Heritage Gateways

Official Sesquicentennial K-12 Education Project
sponsored by the Utah State Board of Education, the BYU-Public School Partnership and the Utah Education Network

Pioneer 1848-1868 Companies

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1864 (age 24), Nielson, Andrew Christian

Growing up in Denmark
I was born on the 23rd of March, 1840, in Mojen, Ugilt, Hjorring, Denmark. My father, Niels Pederson, was a well-to-do farmer; he was born at the same place, having inherited the homestead from his father. My father was born the 2nd of October, 1810. My grandfather, Peder Nielson, was born in 1780 at the same place.

My mother, Anne Margretha Anderson, was born in Hestrup, Hjorring, Denmark, February 11, 1817, and was married to my father in 1839. My grandfather Anders Hanson was born the 5th day of January, 1795, in the same place. My grandmother Kirsten Christensen was born the 2nd of February, 1780, at Pors, Hjorring, Denmark. My grandmother's name was Johana Christensen. My parents were religiously inclined and belonged to the Lutheran Church, and as such, in early life trained in strict morality and fear of the Lord. My mother never would allow us children to go to sleep before we had read "The Lord's Prayer," which she taught me when I was young. I went to school early, and according to that early day, got a fairly good common school education.

When I was about ten years of age, my mother died after a long lingering illness, and left us children motherless - four in number; one having died in infancy. Myself the oldest, my sister Johana Kirsten Nielson, Lars Peter, dead, and Niels Andrea Nielson, the youngest was only a year and a half old, when Mother died in 1849. My parents had moved three miles farther west to a place called Stemm, and this is where Mother died.

Not very long after Father married again, a girl by the name of Mariane Nielson, born in Stenum, by whom he had five children, one died in infancy. Their names were Niels Jesperson, Kirsten, Niels Peter, Anton, dead, Antea Nielson. After my father's second marriage, I was hired out to herd cows, being only a little over ten years of age. The man I was hired to was a good man, his name being Niels Becker. He paid 3 rigsdaler - equal to 75 cents for six months herding. After that, I was home and went to school in the winter and went out to work in the summer, until I was 14 years of age. I graduated from the common school and was confirmed by the minister, according to the Lutheran Church rule. After that I worked (home) part on the brickyard and part on the farm.

The farm was my greatest delight, even from my earliest childhood. Between sixteen and seventeen years of age, I was hired out to Christen Hjertnes, for whom I worked hard, partly herding, milking and working on the farm. I was trained in every kind of work pertaining to a farmer's life. My health was generally good; I never had any serious sickness or hurt in an accident. I was of a lively disposition and soon (began) to excel in all kinds of sports, hence took part in many things which I know was displeasing in the sight of God. In 1859 I hired out to a man by the name of Maller Anders in Berglium, my salary for the year to be 40 rigsdaler, equal to $10.00. Out of this I had to buy my clothing, my dancing tickets and all my spending money.

It happened in that year that there was a religious revival in that part of the country, several sectarian preachers traveled around and stirred up quite an excitement among the people. [He describes a long, fierce struggle to purify himself from sin and get answers to his prayers. He was prayed to not be deceived by the Mormons. We'll skip to after his baptism.]

I could now say good-bye to my former friends, parents, and all, and could go and be baptized into the Mormon Church. I did, and after I had hands laid on me for the reception of the Holy Ghost, I can testify, that I did believe it. Before I was baptized, I was full of fear. I never dared to let anyone know that I was studying Mormonism; hence the surprise to my fellows, that no sooner was I baptized than I came boldly forward and declared loudly to everybody that I had embraced Mormonism.

...It was a rule that a new missionary should exclusively work among non-members. I did start in earnest and the Lord was with me and prospered my labors exceedingly. Many came into the Church, and it was a very prosperous time. I think there were about 800 members and it was mostly the middle class people.

There was a host of young people who came into the Church at that time in the year 1862. ...How many I baptized in the interim between 1860 to the middle of 1864 I am not able to tell as my journal was lost on the way to Utah. Held meetings almost constantly, thousands upon thousands heard my humble testimony. Sometimes I was miraculously delivered from mobs. My life was many times in danger. Houses where I stayed at night were often surrounded and guarded, but I was never hurt.

