Submitted by Cal Andreasen
- Born: Jan 21, 1875, Torslev, Hjorring co., denmark
- Died: Aug 28, 1961, Provo, Utah
The Jens Christian Andreasen Family Immigrated America, 1889-1891
I think I should tell a little about my husband’s (Axel’s) people before I venture too far into our lives together. In a faraway beautiful country of Denmark, a fine young man by the name of Jens Christian Andreasen (Axel’s father) was born in Torslev, Hjorring, Denmark on September 16th, 1845. Jens was the son of Andreas Christensen and Maren Kirstine Jensen. Jen’s father was a common laborer. He was not as gentle and kind as Jen’s mother, who taught her son to be honest, truthful, and prayerful so that he might be an honor and credit to them. There were four children in the family, Jens Christian Andreasen, Christian Andreasen who died in infancy, Ane Cathrine Andreasen, died in 1930, and Kristine Andreasen died in 1947. Ane Cathrine (Katrine) neither married nor came to America. Therefore, Jens Christian’s descendants were the only ones to carry the Andreasen name in our family
AXEL’S LIFE IN DENMARK
Axel’s Father, Jens Christian Andreasen, married Maria Frederiksen. They were the parents of 10 ½ children. That ‘half’ often caused a lot of laughter, but it really was a half‐sister. Jen’s first wife, Christiane Rasmussen, died early in life but not before bearing a child by the name of Jenny Margrethe Elisabeth Andreasen. Jenny later married Thomas Christian Beck. Jenny never came to America.
Jens Christian Andreasen was a hardworking man. Axel records: It was seldom we saw our father in the winter as he would be off to work before we were up and we were back in bed before he came home at night— working 14‐16 hours each day. He was a hardworking man and always in demand. His wages were scarcely enough to provide for his large family. Besides going out to work he also raised geese, so many that he became known as the “Goose King.” Even this was not enough to provide liberally for the children who were placed in their care, so the three oldest ones were obliged to go out to work at a very tender age.
Axel’s mother, Maria Frederiksen Andreasen, was a neat and clean woman. Her work was endless, washing, ironing, baking, mending, and all else that goes with housework. The house was small and filled with the 10 precious children God had placed in their keeping. They had one large room and a lean‐to, where there was a large chimney where they cooked. Later, they built another room with rough boards for the floor which Grandma kept clean and spotless.
Axel F. Andreasen was born in one of the earth’s beauty spots in Denmark on January 21, 1875. His childhood was spent like most children, carefree and happy. They had little of this world’s riches. They had a small house, but it was a home filled with peace and love.
Like Nephi of old Axel was born of goodly parents who taught him right from wrong and to be honest and truthful “always.” They taught him to have faith and pray often. Axel records: I well remember how my mother would take me by the hand in the evening and we would walk to a quiet spot and there kneel down in prayer and she would pour out her heart to our Father in Heaven, asking him to bless the little ones He had entrusted to her care, asking that we should never want for the needful things of life. I remember the sacred feeling in our home when she would put us to bed.
Axel’s father had a beautiful farm covered with heather, but he had no cash to properly start production. It brought in very little. One of Axel’s pleasures was wandering over those beautiful rolling hills covered with beautiful heather. Here they watched the birds, their nests, the eggs, and finally the little birds, never dreaming of hurting or destroying anything that God had created and over which He watched. They loved to pick the wildflowers which were so plentiful in that country. All these things satisfied and kept them amused. The birds and flowers were taken care of by the Creator.
WORK AT A VERY YOUNG AGE
Axel and his sister, Andrea, went out with their father where they dug Turf. Grandpa was an expert Turf digger. This is a sort of peat moss dug from the swamps. It is dug out in pieces about the size of a brick. Then Andrea and Axel hauled as many as they could on a wheelbarrow to a flat place to dry. They sold it and it was used for fuel. They sold a lot and you could be sure their little legs and arms ached when the day was done as they returned home to a meager meal, and then tucked into bed by their loving mother.
At the age of 7, Axel went out to work for others herding cows. He was somewhat an indentured servant during the summers from 7 to14 years old for $2.00 a day. There were no fences in Denmark, so a herd boy had a hard job keeping the cows on their own property. While in the fields, Axel could see his mother at their home and he cried, waiting for the long hot day to end. When evening shadows were fast gathering and he and Andrea were returning home from work, they were tired and hungry.
