Scandinavian Immigration-1864

Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 8, pp 23-31

On April 10th, 1864, at 5 p.m. the Swedish steamer L. L Bager sailed from Copenhagen, carrying 350 emigrants from Sweden and Norway and some from the Fredericia Conference, Denmark, in charge of Johan P. R. Johansen. This company of Saints went by steamer to Lubeck, thence by rail to Hamburg, thence by steamer to Hull, in England, and thence by rail to Liverpool, where the emigrants joined another company of emigrating Saints which sailed from Copenhagen three days later.

On April 13, 1864, the English steamer Sultana sailed from Copenhagen, Denmark, with 353 emigrants from the different conferences in Denmark, excepting a few from Fredericia, who, on account of the war, went directly to Hamburg. This company was in charge of President Jesse N. Smith, a returning missionary. Elder John Smith, who because of poor health had labored in the mission office in Copenhagen, and Christoffer Holberg, who had labored in Sweden, also sailed on the Sultana, returning to their homes in Zion. The following elders were among the emigrants: Niels C. Edlefsen, Peter C. Geertsen, Peter C. Carstensen, Nels C. Flygare, Anders Swedlund, Jens Hansen, Lars Nilsson, Anders Pontus Soderborg and Jens C. Olsen. A number of traveling elders also emigrated with this company, which, like the preceding one, went by way of Lubeck, Hamburg and Grimsby to Liverpool, where they were joined by the company that sailed from Copenhagen, April 10th.

On Tuesday, April 26th, the ship Monarch of the Sea cleared for sailing, and on Thursday, April 28th, sailed from Liverpool, England, with 973 souls on board. Patriarch John Smith was chosen president of the company with Elders John D. Chase, Johan P. R. Johansen and Parley P. Pratt, Jun., as his counselors. Elders were also appointed to take charge of the different divisions of the company. During the voyage there was considerable sickness and some deaths, mostly children. In the morning of June 3rd the Monarch of the Sea arrived at New York where the landing of the emigrants at Castle Garden at once took place. In the evening they boarded a steamer for Albany, N.Y., and from there they traveled by train to St. Joseph, Missouri; thence by steamer up the Missouri River to Wyoming, Nebraska, from which place most of the Scandinavian Saints were taken to the Valley by Church teams, of which 170 were sent out by the Church that season. Thus about four hundred emigrating Scandinavian Saints crossed the plains in Captain William P. Preston's company of about fifty Church teams, that left Wyoming, Nebraska, in the beginning of June, and arrived in Salt Lake City, September 15, 1864.

Martha Larson Hanson was born March 1, 1826, near Vennersborg, Sweden, the daughter of Lars and Carrie Larson. She was next to the eldest in a family of seven children. The father, at one time, was well-to-do and able to provide a comfortable home for his family, but through the dishonesty of men he had trusted, he lost all of his property. The children were forced into service at a very tender age, Martha was only ten when she began to work for others. In order to obtain employment, servants in those days were forced to sign contracts binding them unconditionally to remain from one to three or four years, no matter how hard the work or how cruel the employers. At the age of twelve, Martha's father signed her into the service of a minister for a period of three years. All she was to receive in return for her work was her food and clothing. Her first task was that of herd-girl, her leisure time being occupied by doing needle work for the other servants. When, however, her mistress discovered how neatly she was able to sew, she no longer allowed her to do for the servants, but gave her of her own sewing to do. They were very strict with her, giving her no time for play or recreation of any kind. As time passed Martha became so homesick and lonely that she felt she could endure it no longer. She obtained her father's consent to return home without the minister's permission. This was a very grave offense, and in spite of her tender years she was brought back and given a whipping before all of the servants and attendants. In her humiliation and despair she secretly resolved to drown herself in the river not far distant. She slipped away unnoticed save by one-an elderly man who had witnessed the outrage and who alone had a soul big enough to comprehend a child's sorrow. He followed her, not knowing, however, that she was planning so desperate a deed, until he saw her kneel in prayer, and overheard her petitioning her Heavenly Father for forgiveness for the crime she was about to commit. When she arose he stepped forward and with sympathy comforted her and inspired her with the courage to face bravely whatever other trials she might have. This man, who was of high rank and consequently very influential with the minister and his wife, pleaded her case before them and spared the child, saying that theirs would have been the responsibility had she taken her life. From this time on they treated her with more consideration and a mutual friendship developed which made her life there comparatively happy and contented.

