Sunday, July 10, 2011




Johanne Marie     Peder    Halvorsen
This is a story of my great grandfather Peder Halvorsen and his family.  How a war and religion changed and separated the family.  Peder was born on the 4th of July 1820 in the town of North. Milbak, Lendum Parish, Hjorring County, Denmark, the most northern county in Jutland.  He was the second son of three children of Halvor Christensen and Anne Pedersdatter.  Halvor, died about 1826 while his children were very young, Christen 10, Peder 6 and Maren 4.   Anne was a wonderful lady and a good mother, she raised her family by herself during very trying times.  Halvor it seems had left Lille Grontved to marry and raise his family in North Milbak, Lendum, being the younger son he received no inheritance, Karen Marie said her father's name was, Christen Peder Halvorsen,  Her autobiography is the only reference that Peder had two given names, all other documents give him only one given name. 

This story is a composite of some of the autobiographies of some of Peder's children, all who ever lived that knew him are gone.  We start with a few stories when they were children.  They tell how the children complained when they had to herd a large flock of stubborn geese and the grandchildren remember stories about floating schnapps (beer) in bottles down the ditches to the men working in the fields.  The schnapps that they made was a non-alcoholic drink, water was not very safe in those days and they would all drink it, even the children. 

Peder was educated in the Danish schools as required by law and we believe he served an apprenticeship in one of the building trades.  Children went to school all year long - from morning until night in the winter and from very early in the morning until noon in the summer.  This schedule allowed them to come home and help out on the farm after noon.  Sometime after his schooling he went to Bovetgard on the Island of Laeso to train for the army. 

By law large land owners like the Grontved's and the Starholms were required to supply a quota of men for the National Militia, they also trained and supplied officers for it.  Norwegians it seemed were Denmark's favorite choices, without the backing of the Grontved's Peder would have never been able to be a Captain in the Danish Army. 
Both their Grandparents owned large farms and were quite wealthy and influential.  If you were the oldest son you would inherit but all other children if not needed were sent off as some as they were of age.  They were now of the “Lower Class” and poor and completely on their own.  If you were poor you would always be poor.

In 1848 Frederik VII became the new King of Denmark, he rewrote the Constitution that caused the Duchies of Sleswig and Holstein to revolt.  Prussia entered the war on the side of Holstein.  Most of Sleswig was captured before Denmark was able to mobilize and send her armies.

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Peder who was now 28 years old became part of this army.  We don't have any details of what he did in this war, he didn't talk about it.  The hated Germans were completely defeated at Fredericia and Isted Heath, and forced out of Sleswig to Dannevirke, the ancient demarcation line.  The Danes were victorious.  Peder was given a medal of honor dated 1848-1850 on one side and a picture of Frederik VII on the other.  I am now in possession of it.  Peder would remain in the army after this war.  When he became a captain is still unknown. 

One day while in Sindal, he met his future wife, Johanne Marie Jensdatter.  She was a daughter of Jens Larsen and Anne Marie Nielsen, born 3 May 1832 in Sommerdal, Sindal, Hjorring, Denmark.  Johanne Marie did not remember her mother who had died when she was just a little girl. 

When her mother died her father remarried and sent his three children off to his sister to raise in another Parish.  His sister and foster mother, Karen Larsdatter was a widow.  She was paid by Astrup Parish to raise them. 

1840 Astrup Census
Niels Larsen Jensen 13 Ugift Hendes Pleieborn (foster child)
Johanne Marie Jensdatter 8 Ugift Hendes Pleieborn (foster child)
Johanne could not remember an older sister, Anne Marie Jensdatter who died when Johanne was three.
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But she remembers a brother about four years older than she."  This older brother, Niels Jensen had a job herding geese, but he also had to take care of his little sister.  She said she remembered when they were out herding geese, it became very cloudy and dark.  She was very frightened. Her brother, only a child himself, told her to "Look at that long dark cloud; it looks like our mother's hair.  She had beautiful long, dark hair and I'm never frightened when I see a cloud like that.  It makes me think of her.  Their mother died when she was 27 years old. 

Johanne said when her father remarried, we were sent out to work as soon as we were old enough.  I went to do housework in the home of some people who owned a tavern.  These people loved her and were very kind to her.  They gave her work in the tavern when she was old enough.  It was here that she met grandfather Halverson when he came home from war.  She was serving in the tavern or inn in Denmark when a group of soldiers came in.  They were very noisy and boisterous, celebrating their safe return from war and relaxing after been in the service of the King of Denmark.  After serving the men, grandmother remarked to the attendant in the kitchen that she surely didn't like the captain in charge of these men.  They took rooms in the inn.

