I, Henry Peter Jacobs, was born 27th of July, 1851 in Heckenberga, Sweden, about 21 miles from MalmÃ¶, Sweden. Heckenberga is one of five islands surrounded by a large lake. The only entrance to this island was by a high stone bridge. It was a very beautiful mountainous country, with rich soil. I can well remember spending many days picking all kinds of wild berries in the mountains. The owner of this island lived in a beautiful mansion. My father had a life lease on a house and five acres of land on this island from which we gained a substantial living together with a job my father had in working in his landlord's distillery.
There was a very fine school on this island, one side being enclosed by water. There was wonderful skating on the lake all during the winter weather.
We were all happy and everything went well with us until father joined the Mormons. Two Mormon missionaries came on the island, and my father was very much interested in what they had to say, saying that that was just what he had been looking for. He joined the church and was baptized in the year 1854 in the Baltic Sea. Mother was baptized the following year. When I became eight years old I was also baptized in the Baltic Sea.
When the owner of the island heard that father had joined the Mormons he became very angry and had him discharged from his work at the distillery after 18 years of faithful service. He used his influence in seeing that he couldn't get any other kind of work, so it made it hard for us to eke out a living. One winter we lived mostly on potatoes. Out land wasn't all productive, some of it being quite rocky, and other parts swampy. The landlord took father to court to try to get the land lease away from him, but the verdict was against him. This made him all the more angry, and he tried hard to starve us out. [p.1]
. . . My mother and four children, the baby being only eleven months old, left MalmÃ¶, Sweden, on the 15th of April, 1863. Our first stop was at Copenhagen, Denmark. Next we went by water through the North Sea to Kiel, Germany. Then by rail to Hamburg, Germany. Here we encountered a big storm and had to anchor for two days by an island called Cuxhaven in the North Sea. We next set sail on the 30th of April on a three mast sailing vessel, called the John J. Boyd. The ship was so crowded we could hardly move around, and some of the Saints things were stolen.
On our way crossing the ocean we witnessed many harrowing experiences. The sailors were really a tough lot, and would steal anything they could lay their hands on. In our group of Saints the men would take turns standing guard during the nights. There were five people died on the way over. We witnessed one man's body being thrown overboard. They wrapped him in a blanket and tied him on a slab, then tied a sack of coal to his feet then tossed it overboard into the ocean. It was a terrible sight. Some screamed, others fainted. It was the last time they let anyone witness this again. When we neared the coast of Greenland we got in among five big icebergs, and we nearly froze.
We were four weeks on the ocean and how glad we were when we saw New York. We were taken from the ship in rowboats to Castle Garden for inspection which took two days.
Now we had sad news. When mother went to the Branch President to get our money, he said he didn't have any for us. Father had given him enough money to get us to Utah. We weren't the only ones that had this happen to us, and when the authorities heard of this he was excommunicated. [p.3]
Some of the Saints were very kind to us and shared their sea biscuits with us but this didn't last very long, and by the time we reached Chicago we were pretty hungry. We had eleven changes by rail and by boat before we reached St. Joseph, Missouri. There were no bridges over the river so we had to go by ferry. There was one place in Missouri that we had to go by rail and some soldiers had tried to derail our train by putting big logs on the track and had burned some passenger cars, so we had to go in big stock cars with only a little straw on the floors and we were locked in until we reached St. Joseph.
When our train struck these big logs on the rails we were all pretty well shaken up and some were hurt, but not seriously. When we arrived at St. Joseph we were all pretty hungry, and it was pretty hard on Mother with a nursing baby. My sister Mary had an expensive necklace and she pawned this to get us something to eat and a warm drink for mother. The white bread she got was wonderful. We had never seen white bread before.
Now we had to take a boat again and were three days reaching Florence, which was about six miles to Omaha, Nebraska. We had to sleep on the ground here. The next morning we were told that there were to be rations for all the Saints. While the Saints were getting ready to cross the plains my sister went to Omaha to see if she could get some work, which she did.
She got a job with an apostate family for 50 cents a day. She saved enough to get some shoes for herself and a few things for the rest of us. These people used their influence to try to get her to stay with them, and offered her anything if she would stay. She prayed about it, and some of the Saints told her not to and if she did she would never get to Utah. It didn't take much persuasion, because she said there was such an awful feeling when she was in their home.
We crossed the plains in John Murdock's Company. We left Florence Nebraska June 15, 1863. I was then 12 years of age. . . . [p.4]
. . . We turned north over the mountain down Emigration Canyon, and on to Salt Lake City. We first went to the Eighth Ward Square which is now known as the City and County Building Grounds. We arrived there about 3 p.m. on the 2nd of September [1863.] . . . . [p.6]
BIB: Jacobs, Henry Peter. Brief History of Henry Peter Jacobs [by Pearl Jacobs Green], pp. 1,3-4, 6, IN Maxine L. Breinholt, Biographies (Ms 8691), reel 2. (CHL)