Danish castle



Danish coat of arms

David Alan Kjøller


Jeg elsker dig, Danmark

Laurits Kjøller

Danish flag Alan Kjoller

I think of what my grandfather might have thought when he left his home on Bornholm for the trip to America and a new life. Was he excited or fearful, or both? Save for the short time he spent in Copenhagen, Bornholm was the only place he really knew.

His parents had spent their whole life on Bornholm as did their parents. Finding some opportunity that was not there in Nexo or anywhere else on Bornholm was clearly his motivation. Still, it must have been difficult to leave.

What was it like the day he left? This was going to be a separation like no other in his life. Going to Copenhagen to look for work was, in comparison, nothing of consequence. In that moment when the goodbyes were complete he walked out of the door taking the first steps toward his new life.

A journey into the unknown is probably best taken when no other choice is present. For many of those who came from Western and Eastern European countries, whatever apprehension they had was assuaged by a feeling that America held, if not the promise, at least the opportunity, for a better life.

The decade of 1880, when my grandfather sailed to America (1888), saw some of highest immigration of any decade of the 40 year period when the United States had the greatest immigration since its founding.

When Laurits Kjoller arrived in New York, he must have felt an exhilaration coupled with apprehension. In those ensuing hours a host of questions had to be answered. Where could he stay? Where could he find work? I imagine that finding other Danes among the immigrants was a way of feeling some sense of comfort amid the sense of uncertainty they all must have felt.

Virtually nothing is known of his time in New York. A history of this period of his life before he moves to Chicago is lost. It would be there, in Chicago, where Laurits Kjoller found meaning and purpose in his life.

For a continuation of his story and life ... More


As I read and learn more about my ancestral homeland, I am surprised by what I find. For example, I searched YouTube archives for videos on Denmark and watched one of them about Copenhagen and the use of bicycles for transportation in the city.

I was astonished at the number of cyclists in Copenhagen on a daily basis and that even in cold and snowy weather there seemed to be as many on bicycles as in cars. Obviously, the city has designed streets in a way that facilitates and promotes travel by cycling.

Here is what I found (Her er hvad jeg fandt).

The creative mind is a restless one ........ always in search of an idea


There have been some real surprises in my study of Denmark. Little did I realize that Denmark is quite flat throughout the country with its highest point being only about 171m above sea level. I never perceived the country as having so many islands and its inland waterways.

I just now read that, according to the US State Department, more than 300,000 Americans visit Denmark annually.

As an architecture student 30 years ago, I was familiar with the Sydney Opera House and its distinctive design. However, I never knew the architect who designed it. Now I do - Jorn Utzon.

The monument, Mt. Rushmore, is one of the most famous in America. I have been there and I knew its creator, artist and sculptor, Gutzon Borglum. I have read the story of its construction more than once but I never before understood that Borglum was Danish. Now I do.

If someone would ask me where the best restaurant (ranking) was I would probably say France or the US. I stumbled into the name Noma (not sure how) and that it had won the title of Best Restaurant in the World for the third time in a row.

Its not really what I would describe as a surprise but the bridge to Sweden is a reminder to me of the beauty of Danish design as it applies to many mediums.

Now for a real surprise - a place I visited more than 20 years ago.

This is a model of a library project well underway at Aarhus. None other than Bill Gates said,"It will be one of the great libraries in the world." As Partner of SHL Architects Kim Holst Jensen states: At SHL Architects we believe that library design is about more than just books. Libraries revolve around people and should provide flexible spaces for social interaction as well as studying. "Urban Mediaspace" further establishes the practice as leaders of this democratic, social kind of library design."

model of new library in Copenhagen

Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen was a renowned double bassist whose impressive talent and technique made him a sought after addition to a great many touring and resident jazz groups. He played with the legendary jazz pianist, Oscar Peterson, for many years. Very few bassists had the requisite talent to technically stay with Peterson's prodigious skill and execution.

Among the many jazz greats he played with were: Bill Evans, Bud Powell, Count Basie, Roy Eldridge, Dexter Gordon, Dizzy Gillespie, Roland Kirk, Sonny Rollins, and vocalist Ella Fitzgerald.

A Tribute by Oscar Peterson to Niels

"From the first night that my dear friend Audrey Genovese of Chicago played a Dexter Gordon record that featured Niels Pedersen on bass, I realized that this musical giant and I might someday have the pleasure and occasion of not just meeting but also playing together. After hearing this phenomenal talent on bass, I realized that somehow, someday we should meet, thereby giving me the opportunity to also play with him. This vision and thought took place in the early 1970s, when I was fortunate enough to be able to invite him to join my then trio."

One of the greatest theoretical physicists of the 20th century was Niels Bohr. I knew the name long ago from my first physics course in college. Then, I understood little of the importance of quantum mechanics and those who developed the theories surrounding it.

Bohr was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1922 for his foundational contributions to understanding atomic structure and quantum mechanics. Other notable aspects: during World War II he worked on the Manhattan Project and one of his sons, Aage, became a physicist, and was also a Nobel Prize recipient in 1975.

Victor Borge was a classical pianist and a child prodigy who found his calling in the field of entertainment by combining comedy with the piano. From early childhood his path seemed to be towards a career as a concert pianist. But as a young adult he reveals in one conversation that, "I'm good, but not good enough."

Whether that had stark truth to it or not, Borge had a special affinity for humor and found that he could bring together his pianistic skills and comedy to forge a different kind of performance, certainly one that was unique in the field of entertainment.

The monument, Mt. Rushmore, is one of the most famous in America. I have been there and I knew of its creator, Gutzon Borglum who was an artist and sculptor. I have read the story of its construction more than once but it would be a long time before I understood that Borglum was a Danish American.

Creating Mt. Rushmore was an immense undertaking for several reasons. First, it was expensive and finding millions of dollars to fund the project was made even more difficult given the period of the Great Depression. Second, there were the technical aspects of carving a sculpture with such large dimensions. It required finding techniques that could be transferred from Borglum's studio creation to the face of the mountain, Last, gathering a group of men who could perform this dangerous work was also a significant task. Borglum had to be an optimist because nothing less would suffice.

For interesting photos showing construction   More

Mt Rushmore

Der er ikke mange Kjøllers i Amerika.

Der er omkring 125 i den Amerikanske befolkning.
Omkring en fjerdedel af dem er relateret til mig.

Min bedstefars forældre var: Lars Jacob og Jensine
Caroline Kjøller. Hendes pigenavn var Petersen.

Jeg ville elske at høre fra danskere og for
kommentarer eller forespørgsler

Jeg vil gerne vide, hvor mange Kjøllers bor
på Bornholm.

Danmark er så smuk.

Once upon a time.

Jeg er så stolt af Danmark.




Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen



Niels Bohr

Niels Bohr


Victor Borge

Victor Borge


Gutzon Borglum

Gutzon Borgum