MARTENA HALVORSEN JENSON
April 27, 1958
I have been asked to write a brief history of my childhood days. I was born in Sabey, Denmark, May 14, 1877. My parents, Peter Halvorsen and Hannah Marie Larsen joined the Latter-day Saints (Mormon) church when I was very small. I remember the Elders coming to visit our home. Father did not approve of the Elders but was always kind to them. Mother studied the gospel. She would sit on the doorstep with the two small girls, Mary and myself, singing the hymns of the Lutheran church and teaching us to believe in Christ and his teachings. Soon Mother was ready to be baptized into the church. Father didn't want mother to join unless he could so he studied the gospel teachings and was soon convinced that Mormonisms was true. I remember going with my parents to the ocean where they were baptized.
My two oldest brothers, Halvor and Jens Peter, left Denmark for New Zealand before I was born. They took the name of Petersen being the sons of Peter Halvorsen. It was the law of the country at that time that the given name of the father would be the last name of the son with the letters "sen" added. Thus, the names of the later children were Halvorsen after the Danish law was changed. These two boys never saw their families again. They often sent money to help their parents in America and were very good, respectable citizens of New Zealand. They owned large ranches, and were also carpenters and saw-mill operators. The missionaries called on them may times and were quite well received but they never accepted the gospel, although I understand that some of their grandchildren did.
My father was a captain the Danish Army in the war between Denmark and Germany. He liked to show his children some of the drills of the soldiers. He also liked to dance and was very good in dancing quadrilles, etc. Mother met my father in a tavern. She was a waitress and when father 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 such a wild one.
Our home in Sabey was across the street from the city jail or prison. The Swedes used to come into town on Saturdays and there would be lots of fights. I remember seeing them all cut up with knives and all covered with blood.
Father used to take mother and the children to the park for a walk or sometimes down to the beach and we could wade in the ocean. In the evening the brass band would play and give concerts. These were very happy memories.
We left Denmark for America on a Steam Ship. When we crossed the North Sea, it was awfully rough. I had a good time rolling from one side to another, but mother was very sick. We finally landed in New York where father had a friend that owned a restaurant. He took Mary and me to this place and we were all dressed up in our very best. His friend gave us some hot bread and molasses. This all melted and ran through our fingers down onto our new dresses. Mother scolded us and wiped us off as best she could.
We left New York on the railroad. It was a long trip across the desert. Father took his turn standing guard at the door of the coach. There were lots of bandits and train robbers in those days. One day while the train was stopped, I jumped off the train and picked an arm full of beautiful purple flowers. They turned out to be stinkweeds and everybody laughed at me.
When we left Denmark I had a rag doll that I loved very much. It was made of dark green material and had a pink apron. When we unpacked in Goshen it wasn't there. I had a right good cry and was terribly disappointed.
Our railroad ticket only brought us to Lehi, Utah, where we were met by my sister , Maria, and her husband, Neils Jensen. He was a brother of Hans Jensen's wife, Cecilia. They took us to Goshen to their home where we stayed for a month or so; then Eric Nelsen and his wife from Spanish Fork, Utah, took Father, Mother and me back to Spanish Fork, leaving my sister Mary, with Maria Gillispie. These Nelsens were very good people. They were the ones my sister, Maria, worked for when she came to Utah about four or five years before we came. Maria was 22 and Neils was 11 years old when they emigrated.
My first school teacher was Josephine Brimhall. The school house was only three miles from our home at a little place called Benjamin. I only attended a half-year in the wintertime. The mud was rally deep and we had to walk. The next year my teacher was Lee Bradford. I could never attend a full year of school. I had to pay for my own schooling. Father was not well and unable to help much. In working for people, I learned to cook and keep house which was good schooling for me. I was very fond of dancing and went to a lot of dances at Creer's Hall in Spanish Fork. I always went with a fine young man. I never went with anyone that I felt I should not go with. I was always guided in my young life and also in my married life, if I would only listen to the prompting of the Holy Ghost.
I had some very nice girl friends in Springville and Spanish Fork by the names of Emma and Elmina Bramwell and Martha and Anna Spafford. I don't know who they married. When I was ready to get married I said "Goodbye" and have never seen nor heard of them since.
When I was to be married, my future husband (Chris) came and got me in a wagon at my parent's home at Lake Shore about five miles northwest of Spanish Fork. I had to make some quilts and rugs and rag carpets. On our way to Goshen we stopped at Payson and bought the rest of our furniture, which was quite a load. Chris had built a fine frame house of two rooms at Elberta, Utah, We were well-fixed. He had a wagon and team and a job with the Mt. Nebo Land and Water Company. He also had 40 acres of grain all up and doing fine.
We left Goshen for Manti, Utah to be married in the LDS temple. Chris' brother, Andrew, took us over to Manti in a white-topped buggy. We stayed at Nephi the first night and the next night at Manti. We were married the 14th day of April 1896. We came home together and my husbands folks gave a nice dinner for friends and folks. Then we went to our new home. We were very happy and had lots of big plans.
In June a big cloudburst came across the mountains south of us and washed out the canals that carried the water around the side of the mountain to our farm. Our grain and trees withered and died.
We moved our frame house to Goshen on five acres of land that Hans Jensen, my husbands father, gave us but never could get his wife, Cecilia, to sign the deed so we lost that also. My husband went to Eureka and other places in Tintic working in the mines and I stayed at home and started to raise a family. During my pregnancies, I was always awfully sick. Our children were just like any other children. They had all the diseases that went around, but with the care and help of the Lord, they are all alive and well today.
You will read in my husband's history of our life together from here on but I would like to state that while he was on a mission to Denmark the Lord did bless me and the children as he was promised when he was called. I have two sons that have also filled missions for the church.
The Lord has blessed me in many ways with lovely children and many good friends and neighbors. I have been a teacher in the Relief Society and also a Counselor in the Presidency of the Relief Society. Of course, that isn't much. I want to remember my good friends and neighbors--I am grateful to them for their many kindnesses in time of trouble and sickness.
I have traveled some in my old days. From Neola to Minnesota, to Arizona and San Diego up along the coast to Los Angeles. I really did enjoy seeing the ocean again. Across Nevada several times to see my son and family in Anderson, California. I have been to Idaho and Wyoming to Yellowstone Park and have traveled on trains and buses and have made many friends. I have tried to explain the Gospel as well as I could.
I am 81 next month. I am getting tired so I believe this will do. I hope and pray for my family, wherever they are, especially the ones that have harder trials than others. My heart aches for them.
My Love and Blessings to All,
Died: 19 July, 1970