|Birth: ||Jan. 1, 1827, Denmark|
|Death: ||Sep. 12, 1917|
THE STORY OF MY LIFE
ANDREW (ANDERS) NIELSON
(with spelling, grammatical and punctuation corrections made by Jan E. Nielson Robbins, a great-great-granddaughter)
Fairview, January 7, 1916
I feel it is my duty to write a few words so my offspring can find out where I came from. My name is Andrew Nielson. I was born in Gentrup, Denmark. My parents' names are Niels Pedersen and Karen Johansen. They moved to Bogedalssig, Rye, Skanderborg, when I was about one year old. There they lived and died.
When I was sixteen years old I went to the city of Aarhus to learn the mason trade. I worked for Murmester Anton Prouse for nineteen years until I went to America. In 1860 my wife and I began to listen to Mormonism and March 2, 1861, we were baptized by Elder Andrew Frandson in Aarhus. About six weeks after I was ordained a Teacher. About six months later I was ordained an Elder and set apart to preside over the Aarhus branch of Latter-day Saints.
I had two brothers and one sister who lived in the city of Aarhus, and my wife's relations lived a few miles from the city. When they found out we had been baptized and were going to America, they were awful mad. They coaxed and scolded and did all they possibly could for us to quit Mormonism. They sent priests and prophets and apostles to talk to us. And sometimes when any of them happened to meet any of the missionaries in our home, they were always ready to fight them. At last when they found out they could not change our belief, they would not let us take our children. They had agreed with one another that my wife's brother, who lived in Vielby, about two English miles from the city, would take one and each of my brothers, who lived in the city, would take the other two. They thought it was a great sin to take these bright children away from civilization. But we did not have any children to spare and told them we were taking them to Zion where they could learn more fully of the way that Jesus and his Apostles preached in former days. We tried to make them see that the religion we were raised up in did not correspond with the New Testament.
We did not come here because I was poor and could not make a living for my family, but we had gotten a testimony from our Heavenly Father that we had the true gospel and we wished to go to where the Lord gathered his Saints in the valleys of the mountains. We knew that Joseph Smith was a true prophet just as much as we knew that Christ was the Son of God.
By the help of the Lord, things turned out so that I sold our home and furniture in the latter part of the winter and left the city of Aarhus on the seventh day of April, 1862, on a steamboat that took us to Kiil in Holstein. From there we went with the railroad to Altona. From there some smaller boats took us to the harbor of Hamburg where we got on board a German sailing ship named "Humboldt." It took us to New York in America. We were 450 Latter-day Saints and about 100 gentiles on board. It took us seven weeks to cross the Atlantic. It was a long time to be on the water and our food and especially our drinking water was not very desirable. But we were blessed with good health, though we encountered all kinds of weather, heavy winds and sometimes it was so still that the sails would hardly straighten out. But we got along fine.
The captain (I don't remember his name) took a fancy to our youngest boy, Peter, who was five years old on the Atlantic. The captain was a nice young man and could speak a little Danish. He had his wife on board and was very fond of Peter. There were not many days that he didn't take Peter down in his room and he came up with his hat half full of plums. Sometimes he was not allowed to give any of them to the other boys. Sometimes he could divide with who he liked best. Other times he told him, "Ah, Pete, I guess you have had enough. Give the hat to that boy," and the captain made him hurry to stop in his mouth so he could not [chew] at all. "Ah, you are no account." He took the hat away and gave it to another boy and was very fond of them. The next day he might come up with a fried chicken leg and a few potatoes and the captain behind him, telling him, "You sit there and don't give it to anybody." And because the captain took up so with Peter, he was the pet of all on board. When we landed in New York, a big place called Castle Garden, where we were unloaded and were glad to put our feet on the ground after being on the water so long and where we could get a decent meal and something good to eat. Here we laid a day or two preparing to cross America.
From New York we went with the railroad from one city to another (and because we could not understand the American language, we did not know where we were.) Sometimes we were on steamboats sailing on the big rivers such as the Mississippi which took us to the next city. We came through St. Joseph and Chicago and many other places that I cannot remember.
