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Was he really Danish?

Replies: 24

Was he really Danish?

Posted: 1374360921000
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 1374360921000 
PLondahlsmid1 1374374844000 
Flemming_Aask... 1374393500000 
PLondahlsmid1 1374407543000 
falsterden 1374435674000 
PLondahlsmid1 1374440657000 
falsterden 1374441640000 
gbern01 1374468816000 
gbern01 1374471908000 
Flemming_Aask... 1374479486000 
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