During the three years Martha was in the service of the minister, he taught her to read and study the Bible. At the age of fourteen he confirmed her into the Lutheran Church. In spite of her hardships she developed a very keen sense of humor which undoubtedly brought her safely through many a trying ordeal. At the age of twenty-six Martha married Olaf Hanson who was one of the first in that part of the country to become a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In the old world where religious freedom was not tolerated, it required almost superhuman faith and courage to brave the persecutions that invariably followed. Priests and ministers wielded such a power over the people and had such prestige with the civil authorities, that their actions were never questioned. When it became known that Olaf had become a Mormon, the persecutions began. The priest announced from the pulpit that anyone giving him work should be severely dealt with, and immediately the work ceased to come into the tailor shop. However, later some of the men of the village began patronizing him again and Olaf and Martha were able to meet their living requirements.

The family moved to Guttenborg and soon began preparations to emigrate to America. From Guttenborg they moved up into the northern part of Sweden. Here they became acquainted with a Brother Eliason who was very well-to-do. He loaned them enough money for their emigration and soon afterward their long, weary journey toward Zion was begun. They were to embark for America at Guttenborg, a port from which vessels sailed to all parts of the world. In the confusion at the docks, Martha became separated from the rest of the family. Quite unexpectedly, a stranger stepped up to her and asked if she were Madam Hanson, to which she replied in the affirmative. Then he told her to follow him, and thinking he was leading her to her husband, she hurried after him. He took her on board a vessel, led her to a room below deck, pushed her in and locked the door. Then she realized she had been trapped and frantically hammered on the door and screamed for help. As if guided by the hand of Providence, her husband found and rescued her. They had barely reached the shore when that vessel sailed away bound for the East Indies.

They embarked for America April 28, 1864, on the Monarch of the Sea under the leadership of John Smith. They spent five weeks in the steerage, something over four months crossing the continent, and finally reached Salt Lake City in September of the same year, making in all nearly six months of travel. The wagon in which they crossed the plains carried the belongings of three families. All who were old enough to walk did so. Martha walked and carried a six-months-old baby most of the way.

After reaching the valley they went almost immediately to Logan, where they spent most of their remaining years. The only shelter they could obtain upon their arrival was an attic or loft, as it was commonly called, which was reached by a ladder. They did not remain here long, for a kind-hearted family took pity on them and shared with them their one-room home throughout the first winter. In the spring they built for themselves a small willow house. While living here, Olaf's two brothers and their families arrived and were received into this one-room cabin, where they lived as one large family until another room could be added. Olaf was one of the first in the community to buy a cook-stove, which cost $25.00 besides the freight, which was $60.00. It had an oven with a door on each side, so they set it up right in the doorway between the two rooms, not only heating both, but giving each housewife the same opportunity for baking and cooking. And the little stove was made to serve more than these, for Martha was always willing to share whatever she had with her less fortunate neighbors. She offered them the use of the oven for baking, and scarcely a day in the week passed but someone in the neighborhood was baking bread in her house. One more child was born to them after their arrival here, making her the mother of six. This little girl lived until she was five years of age.

As soon as the family was comfortably provided for, Olaf accepted a call to fill a mission in Sweden. He remained over two years, during which time Martha cheerfully assumed the responsibilities of both father and mother. It was during this time that the man entrusted to take care of his business proved so dishonest that Olaf was practically ruined financially. Martha's long and eventful life came to a close August 15, 1910, at the age of 84 years. The example she set is one that may well be emulated by all of her posterity.