One evening, they heard a noise in the bushes. Axel hugged closer to Andrea. “What was that?” “It was just a cat.” Just then a drunk man sprang from the bushes. “Shall you call me a cat? I’ll teach you.” The two tired children ran and cried, and the liquored man soon gave up the chase. Axel was a lonely little boy who loved home and his mother.
Andrea and Axel often went out and sold hot‐cross‐buns to buy a little sugar, flour, or some other needful thing. One day a lady took their cash saying they could not count it out. She kept 20 cents of their hard-earned money. I hope her conscience hurt her over it.
Andrea and I would often take a basket and a bottle and go out to the better class of people to ask for a crust of bread and a little skimmed milk. How grateful we were if we could get something to eat before we went to bed. We were thankful for all we could ever get. Then mother would thank the Lord, asking Him to bless it for our good and bless those who gave it.
They were treated kindly by all who had learned to know them and love them for their goodness and honesty.
Many people had worms because of poverty and lack of the right food. Axel tells of having headaches till he was nearly wild. One day he vomited and up came a big worm. This relieved him of headaches. There were many lice and fleas in those days. There is no disgrace in being poor. They complained little and their pains of hunger and times of cold built real character.
Homemade toys were treasured and brought as much pleasure and joy as the expensive toys of today. They cut spools in half to make wheels, which they placed under a matchbox. This completed horses and chariots. Another toy was made from the breastbone of a goose, a little shoemaker wax, a stick, and a rubber band. The rubber band was secured around the breastbone and twisted tight with the stick. The stick was pressed down into the wax and when it relaxed, could that thing jump! They called it a ‘Springbuck.’
Another toy was made from a piece of pig bladder, a tin can, a feather, and some rosin. The piece of pig bladder was stretched over an empty tin can. The feather was stuck through the center of the bladder. We put a little rosin on our fingers and pressed them together on the feather while sliding up and down. It would make so much noise you’d think a real chariot and 12 horses had really got loose. It was called a “Rumble Pot.” It was a great toy for Halloween because it could scare anyone, both old and young. Sounded like all #$%* was turned loose. These toys satisfied their need. Never having known better, they were happy.
Imagine if you can, little children playing in the sun with simple toys. Children you loved and would like to give the best the world had to offer, but it was not in your power. Could you yourself be truly happy knowing they were not getting what they should eat? Their lives were not so blessed with the things that build healthy, strong bodies. There must have been a hurt feeling and an aching in the heart of Father and Mother. Yes, it is true the family was poor of earthly possessions, but rich in faith and spirit. They knew if they did their part the Lord would be with them and provide.
A neighbor wanted Andrea (Axel’s sister) to go to the store and get a bottle of whisky, but she refused because she was a Mormon. So then the lady thought Axel could go with her and carry it. Axel thought differently; he too, was a Mormon and if it was wrong for Andrea to carry it, it was just as bad for him. So she tattled to Axel’s father when he came home. Axel’s father went into the room where Axel lay asleep and got him out of bed and gave him a beating because he refused.
That was wrong. His father should have been very proud of him for not carrying the whiskey because he was Mormon.
Axel had very little schooling in Denmark and none in America. There was one school teacher who was very kind and good. He believed in Mormonism, but could not tell anyone or he would lose his job as a school teacher.
Of another school teacher Axel records:
He had no respect for the Mormons and told the school children all the old ugly stories he had ever heard about them. After school, the children who had Mormon parents had to take off their wooden shoes and run. If the Mormons were caught they got a terrible beating because their parents belonged to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter‐ day Saints.
It was the rule at school that the smartest child should sit at the head of the class. Axel used to tutor the school teacher’s son, and as such he should have sat at the head of the class. But it would never do to put a Mormon, also the son of a poor man, ahead of the teacher’s son, so Axel sat second. Later in life (while on a mission to Denmark in 1955), Axel visited this teacher. He invited Axel in for dinner. His teacher said, “I was really mean when you were here as a child, telling all those awful stories.”
