OLSEN, James Peter (Jens): An Honorable Pioneer

James Peter “Jens” Olsen

James Peter Olsen was born in Viemose, Kalvehave, Praesto, , on the 14th of May 1841. His father was Rasmus Olsen and his mother was Ingeborg Hansen or Sorensen. James was called Jens for short.  The family owned and lived on a beautiful estate, which was on high ground overlooking the ocean. In 1852 the family became acquainted with Mormon missionaries and was taught the gospel. Jens’ father was baptized on July 12, 1852. 

Later, on November 19, 1853, Jens and some of his siblings were baptized. Soon after the family joined the church they started making plans to gather to Zion.  The day after Christmas, December 26, 1853, the family boarded the steamship Eideren at Copenhagen with 378 other passengers. The family arrived at Liverpool, England on January 9, 1854. There many of the company became sick. The illness was so bad that twenty-two children and two adults died. 

When it was time for the immigrants to board the ship, Benjamin Adams, an examining physician declared fifteen from the group unfit for the voyage and would not permit them to sail with the rest of the company. While on the ship from Liverpool to America Jens’ younger brother, Hans Rasmus, became ill. He died on March 9, 1854 and was buried at sea. 

When Jens and his family arrived at the New Orleans ship docks they saw Negro slaves being held in corrals like animals. They were being sold for about $25.00 each. At New Orleans the family boarded the steam ship L.M. Kennet and went up the Mississippi River, arriving in St. Louis, Missouri on April 3, 1854. They then continued on to Kansas City where they prepared for the journey to cross the plains.

Jens was about 13 years old at that time and would have been a lot of help on the journey as they made their way to the Salt Lake Valley.  He would have gathered fire wood, milked the cow, brought water to the camp, even drove the oxen some of the time. On October 5, 1854 the Olsen family finally entered the Great Salt Lake Valley.  They did not get to stay there very long because many of the company they traveled with were asked to move on to the Sanpete Valley to help settle that area and teach the Indians how to raise crops. 

Twenty eight wagons with these Scandinavian Saints left Salt Lake and headed for Fort Ephraim. It took them close to another week to travel to where their new home would be.   In the spring of 1864, just before Jens turned 23 years of age, he was asked to go to Omaha, Nebraska with ox teams to help bring emigrants to the Salt Lake Valley. It took him six months to make the round trip. 

While on these trips Jens met Annie Catherine Christensen and they were married after they arrived in Utah. He was sealed in the Endowment House to her and his second wife,Ane kirsten Nielsen on 24 Feb 1865 He and Ane had five children.  

Jens was called to go to St. George to work on the construction of the temple. That was a one year assignment.  He also helped on the construction of the .  Jens held the rank of Lt. In the guard during the Indian wars.  He was a good mediator with the Indians and Chief Blackfoot visited his home many times. He would bring pine gum for the children.  On October 16, 1882 Jens left home, his wives and children, for a mission to Denmark. He labored there for ten months, being ill most of the time. He was then released to go home. He lived only two months after arriving home. His death was at the age of 42 on the 13th of October, 1883.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.