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

Historical Pioneer Biographies

Christian Lyngaa Christensen

Born: 1855 Died: 1940

Christian Lyngaa ChristensenChildren's Story: Christian was only five when his family traveled to the Valley in 1860. While trying to obtain meat for the rest of the company his father met with a tragic accident, leaving him fatherless.

Biography: © 1994 Deseret Book Company. All rights reserved.

Born: April 29, 1855, Nielstrup, Randers, Denmark
Parents: Niels Christian and Karen Nielsen Christensen
1860: Carl Wederberg "Independent" Company
Age at time of journey: 5

My parents embraced Mormonism before I was born. We immigrated to Utah in 1860. We sailed in an old vessel called the William Tapscott, an English ship. It had the old style sails. When we landed in the U.S., we rode by train some distance.

Our outfitting place, where we bought oxen, wagons, cows, etc., was at Florence, Nebraska. Our company was presided over by a man called Carl Wederberg, who once had been a Catholic Priest in Norway but by now a very prominent Mormon, our spiritual guide. We had two men from Utah who were our pilots. They had crossed the plains often with other outfits. One was A. H. Pattison of Payson, Utah, the other was Nephi Johnson of Southern Utah. They were both young men, and how they managed such a babble of tongues is more than ordinary mortals can tell. Danes, Swedes, Norwegians, German, and English, and none of them had ever seen an ox team in their lives. It must have been a stupendous undertaking.

We encountered many of the Sioux Indians traveling parallel with us. On the 26th of August, while thus traveling, they stole a Danish maid, thirty-five years old, who was behind the wagon train driving an old lame cow. She had a young lad along to help her. A young, robust warrior took hold of her and carried her off on a white horse. She fought him desperately, so she managed to dismount often, and he had to drag her back again. But it delayed his travel, so the lad had time to run and get some help. The eighty wagons were circled into a corral as usual when we camped, and five men with guns in hand went to the rescue of the stolen woman. When they got back to the cow, the Indian was still in sight. Nephi Johnson, who was an unusual Indian interpreter, got an old Indian to go and bring the woman back, which he did. For this friendly act they gave him the old cow. Father was one of the five men. It was quite a formidable army amongst 1800 Sioux Indians. The woman hid for several days in the wagon under a feather bed. She had been terribly frightened.

On the first of September, 1860, after crossing the North Platte River, we camped for noon on Horse Shoe Creek. Father came up to our wagon, and Mother announced that the pancakes were ready. He answered that he did not care to eat and said to Mother, "I understand there are many sage hens on the creek, and as we have many sick folks in the train, I will go and try for some fresh meat for them." He picked up his double-barreled shotgun and passed over to the East side, where he fell in with S. M. Lovendahl, a Swedish friend.

The two had not been gone long when a shot was heard, and Mr. Lovendahl came running into camp for help. He had shot Father. Nephi Johnson and others grabbed some bedding and ran to the wounded man's assistance. Mother and I got there as they were laying him on some bedding. He said but little, but it was all for the welfare of his widow and two small boys, one 5 1/2 years old and the other 3 1/2, and the prospect of another soon to be. It appears that Mr. Lovendahl had seen some sage hens, and they had dodged out of his sight, and while he yet had his gun cocked, he fell over some obstacle and shot Father in the bowels. About one-half of the shot hit the stock of Father's gun, but enough hit Father so he died sometime during the night.

Next morning before sunrise he was buried by the wayside in an unknown grave. His coffin was burlap sacks; and his gravestone, a buffalo skull. It was wonderful to see the sympathy and pity and weeping for Mother by large, husky women of the Great Sioux Nation, who had befriended us out in the wilderness on the plains of Nebraska. An old German gentleman took me by the hand, and each day we walked ahead of the train as far as the pilot would let us. We had a chance often to sit down and rest. He provided me with lunch each day, and I never shall forget the many times he would say, "Du haf ein gut fadder." (You have a good father.) I walked all the way from where Father died to Salt Lake City, where we arrived November 23, 1860.

Christian Lyngaa Christensen served as a missionary to the Indians in Arizona for several years. He married Ann Elizabeth Thompson, Severina Jensen, and Ane Johanne Jensen and was the father of twenty children. He knew seven languages, which earned him the nickname of "Chris-lingo." He died November 26, 1940, in Monticello, San Juan County, Utah.

Sources: Typescript of the original records of Christian Lyngaa Christensen. Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, and Utah State Historical Society Library, Salt Lake City. See also "Leaves from the Journal of C. L. Christensen." In Heart Throbs of the West, 9:1-3. 1948.

pp. 88-90 I Walked to Zion: True Stories of Young Pioneers on the Mormon Trail.

Source: I Walked to Zion: True Stories of Young Pioneers on the Mormon Trail © Susan Arrington Madsen. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means without permission in writing from the publisher. http://deseretbook.com ISBN 0-87579-848-9