Hilmar Nelson Life History
Contributor: trishkovach Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
A Personal History and Letters Written by Hilmar Marius Nelson
(in the possession of, and transcribed from his handwriting, by Elizabeth Downing, his granddaughter)
I, Hilmar Marius Nelson, son of Jens (James) Nelson and Amalia Augusta Westlund (Hagerlund), was born in Randers, Denmark, November 21, 1878. My oldest brother, Carl Peter Emil Nelson, was born in Randers March 23 1868. My sister, Bertha Kirstine Jensine Olivia was born in Rimsö, Sönderherred, Denmark, May 19, 1870. Niels August Oluf, born in Aalsö, Aalsrode, Sönderherred, Denmark, August 9, 1872. Amalia Augusta Margrete born December 10, 1875 in Randers, Denmark. Jens, now James, born September 15, 1880, in Randers, Denmark.
My father was a shoemaker by trade and was married to my mother February 19, 1868 in Randers. Father was the son of Niels Bengston and Bertha Jonasdatter and was born in Ifvetofte, Skåne, Sweden, April 12, 1837. Mother, the daughter of Anders (Westlund) Hagerlund and Christina Margrete Utterholm, was born February 5, 1837, in Köping, Mouketorp, Sweden.
I began schooling when eight years of age in Randers and completed the study of public school in my 15th year. As a boy, I had several jobs running errands for a harness maker and a dentist.
Randers, the city of my birth, had a population of about 15,000 in my childhood days. It is an ancient city and was well known in the 13th and 14th centuries. It has a river called Gudenå running through it and has a steamship line to Copenhagen and other cities; there are also plenty of pleasure boats for hire, and I have had many a pleasant boat ride as a boy. My brother James and I were baptized in this river.
As a boy, I sold radishes and other vegetables to housewives and at Christmastime made jumping jacks and sold and thus helped to support myself for my parents were poor. My father also did some goldsmithing in the summer. My father also did some gardening in the summertime and my mother sold strawberries and rhubarb from house to house carrying her berries in a basket, walking for miles, coming home in the evening tired and worn out.
I was baptized in Randers, March 22, 1890, by G.P. Bastian; was ordained a Deacon May 3, 1891; was ordained an Elder by A. W. Gallagher June 24, 1902; ordained a Seventy June 28, 1908 by Brigham H. Roberts; ordained a High Priest, April 11, 1926 by Abel John Evans.
My lineage of priesthood is as follows: Ordained a Seventy June 28, 1908 by B.H. Roberts who was ordained a Seventy by Nathan Porter March 1, 1870 who was ordained by Joseph Young October 6, 1844, who was ordained by Joseph Smith, Jr. February 28, 1835. Joseph Smith, Jr. was ordained an apostle by the apostles Peter, James, and John in the spring of 1829, and they were ordained by Jesus Christ. Thus you see there are only five links in the chain of my priesthood back the Son of God. I defy any other priest outside of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to trace their lineage of priesthood in like manner. Who shall say the authority is not divine?
After completing the work of public school, I worked at a match factory about 11-12 hours per day for bout 1 Krown 25 cfr or less than 35 cents a day. Later, I got employment as a delivery boy for a hardware store, working in the summer from 6 A.M. To about 10 P. M. for about 40c per day, then I worked in a dry goods store for awhile and when about 17 years of age, I got a job in the office of an attorney, where I was employed 2 ½ years; and next as a clerk in a county office in Randers, called Rougsó m. fl. Herreders Kontor, where I stayed until I emigrated to Idaho Falls, Idaho, in April 1898.
My brother, Emil was employed in a dry goods store in his teens and when 18 or 19 years old, he immigrated to Gunnison, San Pete, Utah. My sister, Olivia, worked at the same match factory as I did,and when about 18 years of age, she immigrated to Logan, Utah, and so did my sister Amalia, when she was about 13 years old. My brothers, August and Jens, worked for farmers when they were boys 12-13 years old until we immigrated to Idaho Falls, Idaho in April 1898. And when we landed in New York, we had about $6.00 for traveling expenses for the four of us for about six days journey and our chief fare was bread, butter, cheese, and bologna. It so happened that we forgot our lunch basket in Chicago and was about a couple of days without food. When we arrived in Butte, Montana, we were met by numerous taxi drivers who wanted to take us to the certain hotel they were representing, but I told them we had no money and a certain man who heard this gave mother a dollar, which was life saver to us, for we were surely starved. God bless him!
