Mormon Influence on Scandinavian Settlement in Nebraska
by Edith Matteson and Jean Matteson
Originally published in On Distant Shores: Proceedings of the Marcus
Lee Hansen Immigrration Conference; Aalborg, Denmark June 29 - July 1, 1992.
Edited by Birgit Flemming Larsen, Henning Bender and Karen Veien.
Published by the Danes Worldwide Archives in colloboration with the Danish
Society for Emigration History in Aalborg, Denmark; 1993.
Recent research in the history of the state of Nebraska reveals that white settlement in the region was delayed, not
by the myth that the area was part of the "Great American Desert," but because of the efforts of the United States
government to establish a "permanent Indian frontier. " The concept was abandoned in 1854 with the signing of the
Kansas-Nebraska Act. At that time Bellevue held the only claim to being a real town in the territory that became
Nebraska, with about fifty inhabitants. Before 1854 the area had been inhabited by soldiers at army forts,
missionaries, Native Americans, and a few squatters. The only large settlement of white people was a town known
as "Winter Quarters," which had been constructed during the summer and fall of 1846 by Latter Day Saints. About
3,500 of the estimated 10,000 to 15,000 Mormons who settled along the banks of the Missouri River for the winter of
1846-47 took up temporary residence on the Nebraska side.1
Government policy made Nebraska a transit zone between the settled eastern areas of the United States and the
rapidly developing regions of the west. Between 1841 and 1867 an estimated 350,000 to 500,000 travelers,
including California-bound "forty-niners, " farmers on their way to Washington and Oregon, miners headed for
Colorado, and Latter Day Saints on the trek to the valley of the great Salt Lake, followed the trails along the Platte
River in Nebraska. By 1850 about 400 Danes, Norwegians, and Swedes resided on the west coast. Another thirty-
five Scandinavians who had crossed Nebraska included one Swedish-born person, thirty-two Norwegian-born
people, and two Danish-born people who were living in the Utah Territory. Peter O. Hansen had been part of the
very first company of about 150 Mormons, "three Negro 'servants'," and between two and six non-Mormons to leave
eastern Nebraska for Utah in 1847. By 1850, however, Hansen had crossed the plains a second time and was back
in his native Denmark. Twenty years later the Scandinavian population in Utah had grown to more than 7,000, that
on the west coast was above 5,000, and the districts along the Platte River road (the state of Nebraska and the territory of Wyoming) had
about 4,200 (about 4,000 of them resided in Nebraska). Some of the Scandinavians who settled in Nebraska came
there directly, but others originally had different destinations in mind. Years of research on Danes in America led
P.S. Vig to conclude that many of the earliest Danish settlers in western Iowa, particularly Council Bluffs and
Pottawattamie County, had been connected with Mormonism in one way or another before they left Denmark. Vig
believed that the same was true for Danes in the eastern Nebraska areas of Omaha and Fremont as well as
surrounding Douglas, Dodge, and Washington counties.2
The predominance of Norwegians in the small Scandinavian population of the territory of Utah in 1850 was due to
the efforts of Mormon elder George Parker Dykes, who began proselytizing in the Fox River Settlement in La Salle
County, Illinois in 1842. These Norwegians were the first Scandinavians to join the Latter Day Saints. In 1844 a
church was organized in that area with over 100 converts. Mormon apostles purchased 160 acres from the
Norwegians in that community. Plans to use the land for a "city" to be named Norway, where the Scandinavian
people were to gather and worship in their own language, fell apart when dissension and disaffection followed the
violence and reorganization of the church in 1848. Only twenty-two Norwegians left the Fox River settlement for the
Salt Lake Valley in the 1840s. Norwegians from colonies in Sugar Creek, Iowa and Koshkonong, Wisconsin were
also among the early Scandinavian converts. However, the 1850 Utah census did not include any Norwegians with
children born in Wisconsin. There were Norwegians with children born in Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, and the Utah
Headquarters in Denmark
It was from Denmark that the majority of Scandinavian converts to Mormonism would come. In 1845 Peter O.
Hansen began paving the way for the introduction of Mormonism to the tiniest Scandinavian country by taking it
upon himself to translate the Book of Mormon into his native language. Success in England and the need for
manpower to build up Zion in Utah turned the thoughts of church leaders to missionary work abroad. In 1849 a
decision was made at
the general conference of the Latter Day Saints to place the headquarters of the Nordic mission in Denmark. The
passage of the June constitution of 1849, which, at least in principle, allowed freedom of religion in Denmark, was
one reason for the choice. Swedish and Norwegian policy was not tolerant of non-Lutherans, so officials
imprisoned missionaries and even kicked them out of those countries. Scandinavians in all three countries resorted
to mob violence, taking jobs away, and using disinheritance to discourage friends and relatives from becoming
Mormons. Nevertheless between 1850 and 1904 over 23,000 Danes were converted to the religion, compared to
less than 17,000 Swedes and just over 6,000 Norwegians. Altogether nearly 70 percent (22,653) of the total number
of Scandinavian converts who did not change their minds (of 46,497 Scandinavian converts, 14,000 disaffected),
emigrated. About 12,700 of the Scandinavian Mormon emigrants in this period were Danes.4 This was a sharp
contrast to the total overall emigration from these three Nordic nations: between 1850 and 1930, the greatest
numbers of people left Sweden (1.2 million), the largest proportion left Norway (the movement of 0.8 million
Norwegians peaked in the 1880s when 9.6 per thousand of the population left: only Ireland had more with 14.9 per
thousand leaving in the 1880s, while Iceland was in third place with 8.8 per thousand), and only 0.4 million people
emigrated from Denmark. In addition to the difficulty of doing missionary work in Sweden and Norway, another
factor affecting the rate of Mormon emigration from these countries was that a tradition of settlement in areas of the
United States outside of Utah had already been established by Swedes and Norwegians. The initial phase of mass
emigration from Norway began in the 1830s and 1840s, while that from Sweden began in the 1840s and 1850s. It
was not until the 1850s and 1860s, with the Mormon migration, that emigration from Denmark became a mass
movement. Emigration from Finland did not get underway until the 1860s, and at that time the migrants usually
settled in mining areas in Michigan.5
Due to the difficulty of making connections across the Atlantic and the lack of information about America,
large-scale emigration from Iceland did not begin until the 1870s. As was the case for the Danes, the first group of
emigrants to leave Iceland for North America did so as a result of Mormon missionary work. And as was true for
Sweden and Norway, the Mormon mission in Iceland had its beginnings in Denmark.
Baptized in Copenhagen in 1851, the Icelanders Thorainn Halflidason and Gudmund
(Gudmundur) Gudmundson served as missionaries in their native country. Gudmundson
reported that the laws, the priests, and the press were against the Latter
Day Saints in Iceland. Despite these difficulties, eleven Icelandic converts left
for America between 1854 and 1857 with another nine settling in the town of Spanish
Fork, Utah a few years later. Statistical reports in Skandinaviens stjerne
[Scandinavia's Star], the Mormon newspaper published in Denmark, indicate that a
total of 114 Icelanders were converted to the religion between 1850 and 1904.
Of these, six disaffected and seventy-two (67 percent) of the remainder emigrated.
An estimated 5,000 Icelanders settled in the United States between 1870 and 1900,
the majority in Utah, Wisconsin, and North Dakota. Because Iceland was part
of the Kingdom of Denmark, Icelanders were included with the Danes in the
federal censuses of the United States in the years before 1830.
