Reid L. Neilson, “Introduction: Laboring in the Old Country,” Susan Easton Black, Shauna C. Anderson Young, and Ruth Ellen Maness, Legacy of Sacrifice: Missionaries to Scandinavia, 1872–94 (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, 2007), xiii–xix.
Legacy of Sacrifice: Missionaries to Scandinavia, 1872–1894
By Susan Easton Black, Shauna C. Anderson, and Ruth Ellen Maness
© 2007 by Brigham Young University
All rights reserved
First printing: April 2007
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without the written permission of the authors, copyright holder, or publisher. No portion of this book may be reproduced by electronic methods, including electronic scanning, or any other electronic retrieval systems or any computerized machinery of any description. The only exception to this is the authorization being granted to individuals researching their personal family ancestry or any authorized agents who may make selected copies of the pages relating to their family research. In no circumstance may this book be copied or reproduced in its entirety.
This book is dedicated to the early Scandinavian missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and their wives and children. These men, at great personal cost to themselves and their families, answered the call to return to their native lands and share the truths of the restored gospel with family and countrymen. They laid a foundation of faith, sacrifice, and dedication to truth that modern-day members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would do well to emulate.
Table of Contents
Comments from Researchers
Introduction: Laboring in the Old Country.......................................................................................
Parameters in Preparing This Work....................................................................................................
Autobiographies, Journals, Diaries, and Histories
LDS Church Records
Military Records, Rosters, and Government Documents
About the Authors
Birth Date Records............................................................................................................................
As with any book, many people’s assistance in large and small measure is necessary to put together the final product. First, we would like to thank those who contributed information about their missionary ancestors. We appreciate the time and commitment that was given to verify dates, send stories and pictures, and enhance the information in any way.
We would like to thank Karen Todd for her initial work on the project. We also thank Levi Adam and Anka Schjerven Haslam who spent many hours with original parish registers found in the Family History Library searching out and verifying names, birth dates, and places. Barbara J. Owen spent many hours researching individuals with little or no initial information, and miraculously she found all of them! We appreciate her skills and diligence. We are grateful to Christina J. Smith, who has been an invaluable research assistant.
Our thanks also go to dedicated staff members and missionaries who work at the International Reference Desks in the Family History Library for their knowledge and patience in trying to decipher records and help find impossible places: Liv H. Anderson, Gerda H. Bals, Barbara S. Bell, Margarita N. Choquette, Ralph L. Erickson, Larry O. Jensen, Baerbel Johnson, Wolfgang D. Lebedies, Marit H. Lucy, Geoffrey F. Morris, Ulla-Britt Morris, Sonja R. Nishomoto, Sylvie Pysnak, Ruth G. Schirmacher, Roy A. Spjut, Heidi G. Sugden, and Marion Wolfert.
Without records, no identification is possible. Our deep thanks also to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose financial support of the Genealogical Society of Utah allows dedicated men and women to gather, film, catalog, and make available in various forms the records of our ancestors.
Comments from the Researchers
It was a tremendous privilege to work on this project. I entered my freshman year of college with a naïveté concerning the missionary efforts in Scandinavia. I was completely unaware of these extraordinary men that sacrificed so much to take part in a cause greater than their individual pursuits. As I commenced research on these notable Scandinavian missionaries, I began to sense the emotional and spiritual reality of each man’s story. The monotonous wisps of statistics and narratives evolved into concrete stories of ordinary, hardworking people who gave their all to build the kingdom. I am thankful for the opportunity these extraordinary authors have given me to take part in piecing together the lives of these devoted Latter-day Saints. The hours spent in journals, personal histories, and newspaper archives were well worth the final product. I hope these stories will touch the lives of readers as poignantly as they have touched mine.
