By Brenda Diepeveen

Jens Mortensen was born January 24, 1834 in Scaeve, Hjorring, Denmark to Niels Mortensen and Cartherine Jansdatter. Scaeve is part of the northern tip of Denmark and Jens made living as a farmer. He was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the age of 23 on October 11, 1857.
Nielsene was born March 24, 1829 in Albaek, Hjorring, Denmark to Marten Christensen and Anne Cathrine Nielsen. Albaek is on the coast and has beautiful beaches. Nielsena was married to Morten Nielsen on September 22, 1954, but he died Mary 26, 1856. They had a son, Niels who was born September 28, 1954. She was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints at the age of 28 on June 23, 1857.

Jens and Nielsene must have met through their new church and married in the Saeby Courthouse on September 23, 1858. Their first child, Morteine was born on November 27, 1858. They had none more baby girl, Ane Catherine, on October 28, 1860 before making the decision to take their little family and come to Utah. When they came to Utah Jens was 27, Nielsene was 32, Niels was 6, Mortine was 2 and Ane was 7 months old.

The family boarded the Monarch of the Sea in Liverpool, England. The ship ws very old and rickety but the largest number of Saints at 960 decided to sail to America on this ship. They sailed on May 16, 1861. Because of the large number of Saints on board, there was inconvenience in getting food cooked on the ranges. Each family could only cook five times a week making things difficult for the passengers. They had been at sea for about 16 days when there was a terrible storm that lasted for four days. “The sea was rough and stormy the waves washed over the top of the deck. The captain said, ‘We’ll land in New York all right. We’ve got Mormons on board and we always get through when we have Mormons.’” (Felt, Alma Elizabeth Mineer Journal) Not all of the crew were as happy with the Mormon passengers. Some of the sailors were afraid that the ship would go down in the storm and so they prepared the long boats. They said that no Mormon should get in one of the boats. From the account of William Probert, “The old ship was squeaking and groaning as though it could not stand it another minute, so President Woodard called out all the elders and went upon the deck. They prayed and rebuked the wind and waves, and in a short time the storm abated and all were saved. While we were being tossed about upon the waves, there were two other vessels on the south of us, laboring hard with the storm, but finally we lost sight of them, and they never got into port.”
The passengers were also able to see amazing icebergs off the ship. Some as high as 200 feet above the water. They also saw whales. They arrived in New York on June 19. They stopped at Castle Gardens and slept on the greasy, dirty floor as they made preparations for the trip to Nebraska. Everywhere in New York there were signs of war between the North and the South. During their stay they saw many thousands of soldiers parading through the streets of New York and asking for volunteers.

The first news that they had upon coming to New York was that Stephen Douglas was dead. The members of the Church on board ship were very interested in this information. Joseph Smith had visited with Stephen Douglas in May 1943 and talked openly with him about the persecution of the Saints in Missouri and how the government of the United States had turned its back on the members of the church. Stephen Douglas in this conversation seemed to be sympathetic to the plight of the Saints. At this interview Joseph Smith made a prophecy, “Judge (Douglas), you will aspire to the presidency of the United States; and if you ever turn your hand against me or the Latter-day Saints, you will feel the weight of the hand of the almighty upon you; and you will live to see and know that I have testified the truth to you; for the conversation of this day will stick to you through life…”

During his candidacy for president, Douglas was asked to speak about the Mormons in Illinois. People knew that he had a relationship with the Mormons and they wanted to know his opinion of the information coming from Utah. He had an opportunity to help an oppressed people and he did not take it. Instead Douglas rose and spoke a blistering talk about how wrong the people of Utah were and how they should be punished. The prophecy was published in the Deseret News September 24, 1856 a year before Douglas made the speech in Springfield Illinois. Stephen Douglas lost the presidency and he died June 3, 1861. This prophecy was fulfilled. (Information from William Clayton’s Journal and B. H. Roberts)

The Mortensen’s trip across the country was difficult because of the war. Sometimes in the night the train was stopped to look for arms or rebels on board. From a first hand account “we could hear the boom of canons and firing of guns as we rode along. Shutters were up at the windows and the people on the train were asked to be very quiet.” (Walker, Elizabeth Stahali History of Barbara Sophia Stahali).  She going on to write that while they were traveling through Missouri, “the people were very bitter against the Mormons and set a bridge on fire to retard our progress.”

They arrived in Florence, Nebraska and tried to get ready for their trip across the plains. We are unsure which group the Mortensen’s traveled with crossing the plains. Saints traveling in the Monarch of the Sea went in one of three groups, John R. Murdock (who took mostly poor immigrants), Captain Samuel Woolley, and Elder Joseph Porter. Joseph Porter’s group started with Samual Woolley and then broke off. There is a lot of documentation about the first two groups and the peop[le who traveled with them and the Mortensen’s are not listed. Joseph Porter’s group traveled the same time period. There is no information about this group of the people who traveled with Joseph Porter. This leads me to believe that the Mortensen Family traveled in the Joseph Porter group. (There is a book, Utah Since Statehood, which has the family living in Pleasant Grove in 1861. They left May of 1861 and they would have had to travel to Utah in the summer of 1861 in order to be in Pleasant Grove that year.)