Our train was late arriving at Butte, so we had to stay over until the next day at about 4:00 P.M., so we slept on the benches in the waiting room at the station, to get our train to Idaho Falls were we arrived about 12:30 midnight, May 12, 1898.
Father had a shoemaker shop in a lumber building, and we lived back of the shop, had a couple of beds, a table, a stove, and a few chairs and dishes; no linoleum or carpet on the floor. Father had homesteaded 40 acres at Independence, now called Thornton, Idaho, where mother and August lived for awhile, and she died there,May 9, 1899. I mourned her death for weeks, thinking it was an awful tragedy that she died before we boys could have a change to make life comfortable for her, but if I had known then what I know now about the hereafter, I now think God was good to her and called her home, and He did a thousand times more for her than we could have.
I attended school at Idaho Falls fall and winter 188 and 1899 and in order to get the language from the bottom up, I started in the 2nd grade and advanced to first year high school. In April 1899, I went to Salt Lake City where I worked as a dishwasher and later as waiter for my brother, Emil, and his partner, Erastus Hansen, and I went to the LDS college in the afternoon where I took a missionary course, and in the fall of 1899-1900, I took a business course at the LDS college in Salt Lake City, Utah.
In the summer of 1901, I traveled together with Erastus Hansen exhibiting moving pictures and stereoptic views of a trip around the world in 80 minutes, to which I delivered the lecture . We traveled by horse and wagon through most of Utah and Idaho and gave a show at Washakie, Idaho, to the Washakie Indians, who were simply thrilled to see it and hear our phonograph. We were amused to see their enthusiasm.
May 4, 1902, I was engaged to a pure-hear ted farm girl, Rose Kate Nelson of Pleasant Grove, a virgin, pure and undefiled, she was 19 ½ years old when we were married on June 25, 1902, in the Salt Lake Temple for time and all eternity. I was in my 24th year. Besides being a true and loving wife, she is an excellent cook, an expert seamstress and expert in crocheting and embroidering.
In my teens I had two sweethearts, the first one a sweethearts, the first one a sweet blonde of LDS parents, she being a member of the same branch as I and about 15 years old. Her name was Anna Andersen. We went in the woodland in the evening after work arm in arm and sat down on benches loving each other, but after a year or two, a shoemaker apprentice cut me out and I was all brokenhearted, and told her when she quit me that God knew I left her as clean as when I first met her, which she did not deny.
My second sweetheart was a pretty girl whose parents were Spiritualists. We went to dancing school together and to dances until 3-4 o'clock in the morning, which was customary in Denmark then, and perhaps still is, but this girl was of the same character as Potipher's wife that you read about in Genesis 39:7, but I am sorry to say that I did not stand the test like Joseph did. So, for this reason my wife is greater than I, but I pray that my children can have the same tribute paid them as I have justly given their mother!
We have had seven children as follows: (1) Kate Amalia, born June 1, 1903 at Pleasant Grove, Utah, and died the same day. (2) Elmer Magnus born in Provo, Utah, April 27, 1905 and died at Pleasant Grove, Utah, September 5, 1905. (3) Verda Lova, born in Pleasant Grove, Utah, July 18, 1913, later married to James Urban Colvin of Short Creek, Arizona, in the Salt Lake Temple August 27, 1930. (4) Elda Arthella, born April 13, 1917, at Pleasant Grove, Utah, later married to Max Gentry Jepson, November 21, 1934, in the Salt Lake Temple. (5) Mildred LeRue, born at Pleasant Grove, Utah, April 4, 1922. Besides these, she has been mother to two stillborn boys. Our children have been an honor and a blessing to us and we hope they will always be so, following in the steps of their mother.
Verda was a good piano player. She started taking lessons when eight years old. Elda is a good violinist, but it seems as if the responsibility of wife hood and motherhood has temporarily crowded the music out of their home, most the music now comes from their children and the radio.
