Wednesday, July 13, 2011


related by John written by Mariane Smith, his wife
given to Mrs. Laura Lewis, his niece  March 29, 1929

"I,  John E. Smith, was born in Stubhubing, Falster, Denmark on February 26, 1849.  My father was born in Copenhagen, Shelland, Denmark.  He was the son of a Sea Captain who was lost at sea.  He went out with the ship but never returned.  My father was highly educated; he finished the public schools and graduated from the Agricultural School where he learned the dairy trade as well as agriculture.  My father was born in the year 1820 but I do not know the date.
"My mother was born on April 6, 1816 at Scowpillow on Lolland.  These groups of islands where my parents and I were born are the most beautiful and fertile parts of Denmark.  They are the home of the nightingale which sings all night in the summer time.

"My mother also graduated from the Agricultural School where she learned the dairy trade which included how to take care of the milk and also how to make cheese and butter.  The Danish butter is known all over the world for its superior quality.

"It happened that my father and mother both got employment at a large Agricultural and Dairy Estate.  Father was the head man and mother was the head lady of the dairy business.  It was here that the two young people fell in love with each other.  I have been told that my father was a fine looking man and had a very pleasing and winning personality.  After a short courtship they were married, as near as I know, in the year 1840.  My father's name was Mans August Swensen and my mothers maiden name was Wilhelmine Pedersen.

"After they had been married a few years they decided to start in the dairy business for themselves so father leased Kjetrupgaard over in North Jutland, close to the west ocean.  Kjetrupgaard was a large farm and dairy estate.  When I was six months old and sister Christine was five years old, my parents moved away from the Island of Falster over to North Jutland in the summer of 1849.  When we arrived at Kjetrupgaard my father had a hard time to convince the servants who took care of the estate that we were not German spies.  At that time Denmark and Germany were fighting a war which lasted three years and did not end until 1850.
"Finally, we got possession of the estate.  It was a most beautiful place and my parents made much money.  It was here that my youngest sister, Amilia was born in 1885.  My parents always had a lot of hired servants, both men and women, to do the work on the farm and in the dairy.  About 1856, the owner sold Kjetrupgaard and my father leased another large estate with about one hundred dairy cows.  This estate was farther north and was called Aagaard.

"We moved to Aagaard and my parents were making money.  Suddenly, my father tired of the dull country life and wanted to move back to the city.  But my mother liked the country life and didn't want to move.  My father and mother were of very different temperaments.  Mother was very serious and religious and father was more a man of the world.  He was jovial and liked pleasure as well as work.  They decided to part and were divorced.  Father went away; we heard that he went to Sweden.  Mother then managed the estate herself with her servants who did the work.  She did well financially and we lived there for several years.

"In 1861, the Mormon missionaries were sent to that part of Denmark and mother was converted to the faith.   She was baptized on February 14, 1862 into the Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints; my sister Christine and I were baptized on the same day.

"That same spring Mother sent my sister, Christine, to Utah with some Mormon emigrants with the understanding that we would all follow the next year.  She was eighteen years old when she came to Utah.  She married Niels Peter Larsen a short time after she came to Utah to live and moved to Fountain Green, Sanpete, County.

"I finished the public schools when I was eleven years old and had three years in high school before we left Denmark.  For my amusements when I was a boy I had a house full of pigeons.  I had about one hundred pair of all different kinds and when I wasn't in school, I was tending my pigeons.  Mother gave me all the feed for them that I wanted.  I didn't like the thought of leaving my pigeons to go to Utah but he Mormon missionaries told me that when I got to Utah that I would have a pony to ride so I decided to leave the pigeons and go with mother to Utah.

"The next spring mother sold out what property she had and made preparations to go to Utah.  My father came back unexpectedly; he tried to stop mother from going and taking us children with her, especially me.  He wanted to keep me with him.  He notified the police and sheriff to stop us from going, but mother outwitted them and sent my sister Amilia with another emigrant family and sent me a foot with the Mormon missionary into Germany.  Mother traveled alone, heavily veiled.  When she went to get on a ship leaving Copenhagen, a policeman came and lifted her veil and looked at her face.  Then he looked around to see if she had two children with her but not seeing any he dropped the veil and let her go.  That was a close call for her.  We did not see each other again until we were in England ready to go on the ship across the Atlantic Ocean.  The name of the ship was B. S. Kimball.  We left Liverpool on May 8, 1863.  There were six hundred and fifty-four Saints on board the ship under the leadership of President Hans Peter Lund of Ogden.  We landed in New York on June 15, 1863 after having been on the ocean forty-two days. 

Mette    &     Jorgen Smith
We continued by railroad and boat to Florence, Nebraska where mother bought our wagon, oxen and three cows and provisions and all other things necessary for the trip across the plains.  She had also paid the emigration fee for several of the Saints, some of them paid her back and some never did.

