Saturday, July 9, 2011


Grandfather Hans Peter Nielsen

Memories of Grandfather Nielsen

 by Gladys Meeks Mathis

Nielsen Mill below Bicknell, Utah

We did not know our Grandfather , Hans Peter Nielsen.  He passed away (1909) before our mother was married.  We know he was a grist miller, and excellent carpenter, and a skilled builder.  We have seen and enjoyed visiting some of the buildings he built.  The home we spent most of  our lives in, Grandfather built for our Grandparents, William and Sarah G. Meeks.  He worked well with his family, especially his sons and son-in-law, Nels Hanson, an excellent and much sought after skilled carpenter. 

Grandfather and Grandma had an aesthetic appreciation for nature. Because of this they built the grist mill, their home and other essential buildings in a most beautiful, serene spot near Bicknell on the Fremont River, with large gorgeous red cliffs in the background.  We do not have a picture of Grandps Nielsen, but from our mother=s description__he was not a large man, sandy complexioned, with kind blue eyes and looked like the AGood Miller Man@.

The Story of the Grist Mill and Planing Mill

By Matilda Nielsen Meeks

Hans Peter Nielsen came to Utah, the year of 1863.  He came across the ocean in a sailboat owned by John J. Boyd, called the Packet boat.  Father landed in New York, worked a year there and came on to Utah to Ephraim, Sanpete County. 

His occupation was milling. He ran the mill at Richfield.  They were driven back and forth three different times by the Indians to Richfield, Ephraim and Elsinor, and would or had to pile sacks of grain up to the windows and bar the doors to keep the Indians out and from shooting at them.  He carried and old musket gun with him.  He kept it hung on the wall where he could get it easily. 

He built and owned a mill at Richfield up by the Spring Ditch in the year of 1882.

He came to Thurber, Wayne County the year of 1890, for the purpose of milling.  He built and ran the mill now standing down by the Dirty Devil River (Fremont River) by the bridge.  He ran it by water power.  He ran and kept the mill up to his death, 1909.  It was sold to the King Brothers in the year 1910.  Father brought with him the old musket gun and had it hung on the wall.  An old Indian called Grey Head recognized the gun from the mills at Richfield and Ephraim.  He said,  AI that many times and could have killed you.@ 
Father was a great friend of the Indians.  They would come and store their pine nuts up in the loft of the mill at Thurber, by the sack full every fall and when they came for them they would give a pan full to Father.  We children looked foreward to this, for the pine nuts.  They called him AThe Good Miller Man@

They also built or had the first planing mill.  Hans Nielsen and Niels Hansen planed all the lumber and made all the door and window frames the went into the first houses built in this new town (Bicknell), the Grant Rock House and Mansfield brick and frame building, and the Relief Society Hall.  The first house was an old granary that was moved up on wagons from the old town by James Grant.  They lived in it while their house was built.  The door and window frames were hauled up to town o big hayracks with wagon and team. 

Sarah Nielsen. Weight said,  About the year 1891 Father and his family were sent to Wayne County, known as Wayne Wonderland, to build another mill. 

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