Here is a copy of a letter from grandmother, translated by me from Swedish. The translation is not as great as the original on account of certain idioms hard to duplicate in English. My grandmother died before I was born, and I have never seen a picture of her, but I am proud of her and long to see her.
Fortunately, I have a picture of my father's mother and his sister, Elna. The letter referred to was written to my mother prior to marrying my father. Mother, although she was 30 years old had no doubt written to her mother asking her consent to marry father.
Köping, Sweden, 14 May 1867
Dearly beloved daughter and mate:
With a heart full of joy, I will answer your welcome letter, and enclose my gratitude to both of you or your welcome photo and letter, and I shall in few words, but from a warm mother's heart congratulate you on the occasion of the union (marriage) which I hope is already made. And I herewith promise that I have nothing against it. May the light of the Lord enlighten your home, with peace and blessing to the last evening of your life.
I am very happy that you have an honest worker for a mate. He looks so good and thoughtful. May you have health and be united, then will the time fly swiftly, and then your own a paradise on earth. I can inform that I am enjoying good health, thank to God, and I have moved this spring. I had a cold room this winter, and it has been a long, cold winter, but I am looking forward to a pleasant summer........If you were not living away, and if it did not cost so much for fare, I should enjoy making a visit, but I see the impossibility of this. (Mother was then living in Denmark and grandmother in Sweden.) Therefore, beloved Emeli (Amalia) I must be satisfied if a little oftener I can receive a few lines from you. It is peculiar that letters have not reached me ….....Be so kind to give your man my warmest regards, my best regard to you, and write soon.
Your loving mamma,
My grandmother married twice. Her first husband was Anders Westlund and her second husband was Anders Hagerlund.
A Visit from the Spirit World
For the benefit of those who say: “We do not know if there is a life after death because no one has ever come back.” I here give the testimony of my uncle Bengt as told by my father. Uncle Bengt was the first one to embrace the gospel and preached it to my parents. Sometime after the death of my grandfather he appeared by the bedside of Uncle Bengt one evening after he had gone to bed, but uncle being frightened pulled the bedclothes over his head. The second night, grandfather appeared again, but uncle covered his head again. The following day, uncle studied over these visits and concluded that it must be a message of importance, and decided to ask him if he came again, which he did the third night, and stood by his bedside as before. So Uncle Bengt asked him what he wanted to which grandfather said: “There is much in the Lutheran church which is not right, among it is baptism. Will you go and perform it for me?!” and he disappeared. This testimony ought to be sufficient evidence of the importance of temple work and salvation for the dead.
I have filled two missions, one to Denmark, leaving Salt Lake City November 12, 1909 together with my brother, August O. and arriving in Esbjerg, Denmark, December 4, 1909.
We traveled by way of Niagara Falls, which we visited and say it in all its splendor; went north to Montreal, Canada, where we went sightseeing, boarded the steamer SS Dominion at Montreal, sailed down the Saint Lawrence River, crossed the Atlantic Ocean, and landed at Liverpool, December 1st where we saw barefooted children at the docks trying to sell matches tot he passengers.
We crossed the continent [country] of England and boarded the ship “Nidaros” on the east coast of England and crossed the North Sea in one of the worst storms for many years, some of the seamen were washed overboard an drowned, and we were locked down under deck, the doors being closed tight to prevent the ship from being filled with water and we were tossed to and fro like Jonah in the whale's belly. I was very seasick and vomited gall.
We landed on the west coast of Denmark and went by land and sea to the mission head quarters in Copenhagen, where we received our assignment. We were both assigned to Aarhus Conference (district). I labored a few weeks in Aarhus and was afterwards assigned to Silkeborg Branch, where I was presiding elder and later was move to Esbjerg, Swendborg and Odeuse being presiding elder there in company with my brother, August.
My call to the ministry was in fulfillment of a Patriarchal blessing given to me September 12, 1898 by Patriarch Oliver N. Harmon.
I obtained money for my mission by selling kitchen utensils around the houses and thereby saved up a little over $200. I believe I had $234.00 in the bank when I left Salt Lake City., which together with a few dollars contributed, constituted the total amount of cash for my mission and of that I paid the greater part of my fare, which was $105.00. We “batched” it most of the time and the saints were good to invite us to their homes for a meal, so we never had to go hungry.
