Tuesday, February 2, 2016


History of Ellen Pederson Sorenson
Written by Lois Jane Sorenson (daughter-in-law)

farming in Denmark

            In the far off land of Snesere, Denmark, was born a little girl, with blue eyes and dark hair to Peder Pedersen and Marren Hansen.  This little girl was born 29 June 1856 and was given the name of Ellen.
            Marren, the mother, had been married before to a man by the name of Nielsen (it is not known if he died or not).  She had two children by this marriage, a boy named Hans Peter and a little red-headed girl which they called Stina.
on the Mormon Trail
            In the year 1858 a child was born to Ellen’s mother and Father, they gave the name of Kiraten.  This family was contacted by the Mormon Elders and converted to the church.  They were baptized about the year 1856 in Denmark.  After joining the church their friends and relatives mistreated them very severely and they decided to set sail to American to be with the Saints in Utah.
            In the year 1862 they started for the Promised Land.  They were ten weeks on the water which was a long time for them especially the children.  Their little daughter Kiraten was ill all the way.  Her parents felt she would improve when they reached land but this was not so and after two weeks travel she died.  This was in the state of Nebraska.  With only a sheet to wrap her in they laid her in the cold earth.  This was a great trial to her parents.  Ellen remembers that after they had traveled a few days the captain felt their wagon was overloaded and ordered them to unload and throw away part of their boxes.  This was heartbreaking for them to throw away a good box which only a few days ago could have served as a casket for their dear little daughter.
            Ellen’s father and mother bought three yoke of oxen and a cow and started across the plains to Utah.  Hans Peter driving the cow, the mother riding whenever she could.  Ellen remembers walking most of the way.  She and her little sister gathered buffalow chips in their aprons so that they could have a fire at night.
            The cow gave enough milk that the family had all the milk they needed, also Marren made butter, which was enjoyed by many of the Saints, what was left shared with the other Saints.
            Indians were bad, but they never bothered them while traveling, however they had many experiences with them after arriving in Utah.
            Ellen, a little girl of seven, loved to pick Indian beads out of the ant beds and string them for necklaces.  She says that the ants never bothered her.  She also remembers her father being left by the company and having to walk all night to catch up.
            Arriving in Utah in 1862 or ’63 they settled in Ephraim for two years.  Later they moved to Richfield.  The family lived in a little two-roomed house with a dirt floor.
Shena-Vegan, chief of tribe
 that killed Mary Smith
            The town of Richfield grew very fast from log cabins to adobe houses.  Ellen’s father was a carpenter and he made them beds, tables, chairs, and many other items of furniture.  The children sat on three-legged stools and Ellen remembers cooking many meals in the bake skillet over the coals in an open fireplace.  At this time they burned grass wood using the ashes for soap to wash their clothes.  What was left over was saved and later made into candles which was their only way of lighting at night.
            Ellen had very little schooling but was very talented in cording and sewing.  She spun many yards of cloth, sewed many men's suits, shirts and other clothing.  She has spun as high as seven scans in one day.
            Twenty-first March 1867 was a day she remembered well.  Many a time she has related the story of Jens Peterson and his wife, and 14-year-old Mary Smith and of how they were killed by the Indians while on their way from Richfield to Glenwood.  Ellen’s sister Stina was a friend of Mary Smith and had planned to come with her but at the last minute she changed her mind and didn’t, or she would have been killed also.
            After this terrible experience President Young told the people of Richfield to move away, to go north to more populated areas.
            This was hard for the Saints as they were finally being settled down after so much traveling.  However, the Pedersons like all the rest left their homes and returned back to Ephriam about the first of April 1867.
            It was here that Maren, their mother who had been through so many hardships, became ill and passed away on 28 December 1867, leaving her husband and three children alone.

Ellen was eleven years old and was the youngest of the children since her little sister Kiraten had died.
This family went through many hardships without their mother, however Marren had taught Ellen the routine of household duties and so Ellen had to do these tasks.  At times they barely had enough to go around but they were thankful for what they had, and regardless of how tough times got their father always seemed to pay his obligations and tithing to the church.
After the Indian trouble had settled down again they returned to Richfield.  This was in 1872.  She was a very good housekeeper and kept their little house very clean.  She even moped the dirt floor each day to keep the dust away until her father was able to put boards down, this she would scrub each day.
Ellen used to take her brothers Hans Peter dinner to him each day as he worked in a first mill on the west part of Richfield.  She was so frightened of Indians creeping out at her that she ran most of the way.  She was now 16 years old but still had this deep fear of Indians.
Smith Family at Black-Hawk Reunion