During their travels with the Joseph Porter Group, they saw a big prairie fire which swept over the land. This made it difficult because there was no food for the oxen. They also met Johnson’s Soldiers sent to Utah to control the Mormons during the Utah War. The soldiers were headed back East to fight in the Civil War.

Ane Catherine’s oldest daughter told one story about the trek west. While on the trek to Salt Lake City, Ane Catherine, who was only an infant, was allowed to ride in the wagon.  Nielsine, her mother, walked most of the way. Nielsine would become very tired and would then tease the baby until she cried. When the baby cried Nielsine was allowed to ride in the wagon while she nursed her baby. This was the way she found to get some rest.

Jens and Nielsene settled in Pleasant Grove where they had another baby girl, Emma, on October 1, 1863 and a son, Christien on September 3, 1865. According to Utah Since Statehood, “Jens C. and Sena (Mortensen), both of whom were natives of Denmark whence they emigrated to the US, settling in Pleasant Grove, Utah in 1861. Five years later they removed to Salina but were soon afterwards driven out by the Indians and then took up their abode in Ephraim, where they spent the remainder of their lives.”

Sometime in 1866 the family moved to Salina. Salina was first settled in 1864. They named it Salina because of the abundant salt deposits nearby. The settlers started to build a fort of the church. They started construction on a bridge across Salina Creek, but this was not to be. In 1866 the Indians were on the warpath with the Black Hawk War. Salina was a small settlement and so the inhabitants of the town along with the Mortensen family, who had just arrived, were told to move to Manti area. The Mortensen’s moved to Ephraim and they stayed there the rest of their lives.

They had two children while in Ephraim, Ephraim born on November 2, 1867 and Jensine born October 13, 1869. Ephraim only lived 10 months.
Ephraim is well know for the nicknames given to its inhabitants. The Mortensen Family had some nicknames. Nielsine was known as Sena, Mortine as Teenie, Ane Catherine  was Treenei or Trena, Emma was Emmy and Jensine was Sine. Their son Christian legally changed his name to Chris Folster. Folster is the place in Denmark where the family emigrated from.

The family was very poor and they often had only black bread to eat and many times had to go to  the ditch to get water to soak up the bread. The family records tell us they lived on 2nd South and 2nd West in a little rock house, which still stands. The city ditch runs in front of the house. They probably had fruit trees and a garden. Jens Mortensen had a wooden wheelbarrow and he used this to haul his equipment as he went about spraying the apple trees with Paris Green to keep them from getting wormy. Little else is know about the family.

Ane Catherine’s oldest daughter wrote a description about Nielsine. “I can see my dear sweet Grandma Folster (Nielsine Mortensen) coming up the street – her long black skirt swishing around – cleaning up the street – tight fitting button down front, black basque – little black bonnet – a top her coal black hair – a few lumps of sugar or dried plums in her pockets – happy, happy days.”

Here is a recipe for Gencol which Ane Catherine and probably Nielsine made…  “A piece of ham – heavily brined and overly smoked, real fat – thick rind with a few hairs scattered over ist surface and wee bit rancid – not always so wee either – boiled to death – a little thick cream in the soup, a few carrots – potato pieces – finely chopped caraway – a green tops of onions – strong and coarse but finely chopped – onions that have been in the ground all winter. It is really true Ambrosia! – put in a lard pail – stand it on the back of the stove and when the youngsters come home from school – there it is! – a taste – little saucer dish full for each one – Heavenly Day. One reason it was so good was because it was the first bit of green to come forth in the Spring.”
Additional Ephraim information

"On the face of it, Ephraimites had nothing to laugh at. In a struggling town clinging to the desert fringe of the Great American Basin, life was a double-barrelled challenge. Hopefully, and by the sweat of your brow, you planted your crops in the spring, while the demons of early frost, late frost, flash floods, drought and grasshoppers gloated over the havoc they were going to reap."

"About the time you got your grain nicely out of the ground, a late spring frost laid it low. If you got past the frosts, a flash flood roared out of the canyon to inundate the fields with mud and boulders. If you sneaked past the early devils of destruction the late summer brought the grasshoppers and more frosts."

"There was never enought water. In late June 'The Crick' began to shrivel and dry, and most of the praying in the meeting house was for rain. When it did come, it usually brought a flood."

"'Ve tank you for the big storm of last night,' prayed the Bishop, addressing Providence with forthright candor. 'That is' he amended, 'if it hasn't done more damage than good.'"

(From: "Brodders and Sisters" by Grace Johnson, 1973, Printed by Messenger - Enterprise, Inc., page 6)
More Ephraim information

"Ephraim Pioneer Meetin house, completed in 1869. The walls were constructed of rock to offer protection from still-possible Indian attacks. The building was built according to Brigham Young's favorite New England pattern - a three-sided gallery. Nearly all the west wall was covered by a giant mural by the celebrated artist C.C.A. Christensen. Another artist's master pience were the glass prism chandeliers, satisfying another pioneer longing for the best in art. The entire Meeting House was a historical treasure."