Alva G. Wilson

Christiane Magdaline Thurston Aldous was born at Logstor, Aalborg, Denmark, January 13, 1848, in a refined, well-to-do home. Her father was Evan c. Thurston; her mother, Magdaline Christensen. As a girl she attended school until the age of fourteen. She was a lively child and always ready for the children's games, but would stop almost anytime to listen to stories of the sea, for the sea seemed to hold a fascination for her. In about 1862 she heard of a religious sect called Mormonism, which was creating considerable comment and excitement. Several elders of this Church began visiting the various homes, leaving tracts and books for those who might be interested in them. Christiane's sister and brother-in-law, Lona and Christian Fred Schade, joined the Church, declaring that they had found the true church and nothing could dissuade them, though various arguments were brought to bear upon them. Christiane was a great lover of books and wanted to read of this new religion, but her mother would not permit any of these books or tracts in the home, and forbade the girl to read them, saying "You know nothing of this new church except what the elders say. You have been raised a Lutheran, which is good enough for the rest of us, and you shall not break away." To make doubly sure that this would not occur, her mother sent her away to a seminary at a place called Ranum, where the girl could not get any literature. However, she managed to smuggle along a Mormon hymn book and a pamphlet, The Voice of Warning, and these she literally devoured. At her mother's command she was closely watched at all times so that no Mormon elders could call on her.

Six months later her sister and husband, the Schades, decided to sell their property and emigrate to America the following spring. Christiane loved her mother and family and was torn between love for them and her absolute belief in the new faith. Religion, as taught thus far, did not satisfy her and this new gospel was all-embracing, so she finally decided there was only one thing to do, for she felt that her salvation was her own problem and no one could decide this for her. So she said to her brother-in-law, "Brother Schade, I have studied, cried and prayed for guidance. I want to do as Mother says, but it seems that this religion means my very life. What shall I do? Can you not help me decide, or at least give me an idea of what to do?"

Schade answered, "Christiane, don't do anything impulsively. Consider everything well, and remember you owe your mother a great deal for no one loves you more than she. On the other hand, while your family is dear to you, remember that you will eventually marry and leave home for one of your own, so you will have to carve your own way. You cannot afford to sever entirely from your home ties, so be careful just what you do or say, for your mother means well-she just doesn't see things as you do."

A few days later, Christiane went to Schade and said: "Chris, there is only one thing that I can do and feel honest with myself. I want to be baptized." "All right," said he, "only let me say this; be sure you know that you do want this and that you feel able to cope with the consequences for you know your mother is very bitter toward Mormonism and will not take this action of yours lightly." "Brother, I have only one course open. It is a conviction within me and I feel that I can go through anything if I must. I know I am doing right for this is the true religion as I see it, so I am ready to be baptized and if I must go to America, I will go with you and Lona."

She was then fifteen, but very determined for a girl of her age so, an hour before midnight, she went all alone the two miles to a stream where she met Chris Schade and was baptized and confirmed. This was in August, 1863. Her mother was uncompromising after she learned of Christiane's action, and to the girl's sorrow, never forgave her.

Not long after, the Schades and Christiane went to the town of Aalborg, leaving all their relatives behind. This was heart-breaking to the poor girl, but she did not falter in her determination to go on, for now there was no turning back. Because of the petty persecutions which followed, they went to the headquarters of the Mormon branch. The branch president, a fearless young man, invited them to live temporarily in his home, so there they remained through the winter. Here Christiane had the opportunity to read and study all the Church works available. She also met the elders, most of whom were from Utah, and they all gave glowing accounts of the new world and Utah, telling of the great inducements to settlers, be they artisans or farmers.

In early March she and the Schades embarked on a steamer, crossed the North Sea and landed in Grimsby, England. From there they went by rail to Liverpool where they embarked on a sailing vessel, the Monarch of the Sea. Of the 974 passengers aboard two were children who had the measles, and this was not discovered for some time. In the close quarters, and with the poor facilities for handling such a crowd, the disease spread until it became a catastrophe, many children being buried at sea. Then, in the latter part of the epidemic, came a big storm, tearing the ocean into mountainous waves. The hatches were battened down and no passengers allowed on deck for three days. This added to the misery of the passengers, especially the sick. The Schades and Christiane did all they could for those who needed their help.

In spite of the fierceness of the storm and the fear that the ship would never land, they finally arrived at Castle Garden, New York. Because of the terrible epidemic and loss of life, they were afraid they would be held in quarantine, but the Civil War had drawn nearly every available man into the army or elsewhere, so they were allowed to land. One English woman lost her five children and it was a continuous routine of heart-breaking incidents, whether by rail or boat, until they reached the town of Wyoming, near Omaha, Nebraska. There they camped for a short time and prepared for the trek to Utah.

