Lauritz Larsen Biography
Johansen, Lars and Anna Margreta. They had five sons and two daughters: Soren, Johannes, Sesel(Cecelia) Kjersten, Christian Grix, Christian J., Lauritz, and Mary. There were two others, twins, Cecel Marie and Soren, who died in infancy.
These children were all known by the patronymic name of Larsen, from the first
name of the father, Lars, which was customary in Denmark.
Lars was a farmer and stock raiser. All learned to toil early and late for a
living. They were God-fearing people, honest, straight-forward in their dealings
and friendly with their neighbors.
Lauritz was born January 25, 1834. His early years were spent on the farm.
At an early age he and his brother Johannes, learned the tailoring trade, and made most of the clothes for the family. His schooling was obtained at night.
In the fall of 1849 many Mormon Elders were sent to various parts of the world-mostly to Europe. Among these were Erastus Snow and P. 0. Hansen who was sent to Denmark, and John E. Forsgren to Sweden. Other missionaries soon followed and converts were made in the Scandinavian countries. Lars Johansen opened his home to the missionaries, after becoming a convert in 1850. They made their home there, lovingly bestowing the name of "Father Lars" upon him, which name he was known by until the day of his death, December 9, 1883, at the near age of ninety-two.
December 22, 1853, Lars Johansen and his family, with the exception of three
sons, left Denmark to go to the new world to make their home in Zion. Johannes,
Christian Grix and Lauritz remained behind to assist as missionaries in the work
of the Lord and to dispose of the family property.
Lauritz was baptized in 1850, in Copenhagen, by C. Christiansen, and confirmed the following day by J. E. Forsgren. The 25th of December, 1851 he was ordained a priest and commenced his missionary labors in the Fredericia Conference under the direction of his brother Christian Grix, who was President of the Conference. He was ordained an Elder August 23, 1852, at the age of eighteen, and appointed to labor in Rengbjobing and vicinity. In the spring or summer of 1853, he was called to preside over the Vensysel Conference. It consisted of eight branches with a total of 257 members. He filled this position with honor. He was released in the spring of 1857 to emigrate to Zion.
On April 21, 1857, the ship Westmoreland sailed from Liverpool with 544 Saints, mostly Scandinavians, under the direction of Mathias Cowley. They arrived at Philadelphia on May 31, 1857, and reached Iowa City by rail June 9, 1857. They started across the plains in the Mathias Cowley Wagon Train. Lauritz, his brothers Christian Grix and Johannes were members of the group.
The trip across the plains was similar to those that preceded them, full of
hardships. One can see the lurching wagons as they crossed the river beds full
of great boulders. See strong men tugging and straining, turning the wheels by the spokes, then holding them back with all the strength they had, lest the wagon be swept upon a low lying rock and smash itself to pieces. See them going back to help others across, being careful lest they lost their footing on the slippery rocks under the water, and themselves be swept down the rapid, foaming torrent. But to traverse the precipitous mountains bordering the rivers was even less attractive.
They trudged alongside the compact wagons with a loaded gun in hand, the
vehicles two abreast, and in case of hostile demonstrations of savages, four or
five abreast. At five o'clock in the morning the bugle would sound the call to rise,
assemble for prayers, feed the teams and get breakfast, and at seven o'clock the
signal was given for starting. At eight-thirty p.m. at the sound of the bugle, each
was to retire for prayers in his own wagon, and at nine o'clock all but the sentries
to bed. The night was divided into two watches. The stock was kept inside the
enclosure formed by corralling the wagons according to the custom of the plains.
The tongues of the wagons were placed outside with a forewheel of each vehicle
locked in a hind wheel of the one ahead. They sacredly observed the Sabbath, no unnecessary thing being done on that day. Divine services were held regularly.
We see them slowly traveling along the north bank of the Platte River. The
regular route was on the south side, but the Pioneers preferred the north, for one reason, to avoid contacting any migrating Missourians, who sought every occasion to quarrel with them whenever they met them. So for several hundred miles they had broken a new road over the plains. It was known for many years as the "Old Mormon Trail".