Martena, Peder's youngest daughter who was born after Halvor and Jens, his oldest boys, left for New Zealand tells this story of Peder and her mother.  "My mother met my father in a tavern.  She was a waitress and when Peder and some other soldiers came in and ordered beer, she had to wait on them.  She said she was very much afraid of him and little did she think she would ever marry him. 

On the 8th of November 1853, Johanne Marie Jensen did marry that "wild one", here in Sommerdal, Sindal.  Halvor was born the next year, 24 October, 1854.  Jens Peter was born on the 7th of May 1857, Karen Maria (Mariah) was born, 9 January 1860.  His mother, Anne came here to live with Peder's family till she died many years later.  She was with them when all ten of Peder and Johanne's children were born.  Pedersen was the "surname" of all the children born to them.  Those that died in Denmark and those who moved to New Zealand remained Pedersens as was the patronymic naming system there.  Those who came to America changed their name to the Sur name of the father, to the English custom. 

Then in 1863 just weeks before Andrew (my grandfather) was born the family moved to Lille Gronheden, Hjorring, where Andrew was born 25 July, 1863.  In a 1972 letter from Saeby, Denmark, Lille Gronheden is referred to as the farm.  Lille Gronheden was where Peder's sister, Maren had been living.   This is the farm the children talk about in their stories. 

Peder's war chest
 We have a few photographs and letters written by her grandson, Knud Elsig, who said, "She married Ole Knudsen but it wasn't a happy marriage and divorce was forbidden".  She endured his alcoholic ways for many years.  Their family pictures show Ole, Maren and two daughters.  One is unknown to us, the other is Anne Marie, and she married a Conrad Andersen Conrad.  After Ole died Maren sold the farm to her daughter, Anne Marie but continued to live on it.  Conrad suffered from some unknown illness and died early, 1901.  Anne Marie ran the farm alone until she died many years later. 

In a December, 98 letter, Knud said, “My mother, who was born in1877 and died in 1969, investigated her family in 1958/59 when George Konrad Pedersen searched for his ancestors in the newspaper.  Maren Halvorsdatter and Ole Knudsen owned Lille Gronheden until they got divorsed.  After the divorce, Maren became a housekeeper for a farmer who moved around a lot.  She went with him and I think became quite old.  Their daughter, Anne Marie and son-in-law, Konrad Andersen took over the farm.  Konrad was a sickly man and quite a bit older than Anne Marie.  He died in 1901.  Anne Marie sold the farm and bought a house in Fredrikshavn near Lille Gronheden.  There is about three kilometers as the bird flirs between Knaverhede and Gronheden. 

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There are quite a few things that I can’t unravel.  Even though I am almost 84 years old, I am still too young to tell you anything.  My mother was a little girl when the Halvorsen family, in the 1870’s, left the poor, war-torn country of Denmark.  We will not send the chest from 1845 to the United States as it is to fragile. 

We have a picture of Ben-tinus Elsig who fought in World War 1.  Knud his son fought in the same artillery regiment in World War 2, both against the Germans.  Knud and Ellen on 14 Oct. 1992 celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary.

Three more of Peder and Johanne's children were born here in Lille Gronheden and times were extremely difficult, there was little or no food to be had.  Thomas was born at this time on November 3, 1865.  Four years later Niels was born but died the same day on October 27, 1869.  One year later another son, Niels, was born on November 28, 1870.           

Just before Andrew was born War had been declared, Denmark was at war with Germany again.  King Frederick VII died and the new King, Christian IX had broken the London Protocol Treaty by making the Duchy of Sleswig part of Denmark.  War was immediately declared by the Duchies of Holstein and Sleswig and the hordes of Prussian and Austria.  Peder now a captain in the army, was sent to Sleswig, leaving his wife Hanna with four very young children.  The soldiers were now behind the Dannevirke fortifications and the Eider River.  They were ready for battle but the Generals and the king were not.  Retreat was ordered in mid-winter in the mists of a snowstorm.  The bewildered troops had to pull cannons and equipment through drifting snow and fight the advancing enemy.  They lost the war in this first and decisive battle.  They were pushed from one fortified city to another during the following year until the valiant army was pushed from Sleswig and most of Jutland.  Denmark was completely at the mercy of the hated Germans.

