History of Elvina- Letters from Mads
Contributor: SouthPawPhilly Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
ELVINE MARIE HANSEN JORGENSEN
Written by a Great Granddaughter, Margaret Sturgis
As Told to Her by Elvine’s daughter, Zina Jorgensen Scott
My mother was the daughter of Hans Ole Hansen and Anne Cathrine Pedersen Hansen. She was born in Haverslev, Hyorring, Denmark the 30th day of April 1847. She was the first child and the first daughter born to the Hansen family. Petrea was two years younger and another sister, Hansine was four years younger. Mother had three brothers. Ludvig was six years younger than mother, Jens Peter was eight years younger and Mathias Esmark who was ten years younger. Jens died when he was just six days old.
She was educated in Denmark. She was born into a well to do home, but not wealthy. Her father was a butcher. They always had hired help and the home was well organized.
In 1858 her mother, Ane Cathrine Pedersen Hansen, joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. This disrupted the family as she went against her husband’s wishes. He told her she no longer had a home and that she could never see her children again. In 1862, Ane Cathrine came to America with two of her brothers leaving all of her children behind. Elvine was fifteen years old.
After her mother left, Elvine had to leave the family home and get a job. In the wintertime it was so cold she almost froze and she had to black and shine the big, black boots of the men where she worked. Sometimes her hands were so frost bitten and swollen that when she put her hands in the boots to shine them, blood would run out.
Her room was in the attic where there was no heat and very little bedding. She had a generous piece of coarse, dark bread and black coffee for her meals. Of course, some of the places she worked weren’t as hard as others. She always looked forward to the warm summers. It is no wonder she was so glad to come to America although she went through many hardships after she came to Provo.
Mother was baptized January 5, 1868 in Denmark. I have often heard her say the water in which she was baptized was very cold.
In Denmark mother went to school with a man named Lund. They were fond of one another, and promised each other that whomever came to America first would wait for the other. Grandmother had become Mads Jorgensen’s third wife by this time and she felt she had the right to give her daughter in marriage. She told father he could marry my mother if he would pay for her to come to the United States and then on to Utah. He provided the means for mother to emigrate.
Mother came to Utah in 1869. She sailed on the ship “Minnesota” on October 6, 1869. This was a new ship, having been built in 1867. The average time to cross the ocean in the “Minnesota” was 14 days. It was a large ship and could carry 668 passengers. It landed in New York. By this time the railroad had been built and mother didn’t have to walk across the plains. This was the first year the railroad went through Provo. She rode with other emigrants in a cattle car at the back of the train. Many were resentful of the riff-raff they had to ride with. The passengers sat on hard benches around the edge of the car. Someplace along the way there was a train wreck. Two trains ran head long into each other. The two cars that the emigrants were riding in were the only two cars that weren’t tipped over. They felt they had been blessed in their travels despite the discomfort. All the emigrants knelt in prayer to thank God for their protection.
Mother married my father, Mads Jorgensen, on the 19th day of December, 1869
in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City. She was twenty years younger and therefore had many adjustments to make. Lund heard that mother was in Utah and came to Provo for her just two hours after she and father had left to go to Salt Lake to be married. It is interesting that mother never mentioned this to anyone in the family. After her death, a friend that had known her in Denmark told me about Lund.
Mother first lived in the east part of Provo and then moved down near the Utah Lake in Lake View and from what I have heard her say they lived in a dugout. There was a dirt floor and sod roof. The walls were made of willow and plastered with mud. Mother’s first two sons were born there.
Their way of getting a livelihood was very simple, as was also the menu. They had wild foul and fish a plenty, but sometimes they would really appreciate some white flour or some fine whole-wheat flour for bread. The flour was very coarse. I think they also had some chickens and a few cows, but it was necessary to sell the eggs and butter to buy a few other essentials that they needed to buy.