Axel said, “You need not apologize.” “Well,” the teacher responded, “I realize that every man should have the privilege of believing as he pleases.” Axel said, “I have had many a beating because of it, but Mormonism is true and I have no regrets.”
It did not happen often that the school had a Christmas party. When they did, each of the rich children received a toy. Oh, how Axel wished for one of these toys, but he belonged to the poor class and they each received cloth for a shirt or yarn for a pair of socks. This, of course, was more needful but did not fill the longing, yearnings of a child’s heart.
AXEL’S WRITING AT AGE 9
This has been inserted so that you can see how good his handwriting was. This is dated April 16, 1884.
CONVERSION TO MORMONISM
The Danish People were all members of the State Church (Lutheran) and as such were all baptized by sprinkling. Because the little land of Denmark had a bachelor king that gave his subjects religious freedom from the State Church on June 5, 1849, Brigham Young called a member of the 12 Apostles to go to Scandinavia (headquarters at Denmark) to dedicate those lands for the preaching of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.
What a rich harvest field it has been. A greater percentage of the inhabitants of the far northern country of that little land of Denmark, 1/7 the size of Utah, has yielded more church members per square mile than any other spot on our known earth from 1850‐1950. If a man should labor all his days and bring save but one soul into the Kingdom of Heaven, how great shall be his joy with that soul in Heaven. (See D&C 18:15, 16)
The Mormon Elders used to come to Axel’s home as long as he could remember, although his mother was very much against them. Axel’s father, Jens Christian Andreasen, was baptized long before the rest of the family in 1880. He was true to the faith as long as he lived. Axel was 5 years old and later recorded,
“I remember on August 23, 1880 when my father was baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter‐ day Saints by Elder Ole C. Sonne from Logan, Utah. Three of us children were blessed and given names that day by the same Elder. I was 5 years, 8 months old.”
Axel would walk with his father 10 miles on Sunday morning to Sunday School to hear the missionaries, and 10 miles back home, tired in body, but filled in spirit. He was too young to join the church.
In about 1884 Axel remembers 2 missionaries coming to his home. An Elder from Harrisville, Utah, Victor C. Hegsted (20 years old) left his home and young wife of a few weeks never to behold her again in mortality. His wife died on June 29, 1886. About this time, another Elder, Christen Andersen Frandsen, left his wife and three children to preach the gospel in Denmark. (Elder Frandsen eventually became Axel’s father‐in‐law.) Elders Hegsted and Frandsen used to sing often together.
Elder Hegsted told the story of Joseph Smith going out to pray in the Sacred Grove, the visitation of the evil one and his deliverance from that power by the Father and His Son, who came in their glory and told Joseph Smith what he should do. Axel heard the Joseph Smith story as he sat on a 3 legged stool, and it seemed to him as he listened that the vision opened up to him so very plain as could be, he knew it was true and said no matter how long he lived his testimony could never be stronger. Because of that story, a young man of nine years old had an indelible picture imprinted upon his mind that has never dimmed and received a burning testimony through the gift of faith and revelation that it was the voice of the Good Shepherd. This testimony has never increased. It could not grow stronger. Because of the sacrifice of those two humble Elders, Axel received the two greatest blessings next to parents and life itself. From the young Elder Victor C Hegsted, a testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the divine mission of the Prophet Joseph, and from the older Elder Christen Andersen Frandsen, some 20 years later, he received a wife and helpmate.
Axel was converted at age nine, never to falter. But he said he would not be baptized until his mother was converted. He taught his mother the gospel before she could believe. She along with Axel and his older sister, Andrea, were baptized in the pond on their property on June 7, 1888. Axel was 13 years old. In Axel’s words: “What a happy day that was, to go down into the waters of baptism and become a little Mormon boy.”
Since that day the Gospel has meant more to Axel than all else.
Axel remembers the teachings he learned in his little home which he often called The Poor House on the Hill. He was baptized by Elder James Thomson.
Andrea and Axel could sing very well. Andrea sang Mormon hymns. One little boy where they worked took notice of her songs and after 60 years he wrote from Canada to get the words. He could remember the tunes, but not the words.