We left Florence on July 7, in Captain John R. Young's independent train of immigrants.  My mother and I walked the entire distance from Florence to Salt Lake, but my sister Amilia, who was only eight years old had to ride part of the way.  I, with some other boys, had to drive all the loose stock ahead of the wagon train.  Everything went well until July 28.  That mornings after we broke camp and the oxen were all hooked up to the wagons, they made a stampede and scattered wagons and provisions for miles around.  Several of the old people who couldn't get out of the way were killed.  My sister would have been killed too if it hadn't been for a servant woman of mothers.  She grabbed my sister almost from under a runaway team and wagon. The next day we stayed in camp and dug graves and held funeral services and buried our dead.  The next day my mother's oxen gave out and her teamster had to yoke up two of her cows to the wagon for the rest of the journey.

"We arrived in Salt Lake City on Saturday, September 12, 1863.  We camped on the Public Square and Brigham Young came and shook hands with all of us.  The Public Square was the block where the City and County Building now stands.  Here my mother got to talking with John Van Cott.  She had known him in Denmark when he came there as a missionary.  He could speak Danish.  He hired me to stay with him in Salt Lake and herd his cows.  Mother and my sister went to Fountain Green in Sanpete County and made their home with my sister Christine and her husband, Niels Peter Larsen.

"Well, I didn't get to ride a pony but Van Cott let me have an old mule.  I used to take his cows out south of Salt Lake every day on what was called the church farm and herd them and bring them back at night.  I also had to cut wood and didn't know how.  Van Cott's had a daughter about my age.  She would come out and make fun of me.  She would take the axe away from me and show me how to use it.  I didn't feel very good about having a girl show me how to cut wood, but I learned anyway.

"That fall when I was through working for Van Cott he took me out to my folks in Fountain Green.  I started to work for my brother-in-law.  I worked for him for about a year and he gave me a calf for my pay.  When I turned the calf out, the Indians stole it.

"Shortly after mother settled in Fountain Green, she got acquainted with a man named Jorgen Smith.  He had been married before and had several children.  My mother took her maiden name when she married the second time and the Temple record says that Wilhelmine Pedersen and Jorgen Smith were married and sealed in the old Endowment House in Salt Lake City on January 30, 1864 by Wilford Woodruff.  We were then given the Smith name and have gone by it every since  My sisters and I have been sealed to mother and my stepfather, Jorgen Smith.  Later that year father Smith and family were called to go help settle Richfield. We moved there and lived in a dugout with dirt floors and a dirt roof and felt quite contented.

"In the spring of 1865 the Indians swooped down on us and stole our cattle and horses and killed several people.  We then saw that we would have to defend ourselves.  We had no guns so we called a meeting and decided to send some men with a herd of stock to Salt Lake City to buy us some guns.  I sent a good cow and got an old gun.  I also let my oxen out to feed and the Indians stole them too.   I traded the old gun and five acres of land to a man for a good gun.  We organized a band of soldiers for protection and Heber Higgins was chosen Captain.  Both father Smith and myself enlisted.  The Indians got so bad that the settlers couldn't leave town to get to Sanpete to get a grist of flour made without having a company of soldiers along to guard them.  I was one of the soldiers.  We also had to guard our stock because the Indians were stealing them all the time.  We had to stand guard every night and turns came often because Richfield was only a small town and had only a few men.

Father Smith served as express rider between Richfield and Monroe and when he couldn't go I had to take his place.  That was a dangerous job because we had to go alone and were an easy target for the Indian bullets, but father Smith didn't care.  He was a fearless man, having served three years in the Danish army while they were at war with Germany.  He had been awarded a gold medal by the Danish Government for bravery.
"In the winter the Indians didn't bother much so when I wasn't on soldier duty I worked for a man name Lars Nielsen.  he was a musician and taught me how to play the violin.  We had only one house in Richfield at that time.  It was a one- room house made of logs with a dirt roof and dirt floor.  It was our meeting house and dance hall.  When we would dance, we would get so dusty we could hardly see our partners.  We had only one fiddler and we paid him with beans, carrots, potatoes or wheat.  We never saw money but we all had a swell time.  We lived in dugouts.  We didn't very often have flour, so for breakfast we had to grind wheat in an old coffee mill.  We cooked it like mush and ate it with milk.  When father Smith and I went on expeditions after the Indians, mother would give us fried squash and fried rabbit meat in our grub sacks for our lunch.  That was the best she had to give us. 

It was certainly an awful trial and hardship for mother because she had been used to having all the comforts of life that money could buy when we lived in Denmark.  No one will ever know what the old pioneers went through for their story can never be told in full.
Smith Home in Richfield

"In the Spring of 1866 we had to reorganized our Militia.  I re-enlisted and served under H. P. Fugate as my Captain and Heber Higgins as Major.  Chief Black Hawk and his band of Indians were making raids every where on our cattle and killing our people.  I, with some more soldiers, was called to go and guard and protect the few settlers who lived in Monroe.  While we were there we assisted in building a fort for the protection of the Monroe people.