Sometime after 1872 and before 1874, father built a two-compartment house with three rooms in each side and a so-called summer kitchen where they moved the cook stove in summer. Mother lived in one side and Aunt Ane lived in the other side. There was one upstairs room and two downstairs rooms for each wife. (The house was just south of Ada Crossman’s. In fact, part of Ada’s house is built from the torn-down home.)
Later father built a special bedroom for my grandmother, Ane Cathrine, onto the one side of the house. Otherwise, grandmother lived with mother and took care of her when the babies were born.
I remember hearing mother say when one of the younger children was born, her sister (Aunt Petrea) was working in Salt Lake and she brought home one dozen white sugar sacks for diapers for the new baby. How happy she was to have so many nice, white diapers.
My father was called on a mission to Denmark in 1887. Before he came home in 1889, she was advised to move out of her home so he would have a better chance of not having to go to prison for polygamy. She moved on the old Bill Robert’s farm. (My home is now on this farm.)
Mother and her sons took care of this farm and the boys milked a few cows. Mother churned the butter and walked to Provo, a distance of four miles to sell the butter for fifteen or twenty cents a pound. She used to start out early in the morning and wrap the butter in cloths and cabbage leaves wet down with cold water to keep it from melting before she reached the store. She saved the money to build a new home when father got home.
When father got home, he did have to go to prison so friends, Neils Larsen and Hans Zobell who were carpenters, helped mother build her home. My brother Heber and Aunt Petrea made all the dobbies to line the house.
This home of my mothers is still standing in Lake View and is owned and lived in by my brother Alma’s widow. My mother didn’t live in this house very many years. I can remember that she had many headaches and would put wet cabbage leaves on her head to relieve the pain. She may have had high blood pressure. She died of typhoid fever. She was 54 years old when she died on November 14, 1901
She was a kind and loving wife and mother. She was always willing to do her best at whatever task came to her. She worked in the Relief Society in various positions and also in the Primary. She was a devoted Latter-day Saint. I can truthfully say she never willfully did or said anything to hurt a living creature. She was loved and admired by all who knew her. I feel like Heaven is a better place because I know she is there still making others feel glad.
One can only imagine how Grandfather Jorgensen felt the night that his beloved Elvine died. Surely he expected to be called home first inasmuch as he was twenty years older. The night she passed away he wrote the followingWe have so very little information on the life of our grandmother, Elvine that some excerpts from the letters she received from her husband while he was on his missions. These letters give us insight into her personality and also to the great fondness they had for one another. Elvina was thirty-one when Mads went on his first mission. The three boys she had at that time were six, four, and two years of age. She was forty years old when he went on his second mission. By this time she had seven children, five boys whose ages were 17, 15, 13, 11, and 7. The girls were 5 and 3 years old.
This first letter was written from the mission he served to the midwestern states. It is addressed to Elvine and “Trina”, Elvine’s mother. It is the only letter preserved that was written from this mission.
Frimont, May 29, 1878
Elvine and Trine, dear beloved wives,
I have also seen a word from you which made me happy and I am glad you are fine. Now I am fine, too. But first now I am feeling real good. Just the same I have wondered around preaching all the time.
Everybody has received us real well and when we give our testimony they have often put their horses in front of their buggies and taken us ten miles. We always say we preach without a wallet and purse, and it looks like they feel it is their duty to give us food without us asking for it.
Here is an awful confusion about religion. Everybody is preaching for money, and only what the ears want to hear. But the honest of heart is listening to the Shepherd voice and follows it. We have high hopes soon to baptize more here and be able to organize a branch. We have had four meetings and two baptized. Everything is fine. Yesterday we walked 35 miles and were very tired. A man wanted to give us a ride but his one horse was sick.
The country here is what I would call Pig Country. It is full of animals here. One who weights 300 lbs. cost only $6.30. Corn is 15 cents a bushel, Eggs 7 cents and butter 7 cents. People here have plenty to eat, but a lot are going around half-naked. Farmers who own about 200 acres of the best land do not own a shirt for their body. Everything looks big but here is great poverty. I don’t understand it.