AXEL’S JOURNEY TO AMERICA
Axel was the first in his family to immigrate to America, finally arriving in Vineyard on November 17, 1889. On October 2, his mother came to the place where he was working to tell him money was at the L.D.S. Church office in Copenhagen for his ticket to America, the best of all countries in the world, and Utah the best of all states.\
He was 14 years old and did not want to go. At first, he hesitated. Axel wondered “Can I leave Father, Mother and all my loved ones, my dear little home, and go to a strange land among strange people with a strange language? Then came to him the words of the Savior: ‘He that is not willing to leave all for my sake is not worthy of me’. He said, “I’ll go.”
It was necessary to get a written release from the people he worked for as his contract was not up till the 1st of November. The people for whom he worked released him from his contract but did not like to see him go to Utah among the Mormons. They shed tears and wished him well.
When the day came to migrate, Axel recalls the feeling he had as he left his family:
I have a mental picture of that day when I left home. It was October 17, 1889, my mother’s 40th birthday. I see a small rock house, 2 rooms with straw-thatched roof, and a small sand hill to the west of the house where the children played. Upon this little hill, I see a small thin boy leaving his home nest. I also see the pond where I was baptized—a sacred spot on the farm.
And on this day, I was taking up the battle of life among a strange people in a far‐off strange land in the west. I was dressed in a suit of home‐spun cloth, a white dickey, a white-collar, and a 4 cornered square tie. I had on my first pair of leather shoes. I carried in my hand a small carpetbag with a change of underwear, a shirt, socks, and a small lunch box. In my pocket are a few copper pennies. Mother stood with her arms around me, with a heart too full to speak, but I’m sure if I could have heard or read her thoughts I would have heard words something like this.
‘My boy you are going out into the world to fight the battle of life. So take from your mother a word of advice. When dangers surround you and threaten your young inexperienced soul when the world is offering you pleasures and wickedness and stands in the way and cunningly tempt and lures you, my boy is firm and has courage AND SAY NO.’
Axel’s heart was beating with fear and loneliness, and if we could have heard his thoughts, they would have been something like this:
‘Dear God, be good to mother and bless her today, for she has been so good to me in every way. Give her the comfort she deserves and bring her soon to me.’
What was in each heart and mind we will never know. Each was too full to speak even the words “Goodbye.” And so they parted, waving their hands till a curve in the road shut out the view.
There would be thousands of miles of sea and land between them, but in heart and mind, they would be just next door. His mother watched the little fellow trudge over the hill until he disappeared from view. He was 14 years old when he crossed the mighty ocean. He tried always to be the kind of a boy his mother wished him to be.
After arriving in Utah, he became a chore boy for John and Andrew Madsen in Utah County. One week for one and then the other.
Eventually, he went to the mining town of Eureka where he ran an old milk wagon. From there he went into the mines and worked as a cage rider, engineer, and watchman. He quickly adjusted himself to the newness of life and it was wonderful how quickly he learned the language.
He had hoped so much to send money home to his mother to help the others come to his great and wonderful country but living on $50 a year, there was not much to spare.
It’s no wonder he felt himself a near millionaire when he reached the Promised Land with all his blessings and opportunities. He has never since that day ceased to count his many blessings.
CHRISTIAN PETER ANDREASEN JOURNEY TO AMERICA (AXEL’S BROTHER)
Christian Peter Andreasen (Axel’s brother) was next to come to America. Hans Otteson, gave him work in Spanish Fork.
I, Christian Peter Andreasen was born on February 6, 1877, in Torslev, Hjorring, Denmark, out in the country. My parents were poor, maybe 2 or 3 acres, with a home in one end of the house where we lived and in the other end we had a stable and the middle was for hay on top and the bottom. Pa would have to thresh the rye at night and the day he would go out and work for other men that had big places for work.
When I was 10 years old I was sent out to work for a man that had a big place. He had a lot of milk cows and cared for the geese. Me and his girl had to take care of them but you can imagine how cows and geese will go together, but we had a lot of fun. I would get up at 4 AM in the morning and have breakfast, go out with the cows and geese till 11 AM and mother would send out a lunch. I would bring the animals in for their dinner and I would sleep till 2 PM, we would then take the animals out again. At 8 PM bring them in, have supper and go to bed. One morning the boss came out with my lunch and I had lost the geese, so he jumped on me and just about killed me. So, after he went home I left the cows and went to my home and told my folks and never went back again.