They passed through the country of the Pawnees, Sioux, Arapahos, and
Cheyennes, without violence, except for troublesome things such as stampeding
and stolen stock, burning of grass before and around them. When the feed was
destroyed, they felled trees and their animals browsed on the foliage.
Sometimes the country through which they passed was monotonous in aspect, but the vast level prairie, its waving grass swept by gentle winds was pleasing to the eye. On the left, the muddy waters of the Platte rolled ceaselessly over beds of quicksand, hidden at times by many cottonwood groves fringing its sandy shores.
Little did they think that in a few short years the "Iron Horse" would thunder across the river's majestic course and golden corn fields would wave and flourish over Nebraska's plains.
They reached Grand Island where the prairies swarmed with buffalo. What a
treat to have a replenishment of meat. They killed only what was needed, remembering the instruction of Brigham Young: "If we slay when we have no need, we will need when we cannot slay. " The hunters supplied deer and geese, and when the mountain streams were reached, fine trout began to be taken from them.
The most difficult part of their journey lay ahead. High hills, deep ravines,
rugged canyons, rock obstructed and choked with brush, and in places fallen timber over which they must pass,, crossing and re-crossing crooked, willow-fringed torrents. Many times the deadly rattlesnake sounded his warning.
After a succession of mountains on mountains, hills piled on hills, the tired
vision of the struggling group saw before their eyes a broader and grander view.
Glimpses of open country appeared, and small sections of the Salt Lake Valley were visible, and beyond them loomed the blue and snowy tipped Oquirrhs, and above them the summit of the far-off Onaqui Range outlined against the Western sky.
For the descent the wheels were double locked, lest teams and wagons should rush on to destruction. The hopeful group pushed on cheerily, their spirits and strength renewed by what they had seen. Thus dusty, worn and weary, men, women, and children, dusty wagons, tired oxen, and animals with sore shoulders and feet, worn shoes and hoofs, called it "Enough", as they stopped at a small stream in the Great Salt Lake Valley, September 1857 -- four months and thirteen hundred weary miles. covered with wagon boxes, some one-room log cabins, but no matter how humble, they were homes. "Home Sweet Home", and to the inmates, the dearest place on earth.
What a welcome in the home of Lars and Margreta Johansen as they welcomed their boys to their meager surroundings. The early homes were cellars, some covered with wagon boxes, some one-room log cabins, but no matter how humble, they were homes. "Home Sweet Home", and to the inmates, the dearest place on earth.
But there were more pressing things now. President Buchanan had ordered
an army to Utah. This had been provoked by vicious letters sent to him by disgruntled conspirators such as W. M. F. Magraw, and W. W. Drummond, Justice of Utah Territory. The Saints were determined no one but God himself would ever harm them again, so the Larsens, among others, were trained in the jobs allotted them in what is known as the Echo Canyon War, or better known as "Buchanan's blunder. " They did not flinch nor falter but rose to the occasion, met it face to face, and as usual in such cases, came off the conquerors. The immortal words of Brigham Young shall ring through the panels of history, "from the lies of political hacks not fit for civilized society has come this newest persecution, but I won't bear such treatment, for we are free as the mountain air. These people are free; they are not in bondage to any government on God's footstool. We have transgressed no law, neither do we intend to do so, but as for any nation coming to destroy this people, God Almighty being my helper, it shall not be. "
He was resolved to utterly lay waste the land, to have his people set fire to
their homes and towns. They were ready to do just that, converting their ten years of industry and their oasis into a desert. They were ready to start upon another exodus in quest of peace and freedom.
Again he said, "We have borne enough, we shall bear no more. Come on with your thousands of illegally ordered troops, and I promise you in the name of Israel's God that they shall melt away as a snow before a July sun, and they shall find this land as barren as when we came here. " Four thousand hands went up in sanction to this.