While the majority of the Swedish, Danish, and Norwegian settlers in Utah
were converts to Mormonism, the Icelandic settlement at Spanish Fork included
Lutherans and Presbyterians. The varied community in Utah may have contributed
to the fact that few Icelanders ever settled in Nebraska.6
Trans-Atlantic Mormon migration from Scandinavia began when
a "little flock of Danish Saints," left Denmark in January of 1852.7
During the 1850s and 1860s a total of twenty-eight companies of Scandinavian
converts made the trip to America. The first company arrived intact but
the second group, which migrated in 1853 and consisted of nearly 300
emigrants, was not so successful. Before the group left New Orleans,
fourteen people had died and five more had been born. Two people were left
behind in Europe and one family broke with the Mormon church and
stayed in Louisiana. The remainder continued up river to Keokuk,
Iowa where the Danes were introduced to the use of the yoke and long
whip for oxen. They discovered that Danish harnesses did not work with oxen.
It was near Kanesville, Iowa that Frederikke Frederiksen and the families
of Niels Pedersen and Jørgen Nielsen decided to leave the people they
now called "liars and slanderers." Nielsen got into a dispute over oxen
and was considered to have slandered the church. He was excommunicated
by a unanimous vote. The defectors settled among the "several thousand" Mormons who were still living in the Missouri River valley. The remainder of the journey to Utah was
relatively uneventful, and the second Scandinavian company arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in September.8
The Iron Rail Brings Safety
The migration of Scandinavian Mormons to the United States peaked in the 1860s when 6,152 converts plus 1,903
children departed for America. The numbers remained high in the 1870s (5,335 plus 1,686 children) and 1880s
(5,257 plus 2,356 children).9 However, the journey was significantly more hazardous before 1869 than it became
after that date. Between 1852 and 1855 Mormon arrivals from Europe took place at the port of New Orleans. But
high death rates resulting from outbreaks of malaria and cholera caused the Latter Day Saints to abandon
Louisiana in favor of New York, and occasionally Philadelphia, after that date. In 1867 Scandinavian Latter Day
Saints made the Atlantic crossing by steam for the first time.10 The overland journey by ox cart or handcart, which
began at various points in Iowa and Nebraska, got shorter with each passing season. Construction of the Union
Pacific Railroad began in Omaha, Nebraska in July of 1865 and by August of 1866 the tracks reached 191 miles
across Nebraska. The 1867 emigrants traveled as far as the town of North Platte at mile 291 by rail. On November
13, 1867 the Union Pacific stretched into Cheyenne, Wyoming, so that the 1868 emigrants crossed the Nebraska-
Wyoming border by train.11 Because the time involved in making the migration was shortened considerably by the
new methods of transport, the danger and uncertainty involved also decreased. Statistics reveal the significance of
the change: before 1869 the Scandinavians normally buried 10 percent of their company before reaching their
destination. Measles, cholera, and dysentery were common enemies. Running out of money and food were
constant worries, and many illnesses were brought on by poor nutrition and the rigors of the overland journey. But
after 1869 the Scandinavian Mormon migrants "suffered no losses at all."12 The iron rail also meant that the chances
for dropping out along the way, either temporarily or permanently, were significantly decreased, as were the
opportunities for becoming familiar with the land and climate of
The prospect of safe and prepaid passage to America may have motivated some Scandinavians to convert and
there were, no doubt, those who planned to disappear once they reached America's shores. However, possibilities
for that type of assistance were limited. A division of the Perpetual Emigrating Fund was first established in
Denmark in 1852. A collection taken in Scandinavia yielded enough to pay passage to America for only a handful
of the poorer brethren. By 1857 funds for trans-Atlantic travel had run out, and only pre-paid tickets and similar
forms of assistance helped later immigrants cross the water. Already in 1855 the family of Danish-born Peter
Gottfredson had to interrupt its journey to Zion to earn the means to continue the trip. The family first resided in
Alton, Illinois and later St. Louis. Gottfredson's mother died and his father re-married. The family started across the
plains with a handcart company in 1857.13
Personality conflicts, frustration, or anger with the way Mormon leaders dealt with various aspects of the migration
process, and personal tragedy played a role in causing some of the faithful to lose
their faith. A handful of Danes, including J.P. Jakobsen and his family, left the Mormon church upon arrival in
Florence, Nebraska in 1862. In a letter from Omaha dated October 5, 1862, Jakobsen explained that he and his
wife had suffered the heartbreak of losing four of their children to the measles while sailing from Hamburg to New
York. Jakobsen had no complaints about the six day train ride to St. Joseph, Missouri, but was disgusted to
discover that the leader of his group made at least a $2 per person profit on the tickets for the steamer from St.
Joseph to Florence. According to Jakobsen, the immigrants were treated little better than freight on the steamboat,
while the group's leader rode in a fine passenger cabin. The Jakobsens rented a room in a boarding house in
Omaha, where ten other families of Danes and Swedes were living.14
For those who made it that far, Florence, Nebraska (now a suburb of Omaha) was the main outfitting point for the
journey across the plains between 1859 and 1863. From 1864 to 1866 the fledgling town of Wyoming, Nebraska
was the last stop before the great overland
journey, and in 1867 North Platte was the final sizeable outpost of civilization until Salt Lake City.15 A member of
the 1864 migration party, H.N. Hansen, commented in his memoirs that he believed the main reason for
discontinuing the use of Florence no an outfitting post
was because so many citizens of Omaha and Florence were apostate Mormons. Hansen was no doubt speaking
from experience when he stated that migrating Mormons refused to journey any further once they reached the
plains. Others, he said, had "gone there [Utah] and become disgusted and returned and located at these places."
During the winter of 1866-67, Hansen himself joined the group he called the "Reorganized Church or the
Josephites," and soon moved to the western Iowa-eastern Nebraska area to live.16
Mormons Suffer Less Hardship
While it has generally been assumed that the Latter Day Saints traveled westward along the North side of the Platte
River, research demonstrates that the Mormons followed variations of the trail along the north bank of the Platte to
the Wyoming border between 1847 and 1849. In subsequent years they generally traveled along various alternative
routes on the south side of the river.17 Regardless of which trail they used, the Mormons were usually more well
organized than other overland migrants and although less well equipped, they "generally made better time and
suffered less hardship."18 Two accounts from 1850 crossing included the observation that cholera was worse
among non-Mormons than among the Latter Day Saints.19 The reputation for safety in the Mormon companies was
known to outside travelers. In 1849 a group of California bound migrants requested to join a Mormon company for
safety and was allowed to do so.20
Native Americans were a factor in the safety of the overland migrants. In most years Native Americans were
friendlier towards the Latter Day Saints than other overlanders. In a letter that was published in Skandinaviens
stjerne, Christian A. Madsen mentioned that all the Indians his group encountered during their 1858 plains crossing
were friendly.21 After reading diaries, journals, and similar documents left by 2,028 overlanders between 1812 and
1866, Merrill J. Mattes concluded that the "Indians seemed to have had a soft spot in their hearts for handcarters."