A story written by Mina Briggs said, "German soldiers entered their home on three separate occasion searching for food and plunder, they took everything they had.  Leaving only a ragged quilt for Grandma Anne, because she was sick.  We don't know where Peder was at this time, the war was over but he could have been a prisoner or even at home. 

We have one of Peder's stories told by his grandson, Lionel Jensen.  "The Germans had taken this hill the previous day.  That night the citizens of the city were asked to empty their straw ticks over the cobblestone streets so the Danish army could roll the cannons behind the German lines.  The battle was fought with cannon, muskets, swords and bayonets.  The battle was eventually lost at a great loss to each side.  In the morning blood ran in rivulets down the hill.  Thousands of Danes and German soldiers were killed or wounded. Thousands of refuges from Sleswig who abandoned their homes filled Jutland.  It was time of famine and disease. 

In time Denmark began to rebuild the country.  This was when Peder resigned his commission in the army to become a carpenter.  A large bridge was built across the Saeby River near the town of Saeby.  I haven't been able to find out how long Peder worked on this bridge but he did earn and save some money.    Saeby is on the western coast of northern Jutland and the Kattegat Sea separates Denmark from Sweden.  Their climate is mild damp, rain and mist are common all year round and swept by winds from the Atlantic Ocean.

In 1873 when Halvor was 19 years old, Peder believed that there would be more wars with Germany and desperately wanted more than this for his children.  Jutland would produce neither the food nor the jobs for her people.  The great landowners and the wealthy classes made life unbearable.  The adventure and the empty spaces of a new world beckoned and this hardy and courageous family wanted to be a part of it.

Halverson family 4th of July in Park
The opportunity to go to New Zealand came when Sir Julius Vogel called for the Scandinavians to settle New Zealand.  Halvor and Jens signed up to go but both went under different contracts with the government.  (These next words taken from a book written by George Petersen son of Jens, from New Zealand)  New Zealand must have been chosen because they would have the comfort of their language and the Lutheran Church.  To them the English were old-stock Danes anyway.  They also had no time for the Mormons in Utah where most of the Danes had already immigrated too.  

Peder gave Halvor the money for the passage and his blessing with the promise he would come when they made a place for him.  The next year shortly after his 17th birthday, Jens enlisted with Julius Vogels Public Work and Immigration Scheme where he had to pay the latter for his passage and land.  He sailed on the German ship Friedenberg for New Zealand soon after.  Peder had again promised him that he would come when they were ready for him.

Peder and Johanne would soon have three more children, none of which would ever see these two older boys. Anne Mary was born of February 5, 1875.  Later that summer the work of reconstruction, the Bridge was built, and it was a large one across the Saeby River.  Peder would show his children the bridge and they would walk over it.  .  This work earned him the money for a new home which he bought in Saeby across from the city jail.  It was a nice little brick home.  Later he made a store out of the largest room.  Great Grandmother Hanna helped him run this store.  His many army buddies persuaded him to put liquor in his store.  He was now a drinking pal who furnished all of the drinks.  Of course he went broke.  Grand Grandmother Hanna thought it was a blessing when he got away from those rough friends of his and liquor.

Martena said she loved her mother and father very much.  Her father took time to spend with his children and showed them the drills of the soldiers.  Peder loved to dance and was very good at dancing quadrilles, etc.  She remembers going to the Kings Palace for a dance with her parents.  The family would go for a walk in the park or to wade in the ocean.  In the evenings the brass band would play and give concerts.  These were very happy memories.  The older children received a good education in Denmark.  And very little education here in America   .
The last three children were born here in Saeby after the War.   Ane Mary (5 February, 1875), Anthon (6 February, 1876) and Martena (15 May, 1877). 

Anne Marie Olsen   Conrad Andersen Conrad
Note by Martine Halvorsen Jensen written 8 Nov. 1965; Aunt Tina remembers when the King of Denmark gave a party for the younger children of the soldiers of his army.  Tina and her sisters went.  She remembers the Priest standing above them, his large caller when he said Grace on the food.  They had rice, fish and rye bread.  Milk with mustard seed boiled in a sauce.  She received a tiny black broach as a gift.  She told us her dad had a sister, Maren Karen Hannah whom he named one of his daughters after.   

The presence of the Mormons began to be felt by the family.  Peder did not approve of the Elders of the Church, but being the gentleman he was, he allowed them in his home.  The teachings of the Mormons seemed to fulfill a great need of the Danish women.  Both sides of my father's family - my grandfather and grandmother - were led to Utah by a girl in her early 20's.