—Christina Joy Smith
With all the hours spent on researching the LDS Scandinavian missionaries has come a familiarity that makes them real to me. I have felt their presence as I have struggled to clarify and even correct their accounts. It is hard to ignore the feeling that many have become disconnected from their family members. I marvel that so many hundreds were needed to teach the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. There were a few born before 1830, but most were born after the establishment of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They seem divinely placed where they could speed the work along. Some of them were born in less than ideal condition—poor, fatherless, even some motherless. I strongly witness that they were special volunteers who took up bodies in these extreme conditions to further the spread of the gospel, to be where, when, and who they were. They were needed regardless of the extra trials this placed upon them personally. I wonder if being a bit of an outcast from Scandinavian society, fatherless and such, made it easier to embrace a new order of religious observance.
I want to share some of the feelings I experienced searching the vital records verifying information on the missionaries covered in Legacy of Sacrifice.
From the very start of this project, the spirit was very strong, and I could feel the missionaries close to me. That was especially true when the information at hand was incorrect or incomplete. There was such a feeling of joy when the correct or additional information was found. It was as if they were saying, “Yes, that’s me!”
When reading some of the trials they had or challenges they faced, I could sense their strong testimonies and their deep devotion to the work. There was no doubt they were men who truly loved the gospel, and who wanted to share that with the people they had left behind, and loved.
I truly felt that not only were they aware of what has been done but that they were very happy about it. There was a great feeling of joy, as if this would be yet another way they could share their testimonies. There were times I could feel their individual personalities, some with very forceful characters, others very gentle. Some felt so close that I could have reached out and touched them. There always was a wonderful spirit and energy about this work.
I came to believe that these men were very special men, men of unwavering faith. I guess it meant a lot to me to participate in a very small way because of my ties to Scandinavia. I can understand their love of their homeland and the wish to spread the gospel to the people they love so much.
It surely strengthened my testimony of the importance of missionary work and deepened my sense of gratitude and love for the men that served so valiantly and sacrificed so much for their faith.
—Ann-Cathrin (Anka) Haslam
What a treat it has been to come to know more about the lives of these special people. They were people who proved their faith by leaving their homes and beloved lands to travel to an unknown country, to answer the call of a religion of which they had just become members. The words sacrifice, obedience, faith, perseverance, love, priority, ingenuity, sadness, and courage are but a few of the words that describe the attributes of these Saints. The examples they set are to be upheld, admired, and emulated. I will always treasure the effect they have had on my life.
Laboring in the Old Country
Reid L. Neilson
While serving as the first president of the Latter-day Saint Scandinavian Mission, Elder Erastus Snow initially relied on new converts to share the gospel. “I was there comparatively alone, and the harvest was great, and the laborers few, and the Spirit bore testimony that the Lord had much people there,” Snow recalled. “I cried unto the Lord, saying ‘O Lord, raise up laborers and send them into this harvest, men of their own tongue, who have been raised among them and are familiar with the spirits of the people.’”1
Elder Snow’s prayers were answered. By the time he returned to America in 1852, “there was quite a little army of Elders and Priests, Teachers and Deacons, laboring in the vineyard, and thousands [had] rejoiced in the testimony of the gospel borne to them by their fellow countrymen.”2 Former shoemakers, carpenters, chimney sweepers, and men of other trades were transformed into powerful missionaries.3 In many cases, these Scandinavian men were baptized one day and called on missions the next, oftentimes at great sacrifice. For instance, twenty-one-year-old Hans Christensen lost both his job and sweetheart and was ordered from his family home when he joined the Latter-day Saints, but he still served as a local missionary.4 Historian William Mulder described these local missionaries and their proselyting efforts:
