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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1861: Immigration; Scandinavian Saints

The Scandinavian Saints: On Thursday, May 9, 1861 a company of 565 Scandinavian Saints (373 Danish, 128 Swedish, 64 Norwegians) sailed from Copenhagen by steamer Waldemar. Pres. John Van Cott, who accompanied them to England, joined the emigrants at Kiel. Elders Hans Olin Hansen, Niels Wilhelmsen, Jens Nielsen, Gustaf A. Ohlson, Saamund Gudmundsen, Carl W. J. Hicker, Anders Frantzen, and others returned home with this company after having labored faithfully as missionaries in the Scandinavian Mission. The company had a successful voyage as far as Kiel, arriving there May 10th. At once they were forwarded by special train to Altona, where they arrived about noon. In Altona the company was divided in two parts, one of which (about two hundred Saints) immediately boarded the steamer Brittania and departed for Hull, England about three p.m, the same day. They arrived in Hull May 12th. The second division left Hamburg May 11th at three p.m, by the steamer Eugenia which after a pleasant voyage arrived at Grunsby, England on the morning of May 13th. The captain treated the emigrants with kindness and respect, while the opposite was the case on the Brittania. The two companies joined at Grunsby where they were cared for until the morning of May 14th. Then they proceeded by special train to Liverpool, and arrived in that city about 2 p.m. Two hours later they were placed on board the ship Monarch of the Sea which was the largest vessel that had carried emigrants across the sea up to that time. This company was also the largest to cross the ocean on one ship to date.

42 May 16th they were organized by Pres. Amasa M. Lyman, Charles C. Rich, and George Q. Cannon, who appointed Elder Jabez Woodward from Switzerland as President and Hans Olin Hansen and Niels Wilhelmsen as his counselors. At eleven a.m, the great vessel lifted its anchor and amid the great cheers of parting friends the ship left the wharf and began the long voyage. Later the large company was divided into districts with the Scandinavians in seven and English and German in three or four, each being under a president. The names of these Presidents were Edward Read, John J. P. Wallace, Horace Pegg, Peter Nielsen, Saamund Gudmundsen, Gustaf A. Ohlson, Aaron G. Oman, Lars C. Geertsen, Johan Fagerberg, and Erasmus Nielsen, the latter also acted as marshal for the Scandinavians. The Saints were treated kindly by both officers and the crew on board the ship, and the provisions were good and sufficient. The company was so large that there were not enough kettles, so each family could only cook five times a week. From Copenhagen to New York nine persons died, most of them being children. Fourteen couples were married and four births took place on board. Eleven of the couples married were Scandinavians. The weather was favorable most of the way. Large icebergs were passed, one towering over two hundred feet above the water. June 19th they reached their destination, New York, having been on the ocean nearly a month. They were met by Elders Johnes and Williams and lodged at Castle Garden. Apostle Erastus Snow who was in New York at the time, spoke to the Scandinavians in the Danish language. From New York the company traveled by rail and steamboat (part of the way in two divisions) to Florence, Nebraska. The first division arrived there July 1st and the second one July 2nd. The route taken was by Dunkirk, Cleveland, Chicago, Quincy, St. Joseph, etc.

Preparation for the journey across the plains was at once made and all who were without means to outfit themselves for the long journey were assisted by teams from Utah, who for the first time had been sent in large companies by the Church to the Missouri River to assist the poor Saints gathering in Zion. Most of the Scandinavians assisted in this manner crossed the plains in the Capt. John R. Murdock Company which left Florence the first part of July and arrived in Salt Lake City Sept. 12th. Those who had sufficient means to help themselves, left Florence a few days later under the leadership of Capt. Samuel A. Woolley with about sixty ox teams. After traveling for some distance the company was divided into two sections and Elder Porter was appointed Captain of the second division. On Sunday Sept. 2, 1861, this company arrived safely in Salt Lake City.

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.