Jenson, Andrew, 1866 (age 15), Part 1: Denmark to Nebraska
From Autobiography of Andrew Jenson
I spent New Year's Day Jan. 1, 1866, quietly in Saeby with my parents, filled with hope for the future, and I fully expected to see the land of America before another New Year's Day. I was now a trifle over fifteen years old. During the months of January, February, March and April I continued my activities as a salesman and at last found myself in possession of nearly enough money to take me to the frontiers of America. And so it was decided that Father, Mother, my youngest brother Joseph and I should emigrate to Utah at once, and that my older brother Jens should remain in Denmark for the time being, as we had not sufficient means to emigrate the whole family. The fare from Copenhagen to Wyoming, Nebraska, the outfitting place for the Saints who crossed the plains was, in 1866, about 82 Danish rigsdaler ($42.00). Father had saved money enough to take himself, Mother and my younger brother to Wyoming. In taking leave of my brother Jens, I promised him that my first effort after arriving in America would be to earn means to send for his emigration to Utah, a promise that was kept faithfully. We left him working as a servant on the Gjodeie farm.
When we emigrated to America, about twelve years had elapsed since my parents had embraced the restored gospel. During these years we had prayed and hoped for an opportunity to emigrate to Zion, and now when the time had come for us to do so we rejoiced exceedingly, and it seemed no great sacrifice to us to leave our native land, relatives and friends to go to the gathering place of the Saints. Others may have had regrets and sorrow on this account, but so far as my parents and I were concerned we only regretted that we had to leave one member of the family behind. As to our near relatives, none of them seemed inclined to listen to our testimony of the restored gospel, although there was a host of them, but they rather looked upon us as fools because we had joined so unpopular a sect as the "Mormons."
In the latter part of April, I spent most of the time visiting my relatives and friends to bid them goodbye, and many of them expressed their sorrow for me-that one so young and promising was being deceived by the "wicked Mormons". They hoped that when I had found out my mistake I would return to "dear old Denmark". However, they expressed fear that the "Mormons" would kill me, if I should attempt to get away from them. In the meantime Father had sold the few family effects which we had to dispose of, including his mechanical tools and other articles which we could not take with us. But the little means obtained by these sales were hardly sufficient to take us to Copenhagen and to furnish us with a small amount of money with which to defray incidental expenses.
Journey Begins - To Aalborg
Tuesday, May 8, 1866, witnessed the only "Mormon" family of Saeby leave that little city forever to seek a home in the Rocky Mountains in far-off America. Bright and early in the morning a one-horse vehicle driven by a good natured old farmer, made its way slowly toward the city of Aalborg, distant about 30 English miles. Our baggage consisted of the usual emigrant equipment averaging about one hundred pounds to each person. We arrived in Aalborg, after crossing the Limfjord on the pontoon bridge about the middle of the afternoon. Here we met a number of other emigrating Saints from the Aalborg and Vendsyssel conferences, Aalborg being the point of rendezvous for both. As the Saints" meeting hall in Aalborg was too small to accommodate all the emigrants, a larger hall had been hired on Bispensgade, and there our family and most of the other emigrants from Vendsyssel made our home for about a week while we made final preparations for the long journey before us. During that week, emigrants kept arriving until there were nearly two hundred of us. Several meetings were held, in which the necessary instructions were imparted to us by our brethren who had experience in emigration matters.
Aalborg to Copenhagen
On Wednesday, May 16th, at 4:00 o'clock in the afternoon we were all on board the ship Dania, and an hour later we left Aalborg for Copenhagen. The day was fine and the sea calm and we enjoyed sailing over the broad face of the Cattegat, but as the vessel heaved some of the passengers experienced more or less sea-sickness. At daybreak May 17th, we passed the old town of Helsinger (Elsinore) and at 6:00 o'clock a.m. we arrived safely in the city of Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark. One of the Elders led the way from the landing stage to a hall which had been rented for the purpose, and there most of the emigrants spent several hours. As to myself, I was too deeply interested in the grandeur of the city to remain quietly in one place, and so, notwithstanding the protests of my parents, I walked all about the city, promenaded on the ramparts, visited the principal squares and churches and enjoyed myself immensely. Copenhagen, which at that time had about 180,000 inhabitants, was the first large city I had ever seen.
