Jens Christian Anderson's Handcart Story
Contributor: Lillianne Created: 3 years ago Updated: 3 years ago
Christian Christianson Handcart Company
Most of the people in the Christian Christiansen handcart company were Scandinavians (Danes, Norwegians, and Swedes). They numbered about 330 souls, including a girl with a wooden leg and a 60-year-old blind woman. Because the Perpetual Emigrating Fund was exhausted, the emigrants had to purchase their own outfits with pooled resources. They had 68 handcarts, 3 wagons, 10 mules, and 1 cow. The cow soon died but others were purchased along the way. Likewise, the travelers purchased a fourth wagon and oxen to pull it. Elder J. P. Park, a Scotsman, was the company captain, but he had to communicate with his charges through an interpreter because he could not speak nor understand their language. Also, he was reportedly unsympathetic towards them. "The less said about this unfortunate choice of a leader for such a people as us," wrote an emigrant, "the better for him."
Parks and the wagons usually traveled so far ahead of the handcarts that the emigrants sometimes took a wrong road. The company left Iowa City June 12, with many of the people leaving prized personal possessions behind-clothing, bedding, books, and so on-because they could each take only 17 pounds of luggage. One man, however, kept a few books. The emigrants believed that a Church wagon would later bring their things to Utah, although this never happened. Later, the captain had individuals reduce their freight to 15 pounds. For the first week or so, progress along the trail was slow because many were sick. Almost daily some of these fell by the wayside and had to be gathered up in the evening by the wagons or by handcarts that had been unloaded and shuttled back to the camp. Nevertheless, some invalids complained that they had to wait long hours for a ride because the wagons were overcrowded and had to make more than one trip. Young, healthy men sometimes took turns carrying the faint on their backs. They also carried many of the infirm across rivers. It was hot and it rained frequently. The roads were muddy; curious settlers occasionally lined the road, asking questions and making comments in English, but the travelers did not understand them. June 21 an elderly woman died and was buried. The company crossed the Des Moines River on a long bridge and on July 2, it reached Council Bluffs via Glenwood Road. Here, officials refused to allow the train into the city, claiming that the emigrants had smallpox, which was not true. The next day, after taking the long way around, the party crossed the Missouri via a steam-driven ferry. At Omaha, Scandinavian settlers greeted the travelers; here, too, the emigrants saw their first American Indians.
At Florence men from Utah visited and spoke encouragingly to the company. Here, too, the travelers shared some of their food with visiting Indians. Elder Christian Christiansen, a native of Denmark who had lived in Utah and who was returning from a Church mission in the Midwest, now became company captain. This change in leadership was universally welcomed. One emigrant said Christiansen was like a father to the company. Another recalled that he was a capable leader and inspired his followers with confidence. A third reported that the captain often helped pull her cart up hills. A fourth said he was liked and respected by all. Again, he was gentle and fatherly. The train left Florence on July 7. Almost immediately one of the handcarts broke a wheel and had to return to town for repairs. At Papillion Creek, Captain Christiansen inspected the emigrants and insisted that all who were unhealthy or not adequately prepared should return to Florence and wait for the next year's emigration. Some of those who remained behind sold their equipment to emigrants who had been waiting at Florence for an opportunity to go west. At least one young emigrant left her family in Florence and pursued her westward journey alone. But a Swede who was told to remain in Florence because his wife was too weak trailed along behind the train just out of sight until the company was too far along to turn him back. Then he rejoined the train.
July 9 the travelers reached and crossed the Elkhorn. Two days more and they were on the Platte. The Loup Fork was a major obstacle; it was about a mile wide and filled with quicksand, shifting holes, and sandbars. The emigrants raised the wagon boxes to keep their cargos dry and then employed local Indians to transport the women across on horseback and to guide the vehicles over. Multiple teams pulled the wagons while the strongest men dragged empty handcarts through the treacherous currents. The crossing took two days. Fortunately, there were no accidents. The night after this crossing, there was a severe rainstorm, accompanied by thunder and lightening. Because of illness, two families now dropped out of the company. Between Loup Fork and Wood River the travelers suffered greatly for lack of water. At Wood River a woman slipped away from camp long enough to deliver a baby girl, returning with the infant wrapped in her apron. She got to ride in a wagon for a while. Somewhere on the sandy plains of Nebraska another baby girl died and was buried, with a sieve covering
her face. As the company toiled on, men and women weakened and again lightened their loads. The strong accepted the burdens of the weak. When shoes wore out travelers wrapped their feet in burlap or cut rawhide from carcasses of dead cattle to make new footwear. Unfortunately, the rawhide often got wet, then dried hard. Feet became chafed and bloody.