I have long had a desire to full a mission and prayed to the Lord to open the way before me, which He did. My tongue was loosened and I did preach the gospel fluently in another language foreign to the patriarch – viz Danish.
I labored in Aarhus Conference, Denmark. I had the privilege of baptizing seven and I was the humble instrument in the hand of the Lord in converting Johanne Madsen Holm who became the wife of my father-in-law in January 1914. She has a printed genealogy of her family and my wife and I are now doing temple work for several hundreds of her kindred. She is jewel and an honor to the family.
I had the reputation of being the best scripturian in our conference. I wrote many replies to the newspaper articles in defense of “Mormonism”and many newspapers were fair enough to publish my replies, or as we say to hear both sides of the question.
While on my mission, a vigorous anti-Mormon campaign was going on in Denmark by a Mr. Hans Freece from Salt Lake City, an apostate Mormon and his companion Mr. Johannes Thorsen and they were holding a meeting in Swendborg where I was presiding elder, my assistants being my brother, August and Jas. R. Paystrup. Here is a copy of my journal. Swendborg, June 23, 1911. (I usually wrote a scripture in my journal each day and on Friday, June 23, 1911, I chose my passage from Philippians 1:28-29 “And in nothing terrified by your adversaries,: which is to them an evident token of peridition, but to you of salvation, and that of God. For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake.”
Study in the forenoon; practicing in the afternoon; gave away 58 tracts; visited 39 doors of which I had 10 refusals and two shut in my face; had four gospel conversations. While tracting, I came to the assistant chief of police, the same who refused August and I and a police at our meetings (for our meetings were sometimes broken up by hoodlums who talked loud and whittled and otherwise disturbed our meetings, so we appealed to the police authorities for help, but was refused) so he wanted to show his authority by asking me if I had asked the police office for permission to tract, which I answered in the negative, and after offering him a tract which he refused the second time, I went. Going along tracting to a few houses more Elder Jas R. Paystrup and I were met by a police who wanted to know what we were doing. We told him. He wanted to know the price of our tract and we told him they were free of charge, and when he discovered he could not get a change to arrest us for selling tracts without a license, he went his way.
At 8 :00 P.M.,August, Elder Paystrup and I went to an Anti-Mormon meeting at Borger …? where Haus P. Freece and Johannes Thoresen were holding lectures telling lies about the Mormons. The hall and gallery was filled, there being 500-600 persons present – admission 10 cfre. It is certainly a fulfillment of Paul's prophecies in 2nd Timothy 4th chapter “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers having itching ears and they shall turn their ears from the truth,and shall be turned unto fables.” People were just swallowing those lies whole. We offer them the truth, but they don't want it. They denied us the privilege of defense, by stating at the commencement that it would not be a public discussion meeting. Here is a translation of a reply to those Anti-Mormon missionaries written by me and published in Swendborg, Avis 26 1911 under the title “Mormonism”
“It would be impossible in a newspaper article to answer all the accusations against the “Mormons” in the Anti-Mormon meeting held last Friday evening by Messers Freece and Thoresen. We must, therefore, be brief, and only answer some of them. First, Mr. Freece claims that the “Mormon” church teaches that Christ had three wives. No, the Mormon Church does not teach any such thing. We have only four books, which are acknowledged by the Mormon Church as being inspired of God, viz: The Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. These four books are the only standard books of the Church, and it is not bound by any private opinion of any of its officers. To be sure, one of its men has advanced that theory, but the Church cannot and will not be responsible therefore. There is nothing in the four mentioned books which teaches that and therefore the “Mormon” Church does not teach it,but permits its members to talk and to think for themselves, and to publish books pertaining to its faith and doctrines and our church burns no one at the stake because he advances his private opinion. Our president can have his private opinion, but nothing is binding on the Church before he in the name of the Lord says: “Thus saith the Lord!”
