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Was he really Danish?

Replies: 22

Was he really Danish?

Posted: 20 Jul 2013 4:55PM GMT
Classification: Query
Surnames: Bern
Hello All,

I'm trying to track my great-great grandfather back to Denmark. His name was Carl Otto Bern. Here is what I know about his ties to Denmark: he was born in 1867 in Denmark, immigrated here in 1884. Also, I know that by 1897 (at least) he was in Alaska on Afognak Island (since that was when his first child was born). He married an Alutiiq woman (Alaskan Native), had three children with her, then after her death he remarried (to another Alutiiq woman) and had three additional children.

However, my family has quite an interesting story--with several variations--about Carl.

My grandpa believes that Carl was actually full Alutiiq. He tells me that Carl left Alaska at a young age for Canada, changed his name, then returned pretending from that time on that he was white and was actually a Danish immigrant. I have found several Canadian records of a Carl O Bern, which is interesting but hard to verify. There is, however, a variation to this story.

My grandpa's sister believes that Carl was half Alutiiq and half Danish. She says that his father (whos name I do not know and whom I have no record of) was full Danish and his mother was part Russian and part Alutiiq. As her story goes, Carl grew up in Alaska (on Afognak Island, not in Denmark). His father, however, wanted him to grow up white, not Native; he even sent Carl back to Denmark for schooling. My great aunt does NOT believe my grandpa's story; she knew Carl (her grandpa) when she was a teenager, and corresponded with him via letters until his death in 1960 in Seward, AK.


If he really grew up in Alaska, why do I have a 1920 census record that says he immigrated here in 1884?

If he was really born in Denmark, why can't I find any record of him there?

If he was really Danish, or Alutiiq, or moved to Canada at one point, why do the Russian Orthodox Church records from Afognak Island list Carl as American?


As you can see, I'm stumped. I have a million questions about Carl. I need to know if he was Native, or Danish, or both. I need to find his parents. If you have any suggestions, or you can find any record of him in Denmark, or anything, please let me know.
SubjectAuthorDate Posted
gbern01 20 Jul 2013 10:55PM GMT 
PLondahlsmid1 21 Jul 2013 2:47AM GMT 
Flemming_Aask... 21 Jul 2013 7:58AM GMT 
PLondahlsmid1 21 Jul 2013 11:52AM GMT 
falsterden 21 Jul 2013 7:41PM GMT 
PLondahlsmid1 21 Jul 2013 9:04PM GMT 
falsterden 21 Jul 2013 9:20PM GMT 
gbern01 22 Jul 2013 4:53AM GMT 
gbern01 22 Jul 2013 5:45AM GMT 
Flemming_Aask... 22 Jul 2013 7:51AM GMT 
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