If standing up was construed as preaching, they preached sitting down; if religious services were forbidden in homes, they held “conversations”; if after imprisonment or court examination in one place they agreed not to proselyte, they went on to another and sent fresh laymen in their stead who had made no such promise. Where they were shut out as missionaries, they found work at their trades and passed the contagion of their message to fellow workmen. A shoemaker stuffed Mormon tracts into his customers’ shoes; a tailor sermonized as he sewed. They baptized by night along the river banks, and on the seashore. Every proselyte bore witness to his neighbor. The new gospel was germ which spread by contact.5
My own great-great-great-grandfather Peter Neilson Sr., a tailor by trade, served as a member missionary in Denmark. Born in 1813, he was taught by local missionaries and was baptized on 2 March 1853, by a local elder, A. Andersen. Shortly thereafter, Neilson was called to also labor as a local missionary. Although unseasoned in the faith, he endured persecution and boldly declared the gospel, before immigrating to Zion. “Before leaving my native land, I was laboring as a missionary in company with a young man, when one day, through misrepresentations of some wicked men, we were arrested as tramps and thieves and taken before the magistrate who said to us, ‘Are you not guilty of what these men accuse you?’ I replied that we were not,” Neilson wrote in his memoirs. “I then told him that we were preachers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and bore my testimony to him of the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and while he did not believe my testimony, he told us to go home and draw up an affidavit of our social standing.”6 Fortunately, he and his companion were released and allowed to resume proselyting. During the 1850s member missionaries like Neilson, “did not merely dominate . . . ; they were the scene, some of them serving six and seven years before emigrating.”7
In 1859, Ola N. Liljenquist became the first native Scandinavian elder to return to his old country to proselyte. “I was the first elder that had received the gospel in Scandinavia to return and testify of Zion. It was a wonder and a marvel to many who thought that no one could ever return after he got to the Rocky Mountains,” Liljenquist reported. “I went to the magistrate’s office [in Copenhagen] to report my arrival. All the officers and clerks left their chairs and desks and completely surrounded me and bid me hearty welcome. I spent a very agreeable time with them, testifying about Zion and my experience while I had been gone.”8 Elders like Liljenquist helped accelerate baptism throughout the Scandinavian Mission.9
It wasn’t long before Latter-day Saint Scandinavian families relocated to the American West and sent a father or a son back to the old country as a missionary. For instance, two Swedish brothers wrote: “We have no desire to return to Sweden unless it is to preach the gospel.”10 While these missionaries from Zion sacrificed much, they were greatly blessed. “In spite of hardships, the joys for the elder from Zion were many,” William Mulder explained.
It was satisfying to be a laborer in the Lord’s vineyard, to return to the Old Country an object of wonder in the eyes of former neighbors as a villager who had gone to America and made good. His return satisfied any longings for the old home he might have entertained and provided for the rest of the immigrants in Zion a vicarious outlet for nostalgic yearning—by pooling their funds to send him back and by exchanging frequent letters with him full of queries about friends and family in det gamle land, they made him their proxy. Going and returning was their living link with the past. And the arrival of Old World newspapers which he sent them, redeeming the isolation of Utah’s settlements informed them of European affairs, if only to make them glad they were in Zion. When the missionary came home, the community turned out to greet him with a choir or brass band, and heard a report of his labors at his “homecoming” in the meetinghouse.11
Peter Neilson was also numbered among those men favored to return to their native land as missionaries. During the 1879 October general conference, he was called on a proselyting mission to Scandinavia at age sixty-six. “I received intelligence that I had been called to a mission to my native land, Denmark,” he recorded. “The same day I preached my farewell discourse to them in our meeting house.”12 After crossing America by rail and the Atlantic by ship, Neilson arrived in Denmark and was greeted by President Niels Wilhelmsen of the Scandinavian Mission. He was initially assigned to labor as a traveling elder in the Århus Branch, a town just north of his birthplace and home where he first met the missionaries in 1853. Within the day, he attended his first Sabbath meetings on Danish soil in almost twenty-four years and wasted no time before sharing his love of the gospel. “[I] attended Sunday School in the morning and in the afternoon meeting I had the privilege of talking to the people and bearing my testimony to the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The same day I met one of my nephew, a brother’s [son], who was at the army and a sister,” he recorded.13