My thoughts are flying to the Far West, where I see Gods richest blessings over the country and the people. My love to you my dearest friends to Mads, Alma, Heber, and Abraham and all the saints.
Grandmother Elvine wrote the following letter to her husband on June 6, 1878. The letter was written in Danish and was translated from the original by William Pederson of Salt Lake City. It was a very difficult letter to translate because it is written in Old Danish and in a dialect. Mr. Pederson has had considerable experience in translating, but even at that it took him four hours to translate this short letter. Mr. Pederson was born in Denmark and worked for many years in the Archives for the Danish Government. Translated in July, 1980
Dear Loving Husband,
I want to thank you for your letter. It was a great joy to hear from you and know that you are fine. We are all fine, all of us. We had conference for two days. Believe you me, the brethern who spoke, spoke strong to them who didn’t want to go on a mission- those who gave an excuse.
You say that the first month over there was so long. That was also the case here. We have plenty to do for the time being. It is a hard time to sell.
Brother Sandberg was here to meeting to find some young people of the Scandinavian people to arrange a celebration for the 4th of July.
Peter Madsen in building a dance floor. They are to dance until midnight.
I shall bring you greetings from Gerda and mother. She is afraid that you don’t get the food you are used to. We will wait writing till she gets something good.
I hope you may get a good brother (companion) to walk around with you among the ungodly, that you may be able to serve and come home to those who long for you. I am afraid that you won’t stay home too long before you again leave us.
The boys send their greeting and mother ask me to convey her greeting, but first and last you are greeted.
From your affectionate,
Elvine Marie Jorgensen
28th November 1887
My dear little sweet woman,
I don’t doubt but you have your troubles and trials in your home and with your children. I hope that God will give you wisdom to teach and instruct your children in the ways that they should go and that they will have a desire to do what is right. Do all you can, my dear, to get them in school that we may in time have joy in our children. Now is the time to have their minds set on things that will be for their future welfare and a great joy to us, their parents.
O, that our children would be obedient to our counsel and the priesthood of God that they may become men of God and help build up his Kingdom here on the earth. I hope that all your and mine children tend to their Sunday School and meetings and other duties. I hope that they are all good to help their mother and that the big boys look after the stake and the farm so that neither you nor Ane need to go stamping around outside.
Dec. 30, 1887
\My Elvine, Dear Beloved Wife,
I see Alma is home. Let me know if he has earned anything and if he used it for something good. You say the ground is dry so it is not like it is here. You said you went to the bank and sent me $30.00. I haven’t seen it yet, but I guess it will come. You said I should take good care of myself. I do that, my dear wife.
I know that you can get money as I know you are a good one to handle it. I don’t know if I will excuse you for not writing to me for such a long time, my love. I will overlook it and you are forgiven, my pet, but don'’ do that anymore. I know that you are good to stay up in the evenings, and I am usually up till 11 or 12.
I see that you have killed a cow and a pig or swine and will have plenty of stuff to live on. I hope you will have good health and will be able to eat it, as I won’t be able to help you. I hope our sons and daughters are good to help you and take care of the outside things so you won’t have to think about that. I know, my dear, that things won’t be taken care of as well as if I could be there and the boys are young and inexperienced. It is a trying time for our people, and cost lots of our property, but have patience my dear friend and all those trials we have now will be changed to happiness if we stand faithful.
On February 3, 1888, Heber wrote a letter to his father and told him there had been a conjoint meeting out in the south school house tonight, but I was not there for I have a sore toe of frost. Ellen and me was not on the picture of the house for we was in school. Now mother is going to buy me a suit of clothes and then I must go to meeting. I would have sent you the half dollar but I could not afford it for I had to buy a part of my school books.”
To Alma, his father writes, “I wish you would stay at home and work. There is plenty for you to do and if you take my counsel it will be for your own good. I could never think that you would act too stubborn and not help to work for your mother after she has done all to raise you. If you do what is right you will do all for your mother to make her comfortable and not let her do anything in the field. She has plenty in the house with her children. Now be a good boy Alma and help to do the work and if you have no interest in home don'’ go and be a disgrace to yourself and your parents.