While the Native Americans often stole and begged from the handcarters, and attempted to kidnap women and
children from wagon trains, the only kidnapping that apparently met with success was that of the wife of Frantz
(Frants) Grundvig, a Danish migrant of 1865.22
The numerous written accounts of the migration along the Platte River Road reveal the hazards and rigors of the
journey as they were perceived by the migrants. A study of English language journals and diaries kept by British
converts to Mormonism while crossing the plains indicate that the "entire area from Winter Quarters to Port Laramie
was viewed as being replete with suitable settlement sites." Danes who recorded their impressions of the overland
trek to Utah included comments about elements important to the journey such as grass and water. Like any
campers, they were especially concerned with the weather. When Hans and Mette Smith wrote to their relatives in
Denmark in January of 1858, they mentioned their three week stay in eastern Nebraska. They described the area
around Florence as filled with various types of grain, berries, and good smelling flowers. For the family with their
own wagon, the Smiths couldn't imagine anything lovelier than that "desert trip" and described "sailing" through a
sea of grass that stretched as far as the eye could see. All in all, the Smiths considered eastern Nebraska "a
paradise of nature!" Two years earlier Christian Nielsen wrote that western Iowa was filled with endless fields of the
best sort of grass. Nielsen commented that the oxen got fat and the fields and woods were "full of fruit."23
Hazards of the Trail
Even at its best, however, no journey across the plains in the second half of the 1800s was a pleasure cruise.
(Including by rail, which will not be discussed here.) In relating the story of his experiences as part of one of the
two handcart companies of 1857, C.C.A. Christensen mentioned the difficulties of the trip, as well as some of the
lighter aspects. Christensen applauded the replacement of a Scottish leader by a Danish one when the company he
was traveling in was re-organized after arriving in Florence from Iowa City. Christensen regretted the fact that so
many books had to be left behind due to weight limitations, and remarked that the food supply was poor.
Christensen also observed that the rigors of the walk led to fatigue, illness, and even death among the migrants. The
story of kindness by the leader of a provision train ahead of them was also noted: An injured ox was given to the
handcarters for food. The constant fear of stampeding bison and the inexperience of the Scandinavians as hunters
meant that the company seldom ate the meat of the great shaggy beasts, so the ox
was a welcome gift. Christensen's journey was made more pleasant by the presence of a blind Norwegian woman
whose laughter rang out when she unexpectedly found herself wading through a stream or river. He was also
amused when an Indian carried several young girls, one at a time, across the Loup Fork River on horseback.
Although footsore and tired from the long march, the men took turns at guard duty with the result that "we were not
molested by either wild people or wild animals." Christensen felt that the people were generally in good spirits and to
top things oft`, the entire walk was concluded with the lead handcart flying a Danish flag.24
Between 1856 and 1869 an estimated 4,000 Mormon converts, about one fourth of whom were Scandinavians,
crossed the plains pulling handcarts.25 Christensen's company was fortunate that several stations had been set up
along the last 400 miles of the trail to provide the migrating Mormons with flour. As the group got closer to Salt Lake
City, wagons brought them additional supplies and carried the weakest and sickest people into the valley.26 These
measures had been taken in response to the fate of the handcart companies of 1856. In that year some 2,000
Latter Day Saints in five handcart companies crossed the plains. The first three arrived in relatively good condition,
but the last two got a late start and were caught in freezing weather and snow on the trail. When the fourth handcart
company of 1856 finally reached its destination on November 9, its numbers (originally 500) had been
reduced by the deaths of an estimated sixty-two to sixty-seven people. No one is really certain how many lives were
lost from the 575 members of the fifth company, but estimates range from 135 to over 200. (Allowance must be
made for the migrants who dropped out at Ft. Laramie and took up residence there and others who trailed
backwards to that point.) In addition to the handcarters who perished on the trail itself, there were those who died
after their arrival in Utah, prompting one pair of historians to call the 1856 handcart migration "the worst disaster in
the history of Western migration."27 The lesson had been learned. There were no more late starts after 1856. Even
when the migrants made the largest part of the journey by rail between 1861 and 1868, some 2,016 "teams,"
consisting of a wagon and four yoke of oxen and accommodating from eight to ten persons, were sent out from
Utah as "church trains" to aid the emigrants in completing their journey.28
John Ahmanson, who had been converted from the Baptist to the Mormon religion in 1850, was the leader of the
fifth division of the fourth handcart company of 1856, consisting of ninety-three Scandinavians. In his book
Vor tids Muhamed [The Mohammed of Our Times] Ahmanson briefly described his experience crossing the plains.
Before encountering the first snow on Oct. 18, a storm had driven away the majority of the oxen that hauled some
provisions for the handcart company. Ahmanson's group met a supply wagon on the 18th, but it was bound for the
fifth handcart company. A snowstorm delayed the rescue caravan that was headed for the fourth handcart
company. When it did arrive a few days later, it did not contain sufficient supplies. The weather continued to
worsen and on the morning of October 21, fourteen people were found frozen to death. Two more died during the
day and all were buried in a common grave. From that day on, the fourth company hardly left a campsite without a
burial. One set of rescue workers after another came out to help them, and by the time they reached Fort Bridger
they no longer needed what Ahmanson referred to as "disse tohjulede Menneskepinere" [these two wheeled
instruments of human torture] (i.e., the handcarts). The company finally crossed over the big mountain and
descended into Emigrant Canyon on December 8. Despite the fact that all the vegetation was dead, Ahmanson was
impressed by the view, and many others in the company forgot their trials and tribulations once they finally saw the
Ahmanson's worries were not over when he reached Utah. His wife and son were on a wagon in an independent
company that had not yet arrived. After several unsuccessful attempts to become part of an outgoing assistance
caravan, Ahmanson settled for sending a buffalo robe and a little coffee and sugar to his wife. When they were
reunited on December 17, he discovered that she had only received the robe. His joy at seeing his loved ones
again made Ahmanson forget the difficulties he had encountered. Ahmanson was welcomed to Utah by friends he
had known in Denmark. However, after only four months he decided to leave for California. Due to what he called
"horrible threats" against "apostates and heathens" Ahmanson concluded that it would be safer to travel east with
one of the larger companies that were being organized in Salt Lake City. Ahmanson and his family joined a
merchant wagon train that left on April 18 and arrived in Leavenworth, Kansas on July 27th. By 1864 the family was living in Omaha where Ahmanson published
his account of his experiences.29
Among the many hazards of the trail for the faithful were the non-Mormons. The Swedish convert Johanna
Christena Larson Jones came to America in 1854 and lived in St. Louis and in Nebraska before continuing to Utah
in about 1860. Along the way, her brother was kidnapped by anti-Mormons.30 In their records of the plains
crossing as part of the eighth handcart company in 1859, William Atkins and Henry Hobbs mentioned that the
group was taunted by apostates heading east and one female and some male handcarters were persuaded to turn
back. At the Big Sandy a couple of mountain men, whom Atkins described as "bewhiskered and whiskey-soaked,"
volunteered to marry "any or all" of the women. Two Danish women took them up on their offers so two weddings
were celebrated. (Merrill J. Mattes concluded that such weddings were probably motivated more by starvation than
by romantic inclinations.)31 As Søren Schow (Søren Jepsen Schou) traveled eastward to Nebraska in 1864 he
encountered several Utah-bound Danish converts. Among those he advised to leave the Mormons was the family of
the smith Chr. Hansen. At first Hansen was against the idea, but a few days after the Schows arrived in Fremont
they were joined by the Hansens.32
While there were those who persuaded the Mormons to give up the ghost, there were also those who traveled in the
company of Mormons on various stages of the journey, possibly because they thought it would be safer, or
because they considered joining the church themselves. The Dane Androus (later Andrew) Nielsen journeyed to
Utah in the company of Latter Day Saints in 1872. His wife Bergitta arrived a year later. Dissatisfied with what they
found, Andrew sent his wife, daughter, son, and another relative to Fremont in Dodge County, Nebraska in late
1874 or early 1875. In the meantime Andrew's horses were stolen, and he did not arrive in Fremont until late 1875.
