PETER HALVOR (PETE) JENSEN FAMILY
His own Autobiography
Having been asked to write of our early life in Idaho, I shall first attempt first to give you the dates of my parents birth and where they were born.
My father was born at Sallerup, Sweden, April 11, 1857. After his fathers death, his mother and four children, the oldest being 12, crossed the Atlantic Ocean on a sail ship, which took ten weeks. After reaching the United States they started their journey across the Plains with the emigrant train in a covered wagon pulled by ox teams. Father being a baby, rode in the wagon while the others walked behind barefooted.
After arriving at Salt Lake City Campgrounds where they rested for about a week, they continued their journey to Manti, Utah, where his mother secured a small room for herself and baby. Two years later she died and father was given away to a family in Ephraim, Utah, by the name of Hans Frederick Petersen, who raised him too manhood.
Now as to my mother, She was born 9 January 1860, at Sindal, Denmark. In March, 15 years later, she was baptized in the Sea of Cattagat and became a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in June, 1882. She and her 11 year old brother, Niels, left the old country with their cloths and four dollars, leaving Liverpool, England, aboard the ship Agata, and from there they set sail for America aboard the Emigration Ship. While on the ship, she took care of chicken pox and measles cases as well as an elderly couple from Holland which helped pay for her ocean passage.
She and her brother immigrated to Spanish Fork, Utah, where they had former friends from the old country. Her brother, Niels, went to work for a friend of her father's who had proceeded them sometime before, to help pay for his emigration ship ticket. Mother went to work for a Mr. Holm for $1.25 per week and later helped two other brothers to emigrate. The four of them pooled their savings and sent for their parents and two sisters. Their parents names were Peder and Johanna Larsen Halvorsen. Later they moved to Goshen, Utah. This in brief is the background of my parents. Many more things of their early lives could be said but space would not permit. One thing I should like to mention here is that they had a struggle from the start; but no matter what the was they were willing to tackle it as long as it was on the up and up.
After moving to Goshen, Utah, things really did begin to happen. Mother met a man by the name of Nels Herbert Jensen whom she fell in love with. This led to their marriage 11 January, 1883, in the Salt Lake City Endowment House. With very meager belongings and extremely hard times, they, like so many others have done, started to make a home for themselves.
At this town we used to call the "Land of Goshen", was born to them six sons, Peter Halvor, Hans F., John Henry, Alvin J., Levi B., and Sterling W. Jensen.
Being the oldest I had to be both boy and girl, as my mother was kept very busy caring for her brood, and working in various church capacities and caring for the sick, which she always did a lot of. The house work was left to me. I could scrub floors, bake bread, wash dishes as well as any girl. Of course, it's me speaking. But all in all I had a good and wonderful mother, and I took after her. My father 'took' after me.
Our home in Utah was made of white adobe clay which was secured nearby. The adobe was made by Father and a few neighbors. He also erected the house which consisted of two rooms. I remember that we older kids used to tromp mud barefooted for other buildings in the neighborhood. Father worked in the mines at Eureka and hauled ore a lot which left Mother and us kids to shift for ourselves and do the work around the farm, which kept Mother very busy.
There was one thing I could never stand, and that was to watch Mother cut wood. I always went up town. And so time marched on. The latter part of September, 1900, Father and Mother came to Idaho to visit his sister, Christina Forbush, who lived about three miles North of Iona. He liked Idaho and sorta bargained for a farm from W.D. (Mont) Huffaker. Father came home and offered his farm for sale, and sold it for $2500 cash. Then he got his machinery together and hired a freight car. He proceeded to load the machinery as well as two cows, two horses and one colt.
I was driving the last team to the freight depot, while going through my home town, I stopped the team on the corner of the street where the kids formed around and listened to the older fellows spin yarns and play the mouth organ. There the kids would plan their amusements, which were a little tricky. I fastened the lines tight and unloaded my six-shooter into the air. Father in the wagon ahead shook his head in disgust. My schooling ended with the seventh grade in Utah.
On the train my Father made a hole in the pile of machinery big enough for me and so I was smuggled into Idaho. Whenever the train would stop he'd say, "Get in your hole, Boy", and in I would go. The reason for having me do this was because there wasn't enough money for all of our tickets. And that was the way I got into Idaho.
As for my Mother and other brothers they came by passenger train with Mother, who had $2500 sewed in her clothing. All got here safely. It was the night of 1 November, 1900, that Father and I arrived in Idaho Falls. A North wind was blowing and it was colder than h___. Next morning the engine pulled us into Rigby where we unloaded. Reason for the unloading in Rigby was because it was $10 cheaper and every ten counted. Seemed that the railroad wanted emigrants to get further North. From Rigby we traveled straight South to the Forbush Farm and lived there a month or two. A man by the name of Hod Egan was living on the farm Father bought from Mr. Huffaker. We were unable to move on to the place until Mr. Egan found another place to live. In the meantime we stayed at my aunt's home. My cousin, Sanford Forbush, and I hauled wood from the Rush Beds on the Snake River as long as weather would permit.
