The year was 1873 and the story begins near a small farming village at the southern shoreline of
Denmark, a country reclaimed from the sea and where “Twilight Nights" are celebrated by
tradition, during the summertime.
It was the day prior to the sailing date for the departure of the Hans L. Nielsen family. This was a
day they had planned on for many months and it was exciting to say the least. Imagine, they would
soon be on their great adventure, with other immigrants -- destination America, the land of the free
and the land of opportunity for all!
Indeed, they had heard such glowing reports about this new country. Anyone could become a
landlord and own as many acres as he wanted to. In Denmark, most of the land was on freehold
arrangement. Besides this, they would be free to worship as they wanted and now there was only
one true church, the one that they had recently been baptized into. They had heard all this
wonderful news from several stalwart and sincere young men who said they had surely been called
of God to preach this newly restored and everlasting gospel to all the nations of the world. They
were ordained missionaries.
There were seven dear souls in this little family group: Hans L. and his dutiful, loving wife, Karen
Kirstine, plus the children: Ane Marie, James Peter, Lars Christian, Maren Sophie and Hannah
Christine. The oldest child was thirteen and the youngest eighteen months. It was quite a family
group to be taking such a great and long journey but they were filled with enthusiasm and visions
of their Utopia, to be.
This family had been modestly but comfortably well off. What faith it must have taken to dispose
of their small farm and home with all their worldly goods except a few belongings such as clothing
and necessities, to make this long journey. Yet, it was God's plan for them, At least, they were
convinced of that.
A few of their friends and all of their relatives tried ever so hard to discourage this seemingly
insane desire and absolute determination of Hans L. and Karen Kirstine. After all, they had
belonged to a good Christian faith there in their native Denmark and furthermore this new faith was
so unknown and unpopular with most people, amongst them. There had been much persecution
because of this new belief but it seemed to only bolster their determination. Their closest relatives
threatened in every possible way but to no avail, to Zion they must go!
Grandma Maren Katrine, mother of Hans L. was the relative who opposed their decision the very
most. She was very bitter and upset that last day before the departure when she came to the ship to
bid a final, tearful farewell. She, at this time, truly felt that the battle was lost, when she made one
last pleading, "Please Hans, let me at least take Ane Marie home with me for one last night. You
know that she has been with me so much of the time and I feel that it's only right for us to have one
last evening together. "
It was really hard for Hans L. to deny his widowed mother this last privilege, so after getting Karen
Kirsten's consent, they let Ane Marie leave with Grandma but only after she solemnly promised to
bring the child back bright and early the next morning at an appointed time which was to be just
one hour before this family would be sailing away with this large group of converts on their first
leg of the journey to America. "I will indeed, have Ane Marie back on time." were Grandma's
Morning came and as the time drew near for Grandma to have Ane Marie to the boat, tension
started to mount. They had not doubted Grandma's sincerity up to now but alas, the time came and
no Ane Marie.
Mother Karen Kirstine let her anxiety get the best of her and cried out, "Why is Ane Marie not
here? What in the world shall we do? I cannot and will not leave without my child"' Hans was very
sober and totally dismayed. Could his own mother have tricked them like that? He was
experiencing much anger and pangs of loneliness already. The crowd of a few hundred strangers
was of no comfort at a time like this. Well, perhaps there was still time' Re-assuring his distraught,
weeping wife the best he could, Hans L. left the ship and hurriedly borrowed a horse from an acquaintance
close by. He rode as fast as he could to his mother's farm home. To his utmost astonishment,
Ane Marie was not there' His mother adamantly refused to tell him where she had been hidden. It became a
very heated argument in which she repeatedly retorted, "Now, you cannot go and you will stay in Denmark,
as you should!” "That we cannot do, Mother!" shouts Hans L. "We have all our money tied up in passage tickets to
America. We absolutely must go!” There was no time left for arguing so he left immediately. Even faster than before,
he rode to the court in Praesto, to obtain a summons for his mother's arrest for kidnapping his child.
Unfortunately, his plans were thwarted because when he reached the court he did not have the
documents of proof that Ane Marie was his daughter. The papers were packed in their luggage.
There was no time left. The gamble was indeed lost and over. Hans L. knew then that his mother's
scheme had worked. Now, he barely had time to ride back to the ship but how could he face his
dear wife and children, who were expecting Ane Marie to be with him? Now, for the first time he
was acknowledging to himself that certainly no religion could be worth this, yet he was ashamed to
have lost faith.
Arriving at the ship there was little time to try consoling his dear wife who was sobbing bitterly.
“Hans, we will never see Ane Marie again!" Bravely, Hans L. replied, "Karen, I promise you that
all will turn out well. We must go to America now but mark my word, we will be prosperous and
very soon one of us will return to Denmark for Ane Marie.”
