The Family of Henrik Vilhelm Ludvig Bohnstedt
The Descendants of Heinrich Friedrich Wilhelm Ludwig Bohnstedt, part 2
by Thomas Allen Bohnstedt, California USA
(the text of this page is my intellectual property. Please do not copy and repost without my written permission)
Henrik Vilhelm Ludvig Bohnstedt
Heinrich and Marie's second child, Henrik Vilhelm Ludvig Bohnstedt was also an engineer. He was first married in 1916 to Mary Petra Gammelgaard, and they had one son, Poul Johannes Bohnstedt.
1. Sons of Heinrich Friedrich Wilhelm Ludwig Bohnstedt, sometime in the early 1900's; L-R: Henrik Vilhelm Ludvig and brother Aage Nicolaj. Click on the thumbnail above and then look carefully at the enlargement; Somebody is looking out of the window just behind Henrik.
2. Henrik Vilhelm Ludvig Bohnstedt moved to Aarhus and started a small Bohnstedt family line in that area.
Poul, who became a business manager, married in 1942 to Kirsten Vibeke Laursen. Together they had two sons, Peter, born in 1945 in Nørresundby, Denmark, and Lars, born in 1954 in Aarhus. Lars followed a business career like his father, eventually becoming the Assistant to the Branch Director at Provinsbanken and Danske Bank. Lars married in 1983 to Alice Lee Madsen, but they divorced, and married again in 2007 to Karen Flink.
3-4. Poul Johannes Bohnstedt
Peter followed an academic career. After earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Theory of Education, and a Master of Arts degree in Danish literature and linguistics, he acquired a position at the University Teacher in Aarhus, teaching Danish literature.
5. My wife and I visited Peter, his girlfriend, and his daughter in 1994 during our trip to Denmark, Sweden and Germany. Back L-R: Peter's daughter, Henriette, and my wife Karen. Front L-R: Peter's girlfriend, and Peter Bohnstedt
6. Peter's brother, Lars Bohnstedt
Henriette studied economics and computer programming in school, and in 1998, Las Vegas Nevada, married Gary Ray Armitt. Gary, who was born in 1958 in West Sussex, England, was a Computer engineer. One of Henriette's interest is training and managing dogs for shows. Henriette and Gary had two children; Reece Ian Armitt, born in 2000, and Kira Helene, born in 2001. Both children were born in England.
7-8. Henriette Bohnstedt
9. Henriette's son, Reece Armitt Bohnstedt. This picture was taken from his Facebook page.
10. Henriette's daughter, Kira.
Helene Katja Bohnstedt / Amrita Sagar Constantin
Sagar was born Helene Katja Bohnstedt in 1972 in Aarhus, Denmark. In 1988 at 16 years of age, she went traveling in Australia and New Zealand. Although she entered high school, she left before completing the standard three years. She moved to London where she worked in a restaurant, and then moved to Australia.
11. Helene Katja Bohnstedt in the 1990's, covering the Tour de France
12. Helene / Amrita Sagar Bohnstedt, 2008
In 1994 Helene decided on a professional course in journalism and began training video and audio recording and editing. She was accepted as a trainee at TV2, Denmark's largest national television station. During this time she also made some of her own documentaries and worked as a freelance photographer.
In 1998 Helene was made a director at TV2 and produced documentaries and sports coverage, and in 2000 produced coverage of the Olympic games in Sydney, Australia. In her television career Helene has covered the Tour de France five times, produced news, and has produced documentaries in Bosnia.
In 2000 Helene began a career change. She developed a new way of using Feng Shui ("Neo Feng Shui"). In 2001 Helene and her partner, Sukul, opened the first Neo Feng Shui school.
Following a trip to India in 2002 Helene changed her name to Amrita Sagar Bohnstedt. That year she also had a son, Luccas. During the next six years Sagar led the Neo Feng Shui school and trained over 500 consultants. She also wrote two books on Feng Shui; Neo Feng Shui, and Neo Feng Shui På Arbejdspaldsen ("New Feng Shui for the workplace"). The first book, Neo Feng Shui was originally published in the Danish language and was a bestseller in Denmark. It has since been translated into five languages.
