Christensen, Anna Else (Berthelson) by Sophia Lund Taylor (granddaughter)
Contributor: SouthPawPhilly Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
My Great-grandfather’s name was Laurits (Jensen) Christensen Breinholt... born June 18th, 1818 in Denmark. Before he came to Utah in 1868, he and his wife lived in Denmark and were the parents of 10 children... 5 boys and 5 girls. The seventh child was Anne Else, our grandmother. She was born on April 13, 1854, in the town of Urlev on the Jutland Peninsula. The Jutland mainland is a small peninsula which juts up to divide the North Sea from the Baltic. Grandmother mentioned at times about the many loaves of bread her mother had to bake for her large family. She baked it in a big oven... enough bread to last for weeks. The bread was hard at first, but softened as it aged. She learned to crochet, knit, tat, card wool, sew and cook... accomplishments and knowledge she would one day bring with her to help her make a home in America.
Else had a happy childhood in the natural beauty of her homeland where storks nest on the roofs of its beautiful old houses. She learned of the friendliness of flowers and of the birds and their songs the aroma of heather and heliotrope and the loveliness of the countryside studded with old windmills and ancient white-washed and re-tiled churches.
Else and her parents and brothers and sisters were converts of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. She was baptized a member of the church on June 1, 1868 when she was 14 years old. One week later her family began their journey to Zion.
This is what Grandma tells in her Journal:
“Just one week after I was baptized 630 of us left Copenhagen on June 8th, 1868, on the steamer Hansia. It was a hard trip. Storm every day, and we passengers were stuffed down in the ship. The deck was filled with cattle and sheep. We were not allowed on deck all the time we were there and most of us were sick. We arrived in Hull, England on June 16th, and in the evening went by train in box cars to Liverpool. There was not enough room to sleep, so a Danish man was hired to take us to a hotel, and back again in the morning. He took us through a street where 500 orphans were wandering about. They had no home. I saw some of them pick up and eat what the horses dropped. I hope such doesn’t exist now. On the 19th we went on board the ship “Emerald Isle”. We had paid for a steamship, but when we got there and ready to go.. This sailship was there to take us and we had to go. They had a machine that could distill the salt water to fresh water, and when we were three days out on the ocean the machine broke and we had to go back to Ireland for a load of fresh water. In their hurry they took all kinds of barrels to put the water in and we hadn’t been on the on the ocean for more than a week or two till the water was getting rotten. We were on the ocean 9 weeks and to the last we only had a tea cup full a day for each person and it was so rotten it stunk and stringed. We couldn’t get a spoonful more than our allowance even if a person was dying. Many died and were buried in the deep waters and eaten by the fish. My mother took sick on the third week and was very sick all the time we were on the ship. She prayed that she might live till we got to land so she could get buried in the Earth. Her prayers were answered. 37 deaths occurred during the voyage.”
“No other company of emigrating Saints from Scandinavia are known to have met with such bad treatments as we had on board this sailing vessel. Ours was the last company of Saints to cross the Atlantic in a sailing vessel.”
“We arrived at New York on August 11th. The doctors came on board to inspect the passengers. I washed and combed my mother, and put her best dress on, and took hold of her arm. She passed their inspection and was allowed to go with us. We traveled by railway from New York to Niagara, Detroit, and Chicago, and onto council bluffs. On August the 22nd we were taken across the Missouri River by Steamboat and then by Union Pacific Railroad to Benton, 700 miles west of Omaha. Here the Church teams met the emigrants and took them to their camp on the Platt River.
“While we had traveled on the trains, Mother had been so much improved. Father bought what she wanted to eat...Rye bread, butter, milk and eggs. When we got to our camp at Omaha she walked the two miles to the ox team camp. We all felt ill and had only ox meat and bread baked in a skillet. My brother George and I walked. We were so sick we could hardly make it. After three days my Mother died at noon when we camped for dinner, and some sisters washed her and sewed her in a sheet and 4 men carried her to the grave and they burned a big pile of brush on her grave. The ashes should prevent wild animals from smelling the newly made grave and dig it up. One hour after she died we were on our way again. My sister Thora and I watched the smoke of the fire as far as we could see it. My brother Hans rode for he had become crippled, as he had the measles on the ship and it settled in his knees and joints.
