THE HISTORY OF LARS PETER PETERSON
written by his Great Great Grandson
George Vernon Peterson Jr. (Bud)
Maren Mikkelsen was the first family member to join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, there in Denmark, in Albek Parish, Maren and her younger daughter, Johanna Maria Jensen, age 21, were both baptized on April 9, 1855. By April 1856, they had both emigrated with a group of Danish Latter Day Saints from Copenhagen to Liverpool and then sailing on the Thornton to New York. They were heading for the Mormon’s Zion in the West.
It would have been about November 1856, when Lars Peter Peterson’s wife, Elsa Marie Jensen, would have received a letter from her younger sister from Salt Lake City informing her that she had made it successfully on the journey to Utah but that her mother, Maren, had not made it. On that journey, handcarts and wagons were stuck and stranded in the early snows and made it so hard on the old and young. Elsa Marie was so impressed with her mother, that she named her newest daughter, Maren, in her honor. The fact is that Elsa was already impressed with the faith and actions of her beloved mother. She had already named her second daughter, Maren, soon after her mother and Johanna had left on the journey to Utah. The birth of Baby Maren was on June 12, 1856. I also think that Elsa Marie, wife of Lars Peter, had listened in as often as she could as her mother and sister were receiving the Message of the Restoration from the Mormon Elders. Now she began pleading with Lars Peter to allow her to be baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Lars Peter gave his permission and Elsa Marie Jensen Christensen was baptized on November 29th 1857.
Lars and Elsa had three children before Elsa joined the Mormon Church. The oldest was Anna Maria, born 16 May 1853; then James Christian Peterson, born 12 December 1854; and Maren, born 12 June 1856. Then four for years that was disharmony in the home because of religious differences that almost led to a divorce. Niels Peter, born 9 May 1858, explained what happen when each new child came along and Lars Peter insisted that his children be blessed and baptized and christened in their Danish Lutheran Church—the family church there in Albæk. “Father would load all of us into the family wagon and drive us to church for the infants blessing. Mother would stay home and prepare a feast for when we returned.” I think that Elsa Marie stayed home because she did not agree with the need for infant baptism. This would also happen after Ole Christian was born 24 June 1859 and again after Christian was born 8 October 1861.
I avoided using the last names in the previous paragraph. If the family had stayed in Denmark the children’s last names would have been Larsen, since their father was Lars. Lars Peter’s last name was Christensen because his father was Christen Pedersen. By the way, in Denmark, Pedersen and Petersen are pronounced the same. This is why when the immigration agent in New York heard Lars Peter say “Pedersen” ,the agent using the English spelling wrote “Peterson”. I believe he wrote down his complete name as Lars Peter Peterson and that is apparently how his name was changed from Lars Peder Christensen to Lars Peter Peterson.
Lars Peter was finally persuaded to join the Mormon Church. He was baptized in November 1861, four year after his wife. Immediately the family began making preparations to emigrate to America and to the Mormon Zion in the West—the promised land. Household furnishings were sold, a buyer was arranged for the family farm and home and implements and livestock, and their farm wagon.
It was during the first days of April 1862, that their neighbor, Hans Christensen, drove them in his farm wagon, the fifteen miles south to Aalborg. Leaving Albek were Lars Peter (age 36), Elsa Maria (29), Anna Maria (9), James Christian (8), Maren (5), Niels Peter (4), Ole Christen (2) and Baby Christen (10 months). In Aalborg, they boarded the steamer Albion that had been chartered by Danish LDS mission leaders. They sailed from Aalborg on April 6, 1862 with 400 Saints from both the Aalborg and Vendsyssel Conferences. (Early missions of the Church were divided into conferences instead of districts; districts become stakes. Conferences held conferences quarterly just as today; we have two general conferences and two stake conferences.)
The next morning at Aarhus, they picked up the Saints from the Aarhus and Skive Conferences. Later that day at Fredericia, they picked up the Saints from the Fredericia and Fyen Conferences. That evening they reached the harbor at Kiel, Germany. The next day the continued by train to Hamburg. That very evening, April 8, 1862, they boarded the Good Ship Franklin. Little Maren, age five, had already died. Lars Peter had to hurry quickly to get a small casket made. As they boarded the ship, the casket was part of their luggage. Part of the Danish Saints boarded the Franklin, but another group boarded the Humboldt.