At last we came up on the Missouri River on a steamboat which landed us at Florence in the state of Nebraska. That was where we were going to wait for the ox teams from Utah to come and pull us over the plains to Salt Lake City and bring provisions for the company to live on. We laid there seven weeks. The water was so high in the rivers that the teamsters had to go back after they had started and wait several weeks before they dared try to cross the rivers, but at last they came. There were brother Skousen and family from Randers and Brother R. Mikelson, a missionary from Aarhus, and his wife whom he picked up in America (he had started the year before and had not had money enough to come to Utah that year), and two widows with a 12-year-old child each. I found a Danish teamster from Fairview named Peter Nielson Hanson whom I could talk to, and understood through him what was required of us. In those days I was young and active and Mother was the same, so we soon got acquainted. Mother told him she would cook for him, so we agreed to put our group together when it was divided out to us by the Commissary. There was a man from Aarhus Conference there who let me have a heifer to bring to Salt Lake for him for the milk she would give us. That helped us a good deal. Sometimes we had milk left from breakfast and put it in a three-quart bucket which we hung on the back of the wagon, and at noon we had a little butter for our dinner.
Well, we were traveling along on the road to Zion with four yoke of oxen on each wagon which were pretty well filled up with our things—a tent to sleep in at night, our cooking utensils, etc. We had to walk all the way and got along firstright. Mother sometimes had to take Peter on her back crossing creeks and where it was much uphill or sandy. Sometimes crossing pretty big streams there was no room in the wagon except for Mrs. Skousen. She had an increase in their family with a new baby when we were about half way across the plains. About the same time, Mother gave out. She took the mountain fever and was plumb out of her head and was just as crazy and unreasonable as a person could be. It was a hard job for us to get something she could or would eat. She wanted me to give her some hard brown sugar that a boy had given to me for her and I would not give it to her and she got stubborn and would not eat nor drink her coffee without her sugar. We tried to make some hard sugar for her by boiling it and made it brown by the juice of blackberries which we picked as we traveled along. But she had sense enough to know that it was not the kind the boy had given to me and would not taste it. She wanted me to take her to that pretty glass house that Pres. Brigham young had given to her and she said I was stubborn because I would not even let her see it. That was the condition we were in when we arrived in Salt Lake City on the 25th of September 1862. Mother had improved a little, but it took her to pretty near Christmas before she got to her right senses.
And here we were without money, without a relative or acquaintance. There was only one man in Salt Lake City that I had ever been acquainted with and that was Brother Frandsen, who baptized us the year before in Denmark. I had corresponded with him and he knew we were coming. He came out to our camp about three miles from the city on the Church Farm the next day. When he had seen our condition, he felt sorry for us and did not know what to do but said he would go and see what he could do. In the afternoon he came out there with a buggy to take Mother to his place. She was so weak and feeble that she could not stand alone. You can imagine what a great sacrifice that was to them. They had only been married one year and it was pretty hard to get work to get something for themselves to live on. And we had never seen Mrs. Frandsen before. But they both did all they could for us, and she shed many tears with Mother because she could not get her all she needed. But the Lord was at the helm and we got over our trouble. But we had a pretty tough winter to get something to eat. I don't remember how long we stopped at Brother Frandsen's; I think about two weeks, ‘til I got a room in the Second Ward and Mother got so we could move her. I hired an old girl to take care of her.
I had to rassel to get some work and something for us to eat. I happened to get in with a Danish plasterer and got a few days' work. I was not afraid to take hold of anything, even to go in the canyons to get wood and oak bark to tan leather. I happened one day to see some Danish brethren making bushel baskets of green willows. When I did not have anything to do I went out in the fields to find some willows. When I got one or two made, I went up in town to sell them for a little molasses or flour or anything we could eat.
In the fall I was working for a blacksmith laying a foundation for a new shop. I got him to make me a stone hammer and a spoon iron. I had some quaking asp poles which I made wooden spoons of, both big and small, ladles, flour scoops, dustpans, etc. When I got some made, I put them in a flour sack, put them on my back. Up in the city I went, equipped with another empty flour sack and a little bucket to get molasses in. I suppose you can imagine how nice I felt. I could hardly speak an English word, but had to try to make them understand I wanted something for my family to eat. Sometimes I got some flour or a little molasses. Some were generous enough to go to their meat barrel and give me a few pounds of salted beef or hog meat. Half a pound of butter was quite a treat. Once I remember I brought home half a pound of green coffee.
