving Denmark and grew beautiful flowers.
In 1889, the same year that Sylvia was born, Christian and Mette appear to have separated
because Christian immigrated to America in that year. (7) They divorced at some
to have remained in the Aarhus area. The couple’s second son, Johan Otto,
was confirmed in Aarhus in 1900. The record notes that he was living at Ny Munkegade
22. Mette died June 19, 1929, in Aarhus. (9)
It’s unknown what Christian did for the next few years but he moved to Humboldt County, Iowa, before Dec. 18,
1896, when he applied for U.S. citizenship. (10)
might hold clues of his whereabouts during the 1890s.
to his daughter Adalaine, Christian served in the Danish navy aboard a steam ship.
And during his service, he learned much about the weather that he was able to teach his children. While it seems likely that Christian went to sea, it’s uncertain whether he was actually in the
navy. It’s also unknown when this service occurred. Since Christian appears in Danish conscription registers from 1876 until 1889, it seems unlikely that
he served in the military. (11) However,
it’s possible that he served aboard a merchant ship at some point between his emigration and settling in Humboldt County.
Another family tradition
concerns the Yukon Gold Rush in 1898. According to his son Roy Fries, Christian joined the fortune-seekers with a friend named
Ben Mollander. The rush began after large gold deposits were discovered in Alaska
in 1896. When word got out the following year, thousands of people from around the world traveled to Alaska hoping to strike
it rich. The prospectors dug the frozen ground in the winter and sifted through
the dirt in the spring. Many froze or starved to death during the winters, when
temperatures fell to 50 degrees below zero. Others suffered from scurvy caused by poor diets. Most people, like Christian,
didn’t find much and returned home. Adalaine said she hadn’t heard
of the Yukon excursion, but added that she was the baby of the family and didn’t hear as much about her parents’
activities as some of the older children.
In 1900, Christian
seems to be listed in the U.S. Census in Rutland Township, Humboldt County. A
Christ Friis appears in the household of Peter Larson, a farmer who was a native of Denmark.
Christ is listed as a “servant” and as a “farm laborer.”
The listing indicates that he was born in Denmark in May 1859 and that he immigrated in 1899. Despite the discrepancies in the birth and immigration dates, it seems pretty certain that this man was
our Christian Friis. The family’s census listings are very inconsistent
in their birth, immigration, naturalization and marriage dates.
Christian applied to become a citizen in 1896, he might have waited until 1900 to be naturalized. The 1900 Census indicates that he was an alien and the 1920 Census of Kearney County, Nebraska, indicates
that he was naturalized in 1900. (However, there is some room for doubt since the 1920 Census also indicates that Christian’s
wife Sorina was also naturalized in 1900, even though she actually lived in Demark at the time.)
On Jan. 16, 1903, Christian married Sørina Mathilde Sørensen in Rutland Township, Humboldt County. They were married by
J.E. Jorgenson, a Lutheran pastor in Bode, Iowa. (12)
was born May 20, 1878 in Klovborg in Skanderborg county, Denmark, to Jens Peter Sørensen and his wife Karen Jensen. (13)
The Sørensens moved
from Klovborg to the city of Vejle at some point before 1900.
May 21, 1900, Sørina gave birth to Carrie in Vejle. The birth record indicates
that Sørina was not married at the time of the birth. It also indicates that
Carrie’s father was a workman named William Jansen. Sørina’s parents,
who were residents of Vejla, served as witnesses.
birth to Ella Mary in Vejle on June 13, 1902. Ella’s birth record indicates
Sørina was living at Skovgade 20 in Vejle.
It also says she was unmarried and that Ella’s father was identified as a workman named Peter Petersen.
Sørina didn’t stay in Denmark long after Ella’s birth. On June 5, 1902, she and her sister Ella Marie registered to emigrate. (14)
The sisters made their
way to England, where they boarded the S.S. Umbria of the Cunard Line on July 12, 1902, in Liverpool. (15) They arrived in New York City on July 20. The ship’s
manifest indicates that the sisters’ passage was paid by an uncle and that they were heading to the home of an uncle
named Rasmus Shalts in Bode, Iowa, which is in Humboldt County. Ella Marie is
listed as married and Sørina is listed as single.
left her two young daughters with her parents in Denmark when she immigrated. They
are not listed on the S.S. Umbria’s manifest. However, two years later, Sørina’s parents and youngest brother
immigrated and their party included girls identified as Carin Jansen, age 4, and Ellen Marie Jansen, age 2. Their passage aboard the S.S. United States was paid by Sørina’s husband Christian and their destination
is listed as his home on Arnold Street in Humboldt, Iowa. (16)
Danish records, Sørina’s name is usually spelled “Sørina Mathilde Sørensen.” Her name was spelled a variety of ways after she immigrated
to the United States, but she appears to have adopted “Serena” as the preferred spelling later in life. Christian’s name also underwent some changes. He is frequently called “Christ” in U.S.