The non-Mormon Bourkersson spent three years in the Utah Territory with his Mormon wife. When she left him for
someone else, he joined an east-bound caravan of "estranged Mormons" including several Swedish families with
whom he had come to the area in the first place.33
One group that returned to Nebraska was a branch of the "Morrisites" called the "Jesu Christi Kjerke af Den
allerhíiestes Guds Hellige " [Jesus Christ's Church of God's Most High]. This group had its roots in the movement
which began in the 1860s when the Welsh convert Joseph Morris began collecting followers at a settlement in Davis
County, Utah. In 1857, Morris began receiving revelations that expressed dissatisfaction with Brigham Young's
management and predicting an immediate Second Coming. Morris was excommunicated from the Mormon church
in 1858. By late 1861 Morris's followers numbered about five hundred with as many sympathizers. After Morris was
killed following a dispute in 1862, his followers began leaving Utah. The Morrisites, many of whom were
Scandinavians, eventually settled in California, Idaho, Iowa, Montana, Nebraska, and Nevada. The exodus began in
1863 when Brigadier General Patric E. Connor's California Volunteers escorted 160 Morrisites from Ft. Douglas,
Utah to Soda Springs in the Idaho Territory. Another 150 were furnished with transportation by Connor when an
empty train was sent for quartermasters stores. Records from 1869 reveal that about seventy-five people were
members of the Omaha and Council Bluffs Morrisite congregations. Twenty of the members were Swedes, one was
American-born, and the remainder were Danes. The group was represented by about half that number of families,
since most members appeared to be married. Ten of these people were identified in the U.S. census records for
Omaha for the years 1870, 1880, and 1900. At least thirteen members of the group had been in Utah because they
were baptized in South Weber. An additional six people who were members of the Omaha or Council Bluffs
congregations were found in the 1860 Utah census.34
Although a separate protocol exists for the Council Bluffs Morrisite congregation, it appears that it was merely an
extension of the Omaha group. (All of the names found in the records for the Council Bluffs branch were also in the
records from Omaha.) The first date mentioned for baptisms of members of the Omaha-Council Bluffs
congregations of the Church of Jesus Christ of God's Most High was June of 1861. These early baptisms took
place in South Weber, Utah. In 1869 several people were baptized in Omaha, Crescent City, Iowa, and Council
Bluffs, Iowa. In 1871 some of the baptisms took place in
Fremont, Nebraska. It is not clear how long the Nebraska-Iowa area congregation survived, but the last date
mentioned in the records from Omaha and Council Bluffs is 1872. Several members were eventually
excommunicated or excluded from the church. However, Jens Søndermark (Sødermark), who moved to the
Fremont area from Utah in 1866, remained a Morrisite until his death in 1901. The Church of Jesus Christ of Saints
of the Most High officially disbanded in 1969.35
As the Morrisite baptismal records suggest, the area around Fremont became a popular settlement choice for
former Mormons. The families of Søren Schow and Jens Søndermark (Sødermark) had apparently migrated to Utah
in the same company in 1857 or 1858. Later they were neighbors in Fremont. The Søren Schow family, including
six children plus one son-in-law and one daughter-in-law, had come to America in 1857. The Schows joined a train
of sixty-six wagons and sixty-four hand-pulled vehicles in Iowa City. Early in June the party of nearly 600 people
began their journey westward. After a tedious trip that was filled with discouraging experiences, including having to
bury one of the Schow girls by the Loup Fork River near present day Columbus, Nebraska, the group arrived in Salt
Lake City around August 15. The Schow family spent about four years farming at Spanish Fork, Utah. Then they
moved to Fairfield near Camp Floyd, Utah for two more years, where they added freighting and stock herding to
their occupations. The elder Schow, two sons, and three other wagons, two with single men and one with an
American family, started out for Nebraska in 1864. On their journey east they met others who had been robbed of
their horses, livestock, and possessions by the Plains Indians. By July 4, the Schow family had settled on a
homestead five miles north of Fremont, Nebraska.
Mormon missionaries encouraged Andrew and Karen Sinamark to head for the promised land in the spring of 1859.
The Sinamarks departed from Vrensted Parish for New York by way of Liverpool, England. After reaching New
York, the iron rail took them to Missouri, and a stern wheeler deposited them at Florence. Andrew and Karen
Sinamark and one or two daughters were part of the handcart company of 233 people that left Florence for Salt
Lake City in June of 1859. It took them until mid-September to move their worldly possessions to Utah. Søren Madsen Watt
and his wife (thought to be a sister or daughter of Søren Schow) emigrated from Kolding, Denmark, and settled in
Utah sometime around 1860. In 1866 the Sinamark and Watt families made the long uncomfortable trip eastward.
Fearing for their lives, the company departed under cover of darkness via ox team. The group got lost, ran out of
food and water, and the Sinamark oral history states, "a child was born on the way." It was painful to retrace their
steps: the Sinamarks left one or two children beneath Utah's earth while Watt left his wife buried there. Like the
Schows, the Sinamarks and Watts settled near Jamestown, north of Fremont in Dodge County, Nebraska.36 Other
homesteaders in the Fremont area who had been in Utah as Mormons included Jens Andersen, Jens Burger, a
Fjeldgaard, and a Lundgreen. There was also a "Hamborg" Petersen who came back, but stayed a Mormon.37
Omaha and Fremont, Nebraska are only a couple of areas that became popular settlement choices for Mormons,
former Mormons, and other Scandinavians who had journeyed to Utah. Anna Maria Sinamark, her brother Andrew
and his wife Emelle (Mork) Sinamark, and Peter Nelson and his family lived in the Praha area. The Nelsons had
been to the Utah Territory and returned to Nebraska in time to witness the dawning of the new state in 1867. John
Schow (a son of Søren Schow) married Mary Hansen, the daughter of the smith Chr. Hansen (see above). He lived
in Nance County for nineteen years and moved to Howard County in 1902. Mary (Hansen) Schow died in 1877 and
John married Mary Nielsen in April of 1883.38
Some of the Scandinavians who left Utah and the Mormon religion behind no doubt objected to their marriage
practices. Members of the Sinamark and Watt families often stated that they left Utah so that their daughters would
not have to become the second or third wife of a polygamist at young ages. When Anna Maria Sinamark (who had
journeyed to Utah as part of a handcart company while still a child) married Claus Andersen (Clausen) in Fremont
in 1874, she was about eighteen years old. Anna Maria's sister, Mary Anne, was also approximately eighteen when
she married Mads Peter Hansen at his home in Colfax County, Nebraska on October 8, 1883. Anna C. (or Hannah)
Watt, who had come to Nebraska from Utah as a ten year old, also happened to be about eighteen when she married John R. McCulley in 1875.39
During the 1850s about half of the Scandinavian converts to Mormonism who emigrated to Utah were farm families,
and in the 1860s they were a third of the total.40 This statistic was reflected in the eastward migration, even when it
went to the cities. John Schow, who later lived in Nance and Howard counties in Nebraska, claimed that he helped
Mark (Markus) Hansen stack wheat in Spanish Fork, Utah. Hansen later settled in Omaha where he is best known
for having started the Danish-American newspaper Den danske pioneer [The Danish Pioneer] and the organization
that became the Danish Brotherhood in America. Hansen is believed to have come to Omaha in 1860 with others
from his home county of Ribe. Hansen's wife, Anna Nielsen and her parents had also come to Nebraska with
Mormons. Anna stayed in Omaha where she married Mark in 1866, but her parents continued westward to Utah.