The crops raised at that time consisted of hay, grain, Plymouth Rock chickens, and Ben Davis apples, because the weather was so cold. Being poor, our meals consisted of a lot of dried apples. We'd eat dried apples for breakfast, drink water for dinner and swell up for supper. The only hay Father could buy was Tithing hay, which he got from Bishop A. B. Simons, and say did the stock like it! You guess the reason.
We moved to our new home as soon as possible. When I went to feed cattle for "Ben Davis" that was when I bought my first overshoes and overcoat that I ever owned. I had worked the summer before coming to Idaho on the railroad at the age of 15, and it was there I tried to learn how to chew tobacco, and I mean learn, but I could never make a go of it. I had saved $40, $20 of which I'd given my parents. Since that time I've been on my own working wherever possible.
Our present town, Ucon, was then called Elva Station, Arco Post Office, Willow Creek Ward. The Church House consisted of one large log room located where the Grant Andrus Home now stands. It was in this log room at the age of 16, and a stranger, that I uttered my first public Prayer. I was asked to offer the closing prayer, but if I said anything I didn't know it. But they all walked out, so I guess it was O.K.
In those days, everything was in the rough--land, roads and people. There were a lot of rough riders, as we all traveled in wagons. But those who could afford it had what we called white tops, which were no more than light wagons with springs. In the winter time it was sleighs, with bells on the horses which one could hear for miles. Fences didn't bother us as the snow was so deep and drifts were so high we traveled over the top of them.
Many a good old time was had dancing in the "Willow Creek Hall", which was the center of attraction for miles around. Our amusements were self made, such as house parties where neighbors would gather and various games were played.
And now after feeding sheep and cattle in the Winter time, staying out late at parties and dances, I developed a disease which was later called the marriage bug. So on 7 December, 1904, Alice S. Simons and I were married in the LDS Temple at Logan, Utah. Now with everything lovely and the "goose hanging high", we started out with "four hands, $8 and a buggy and a horse to make our start in life.
The first summer we rented a farm from William Poll. In the Fall of that year, which was 1905, my Uncle Andrew Halvorsen and went to the saw mill which was 35 miles East, and hauled rough lumber and built us a 12 by 24 foot shed roof shack on 40 acres of sage brush land, which I purchased from the Yancey's. William Richie who had bought the rest of the one-fourth section of sage brush land, hired me to rail, burn and dike his ground. So we started to improve and make a home. In those days we used a short railroad rail with logs attached to stand on to do our railing with. The brush we piled with a pitch fork. It was rather slow, but we made it. My wife would help me in every way she could in burning the brush, a lot of which was done at night. Then she'd have to sit up and pick wood ticks as they seemed to sort of like her. In the Winter time we had to drive our stock a mile to water and the water for the house we hauled in a barrel on what we called a water dicky.
Rabbits were very thick and they used to take the outside land of grain. In those days, sage brush was the main fuel. People would haul it and stack it like straw stacks. Yes, pickings were hard for everyone. But their bodies were built with backbone, not wish bone! So they worked on and made the country what it is today, one of the best!
Many a Winter night I've slept out at the lava beds West of here getting wood, which would take us three days to get two and one-half to three cords, which we would sell for from $2.50 to $3 per cord. This was done to keep the wolf from the door till Spring, as we had to eat. As time went on I bought another 40 acres, and then another, all of which with another 40 we cleared. The diking was done with a two horse scraper and the leveling with a Fresno scraper, and it was "walk you sucker walk".
In the Fall of 1919 I was called to go on a mission by Bishop Robert Andrus. After considering for a month, and reading in the Good Book where the "foolish of the world could confound the wise' I decided to venture it. I was sent to the Western States. I left the wife and seven kids at home, who had a lot of sickness while I was away. I came home broke and owing everyone. So I'd had to borrow money from G.G. Wright to pay the Bank, and then from to Bank to pay G.G. Wright. This process when on for sometime. Then finally the day came when we were straight with the world, and were we happy!
Later we purchased another 80 acres; but have lived on our original farm all our married life. My wife having poor health, died very suddenly 8 April, 1948. Our children were Edith, Mina, Louie, Edna, Vernal, Alta, LaRue, Roy and Don, eight of whom are living. We also have 24 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren.
Time still marches on; so I went to batching, but decided that was no good so on 21 November, 1949, I married Minnie Ann Ritchie Hobbly Woodruff, a girlhood friend of my former wife. We are still living on the same farm. I could tell of many more conditions of those early days in Idaho, but space wont permit, so I'll sign off, hopping for the best for those who come later.
Very truly yours,
Peter Halvor (Pete) Jensen