Census records. And newspaper clippings from the 1950s refer to him as “Chris.” The couple’s surname also was spelled a variety of ways, ranging from the original
“Friis” in their marriage record, to “Frees” in the 1910 Census to “Freis,” which became
the preferred spelling for most of the family members.
1907, Christian’s son Harold immigrated from Denmark. When the ship Hellig
Olaf arrived in New York City on May 2, Harold said he was headed to the home of his father Christian Friis in Dakota City,
Iowa. It’s uncertain how long he stayed with the family. He ended up settling in Santa Barbara, Calif. (17)
At some point before
the birth of Roy in 1909, the family moved to South Dakota. (18) The family
farmed in Aurora Township in Aurora County, where they owned 21 farm animals, according to the 1910 Census. The census indicates they rented the farm but family members say the land was obtained under the Homestead
Act, a federal program that granted land to people who could farm it for at least five years. The
family lived in South Dakota for about five years, then moved to Nebraska in 1912 to take up farming there.
While family tradition says Christian was a good gardener who could grow beautiful flowers,
it holds that he was never a good farmer and his efforts weren’t very successful.
In the 1920 Census, the family appears in Easton in Kearney County, Neb. Christian
is listed as farmer who rented his land. After a few years in Nebraska, the
family moved back to Humboldt County, Iowa.
After retiring from
farming, Christian was sexton of the Union Cemetery in Humboldt for 12 years, according to the article about the couple’s
50th anniversary celebration. In the 1930 Census, Christian is listed
as a cemetery caretaker who lived in Springvale Township, Humboldt County.
The 1940 Census shows the couple still living in Springvale Township. Neither
has an occupation listed. Although they’re identified as a separate household,
it appears that their son Raymond, daughter-in-law Eloise and 2-year-old grandson Richard lived in the same house. The census also notes that the highest level of education completed by Christian and Serena was the eighth
members said that Christian was a quiet man who just wanted to be an American. He worked hard to learn English but always
spoke it with difficulty and with a heavy Danish accent. Despite this trouble,
Christian, Serena and the two oldest children could read and write English well enough to have it noted on the 1910 Census.
Both Christian and Serena were very religious. Late in life, they worshiped
at the Fifth Avenue Baptist Church in Humboldt. Christian enjoyed fishing and Serena was a homemaker who could make the most
delicious cinnamon rolls.
Christian died Jan. 21, 1953, in Humboldt.
Serena died June 25, 1962, in Sterling, Colo. Her obituary mentions: “Mrs.
Freis died unexpectedly Monday at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Fred Kropf, at Sterling, Colorado. She had accompanied her
daughter back to Colorado last Friday after Mrs. Kropf had visited here.” (19)
Christian and Serena are buried in Union Cemetery in Humboldt. (20)
(1) Much information comes from letters and interviews with Roy Fries and Donald Fries in 1989 and a letter from Adalaine
Haas in 1990. Birth information is recorded in the church books of Tvilum parish,
Skanderborg county, births for 1858, page 30. In this and following references,
“page” refers to the number of the image on the digital scans of the records available through the Danish archives
at www.sa.dk. The marriage certificate of Christian and Serena, which was
provided by the Humboldt County Genealogical Society, says he was born in Ostbirk, but that’s actually the town in which
he spent much of his childhood. (2) Harald’s birth is recorded in the
church book that covers 1883 in the Ginnerup parish in Randers county, page 23. Johan
Otto’s birth is recorded in the church books that cover 1885 for Vor Frue (Our Lady) church in Aarhus, Aarhus county,
page 91. The database at FamilySearch.org indicates that Sylvia Rigmor was born
March 14, 1889, in Aarhus, Denmark. The website www.friis.co.nz indicates she was baptized at St. Paul’s parish, but those records appear to have been corrupted on
the Danish archives website. The names of Carrie and Ella’s husbands were provided by Pearl Fries. (3) Carrie’s birth is recorded in the church book of Vejle parish, Vejle county, that covers baptisms
for 1900, page 86. Ella’s birth is listed under births of 1902, page 83. It is repeated in the records of Hover parish, Vejle, also on page 83. The 1930 Census of Phillips, Colo., shows Carrie and Ella living beside each other in Philips. Their husbands were brothers. (4) Approximate birth years
and birth places of the children are listed in the 1920 Census of Kearney County, Neb.