Other farming families included the Borglums near Fremont, who owned 6,000 acres. The wood carver James
Borglum went east from Provo, Utah to St. Louis, Missouri in 1868 (apparently to study medicine). Borglum's sons,
Guzton and Solon Hannibal, who later carved the monument at Mt. Rushmore, managed the farm while their father
practiced medicine. Members of the Borglum family were found in the Omaha census in 1880 and the Fremont
census for 1885.41
One possible motivation for farmers to leave Utah was that the homestead law took effect in the United States in
1862. It did not become valid in Utah, however, until 1869, by which time all the good land had been taken.42 The
farming community in Utah was also affected by unrest among the Native Americans in the 1860s. In 1863 the Ute
Chief Black Hawk began raiding communities in Utah. The raids continued throughout the 1860s. In Seiver County,
Utah several farms were abandoned during the "Indian war" of 1865. The federal census for Seiver County revealed
that many of the farms remained unoccupied in 1870.43
The Danites and the Native Americans were blamed for numerous murders and killings on the Mormon trail and in
Utah. The Danites were an alleged secret order of Mormons. Supposedly formed around 1837, the Danites were
rumored to have killed many apostate Mormons and others who defamed the church
of the Latter Day Saints. John Schow (a son of Søren Schow) said he knew of "several Danes" whose lives had ended at the hands
of the Danites. John Ahmanson seemed to suspect that the deaths of Secretary Babbitt of the Utah Territory and
later of two apostate families who were on their way back to England, were the work of Mormon avengers rather
than Indians.44 Stories of such killings may have motivated some Scandinavians to journey no further than
Nebraska and others to return there.
Leaving the Mormon Church
A number of economic and social factors have been mentioned as motives for Scandinavians to decide that they
would no longer be part of the Mormon church once they settled in the United States. One that has not received
much attention is culture shock. Families such as that of Søren Schow were divided in their reactions to Mormonism
and the decision to migrate: two of his sons remained in Denmark and never joined the church. Another son, Hans,
remained in Utah and did not leave the Mormon church when most of the family returned to Nebraska.45 John
Ahmanson's rejection of Mormonism was partly related to his dissatisfaction with the Mormon leadership: both in
financial and religious matters.46 But it is also clear that Ahmanson reacted to the suppression of cultural values he
considered important. In Vor tids Muhamed Ahmanson remarked that the home of "Potter Jensen" was one of the
few places that "dansk Hjertelag og dansk Gjærstfrihed" [Danish kindheartedness and Danish hospitality] were still
maintained in Mormon country despite the strong intolerance that Ahmanson referred to as "inseparable from
Mormonism." When Ahmanson left Utah one of his desires was to see the "yndige,
frodige" [lovely, fertile] Danish islands again.47 An unidentified apostate Mormon who wrote home from Omaha in
1870 expressed a similar longing to return to Denmark.48 In a letter from the late 1860s August Andr‚n made the
observation that "Gubben Lundvall" [old man Lundvall] in Omaha was too "äkta svensk" [genuinely Swedish] to be
able to "sm„lta" [melt] into the humbug making of Brigham Young. Anders Lundvall (Lundwall) arrived in America in
1862. Part of the Lundvall family stayed in Omaha before continuing to Utah. After a year in Utah they returned to
Omaha. In 1865 Martin Lundvall immigrated to join his parents and brothers and sisters in Nebraska's
largest city. Martin found many apostate Mormons in Omaha, some of who had been missionaries. Martin
"contended" with them "for a time" but later moved to Bozeman, Montana where he eventually joined the
Reorganized Church. Andersen's letter indicated that the Lundvalls lived in Bowery Place and that Anders repaired
shoes for a living. Lundvall's two daughters Betty (Bengta) and Kett (Kerstin) were servants for some "fine people" in
the city. They earned $8 a week and had every Wednesday and Sunday off. According to the 1870 Omaha
census, Anders (Andrew) had a shoe shop but no occupation was listed for his wife Hannah or any of their seven
One might consider the rejoining of the Lutheran church by former Scandinavian Mormons, such as the Danes who
became part of the Bluffs Trinity congregation in Fremont, a form of returning to Scandinavian culture. Apostate
Mormons who joined the Bluffs Trinity congregation included the Sinamarks and the Schows. Jens Sødermark
(Søndermark) joined the Morrisites and remained one until his death, but his wife and children became part of the
Bluffs Trinity Congregation.50
In addition to the Scandinavian Mormons that ended up in Nebraska as non-Mormons, there were Mormons who
lived in the state while doing missionary work or while earning the means to complete the journey to Utah. In 1865
the Danish Mormon Frantz (Frants) Christian Grundvig spent five weeks in Wyoming, Nebraska to earn enough
money to continue to Utah. Another Danish member of the church of the Latter Day Saints, Andrew Janus Christian
Hansen, served as a missionary in Nebraska in the late 1870s. In 1854 Mormon elders called on the father of
Margaret M. Ballard (a non-Scandinavian) to establish a church-sponsored settlement called Genoa along the trail,
about a third of the way across Nebraska. It was a discouraging experience with Indians continually on the prowl.
The settlers were hungry and poor, and their crops were destroyed by frost. The family of Peter Gottfredson
(mentioned above) became part of the Genoa settlement when his step-mother lost a premature baby in 1855. The
family back-trailed to Genoa where Peter's father staked off a section of land, built a dugout, and left for Omaha to
look for work. The family survived on handouts from other Genoa settlers. Later his father sent flour and bacon, and
in November the starving family hitched a ride to Omaha. In 1858 the Gottfredsons continued to Salt Lake City. Genoa was abandoned after
two years and Margaret Ballard's father was called on to attempt a similar undertaking at Wood River near present
day Grand Island, Nebraska. While at Wood River, Indians attempted to kidnap and her brother. Margaret's family
moved to Ogden, Utah after only one season at Wood River.51
Fewer Scandinavian Mormons
There is ample evidence to support P.S. Vig's claim that most of the earliest Danes to settle in western Iowa and
eastern Nebraska were or had been Mormons. Omaha was the last big city many west-bound migrants passed
through and the first one that much of the east-bound traffic from Utah encountered. Employment opportunities
were one attraction in Omaha. In a letter of May, 1870, an unidentified apostate Mormon wrote to his father-in-law
in Denmark that it had been impossible to save money in Utah because most trade was done by barter there. He
also indicated that in Utah it was believed that backsliders should not have jobs, that non-Mormons had no right to
them, and that apostates were even less entitled to them. The apostate said he had a good job in Omaha as a
carpenter earning $3 per day.52 An examination of the 1870 census from Omaha reveals that 20 of the 161 families
in which one or both parents were born in Denmark, Norway, or Sweden, had children born in Utah. (The majority
of the parents in this group had been born in Denmark.) The numbers of Scandinavian converts from agricultural
backgrounds "decreased with each decade as the proportion of laborers rose." The size of the Scandinavian
population in Omaha reflected this trend. By 1880 the number of families in Omaha in which one or both parents
were born in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, or Slesvig-Holstein had tripled to 468. However, the numbers with children
born in Utah had decreased to twelve. The changing conditions surrounding the migration were clearly having an
impact on return migration to Nebraska and on discontinued or interrupted migration to Utah.53
Despite the efforts of Mormon leaders to make the trip to Zion as safe and comfortable as possible in the pre-1869
period, many would-be migrants fell short of their goal long before reaching the frontier. At every point along the
trail from Scandinavia to Zion in the west,
people got left behind. Second thoughts, perhaps caused by ridicule or opposition to the Mormon movement, fears
of not surviving the journey (due to disease or violence), and bad reports from Utah combined to give travelers cold
feet. Increased possibilities for other types of emigration, the Homestead Act of 1862, the end of the American Civil
War, and the improving transportation system may have contributed to the decreasing numbers of Scandinavian
Mormon emigrants in the later 1800s. Generally improving social and economic conditions in Denmark in the late
1800s may have been a factor in reducing the numbers of Danes who converted to Mormonism and to the decision
not to emigrate. The letters, diaries, and reminiscences from oversee and overland migrants shed light on the
reasons for the decisions of some of them to interrupt or discontinue their journey and for others to move on.