On August 3 a 36-year-old man died, his feet so swollen that he could no longer walk. The travelers often saw Indians but had no trouble with them. They witnessed a prairie fire but escaped harm. When the company reached the vicinity of Fort Laramie on August 9, it stayed north of the Platte and quickly moved on into the Black Hills. August 22, the train was at Devil's Gate. Here another man died. Water was a constant concern. Often, men or boys had to walk great distances to fetch it. One young man got lost while carrying water and ended up spending a rainy night alone. A second boy,returning to camp after dark and wearing for shoes old socks to which his mother had attached canvas soles, walked into a patch of prickly pear, and when he sat down to extract the painful spines, he sat on a clump of the cactus. Thirsty men sometimes forgot their manners; one grabbed a container from a water boy and satisfied his thirst before allowing nearby women or children a drink. An old man got lost while trying to find a shortcut to water. He was gone for a day, ate berries, and was rescued by trappers who led him back to the train.
Hunger stalked the travelers almost constantly. At one point, some of them were so hungry that they killed, cooked, and ate a crow. An old man, unacquainted with American wildlife and with no sense of smell, bludgeoned a skunk to death with his cane and brought it into camp. All the others scattered. At the Sweetwater, the commissary of Johnston's army, then marching to put down the "Mormon Rebellion" in Utah, took pity on Christiansen's followers and gave them a lame ox to slaughter. This was the first meat the company had had in weeks. Though they passed through vast buffalo herds, these emigrants killed only one; it had become separated from the herd. Otherwise they feared that a stampede would destroy them all. East of South Pass, relief wagons from Salt Lake met the train. The travelers purchased flour, offering their handcarts as security. These wagons then carried the weakest members of the party back to Salt Lake. Those who remained with the carts bought more flour at Fort Bridger. In Echo Canyon rain, hail, and a very cold night made life miserable for the company. Ice on mountain streams lacerated already abused feet.
Thirty miles from Salt Lake, wagons loaded with bread, cake, and fruit met the company. As the train crossed Big and Little Mountains, the people had to help the exhausted mules reach the summits. Then, with the Danish flag flying from the lead handcart, the company arrived in Salt Lake City on September 13. One emigrant said that the first time he saw his image in a mirror, he was shocked at how tanned and skinny he was. Approximately 15 people died on the journey.
Christian Christiansen Company
Individuals Known to Have Traveled in This Company
Christian Christiansen Company
DEPARTURE 15 June 1857
ARRIVAL 13 September 1857
NUMBER IN COMPANY 206
NAME AGE BIRTHDATE DEATH DATE
Jens Christian Anderson 36 4 May 1821 15 August 1910
Margaret Nielson Christiansen Anderson 27 29 June 1830 26 November 1916
Lauritz Peter Anderson 7 28 July 1849 6 September 1910
Andrea Catherine Johanna Anderson 5 14 November 1951 7 July 1903
Christina Boletta Anderson 3 18 February 1854 5 January 1948
Josephine Brighamina Anderson 1 4 March 1856 24 February 1951
The Life History of Orson Hyde Anderson
Contributor: Lillianne Created: 3 years ago Updated: 3 years ago
Orson Hyde Anderson was born May 28, 1868 in Spring City, Sanpete County, Utah, a son of Jens Christian Anderson and Margaret Christiansen Anderson. As converts to the church these parents came from Denmark in 1856. Great Grandpa had intended to buy a team and wagon when he arrived at Mormon headquarters in Missouri, but was persuaded by one of the Elders who lived with him in Denmark to travel by hand cart. They had four children, a boy and three girls. They came 1,300 miles pulling cart and provisions. Grandma was stricken with Rocky Mountain Fever and very nearly died.
They arrived in Sal Lake Sept. 13, 1857 and established a home for themselves. Great Grandpa Anderson married a second wife, Carolyn Jensen, a girl who came from Denmark in this company. The families moved to Moroni, then to Spring City.
It was there on May 28, 1868 that Grandpa Anderson was born and blessed by the Apostle Orson Hyde.
They moved to Manti, Monroe, and Salina. They were driven back from Salina because of the stealing and cruelty of the Indians.
In the spring of 1877, Great Grandpa Anderson moved Grandma Carolyn to Grass Valley and the next year Grandma Marguret and her family moved here. In this Anderson Family there were 20 lovely children.
Grandpa Anderson received his first schooling in Salina. He said “My first teacher was an old man whose sir name was Terrie, he was a poor teacher, he was a cripple and very dirty in person. My next teacher in Salina was a widow by the name of Mrs. Hormon. She was a good teacher but all I learned was a little reading. Father paid tuition for two, and four of us boys attended. We would alternate, two would go one day, and the next day these two would stay home. One day I sluffed school and went after wood. So I got my hair pulled when I got home.”