It was in July, 1864, when the Saints gathered together and, under the leadership of Captain John Smith, began the long tortuous trip. The train was called the Independent Train and consisted of ox teams, the only horses belonging to the scouts and officers of the train. The first stretch of country was the easy rolling plains of Nebraska which were covered with a verdant growth of buffalo grass. The road was crude-just a rutty, dusty, winding, seemingly endless pair of ruts through which those before had labored. They hoped the road would be better further west, but when they reached the Platte River they found the prospects of fording this river appalling. Little consolation as it was, those who went first usually had the chance to dry their clothes properly, and the agony of fear was not so long-lived.

In the first ford there was one entire wagon and the oxen lost, the driver barely escaping with his life. This experience was enough to try the hardiest of men, but was infinitely worse for a woman and a sixteen-year-old girl, neither of whom were accustomed to anything of the kind. Often, the last wagon to cross would have to continue along with the train, allowing the owners no time to properly dry their clothing. But this was nothing new-sudden rain storms often fell on the weary travelers, drenching them and turning the road into a sea of mud that was as sticky as glue.

After leaving the Platte River the country became more broken. While the road bed was more firm and usually not so dusty, in some places it merged into fine heavy sand, and it was gruelling work to get through. Every morning the travelers rose early, women to prepare breakfast, wash dishes, pack up for the march, etc., while the men loaded the wagons, and yoked the oxen. Christiane was one of the women who walked practically the entire distance and waded through nearly all the streams. Every spiral of smoke away from camp, every sound, every cloud of dust meant a potential enemy-the Indian, or a possible buffalo stampede. At night, after the day's arduous labor was done and they were a few more miles further westward, they gathered around the campfires for thanksgiving services and songs before climbing wearily into their makeshift beds. One of their favorite songs was "Come, Come Ye Saints," and this was Christiane's favorite hymn throughout her life. No doubt it revived many memories.

One morning Fred Schade complained of being ill. The next day he had a raging fever, which was pronounced mountain fever. Thus the two women took turns driving the oxen. A few days later Lona also came down with the fever. It was then that the strength of Christiane was indeed tried. At night, after her hard day's drive, she did the washing, mending, cooking, baking, as well as nursing her sister and brother-in-law. Patriarch John Smith talked with her often, assuring her that her loved ones would recover, and they did.

On reaching Salt Lake City, they rested a few days and attended their first conference, which inspired them, as did the city and the beautiful temple that was slowly rising in the desert. Soon they traveled to Ogden, thence to Huntsville, where they built a cabin of logs. At long last they were comfortably settled and happy in their own home. Among the young men of Huntsville was an immigrant who had come to Utah in 1852 with his parents, Robert and Ann Parkin Aldous, from Fen Straton, England. Named George Parker Aldous, he was twenty-seven years of age when he and Christiane met and fell in love. After a short courtship they were married December 24, 1865, in Huntsville. She was seventeen. They lived in Huntsville for ten years and to them were born the following children: Georgiana (who died in infancy), Mary Ann, Magdaline, George and Martha Elizabeth. Hearing of what was termed a good opportunity, George and Christiane homesteaded eighty acres of raw land five miles west of Ogden, in the southern part of West Weber. Here they built a cozy log house and began pioneering all over again. They began clearing the land by hand, but were handicapped by lack of tools and money. Finally George secured a position with the Pullman Company in the railroad yard in Ogden, leaving much of the work at home for Christiane. The following children were born in West Weber: Hannah, Robert Thurston, Clara, Abalone, Joseph Henry, Alfred Evan, Edward Charles, Mabel Evelyn.

The school the older children attended was four miles away and the mother worried a great deal about the long walk. Gradually the country became more settled and conditions improved, so George gave up his Pullman work and devoted his entire time to the farm. A schoolhouse was also erected a short distance east of their home. By now the older children were grown and one by one had launched out for themselves, but home and above all "Mother" were the drawing magnet, for she possessed a wonderful personality.

In March of 1913 they sold the farm and purchased a new home in Ogden. George was fast becoming blind and Christiane's health was poor, but here they lived in comfort and ease for the first time in all their active lives.

