Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Related to Aaron Mendenhall
27 December 1951

The gathering of the remnants of the blood of Israel from far distant lands across the sea to the valleys of the Rocky mountains is one of the most interesting narratives of modern times.  The pattern unfolded in this mighty trek, so closely follows the predictions uttered thousands of years ago by the prophets of ancient Israel, that one cannot doubt the divinity of the whole movement.

Someone has said, "For what is prophecy but history reversed?"  The prophet Isaiah writing six hundred years before the birth of Christ saw the settlements in these alleys by a people gathered from the nations of the earth.  We read Isaiah 35:10 "And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads; they obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away."

The life review related by Sister Halverson is a faithful account, in brief, of a family who heard the gospel in their native land of Denmark, and forsaking all, migrated to Zion.

"My name is Mary Peterson Halverson.  I was born 17 March 1870 in Oudrup, Denmark which was about five miles from the sea.  My father's name was Christian Peterson and my mother's name was Mary Sorenson.

"They were farmers and also had cattle and sheep.  Just east of the old home there was a large hill that sloped quite steeply to a point and at the top there was a large hole or depression that was filled with water the year around.  The children used to climb the hill and in the summer the water was shallow enough so we could wade in it.

"In the northern part of Denmark where we lived, the summers were short.  The sun arose about 3:00 a.m. and went down very early.  The weather was damp and foggy.  It was quite hard to get the grain and hay dry enough so that it could be harvested.  The winters were cold and it became dark at 3:00 p.m.

"I went to school until I was in the third grade.  When I was nine years old, the Latter-day Saint missionaries came to our home and my parents became interested in the restored gospel.  Mother, while visiting in Aalborg, was baptized in the sea.  They had to break the ice to do this but mother never took one bit of cold because of it.

"Two years previous to this event, my father and five of the children had emigrated to Zion.

"The elders had been to my grandfather's home several years before this time, but he was very bitter and wouldn't listen to them.

"My father's sister Christiana who later married Frederick Tweede loved to hear the gospel and she would go at night, under the pretense of going to a party, to hear the elders preach.  She and her other joined the church and Mrs. Twede pulled a handcart across the plains. 

"Grandfather Peterson was a small man and often wore a big loose cloak.  We children used to follow him as he went out to stake the dry cattle out and get under his cloak.

"When I was ten years old, my Mother and myself with the twins, Pierre and Nels, followed father to America, arriving in Great Salt Lake June 24, 1880.  We had come to New York by boat and from there to the valley by train.

"During the voyage I was not seasick at all and one of the twins was not but mother and the other twin were very sick and I helped to take care of them.  On the ship when we were getting ready to retire at night, the elders would come in and have us stand up while they had prayer.  I thought this was strange because we did not have any prayers at home.

"Upon our arrival in Salt Lake we stayed in a big room of a building in the tithing yard.  We stayed there for about two days and then moved down to Pleasant Grove.

"Father rented a farm from Bishop Hunter of Salt Lake and lived in a two room frame house that Bishop Hunter built.  It was about one mile west of town.  During this time I helped to herd the cows and milk them and helped with the house work.  We did not know anyone who lived in Pleasant Grove but one day a neighbor whom we had known in Denmark and who now lived in Levan, Utah passed our house and saw Father and recognized him.  It was a happy reunion. During our stay in Pleasant Grove I was baptized into the church.

"Just east of our house there was nice pasture and every summer the Indians camped there.  They were friendly and never bothered anyone.

"There were quite a number of Danish families living in Pleasant Grove and on Sunday a conference was held there.   President Anthon H. Lund was there and started to speak to the people when an old lady who did not understand the English language very well stopped him and said, `President Lund, could you please speak to us in our own tongue?' President Lund immediately changed into the Danish tongue and spoke words of hope and comfort to those who had forsaken so much for the gospel's sake.  Tears of joy ran down the faces of those present as it brought tender memories of home and their native land.  President Stephen L. Chipman was present and he just shook his head in wonder how President Lund could change from one tongue to another without effort.

"After I was in Pleasant Grove three weeks, I went to big cottonwood to say with father's cousin for nine months.  I helped with the children and the house work.  We moved to Mapleton in November 1883 to a one-room frame house on the site where Mary Allen built her home.  There was a granary attached to the corner of the house.  We arrived  at 9:00 p.m. and the carpet was puled back, but the straw was still on the floor.  We pulled up the old carpet and swept up the straw and put up the stove but the stove pipe was too short so we had to put it out the window.  My grandmother Peterson stayed out in the wagon all wrapped up until we had the house warm.

"My father bought 20 acres from Lucian Hall which was 1/4 mile west of the old homestead where they lived for many years.  We went up to the bottom of the big slide and hauled cobble rocks and built a two-room house.  The mud was made by riding a horse around in a mud hole.  The water was drawn from a well which we had dug.  It was about 20 feet deep and never went dry.

"I attended school for about four weeks one winter and about five weeks the next winter to Hannah Friel.

"One of our closet neighbors was Richard Thorn and his wife.  We did not have a cow and they told us to come and milk one of theirs.  Of the families living there were the Fifields on the old Marshbanks farm.  Tom Williams lived in a dugout.  Louis Nielson's mother lived east of Louis's home.  Mr. Malstromm lived where Rebecca Hall now lives.  Stephen Perry lived 1/2 mile south of the meeting house.  Lucian Hall lived in a cellar that was walled up with brick.

"Of the 20 acres of land 2-1/2 acres was in lucerne.  The other 15 acres was in sagebrush; I pulled it off by hand.  With a hand plow, father plowed the ground while I followed along and pulled the sagebrush up and put it in piles.  We hauled 150 loads home to burn.  Father and Peter Mason dug a well in February.  As soon as spring broke, we commenced to build a house.  We built a cellar first which we lived in for about 3 months.  We had two horses and two cows and a calf and we planted some crops that spring.  One winter father made 175 pair of wooden shoes.  He sold them for $1.00 and the women's for $.75 per pair. 

"During those early days we used to visit with friends we made in Palmyra and I became acquainted with Andrew Halverson whose parents had come from Denmark.  We went together for about two years.  He came up to see me on horseback.  During the wintertime we used to get a group together in a sleigh and go sleighriding.  We were married in 1889, in the Manti temple.  I was 19 years old.  At that time I made my own clothes, made bread and did the cooking and carded the wool while mother spun it on the spinning wheel.

"We lived in a house west of the old C. O. Law place until the road east of Lewis Nielsen's house was opened, then we built up the lane.  Andrew engaged in farming all his life.  We had nine children, six boys and three girls:  James Andrew, Myrtle Christiania, Christian Peter, Raymond, Harvey, Eliza, Joseph Lund, Merrill Franklin and Mary Hannah.  The family moved over east of the Hales place.

"We moved to Redmond when Myrtle was a baby where we lived about three years.  The land was poor and the prices we got for the things we raised was poor.  Money was very scarce.  Butter sold three pounds for twenty-five cents, eggs were four cents a dozen.  You couldn't get a spool of thread for a dozen eggs.  Wheat was three bushels for a dollar.  Coming home from Redmond, we lived on the site of the Lorin E. Harmer corner and then moved to Palmyra where we stayed about four years.  From there we moved to Mapleton to the Aaron Johnson home where it will be forty years next 14th of March.

"I was a Relief Society teacher for 25 years.  I am nearly 82 years old and am well and have been very happy with my family.  My husband died December 9, twenty-three years ago and since that time I have kept in touch my family.  I have a firm testimony of the Gospel and we as a family have been blessed may times by the benefits of the same."

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