Aunt Maria (Mariah) had been listening to the message and songs of the Mormons before Halvor and Jens had left Denmark.  She was told of a new land in America where the people were building the City of Zion and she wanted to be there.  Where people of one heart and one mind would dwell in righteousness as brothers and sisters.  Women in those days were treated like so much chattel.  She was baptized in 1878 and four years later when she was 22 years old, left Denmark with her 11 year old brother, Niels, with four dollars in her pocket and only the promises of the Elders that they would be taken care of.  She was a brave and a very religious girl.  1882 was when they left for America and it was also the year Peder's mother Anne died.  America was never the land of milk and honey that was promised them but they were always faithful to the Church.  This was the same year that her grandmother, Anne Pedersdatter Christensen, (Peder's mother) died in Saeby in 1882, 94 years old.

Jens Peterson NZ
The Church had asked one of its members, a Mr. Waren Davis to pay Niels' way to Utah.  Niels in turn had to pay him back by working for him for one year.  Aunt Mariah's sponsor was Erik Nelsen who she dearly loved.  She was working her debt off when Erik and his wife asked Mariah to be his 2nd polygamist wife.  So she left and began working for a Mr. Holm for $1.25 a week.  In 1884 Aunt Mariah helped provide some money and another two sponsors to bring Andrew and Thomas to Utah.  Each was obligated to work for their sponsors for one year.  James Mickelsen was Thomas's sponsor but I don't know who sponsored my  Grandfather, Andrew.  
Peder's wife Johanne was now also studying the Mormon gospel.  She would sit on the doorstep with her two small girls, Mary and Martena, singing the hymns of the Lutheran Church.  When Peder realized she was about to be baptized, he asked her to wait for him.  A reluctant Peder and an enthused Hanna were baptized in the ocean by Lewis Bowen's grandfather, Andrew Peter Hansen, while the girls watched.  The mother and the children believed in their new religion and followed it as long as they lived, but I can't seem to find anything concerning religion and Peder.  

In 1887 the family left for America.  Peder was 67 years old, Martena was 10.   Ane Mary, 12 years old.  They were met in Lehi by Maria and her husband Nels Jensen when they arrived here in Utah, they were taken to their home in Goshen.  Read Martena's Story, it tells in detail the arrival in America of her and her family

One more thing that Peder left in Denmark was his Farm Name, Bovet.  George Petersen from New Zealand found it on a plaque in the Saeby Church.  He thought it important enough to name his son Bouet.  The name came from a farm called Bovetgard on Laeso Island in the Kattegat Sea.  Other farm names used by the families of Peder and Johanna was Grontved, Aagaard, Starholm, Kul, and Hongaard. 

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We are finding more and very interesting histories every day.  Most of them lately are from Mina Briggs, Aunt Maria's Granddaughter, stories as well as pictures.  Aunt Mariah called her father Pehr, Knud called him Per, I have only heard him called Peder or Peter.  A story about Peder's oldest daughter gives his full name as Christian Peter Halvorsen, she should know but no one else in the family has any information about the Christian name. 

Great grandma Johanne had delayed the trip for a long time because of sickness, typhoid fever and again on the Ocean became very sick.  The landed in New York where Peder visited an old friend that owned a restaurant. 

They soon departed for Lehi, Utah by train.  Peder, the old soldier, took his turn guarding the door against bandits and train robbers.  They were met by Mariah and her husband Nels Jensen, they had been married for almost four years.  They were taken to their home in Goshen for a month or so.  Then one day Eric Nelsen and his wife came to take Peder, Johanne and Martena to Spanish Fork.  These were the same Nelsens who had taken Mariah in when she came to America.  Ane Mary was left in Goshen for a year, she was left here to work for her sponsor, Maria Gillespie.  Martena was kept with her father and mother, who were both sick for a long time.  Martena later worked for neighbors for the families needs.
Halvor Pedersen family in New Zealand

Thomas had moved to Palmyra earlier.  He went to work for A. W. Johnson, where he earned enough money to pay for his own immigration and two acres of land for his father.  Peder and his children would build a house on this land.   It was a two-room adobe house that had a flowing well in front of it.  It was a very pleasant spot that was shaded with large popular trees.  Neighbors and children would always stop for a drink and a rest.  Peder's home was built on a corner lot.  His son, Thomas who married Emma Ottesen he built his home just west of his father's.  The Ottesen's lived to the east.   The Church and the school was across the street to the north.  The house and all the old trees are gone now, it is now just a beautiful farm.  The well is still there but it has been caped (this is about 1900 w. and 5000 so.)  With many children and grandchildren there along with many Danes and Norwegians there so their life should have been quite pleasant. 
 We are told of family gatherings and dinners and they were quite happy and contented.  Peder and Johanne did learn to speak the English language and was able to converse with his Grandchildren.   Peder was a loved and honored gentlemen and there were wonderful stories told of him.  He loved to tease Johanne.  When invited for dinner he would always say "How nice it is to have a "clean bite", a bite was a full meal.  He always honored and complimented the cook.  In his eyes "no one was fat".  He often remarked, “Fat was a pleasing sight."  People loved to be around him, and he loved people.  He made a great host.  And he was a good Grandpa from as told by the autobiographies left by a few grandchildren who wrote them.   