Fortunately there was another issue in store. Kansas troubles were revived
and the rumblings of a secession from the South were beginning to gain momentum. Captain Stewart Van Fliet interviewed Brigham Young and the Mormon plans were laid before him in plain view.
The troops came on but met disaster from Cheyennes stealing their cattle,
and from frost and fire. There was no blood shed by Mormons, but they harassed the troops in every conceivable way.
The Larsen brothers were in the Weber Military District under the direction
of Colonel Chauncey W. West, District Commander. Then the call came to move
south in 1858. They filled their wagons with provisions and household furnishings and started another trek, where ? They neither knew nor cared. They knew the Lord would preserve them in their struggle and give them courage to carry on their honest religious convictions.
Lars Johansen and wife and some of his children were sent to Ephraim, by
President Young, where they settled in the Ephraim Fort. In 1860, some of the
brothers, among them Lauritz, moved from Ogden to Spring City. Being farmers
and good ones, as well as rugged individuals used to cold and hardships, they helped build the town which had been laid waste by the Indians in 1856. Starting from scratch again, they began to till the soil, never forgetting their God and His blessings.
Through their efforts and those of other stalwart men, Sanpete Valley became known as the "Wheat Granary of the West. "
Lauritz was a counselor to Bishop James A. Allred for thirteen years, and
was a Justice of the Peace for four years. In 1858 he was ordained a member
of the 41st Quorum of Elders in Salt Lake City. On May 21, 1867 he was sent on
a mission to Denmark. He was President of the Aarhus Conference under F. D.
Richards. He filled this position with honor. During the remainder of his term,
he was appointed by Jesse M. Smith as the first traveling Elder to the Scandinavian Mission. He was a good speaker and people flocked for miles to hear him speak. On July 14, 1870 he returned to Utah, with a company of three hundred Saints.
He married Louise Thompson in 1857. She died December 28, 1887. Their
children were: Marie Catherine, who married Louis Olsen February 19, 1880;
and Ella M. , who married James Crowford.
His second wife, Louise R. Jasperson he married January 15, 1864 in Salt
Lake City. She was a daughter of Rasmus and Kristena Olsen Jasperson. Louise
was born September 25, 1838 at Nyborg, Denmark. She died October 28, 1892.
Their children were: Laura M., Lauritz Orsen, born February 7, 1867, married
Deseret Anderson of Fairview January 12, 1894; Emeline born August 8, 1871,
married John S. Blain in 1900; Mary L. born April 16, 1873, married Charles
Zabriskie June 6, 1894; and Albert, born September 2, 1875, married Lizzie
His third wife was Ottemina Marie Christensen Jensen, widow of John Jensen,
of Mt, Pleasant, Utah whom he married November 29, 1893. She went by the name of "Minnie". She was born in Sindal Parish, Hjorring Amt, Denmark, December 20, 1863,. daughter of Christian and Elsa Marie Neilsen Sorensen. She had four children by John Jensen: Johnnie and Hyrum who died young, Joseph and Samafie (May). She and Lauritz had two children: Leona born 1894, Lauretta, born February 23, 1896, three months after Lauritz's death. Joseph married Lavina Jensen, daughter of Peter and Caroline Simpsen Frandsen, of Mt. Pleasant. May married George Stansfield of Mt. Pleasant. They later divorced. She then married Peter Simpsen of Mt. Pleasant. Leona died at the age of four on October 22, 1898.
Lauretta married Leslie Kidman, and they were later divorced. They had one
daughter, Leona, married to La Roy Pedersen, son of Benjamin Pedersen of
Salt Lake City, Utah.
