DORTHEA BUCH THOMPSON (1809-1854)
Jennie T. Johnson, wrote the following in 1947
with additional material by Sarah P. Jensen regarding
Dorthea, Andrew's Mother, and Peter, his Step Father
Peter Petersen Thompson was born 15 January 1809 at Bregninge, Maribo County, Denmark. A son of Peder Pedersen and Johanne Pedersen. His wife, Dorthea Andersen, was born 20 October, 1808 in Virket, Falkerslev, Denmark, a daughter of Anders Laursen Buch and Karen Rasmussen Belling. She was a widow when Grandpa Married her and had one son Andres.
Erastus Snow took the Gospel to Denmark in 1850 and the first time Grandma heard it, she accepted it, but Grandpa wanted to hear it a second time before he joined the Church. After their conversion, they were soon influenced with the spirit of gathering and commenced to talk about emigrating to Utah. This news reached the ears of Dorthea's relatives by her first marriage and they were very much disturbed about it. Here they were living on a beautiful farm in a comfortable home. They thought it was terrible for them to take the five little children (another child had died in infancy), leave their parents and homeland to move thousands of miles away. They blamed Grandpa for all of this. They felt that it was he who was doing the mischief although it was Grandma who first accepted it.
They first tried persuasion, then argument, and finally resorted to force, to prevent Peter and Dorthea from emigrating. They came one afternoon, determined to do something to prevent their leaving. Grandma could see them coming up the path toward the house and felt that they had come to do Grandpa harm. She hurriedly locked the front door. They then went to one of the windows and broke the glass which fell all over baby Hannah in the cradle. Then they returned to the front door and with renewed effort, were successful in bursting it open. Grandpa knew they were after him, so he looked for a place to hide.
The house over there was built the same as the house here (on the southwest corner of the College block) with the large rooms all along the front, facing the street, and the other side of the house filled with little rooms. He entered at one end and passed through the hired girl's room. There he dropped his wooden shoes. When the pursuers reached this room, they said, "Aha, here he is in bed with the hired girl."
But no, there was no Peter there. They went from room to room, and finally through the brewing room where there were two immense brass kettles tipped upside down on the floor, which was always done after brewing. These kettles fitted into a large base, and Grandpa had climbed under one of them. Not finding him in the house, they made their way out onto the farm and up to where there was a pond of water in which Grandpa and Grandma were supposed to have been baptized. By the time they returned to the house, their anger had subsided, and Grandpa's life was saved, they felt. Peter and Dorthea proceeded to sell the farm for what they could get. Grandma, being of delicate health, felt that she could not live on ship's fare, so she became busy preparing what she could take that would be good for her to eat---smoked sausage, smoked beef and the smoked legs of geese. After all the packing was done, the preparations with clothes for the children, with a feather bed or two, some pillows and blankets which were all packed in a huge chest, they started for Copenhagen.
As the boat was not yet ready to start, they found a place in a hotel, but all their belongings and the food were taken down to the docks to wait the starting of the boat. All their food was stolen that night so Grandma was compelled to live on ship's fare over this long ten-week journey after all.
There they were, Peter and Dorthea and five children ranging in age from 3 to 15---Mary, Caroline, Thomas, Niels, and Hannah. The family made their way northward from Falster to Copenhagen and departed Denmark 22 December 1853 on the ship Slesvig. They sailed to northeast England where they entered a navigable river/canal system at Hull and traveled west to Liverpool, arriving there 28 December 1853. they departed 3 January 1854 on the ship Jesse Munn to cross the Atlantic Ocean in mid-winter and arrived at the Mississippi River Delta 16 January 1854. Four days later they landed at New Orleans and started the trip up the Mississippi on Saturday, 25 January 1854, arriving at St. Louis, Missouri on 11 March 1854.
When they sailed up the Mississippi, they saw oranges floating on the river and they would have liked to reach down and grab the oranges. Grandma had been getting weaker for weeks on the trip, partly from lack of nourishing food. When the boat stopped for quarantine inspection a short distance south of St Louis, the cholera officers came on board because there had been some cholera among the ship's passengers. Grandma was aware of this and she was determined that she was not going go be taken to quarantine before the eyes of her children, so she had them lift her out of bed and tie a three-cornered handkerchief around her head. She asked them to bring her a bowl of food and when the doctor passed her door, she pretended she was eating. The inspectors saw her with food and thought her to be well. But she died that night, the 14th of February, 1854, leaving Grandpa with five children from three to fifteen years of age. There Grandpa stood with a thousand miles yet to travel over rough roads, five little children, a wife whom he idolized on the ship. With the memory of the stolen food in Copenhagen, he was compelled to watch and protect from thieves the belongings they had in this large chest. The children had been taken with the other immigrants to the hotel. The night was black. It was raining and all the convenience there was at the dock was a platform with a roof. He walked back and forth all night to protect those few belongings because he knew they had to have them and they were all the possessions the family had in the world. What must his thoughts have been?
Peter purchased a wagon, a span of horses, harness and other supplies including two large clocks and two charter oak stoves---one for himself and one for Andrew Thomson, a son by Grandma's marriage, who had emigrated a year before. Before starting out for the mountains, he hired a buggy and took the children out to the cemetery where they knelt down by the grave and prayed, saying goodbye to their wife and mother.
It took them three months to get to Utah and after they finally arrived, Brigham Young told them he felt that the people from Scandinavia, being a hardy people and used to cold, could make a better life in Sanpete because it is 1,000 feet higher than the Salt Lake Valley. He called on them to colonize that area. When Peter and his family arrived in Ephraim, he drove inside the Fort and commenced to make preparations for some sort of home for himself and his family. They took willows or whatever they could find and covered them with dirt for a roof.
About this time he married Mary Hansen, who came on the same boat from Denmark and helped with the children on the long journey to Utah after Dorthea's death. Peter and May had four children: Peter, Frederick, David, and a little girl named Dorthea who died from the croup. Mary Hansen Thompson was known by us as Grandma Thompson and she was a very good mother. She also raised Lizzie and Indian Mary. She was always kind and made us so welcome in her home and always gave visitors such good sugar cookies.
Grandpa was one of the first people to build a house outside the Fort. The next year he built the foundation for the home that he afterwards built on the southwest corner of the College campus block and is still standing. The house was modeled after the one he had left in Denmark. He evidently intended to build this house because he brought hardware exactly like that over there, such as brass in the shape of a "T" for the doors. Then of course he dug ditches, grubbed brush, hauled stuff from the canyon and everything like they all did.
Then a cancer developed on the outside of his face along his throat. I don't know how long he lived with that cancer but it caused his death on February 14, 1875. He is buried at the Pioneer cemetery. He as a good man: industrious, interested and active in civic and church affairs. We should all be proud to be descendants of Peter Peterson Thompson.