To all the boys, “Take care of the farm and stake. Don’t let them go. In the farm keep the weeds down and get your ditches in good order. If you tend to things as you ought to you will be well paid and I will feel well that I have boys that I can trust and you will feel that you have done your duty. So boys be good. Plant some melons you can have to sell. Take good care of watering when the time comes.”
February 15, 1888
Thank you, my dearest, for writing so often. Thanks to the Lord, we have good health and before too long the fight will be over and we can again enjoy each other’s company. The first news in your letter that the Devil gave you a ride, and that you have to give 300 bonds. Thanks to Brother Harisen that he helped you, give him all my thanks. You could almost believe the way he was driving that he was on his way to Hell with you, driving that fast. It is too bad to think that these poor devils are having this power over us and I say, ‘Lord, how long is it going to last.’ Maybe until we are ready to serve the Lord with all our hearts.
I hope the time will soon be here that we can have our houses and homes and families in peace. The Lord has given us that as one of our biggest blessings. I hope you won’t have any trouble getting before the court. If it should happen, it cannot be proven that we have had anything to do with each other for a long time so they cannot punish us for adultery. Be as careful as you can. Everything will be okay. I do not think they are going to harm you while I am gone. If they ask about me you do not know where I am. I got the letter mailed to here from Aalborg, but not the house.
I am going to enjoy to see my dear home and my dear ones, there, but I understand I won’t get to see them all. True, my friend, you can look at that dead picture, as you are saying, maybe it will start to talk sometimes. The times will come again when we can talk together.
You say you have sold the meat of Nellie. You are making everything into money and that you have bought a cow. That is good. Take care of your cows. It is your best belongings and will give you good dividend
March 9, 1888
I am thankful to the Lord that you have been blessed with health and strength and that all is well with you. About all those big and less appreciated blessings, have patience, my dear, we will again have opportunity to all be together again and be happy with each others company when this short time comes to an end. Although our lives are full of all kinds of inconveniences and discomforts, a wink of the eye and we will forget it all. We will have learned a good lesson in that we will appreciate each other. In dreams, I am often with you, but I awake I find myself still in Denmark.
I see that Mads (age 18) has been working at the bank. He will have to stay home and take care of things till I come home again. If he is willing he won’t loose anything by it in timely things as well as spiritual. I know he is both big and wise enough to do it- to take care of the farm. I feel like it would be a sham if we had to ask for help from others when we have big sons that can do the work if they will. It will make me happy if our children will be good, ambitious children and help to do the work. If they will do that they will make a good living, have knowledge, and be respected members of the church and do the will of our Father in Heaven and honor Thy Father and Mother as God has asked us to do. My faith is and prayer that our children will do the things our Father in Heaven asks us to do. Live the gospel and listen to the good advise and seek after good books, and school and Sunday School meeting and other good things and be good children and help each other to help take care of home.
Mind you, my dear, the Lord will bless you all. I know there is plenty for all of you to tend to and take care of. If all do their part the load will be easy. Have patience and be faithful. Do all you can that you might have peace in the home. I know, my dear, there are a lot of trials for us all. The Devil is trying to upset us and in different ways he tries us all.
Tell me if you have to go to court. Tell me what comes from it. I know they won’t be sure of me as soon as I come is the reason they have set you on bonds. The poor devils, they are to be felt sorry for. They are working against the Lord.
Glad to hear from you, my dear girl. Also glad for the pictures and kisses. Do kiss them all from me and you, my pet, first and last. Write soon again. I makes one happy when I hear from you. God give us strength to be faithful to each other come life or death. God bless you all. When I get back I will sing to you.
To Heber, October 6, 1888 (Age 14)
I hope you are a good boy and help your mother with the cows and chicken and turkeys and pigs and help to get the wood and that you do all to please your mother and that you are kind to Ane and not sassy and good and kind to your brothers and sisters.