back Halvor Burrow   Jane Pedersen Burrow
Mary Ane Fredericksen Pedersen  Grandma Fredericksen
The last three years of Peder's and Johanne's lives were hard ones, they were getting quite old and very feeble.   So Uncle Tom and Aunt Emma took them in to their home and soon built another room on to the house to care for them.  In time it became necessary for Peder to leave his wife and go to Goshen to live with Aunt Martena where he died.  Johanne Halvorsen died in Tom's home a few months later, 11 November, 1905.    

Peder in his last days was cared for in Martena's and Chris Jensen's home in Goshen.  Peder still wanted to be shaved every day and Chris would do this for him.  He kept himself trim and stood tall, still the old soldier.  On the 7th of April, 1905, he fell to the floor and Chris carried him to a leather couch in the living room under the south window where he died in his arms at age 85. 
Aunt Maria's eldest son Peter Halvor, called his Grandfather a "Tony" (High-toned) an old fashioned name for conceited, vain or proud.  He slept at his Grandfathers house many times.  He still remembered how Grandfather kept his curved pipe with a lid on it and a bottle of schnapps in the window.  He remembers when Grandfather asked his wife for a pie and a snack that she gave him. 
Andrew, Ane Mary, Karen Maria, Matina,  Thomas
Peder Halvorsen, Niels, Joanne Marie Halvorsen
Great grandfather never worked at his carpentry trade after he built his house.  He worked around the house and raised a garden.  Rose Marie Steel has the original pictures of Peder and Hanna and some of his carpentry tools with his initials on them.  Vera Robbins, Niels Halvorsen's granddaughter also has an original picture of Peder and Johanne in their home.  The families of Thomas and Martena should have some but yet I haven't found anything.  

As one spouse dies the other seems to give up and go to, Great grandmother Johanne died in her home later that year on the 11th of November.  Their children Andrew and Mariah were many miles away in Ucon, Idaho at this time, but the four other children were there.
They were both laid to rest next to one another in the Cemetery at Spanish Fork, Utah.  This is where almost all the Halversons are buried.  Buried near each other on the upper portion or high ground.      

Jens in a letter to James Grant Nielsen said "She was a good old mother.  Poor old mother cried when I went.  Dear old mother, she was a good mother to us all.  Our parents had to struggle to find food and clothes for us all, but they did the best for us they could."
They were both laid to rest next to one another in the Cemetery at Spanish Fork, Utah.  This is where almost all the Halversons are buried.  Buried near each other on the upper portion or high ground.      
Jens in a letter to James Grant Nielsen said "She was a good old mother.  Poor old mother cried when I went.  Dear old mother, she was a good mother to us all.  Our parents had to struggle to find food and clothes for us all, but they did the best for us they could."
James, Ray, Myrtle, Chis Harvey
Eliza, Mary, Andrew, Mary, Joe, Merrill

Johanna (Peder's wife) baptized 15 Sep 1879 
Niels and Karen immigrated    16 Jun 1882

Karen Marie baptized 8 Mar 1880         
Lars immigrated    24 Aug 1883

Niels was baptized    9 Jun 1882        
Thomas immigrated  25 Aug 1884

Peder (father) baptized  5 May 1883  
Lars Andreas was baptized  5 Jul  1883       

Parents & girls immigrated   15 Jun 1885

Thomas was baptized                2 Aug  1884

Ane Marie was baptized              4 Jun  1885

Martena was baptized                4 Jun  1885

1 comment:

  1. We have a Broberg-Nelsen/Nelson in Nebraska coming from the same county in Denmark, coming to Elkhorn Iowa then to Albion and Monroe Nebraska. We have a photo of a great Aunt in Denmark on our Callumfamily public tree. Do you have other photos of homes in Denmark? WE are trying to i.d. a photo of the interior of a home. And any info on the Broberg name which we cannot pinpoint.