He was ten years old when they came to Koosharem. He and his brother, Carl, herded cows for their first job. They herded the town herd as well as in the canyons and hills. They lived in constant fear of Indians. He recalls that he was bringing the town herd home the first time he saw Grandma, she was about 9 years old. She must have made quite an impression upon him to remember her so well.
On Oct. 19, 1888, he married Hannah Regina Torgerson in the Manti LDS temple. They had to go to Junction for a Marriage License. They traveled to Manti by wagon. Not far from Burr Spring a horse got sick so Grandpa left Grandma with a sheepherder, Arthur Parson, while he returned to Koosharem. He got a couple of mules and came back, went to Salina, and stayed for the night. They traveled to Manti the next day.
They camped out from Manti on their wedding night. It took them two days to return. Grandpa had built a log house on his farm. It was white washed in the inside and they slept in a tent.
It was in this home that my mother Rhoda Ann was born, their first child, on March 13, 1890. They moved into town in April of 1892 where they have remained. They are the parents of eight children (two have preceded them in death). They are: Rhoda Ann (died Jan 21, 1926 at the age of 36); Heber O.; Clifton (died at the age of 2); Ester; Margaret; Dell Elmira; Aurelia Virginia; Rolland LaRue; and Milo Grant.
In 1902 Grandpa was called to fill a mission in Ireland. He became so homesick he had to be released from this mission before it was completed and it always weighed upon his conscience. In 1926 he was again called to a short term mission which he completed. Grandpa was always a very active Latter-day Saint. He acted as a counselor in the bishopric and ward clerk. He was the Sunday School teacher many years, and a faithful hundred percent ward teacher. He acted on the genealogical committee and worked in the Young Men’s Mutual Association. He was a worthy contributor to the Missionary fund and helped sustain all the young men from our ward on missions. He was a high contributor to the building fund for our chapel and thrilled upon its completion and dedication. He was a High Priest in the 17th quorum of High Priests. He educated himself, enjoyed reading church magazines, piccolo, singing, and being a Sunday school teacher.
Grandpa was a loyal pioneer in the building of our community. He saw 81 years of growth and advancement. He acted on the town board, was president and secretary of the Koosharem Irrigation Co., helped lay out and build the reservoir. Very conservative with public funds, acted on presidency and secretary of Grazers association, as well as Koosharem pasture, and was a trustee on the School Board. He and Grandma know all the hardships of pioneer life. Theirs was not an easy live but a happy one, full of work and play.
He was a kind and noble man full of faith in God and in his fellow men. He was slow to anger, never chastised, always counseled. Never took the Lord’s name in vain, loved children. He observed his 91st birthday on May 28, 1959 and passed away on July 1, 1959.
He is survived by 6 children, 6 grandchildren, 48 great-grandchildren, 9 great-great-grandchildren, a brother, Swening, and two sisters Ellen and Diantha.
This history was written by Genetta Bell. Orson Hyde was her grandfather.
Jens Christian Anderson - Handcart Trek
Contributor: Lillianne Created: 3 years ago Updated: 3 years ago
Contributed By Margebecraft; 9 August 2014
(This history appears in “Memories” of Jen's son, Jens Christian Carlos Anderson (KWCX-NLS) but there was so much history about his father's family and their experiences on their handcart journey that was not present in his father's “Memories”, I took the liberty of copying it, re-phrasing a few of the introductory words and sentences, and placing it in his father's “Memories” site in Family Tree. This does make for some duplication of what appears in the other “Stories” but this needed to be where it could be found. Thanks so much to Marge for this history. -----Clell V Bagley)
Jens Christian Anderson joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on 5 March 1855. He and his family immigrated to America, leaving Liverpool, England on 25 April 1857 on the ship “Westmoreland”, and arrived on 31 May 1857 in Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Jens and his first wife Margrethe had four children at the time of their trek. Lauritz Peter, born 28 July 1849, was 7, Andrea Catherine, born 14 November 1852, was 5, Boleta Christena , born 18 February 1854 was 3, and Josephine Brighamina born 4 March 1856 was 1. Jens was 36 and Margrethe was 26 when they came across the plains.
They traveled with the 7th Handcart Company, outfitting at Iowa City. There were 330 individuals,68 handcarts, 3 wagons, ten mules and one cow. They left 15 June 1857. The first captain was James P. Park. He had to have an interpreter because they all spoke Danish and he was very unsympathetic toward them. He would take the wagons so far ahead that sometime the handcarts took a wrong road. When they left he made them leave many of their supplies and they thought someone would come back for them later. That never did happen. There were no PEF funds left so the people had to purchase their own supplies. They pooled together to buy the supplies they would need. When they left they had only 60 pounds of flour and only four pounds of meat per person.