13. Neo Feng Shui, in Danish
14. Neo Feng Shui På Arbejdspaldsen (New Feng Shui for the workplace)
In 2005 Sagar hosted, on Danish national television, ten episodes of what Sagar describes as the Danish version of the BBC program "The Laundry List", watched by over 1 million Danish viewers.
A Family Mystery
While researching these Danish family lines in 2006 Frank Bohnstedt-Petersen and I came across three family mysteries in the Danish Bohnstedts. One of these mysteries was the relationship between Magda Lovisa Bohnstedt and Inga Lillian Bohnstedt, who was, apparently, Magda's daughter. The next mystery was the matter of Willy Bohnstedt.
As part of his research efforts, Frank was busy collecting addresses, telephone numbers and e-mail addresses of Bohnstedts throughout Denmark. One of the names and telephone numbers he found was Jette Bohnstedt of Mern, Denmark.
When Frank asked Jette about her Bohnstedt lineage, all she knew was that her father's name was Willy Bohnstedt, he was born in 1930, and died in 1991. She also told Frank that she thought that Willy came back to Denmark from America with his parents when he was about three or four years old. She was unable to tell us anything beyond that.
Frank and I soon developed the notion that Jette's grandfather (and Willy's father) may have been Henrik Vilhelm Ludvig Bohnstedt. The clue was in a family chart that Henrik's grandson, Peter Bohnstedt had provided several years ago to assist in this family research for the original 1998 Printed Edition of A History of the Bohnstedt Family. The chart was an Arveerklæring (statement of heritage) originally put together by Peter's father, Poul Johannes Bohnstedt, to show his relationship to the Bohnstedt family for the purposes of claiming his share of the inheritance from Otto Nikolaj Bohnstedt in Chicago. The chart was drawn sometime around the time that Henrik Vilhelm Ludvig Bohnstedt died in Delaware, in 1954.
15. Arveerklæring (statement of heritage) put together by Poul Johannes Bohnstedt
In the lower left quadrant of the chart is listed Henrik Vilhelm Ludvig Bohnstedt. He is listed twice, each time in a different marriage. From his first marriage to Mary Gammelgaard is listed a son, Poul Johannes Bohnstedt (the originator of this chart). But from his second marriage to someone named Louice (the proper spelling may have been 'Louise') the chart lists a son named 'Villy', with an unknown date of birth. There was an address listed for this Villy Bohnstedt, at Gravervænget 18, København.
16. Close-up of lower left area showing Henrik's two marriages, and two sons
During some follow-up conversations Frank again asked Jette about what she might know about her father's parents, their names, where they lived, etc., but still, she could not remember anything. At first Frank did not reveal to her what information we had, just because he wanted to see what she could remember on her own. He finally asked her directly about Henrik, about Louice, and about the address on Gravervænget. Still she could remember nothing.
Then one day, about three weeks after this particular investigation had begun, Jette called Frank. Something had shaken her memory loose! Jette had been watching television, and the show she was watching featured a woman who was talking about being able to see the Church of Grundtvig from the window of her apartment in København (Copenhagen). As Jette was watching the show she suddenly thought about the fact that she could also remember seeing this Church of Grundtvig from the window of the apartment in København where she lived as a child with her parents, Willy and Kirsten, and her brother Steen.
Next to this church is Bispebjerg Cemetery and Gravervænget street. (Bispebjerg is a small hill, and the name translated to English means 'Bishop's Mountain'). Jette still could not remember Gravervænget street, but she did remember a street named Ringtoften. Frank checked a map of the area and found that Ringtoften was right next to Gravervænget. Jette remembered Steen going to Bispebjerg School just around the corner of Ringtoften and Gravervænget.
17. The Grundtvig church in København, Denmark, is unique in it's appearance, and no doubt made a lasting impression on Jette Bohnstedt, which later helped her recall other details about her family history.