Peter Neilson’s arrival in the Scandinavian Mission was well timed. Within three weeks, Church leaders had organized the first regular Relief Society and Young Men’s Mutual Improvement Association auxillaries in Scandinavia. The year, 1880, also marked fifty years since The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized and twenty-seven years since my ancestor was baptized. Although separated and removed from his family and loved ones in Utah, Neilson had found a temporary home—his native Denmark. His mission, however, was short-lived. “In August of this year, in consequence of my old age, being 67 years of age, I was released to return home,” he wrote.14 After nearly a year’s absence from his family, Neilson reached his hometown of Washington, Washington County, Utah, in October 1880, where he was reunited with his family. While Neilson found it “satisfying to be a laborer in the Lord’s vineyard,” and “to return to the Old Country an object of wonder,” he also found it “sweet to be back again” surrounded by family and friends in the New World.15
By the end of the nineteenth century, 1,262 “elders from Zion,” like Neilson, had labored in the Scandinavian Mission. Not surprisingly, a Swedish official described his country as being “beleaguered by this missionary army from Utah.”16 The Scandinavian Mission proved to be one of the most fruitful missions of the Church—even more successful than Great Britain in annual conversions.17 As a result, thousands of Scandinavian converts immigrated to Zion.18 A 1950 survey disclosed that nearly 45 percent of all Latter-day Saints had partial Scandinavian heritage.19 Clearly, local member missionaries and elders from Zion impacted both individual seekers of truth throughout Scandinavia and the Church as a whole.
Passports to Paradise
Researchers have attempted to identify these local member missionaries who proselyted their countrymen before immigrating to Zion. They have also looked for those sent from Zion who later accepted one, two, or even three mission calls. Researchers generally reference biographical registers to answer specific questions about specific individuals. They agree facts are only significant in light of other facts. For example, discovering that your ancestor was born in Denmark, living in Ephraim when he received his mission call, and assigned to labor in Denmark is interesting; learning that your ancestor was a fifty-six-year-old high priest when he began his three-year mission to Norway is fascinating; however, knowing how your missionary’s demographics compare with those of his contemporaries is more enlightening and descriptive.
One of the most prominent researchers of the Scandinavian missionaries was assistant Church historian Andrew Jenson. He compiled a detailed biographical ledger, “Elders from Zion Who Labored in the Scandinavian Mission from 1850 to 1905.”20 His larger database offers biographical data on 1,262 returning Scandinavian missionaries, from 1850 to 1899. Augmenting this database is Legacy of Sacrifice: Missionaries to Scandinavia, 1872–1894, authored by Susan Easton Black, Shauna C. Anderson, and Ruth Ellen Maness. This text provides a biographical sketch on approximately 520 Scandinavian missionaries who returned to America via Copenhagen, 1872–94. The authors have contacted descendants and conducted extensive research on these missionaries to obtain as accurate information as possible. In addition, stories have been collected that describe their life struggles, hardships, and dedication to the Church. These biographies are truly inspiring and provide information for those doing family history research. In a previous publication, Passport to Paradise: The Copenhagen “Mormon” Lists, 1872–1894, vols. 1–2 (West Jordan, Utah: Genealogical Services, 2000), Shauna C. Anderson, Ruth Ellen Maness, and Susan Easton Black list approximately 14,500 Latter-day Saints who migrated from Scandinavia and Germany to America, via Copenhagen, Denmark, from 1872 to 1894. This exhaustive study also catalogs the names, ages, marital status, family relationships, places of residence, and ships of each emigrant. The emigrants’ ships, European departure dates, United States arrival dates, and company entrance dates into the Salt Lake Valley are detailed. In addition, European maps and pictures of the emigrants’ ships are provided. Names of the missionaries found in this publication were also found on those records.
Together, these publications provide priceless resources for those investigating the nineteenth-century Latter-day Saint Church in Europe.
As a result, the following questions can be answered. What was the national heritage of the missionaries? Where were they residing when they received their missionary calls? Where were they assigned to labor in Scandinavia? How old were they when they began their Scandinavian missionary service? What priesthood office did they hold? How long did they serve in Scandinavia? Did any of them die while serving in the Scandinavian Mission? While statistics do not tell the full story, they do provide important contrasts.