“Sickness continued to rage among us. 30 died between New York and Salt Lake City. The surviving part of this, the 28th company of emigrating Saints from Scandinavia arrived on the 25th of September, 1868. My family left Salt Lake and went on the Manti to make our home. The first settlers had gone to Manti about 19 years earlier.” (Unquote)
One evening when Else was out playing with the children her father called her into the house and told her that Jens Christensen wished her to marry him, and keep house for him. Jens was 31 years old while Else was 15 years of age, but was big and strong for one of such tender years. She didn’t understand all that marriage would mean, but she appreciated how patient and kind Jens was with her in helping her to be a wife to him. They took their wagon and horses and drove to S.L.C. where they were married in the Endowment House on June 18th, 1869.
Else and her husband lived in a two-room adobe house which he had built in Manti. He operated a small farm between Manti and Ephraim and he also did a lot of freighting. He hauled flour, eggs, chickens and other produce and brought back bullion or ore. Else would help get his load ready by buying eggs and other things wile he was on his freighting trips.
Else was 16 years old when their first child, Sophia, was born and just before Else’s seventh child was born she became a widow at the age of 28. When informed of her husband’s death, Else became so upset that she gave birth to her baby, Mary, prematurely. Else sold a good team of horses and also two heifers to help pay hospital and funeral expenses when her husband died. Of course, many of her friends and relatives made contributions to help her.
Else’s oldest brother Christian Brienholt, had a two-room house with an attic in Ephraim and this house he traded to Else for her home in Manti so that she could live nearer her relatives. Before leaving Manti, she sold the railroad a right-of-way through her farm and then she traded the balance of her farm for one closer to Ephraim.
Thus it was that Else and her children became members of the Ephraim South Ward. This ward had been organized from the Ephraim Ward on July 4, 1877 – the same day that the Sanpete Stake was organized.
With seven children under 13 years of age to care for, Else had to work hard. She took in washing, and there were three cows to milk. James a lad of 11 herded cows for other people, along with their own three cows, so that he could earn some money. When he grew older he herded sheep in order to help. The girls, Sophia, Eleanora, Rena, and Hilda worked hard while very young doing housework to help support themselves. Some of the older children left school when in about the 4th Grade to help in earning a living.
In 1888 she married her second husband, Christian Berthelson. Within the space of a few years a son (Folmer), twin daughters (Castella and Luella) and a younger son, (Sophus) were born. So there was 11 children.
Else’s son Oswald, while he was still living at home, drew the plans an did all the carpentry work, with the exception of the porch, for a new two-story brick home for his mother. This was the house in which she lived during her remaining years of her life. The adobes of the old house, just west of the new house, were used in lining the new one.
If those adobes and bricks could talk, they could tell us many interesting stories. They could tell of friendly white-washed walls - the smell of new straw under the home-made carpet. They could tell of the prattle of children, the lessons of honesty, industry, and high ideals taught them by their mother. They could tell of her firm discipline which enabled her to raise a family of upright sons and daughters of whom any parent could be proud. They could tell of the prayers, the anxieties and the heart throbs which made that humble house a home.
If those adobes and bricks could talk they would boast of the aroma of bread, pies, sweet soup, and chicken soup with Danish dumplings. They could tell of many dinner parties hel, and of the social chatter of Else and her may visitors throughout the years. The Danish are the most hospitable people and had such a keen sense of humor. Those adobe and brick walls must still echo some of her wit and the laughter of old and young - also the notes of her organ and the songs of the Danish Choir. She sang with this choir for many years and belongs to it until the time of her death.
The walls could tell of romance, too, for eventually all of her children experienced happy days of courtship before they left to swell in home of their own. And as the years went on children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren returned to spend many happy hours with Grandmother.
The walls could tell us of tragedy too. Only 6 or 7 years following the death of her first husband, Sophia, her firstborn passed away at the age of 20. Sophia was planning to be married to my father. Their wedding date had been set and she had made her own wedding dress when she was stricken with typhoid fever and died on the day that was to have been her wedding day. She was buried in the dress she had made for her wedding. Four years later, when my mother , who was Else’s 3rd child, was 20 she and my father were married and I, being their first daughter, was named in honor of the sister and sweetheart who was buried on what was to have been her wedding day. Sophia’s loss was sorely felt by Else and eight years later her 15 year old daughter, Mary, passed away. Another eight years went by and the Angle of Death struck again - on the last day of 1906. This time it was her husband whom she lost. Else lived another 31 years – enjoying good health most of the time–until she was 83 years old and suffered a nine-day illness with pneumonia, followed by a paralytic stroke which resulted in her death on February 5th, 1937 in her own home.
The greatest tribute that can be paid anyone is that of possessing a noble posterity and this is Grandmother’s greatest achievement. Her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren numbering into the hundreds, reared in her traditions, are grateful for the wonderful heritage she has given them.