Hamburg is over 50 miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean on the Elbe River. They set sail on the Franklin on April 15, 1862. It took more than a day to clear the river and then more time to reach the 12-mile limit, where Maren could be buried at sea in the newly made casket. As they reached mid-ocean, an epidemic of measles broke out and 46 immigrants died and were buried at sea; 43 were children and 3 were adults.
The sea voyage was 45 days long. The nineteenth day was on Sunday, May 4th; that day Elsa’s 10-month baby boy, Christen, died in her arms and was then buried at sea. Then exactly a week later, her two-year old son, Ole Christen, died and was buried at sea. Lars Peter and Elsa Marie had now lost three of their children. The other three, Anna Maria, James Christian and Niels Peter would arrive successfully and grow to have families in Richfield, Utah.
They arrived in New York Harbor on May 29th 1862. That morning, they tried to disembark at Castle Garden, but because they were still struggling with the measles epidemic, they were sent back to the Franklin to spend one more night and a day. Then they were allowed to disembark on May 30th, after 18 Saints who still had the measles were sent to a hospital.
It was here at Castle Gardens, according to family tradition, that Lar Peder Christensen, became Lars Peter Peterson. The immigrant agent asked Lars, “What is your name?” Lars replied, “Lars Peter Christensen.” “And what is your father’s name?” asked the agent. “Christen Peterson,” Was Lars’ reply. Then the agent declared, “Well you have to have the same last name as your father!” Then the agent wrote down Lars’ American name as Lars Peter Peterson--using the English spelling and giving him the same last name as his father.
At Castle Garden, the immigrants were met by Elders Charles C. Rich, John Van Cott and other brethren who had made arrangements for them on trains and boats to get to Florence, Nebraska or the old Winter Quarters of 1846, where the Danish Saints would form one of the largest wagon trains to ever cross the American Prairie.
A part of the emigrants did not have means to carry them further on their way to Zion than New York, but through the generosity of some of the Saints who were more fortunate, a sufficient sum was raised to take all these poor Saints along, and with rejoicing the journey was then resumed, leaving New York May 31st, at 9 p.m. Lars Peter Peterson was one of the well-off families and was able to assist others in completing the journey. Lars Peter had been in the King’s Guard there in Denmark. He lived far north of the Danish capital of Copenhagen, but had served in the King’s army in 1847. Apparently after the border war with Germany that he participated in, he returned and continued in the king’s service there in Northern Jutland. I think there was a satellite castle up there that he served at. I picture him once a week, getting on his horse and heading to Dronninglund to serve for a day in the king’s guard. His wife had very elegant dresses that she brought with her in crossing the plains. His children after arriving to Utah found out from Saints who emigrated from the same area of Albaek would curtsy Lars and Elsa when they met them because they were like royalty.
From New York the journey continued. A long line of boxcars with provisions on board were charted and trains carried them from New York City north to Albany where they began heading west passing through Syracuse, Rochester, and Niagara. Then into Canada and onto Winsor where they crossed the river into Detroit and then on to Chicago. There they headed southwest to Quincy, Illinois (near old Nauvoo). The following day they boarded a steamboat that took them across the Mississippi River and further north to Hannibal, Missouri. There they were back on a train again that took them to St, Joseph, Missouri arriving on June 6th 1862. A steamboat took the Saints from the Franklin up and across the Missouri River to Florence, Nebraska. They arrived there on June 9th and they found that the Danish Saints that left Hamburg in the Humboldt had already been there for a week.
Eleven persons (4 adults and 7 children) died while staying at Florence and a young girl died on the plains, making in all 62 of the 'Franklin' company who died between Hamburg and Salt Lake City. Three of these were Lars Peter’s children--Maren, Christian, and Ole Christian.
On Tuesday, June 10th, the emigrants pitched their tents a short distance north of Florence, and the necessary purchases of oxen, wagons, cows, etc. were attended to. Those who crossed the plains by the Church teams were organized into messes to receive their provisions from the commissary of the company.