At Copenhagen the emigrants from the Aalborg and Vendsyssel conferences were united with emigrating Saints from other Danish conferences, especially from the Aarhus conference, and at 1:00 o'clock p.m. we sailed from Copenhagen on board the steamship Aurora which was destined to take us to Kiel in Holstein. The voyage along the coast of Zealand (Sjaelland) and Moen was very interesting. The most conspicuous landmark which we passed was "Moens Klint", a hill of chalk formation which rises abruptly from the sea to a height of 450 feet. The weather was pleasant and the surface of the sea undisturbed. Joy and happiness reigned supreme on board; all of the Saints seemed delighted with the prospects before them.
Having spent the night on the Baltic, we reached the mouth of the "Kieler Fjord" in the morning of May 18th. Proceeding up the fjord, we soon reached the city of Kiel, where we landed, and then tarried several hours in the fine waiting room at the station. I utilized my time by visiting different parts of the city with its beautiful parks and gardens. Kiel was in 1866 an attractive city with about 30,000 inhabitants. It is situated in a fine and fertile district of country and the harbor, or fjord, on which it is built, is one of the best natural and safest harbors on the Baltic. At 12:00 o'clock noon the emigrants were all seated in the railway cars and left Kiel for Altona, about seventy miles distant, where we arrived after three hours pleasant journey through the green and beautiful Holstein. This was my first railroad ride, and the same could be said of the majority of those who composed the emigrant company.
From the railroad station in Altona we all marched down The hill to the banks of the river Elbe, where the women and children boarded a little steamer and went by water, while the men walked a mile or so through a part of Altona into the city of Hamburg, where we were all lodged in an emigration house, and we enjoyed a comfortable night's rest. Before evening, however, I was out on one of my exploration trips, and after walking long distances I lost my way in the great city of Hamburg, and only after considerable difficulty found my way back to the emigrant house. Everyone in Hamburg spoke German, which I did not understand.
On Saturday, May 19, 1866, in the afternoon, we went on board the ship Kenilworth (a sailing vessel, with Capt. Brown in charge). The ship lay at anchor a short distance from the dock in the river Elbe. The Kenilworth was an old English sailing vessel and had been chartered on easy terms. Though not intended for passenger traffic, it had been fitted up on this occasion with bunks and other conveniences on both decks for the comfort of the passengers. The next day, which was Whitsunday (May 20th), was spent in locating the emigrants in different parts of the ship and showing each family their bunks. Our family was given a well lighted place on the middle deck near the bow of the ship, and from our anchorage in the Elbe we had a fine view of the surroundings, the cities of Hamburg and Altona on the north and the low flat country (Hanover) on the south side of the Elbe. On the 21st a meeting was held on the middle deck of the ship when the Elders in charge gave instructions in regard to cleanliness, order and decorum. On Tuesday, May 22nd, another company of emigrants arrived and was taken on board at once. They were in charge of Pres. Carl Widerborg and Elder Christian Christiansen. This increased our number on board the Kenilworth to 684 souls besides the ship's crew.
The next day, May 23rd, the Kenilworth left her moorings and was towed by two small tugs a short distance to a point below Altona. On Thursday, May 24th, a meeting was held on board, at which the emigrant company was organized for traveling, with Elder Samuel L. Sprague as president or leader of the company, and Elder Morton Lund as his assistant. Frederik Berthelsen was appointed secretary and Ole H. Berg, captain of the guard. The emigrants were grouped into 42 divisions, or messes, with a president over each, whose business it was to receive provisions for each district and distribute them to the several families; also to preside at prayers in the respective districts morning and night, and to watch over the Saints in detail and see that the rules of cleanliness and order were strictly enforced. On the same occasion, the ship was dedicated by Elder Carl Widerborg and the prediction uttered that it should carry its precious cargo of souls safe and well to the "land of promise." Much timely and valuable instructions were imparted by the brethren, and it was enjoined upon the emigrants to yield strict obedience to the brethren who had been appointed to preside.