When they finally got to Florence, Christian Christensen was returning from a mission and became the captain. He was gentle and fatherly and most of all knew the language—he was from Denmark. He walked the whole way rather than ride a horse as most captains did. They crossed the Elkhorn River on 9th July. When they got to the Loup River it was a mile wide and there was lots of quicksand. It took them two days to cross because they had to hook up ropes to wagons and pull to get the handcarts across. The night after they all got across they had a severe thunderstorm and immediately two families dropped out. At the Wood River, a woman slipped out of camp and delivered her own baby and then returned to camp ready to walk the next day. They allowed her to ride in the wagon for a few days. They had a prairie fire that they were able to escape from. They wore out their shoes and had to wrap their feet in burlap or rawhide. The rawhide would get wet then dry hard and they would end up with bloody feet.
By 22nd August they were at Devil’s Gate. They were so hungry and thirsty. Johnston’s Army was headed to Utah and felt sorry for these pioneers so they gave them a lame ox to kill for meat. They didn’t even have an axe to kill the animal because Captain Park made them leave many of their tools behind. There was a blind woman about 60 years old from Norway who walked the whole way. She pushed the cart while her young daughter pulled the cart. She could often be heard “with merry laughter.” Their food lasted only three weeks. They cooked with “ko-kasser” (buffalo chips). Peter’s mother remembered when they had only one biscuit to eat all day long. They left every morning by 6:30 A.M. Every day they would ask, “How far is it to water today?” When they reached South Pass relief wagons from Salt Lake came with flour and supplies. They were able to buy more flour at Fort Bridger. When they were coming down Echo Canyon it rained, hailed and they had ice on the mountain streams. When they were about 30 miles from Salt Lake City, wagons met them with bread, cake, and fruit. They arrived 13 September 1857. The lead handcart carried a Danish flag coming into the valley. About 15 people died coming to the valley.
CCA Christensen said of these Danish pioneers, “He had never seen a more patient people, a people completely devoted to God.” This is the same CCA Christensen who painted many mural of the pioneers coming to Utah. C.C.A. Christensen wrote in his summary of the humble feeling they had as they entered the valley, “Perhaps many would have suffered an even worse fate if President Brigham Young had not established provision stations where flour could be obtained, and the first of these stations was about 400 miles east of Salt Lake City. Afterwards we were met by wagons with flour and fruit, which benefited us greatly, but particularly since these wagons picked up the weakest and sickest among us and thus lightened considerably the responsibility for the rest of us. None but those who have experienced such a trial of patience, faith, and endurance can form an idea of what it meant to pull a handcart, which frequently even threatened to collapse because of the extreme heat and lack of humidity, which could cause the (wood of the) cart to split and thus deprive them of the last means they possessed to bring with them their absolute necessities. One can perhaps form a vague idea of our feelings when we finally stopped here in this city and were met by kind brothers and sisters, many of whom brought cakes, milk, and other things that for us were so much needed.”
The family settled in Sanpete County where many of the Scandanavians had settled. They first lived in Manti, Sanpete, Utah Territory. Jens married a second wife, Caroline Karen Jensen on 14 February 1858 in the President’s Office at the age of 36. Thus he now was in a polygamous marriage. Jens and Margrethe had ten children, five girls and five boys. Jens and Caroline had ten children, six girls and four boys. Both of his wives gave birth to a baby on 19 October 1858. Hyrum Smith Anderson was born to Margrethe and Annie Marie was born to Caroline.
From there they moved to Moroni, Sanpete, Utah Territory. Caroline was born 27 January 1861 and died 23 March 1861 to Caroline and James Christian was born 27 February 1861. Jensene was born 10 January 1862 to Caroline. Heber Christian was born 9 February 1863 to Margrethe. Annie Meanie was born 6 February 1864 to Caroline. Margrethe gave birth to Margaret Petrara on 2 September 1865.
They moved to Spring City, Sanpete, Utah Territory. Caroline gave birth to Jens Christian Carlos on 24 October 1866. Orson Hyde was born 28 May 1868 to Margrethe. Erastus Snow was born 29 January 1869 and Andrew was born 23 April 1871 to Caroline.
They moved to Salina, Sevier, Utah Territory, where Albertina Wilhelmina was born on 21 July 1875 to Margrethe, which was her last child. Diantha Matilda was born 6 December 1875 to Caroline. They were living in Koosharem, Sevier, Utah Territory when Caroline had her last baby, Mary Ellen, born 18 December 1878.
Caroline died 11 February 1900 at the age of 64 in Koosharem, Sevier, Utah and was buried 14 February 1900 in Koosharem. Jens Christian died 15 August 1910 in Richfield, Sevier, Utah at the age of 89. He was buried 17 August 1910 in the Richfield City Cemetery, Richfield, Sevier, Utah. Margrethe died 26 November 1916 at the age of 86 and was buried 29 November 1916 in Richfield.