My Trip From Denmark to Zion in 1863
Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 7, p.33-36
Myself and 207 of the Latter-day Saints, started from Denmark to come to America on April 23, 1863; to travel over land and sea. We had a rough simple conveyance until we got to England, and from England to Liverpool we rode on elevated railroads that were over the tops of the buildings.
When we landed in Liverpool we beheld a beautiful sight. The railroad station was covered with glass. The place was located in between two small mountains and covered about five acres of ground, and a train came in every hour, and it also appeared to be a place of great business.
There were many poor women wandering about and some appeared to be drunk. It was a rainy day and I saw many women working in the street barefooted and poorly clad; of course I could not understand their language, but it seemed they were a very rough and quarrelsome people. I did not see many men, only those employed in business, but there seemed to be one or two that were trying to pick pockets.
At Liverpool, England, we met 500 more Latter-day Saints; 100 were from England; 100 were from Scotland; and the remaining 300 were from Wales and Ireland, making a grand party of 708.
We were led into a large ship from Germany, and I believe we had a good crew of faithful sailors, but they were cruelly dealt with, and dare not disobey. There were beds on each side of the ship very close together, and two occupied each bed. There were three decks and three masts on the ship.
The day after we left England and the steamer was about two hundred miles out in the sea, the doctors came and looked into our eyes and felt of our pulse to see that none had any disease.
The next day we began to think that it was a hard time, the sea was rough and the great waves splashed onto the upper deck, and some of them (people) rolled out of bed; the children cried and screamed, and some of them cried 'Ho! Ho! is this the way to Zion?' Some of the rich ladies began to be dissatisfied and wished to go back to Wales and Ireland; and more than 100 were sea-sick and many vomited upon the deck, and it was a dreadful night; but about 2 o'clock a.m. the doctors and the captain came out to try to comfort the people; and said, 'Be of good cheer and we will have a calm sea on the morrow.' And it came to pass that it was as the captain had said, and all of the sick were helped upon the upper deck where they could get fresh air and very soon they felt a little better.
There were sixteen beautiful singers that stood in a circle and sang the songs of Zion about 3 o'clock every day, and when they were through the captain clapped his hands and said, 'Well done, come again.' In a few days the German people came to sing; but the captain did not come out; but the second captain had fallen in love with one of the German singers, and he clapped his hands and said, 'Hurrah!'
A few days after, the Danish came out to sing; there were eight in number-four boys and four girls. The girls were dressed in blue and each wore a white cap, and the boys wore white trousers with a black coat. The leader was a little man by the name of Thompson who had prepared his singers and wore a handkerchief pinned on his coat with the Danish flag on it.
When they began to sing, the captain and all of the passengers came out to listen to them, and they spatted them out three times; the captain's wife ordered the cook to bring wine and cake for the singers. I saw and heard all of this myself, and the singers were all from Copenhagen, Denmark.
When the sea was still and the weather favorable, there were some on board that could play the violin, and the captain allowed us to dance for two hours a day. There was no sickness except seasickness; and we had all grown used to that by this time; there was one death, and one brother and myself were called upon to wash and dress him; while one or two hundred looked on; and at night when it was dark, he was carried upon the top deck and laid on a plank and the sailors wrapped him in a heavy cloth and put about fifty pounds of rocks at his feet, and sewed him up tight. We then sang a hymn and one man spoke for about five minutes; then the sailors lifted one end of the plank and he slid down the plank into the sea and we saw him no more.
We saw many whales and sharks following up the ship, and some looked to be as big as a man; and many were small ones; many, many times we threw bread, or meat into the sea to watch them fight for it. The big fish were always ahead and we used to cheat them, and throw the bread and meat back to the little ones; which made the big fish so mad and they acted like they would like to jump at us.
I saw the large whales, they looked to be about sixty feet long and threw a stream of water twenty feet high. We passed through five or six large icebergs; they were the large chunks of that which had broken off from the North Sea. The icebergs seemed to be about twenty-five feet above the water; and looked like they would cover two square miles each.
Our singing and dancing began to grow old, and the people began to grow weary. The young were sparking, the old getting quarrelsome, the children cross, and the water bad, but in a few days we saw land and fired a cannon. That was a signal for a steamboat to come and pull us in to New York Harbor.
Then our souls were filled with gladness and our troubles were forgotten, and early in the morning we were told to go in line. There in line stood six Gentlemen Doctor Detectives to watch us pass. We passed in peace and stayed in New York until 2 o'clock p.m. Some of our pockets were picked and some trunks were upset and robbed, and some got bogus money, and it seems that trouble has no end.
The next morning the brethren got the conductor to stop the trim and told us all to look and 'See the Grove where Joseph Smith had his first Vision;' and we all rejoiced and sang two or three hymns in ten different languages. We stopped for fifteen minutes and then went on our way rejoicing.
The train ran until we got to St. Joseph, Mo. and from there we sailed up the Missouri River to Florence, Nebraska. We stopped here until the 5th of July, 1863. We had bought wagons, oxen, and provisions to last us until we came to Utah and Salt Lake City. When we started that was indeed a task, most of us had four oxen for each wagon, and we had never driven oxen before, but Captain Young told us what to say, but they could not understand our language. Away they went and the teamsters after them, and we made a bad start. But the captain and the guards went after them on horseback and soon brought them into line, and the next day we did better.
Some thought they had too big a load, and many valuable things were unloaded and left there on the plains. One day in August our oxen took fright and ran away; three people were killed by them and one wagon was broken. Two people were buried in one grave, and I helped to bury them. There were no coffins but they were dressed and buried neatly. By this time we were good teamsters, and after this we had good success.
We were six weeks crossing the Atlantic Ocean. We landed in Salt Lake City the 12th of September, 1863, and heard Brother Brigham Young preach and shook hands with him. He said many things to me but I could not understand him. On the 14th of September, 1863, we started for Cache Valley and arrived there o.k. We started from Denmark the 23rd of April 1863, and arrived in Cache Valley, Utah, the 19th of September, 1863.
I commenced work with the brethren threshing wheat with a flail and got every seventh bushel, and I worked on a molasses mill for a gallon of molasses per day. When the work was over I dug a hole in the ground and put a top of eleven logs and called it a dug-out; myself and wife prepared there for the winter, and were quite contented. We bowed down and blessed it and dedicated it for our happy home. We were at a loss as we could not understand the English language but we made it our continual study.
When winter was over I thought it best to go to a place where I could get a farm so I sold my city lot and dug-out for a cow and a calf, and we moved to Mendon, where three of my wife's brothers lived, and we stayed there for one year, but I was not satisfied as I could not get any farming land. Yet I did well, and was industrious such as making adobes, mowed with a scythe, and reaped with a cradle and all kinds of rough work.
In the year 1864 on the 4th of July, my wife bore a son, we named him Alma L. Jensen; and in the spring of 1865 five families of us went 20 miles north to a new place where we could get a farm. At this time I had a yoke of oxen, two cows, two calves, four sheep and an old wagon. This place was dedicated by Ezra T. Benson and called Clarkston, which was presided over by a man called Bishop Clark.
I was given twenty acres of farming land and ten acres of hay land, and felt better satisfied; and I now had a foundation for a home but much was yet wanted such as a house, fencing and provisions for the winter.