Recorded Accounts from the Internet
The emigrants who sailed across the Atlantic in the four ships mentioned [the Humboldt, Franklin, Electric, and Athenia] came together in Florence from which place those who had not the means wherewith to equip themselves for the journey across the plains were assisted by the teams sent there from the Valley by the Church, while those who had means wherewith to help themselves were organized into two independent companies. One of these was placed in the charge of Elder Christian A. Madsen and was composed of 264 persons, 40 wagons, 14 horses, 174 oxen, 99 cows, 37 heifers, 7 calves, 6 dogs and 10 chickens, and brought along 22 tents, 32 cooking stoves, 5 revolvers and 37 rifles. Hans C. Hansen was captain of the guard and Jens C. A. Weibye secretary for the company, which was divided into six divisions with the following brethren as captains: Soren Larsen, Jens C. A. Weibye, Niels Mortensen (Lynge), Thomas Lund, Lauritz Larsen and Christian H. Gron. The first mentioned had charge of five horse teams and the others eight ox teams each. I believe that Lars Peter Peterson was in this group.
In crossing the plains, Lars Peter Peterson teamed up with Niels Mortensen. The two men and the two families had become great friends once their journey from Aalborg began. With the two men working closely together, they could put both teams of oxen onto one wagon when needed to cross a stream or to get over a steep slope. At nights, they camped together and shared the same fire.
They arrived in Salt Lake on September 23, 1862. I think that Lars and Elsa would have parked their covered wagon at Elsa’s younger sister, Johanna Marie Squires, for a few days. This would be their first reunion after 6 ½ years since Johanna and her mother, Maren Mikkelsen, left Denmark in April 1856 on their way to the Latter Day Saints’ Zion in the West. Johanna Marie Squires had been there in Salt Lake City since November 9, 1856, when she arrived with the rescued Willie Handcart Company. She was now the wife of John Paternoster Squires and was the mother of two: Catherine Harriet Jensen Squires, almost 2, and James Jensen Squires, almost 4. Elsa and Johanna must have had a good time remembering their beloved Mother, but saddened by her passing. Johanna would have grieved with Elsa over the passing of her three children before crossing over the ocean; she would be meeting Annie Marie (9) and James Christian (8) again, but would be seeing Niels Peter (4) for the very first time.
Many of the Danish Saints from the Franklin, and perhaps all, were assigned by Brigham Young to go south of Salt Lake Valley and settle in Pleasant Grove in Utah Valley. There Lars Peter and his family shared a dugout for the winter with Niels Mortensen’s family, their great friends from the Franklin. I like to think of two covered wagons parked near a large underground hut. Many, if not all, would still sleep in the wagons. I imagine most of the winter cooking was done in the fireplace at the far end of the dugout. There would have been a camping/cooking fire on the ground between the two wagons much as they had done in crossing the plains. The dugout gave them increased shelter from the cold and the storms, but as soon as spring arrived, they would get busy building frame or log homes above the ground to make the living quarters more bearable and a lot less muddy.
Pleasant Grove Utah Cemetery
It was in Pleasant Grove that Elsa gave birth to her seventh child and third girl; the baby girl was born on October 9th 1862. They named her Elsie Marie Peterson after her mother’s American name. Mother Elsie struggled for her life as she also tried to nurse her baby girl. Her struggle ended on the 17th of October. Lars would have had to find another nursing woman in the community to take care of his new baby girl. Baby Elsie Marie Peterson lived only a month, dying on November 10th 1862. Both Mother and Baby Elsie Marie Peterson are buried side by side in the Pleasant Grove Cemetery. Today there are matching headstones marking the sight. The main difference is that their dates of birth are almost 30 years apart.
Upon the death of his wife, Elsie Marie Peterson, Lars sold his wife’s elegant dresses to ladies there in the community so that he could afford a casket for the burial. Now his daughter, Annie Marie, would see ladies wearing her mother’s dresses, and it would upset her so that she would hurry home throw herself on her bed and cry her eyes out. This story I heard from Ila Christensen Toronto when I visited her in her home in Spanish Fork back when I was a married student attending college at BYU in 1968. Ila had heard it directly from her grandmother, Annie Marie Peterson, who raised her as her parent after the passing of Ila’s parents. Ila showed me a carved wooden box; the top unscrewed and in it was some of the material cut from one of her mother’s elegant dresses and an old Danish dime. These were Grandma Annie’s keepsakes form her trip traveling to America and reminding her of her beloved mother. I was hearing this story from the very person who had heard it from Grandma Annie Marie Peterson.