Soldier or Immigrate?
...In the early part of 1864, war broke out between Denmark and Germany. It had not been thought of me emigrating, but to continue in the mission field. I was then in my 24th year. At 22 years of age, every able bodied man is duty bound to serve in the army, but I, by permission, got my time prolonged three years because of my missionary work, but now war existed there was only one alternative - either I emigrate or I go to war. But I had no money and saw no way to get any. I asked my president what I should do. He told me to be easy, the money would come alright and sure enough it did. When the Saints in the district found out my condition they sent in money from a quarter up to $5.00 or $10.00 apiece; one outsider gave several dollars until I had enough to buy a suit of clothes and a ticket to Wyoming (Nebraska) in the United States of America.

War-caused Delays
The 4th of February, 1864, I baptized Mary Kirstine Anderson, at that time a dairy maid on Kirholt by Frederikshavn, who soon after was discharged because she had become a Mormon, and she borrowed enough money from Berglund to get her emigration ticket to Wyoming that year. Before the emigration party got ready, in the latter part of March, I baptized a good many in and around Frederikshavn, and as the German Army drove the Danish Army further and further down into Jutland, there was danger of the harbors being closed, so the emigrants were ordered to leave Vendsyssel two weeks before time, but as the steamer was delayed at Aalborg, I went back to Frederikshavn and got the Berglund family ready and got them to Aalborg, just in time to get on the steamer to Copenhagen where we arrived the first part of April.

We were there for a week, and while there we could hear the booming of the cannons from the bombardment on Alsan Island. A great many young men stole away secretly who came to us in England and New York. We were a large company and had some trouble with the police, who were out for deserters, but after some time we got loaded on a steamer for Hull. The ship was loaded with rig and we had a very heavy storm for 48 hours. We suffered more in that time, than in all the rest of the journey. Nearly everyone was seasick and had to lie on top of each other under deck and on top of the rig and I pitied those who had to eat the bread made from the rye. After three days" journey, we arrived in Hull and then went to Grimsby where we remained a week where the Church had a very large sailing ship engaged.

From England to America
Many emigrants were loaded on the ship Monarch of the Sea, which left April 28th. The Church had brought our provisions - hardtack, pork, peas and a little white flour, sugar, coffee and a few other things. The ship was to furnish us water, which was only a small portion daily; but our cooking was the worst for us as the kitchen was not one tenth large enough. We had fairly good weather, a good deal of calm, hence it took us 35 days to reach New York.

Fifty children die from Measles at Sea
Measles broke out among the children, and we buried 50 in the sea, and one old Scotchman - otherwise everything went well, though I must mention we had the most cruel and wicked set of sailors that I ever met in my life, and they caused us some trouble. However, soon after our voyage, that ship went to the bottom of the ocean (Atlantic) and I suppose they deserved it.

Train to Chicago Left Without Him
We arrived at New York at Castle Garden, were inspected and then sailed up to Albany and took the train for Buffalo; crossed the port of Canada and ferried across the St. Clair to Detroit. From Detroit our journey was tedious, much stopping and delaying for lack of cows as the Government used all their cows in the war. One morning a little after sunrise we stopped in a village and as some were anxious to get some milk, I got a can and went to buy some. I had to go to the farthest house and while I was paying for it, the train pulled off. I did run after it and got within 20 rods of it when I tripped and fell, and the people whooped and yelled, "There is one Mormon lost." I walked out along the track and met a wounded soldier. He showed me a big hole in his breast that was healing. He took me to the next station about 5 miles out. I could speak a little English, enough to make him understand my condition. He told the train agent that I was lost and to get me on the next train for Chicago. I stopped there for six or seven hours, then I was put on the express and arrived in Chicago one hour before the emigrants.

Civil War Disrupts Travel to St. Joseph
We did not stop long in Chicago but in Quincy, Ill., we stopped for several days and then had to take cattle cars for St. Joseph through Missouri. We had some trouble in getting through the wars - here were the ruins of whole towns as had been laid waste by the terrible struggle. St. Joseph was the end of the railroad journey; here the emigrants went on a river steamer for Viominy, but while at St. Joseph, Joseph Sharp from Salt Lake City came up from Kansas and hired 52 young men to drive teams with merchandise across the plains. He hired 22 Danes and 30 Scotchmen, took us 16 miles down the river to Atchison, Kansas, where they were fitting out buying their goods, oxen and wagons.

He and 51 Other Men Hired as Teamsters
Here we stayed a month in a place called Mormon Grove. We herded cattle and helped to outfit. We were to have $20.00 per month and board; and we thought we had a snap of it, but before arriving in Salt Lake City we found that snap was in the wrong place. There were between 400 and 500 wild, fat, four or five year old steers bought - only a few had ever had a yoke on and still worse, very few of the boys had ever seen an ox. Some were tailors, some sailors, most every kind of tradesmen; but mostly colliers. While we were fitting out, we had stampedes galore.