A child, five years old, died on board. Two other companies of Saints from the Scandinavian countries sailed from Hamburg a few days later, in the ships Humboldt and Cavour, making the total number of emigrants from the Scandinavian Mission 1,213 in 1866. On Friday, May 25, 1866, about noon, the anchor was lifted and our long voyage commenced. Old Kenilworth was towed down the river Elbe and at 9:00 o'clock p.m. we passed Cuxhaven, at the mouth of the river, and soon we were far out on the broad face of the North Sea. The weather was pleasant, the sea quiet and the commencement of the voyage promising. Most of the Saints on board were in high spirits. Usually the ships carrying emigrants from continental Europe passed through the English Channel on their way to America, but in our case it was decided to take the longer route north of Scotland. On the North Sea we were exposed to heavy winds and most of the passengers, owing to the rocking of the vessel, had more or less experience with sea sickness. In the afternoon of June 1st, we passed the Shetland Islands lying north of Scotland and before night we were on the somewhat turbulent waters of the Atlantic Ocean. By this time we had got used to the life on the ocean waves. We were well organized and willingly submitted to the discipline and regulations which had been agreed upon. Thus, at 6:00 o'clock in the morning, we arose at the signal of the bugle, attended to ablutions and engaged in prayer in the different districts at 8:00 o'clock. Then we ate breakfast, which consisted of tea and rye bread in the beginning, but after all the bread had been consumed we feasted on sea biscuits, which were made of rye, wheat and oatmeal. Our food was prepared and cooked in a large kitchen from which it was brought by the several presidents of districts, who distributed it to the respective persons or families in their charge. At 11:30 a.m. we had dinner, which generally consisted of good and solid food, and after that we frequently amused ourselves in dancing, or engaged in divers games on deck, in order to keep up good cheer, and counteract the tediousness of the long voyage. Thus the days passed quickly and pleasantly. At 6:00 p.m. we had supper and at 9:00 o'clock we were supposed to retire for the night, after having had prayers at 8:00 o'clock. Cleanliness and good order were strictly observed on board, and all who were able to do so were required to spend a good part of their time on deck to enjoy the fresh air and exercise. Guard was kept up all night, and all the brethren, who were able and of a proper age, took turns in standing guard. The captain and the crew were gentlemanly in their deportment towards the passengers, and we had no difficulty with any of them except the cook, a hot-headed and disagreeable person, who quarreled with several of the brethren, and especially on one occasion when a fight was barely averted. For several days after reaching the Atlantic Ocean we had favorable winds, but later owing to contrary winds we made but slow progress. For several days we were also enveloped in dense fogs, and in order to steer clear of danger from icebergs, the captain chose a southerly course. On June 20th we encountered a terrific thunder and lightning and rain storm, on which occasion all the sails of the ship were taken down in double quick time and the good old ship reeled like a drunken man and caused some alarm among the passengers.
During the voyage meetings were usually held on Sundays and on other occasions, at which powerful testimonies were borne and timely instructions given as circumstances demanded. A number of marriages were solemnized on board on which occasions we generally indulged in pleasantries, dancing and speech making. Even a manuscript paper was issued almost daily, which introduced humorous and spicy articles suitable for the life we led.
The sad part of our voyage centered around a number of deaths which occurred. The following is a list of those of our company who found a watery grave: On May 24th a child; on May 29th Hulda Rosengren, 91/2 years old, and Wilhelmine Berthelsen, 37 years old; on June 2nd a child from the Aarhus Conference; On June 15th Oilver B. Rosengren, an infant; on June 19th Ole Christensen's child from Vendsyssel Conference; on June 23rd the wife of Chr. Christensen of the Aalborg Conference; on June 25th a young man from the Vendsyssel Conference; on June 27th another child; on July 3rd Christian Beck's child from the Aalborg Conference; on July 6th Inger S. Petersen, 6 years old; on July 12th Sarah Larsen, an infant; on July 13th Dorothea Beck, a child from the Copenhagen Conference and on July 15th a young man who committed suicide by jumping overboard. The death of Sister Christensen called forth much sympathy, as she and her husband had been most liberal with their means in assisting their poor co-religionists to emigrate. During the voyage, two children were born, the first on May 26th and the second on May 29th when Niels Hansen's wife from the Vendsyssel Conference gave birth to a child which was named Kenilworth Brown, in honor of the vessel and its captain. I also made record of seven marriages which took place on board during the voyage.