Delays due to illness, late arrival for the season, and the need to earn money to be able to complete the journey
ranged from a few days to as long as a year for many of the immigrants. Layovers and interruptions in the planned
route gave the converts time to think about alternatives. Migrants who made it to Zion and returned to Nebraska also
had a variety of motivations for making the move. For the Morrisites, religious dissatisfaction played a role in the
decision to leave. Such events lead some of the migrating Scandinavians to settle in Nebraska for shorter or longer
periods of time.
1. Thomas Harvey of the Indian Bureau estimated the numbers of Mormons in the Nebraska-Iowa border area
during the winter of 1846-47 at 10,000 with 3,500 on the Nebraska side. See Wallace
Stegner, The Gathering of
Zion: The Story of the Mormon Trail, Salt Lake City: Westwater Press, Inc., 1981, p. 115. In William J. Petersen,
"The Mormon Trail of 1846," The Palimpsest 9, Sept. 1966, p. 367, the estimate for 1856 was 15,000 Mormons.
2. In The Great Platte River Road: The Covered Wagon Mainline via Fort Kearney to Fort Laramie, Lincoln: Univ. of
Nebraska Press, 1969, p. 23, Merrill J. Mattes estimated the number of emigrants at 350,000, but he adjusted that
figure to 500,000 based on new evidence and to include those going to Colorado between 1859 and 1866 in "The
Council Bluffs Road: A New Perspective on the Northern Branch of the Great Platte River Road," Nebraska History,
Vol. 65, No. 2, Summer, 1985, p. 187. The size of the first Mormon group to migrate to Utah was in Stegner,
The Gathering of Zion, pp. 112-113.
Information on the numbers of Scandinavian settlers in Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, and on the West Coast came
from U.S. Dept. of the Interior, U.S. Census Office, Statistics of the United States at the Seventh Census, 1850,
Table 120, p. 118, and their, Statistics of the Population of the United States at the Ninth Census, 1870, Table 6, p.
338. The Danish-American Lutheran pastor and historian P.S. Vig lived in the western lowa-eastern Nebraska area
for years and was acquainted with many of the people he wrote about. Vig's observation was made in his, "Danske i
Amerika 1851-60." In: Danske i Amerika [Danes in America], Vol. 1, pt. 1, Minneapolis: C. Rasmussen Publ. Co.,
1907-16, p. 286.
3. William Mulder, Homeward to Zion: The Mormon Migration from Scandinavia, Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota
Press, 1957, pp. 7-17, and his "Scandinavian Saga." In: The Peoples of Utah, ed. Helen Z. Papanikolas, Salt Lake
City: Utah State Historical Society, 1976, pp. 14345. Manuscript of the Seventh Census of the U.S., 1850 and
microfilmed by the National Archives, Washington, D.C (as were all U.S. census records mentioned below).
4. The numbers of Scandinavian converts is from William Mulder's "Mormons from Scandinavia, 1850-1905: The
Story of a Religious Migration, Ph.D. thesis, Harvard University, 1955, Table 1, p. 214. In Table 2, p. 219, Mulder
gives the total number of Danish converts who emigrated as 12,696, but that total includes 72 Icelanders. The
percentages of Scandinavians who were converted, did not defect and emigrated are based on my own calculations
of Mulder's data.
5. The numbers of Scandinavian migrants came from: Hans Norman and Harald Runblom,
Connections: Nordic Migration to the New World after 1800, Oslo: Norwegian Univ. Press, 1988, pp. 31, 52, 58,
and 60. For data on proportional migration see Table 2 p. 33.
6. Information on the Icelandic mission and emigration from Iceland is from Mulder, Homeward to Zion, pp. 56, 107,
299, and note 23 p. 328 and in Mulder, "Mormons from Scandinavia," Table 2, p. 224, percentages are based on
my own calculations. Autobiographic information on Gudmund (Gudmundur) Gudmundson, is in Davis Bitton,
to Mormon Diaries and Autobiographies, Provo, UT: BYU Press, 1977, entry no. 952, p. 132; and Mulder,
Homeward to Zion, note 23, p. 328. Information on Icelandic settlement in the U.S. is in Valdimar Björnson,
"Icelanders. " In: Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Groups, Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press, 1980,
pp. 474-76; and Howard Palmer, "Escape From the Great Plains: The Icelanders in
North Dakota and Alberta" Great Plains Quarterly Vol. 3, Fall, 1983, pp. 220-23.
7. The Mormon Apostle Erastus Snow called them that see Mulder, Homeward to Zion, p. 137.
8. Mulder, "Mormons from Scandinavia," Table IV, lists 297 for the size of the second company, while Jørgen W.
Schmidt Oh Du Zion i Vest: Den danske Mormon-emigration, 1850-1900 [Oh You Zion in the West: The Danish
Mormon Emigration, 1850-1900], Copenhagen: Rosenkilde and Bager, 1965, p. 45, and Mulder, Homeward to Zion,
p. 158, lists 294. The 1853 trip was described in Mulder, Homeward to Zion, pp. 158-63; and "A Pioneer Journal,
Forsgren Company, Containing Story of the First Danish Company to Emigrate to Utah." In: "Historical Pamphlet,"
diary by an unknown source, translated by Earl Olsen, information on the excommunication and those who dropped
out is on pages 20-22. The estimate of the numbers of Mormons remaining in the Missouri Valley came from Clyde
B. Aitchison, "The Mormon Settlements in the Missouri Valley," p. 21.
Mulder, "Mormons from Scandinavia," Table I, p. 214. The calculations on the numbers of children are my own
based on Mulder's figures.
10. Mulder, Homeward to Zion, p. 176.
11. Information on the expansion of the railroad and the Mormon's use of it is in "Latter Day Saints Emigration from
Wyoming, Nebraska--1864-1866, " a compilation of correspondence and records by Andrew Jenson, Nebraska
History Magazine, Vol. 17, Apr.-June, 1936, p. 113. See also James C. Olson History of Nebraska, Lincoln: Univ.
of Nebraska Press, 1955, pp. 118-20, 161-64.
12. Mulder, Homeward to Zion, p. 167.
13. Information on the Perpetual Emigrating Fund in Scandinavia is in Mulder's Homeward to Zion, pp. 49, 138, 142-56,
229, and 333; and his "Scandinavian Saga." In: The Peoples of Utah, pp. 157-58. Information on Gottfredson is in
Bitton, Guide to Mormon Diaries, entry 911, p. 126, and Merrill J. Mattes, Platte River Road Narratives: A
Descriptive Bibliography of Travel Over the Great Central Overland Route to Oregon, California, Utah, Colorado,
Montana, and Other Western States and Territories, 1812-1866, Urbana and Chicago: Univ. Of Illinois Press, 1988,
entry 1597,p. 474.