(From: "Brodders and Sisters" by Grace Johnson, 1973, Printed by Messenger - Enterprise, Inc., page 3)
Ephraim culture

"Do you know what the Danish immigrants in Ephraim have done? Note that I have said, 'have done,' it's past. It's accomplished and I am not told until now. Instead of learning English, they have reversed the procedure. Anyone who wants to communicate in Ephraim has to learn Danish. And what's more, they have! You can't buy or sell a cow in Ephraim unless you do it in Danish!" to quote Brigham Young

(From: "Brodders and Sisters" by Grace Johnson, 1973, Printed by Messenger - Enterprise, Inc., page 29)
Ephraim recreation

"There was a theatre on the second floor of the "Old Co-Op Store" building, where there was a stage and the local "talent" put on home dramatics.

There were four Ward Houses (Ward House is another name for L.D.S. Meeting House or Chapel) in Ephraim. The "First" was where the Library now stands. The "second" was where LA VAR TAYLOR'S home stands at Second North and Main. The "Third" was where BUD SANDERS home stands at 121 North 2nd East, and the "Fourth" was where NEWELL CHERRY now lives (190 East 1st South). These builings were all used as school houses, and also as dance halls.

In the early 1890's there was a dance floor built by JIM LARSEN in his garden under the apple trees. There were also some large shade trees where poles were placed from tree to tree and swings hung. The music was furnished by JIM LARSEN playing the violin and one of his daughters playing the piano. They sold home-made ice cream for refreshments.

Also in the early nineties there was a man known as PETERSON who converted an old horse barn into a dance hall. It was soon converted into a theatre, that served for amusements until 1897.

In the year 1897, EZRA MADSEN and ANDREW L. THORPE erected the "Opera House" where theatre companies came and put on shows. This was also used as a dance hall. Then someone built a dance pavillion just east of MATILDA SCHULTZ's home and the Christiansen Furniture Store (41-53 South Main). It was entered via the driveway between these two buildings. We danced there for many years, and this building was used for a season to show silent pictures on the screen."

Nielsene died September 8, 1909 in Ephraim. Jens died a year later on July 24, 1910 in Ephraim. They are both buried in Ephraim Cemetery.

Family Genealogical Records
Felt, Alma Elizabeth Mineer, Journal (Located at the following website –
Greaves, Ane Catherine Nielsen Mortensen Biography, Compiled by Winona Gwen Greaves Erickson, Granddaughter
Probert, William, Jr., Autobiography
Roberts, B.H., History of the Church (Located at the following website
Solomon, William Henry, Autobiography (Located at the following website
Utah Since Statehood
Walker, Elizabeth Staheli, History of Barbara Sophia Staheli
Jens Christian Mortensen Nielsen (1834-1910)
Born: Langholtsmark, Skaeve, Hjorring, Denmark
Died: Ephraim, Sanpete, Utah
and Nielsina Christensen Mortensen (1829-1909)
Born: Tveden, Albaek, Hjorring, Denmark
Died: Ephraim, Sanpete, Utah
Children Grandchildren
1-Mortena Nielsen Mortensen (1858-1935)
         M=Lauritz Lauritzen (1876-1900)
         M=John Samuel Beal (1915)
2-Ane Catherine Mortensen (1860-1928)
         D=Salt Lake City, Utah
         M=Peter Greaves
3-Emma Mortensen (1863-1940)
         D=Lyman, Madison, Idaho
         M=Soren Christian Peterson
a-Alta Elizabeth Peterson (1889-1912)
b-Homer C. Peterson (1891-1931)
         D=Archer, Madison, Idaho
c-Grover Peterson (1893-1946)
d-Conrad S. Peterson (1894-1949)
e-James Howard Peterson (1896-1941)
         D=Rexburg, Madison, Idaho
f-Angus Peterson (1899-1967)
g-Rodney LaVar Peterson (1900-1963)
h-Ralph Vernal Peterson (1902-1924)
i-Seymour Grant Peterson (1904-1972)
         D=Rexburg, Madison, Idaho
j-Kenneth Sheldon Peterson (1908-1976)
         D=Sacramento, Calif
4-Ephraim Mortensen (1867-1868)
         D=Ephraim, Sanpete, Utah
5-Jensine Mortensen (1869-1904)
         D=Aurora, Sevier, Utah
         M=William John Wall
a-Gladys Selena Wall (1891-1975)
         D=Ephraim, Sanpete, Utah
         M=Andrew Edward Thomson
b-Rhoda Clarrisy Wall (1894-1993)
         D=Aurora, Sevier, Utah
         M=Alma Christian Crowther
c-William Raymond Wall (1896-1897)
         D=Aurora, Sevier, Utah
d-James Lynn Wall (1898-1907)
         D=Aurora, Sevier, Utah
e-Webber Leroy Wall (1901-1907)
         D=Aurora, Sevier, Utah