"Early in the morning of March 21, 1867 a neighbor of ours, his wife, and my stepsister, Mary Smith, who was fourteen years old, were killed by the Indians and their bodies were mutilated, especially those of the women.  They also killed one of our oxen and burned the wagon.  The man's name was Hans Peter Petersen.  He and his family were going to Glenwood to do some trading.  They went without a soldier escort that was contrary to counsel at that time.  That was another terrible trial and sorrow in our family.  I had just left Richfield and go to Fountain Green when my stepsister was killed.  I lived with my sister and her husband Peter Larsen.  Here I also had to guard the town from the Indians.  Richfield, as well as Monroe and Glenwood, were vacated April 20, 1867 by their inhabitants because of the Indian trouble.  They all moved into Sanpete County where they lived for some time before going back to their own settlements again.  My sister and her husband, Peter Larsen, moved to Pleasant Grove where they made their home in the future.

"In the spring of 1868 I went down to North Platt and Green River and Bioster Creek and worked on he building for the Union Pacific Railroad.  I was driving teams and here the Indians were bad too.  They killed two white men in our next camp.  We had to guard our mules every night and had to have a gun close at hand where we worked.  I also worked at Promontory Point on the same road until it was finished in the fall of 1869. 

"I went back to Pleasant Grove where I made my home.  I now had a team of my own and worked at different jobs for some years.

"I have never heard anything from my father since I left Denmark.  I have advertised in Danish papers and I had Andrew Jensen, our Church Historian, try and find him when he went on a mission to Denmark but nobody knew what became of him.  I think he went back to Sweden after we left.

"My sister Christine died in the spring of 1878 and left an only daughter.  She married Oran Lewis of Provo.  he died some years later and Mrs. Lewis lives in Spanish Fork and is in the mercantile business. 

My sister Amilia is the widow of Herman Oberhansly of Payson.  She is the mother of twelve children and she now lives in Provo.  My mother died October 31, 1882 at Richfield.   Father Smith died August 28, 1908 at Thurber, Wayne County where he went to live after mother died.  They both died as they lived, true Latter-day Saints.  Father Smith was born May 28, 1823 at Sleswig, Haderslev, Denmark.  He was baptized a Latter-day Saint on February 27, 1853.  In 1856 he came to Utah and settled in Fountain green, Sanpete County.

"My wife, Mariane Petrine Christensen Smith was born in Viborg, Denmark on February 6, 1852.  She is the daughter of the late Jeppa Christensen.  She was baptized into the Latter-day Saints Church on November 11,1860 in Denmark.  She came to Laramie City, Wyoming in the spring of 1873 and to Pleasant Grove, Utah on October 11, 1874.  Her parents and family came to Pleasant Grove from Denmark in 1873.  They rented the house of which I was owner.  Here I met my wife and we kept company for two years before we were married.

"I traded my team of horses for a farm of eight acres of land in the north part of Pleasant Grove where I planted an orchard of fruit trees.  I then went to Bingham to work on the tramway.  My wife went to West Jordan and worked for a family.  The man was superintendent of the Galena Smelter.

"On April 18, 1876 were married by James H. Armstead, Justice of the Peace, at Pleasant Grove, Utah.
"I then built a soft rock house and we moved into it in the spring of 1884, and there our six children were born, two of them died when they were babies.  We lived here for twenty years, then I traded homes with William Walker.  He got mine and I got his home on South State Street, Pleasant Grove.  Here we are still a living

"I have worked at different jobs since I was married and I have been farming and done a great deal of canyon work.  I have also traded horses a few times.  I have been the Pioneer Fiddler for fifty years both in Pleasant Grove and surrounding towns.  I have played at about two thousand dances.  I have also worked for the Pleasant Grove Pressed Brick Company for about fifteen years.

"Our four children are all married and away from home.  They are all parents of children.  We have seven grandchildren, and two great grandchildren.  Our oldest son, Ed, lives in Salt Lake City.  Our oldest daughter, Anne Whealan lives in Aberdeen, Washington.  Our youngest daughter, Jennie Waldenspiel, lives in Alma, Washington.  Our youngest son, Wilard, lives in American Fork. He served twenty-two months in the World War and was overseas eighteen months. 

On March 4, 1924, I was awarded a Federal Pension for serving in the Black Hawk Indian War.
Black Hawk Reunion

"Myself and my wife have been in the Salt Lake Temple and been sealed for time and eternity and also had other temple work done.  We also celebrated our Golden Wedding three years ago and we feel like our life's work is nearly done.  I will be eighty years old next month and my wife will be seventy-seven years old next month.  Still we would like to live a few more happy years among our children and many good people of Pleasant Grove.

"Well, this is a true and correct history of myself and family who left our native land in the far north and came out Utah for the sake of the gospel."

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