14. J.P. (possibly J.D. or J.M.) Jakobsen's (also Jacobsen) letter was published in Schmidt, Oh Du Zion i Vest,
pp.149-54. Jakobsen was not found in the Ninth Census of the U.S., 1870.
15. Wyoming had a short life, it was started in 1855 and lasted into the 1870s. The railroad missed the town and the
name was later changed to Dresden. Information on the Mormons in Wyoming is in Helen Roberta Williams, "Old
Nebraska History Magazine, Vol. 17, Apr-June, 1936, pp. 79-90, and "Latter Day Saints Emigration from
Wyoming, Nebraska, 1864-1866," pp. 113-127.
16. Rev. H.N. Hansen, "An Account of a Mormon Family's Conversion to the Religion of the Latter Day Saints and
of their Trip from Denmark to Utah, Annals of Iowa, pt. 1, Vol. 41, Summer 1971, pp. 709-28 and pt. 2, Vol. 41, Fall
1971, pp. 765-78. Hansen's descendants lived in Iowa and were members of the Reorganized Church of Jesus
Christ of the Latter Day Saints.
17.Mattes, The Council Bluffs Road," pp. 184-87, and Stanley B.
Kimball, "Mormon Trail Network in Nebraska, 1846-1868: A New Look, " BYU Studies, reprint from Vol. 24,
Summer, 1984, pp. 321-36. (Includes a map.)
18. Olson, History of Nebraska, p. 60.
19. These accounts by Jesse W. Crosby and Isaac Chauncey Haight were from 1850. They are in Merrill J.
Mattes, Platte River Road Narratives: Crosby's account is entry number 765, p. 246 and Haight's is entry 820 p.
20. This was recorded in the diary of Silas Richards, see Mattes, Platte River Road Narratives, p. 203, entry 605.
21.Christian A. Madsen's letter of July 25, 1858, was originally published
in Skandinaviens Stjerne, Oct. 15, 1858. It was translated for Danes in North America, ed. Frederick Hale, Seattle:
Univ. of Washington Press, 1984, pp. 197-98. 22. The recollections of Frantz (Frants) Christian Grundvig are in
Platte River Road Narratives, entry 2012, p. 593. Mattes's comment on the relationship between the Native
Americans and the Mormon handcarters is on p. 503. Information on Grundvig is also summarized in Bitton, Guide
to Mormon Diaries, entry 951, p. 132.
23. The study of English language journals kept by Mormon immigrants was made by Richard H. Jackson "Mormon
Perception and Settlement of the Great Plains." In: Images of the Plains: The Role of Human Nature in Settlement,
eds., Brian W. Blouet and Merlin P. Lawson, Lincoln: Univ. of Nebraska Press, 1975, pp. 137-47, the quote about
the suitability of the plains for settlements is on p. 145. The Smith's letter dated Jan. 29, 1858 is in Schmidt, Oh Du
Zion i Vest, pp. 88-91, and the letter from Christian Nielsen, dated Apr. 27, 1856, is on pp. 61-69.
24. C.C.A. Christensen "By Handcart to Utah: The Account of C.C.A.
Christensen," tr. Richard L. Jensen, Nebraska History, Vol. 66, Winter,
25.Mulder, Homeward to Zion, p. 337, note 31. Information is from the
Latter-day Saint Journal History, MS., entry for September 25, 1868,
in the Church l Historian's Office. There were 1,032 Scandinavian
handcarters, see Mulder, Homeward to Zion, p. 144.
26. Christensen, "By Handcart to Utah," p. 343.
27. Maria J. Normington Parker, who was part of the fifth company (Martin company) stated that only 300 of 576
members of the fifth company reached the Valley. Maria Parker's account is summarized in Mattes, Platte River
Road Narratives, entry 1568, p. 465; William Woodward mentioned that some turned back in entry 1580, p. 469;
and the Danish immigrant Hannah Mason Aldrich, a survivor of the handcart tragedy, said the Martin company
consisted of 575 people: entry 1538, p. 456. An estimate of 150 people from the fifth company perishing is from
Olson, History of Nebraska, p. 62. In Handcarts to Zion: the Story of a Unique Western Migration, 1856-1860, Vol.
14 of the The Far West and the Rockies Historical Series, 1820-1875," p. 93, LeRoy R. Hafen and Ann W. Hafen
state that the fourth handcart company had 500 people, and on p. 140 they gave estimates of the death count,
comparing it to the Donner and Fremont tragedies on p. 141. The ill-fated Donner Party of 1846 lost almost half of
their group in the Sierra Nevadas (forty out of eighty-seven), and the John C. Fremont expedition that got caught in
Colorado in 1849 lost almost a third of its members (ten of thirty-three).
28. For information on the church trains see Mulder, Homeward to Zion, note 31, p. 337
29. Ahmanson's account of his plains crossing is in Vor tids Muhamed [The Mohammed of Our Times], Omaha:
Den danske Pioneer's press, 1876, pp. 18-25, and information on the return eastward is on pp. 42-43. In 1870
Ahmanson was listed as a grocer, and in 1880 he was listed as a doctor in the Omaha census. The Omaha census
for 1870 revealed that Ahmanson's youngest two children, ages six and one, were born in Nebraska, while his
middle son, aged 12, was born in Missouri, and his oldest son, aged 15, was born in Denmark. The Eighth and
Ninth censuses of the U.S., 1870 and 1880.
30. Johanna Christena Larson Jones's autobiographical information is summarized in Bitton, Guide to Mormon
Diaries, entry 1322, p. 186.
31. Mattes, Platte River Road Narratives; Atkins is entry 1652 p. 491, Hobbs is entry 1692 p. 503. Mattes' comment
is on page p. 491. The
weddings were reported on by William Atkins, entry 1652, p.491, while Henry Hobbs, entry 1692, p. 503 merely
indicated that "riffraff" tried to seduce two of the women. The women were identified as Danes in Wallace Stegner,
The Gathering of Zion, p. 296.
_. P.S. Vig, "Mormoner fra Ribe Amt." [Mormons from Ribe County] special printing of Fra Ribe Amt [From the
County of Ribe], Esbjerg, Denmark: Rosendahl and Co., 1918, p. 631.
33. Information on the Nielsens' journey to Utah and their settlement in Fremont came from a letter to Jean and
Edith Matteson from Della Bolton, Colme, SD, July, 1985, and from Leona C. Langhorst, Scribner, NE, letter, no
date, and an interview (summer 1985). Information on Bourkersson is from Mulder, Homeward to Zion, p. 183.
34. Information on the Morrisites is in Mulder, Homeward to Zion, p. 183-84, and "The C. LeRoy Anderson Morrisite
Collection," from the Marie Eccles-Caine Archives of Intermountain Americana, at the Merrill Library, Dept. of
Special Collections and Archives, Utah State University, Logan, Utah. Includes 3 pages of historical background on
the Morrisites and protocols for the Omaha and Council Bluffs congregations of "Jesu Christi Kjerke af Den
allerhíiestes Guds Hellige" from 1869 and a financial statement book from Omaha. Note: it was difficult to identify
people because the records contain conflicting information on birth dates and spellings. The Montana branch was
known as the "Church of Jesus Christ of Saints of the Most High." Other information is from the manuscript of the
Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, and Twelfth censuses of the U.S., 1860, 1870, 1880, and 1900.
35. "The C. LeRoy Anderson Morrisite Collection," (see note 34). Information on Jens Søndermark (Sødermark)
was in P.S. Vig, "Mormoner fra Ribe Amt." pp. 617, 622, and 632-33.
