Week 17 – At Worship

Imagine what it would have been like to cross the United States as part of a wagon train pulled by oxen to get to worship at Zion, the Mormon’s gathering place in Utah. But in 1854 this is what my 2C4R together with her husband and son did. (second cousin four times removed).

Name: Øllegaard Hansdatter
Birth: 29/5/1808 – Neder-Fløjstrup, Malling, Ning, Århus
Marriage: 15/1/1839 – Beder, Malling, Ning, Århus
Spouse: Anders Sørensen
Death: 26/10/1879 – Ephraim, Sanpete, Utah, USA

This was the early days of of the Mormon faith in Denmark. Following is a notice from the paper Fyens Stiftstidende dated 15/6/1854: ..in the six months ending 6th of April 500 people entered the Mormon faith and 384 danish Mormons emigrated. At present the number of Mormons in Denmark is estimated to be around 1500. The sect has now spread to Iceland where there is a community of seven devotees. In Norway the member number is thought to be 186 and in Sweden 171.

There was also an article in the Østsjællandsk Avis on the same date. Here, under the headline “Mormoner” was written ..On Monday another group of Mormons departed Copenhagen. Many of these came from Jutland, Funen and some from Sealand, however, a large number came from Norway and Sweden. They were accompanied by a Mormon-priest, previously a brush-maker who in reality looked more like a brush than a priest. Most of these Mormons were farmers and only few had a trade. One of these was a bricklayer with wife and 10 children.

It is evident from these articles that Mormons were not redily accepted in the Danish community and it is therefore not surprising they chose to travel to Utah.

The above extract from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints fits Øllegaard except for the year of birth – 5 instead of 8, and in the spelling where the Ø becoming an O. The number is easily misread and going to an English speaking country o is usually substituted for the Danish ø. This is a summary of the travel notes for Hans Peter Olsen’s Company. The full text is here. (1853-1854 p. 87-89)

Hardly anyone had previously travelled anywhere outside their local community and so the majority was not prepared for the long journey. On Dec 22, 1853 a company of Scandinavian Saints consisting of 301 souls sailed from Copenhagen on the steamship “Slesvig”. The route took them via Kiel, Gluckstadt and Hull to Liverpool where they arrived Dec 28th.

Jesse Munn

On the first day of January, 1754 they boarded the ship “Jesse Munn”. Other people had joined from Germany and the number had now increased to 333. They set sail on the 3rd of January and the crossing of the Atlantic had been pleasant and on arriving New Orleans Feb 20, only 10 children and 2 adults had died and 3 couples were married.

Passenger list of the Jesse Munn – Ølligard and family are numbers 308-310

Going up the Mississippi River was slow and tedious due to unusually low water and the group arrived St. Louis on 11 Mar. Considerable sickness had prevailed on this part of the journey and an unusual number of people had died from cholera. Many more died during the one month’s wait for another Scandinavian group to arrive. Eventually they were all ready to cross the Plains leaving 9 May under the leadership of Hans Peter Olsen.

The company consisted of sixty nine wagons. Each wagon with 10-12 people had four oxen and two cows attached. The wagons, oxen and other equipment cost more than some emigrants could afford but fellow Mormons contributed freely of their own money, so none were left behind.

The journey across the plains commenced on Jun 15. Near Fort Kearney they were met by mormons from this valley who informed them of some depressing news. Of all the people that had crossed the plains in 1854, the Scandinavians had suffered the most with sickness (cholera) and fatalities had been numerous. Many had been compelled to bury their relatives and friends without coffins out on the desolate plains. Of the 680 who had left Copenhagen the previous winter, only 500 reached their destination.

The survivors reached Salt Lake City Oct 5, 1854 after a minimum of 9.5 months of travel.

There are several diary notes from the journey on the Church of Jesus Christ Latter-Day Saints website. This story tells of an encounter with buffalos and Indians.

The family was allocated to Ephraim and the following is a biography of their son, Søren Andersen Sørensen, from The History of Sanpete County. (1898) page 342.

Sorensen, Soren A., farmer, son of Andrew and Ollegor, was born in Denmark November 14, 1839. His parents joined the Mormon Church and came to Utah, crossing the plains in Captain Olsen’s ox-train, and located in Ephraim, arriving here October 6, 1854. They assisted in building the fort and lived in it several years. Father died May 29, 1875, mother October 26, 1879. Soren was brought up on a farm and owns seventy-five acres and his home in the city. In ’61 he went to Missouri river after emigrants. Took part in the Black Hawk war and witnessed the killing of a man and two women by Indians, when Black Hawk shot at him but missed. Was married in Ephraim October 26, 1861 to Johanna, daughter of Johannes and Bengta Larsen, born in Sweden October 3, 1834. They have three living children: Annie, wife of Peter H. Peterson; Hannah, wife of Alfred Bellander, and Soren.

Note: The Black Hawk War was in 1832 and the Indian, Black Hawk died in 1838. This was before Soren was born and before he and his parents arrived in the USA. They must be referring to a different skirmish with the Indians.

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