There was a little sadness connected with Lauritz' marriage to Minnie. His
children were all grown and they resented his marrying a woman younger than
some of them. Lauritz was fifty-nine and Minnie was thirty. When they came
home the night of their marriage, his house was bare, all the furniture had been
moved out, pictures, carpets, dishes, everything gone. When Lauritz saw this,
he said in a quiet voice, "Well, I didn't think my children would do this to me. "
Minnie spoke up and said, "Well, I didn't marry your furniture. I married you
for what you are. I have furniture in Mt. Pleasant, we will get it tomorrow. "
They spent the night with his sister Mary, Mrs. Christian Willardsen, of Ephraim,
As the years went by they came to know Minnie better, and all feelings were
forgotten, and they became good friends. I was grown before Mother told me of
this incident. I think she only told me to show that one can meet reverses with a
smile and there is a bright side to everything if we but look for it.
Lauritz' life spanned many changes. He saw in his youth subduing of the earth by physical strengths of men and beast, and the horse and buggy for transportation.
He saw the old well and it's "Old Oaken Bucket," the hand pump, the old mill wheel, the small tin plate with its grease and wick, the candle, the oil lamp, and he slept on the ground, the straw mattress, and the feather bed. He washed his hands and face in the stream beds, and in a basin on a wooden stool by the door. He bathed in the streams and in a wooden wash tub, and he churned butter in the wooden churn with its dash.
He helped shear the sheep after he had helped hold it in the water near the flume until it was thoroughly cleansed, and its wool white and shiny. He saw the wool carded and spun into skeins, dyed and knitted into stockings, shawls, scarves, and woven for blankets and cloth.
From the dirt floor, to boards, to carpets loomed from rags, with clean straw
for padding, to spring housecleaning when the carpet was taken up and hung across a line and beaten with sticks, after which he helped clean up and burn the old straw, replacing it with other fresh and clean, and stretched and re-tacked the carpet.
He had a knowledge of the arts and sciences which had seen little change for
hundreds of years. He did not live to the age of electronics, nuclear power, ultra-
packaged push-button living, nor man's walking on the moon.
Did he know the day would come when the application of modern technology in the field of genealogy with the inauguration of electrical data would record records of both the living and the dead ? No, he did not know. But he did know, that what-ever changes and advancements had been made, and those that were to follow would all be brought about by the Lord. Such was his faith.
Proof of this was given in a talk he gave in Salt Lake City April 17, 1892.
He said, "We are in advance of the world in revelation of the knowledge of the
Gospel. We know that the revelations given to us are from the Lord. There is not a member of this Church that is enjoying the Spirit of the Lord, but can see that this work is growing, and it is our duty to help in the rearing of Temples to the Lord."
He was popular in secular as well as ecclesiastical affairs. He was elected a
delegate to the Constitutional Convention in 1895. Utah was admitted into the Union January 6, 1896. He did not live to see his beloved Utah become a State. He died November 2, 1895.
Funeral services were held in Spring City, Utah, Monday November 4, 1895.
Church Historian, Andrew Jenson, a speaker, had this to say, "I have learned to
love Lauritz Larsen, because he has been a wise counselor to me. Here lies a man who would sacrifice about anything for his friends. He spent the best part of his life as a missionary. The persecution and trials suffered in Denmark due to hatred for Mormons, while imprisoned, were almost more than one could bear. He labored to establish peace and good will to all men. He was a son of the North who has honestly gained a reputation of making a good and loyal citizen in his adopted America. True his heart beat as warmly for the land of his birth. "
Frank Essholm, in his book, Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah, has this to
say: "The inheritance of man is a posterity; the greatest inheritance of a posterity
is a Christian ancestry. . . . no one knows these people as I know them, as it has
been my good fortune to know them, can have but the highest regard for them, as a people he cannot help but believe in their sincerity in their religion, they are trying to live a righteous life and the teachings of Christ are constantly before them. That these Pioneers have established a State and a religion is sufficient commendation of their worth."
I am glad he thought enough of our ancestors to write about them in his book, or at least interested enough in them to get them to tell about themselves.
Oh, yes, Lauritz Larsen you fulfilled your destiny with honor, and may we as
survivors emulate your life.
(Written by a daughter, Lauretta L. Kidman, May 2, 1970 at age 74)