Lars Peter needed a wife to help him raise his three young children. On December 8th 1862, Lars married Maren Andersen in Salt Lake City. Maren was also a Danish immigrant from Hjorring county from a place called Voer, not far from where Lars Peter came from. She was 46 years old and he was 37. There is no mention of any of her children from her previous marriage but her former spouse appears to have been Peder Michel Jensen; he was also from Voer.
There was now a strained relation between Lars Peter’s new wife, Maren Andersen, and his oldest child, his nine year old daughter, Annie Marie. The two just did not get along. Perhaps Annie was at the age where she could not accept another woman in her mother’s place. “You are not my mother!” could have easily slipped from her lips when her stepmother asked for her help. Perhaps Maren was the wicked stepmother type so often portrayed in fairytales. To remedy the situation, Annie Marie Peterson was soon sent to live with her aunt—Mrs. John Paternoster Squires. I recall Ila Toronto telling me this story but she has no idea why Mrs. John Squires was her aunt. I now know that Mrs. John Paternoster Squires is Annie Marie’s mother’s younger sister, Johanna Marie Jensen, who immigrated with the handcart pioneers back in 1856 and arrived in Salt Lake with the Willie Handcart Company.
From her aunt, Johanna Marie Jensen Squires, Annie Marie would learn all the skills of a Utah pioneer woman—raising sheep, shearing wool, spinning wool, weaving, mending, making rugs, doing laundry, etc. These skills would help her provide for her own children when she became a widow at age 33 and having to raise five children.
In March 1864, Lars Peter Peterson and his new wife, Maren Andersen, moved to Richfield, Utah, with Lars Peter’s two boys, James Christian (age 9) and Niels Peter (age 5). Lars Peter’s daughter, Anna Maria Peterson (age 10) had already been sent to live in Salt Lake with her Aunt Johanna Marie Jensen Squires. There is no record of Maren Andersen having children from her previous marriage. Lars Peter was again following and catching up with his great friend, Niels Mortensen. When they arrived in Richfield which was first called Warm Springs, they shared a dugout with them, just as they had done in Pleasant Grove, until they could build their own house above the ground.
In Richfield’s centennial history—Golden Sheaves from a Rich Field—in the first paragraph on page 15 it says “The first families started to arrive….on March 13, 1864. On the following day Niels Mortenson arrived with his family….were followed by many others….Lars Peter Petersen…and family…”
The first dwelling places were dugouts or a hole in the ground. The first ten men first built one where McKinlay Chevrolet stood for many years. Richfield had very few trees and no straight ones at all. Logs from straight trees had to be hauled from the mountains, and the mountains above Glenwood were easiest to get to. The toll road just north of Cottonwood Canyon had to be built before the West Mountain with all of its rocky cliffs could be used for hauling in straight logs for cabin building.
The first settlers in Richfield had arrived only two months earlier on January 6, 1864; ten men came in a wagon train from Sanpete Valley. Once some improvements were made, they returned to get their families. One wife upon arriving at her new home in Richfield at night and seeing it was level with the ground—a dugout—wept.
The last half of my senior year at Richfield High School was in 1964 and Richfield’s Centennial Celebration began on January 4th 1964 on Manti’s Main Street with an early morning breakfast and a modern wagon train begin making its way along Highway 89 heading south to Richfield. When they arrived in Gunnison, a school teacher met them and asked them to circle the wagons for the benefit and education of the children. That night lots of Richfield Citizens visited the overnight camping site for the wagon train. Twenty-three bearded men from Richfield were in the wagon train with seven wagons hauling them. They arrived in Richfield on January 4th 1964. They circled their wagons at the blocked off intersection of Main Street and 1st North. Speeches were given from off the steps of the Post Office. The mayor, Elmo Herring declared, “Let the Celebration begin!”—speaking of all the events planned for the year of Richfield’s Centennial Celebration. A street dance was held there that evening
On November 5th 1866, both Lars Peter Peterson and his new wife, Maren Andersen, were in Salt Lake City. They did sealings in the Endowment House. They were not sealed to each other in marriage; theirs was just a marriage for time—for their time in mortality. They were sealed for Time and All Eternity to their former spouses. Lars Peter was sealed to Elsa Marie Jensen, his first wife and mother of their seven children. Maren was sealed to her departed husband, Peder Michel Jensen.