Arrival in New York
On Sunday, July 15th, which was a beautiful sunny day, a number of coast vessels were seen in all directions and joy and animation prevailed among the emigrants. A meeting was held at 8:00 o'clock a.m. at which timely instructions were given the emigrants as to how they should act when they landed in New York. About noon some of the officers, looking through their spy glasses, said that land was visible to the northwest, but it was not until 6:00 o'clock p.m. that one of our brethren, looking through his glass, called out with a loud voice, "Land, land!" Soon the green shores of Long Island were observed on our right by everybody. Perhaps only those who for weeks and months have been tossed about on the stormy face of the ocean can appreciate the pleasure of seeing terra firma again. The emigrants, who for about two months had been confined to the decks and berths of old Kenilworth appreciated to the fullest extent the change of vision that they enjoyed on this memorable day. The drooping spirits of all were revived and the desire to live in hope of a happy future was manifested universally among the passengers. The men shaved, cut their hair and cleaned up on general principles, while the women began to look for their best dresses in which to attire themselves when the happy privilege of landing should be enjoyed by them. To us Latter-day Saints, the first sight of America had more than usual significance, as this was the "land of promise," the land of Joseph, about which we had spoken, dreamed, and sung for many years before beholding it.
About the time we began to see land, one of the passengers, a young and foolish man, wilfully jumped overboard and was drowned. The ship was hurriedly turned around, a boat lowered, and a number of sailors manning it, endeavored to save the man, but did not succeed; he sank in the billows to rise no more. It was stated by his friends that he had been induced to emigrate, contrary to his wishes and had repeatedly declared that he would never see America, so, when the rest of us began to look so eagerly for land, he, consistent with his resolution, committed suicide by jumping overboard. We passed Sandy Hook after dark, and about midnight anchor was cast off Staten Island, at the entrance to the harbor of New York. The next morning, July 16th, most of the passengers rose early to look at the country. "How beautiful", nearly all exclaimed when we emerged from our quarters on the lower decks and saw the green hills of Staten Island and the tall steeples and magnificent buildings of the cities of New York and Brooklyn in the distance. The pleasant morning breeze wafted the odor of vegetation and flowers from the shore out to us. About 11:00 a.m. the doctor came on board to find that there were no contagious diseases among the emigrants and nothing in the shape of disorder or sickness which would prevent us from landing. Consequently, the anchor was lifted and we sailed into the bay or harbor and anchored a short distance off the city of New York, almost opposite Castle Gardens. As the sun rose higher, the day became very hot and several of the passengers were severely affected by the excessive heat. Elders Thomas Taylor and Wm. H. Folsom, emigration agents for the Church, came on board to arrange for our landing on the morrow.
Shortly before noon on July 17th we took leave of the Kenilworth and boarded a small steamer which took us to Castle Gardens. While taking this short trip the heat was very oppressive and one of our number died ... Others were so overcome by the heat that they were carried on shore more dead than alive; but on being placed in cool, airy rooms at the Castle Gardens, and receiving some medical treatment, they all recovered. We had spent 58 days on board the Kenilworth; 52 days had passed since we sailed from our anchorage at Hamburg and 46 days since we first reached the Atlantic Ocean. No serious accident had happened during our long voyage, and we realized that the predictions made by President Widerborg to the effect that we should pass safely over the great deep had been fulfilled. At Castle Gardens we passed through the usual examinations and scrutiny, including the enrollment of names, ages, nationality, etc., after which we enjoyed a few hours rest in the large and airy rooms of the Gardens. At 9:00 o'clock a.m. we left Castle Gardens and walked through a part of New York City to a point on East River where we boarded a large steamship which had been chartered by the Church emigration agent to take our company to Newhaven, Connecticut, and the night was spent sailing up East River and Long Island Sound.
On our arrival in New York we were told that the different railroad companies which had terminals in New York had arbitrarily broken their contract previously made by the Church agent by adding to the price agreed upon for taking the emigrants by rail westward. But as it was known that the emigrants were not able to pay this extra fare, Thomas Taylor, the emigration agent, had entered into a contract with a railroad company whose terminal was New Haven to carry us to the frontiers at the rates previously agreed to by the other railroad companies. This was the cause of us having this extra voyage by steamboat to New Haven.