Roy provided his birth date. The 1920 Census, which was taken on Jan.
14, 1920, lists “Adaline” as 1 month old. (5) The family lived in
Odder when Christian’s brother Johan Otto was born in 1865, according to his baptismal record in the church book that
covers that year for Odder parish, Aarhus county, page 46. The family lived
in Østbirk when Christian was confirmed in 1873, according to the church book that covers that year for Østbirk parish, Skanderborg
county, page 5. (6) Ry parish, Skanderborg county, church books, marriages for
1881, page 83. Mette’s birth is recorded in the Ry church book that covers1857,
page 84. (7) He immigrated in 1889, according to the 1920 and 1930 censuses
and an account of the 50th anniversary of his marriage to Serena from an undated, unidentified newspaper provided by the Humboldt
County Genealogical Society. The 1910 Census of Aurora Township, Aurora County,
S.D., says Christian immigrated in 1890. It is possible that Christian arrived
in America on June 29, 1889, when a Christian Fries who was born about 1857 arrived in New York, according to “New York
Passenger Lists, 1820-1957” and “Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934” available at ancestry.com. However, this passenger is listed as being a resident of Jarplundfeld in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein,
which borders Denmark. (8) Mette Johanne’s death record mentions she was
divorced. It appears in the church book that covers 1929 the Aarhus Domsogne,
page 295. (9) The confirmation
is recorded in the church book that covers 1900 for the Aarhus Domsogne, page 49. Mette’s
death notice is in the church book that covers 1929 the Aarhus Domsogne, page 295. (10)
The Humboldt County Genealogical Society provided a copy of Christian’s naturalization request. (11) The conscription information provided by “Danish Roots,” which research by Lilian Kristensen.
(12) The marriage certificate provided by the Humboldt County Genealogical Society
provides the wedding information. (13) Serena’s birth is recorded in the
records of Klovborg parish, Skanderborg county, births for 1878, page 117. A
printed notice from her funeral states that she was born on May 19. (14) Danish
immigration records are available through the county’s national archives’ website at www.ddd.dda.dk. The 1930 Census incorrectly states that Serena immigrated in 1901.
(15) Their immigration record is available on ancestry.com and ellisisland.org, under S.S. Umbria, which arrived in
New York City on July 20, 1902. (16) Manifest of the S.S. United States, arriving
in New York on Oct. 31, 1905, available via ancestry.com and ellisisland.org. (17)
Harald’s immigration is recorded in the manifest of the Hellig Olav, which arrived in New York City on May 2, 1907. It is available at ancestry.com and ellisisland.org.
Harold appears in the 1940 Census in Lompoc, Santa Barbara County, Calif. (18)
Based on birth places and years mentioned in 1910 Census. (19) Obituary from
the Humboldt Independent of Humboldt, Iowa, from June 26, 1962, as recorded on the Humboldt County genealogical website at
iagenweb.org. A note in the obit mentions Carrie’s real surname is Kropp. (20)
Printed funeral notices for both indicate this burial place. Serena’s
gave appears – under the Danish spelling – on findagrave.com under Humboldt’s Union Cemetery but Christian’s
ROY FRIES and PEARL PAULSON
Roy Oliver Fries was born March 16, 1909, near Stickney, S.D., to Christian
and Serena (Sorenson) Fries. (1)
Married Pearl Anabel Paulson.
The Frieses has three children.
Roy’s father was farming in South Dakota when
Roy was born. In about 1912, the family moved to another farm in Nebraska.
When Roy was old enough, he helped his father on the farm. Later, during
one of his summer vacations, Roy joined a thrashing run, making $2 a day. The
thrashers started in Texas and moved north, harvesting the grain as it ripened.
One summer, the thrashers had to wait in North Dakota while the grain ripened.