As Lars Peter Peterson moves with his family to Richfield in March of 1864, I will use selected quotes from Richfield’s centennial history—Golden Sheaves from a Rich Field—(GSFRF). The chairman of this publication was Pearl S. Jacobson. She was my English teacher in both 7th and 8th grade. She was also my Utah History teacher in 7th grade. At the end of 8th grade, I was elected to be the new student body president of Richfield Junior High School. My first assignment was to give a farewell speech at Ninth Grade Graduation. I wrote the speech, then got it approved by my English teacher—Mrs. Jacobson. Then I memorized it and gave it to the ninth grade graduating class.
I was surprised with this current reading of the centennial history to find that name of Lars Peter Petersen listed in the second wave of settlers coming into town in March 1864.
“In the early part of January, 1864, a party of ten men under the leadership of Albert Lewis came from Sanpete and arrived in what is now Richfield on January 6.” (GSFRF, page 13)
“Although these first men were not ordered or “called” by the church to this location, they must be recognized as the ones to make the beginning of what is now Richfield.” (GSFRF, 13)
“These men were Albert Lewis, Nelson Higgins, Andrew Poulson, Hans Hansen, C.O. Hansen, George Olgilvie, August Nelson, Robert Glenn, Jorgen Smith, and Eskild C. Petersen.” (GSFRF, 14)
“The first families started to arrive, among whom were Joseph S. Doxford and Marrison P. Fugatt, who arrived on March 13, 1864. On the following day Niels Mortensen (Peterson) arrived with his family. (This is Lars Peter Peterson’s closest friend.) Those first families were followed by many others. Among them were Nelson Higgins with his family, Christian P. Christensen and his family, Chas Green, Nathaniel Hanchett and family, Albert Lewis and family, Paul Petersen, Peter Poulsen and family, Didrick Mortensen and family, James Mortensen, Hans Peter Miller and family, Lars Nielsen, Lars Peter Petersen (They are spelling his name with sen which is the Danish way and is also the spelling on his headstone.), Peter Petersen and family,Lars Nielsen, August Kesler, Hyrum A. Marble, August Nelson and family, Wm. D. Norton and family, John A Norton and family, Lewis Nebeker and family, Geo Ogilvie and family, John P. Peterson and family, Claus P. Anderson, Andres Rasmussen, Geo Swindle and family, Ulrick Winkler and family, and Hans Petersen and family. (Perhaps Lars Peter Peterson went and got his family soon after this.) (GSFRF, 15)
“The first dwelling places were dugouts. Here is an account taken from the Biography of H.P.Miller, written by his daughter Eudora Miller: ‘These men did what few men who had settled earlier had done—They dug cellars, placed a willow-dirt roof over the excavation, formed steps out of the soil leading down to the entrance, and brought their wives and children. As they came into the settlement, Mother noted a few mounds. When Father stopped at a mound and gravely said, “Well here we are,’ Mother with tears in her eyes asked ‘Is this home?’ A cellar, no window; no door, merely a cloth hung up to keep out some of the cold; tiny children to take care of, and a new child to be born in mid spring, I weep as I write.’ So—this was the sort of home that greeted these wives and families who had left fairly comfortable homes to come to this “land of promise.” (GSFRF, 15) (I think this was the first type of homes in Richfield because trees were scarce and had to be haul down from Cove Mountain. But as summer weather arrived, logs were hauled down from the mountains and log homes above the ground were soon constructed and the dugouts became the root cellars for storing food for the winters.)
”Jacob Norton, who built the first adobe house in Richfield, raised 60 bushels of wheat to the acre that same summer of ’64, hence he suggested that the name of Omni be changed to Richfield, owing to the apparent richness of the soil.” (GSFRF, 17)
Three Paragraphs Taken From www.lgwilliams.blogspot.com:
The first dwelling places were dugouts, with willow and dirt roofs. They then built houses of adobe because clay dirt was available as a building material; logs and lumber weren’t. Because of Indian troubles settlers were prevented from long trips into the mountains. Consequently, there were few log or lumber houses in early Richfield.
He—Eskild Christian Peterson--moved his family to Richfield and built a one room adobe house with willows and a red dirt roof. They lived in this until the Indians became so hostile; they had to move back to Mt. Pleasant. He was also one of the first pioneers to build a log cabin. His log cabin is still standing and is the Richfield Pioneer Relic Hall for that chapter of the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers.
According to Peter Peterson, son of E.C. Peterson, the old cabin which is the Richfield DUP Relic Hall, North of the Library was built about