As Jette's memory continued coming back to her, she recalled that she lived there with her family until 1970, when she was 17 years old. Her parents then got divorced, and her mother left København with Jette and Steen and relocated to the south part of Sjælland with her new husband. She further remembered that from time to time Jette visited her father, Willy, in København, and during these visits he took Jette on trips to visit his (Willy's) mother in Høje Tåstrup, in the København area.
Frank then asked her if she remembered her grandmother's name. It was indeed Louice, and Jette and Steen's grandfather was indeed Henrik Bohnstedt. With what we've learned so far, thanks to efforts by Frank, and help from Jette Bohnstedt, Peter Bohnstedt (Jette's cousin from Poul Johannes Bohnstedt), we were able to reconstruct the sequence of events in this family that led to this mystery.
(1) In 1916 Henrik married Mary Petra Gammelgaard, and the following year a son was born in Århus; Poul Johannes Bohnstedt. Apparently the marriage had problems very early, and Henrik was separated from Mary in 1918. Henrik was finally divorced from Mary in 1926, and moved away from Mary and his son Poul.
(2) Henrik married again about 1926 - 1928 to a woman named Louice (or Louise). They must have married in Denmark because they went to America in June, 1929. In 1929 Henrik and Louice were living in Schenectady, New York. Henrik and Louice (who was apparently using the nickname Misse) moved to Wilmington, Delaware. In 1930 a son was born to Henrik and Louice, who they named Willy.
(3) Here is where the picture becomes less clear. According to Jette, her father, Willy, "returned" to Denmark "with his parents" (her words) when Willy was about three or four years old. If true this means Henrik and Louice returned to Denmark with Willy about 1933 or 1934.
We know that if Henrik did come back to Denmark with Louice and Willy, he must have later returned to America because he died in Wilmington in 1954. But from what Jette has told us, Louice did not go back to America with Henrik, but instead she stayed in Denmark with her son, and eventually remarried.
When Willy grew up he married Kirsten Jensen and they had two children in Frederiksberg; a son, Steen, in 1951, and a daughter, Jette, in 1952. Two years later their grandfather, Henrik died in Wilmington Delaware.
Mystery solved. It was now clear that Henrik had two sons, from two marriages; Poul, and Willy, and that Steen and Jette Bohnstedt were Willy's children, and Henrik's grandchildren.
Letters From America
Sonja Bohnstedt contributed two letters that Henrik had written to his sister Edith (Sonja's grandmother) from America after he had gone there to find work. Based on these two letters we now know where Henrik was while he was working in America.
239 Park Place
Dec. 10. 1929
Dear Sister, Dear Kristian and Dear Children,
Here I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and I hope that everybody is well and healthy. Now we have winter here with snow and some wind. The cold feels hard and quickly penetrates the miserable wooden houses we have here. In September we had a lot of heat. July and August [it was] 28-30-32° Celsius [82-86-90 Fahrenheit] and often very mild in October and November. It has been a busy period here this summer but now change has occurred and it is very bad here, probably as a result of the falling stock market. The fabrication of radios in the factory here is completely cancelled, because the company lost a major lawsuit in court about radio patents. Westinghouse won the law suite and gave thereby General Electric a major slap in the face. Everybody with less than a year as an employee has been sacked. Many others also, and many [employees] work only 3 days a week. I think it will not be long before things will become better again. My job was not so long-term but of course well enough for me to learn more English. I am going to take a trip to New York, and should I find a job there, we will move and settle there. If I dont succeed, we will travel farther inland.
Many Kind Greetings to You, Kristian, Kesse
and all the children from Misse and Henrik
Also greetings from me especially to the 3 little ones, which I have seen. I wish you all a Merry Christmas and all happiness in the New Year.
Greetings to all from yours Misse
18. The original General Electric plant in Schenectady, New York, 1930's
This letter was interesting because Henrik refers to the "falling stock market". In fact this was the beginning of the Great Depression, which started with the collapse of the New York Stock Exchange on October 28, 1929. Less that two months later Henrik was feeling the effects of the collapsing economy. In 1930 Henrik was living in Wilmington, Delaware:
304 West Street
April 28. 1930
Dear Sister Edith and Dear Everybody,
We are now in Wilmington in Delaware and we are living in 304 West Street in a 2 room apartment for $30 a month. My address is mentioned above. Wilmington is a large city build on a lot of hills. It is a looping the loop. It has X1 thousand inhabitants and is build at the Delaware River - X2 miles from Philadelphia and about 120 miles from New York.