When I was 13 years old I left the good old Denmark, my folks and all. I did not know a soul and it was very hard at times as I did not know English. I was given a father and mother from there to Salt Lake. I did not know them when we got to Salt Lake. They went to someplace else and I was left alone to go to Spanish Fork. I couldn’t say one word to make anyone understand me. The conductor knew where I was to get off. When we got there he came and took hold of my arm, the train stopped, and I got out. Can you imagine how anyone at 13 being put out at 2 AM in the morning? Not a soul within a mile of the depot. It was about 2 miles west of Spanish Fork. The folks where I was going were to meet me there but they weren’t. It was nice moonlight night, so I lay down on the platform and went to sleep. The coyotes were so thick that they were all around me.
I want to tell you that I was sick. I did not belong to the Church but my prayer was answered a little after 4 AM in the morning some man came along and ask me what I was doing and where I going. I told him, to Hans Otteson. So he told me to come in and they would get word to them later. Was I glad that I could talk once more. They made a bed on the floor and gave me some bread and milk. They told me to lie down and they would get the folks where I was going but they couldn’t get them but got their son over in Salem and he came and got me about 6 PM. That night he took me to his house and the next morning they took me down to where I was going.
Oh what a place for a boy to work. I had to work 2 years for my immigration. At that time many families would pay for boat passage to help the Danish people to come to America. They got a lot of people to come. That is how they got their work done. They had a big place, and believe me the day my two years was up I left and went home to my folks who came to America a year after I did. They moved to Vineyard where the steel plant was later built. I was home a few days and then went to work for Holdaway and Smoot in the dairy and farm for a few years. I quit them and went peddling down in Sanpete Co. for a while. Then I went to Eureka to work in the mine. After some long time I quit and came down home. After I had been home a few days I got sick. I just about died. After that Father and I rented a farm down by the lake. We had it for a year
and then he sold it and we moved back to Vineyard.
During the time I was down on that place I meet one of the sweetest girls in the world. I went with a lot of girls in my days but I didn’t want any of them. I always had some fine horses and buggies and always would drive up town in the evenings. One night I was going home there was one boy and four girls standing on the corner about 15 West and Center St. I knew the boy and two of the girls, so I stopped and talked to the boy. He came over to the buggy. I asked him who the two girls were. He told me their names so I said go get the two and we would go for a ride. They didn’t want to at first but we kept after them to go. They said they did not know me, but this is how I meet the best girl in the world. Her name was Kate Vincent. It was a pretty moonlight night. We went down to the lake and had a boat ride then came back and drove over to Springville.
From that time on, for 3 years, I would go see her. About a year after I bought the corner on 17th West Center. Then about a year after there were 4 of us boys from the fourth field went to Colorado to work on the railroad but got lonesome and come home. I went to Salt Lake got a job in a dairy. I worked there for some time. I wrote to the bishop. He wrote back and said for me to come down and be ordained an elder. I just had a few hours to get the Church. I was there but not till the meeting had started.
Afterword’s I went down to see the girl. She didn’t know I was coming. They were eating dinner so I had to eat. Mr. Vincent said, what are you down for? I told him. He kept on asking things so I told him I was ordained an Elder. He said what for. I told him I was going to get married to the best girl in the world. He said, who is she? I said, your daughter if you will give her to me. He said, alright. I had to go back that night. We were married three weeks later in the Salt Lake Temple and I want to say she was a good wife no matter what came along. We raised a nice family.
REST OF FAMILY ARRIVAL TO AMERICA
Next Jens Christian Andreasen (Axel’s father), Maria Frederiksen Andreasen (Axel’s mother), and all the children arrived in Provo, September 16, 1891—except Jenny (who never came to America) Later they moved to Vineyard. They had known the pangs of poverty in Denmark and it followed them to Utah for a few years. But Grandpa was a faithful Latter‐day Saint in tithes, offerings, and soon things began to brighten up for them. His life is a good example of how the Lord will bless those who keep his commandments.