My attempt to assemble some facts about my grandfather, Neils Christian Poulsen, to read in a D. U. P. meeting and file in the history department of the Pioneer Memorial Building, has made me appreciate him more. I am grateful indeed to be a granddaughter of such a man. He certainly made the most of his opportunities in his short life upon the earth.
I say he even had a poor start in the old world because he was left an orphan at a very tender age. He was born September 19, 1833 at Stagelse, Sealand, Denmark [Slagelse, Sorø, Sjælland, Denmark]. His father, Ludwig Antonson, who was born about 1802 in Stagelse [Slagelse], Denmark had separated from his mother. As the marriage hadn’t been a happy one, great-grandmother gave her son her own maiden name of Poulsen, by which he was always known.
Great-grandmother Barbara was very ill and died soon after the birth of her son. Poor little Christian was then looked after by a "wet" nurse, but she soon took sick and died. My heart aches to think of grandfather being left without someone to love and care for him. We have been told that he was raised in an infirmary close by, sort of an orphan’s home, having no one near to care for him.
We would presume he received good training here because he was given
little jobs of responsibility and also religious training in the
Church. He was apprenticed to a Mr. J. Hansen, a painter, and did
very well. He was released from this apprenticeship in Nov.
At the age of 14 or 15 he went to the parson and prepared for
in that church.
When Grandfather was 19 years old, he heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints preached. He believed its truths and was baptized May 9, 1852, by Ole Nielson. He was confirmed May 16, 1852, by A. J. Abmanson. He studied the scriptures diligently in this new found religion. He had the Melchizedek Priesthood bestowed upon him Dec. 13, 1854 when he was ordained an elder. So great was his testimony of the divinity of the Lord’s work that he wished to tell others of his new found joy.
Early in the year 1855 he was called on a mission in his native Denmark. He mentions in the diary he kept while on his mission of the wonderful success he and his companions had with the people. The entry of Nov. 27, 1855 states that "In the evening I and Bro. Christensen went down to the waters and made a hole in the ice and baptized a new member." (Note this diary was written in Danish. I tried for years to get it translated and finally did in 1958.) He states that when money became scarce he did carpentry work to help pay his expenses. Sometimes he slept out in the fields. He didn’t always have a companion.
The Nov. 28, 1855 entry states, "That day we stayed with Christensen. In the afternoon we went out in a canoe. Bro. Christensen put his hands on my head and blessed me, I felt really blessed for a mission to Norway."
The next entry to the diary is in Jan. 1, 1856 where he was laboring in Drammen, Norway. He labored in Christiania, Copenhagen and other places in Norway, where many joined the church. In fact, 82 people joined in five weeks, some were well to do which was a blessing to the church.
Nov. 27th: "We went in the morning and visited with Torgensen (Even) and there was a Mormon gathering with the children and we blessed 13 children. In the evening at 7:00 we left there."
He was released from his mission and returned to Sjalland [Sjælland], Denmark and the last of the year of 1857 he started his big journey to America. He traveled by wagon train and boat. The March 4, 1858 diary entry is interesting: "I went to Bracerhaven, Germany, from there we took a ship March 5, over the North Sea. This lasted five days and four nights. It was the 10th in the evening when we came to Breman. The day after the Captain’s wife died. I was out of money. What we had to go on was divided. We found a place No. 3 and gathered 80 persons and had a meeting. In the evening we went down to the ship and went with a steamer."
March 14: "We stayed in the ship all evening. We then took the train to Liverpool. Here we were quarantined in the Emigration Hotel."
March 18: "We got aboard the ship--’John Bright’."
According to the book "Heart Throbs of the West" Vol. 12, the ship ‘John Bright’ was the 103rd to leave England with Mormon Saints bound for America. The leader of the Company was Iver N. Iverson. There were 90 souls and they landed in New York April 24, 1858.
This young couple made their first home in Salt Lake City where their lives were made happy by the arrival of their first child, 28 April 1859. They named him Christian Hyrum. (He later became my father).
At this time many saints were coming to the Salt Lake Valley. President Brigham Young, the wise man that he was, sent people into every section of the country to settle wherever there was enough land and water whereby a living could be made. It was north to a fertile valley which was part in Utah and part in Idaho, called Cache Valley, at the new settlement of Franklin in Idaho to which Grandma and Grandpa moved. Their second child was born, Elgena, Sept. 22, 1860 in Richmond, Cache, Utah.
On June 28, 1861, the grim reaper death, visited this happy little family in Franklin and snatched from their midst their husband and father who was just 28 years old. Grandma was left a widow at 25, with two little children, Christian, two and little Elgena, nine months old. (She later married Edward Kingsford and died at the age of 36).
I would say of grandfather, though his life was short on this earth,
he accomplished much. His posterity is still increasing and from
what I know, all are good upright people, striving to live up to his
name and the heritage which we have.