It was a sorrowful journey and a hard one. They were on the Atlantic Ocean almost a month- a
family of six crowded into one small berth. The children became very tired and cross. Mama Karen
of course was grieving and before the end of the journey, she was plagued with nausea, each day.
Hans L. tried to be cheerful and optimistic but even he became dreadfully upset when a few souls
perished on this ship and had to be gently laid to rest in the depths of the blue Atlantic. He tried
every day to remember the words of those missionaries who had promised them abundant blessings
from God for beckoning to the call of this new religion.
The long awaited day finally came and the ship reached port at New Orleans, La. There were
representatives from their new religion there to greet this overly tired group of new saints to the
Promised Land. At last, they were in “America the Beautiful" a land of dreams come true. The
words of encouragement were spoken in their native tongue of Danish and it sounded good to them.
Everyone joined in to offer a grateful thanks to God.
The journey was not over. From here they traveled to St. Louis, Mo. where they and their
belongings were put on a train bound for Zion. The destination tags read "Ogden, Utah".
Meanwhile, back in Denmark, Ane Marie had been hidden that fateful day with friends of
Grandma. She was kept in a closet for three days at this farm home, not far away. She was told that
this would prevent her family from leaving for America and all would be well. It was a difficult
task for Grandma later, to have to admit that the plan did not work out that way.
All of her relatives comforted her and gave her much love and as it turned out she was not too upset
as she had lived with Grandma much of the time so as to attend a school close by.
At Grandma's she had uncles a few years older that she and they delighted in spoiling her. When
she lived at home it was her duty to baby-sit her young sisters and brothers, which she was not fond
of doing. She always hoped that her family would return but became well adjusted so never really
grew up being bitter.
Back in America the Nielsen family's future destination had been arranged by church authorities.
They were to arrive by rail to Ogden but then were advised to travel by wagon to a small settlement
about twenty- five miles north to a place known as “Little Valley". This was an area that very much
resembled the terrain of their homeland. It was a beautiful and peaceful place surrounded by low
rolling hills. Later on, this valley was named Mantua.
Here, along with other immigrants, mostly of Scandinavian back- ground, they busied themselves
with cutting of logs to build a cabin. This took a tremendous amount of courage to begin building a
home and tilling the soil for planting of crops. Even cutting down the trees was new to them
because back in Denmark it was against the law to cut down any trees, even if one owned the land.
It was all very foreign to them and they had little or nothing in the form of tools. Now, they must
build a fence so as to protect their crops from the wild horses, deer and the cattle that roamed the
hills but the neighbors always pitched in to lend a hand to the newcomers.
The church authorities advised them that they must now learn English since they were in America
and to try very hard to refrain from speaking their native language. Reluctantly they obeyed this
rule as best they could but at a social gathering of friends, the happy chatter was always in their
beloved Scandinavian language.
Another rule from the church was called observing the "Word of Wisdom" which forbid them from
drinking their favorite beverage which was coffee and even tea. They conformed quite well but it
seemed a big sacrifice for them. Danish hospitality had always included their favorite drink of
coffee along with those delicious Danish pastries. Even though they did have a guilt complex they
did indulge in this way of life on many occasions.
In this settlement, most of their new acquaintances were good honest people, like themselves. An
exception to the rule was a person who owned a small store where they could buy supplies. He
found out that Hans L. had some money that he had saved up for emergencies and offered to take
care of it for him, in his safe. The amount was five hundred dollars and when Hans L. did have a
need for some of it, this man denied the entire affair. This was a cruel lesson for Hans L. to learn
for up to now he had not doubted the honesty of any of the brethren of this church.
Karen Kirstine tried ever so hard to adjust but it was difficult. She had realized during their voyage
that she was to have another baby- her sixth, and it became increasingly hard to bear up with all of
their hardships. It was apparent, of course, that she was still grieving for Ane Marie and had indeed,
lost faith that they would ever be able to go back to Denmark for their dear daughter. The children
were given much love from mama but even they knew why she seldom smiled.
A baby boy was born in late Oct. of that same year. Karen Kirstine's health was just too delicate for
her to care for her children without help so Hans L. managed to hire a young emigrant girl who had
recently moved to this valley with her parents. Her name was Anna Christena and the family grew
to love and trust her- especially Karen Kirstine. One day she talked very confidentially to Anna
Christena and asked if she would take good care of her children when the time came and the girl
The time soon came. Karen Kirstine was laid to rest in a family plot not far away in a place called
Brigham City. Hans L. in his sorrow knew that he had failed indeed, his promise to his darling
Karen. In his overwhelming grief it was his duty to write this sad news to his dear daughter in
Denmark- that 'Mama had passed away!”
Anna Christena kept her word and did the job very well. Within the year, Hans L. asked her to stay
on permanently and be his wife. She was twenty-two years younger than Hans L. When Ane Marie
received the word that her father had married a girl just three years older that she was, it was most
up setting to her.
