Friday, July 8, 2011



by his great grandson,
 James Grant Nielson
written November 1, 1979

                Peter Boel was the name that my great grandfather received in the courts in Provo City, Utah as his legal name.  His original name was Peter Petersen.  He was born in Denmark and after he got out of the Army, he married Mary Sorenson.  Peter was about 19 years old when he married her and she was 29, and pregnant with their first child.  This couple lived in Denmark until they had several children. Peter became tired of Mary because he thought she was too old for him, and he became interested in a young girl who worked on their farm whose name was Hannah.  When this affair began between Peter and Hannah, Mary was advised by her friends to get a divorce, which she did.  She didn't ask for any settlement at all, even though Peter was very well to do.  He was the only son in his family and inherited the family farm.  The farm's name was Boel because it was shaped like a soup bowl and that's why Peter took the name of Boel when he had his named changed.  The reason he changed his name to Peter Boel was because there were other people named Peter Petersen in Pleasant Grove and so his mail kept getting mixed up with theirs.  This infuriated him so much that he finally had his name changed.  Only one of his sons took on the name of Boel, the rest of them went by Peterson.

                Apparently there were some instances which caused Peter to want to move to the United States, one of which was his conversion to the (Mormon) Church.  So he brought Hannah to this country and left Mary in Denmark with all the children.  After they had been in the United States for some time, Hannah had twins that both died at childbirth.  They were buried in Pleasant Grove.  Peter was getting older and so he needed someone to work on the farm, so he wrote to Mary and told her to bring the children to the United States.  He sent them money so they could come over and when the arrived, he put all the children to work without pay.  The oldest daughter was named Mary and she married Andrew Halverson and so Mary Sorenson went and stayed with them in Mapleton.  Apparently the younger children lived with Peter and Hannah until Hannah died.  The relatives didn't like Hannah at all; the called her "Hanner".  They didn't respect her and the reason for this was that she ran off and married Peter.  Peter told Roy Peterson that the wanted to have Hannah in the here-after because he liked her better than Mary.  So Peter Boel and Hannah were sealed to each other in Salt Lake City in the Endowment House.  And I'm sure that they had Mary sealed to him after both their deaths.

                Peter was fairly well-to-do, even in this country.  I remember when I was a youngster, he had a Chevrolet 6-cylinder automobile which was about a 1918 model.  It was an open-air touring car with four doors.  He used to drive it all over and sometimes he would take me for rides.

                The people who knew Peter tell some interesting stories about him.  In those days there was an electric train that ran from Payson to Salt Lake City.  It went right through the towns and picked up passengers.  The railroad had the right-of-way in every situation, and one day Peter was heading north on Main Street in Springville right by the bank.  He stuck out his arm to signal to the train that he was going to turn, and then turned right in front of it.  The training had a hard time stopping, but there wasn't an accident.  Peter was given a ticket for his reckless driving, and he was really upset.  He told them that he signaled and he had the right-of-way and so the train should have stopped.  Another time he was going to Salt Lake and he ran into a boy on a motorcycle.  The boy got hurt and apparently it was Peter's fault because he received a citation.  He was very much concerned about what it was going to cost him.  My father agreed to take him to Salt Lake to see if he could get it settled.  My father told us that all the way to Salt Lake, all Peter kept saying was "I hope that boy doesn't die."  When they arrived in Salt Lake they found out that the boy wasn't hurt seriously and they were willing to settle for $10.00, which Peter paid.  Dad sad that Peter didn't mention anything about the boy again; (Dad inferred) that all he had been concerned about was how much it would cost him.