Another time I went to the post office. There was a letter from Denmark for me but I could not get it without fifty cents in money. I went in the drug store and sold Mr. Godby two big spoons and he gave me 50˘ in store order. I went right to the post office and asked for my letter, but lo and behold, they did not deal in that kind of money and I was quite discouraged. I was talking to somebody out in the street, telling what a fix I was in. An old woman sitting close by who had something to sell on a table, had heard our conversation. She asked me to let her see the order. When she had looked at it, she said, "Well, Brother, I can help you," and she gave me the money. And I got my first letter from my brother, Jens. He had forgotten to put a five cent postage stamp on it. That was why they took 50˘ of me.
That was the way we spent our first winter in American, and when spring came, (it took it some time) I worked in masonry work. Other times I took any kind of work I could get. I got pretty tired of living in Salt Lake, so I wrote a letter to our teamster who hauled us to Utah and asked him what chance there was in Fairview. He said he would not like to say much about the place, but it was a new place, and he would like very much if we would make up our mind to come out here. He expected to come to Salt Lake City in the fall with a load of grain, and he would take us out here and we could see for ourselves.
We accepted his offer and commenced to study how we could get a home of our own. I wanted to get some carpenter tools and something like nails and window glass, but how could we get it? It cost money and we did not have it. Everything was so awful dear. It had to be hauled form the Missouri River, something over a thousand miles by oxteam. A windowpane, 8 x 10 was 65˘, a pound of nails, 60˘, etc. We counseled about it and came to the conclusion to try to sell the big looking glass with the nice gilded frame Mother thought so much of. If I remember right, I tried three days to sell it. I went to the biggest houses. They all admired the glass. I asked $20.00 for it. At last I sold it to a widow who was running a big hotel. Her husband had died a few years before and had left some carpenter tools. She gave me $10.00 in money and I could pick out what I wanted of the tools. That was the way we fitted ourselves out for Sanpete.
Peter came down according to agreement in September 1863. Fairview at that time did not look like it does today. There were only a few half decent houses in town. Most of the people lived in cellars. The first night we slept in Peter Nielson's cellar. He was not married when we crossed the plains but picked him out a wife among the immigrant girls. The next day we got a little log house, 10 x 12, standing in the corner of the forty where the old Tithing House now stands, without floor or windows. We lived there most of the winter. I put in some light in our house.
I soon began to get acquainted and could begin to explain myself a little. Some of my friends asked the Bishop to let me have one of the vacant lots in town, so he picked one out for me, no fence or anything on it. I soon had a cellar dug. Ransom A. Stevens then said he had a claim on that lot. The Bishopbric had to find out what claim he had and they decided I could pay him one bushel of wheat and I could keep the lot. Wheat was then $5.00 a bushel. I got Brother Stuart to haul me a load of logs for my cellar and I built him a rock chimney. I built one chimney for Bishop Jones and had several jobs where I could get something for my family to eat. I worked on my cellar when I had time, and before spring I had as nice a home as most of the people.
In 1864, in the forepart of the summer, the people concluded to build a rock meeting house and gave me the job to superintend it. Brother Lenzy Brady let me have my first cow, a natural muly [without horns] one. And I was working on the new meeting house for two bushels of wheat a day or two dollars, so I had plenty for my family to live on, but we needed everything. I could take what people had and turn it on their meeting house tax. Through the summer I took a contract to quarry rocks for steps for the meeting house in Mount Pleasant. There I got another cow and some breadstuff.
When fall came, I had two cows and a few sheep and nothing for them to eat through the winter. Most of the people had to go to Thistle Valley to get their hay and that was the only way I could get any. So I had to hunt around to see where I could get an old scythe and made a snade [rake] of the best stick I could find. That was a new job for me to cut grass. There was no alfalfa in the country then and no hay except around the streams. I was now in a farming country so I had to learn to do like my neighbors, get some land and raise something both for ourselves and our stock.
The next spring the people took the notion to fence the land there belonging to Fairview. There was a poor ten acre lot no one cared for south of where Moroni Turpin then lived. The fence committee said I could have it if I would put up, I think, five rods of fence. I had just bought five acres of farming land in the east field of Brother Jos Beswick. In the fall I got the lot where the Birch Creek School House now stands. Someone had given it up for fencing. So I had now more land than I had teams to plow it, but I thought I better take it while there was a chance, even if it was poor land. How to get the fence for my land and my city lot and corral built I could hardly imagine, but it got up in time. There were plenty of cedar posts on the stone quarry on the black cedar hill and all around. So when I had time, I took my ax on my shoulder and went to cut fence posts. When I got a load or two, I got someone to haul it or else I borrowed a team and hauled it myself.