Roy took a job riding herd on cattle for six weeks. At the time, the range was open and ranchers needed cowboys to
keep the cattle from roaming and to keep coyotes from killing the calves. The cowboys were told to shoot at anything with
eyes that shined in the night – cows’ eyes don’t shine, coyotes’ do.
The 1930 Census lists Roy as a lodger in the household of a farmer named Dennis L. Malkmus
in Delana Township, Humboldt County. This status in the family is listed as
“Servant” and his occupation is listed as “Farm Laborer.”
Roy married Pearl Anabel Paulson on June 13, 1931, in Dakota City, Neb. Pearl
was born April 19, 1906, in Dakota City, Iowa, to Ole and Serina (Olson) Paulson.
She was always called Toots by members of the family because the first thing her father said when he discovered he
had a daughter was: “Now we have a toots in the family.”
While attending high school in Eagle Grove, Iowa, Pearl worked in a general store in Rutland. She sold kerosene and
sugar, cut meat and yard goods, fit shoes and did anything else that needed to be done.
After graduating from high school, she taught in a one-room country school that served nine grades. She walked three miles to school – even during blizzards.
She swept the floor, dusted the furniture and, if it was cold, started the fire and kept it going all day.
After teaching for three years in the country school, she went to Iowa
University for a couple years. She then taught third and fourth grades in Bode, Iowa.
She appears in the 1930 Census living on Rassing Avenue in Bode, which is in Humboldt County. She was one of four public school teachers living as lodgers in the home of Ole Hoff.
Pearl married Roy while she was still teaching. During the Depression, all available work
was given to men and single women so the Frieses had to keep the marriage secret. Pearl had to quit when it was revealed.
From 1933 to 1937, Roy worked for an undertaker. He had to do everything
involved in the job, including embalming. Pearl helped by staying in the funeral home with the bodies and answering the telephone
when Roy was out on calls.
Next, Roy worked for the federal
government’s Rural Electrification Administration. During the Depression,
the government began its program to extend electrical service to rural communities.
Roy got a job erecting utility poles, but did this for only three months before becoming a supervisor. Pearl again
helped him by taking care of office work and handling the bills. The electrification program made the family move very frequently
so they lived in several states over the next few years.
1940 Census lists them as living in Beemer in Cuming County, Neb., on April 8. The
census records that Roy was an REA superintendant and worked 60 hours during the week of March 24-30, 1940. His household contained Pearl and two sons. It seems likely
that the family was living in a trailer at the time because just below are listed a number of people who resided in the Beemer
Hotel, including three men who worked for the REA.
World War II brought a change in the program as the work moved from farms to air bases. Roy supervised construction of night
lighting systems for runways and Pearl managed the office. This work was more complicated because of strict supervision by
Army engineers and tight security. Everyone was fingerprinted and had to wear badges bearing their photos. Also, the work
was done under strict deadlines, so hustle and bustle prevailed. Pearl and Roy found it both serious and exciting. This work
took the Fries family and their 28-foot trailer to bases in Topeka, Salina, Wichita and Harrington. The boys had to change
schools as often as every three months. Pearl worked in offices and they hired a baby-sitter for the boys.
During negotiations for his first contract to install
runway lights, Roy had to deal with future president Harry Truman. Truman, who was a senator at the time, was an arrogant
and bossy man. Roy wanted to speed up the negotiations but Truman exerted his authority and told Roy to do what he was told.
Roy wasn’t impressed with Truman and never voted for him, although he eventually decided that he was a good president.
After the war, the family moved back to Iowa and settled down to a more
stable – though hum drum – life for the sake of the children. Roy got a job with Horn Brothers Manufacturing Corp.
in Fort Dodge. He was a supervisor until Brunswick Corp. bought the company and the Fries family moved to Muskegon, Mich.,
in 1953. Roy then became the superintendent of Brunswick’s wood plant, which made bowling pins, until he retired in1974.
Later in life, Roy enjoyed studying the Bible and was active in the church,
serving as lay president of First Evangelical Lutheran Church of Muskegon. He also liked to play cards and reminisce with
Pearl was active in the church, serving as
deaconess at First Evangelical Lutheran Church.
In their later
years, the Frieses moved to the Lutheran Home in Topton, Pa., where they were closer to their sons Don and Paul.
Roy died on May 19, 1998.
Pearl lived to be 100 years old. She died April 8, 2007
(1) Unless noted, information comes from
a questionnaire and interviews with Roy and Pearl Fries in 1989 and 1990.
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
- Romans 5:8