Christian Olesen, son of Ole Tonne Olesen, a Danish master mariner, was born in Denmark circa 1844-1845. A master mariner is the commander of a merchant vessel and is sometimes called a captain. The earliest record found to date regarding Christian is the 1871 United Kingdom census where he was listed as a boarder in the Weiss house located on Victoria Terrace, Stranton, West Hartlepool, England. Christian was employed as a clerk with a ship broker in town. On August 3, 1874, he married Ferdinande Weiss, daughter of Frederick Weiss and Ferdinande Lehman. The ceremony took place at the Christ Church, West Hartlepool was performed by G.E. Pope, and witnessed by the bride’s brother, Adolph Weiss. (Certified Copy of an Entry of Marriage, Hartlepool, England, 1874, AB 029496) Ferdinande was born on November 14, 1855 in Hamburg, Germany. She immigrated to England circa 1859-1861 with her family.
Christian Olesen listed his employment as ships chandler on his marriage certificate. A ship chandler is someone who deals in cordage, canvas and other furniture of vessels. In 1881 the Olesen family was living at 47 Redworth Street in Stranton, Durham, England. Stranton was later incorporated into West Hartlepool. Christian lists that he is a ship store keeper. There are three Olesen children; Frederick, Elizabeth and Wilhelm.
Christian was not enumerated with the family on the 1891 United Kingdom census, Ferdinande was listed as a wife and not a widow, perhaps Christian was out at sea. The family wass residing at 4 Bolton Street, West Hartlepool and numbers five children; Frederick, Elizabeth, Wilhelm, Emily, Adolph and George. (1891 England Census, Durham County, West Hartlepool, All Saints Stranton Parish, Ref:RG12/4064 Folio:59) Bolton Street no longer exists in Hartlepool, but in the later part of the 1800’s, it was the northern boundary of a large paced open square and was one of the “better” addresses in West Hartlepool.
Christian Olesen died at age forty eight, on Monday, October 17, 1892, 10:00 am at the Victoria Hotel, Whitby Street, West Hartlepool, England. He had gone into the hotel to inquire as to the time the next train was leaving for Middlesbrough, where he would meet his ship. As described in the newspaper article, he went into a fit of ague (shivering fit and fever). He died immediately. At the time of his death, the newspaper lists the Olesen address as 7 Bolton Street in Belle Vue. (Northern Daily Mail, West Hartlepool, England, Monday, October 17, 1892)
An article in the Northern Daily Mail, West Hartlepool's newspaper, gives a detailed account of Christian's death. There was an inquest at the Alma Hotel with Coroner Settle. Ferdinande was called first. She stated that when her husband left home, he was in perfect health. He was going to join a steamer in Middlesbrough as the ship's stewart. While waiting for the train at the Victoria Hotel, Christian ordered a whiskey at the bar; however before he could drink it, a physical change came over him. He sat down, put his hands in his pockets and became unconscious. The coroner determined that Christian died from syncope (loss of consciousness due to fall in blood pressure) naturally. (Northern Daily Mail, West Hartlepool, England, Wednesday, October 19, 1892)
Christian spent his lifetime working on and with merchant vessels. He probably located in Hartlepool as it was the second largest ship building port in the British Empire during Queen Victoria and there still remains a relatively sizable Scandinavian community. I will note here that Christian Olesen is later referred to as Christopher Olesen. I suspect that the change was an attempt after his death to Anglicize his name.
Following her husband’s death, Ferdinande remained in West Hartlepool and lived at 7 Bolton Street. Only three of her children are still at home; William, Emily and Ernest. Records show that Ferdinande lived at 73 South Parade in West Hartlepool but by 1920 she was near Liverpool living at 39 Clarence Road, Wallasey, England.
Four of Christian and Ferdinande’s children immigrated to the United States, Elizabeth with husband John George Hughes and son, George Henry Hughes; William Christian; Emily with husband Rowland Richards and Ernest with wife Ann and son Oscar. Only one son remained in England, Frederick Adolph Olesen. I have no further information.
The greater Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area drew three of the siblings. Elizabeth Ferdinande and her husband John George Hughes immigrated first in 1906. Second was William C. Olesen, who immigrated to the US in 1910. He returned to England in 1912. Third was Emily's husband, Rowland Richards who arrived in 1914 and joined the Hughes Family. In the summer of 1920, Ferdinande, and two of her children, William and Emily Richards, immigrated to the US aboard the SS Aquatania. I believe that everyone lived with Elizabeth and John George Hughes, 121 Spring Street, Woodlawn Pennsylvania.
Ferdinande, also known as Ann, lived with her daughter, Elizabeth Olesen Hughes in Woodlawn and Monaca, Pennsylvania. Son, William (Bill), also lived with them. Daughter Emily was married to Rowland Richards and following his death, married Peter Leo Brown and lived one street away from her Hughes/Olesen family in Monaca, Beaver County, Pennsylvania. Ernest Olesen and his family lived in Lynbrook on Long Island, New York.
Ann Olesen, called “Granny Olesen,” took a “dose of salts” every day for her health. Her great grandchildren remember her as a quiet and gentle woman. She was a member of the Episcopal church in Aliquippa, Beaver County, Pennsylvania where she had lived for sixteen years before relocating in Monaca with her family in 1937.
Ann died on February 14, 1942, at the age of eighty-seven, in Monaca, Pennsylvania from heart disease. She is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery, Aliquippa, Pennsylvania along with her son, William Christian Olesen and daughter, Elizabeth Olesen Hughes.
Children of Christian Olesen and Ferdinande Weiss:
A comprehensive history of the English roots at the Hartlepool Page
Unlock the Olesen Family Treasure Chest!
A special thank you to my dad, George VanGilder Hughes and my aunt, Faith Hughes Roolf for sharing family memories, old photographs, and memorabilia AND to Heather of Middlesbrough, England who has researched the Olesen roots through UK census reports.
Updated: August, 2015
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