I think that you tend to your Sunday School and your meetings and don’t forget your prayers. I hope that you remember me in your prayers. I think you are going to day school and there behaving yourself very well and striving to learn your lessons and many good things that you may grow up and be a wise man and useful in your day to do a good work in the Church of Jesus Christ.
To Mads, (Age 18)
My son, be kind to your mother. Don’t kill or destroy the health of your mother with labor that you can do for her. She is kind to you. Be kind to her and Ane and all the family. I know that you and your brothers don’t always tend to things at home. If you stay at home and work, my son, I wish that you could see and relish your true position and prepare yourself temporally and spiritually to be used as an instrument in the hand of God to advance his cause here on earth.
November 22, 1988
I see it is not easy for you to sell your things. About your good pantry, it would be nice if I could go there once in a while. Not that I am starving as long as we have the money to pay with. I am using the money for food and clothes and traveling and hope you will be able to sell something and send me more. I see you have picked the apples. Here the fruit is very poor.
It is true, my friend. It is good to have you for a sweetheart, but it would be nicer if you were a little closer……We will have to take the bad things along with the good things and see the Lords hand in everything.
You say it is a hard winter and you don’t have anybody to comfort you. My dear wife, it will come to an end and your loved one will again be by your side. Let us be patient and true and when we meet again the sun will again shine for us and the shadows will then be forgotten for all our joy. You must not be sad, my dearest friend, all will be well again. We all have our trials and if we will be true, we have the Lord’s promise that we will have big and eternal blessings. Let us look forward to that. You are thinking I will soon be coming home and stay there in peace. This I do not know. It looks like nobody is going free and I am no better than my brethren, and I am thinking just like them that I can stand to be punished by people to obey God’s command.
About going to prison, I do not think so, my friend, but I suppose the way things look now that you cannot live in the same house. According to Sarah’s age I do not think they can do anything to us. Maybe we do not need to worry. I think I will be home next summer.
September 18, 1888
I hope your finger is well again and that your health is good… We will be together again and see each other, my dear beloved. That thought will help us to forget all the lonesome longing for each other and the hours we have spent away from the family and the patience and hardships and labor. We must learn to appreciate more fully our family and blessings we have from being tried. I hope the Lord will prompt and protect our sons and daughters from sin and temptations.
It makes me feel bad to think that Mads and Alma according to your letter, would rather be simple and undivided, rather than go to school to learn something. I know the day will come when they will be mighty sorry and feel bitter to think they have chosen to be simple and not gone to the places where they could learn. I hope they will take the advice from other people who have tried the same thing that they might get interested and learn good things in case they might get sent on a mission. Then they will see what they have missed and only because they didn’t take the chance they should have taken.
The $10.00 you wrote about I received. I need more. I need an overcoat and my underthings are worn out. I hope, my dear, that you can help me out of this financially poor condition so I can meet the cold, hard winter. So I can get along without shaking all the time.
I am happy to see that you are all pretty well and had a good harvest and plenty of fruit and other garden stuff. I am thankful to the Lord, my dear, that you don’t need anything for life’s supply. I know, my dear, that you are doing your best. I know you can’t get rich but you can have plenty and pay all obligations. When we leave this life we don’t need any of the rich and wealth. It is only for convenience here in this life. So we don’t care about it.
May the Lord bless you and keep you all and let you have all good things in this life. He will hear and answer our prayers and bless us and our children and have good health and unity among you and, my dear, in a short time we will be together again. Then all will be happiness. You know, my dear, I know the road to honor and being uplifted in the faith and glory if one stands fast to the end. There are plenty of thorns on the road, but one can live and overcome then also.
Aalborg, 14 January 1889
My Dearest Little Sweetheart, Elvine Jorgensen
Your great favor of the 25 came to hand and was received with much satisfaction. I got it this day and thank you therefore my dear wife. The five dollars was all right. Thank you for your loving kindness that you do not forget your friend here in this far off land where I wonder a stranger among strangers. Many a time a solemn thought sailed over the wide expanse of land and sea to them that I love in my dear home and I inquire how are they. That is all in thought and imagination. But the time is nearing by the permission of our Father and God that we shall again embrace one another. O how happy it will be if we then could be permitted to enjoy this great blessing of peace undisturbed of our enemies but the will of God be done in this and all other things. Be patient my Darling.