On the Plains
I wish very much I could show the young generation now living some of the scenes of that trip. Think of a condition here one forenoon, in July, after a tremendous struggle in getting those wild animals yoked up and hitched to the wagons - three to six yoke to each wagon, loaded with goods from 3500 to 8000 lbs. on each wagon. The teamsters were just as wild and ignorant about their business as their oxen. Then most of them could not understand a word of English, so the captain hollering and commanding, only caused more confusion. An hour after we had started out from the camp that memorable day with our loaded wagons, for five miles all around the plains you could see oxen, wagons, teamsters, and a dozen horsemen going at breakneck speed, and it was a miracle that no one was hurt, nor anything broken, but under these conditions I have seen strong men cry. But on we went, we had 1200 miles from Atchison to Salt Lake City.

Oxen, Then the Captain Died.
We struck the Platte Biver at Fort Kearney, then traveled to within 88 miles of Julesberg. There it took us two days to cross the Platte River. Sometimes it took 20 yoke of cattle to pull one wagon, with water waist deep, but it went alright till we got toward Fort Laramie, where our oxen started dying and before we reached Sweetwater, we had lost nearly half of our oxen and of course the loads got too heavy for the others. But at Willard Springs our captain died and Brother Sharp went 50 miles to a telegraph station and sent a dispatch to Salt Lake City for a metal coffin and 80 yoke of oxen, also provisions. Meanwhile we made a rough coffin, I washed and shaved and cleaned him as well as I could and John Smith, the Patriarch, who had been our captain from Copenhagen and took the Independent Company across the plains, hitched his horse with the captain's, and him and me drove with the corpse. It was calculated to take him to Salt Lake City, or until we met the metal coffin, then put him in that; but the next day we had to bury him, as we could not keep him in the hot weather. We drove through Devil's Gate in the middle of the night and buried him at the three crossing, then when the coffin came, we took him up and put him on the train, but before the oxen and provisions came, we had been without grub for several days. All we had was a little chop feed that the captain's horses had left. In the meantime I had left the train and got to drive a mule team 300 miles to Salt Lake City and had a good time, but the oxen had a pretty rough time.

Salt Lake City
I arrived in Salt Lake City the 28th of September, 1864, two weeks before the oxen came in. The first night in Salt Lake, I slept under my wagon and felt as happy as if I had slept in a palace. I worked two weeks for Bishop Sharp, until the train came in as I had to account with the boys for what they had done on the salary. It was found if the captain had had any account it was lost, so they had to take it from my account, but everything was settled and the boys scattered over the country. I soon found some friends, and my girl, Mary K. Anderson, who had hired out to a Mr. Green. I hired out to J. L. Bly for a month for $20.00, bought me a suit of clothes, for those I got in Kansas were entirely worn out. I had worn my trousers clear to the knees.

Start Married Life at Gardner's
I was sent out to Rhoades Valley to work on a farm, and after working for a month, went back to Salt Lake City. I then soon made up my mind to go on to Sanpete, and if I liked it, to then send for Mary. As I walked out of the city, south, a man with an empty hayrack overtook me, and it happened to be an old acquaintance from my mission field by the name of Anders Krog. He insisted that I go home with him, he lived in West Jordan, 18 miles south of the city. He wanted me to stay, he said that I could get plenty of work, then in the spring I could take up land which was plentiful around here. He did prevail upon me to stay, then he further prevailed upon me to send for Mary and get married. He said we could stay there and I could go north to work, and Mary take care of his wife as she was soon to be confined. Well, I went in and got Mary. I think we walked the whole 18 miles on the 4th of December. Krog then took us in his hayrack and oxen down 9 miles to Bishop Gardner's and there was Ward Conference. After meeting I was re-baptized, as was the custom, and then was married by Bishop Gardner. I had made a bedstead out of a pole and twisted corn for a bed cord. The house we lived in was a cellar dug into a hill, one little window in the end. A fireplace was on one side. The beds, Krog's and ours stood end to end, thus we commenced married life.

Source: Our Pioneer Heritage © Carter, Kate B., ed. 20 vols. Salt Lake City: International Society, Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1958-1977. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced in any form or by any means without permission in writing from the publisher. Documents and images are exerpted by permission from the LDS Family History Suite CDROM from Ancestry.