To Wyoming, Nebraska, via New England and Canada
After a short but very unpleasant voyage of 80 miles, we arrived at New Haven at 5:00 o'clock in the morning on July 18th. From the landing place we walked a short distance to the railroad station, where, two hours later we boarded the cars and started northward on our first railroad journey in America. Our route led through the states of Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont, and we enjoyed the beautiful scenery very much. To us Danes, who had come from a low, flat country where the highest elevated point was less than 600 feet above the level of the sea, the green mountains of Vermont and other elevations along our route of travel appeared grand and majestic. We traveled in 2nd class cars with comfortable seats, all night and part of the next day. Crossing the St. Lawrence River on the great Victoria Bridge, we arrived in Montreal, Canada, early in the afternoon of July 19th. Here we changed cars. The new train placed at our disposal consisted of a few second-class passenger cars and a number of ordinary baggage cars. Some of the latter cars, when we entered them, were dirty and abominable. But our leaders were informed that we would either have to occupy these cars or wait at least two days for better accommodations and so it was concluded to submit to the inevitable. The cars were swept and cleaned out as well as possible, so that they could be occupied after a fashion. Seated or lying on the floor of the cars, we rolled out of Montreal about 7:00 o'clock in the evening, traveling westward along the St. Lawrence River.
It took us two days to travel through Canada this way, as we met with an accident on the shores of Lake Ontario where, owing to the poor condition of the railroad bed, some of the cars jumped the track and several cars nearly toppled over. Yet none of them left the roadbed. This accident happened during the night, and when we, in the morning, beheld the situation of our train we truly felt thankful for having been saved from a terrible railroad disaster. Our train was broken into three sections, on the banks of the lake. Had any of the cars tipped over, the probability is that they would have rolled down the steep embankment into the water. As it was, the track was torn up for several rods. In the afternoon, the railroad men having repaired the track, we continued our journey, and at 7:00 p.m. we arrived at Toronto.
The next day, July 22nd in the afternoon, we arrived at the railroad terminus on the St. Clair River, which separates Canada from the United States, or the State of Michigan. A steam ferry boat took us over the river to Fort Huron in Michigan, where we spent the following night in a large freight building at the railroad station. On Monday, July 23rd, a 1:00 o'clock p.m., seated in good comfortable cars, which we surely appreciated after our experience in the Canada baggage cars, we left Fort Huron and traveled westward through the State of Michigan and arrived in Chicago, Ill., in the evening.
The next day, July 24th, we changed cars and left Chicago at 10:00 a.m. Traveling all afternoon and the following night through the State of Illinois, we arrived at Quincy on the Mississippi River on the morning of the 26th. There a ferry boat took us over the river to the State of Missouri, where we waited in the forest on the bank of the river until 3:00 o'clock p.m. The weather being very warm, a number of us took advantage of the opportunity to bathe in the river which we thoroughly enjoyed; but a young man of our company who, being a good swimmer, ventured too far out in the swiftly running river was carried away by the current and drowned.
At 4:00 p.m. we continued our journey through the State of Missouri, the land where the Saints in the early days of the Church suffered so much persecution. In several of the larger towns, through which we passed, the inhabitants acted hostile towards us and made several demonstrations in the shape of insults and threats. The telegraph had, of course, previous to our arrival, brought the news of a company of "Mormons" coming, and thus the rough element had time to gather at the railway stations to give us their attention as we arrived. Some of the worst men in the crowd gave the impression by their movements that they would have taken delight in treating us similar to the treatment that was given our co-religionists years ago. The conductor of our train appeared to be one of our bitter enemies. In starting the train and in quickening or lessening speed he treated us to such jerks and violent shocks as ordinarily are experienced only on freight trains. Fortunately none of us were seriously hurt, but some of our more delicate women were threatened with nervous breakdowns.
The dawn of Friday, July 27th, found us traveling through the western part of Missouri, and after suffering more jerks and shakings during which the engineer broke parts of his engine, we arrived at St. Joseph, on the banks of the Missouri River, early in the afternoon. This terminated our railroad travel, which had lasted ten days and covered a distance of about 1,700 miles. On our arrival at St. Joseph we were given only one hour in which to procure provisions for a two days" trip up the Missouri River to Wyoming, Nebraska. We boarded the steamboat Denver and left St. Joseph at 5:00 p.m. The following night was a sleepless one for most of us. In the first place the weather was too sultry for anybody to rest, but the worst trouble was that no place could be found on board for the passengers to make their beds. In addition to all this, the ship's officers and crew seemed to be regular demons and endeavored to annoy and vex us in every possible way. The next day, July 28th, the steamboat pulled slowly up the Missouri River. The day being extremely hot, we were not able to venture out from the coverings of the boat for fear of being sunstruck.
On Sunday, July 29th, we arrived safe and well at the landing, below the village of Wyoming, Nebraska, which was the outfitting place for the Saints crossing the plains that year.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.