. . . In 1855 my father decided to sell his old homestead and emigrate to the United States, and settle with the Mormons in Utah. The money he received for the farm was to be spent for emigrating to America his family and other poor people.
November 23, 1855, myself, Neils Peter, Neils, Grathe, and Bena and I left home and started for Copenhagen, accompanied with our father, arriving there the next day. This was the last time I ever saw my father.
We began making preparations for the voyage across the Atlantic. Knute [Canute] Peterson [Petersen] was chosen President over all the Mormon emigrants in our vessel. November 29, 1855 we set sail for Kiel, Germany and landed there at midnight. From there we took a train for Gluckstad, Germany and arrived there at 2 p.m. the following day. We then took a vessel for England and on our journey were four days and nights on the North Sea. We landed at Grimsby, December 4th and went from there to Liverpool by train arriving December 5th.
December 6th we boarded a sail vessel, 508 persons in all, of which 437 were from Scandinavian decent.
Just before we sailed, Apostle Franklin D. Richards came on board and gave us many encouraging remarks and bade us farewell, after which we set sail and were soon lost from all sight of land. [p.1]
Many of us became seasick. The voyage was not a pleasant one and our vessel was not equipped for so many people and we suffered many disadvantages. We had tiers of bunks around the sides and boxes in the center. We were all compelled to eat off the boxes we had to sit on. We were somewhat delayed on our journey.
On December 19th a terrific storm came up and our vessel rocked, tossing us from one side to the other, boxes and all. Again on the 22nd, 23rd, 24th, and 25th, Christmas day, these storms continued, and on January 1, 1856. it was so terrific that one of our masts was split and wrapped with chains, and all the sails were taken down. The captain became so discouraged over the unsatisfactory conditions that he forbid any of us to sing or pray upon the vessel. But this did not prevent us from fasting and praying in secret which was ordered done by President Peterson, [Petersen] after which better weather prevailed. A few days after the heavy storm we came on to a vessel which was drifting with broken masts and sails. Our lifeboats were lowered and our sailors went out to rescue those on the vessel. About forty men were saved, together with some valuables and the large wrecked vessel was left to its fate on the broad ocean. The sailors taken on board were of great assistance to us as our sailors were about worn out. A day or so later the emigrants and those on board the vessel were frightened by a fire which broke out under the captain's cabinet. The smoke poured in on the emigrants in the lower deck, almost suffocating them and it was only with great difficulty that it was extinguished.
There was no great excitement as the Saints had faith in God and felt that he would deliver them safe to the promised land, and preserve them from any such a frightful death. Our rations were very coarse and simple and our water became very low owing to the long time on our journey.
There were six grown people and about fifty children who died on our voyage and were buried in the sea. The principal cause of death among the children was from measles which brought much anguish the parents.
We arrived in New York after a long and tiresome voyage of eleven weeks and three days. It was a great joy to us after the many hardships we had suffered, to leave our vessel and go on land.
In New York we stopped at Castle Garden two days and then took a train for St. Louis, arriving there March 1, 1856. None of us could speak English and it was very difficult for us to get along. Those able to work did so when work could be had. I received work on a steamboat and received $2.50 per day and later went on a farm at $15.00 per month.
About June 1st, President Peterson [Petersen] gathered a company and we sailed on a steam boat to Winter Quarters, now Florence, Nebraska where we began making preparations for the journey across the plains to Utah. [p. G-4] [CANUTE PETERSON'S [Petersen] COMPANY ARRIVED IN SALT LAKE CITY SEPTEMBER 16-21th, 1856, (Church Almanac 1997-98, page 172)] While we were getting fitted out a number of us secured labor erecting a wall around a farm, and in about three weeks were fitted out. Our outfit consisted of sixty wagons and two yoke of oxen, with six to ten persons to each wagon.
President Peterson was out Captain and appointed as assistant captain for each ten wagons. We started on our journey for Salt Lake City, June 19, 1856. The first day's journey was a hard one. Some of our oxen were wild and we did not know how to handle them and consequently did not make much headway the first day. The following day we made good headway. It was very hot and our oxen became very tired, traveling with their tongues out, some of them getting overheated and dying. We were compelled to leave some of our supplies, owing to our heavy loads and this was taken off and left. After a few [p.2] weeks journey we reached the unsettled wild west, where the buffaloes were grazing in great herds.
One day there was a stampede and our oxen became frightened, rushing together, one outfit crashing into the other. The women and children became frightened, some of the wagons were broken and a few of our number were hurt and one man killed, which caused a gloom to pass over us. He was buried in a coffin such as we could prepare. We then repaired our outfits and journeyed on. A few of the buffalo were killed, dressed for beef and divided among our company.
Now and again the Indians were seen roaming from one side of the valley to the other and on occasions they would come to visit us. In order to maintain a friendly feeling, we would ofttimes give them some of our supplies and provisions such as we could spare. We were compelled to guard our oxen at all times when we were not traveling to prevent them from being driven away or stolen by the Indians. We were called together morning and night by the sound of a bugle to receive our instructions. Sundays, we had meetings and regular services were conducted, adding much comfort and pleasure to our journey.
Sometimes we had dances on the green grass and enjoyed ourselves as best we could. During the days while journeying along, nearly all of us walked except those who were sick and the smaller children. We went along laughing and singing the songs and hymns of Zion. We arrived at Salt Lake City, September 20, 1856 and on the entire journey of three months not more than a half dozen persons were seen outside of our own company. . . . [p.3]
BIB: Madsen, Andrew. Autobiography, pp.1-3. (CHL)