It did not take long before I had a little pony team of my own. I think after about three years I bought an old light wagon, fixed it up myself, and used that for several years. I drove it to Salt Lake City when we had our endowment. That was the way we got started in Fairview, but it took us a long time to get a decent house to live in on account of Indian trouble and grasshoppers which were bothering us for several years.
When the grasshoppers had taken all our grain that year when the first railroad came to Utah, I left Fairview, got in to Wyoming, got a job cutting ties for the railroad. I worked there until pretty close to Christmas and came home with a little over $300. That helped me to build us a little adobe house which is standing there yet.
At that time the United Order was started (or shortly thereafter.) I went in with the rest. While working in the Order, I got a job building a new brick house for Potter C. Bertelson in Fountain Green. Brick work was what I had mostly done in Denmark and I found out it was not so heavy work as to build rock houses like I had been doing for several years since I came to Fairview. Inasmuch as I was in the Order and the only stone mason, it would be my work to lay rock all the rest of my days. In Fountain Green were many Danish people, some from the same conference where we came from and were all acquaintances. They did all they could for me to move over there, even found out where we could get a lot to build on at reasonable terms. I came to the conclusion to move if we could sell out in Fairview. When we had finished the house (I had Fred Christensen to help me), I got the money--$50.00 in greenbacks, some in grain and some in crockery, which amounted to something over $100. I gave that to the officers of the Order and did not have anything for my work for myself.
Now I began to look for someone to buy me out and it did not take very long before we had sold both house and land, and I drew my things out of the Order and moved to Fountain Green in the fall of 1894. There we lived eight years. While we lived there, I built several good brick houses, and I feel pretty good towards the people of that place. We always had good sociable company and good neighbors. While there, most of our children got married and moved to other places. Four of our six children had left us. One lived in Fairview, three in Castle Valley. We now had a good chance to sell our home, but where could we go to better ourselves? We were looking around. We went to Castle Valley, but I came to the conclusion I was getting too old to try to settle a new country. So we made up our minds and bought a ten acre lot across the road from Alma L. Minor's home, who is our son-in-law. He lived about one mile south of Fairview on the county road to Mt. Pleasant. I bought one acre for a building spot from H.W. Sanderson (a kind of a knoll between two slopes.) There I built a log house and a barn and got some more land and we lived there a few years. Then Andrew and Annie both got married, and Andrew took a notion to go with his brothers to Colorado. They were going to leave Castle Valley. They were not satisfied there. Andrew had been using my team, and I was doing mason work when there was any to be had. We had a small mule team and he traded around so we had a pretty big horse team. So I helped to fix him up with a pretty good outfit and got the home we have been living in which he had been trading for, but was not half finished. We have never settled up, and I don't think there is anything to settle either one way or the other.
This original manuscript was given to me by my cousin, Hazel Vance McCook. She found it in an old trunk belonging to her mother, Aunt Annie, after her death. It is written with pencil on an inexpensive lined note pad. The script is beautiful, the punctuation very scarce, and the spelling so picturesque I copied it letter by letter. There were a few words we had difficulty identifying so we have used square brackets to indicate what we think the word was meant to be. Hazel said Grandpa wrote exactly as he spoke, and to read this story was like listening directly to him. We do not know why the story ended so abruptly but he was 90 years old at the time he wrote it, and he died the following year in 1917. I am extremely grateful for Hazel's gift to me, and I will cherish the original manuscript and pass it on to my daughter. If anyone is interested in trying to have it reproduced in the original, I will be glad to help.
Dorothy Hyde Mortensen
Sarah Rasmussen Nielson (1827 - 1915)*
Caroline Jane Nielsen Miner (1852 - 1927)*
Rasmus Peter Anthon Nielson (1854 - 1924)*
Sarah Andrea Nielson Jensen (1865 - 1937)*
Andrew James Nielson (1867 - 1935)*
Jan 1 1827
Sep 12 1917
Prepare to meet
me in heaven
Fairview City (Upper) Cemetery
Maintained by: Jan Robbins
Originally Created by: Marilyn ML
Record added: Aug 31, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 41408205