Hans L. had dreamed of being a well-off landowner in America but things had just not worked out
that way, up to now. At this time he heard of another valley much larger and with plenty of water
available for crops and cattle. It was at a place on the Mink Creek in southern Idaho. At this time
there was one other Danish family that had taken a homestead in this area so they would not be
entirely alone in the venture. So, with true pioneer spirit they would abandon their present farm
home for the move sixty miles to the north.
The trip was made by wagon that would be their home for several weeks. Their horses and
livestock were driven and herded there by the two older sons-James Peter and Lars Christian.
Again, they had the task of building another cabin and clearing the brush so as to till the soil and
plant crops. They also had to prepare for visits from bears that roamed these parts. It was really
It had been almost five years since the family had come to America. Hans L. and Anna Christena
did well obeying the laws of their religion- especially the word from God that they should multiply
and replenish the earth. From this particular union, eleven children were born, however the first two
babies died in infancy. This good woman managed to care nobly for her stepchildren and her own.
Anna Christena had many responsibilities such as: making all their clothing and sewing by hand,
wool had to be corded and spun so as to make all of their quilts, milk had to be skimmed to make
the cream into butter, any left over milk was made into cheese, soap had to be made from waste fat
and lye for all their laundry purposes. Besides this she had to be nursemaid to all the family. They
were quite self sufficient by growing all their vegetables and raising pork, beef and chickens. Their
farm was equipped with a crude smoke house and meat curing devices so they could have meat
available the year around.
Somehow, Anna Christena made their daily chores a family game and had the help and support of
all the children. For instance, when they planted fruit trees there was one tree planted for each
member of the family and named for him or her. Such as, Eliza Apple, Annie Apple, Father Apple
and so- forth down the line. There were sixteen lovely, well cared for trees in this family orchard.
At this time, in spite of all their hardships, Hans L. had fully regained faith in his religion and did
believe it to really be the true church. He had presumably, prepared the way for himself, to
someday enter the Celestial Kingdom in heaven and be a God in his own rights, with each of his
wives at his side. He paid an honest tithing besides being generous when asked for donations for
the purpose of helping more converts to come from the old country. He was rathe r sorrowful that
none of his relatives were convinced to follow him to Zion, and now he was quite certain that he
would never see his homeland again nor his darling daughter, Ane Marie.
His oldest son, who was just three years younger than Ane Marie did at a much later date, in 1903,
go to Denmark on a mission. At this time James Peter was married and the father of nine children,
with the tenth child on the way. He felt privileged to be called by his church to preach the gospel
abroad, in Denmark, so no sacrifice seemed too much as God would provide. His brave wife was
Karen Marie and she took on this new responsibility cheerfully. With the help of their older
children she supported the family from their dairy and cheese farm and sent money, every month,
to her husband in Denmark. She successfully gave birth to a baby girl while he was gone and he
was away twenty-eight months. On his return every thing went along as usual and there were two
more children added to their brood as time went on. Their oldest son also went on a mission to
Denmark, a few years later.
James Peter, of course visited his sister Ane Marie on many occasions and they rejoiced at this
happy reunion. He became fast friends with the relatives but failed to convenience anyone of them
to join his religion. On his return to America, James Peter corresponded with his sister as long as
At this time of his visit, Ane Marie was happily married and the mother of four lovely children. Her
Grandma, Maren Katrine had passed away when Ane Marie was about twenty years old. Before her
marriage she had worked as an apprentice dressmaker and had become very good at her trade. She
married a man whom she had known for many years, an old school mate. He excelled in his
profession of making fine furniture. In turn he taught this to his three sons and they became very
good craftsmen. Their youngest was a girl and she learned from her mother to be a fine seamstress.
She also learned the art of fine Danish cooking and how to serve these foods beautifully. For a
church supper, she once made over 350 ableskivers. This lovely lady's name is Anna and she is still
active and vivacious at the age of eighty- four.
Time has a way of marching on- but the memory of Karen Kirstine still lingers in the minds of
those who loved her so much and understood her sacrifices. She was not abandoned in that lonely
grave sight in Brigham City, for in 1914, James Peter and his wife Karen Marie, decided to move
from Idaho back to this very place. They became owners of this family plot, which is well cared
for, and now many of this family have joined dear Karen Kirstine in their final resting place.
A fourth generation descendant in America and author of this story, Who is the eldest grandchild of
James Peter and Karen Marie and Who also is the eldest great-grandchild of Hans L. and Karen
Kirstine has visited those villages in Denmark in 1975 and again in 1979. She has rekindled that
wonderful family tie with Ane Marie's only daughter and all of the children, grandchildren and
great grandchildren of this girl who was left behind. What a glorious and happy occasion this was
for all! "Ane Marie you live in the hearts of those who love you, not only in Denmark but in