At this time Jens Sorensen had come to Utah from Denmark, he had the privilege of riding the first train that came into Ogden with the Saints.  He later traveled on to Glenwood with P.C. Petersen about 1872, by visiting around with different people he met the Peder Pedersen family.  He enjoyed going to their home for some good meals and visiting with the young people.  He thought Ellen was a very good housekeeper and cook and this was where his love began to grow.  Ellen also became interested in Jens and fell in love with him.  They both enjoyed talking Danish.  On 9 November 1874 this young couple were married in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City, they made their trip by ox team.  Jens had a little one room log cabin with a few pieces of furniture.  Some was made during United Order.  So it was to this little home they abided.  Ellen with her good housekeeping soon had it a very nice little place and a real home for them.  She continued making candles, washing and cording wool, spinning it and helping to clear many acres of land.  She would clean the grain, then would take cloth for furniture which was then made at Ephriam.  (At the age of 70 she still had a wardrobe of this homemade nature and her spinning wheel is a present in the Daughters of Pioneer Relic Hall in Glenwood in memory of her.)
 They lived in the United Order as long as it was in force.  So they knew how to share.  It lasted for about five years.
In July 1878 their first child was born to them.  Ellen made some beautiful clothes for her then named her Mary Ellen Sorensen.  April 4, 1881 their second child was born.  This child was called Annie Kirsteen.  She was a little dark headed girl.
As they were rather crowded in this little log house by now they built a new house west of their log house, this new place was made of adobe and had three big rooms down stairs and three up stairs.
Dora Dort a little girl was born in this new home, 4 December 1883 just in time for Christmas which made the family very happy.
At this time plural marriage was being practiced and through the acquaintance of Larsena Hansen (who had helped Ellen when she needed help, being a close friend of Ellen’s stepmother).  It was at this time that Jens thought he should take another wife and so he chose Laresena Hansen, a pretty young women from Denmark.  They were married 16 January 1884 in St. George Temple, this was rather hard for all concerned but they did so thinking and knowing it was the Lord’s will.
Pioneer fence
Twelfth March 1886 another girl baby was born.  They named her Millie, this made quite a family for Ellen to cloth and feed.
Ellen not only shared her husband but also her home.  Larsena lived in the South room for four years where she had two children, Inger Christene and Alice.  The family all ate together.  This was hard for both wives.  After their third child (Larsena) Jemina Dorthea was born she moved to a little adobe house a block East of Ellen’s home, here is where her twins were born.  So Ellen again had the home for herself.
In August 5, 1888 Huldah Adamma a pretty little red haired girl came to earth.

It was at this time that the manifesto was signed that plural marriage was to cease.  The men had to go in hiding from the officers as they came around.  The officers of the law came and took their husband Jens, this was a sad occasion but a common one at this time.
On November 8, 1891 their first son, James Elmer was born a little red headed guy, how proud and happy they were to finally have a son.  On January 6, 1895 another little boy came along and was given the named of Peter Erlen but his stay here on earth wasn’t long as he died on February 8, 1895.  This was hard for them, but Ellen and Jens had been blessed as this was the tenth child for Jens and the seventh for Ellen and the first line broken in the two families.
August 12, 1896 a little blond boy was born to Jens and Ellen, and given the name of Vern Ernest, two years later twins were born to Larsena and Jens (Lyman and Alima).
This made 13 children in all completed to two families.
Ellen taught her children to work along with her.  She was a good wife and mother but very stern in her ways, she was very good to give of her substance to anyone in need.  For years she churned butter and sold it.  She would go with her horse and buggy to Richfield with her pounds and pounds of butter each week, summer or winter.  As each of her children grew up and made homes of their own she made a good grandmother.
They all loved to go to her home, they knew she always had good homemade buns for them to eat.
She was a Relief Society block Teacher for many years.  She worked in all of the Organizations but on the account of her having very little schooling she was unable to write.  However, she was a very good reader and thus was well read and versed.  Her husband kept their family records.  She was active in the church as long as her health would permit it.
Jens died January 20, 1927, at the age of 82, one of Annies boys stayed with her.  Five of her children lived in Glenwood so she was real close to her loved ones.  On May 4, 1939 her daughter Annie Died.  This was hard on her and she did all she could to help with her children.
She was in Richfield to a Stake conference when she took her first stroke and from that time on her health failed her.  Huldah took care of her until she needed some one with her all the time.  At this point her oldest daughter Mary took her into her home and cared for her.
She was there when she had her third stroke, and she passed away in Mary’s home on Tuesday evening May 16, 1939, at the age of 82.

Her funeral services were May 19, 1939, presided over by her son Bishop Elmer Sorensen, conducted by Counselor Albert Oldroyd.  She lived through a choice time and saw many changes in the world.  From people crossing the plains and living in dugouts to our moderns homes of today.  And from the ox teams to the high powered automobiles of today also from candles to electric lights.
She had many friends where ever she went.  At the time of her death she had six living children, 26 grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren and a half sister Caroline Nielsen.

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