Mr. Freece claims that President Joseph F. Smith has had 11 children with his wives since the Manifesto. This is, as far as I know, ten too many. We know that he has had one child since the Manifest in 1890, but seeing Mr. Freece is so well informed, we would like him to give us the names and date of birth, and also the names of the mothers of these 11 children. We do not claim that Joseph F. Smith or any of the Church officials are infallible; they are men like Peter, there once said: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,” and then later denied him with an oath....It is a falsehood when Mr. Freece claims that Joseph F. Smith or any of the presidents of the Church has the right to obey or disobey the commandments of God in preference to any of its members. In the Doctrine and Covenants, which is one of our four standard works of the church, we read in Chapter 107:81-85 “There is not any person belonging to this church who is exempt from this council of the church, (comprising of 15 High Priests, usually the First Presidency of the Church and the 12 Apostles) “And in as much as a president of the High Priesthood shall transgress, he shall be had in remembrance before the common council, who shall be assisted by 12 councilors of the High Priesthood and their decision upon his head shall be an end of controversy concerning him. Thus none shall be exempt from the justice and the laws of God.” (Not even Joseph F. Smith.) Joseph can obey or disobey God the same as Mr. Freece by taking the consequences for his transgressions. That the Church leaders since the Manifesto has encouraged its members to enter into polygamy we deny. That two of the church Apostles has taken another wife, we admit, but Mr. Freece ought to have told the congregation that those have been disfellowshipped from the Council of the Twelve and two others chosen in their stead.
There is a reward of $1,000.00 or 3750.00 Kro. awarded by a Mr. V. L. Peet in Utah since the Manifesto, and a $1,000.00 Kroner of someone in Aarhus under 3 May 1911 to anyone who can prove that polygamous marriages have been sanctioned by the LDS Church since the Manifesto, and as Mr. Peet offers $1,000.00 for each case, and being Mr. Freece claims to have the names of 236 persons then here is a good opportunity to get a nice piece of money and he need not to make Anti-Mormon propaganda his livelihood as he can easily live off the interest. In regard to the 236 persons who according to Mr. Freece have taken another wife since the Manifesto, and who have not been held accountable before any court, we think it is exactly the same as if a person should publish the name of 236 persons here in Swendborg who in spite of the law of the land should have entered into polygamy, and that the police officials should be so negligent in performing their duty and bring the offenders to justice. The American laws forbid polygamy just as much as the Danish and Thoresen admitted also that the Mormons were in the minority in Salt Lake City; 9 of the city council are non-Mormon, and 6 are Mormons and the facts are that the whole police department of Salt Lake City are of the Anti-Mormon party – “ The American Party” and since three judges of the higher courts and all the judges of the lower courts of Salt Lake City are non-Mormon, it seems to us that there are plenty of police authority to bring the supposed transgressors to justice. We do not deny that there has been a few cases of transgression of this law, and where such have come before the tribunals of the land they have also been sentenced for such. It is peculiar that Mr. Freece knows the names of so many who have entered into polygamy since 1890, when Ex-President Roosevelt in a writing of 17 February 1911, declares that while he was President of the United States there came several complaints to him that several of the federal officers (in Utah) live in polygamy, declared that a thorough investigation was made by the best government officials and it was found to be untrue.
In regard to his accusation that the Mormon missionaries live a corrupt life, I will leave it to Messrs. Freece and Thoresen to prove how many of the 7,396 illegitimate children born in Denmark during 1901-05, which Danish statistics prove, has a Mormon missionary to father!
“Politchen” for 6th May, 1911, has an article, in which the noted inventor and philanthropist Hyrum Maxim wrote that according to official American statistics that there in the the course of the last few years have been committed crimes of the priests of the following churches as follows: 4,592 of Methodists, 2,784 of Baptists, 1,824 of Catholics, 1,168 of Presbyterian, 976 of Congregationalists, 768 of Episcopal, and 736 of Lutherans, while none have been committed by Unitarian or Mormon priests. It seems to us that those priests who thus misrepresent us ought to sweep before their own door and pull the beam out of their own eyes first, then they can better see to pullout the mote of the eye of their brothers. (With thanks to the editor for publishing our reply. We are Hilmar M. Nelson, A.O Nelson, Jas. R. Paystrup.)