February 28, 1889
It looks like under the circumstances it will be necessary for you to get a home of your own. I have thought about these things since I mailed my last letter. If you have some creatures or some of the horses could be sold to get building materials, like the wood and lumber and maybe other things that you would need to build a house, I should wish you would think about that. We can build a house on the sand embankment outside the fence, north of the fruit garden about two rods from the fence where the water goes through the other fence.
Maybe we could build a house of real nice lumber, say 32 foot long and 16 foot wide inside. It would give us two good rooms also 9 foot to the ceiling or roof. It will make it so we can add on if we have to. My dearest, it would save us a lot of trouble of moving and we could be on our own ground, but you and Ane know the circumstances better home than I do so you and her will know if something like that could be done. Ask Bishop Madsen what he thinks and be as careful as possible about going in debt.
If the shares we have got in the store could buy the materials you could take them. If you can do something our friend Brother Larsen will help you. Is there anyone living in Abraham’s house? About farming I wish the boys would take care of it and be planting the things that would give us the most.
The last little while I have dreamed about you every night and been home and seen many things. I hope and pray always that the Lord will bless you and keep watch over you so that we all can meet again alive.
March 22, 1889
I see it is hard for you to get money when you cannot sell the livestock and I need $20.00. Tell Ane you have to help each other to send it to me right now if possible because I need it and cannot get along without it. I am wishing I did not need the money. I do not know when I will be coming home, but I will come as soon as I can. That is why I want to get the money, so I can be ready as soon as I am released. I do not know yet when the first emigration will be coming, but I am thinking it will be April.
It is true it will be necessary to have something planted to get food. I think you are now a good farmer. I see that Alma is going to herd sheep. I know the little boys can help me.
About going to jail, my friend, I think that I can stand it as good as my brothers even though it is better to be free. When we have a lot of trials and tribulations and still keep our faith, the Lord will bless us.
June 22, 1889
I just received your letter and it is with a strange feeling that I read it and I said to myself, why has she left her home because I cannot see it will help me and it has been very hard for you, my dear, and the Lord will bless you for the big offer you did for my sake, but in time everything is going to be well. We will always be thinking of each others welfare as man and wife. You have been true to me, my dear, and not forsaken anything for my freedom. So whatever I go to jail or free you have done your duty.
You have a big family to be moving with, but, my dearest, now I will soon be home with you, and then we will see how soon we can get a home built for you so you can live in your own home.
July 29, 1889
It is going to be a happy day to meet you, my dear friend, and our dear children. You say you are longing more now than ever before. And now my mission is ended, I, too, am longing for our home. I see you are going to build a home and I congratulate you, my friend. I shall build you a pigpen and a chicken house when I get home.
And I am going to visit you, you bet, as long as Uncle Sam will let me go free.
June 7, 1890 This letter is written by Mads, Sr. to Mads, Jr. from the Utah Penitentiary
I don’t think you should take that mare to a horse again for money is scarce. I hope that you have put in all the farm. That piece you spoke about you had no potatoes for. I hope that the high water is over. I suppose that piece of land below is ruined or the barley that was on it and maybe some of the land at home has been swamped. Have your onions stood the high water? Please tell me. I see that you have the prospects for a good crop of potatoes and that you have been busy watering and I see that you have set out a lot of cabbage plants. You say that the wheat is not so good. Has the lucern come up that I put in with the wheat?
Glad to see that you take care of the bees. Don’t let any of them fly away if you can help it. Very glad to see that your little brothers have been good to help you in doing the work. If you can spare anytime from farming there is plenty of work on the sand hill.
I hope that the work on the house is progressing. Do the best you can, my son. Remember to be good and kind to your mother. Don’t cause her any trouble. Assist and help her all you can. I know that she is kind and good to you.