Family tree of
Søren Nielsen & Lene Dræby Kottal

My great grandfather, Maximilian Kottal

Maximilian Kottal was born and christened on April 20, 1877, in Stubenbach in former Bohemia. Today the village is called Prášily and is located in the Czech Republic.

Maximilian attended Stubenbach Elementary School from 1882 to 1891. From his school leaving certificate it is evident that he was a diligent pupil, who was very well-behaved. He received top marks in all subjects except writing in which he "only" received the second highest mark. The certificate also shows that he was called Max.

After elementary school Max was a glass painter apprentice at the Johannes Lötz Wittwe glass works in Klostermühle, Bohemia, from 1891 to 1895. According to his certificate of completed apprenticeship, he had performed extremely satisfactorily and the glass works gave him its best recommendations.

Whether it was unemployment or need for adventure which made him go north to Denmark is unknown, but in August 1900 he chose to get a copy of his birth certificate so he could travel abroad.

In June 1901 he got a work permit in Denmark. I have been told that he was originally on his way to Copenhagen, but he settled in Odense instead. He had already been given a position at the Fünen Glass Works, when he got the work permit.

At that time many foreigners came to Denmark to work at the Danish glass works. Jacob Söderlund was another one of them. He was a glass maker from Finland, who came to Denmark with his daughter Anna Maria Söderlund in the late 1880s or early 1890s. When Max came to Odense, Anna Maria also worked at the Fünen glass works. Furthermore, they both lived in the worker apartments next to the glass works. Even so it is more likely that they met after working hours, because Max' job was hard work without many breaks.

Anyhow, they had their first child Ingeborg Marie Söderlund Kottal on January 2, 1903 and were married on September 12, the same year. Max was a catholic and Anna Maria was a protestant, but she converted to Catholicism and they were married in the catholic Sct. Mariæ Church in Odense.

Max' plan about going to Copenhagen had not yet been entirely forgotten, because in May 1907, he worked as a porcelain painter in Copenhagen. Apparently he went there alone and left his family in Odense. Whether the family was more important or Copenhagen was less appealing than he had thought is unknown, however, he only stayed in Copenhagen for barely a week.

Thereafter the family moved to the Odense suburb Dalum, where Max worked at the paper factory. The Danish glass works industry peaked in the late 1800s, so the reason for the job shift was probably unemployment. He may have had some experience within paper making, because there was in fact a paper factory in Stubenbach when Max lived there - but whether he had worked there or not is purely guesswork.

When the family moved to Dalum, they converted to Protestantism. Unlike Danes today, they did actually go to church every Sunday, which may have been one of their reasons for converting, because the only catholic church was in the centre of Odense. In Dalum they lived in the so-called Dalum factory town with all the other paper workers. There were both a grocery store, a school and a church in that small town, and that was all one needed when working 6 days a week.

The family stayed in Dalum until 1915, when Max was re-employed at the Fünen Glass Works and they moved back to the worker apartments next to the glass works. This was during the onset World war I and although Denmark was neutral, the war still affected the Danes. The Kottal family felt it clearly as their daughter Erna was born, because the priest remarked in the church record that she did not have Danish citizenship. That was without a doubt one of the reasons for Max applying for Danish citizenship in 1913. Reaching a decision took as long time then as it does today, so the citizenship was not awarded until April 13, 1923.

Now they could truthfully call themselves Danes.

Anyhow, life did not become easier for them on those grounds, because in the 1920s Max once again had to work at the paper factory in Dalum. In those years both Max and Anna Maria worked at the paper factory. That must have given them some more money to spend, because they moved away from the worker apartments and instead they rented the first floor of a villa in Dalum. Still, Max cannot have been content a paper worker, because he worked at the glass works again in 1932.

After Max' retirement, Max and Anna Maria moved into the home for elderly people in Dalum Convent, where they lived until they died. Max died first, namely on August 6, 1944 and was buried at Dalum Church Yard. According to the estate administration record, he only left behind his and Anna Maria's common room at the home. Anna Maria died the same place on September 14, 1955 and was also buried at Dalum Church Yard.

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