                Apparently e was quite a ladies man, because even after I grew up I can remember he had a couple of wives.  He married a woman by the name of Valentine (Ballantine) and the marriage lasted about a month.  This particular marriage was performed by my Uncle Loren Nielson when he was Bishop of the Mapleton Ward.  Later he married another woman, so all together he had four wives.  Grandmother Mary Sorenson used to live with her daughter Mary Helverson.  And her children would buy her groceries every fall because she lived in a part of the Halverson home.  She had her own kitchen so that she could have privacy.  As she got older Peter would come visit her and talk her into coming up and taking care of him.  He would bring all of her groceries to his home and after about a week he would kick her out and keep the food.  Then the children would have to resupply her with groceries.  He was a very unusual man, and he wasn't very well liked by my mother, or his son, James Petersen.  He wasn't respected by the family because of the way he treated Mary.  I always thought from what my mother and others had told me that he was a mean old man.  I was very much surprised, in about 1953, when I went into Val Beardall's store which was on 4th South and 4th East in Springville, just across the street from the Grand Lumber Company.  Val said "Now I know who you are, you're great grandfather was Peter Boel."  And I wondered what he was going to say about him.  He told me that he loved Peter and thought he was the greatest man he ever met.  I found out later that there was a neighbor of mine by the name of Arlena Lofgren who was formerly a Twede.  Her father was a nephew of Peter Boel an she and her father told me that there wasn't anybody as great as Peter Boel.  Jack Bearenson, who was the Bishop of Springville 5th Ward, told me that in his youth he used to go and visit Peter.  All the nephews on that side of the family really liked him.  So there were really two different sides to the life of Peter Boel.

                Our family had a feeling of disrespect for the way he lived his life, his desertion of Mary, and the way he treated his children.  My father told me that when my grandfather , James Peterson, was just a young man, he went up and worked on the railroad that was being built between Thistle and Fairview.  He spent one entire summer working on the railroad, and when he came home in the fall he had his pay of several hundred dollars.  His father took it from him and that afternoon James wanted to go to the circus which was in Provo.  He wanted some of the money to go and Peter wouldn't give it to him.  So after this, James wasn't very fond of his father because of the way he treated him.

                Peter's youngest son was named Pierre and he took the name of Boel.  Peter told him that if he would stay with him then, he would give him some land and a house.  Pierre stayed with Peter until he was 35 years old and he married a woman name Molly.  Apparently she didn't like Peter and so she put pressure on Pierre to move to Provo.  So he sold the property which his father had given him which consisted of ten acres on the south side of Mapleton and a home.  It belonged to the Allan's at one time after it was sold, and later a cafe was there.

                I can remember having my hair cut by my Uncle Roy, an Grandpa Boel would come over and say "he sure is a good boy; he sits so still."  And he would praise me, so I always liked him.  He smoked a pipe that curved down from his lips and then back up and it had a little lid with holes in it.  I can remember him smoking it all the time.  Another thing I remember was that he liked to drink his coffee with a little alcohol in it.  He always had milk cows and when he would go out to do the chores, he would always wear wooden shoes.  One day he was making a pair of wooden shoes and he didn't have them finished.  Dad was watching him and kidding him about how crude the tools were.  Peter couldn't take that kind of kidding any longer and he finally got a little angry and he said to my father "the worst thing you can do is to show a fool something half done".  I've always liked that story because it showed a lot of wisdom.  There were a lot of people who knew Peter Boel, for example, Ted Haymond who is retired and about 75 years old.  He told me one time during the flu epidemic in 1918, some people were being vaccinated for the flu.  Some people came by Peter's house and he said "Where you going boys?  Are you going to get wolcanized for the flu?"  He couldn't say vaccinated so he called it "wolcanized".  Another thing that was interesting was told to me by Ted Haymond who lives in our ward and attended the Sunday School class that I taught.  He told me on a couple of occasions that I really reminded him of Peter Boel.  I was surprised at that because I had no idea that there was any resemblance between me or any member of my family to Peter Boel.  I remember the day that Peter was buried.  Peter died at an old age of about 85.  My mother disliked him so much that she refused to go to the funeral.  She had no use for him at all, because of the relationship he had with women.  It's said that he brought one lady home from Southern Utah and she lived with him for one week.  And he said "well, you didn't marry one without trying her out."   And of course my mother heard this, and she was a very straight-laced person, so she didn't appreciate Peter Boel's attitude at all.  As I remember, Mary Sorenson outlived Peter Boel even though she was ten years older than he was (she died before him).  They said that in her later years she used to cry a lot.  And the thing that she cried about was that she was pregnant before she got married.  This bothered her considerably because after she joined the church she found out that pre-marital sex was wrong according to the scriptures and the teaching s of the church.  She didn't know how to repent and rid herself of her guilt, and so she was very sorrowful about this.  But apparently Peter was never repentant about his actions.  She eventually died and was buried in the Springville Cemetery and I assume she was buried next to Peter.

                I've often wondered what the farm looked like in Denmark where Peter was born.  When Ruth and I were in Denmark in 1978, I thought then that I would like to find the farm.  But we were on a tour.  Maybe someday I'll go back to Denmark and see if I can locate the farm.

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