It was not to be for long, however, for on December 9, 1915, Christiane died. Had she lived until the 24th, she and George would have celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary. As sorrow and trials develop character, Christiane's experiences were ample. The hardships and adversity that might well have crushed an ordinary person seemed only to strengthen and refine the character of Christiane. Her death was sorely mourned by her blind husband and nine children. -Chas. C. Bihler

Lauritz Lauritzen, son of Lauritz Hansen and Abelone Jensen Hansen, was born September 15, 1816, in Varterlund, Denmark, and his wife, Maria Peterson Lauritzen was born November 23, 1823, in Stortlund, Denmark. He received his early education in his native town where he later became a school teacher, which position he held for a number of years. When he was thirty-two years old, he married Maria Peterson and soon after gave up teaching to become a farmer. In the year 1855 he was visited by Mormon missionaries, Hans Peter Olsen and Jens Jensen. Their oldest child, Maria, then six years of age, took a great liking to the missionaries, who often asked her if she would go with them to Zion. Mr. Lauritzen investigated Mormonism for seven years before accepting it. When in the presence of the missionaries he would argue against them, but among his friends and neighbors he would defend and explain the gospel. During this time he and his wife were very kind to the missionaries, keeping an open house for them at all times. In 1862 the Lauritzens joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and in 1864 sold their home and farm to emigrate to Utah. Mr. Lauritzen also furnished the necessary money for six other people to emigrate.

The Lauritzen family left their home in Denmark on April 6, 1864, and on the trip to Copenhagen they encountered stormy weather. The waves dashed over the boat, making things wet and disagreeable. The whole company was seasick, and the boatmen were very provoked at the Mormon missionaries for involving a woman with seven little children in such a situation. On arriving in Copenhagen they were unable to find lodgings and were forced to spend the first night in the streets. Five days later the journey was resumed by rail, and they reached Hamburg, Germany, from where a ship carried them to Grimsby, England. Here the night was spent in a large barn. After crossing England to Liverpool, they were again delayed a week on account of the ship's crew being short of sailors. Finally on April 28, 1864, the company, under the leadership of Patriarch John Smith, set sail on the Monarch of the Sea which after several weeks travel time landed in New York. A great amount of sickness prevailed among the 974 passengers on board ship, and the Lauritzens' four year old son died with the measles and was buried at sea.

After a difficult trip from New York the emigrating Saints arrived at Wyoming, Nebraska, only to be delayed for six weeks while they waited for the Church teams to take them across the plains. During this period the Lauritzen family lived in a rude hut built of oak brush. When Church teams were finally available the trip was made to Salt Lake City in Bishop Preston's company. During the journey the children contracted whooping cough and one day while they were camping for the noon-day meal, Mrs. Lauritzen sat on the wagon tongue and nursed her sixteen-months-old baby. Without warning the baby began coughing and choking with such severity that death resulted. A grave was hastily dug, hurried funeral services were held and in less than two hours the company was on its way again, leaving one more grave to mark the path of the emigrants.

The journey across the plains took ten weeks; Mrs. Lauritzen walked most of the way. The family remained in Salt Lake City for three weeks waiting for teams from Sanpete County to return from a journey over the plains in order that they might go with them to Moroni. On the day the Sanpete teams arrived in Salt Lake City, another child of the Lauritzens, a boy of eight years, died of dysentery. The father was unable to see the burial of the child as he had gone to find the Sanpete teamsters and make arrangements to travel with them. The mother alone followed the body to the cemetery where it was taken immediately after death. Sadly she gathered her remaining children and the family's scanty belongings and hastily joined her husband to begin the journey to Sanpete, where they arrived in October, ending six months of strenuous, difficult travel.

Immediately Mr. Lauritzen and his sons set about to provide for the family. Besides earning a living they freighted tithing wheat from Moroni to Salt Lake City to pay for the family's transportation from Nebraska to Utah, each trip taking two weeks time.

The immigrants were well treated by the people of Moroni and were fortunate in buying a home from a family who were leaving to help establish a settlement in Sevier Valley. Soon after arriving in Utah, Mr. Lauritzen took a second wife, Matilda, a Swedish Saint. Two children were born to them. Maria also bore him another child, Sina, after they arrived in Moroni. The Lauritzens were faithful, energetic Latter-day Saints, and died in full faith and fellowship in the Church. Mr. Laurtzen died in Moroni, February 11, 1896, and Maria passed away at the home of her daughter, Maria, at Jerusalem, Sanpete County, on October 15, 1899. Both are buried in the Moroni Cemetery. -D.U.P. Files

Back to the Scandinavian Saints Page