I have a good job here and am employed at the energy department in E. J. du Pont de Nemeurs in a department here. I work from 8.00 - X3 and from 12.50 4.20. Saturday only until 12.00. It is X4 hours a week. I am really (truly) at a construction drawing office and working here with important work and large constructions. I have a job here that I never could imagine, so if I can make it or live up to it, we shall see what the first ½ year may bring. If I just get through this first ½ year, I will become calmer.
I found the job myself from a smart [smart looking] advertisement in the New York Times. I work in a building 12 stories high with about 10,000 offices and construction drawing offices. Black elevator girls are driving us up and down in the elevators. There are many colored here in the city and many small black boys. The company here is the biggest in the world. This is one of the departments.
We have yet no order in our lives except from here in the apartment and it will take some more time. So far the conditions are still uncertain. We have Summer now and the trees flourish. We have had much warmth in April and how will July-August be here with us? We have summertime the watches turned one hour forward. So I am finished at the office 4:20 (really 3:20).
I hope that every thing is well with you. When we are a little longer towards the end of the year, I shall remember what I promised you. We have had a difficult time here and we stayed in New York for 6 weeks and that was expensive. My luggage alone was very expensive from Schenectady to New York and here to Wilmington. I need time to get back on my feet again.
Many Greetings to you, Kristian, little Kesse and all the children from Misse and Henrik
The idea of a twelve story office building having 10,000 offices was an exaggeration, but it shows that living in a large American city (large for it's day) made an impression on Henrik. For example; Henrik states that the new company he was working for was the 'largest in the world'. This is also probably an exaggeration, although du Pont was certainly an important company. Henrik was also fascinated with the fact that there were so many Negro people in Wilmington, something one would likely never see in a small town in Denmark in the 1920's and 1930's.
19. The du Pont building, Wilmington, 1930s-1940s.
Henrik died in America, but it seems clear that he did not plant a new family line in the new world. We know that Henrik was married twice, and a son was produced from each marriage. But research indicates that both sons were born in Denmark and began their own families there. Henrik must have gone to America, by himself, during his second marriage, after his second son was born. Did he go to America planning to make his fortune and then send for his wife? Or did he plan to return to Denmark when he had made his success? Or was he divorced from his second wife when he went to America?
20-21. Delaware State Hospital, Farnhurst, 1930's
By 1940 at the latest something had gone wrong. One source stated that Henrik died in a state hospital in Delaware in 1954. A 1940 federal census from a state hospital in Farnhurst, Delaware does list a "Henrik Bohnstedt" from Denmark, 52 years old, which means he was born about 1887-1888; the same Henrik Bohnstedt. Strangely, the "relationship" of each person on this alphabetized list is recorded as "inmate". This facility was not a prison; in fact, the census record does list it as a "state hospital". So why was everybody on this census record - all men - listed as an "inmate"? A brief internet search revealed that the Delaware State Hospital at Farnhurst was a mental hospital; an insane asylum, and therefore why the men were all listed as "inmates". Henrik died in the facility at the age of 66.
- Bohnstedt, Amrita Sagar. Neo Feng Shui. Aschehoug. Denmark. 2004 (Danish). German translation published by Weltinnenraum, 2006. Italian translation published by Urra, 2006. Russian translation published by VES, 2008.
- Bohnstedt, Amrita Sagar. Neo Feng Shui På Arbejdspaldsen. Borgen. Denmark. 2006
2-12 / Genealogy 2-3-1: Denmark 1 (The Descendants of Johann Wilhelm Ludwig Bohnstedt)
2-13 / Genealogy 2-3-2: Denmark 2 (The Family Line of Henrik Vilhelm Ludvig Bohnstedt)
5-12 / Appendix K: Danish Genealogy Charts
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