This Mr. Thoresen visited our meeting at Silkeborg where I was presiding elder, and invited us to his home, where we had several days of discussion of the principles of the gospel and I left a testimony with him, which caused him to say to someone else that he was sure I was sincere.
My sister-in-law, Mary, mad a visit to Denmark, visiting her husband, August O. during his mission; she stayed several months, but went home ahead of us.
We were released January 15, 1912 and returned home to Salt Lake City on our mother's birthday if she had been living, February 5, where I was meat by my sweetheart and wife, Rose, who had been supporting herself by nursing while I was on a mission.
My second mission was that of a stake missionary at home in Timpanogus Stake, where I labored for a little over two years from February 1939 to spring 1941.
I did not have the joy of baptizing any converts on this mission, but have the satisfaction of having done my duty and my garments are free from their blood in the day of judgment, which I know is right at the door, yea even a few months hence!
December 23, 1936, I left Prove, Utah with my brother, James, and his wife, Anna, in their automobile for a trip to Los Angeles,to visit our nieces Lilly, Mabel,and Thelma, and also my nephew, Edgar Hallstrom.
This was the trip of my life, almost like coming into another world,for everything here was so green and beautiful. I enjoyed the scenery of the palm trees along the highway, also the great orange groves. I stated most of the time at my niece, Mabel Lee's home. While there, Mr. Lee took me to a large transportation company he was working. At that place was a large whale, about 65-80 tons, which they were embalming; its mouth was opened and it was large enough to accommodate 2-3 Jonas's.
December 28, 1936, my nephew, Edgar Hallstrom, who had a pilot license, hired an airplane and gave me the thrill of my life, an airplane ride over Long Beach, California at an altitude of 2500 feet.
January 1, 1937, my brother, James, wife, daughters Irene, Thelma, husband Howard Jensen and I saw the wonderful Rose Tournament at Pasadena. There was not a float there that didn't cost several thousands of dollars! Such splendor, such grandeur, I never saw! The floats were literally covered with roses, orchids, and other flowers by the thousands and movie stars in their gallant uniforms on white horses. As I was viewing this splendor I wept because my wife and children were not there to enjoy this feast, and I am just thinking if man can put on such splendor, what will it not be when the King of Kings comes with his heavenly host in the glory of His Father when people shall come from the east and the west and partake of the Lamb's supper with Christ at the head of the table.
My chief way of supporting myself and family has been by dealing in fruit, eggs, and poultry, making regular trips to Salt Lake City, twice a week, winter or summer, rain or shine, and I have sometimes been caught on the road in terrible frost 10-20 below zero, as well as heavy fog when you could only see a few feet ahead. I had a four acre orchard in Pleasant Grove with a six-room house, which I bought from my father-in-law. After I returned from my mission in 1912 empty handed, I borrowed $950.00 from Beneficial Life Insurance Company for which I gave them a 1st mortgage and this made my first payment to my father-in-law, but buying a home empty handed and having a family to support was an uphill business, so it has been a matter of “hand-to-mouth” with us ever since. However, my table has been spread with plenty according to two patriarchal blessings and perhaps if we had had much riches we would not have been quite so close to the Lord. A little over a year ago , I decided that I could not continue making these trips to Salt Lake in all kinds of weather, being over 62 years of age, so I sought employment in Salt Lake City through the LDS employment bureau and obtained a job as night watchman at the Salt Lake Knitting Works where I was employed from June to October 1941 for $75.00 per month, paying $25.00 for house and steam heated rooms. From here I was next employed as a caretaker at George Striker's farm in Holladay, Utah, at $60.00 for me and wife with room and heat included; here we stayed from October 1941 to April 1942 where I asked for a raise in wages, which was denied, so I again sought employment through LDS employment agency who got me the job as janitor at the Belvedere Hotel on State Street at $85.00 per month plus 10% advance in wages together with tips making over $100.00 per month. This is in fulfillment of a prophecy in a patriarchal blessing given me September 12, 1909, prior to departing on a mission in which the patriarch said among other things, “thy last days shall be thy best days” and so it is. We have plenty and to spare now, electric range, electric refrigerator and plenty of comforts of life.
Hilmar Nelson died at his home December 14, 1948 at age 70.