36. Information on the Schows (Schous, Skows), Sinamarks, and Watts is in the manuscript files of P.S. Vig at the
Nebraska State Historical Society in Lincoln, NE. A typescript manuscript containing information on the Watts and
Schows, is "Dedication of the Monument, Old Jamestown Postoffice, Five Miles Northwest of Ames, Nebraska,
2:30 P.M., Monday, September 29, 1930," pp. 10-12; Other information came from, "John S. Schow. " In:
Compendium of History Reminiscence and Biography of NE, Chicago: Alden Publ. Co., 1912, pp. 252-53; and in
P.S. Vig, "Mormoner fra Ribe Amt." pp. 611, 617-37. Vig stated that both the Søndermarks and the Schows were
part of the eighth emigrant company of 1857. In comparing the information on the Schow's journey west with the
records of various Danish companies in Schmidt's Oh Du Zion i Vest it appears that the family may have
migrated to America in 1857 and left for Utah in 1858 (see pp. 81, and 91-92). Information on the Sinamarks came
from: a 5 page typescript manuscript and 12 pages of biographical and genealogical information by Grace Leona
(Weeks) Coffman. Information on the Sinamarks and Watts came in a letter from Laura (Smyth) Hixon, Northville,
MI, to Jean Matteson and Edith Matteson, Apr., 1985; Letter front Carrie (Anderson) Smyth, Dearborn, MI, to Jean
Matteson and Edith Matteson, Feb. 1, 1985; Letter from Carrie (Anderson) Smyth, Dearborn, MI, to "Agnes and
Albert," Apr. 17, 1983 (sent by Ronald W. Anderson, Grand Island, NE, April, no year), and an interview with Laura
(Smyth) Hixon and Carrie (Anderson) Smyth at the home of Carrie (Anderson) Smyth by Jean Matteson in the
spring of 1985. In "Mormoner fra Ribe Amt." P.S. Vig says that Søren Watt was married to Søren Schow's daughter
Ane Marie, but the manuscript of the Eighth Census of the U.S., 1860 (taken in July of that year) indicates that
Watt's first wife was Christena. The Sinamarks were undoubtedly part of the "eleventh emigrant group" described in
Schmidt's Oh Du Zion i Vest on pp. 108-109. According to Schmidt's information the handcart company consisted of
235 people instead of 233.
37. The other Scandinavians who returned to the Fremont area to live were mentioned in Vig's "Mormoner fra Ribe
Amt." p. 632.
38. For information on the Sinanarks and Schows see note 36. Additional information came from the following:
Church records of Bluffs Trinity Lutheran Church, Dodge Co., NE, 1874-1980s;Fremont Daily Herald, Feb. 10,
1895; Fremont Herald, March 31, 1893; Census records of the Ninth through Twelfth censuses of the U.S., for
1870, 1880, 1900, and 1910; and the Nebraska census for 1885; The gravestones of Fremont Bluffs Cemetery,
Maple Township, Dodge Co., NE; and the record books of Fremont Bluffs Cemetery, 1893-1902. Information on the
Watts was found in the records of Emanuel Lutheran, Colfax Co., 1890s-1920.
39. Information on Sinamark and Watt weddings was from the courthouse records from Colfax and Dodge counties.
In a conversation with Jean M. Matteson in Fremont, NE in March of 1989, Hans Clausen stated that he often heard
members of the Sinamark and Watt families state that they left Utah to prevent their daughters from being "forced"
to become a second or third wife for someone at the young ages of twelve or thirteen.
40. Mulder, Homeward to Zion, p. 110.
41. Information of Markus Hansen came from P.S. Vig,
Danske i Kamp i og for Amerika, 1640 til 1865 [Danes
Fighting in and for America, 1640
to 1865], Omaha: Axel H. Andersen Inc., 1917, pp. 272-74; O.C. Olsen Seventy-fifth Anniversary Sketch of Our
Saviors," booklet 16 pas. (History of Our Saviors, Omaha, NE); and P.S. Vig, "Mormoner fra Ribe Amt." p. 627. If
Hansen was in Utah it was between 1864 and 1866. Hansen was found in the manuscripts of Ninth and Tenth
censuses of the U.S., 1870 and 1880. Information on the Borgluins is in Mulder, Homeward to Zion, p. 184, in the
manuscript of the U.S., 1880, and in the Nebraska census for 1885.
42. Rodman W. Paul, The Far West and the Great Plains in Transition, 1859-1900, New York: Harper & Row, 1988,
43. For more information on the troubles between the Utes and the Mormons in Utah during the 1860s, see Joseph
G. Jorgensen, The Sun Dance Religion: Power for the Powerless, Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1972, pp. 36-
37, 42. The information on the abandoned farms in Seiver County, Utah was noted in the manuscript of the Ninth
Census of the U.S., 1870.
44. Schow's comment was in P.S. Vig, "Mormoner Fra Ribe Amt, " p. 624. Ahanson's observations were in, Vor
tids Muhamed, pp. 19-21 and Mattes, Platte River Road Narratives, entry 1536, p. 456.
45. For information on the Schow family see notes 36 and 38, and P.S. Vig, "Mormoner fra Ribe Amt." pp. 617 and
46. Ahmanson, Vor tids Muhamed. In Mulder, Homeward to Zion, p. 184, Mulder suggested that Ahmanson's
opinions were colored by his lack of advancement in the Mormon church following his handcart ordeal.
47. Ahmanson, Vor tids Muhamed, pp. 43 and 62.
48. The letter was dated May 17, 1870 and appeared
in Svendborg Amts Tidende and later in Holbæk-Posten in
Denmark. It was translated for Danes in North America, ed. Frederick Hale, pp. 204-06.
49. Information on the Lundvalls in August Andrén's letter was originally in
Halland och halläningar, Arsbok 3,
Halmstad, 1956, pp. 40-45, it was republished in Brev fr†n L”ftets Land: Svenskar ber„ttar om Amerika, 1840-1914
[Letters from. the Promised Land: Swedes Tell About America, 1840-1914], Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press,
1975; and Swedish Bokfärlaget AB, 1979, ed. and trans. H. Arnold Barton, pp. 140-42. Other infonnation on the
Lundvalls was in Bitten, Guide to Mormon Diaries, entry 1549 (Martin Lundwall), p. 219; and the Ninth Census of the
50. Information on the Bluffs Trinity church is in Edith Matteson and Jean Matteson,
Blossoms of the Prairie: The
History of the Danish Lutheran Churches in Nebraska, Lincoln, NE: Blossoms of the Prairie, 1988, pp.
57-58. Information on Sødermark was from P.S. Vig, "Mormoner fra Ribe Amt." pp. 622, and 632-33.
51. Grundvig's wife was kidnapped and he himself was filled with arrows as he
migrated westward. Mattes, Platte
River Road Narratives: Grundvig is entry 2012, p. 593: Andrew Janus Christian Hansen is entry 998, pp. 139-40:
Margaret Ballard is entry 1541, p. 457 and Gotttredson is entry 1597, p. 474. In Bitton, Guide to Mormon Diaries,
Gottfredson is entry 911, p. 126, and Grundvig is entry 951, p. 132.
52. The letter was translated for Danes in North America, ed. Frederick Hale, pp. 204-06.
53. Information on Scandinavian Mormons with agricultural backgrounds is in Mulder, Homeward to Zion, p. 110.
The Ninth and Tenth censuses of the U.S., 1870 and 1880.
Back to Scandinavian Saints