Scandinavian Mission Statistics, 1850–99
What was the national heritage of these nineteenth-century missionaries called to the Scandinavian Mission? Exactly 494 missionaries, or 39.5 percent of the entire Scandinavian Mission population, were of Danish birth. Sweden contributed 384, or 30.7 percent of the missionary force, while the United States and Norway contributed 237, or 18.9 percent, and 121, or 9.7 percent, respectively. In other words, nearly 80 percent of the missionary force was of Scandinavian birth.
Where were these elders residing when they received their missionary calls? Not surprisingly, the majority of elders were living in Utah. For the first fifteen years, the Salt Lake region contributed the most missionaries to the Scandinavian Mission. However, beginning in 1865 and continuing until 1899, the central and south central regions of Utah, together with Salt Lake, produced the majority of Scandinavian elders. The central area included the counties of Duchesne, Tooele, Uintah, Utah, and Wasatch, and the south central region included the counties of Carbon, Emery, Grand, Juab, Millard, Sanpete, and Sevier. The south central region contributed the most missionaries to the Scandinavian Mission during the nineteenth century.
Where were the missionaries assigned to labor in Scandinavia? From 1850 until 1905, the Scandinavian Mission was responsible for Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. Leaders also sent elders to Iceland, Finland, Russia, Switzerland, and Germany.21 Between 1850 and 1899, 535, or 42.9 percent of the elders, were assigned to labor solely in Denmark.22 A total of 446, or 35.7 percent of the missionaries, were assigned to Sweden, and 178, or 14.3 percent, to Norway. From 1850 until the time period of 1895–99, Denmark had the largest missionary force. However, Sweden held a close second. Between the years 1895–99, Sweden actually surpassed Denmark in missionary numbers. After the first five years of the mission, neighboring Norway still hadn’t reached half of the resources of Sweden or Denmark. Most missionaries served in several cities of the same country but 80, or 6.4 percent of the elders, served in two or more countries.
The missionaries’ heritage and language skills seem to be the determining factor for their assignment throughout the world, particularly within Scandinavia. “Practicality dictated . . . that Scandinavian-born elders, familiar with their native language and culture be returned to Scandinavia, a policy that made theological sense as well,” Rex Price explained. “If the sons of Ephraim were literally linked to Hebraic bloodlines, they would be so through their parents, grandparents, etc. If the elders had responded to the gospel sound, it was possible that their relatives would also.”23 According to Price, of the 855 Scandinavian-born elders who served missions worldwide between 1860 and 1894, 692, or 80 percent, were called to return and labor in the Scandinavian Mission.24 Scandinavian elders were generally assigned to labor in their country of heritage. Of the 492 Danish-born elders, 421, or 85.6 percent, were assigned to Denmark; of the 383 Swedish-born elders, 343, or 89.6 percent, were assigned to Sweden; of the 121 Norwegian-born elders, 95, or 78.5 percent, were assigned to Norway. The 237 American-born missionaries seem to be randomly assigned across Scandinavia: 37.6 percent served in Denmark, 33.8 percent in Sweden, and 22.4 percent in Norway, while the remainder served in a combination of countries.
How old were the missionaries when they began their Scandinavian missionary service? Unlike today’s missionary force which generally ranges between nineteen and twenty-six years of age, as a whole the Scandinavian missionaries were older. Gideon E. Olson Jr. was the youngest missionary to labor in the Scandinavian Mission. He was born on 19 December 1879, in Paradise, Utah. Olson was called to Scandinavia at the age of eighteen. He arrived in the mission field on 9 October 1897, and returned to Utah on 30 November 1899. Soren C. Thure was the oldest missionary to serve in the Scandinavian Mission. He was born on 17 December 1796, at Harrisdslev, Denmark. Thure was baptized on 28 January 1856, at the age of fifty-nine. He immigrated to Utah six years later and was called at the age of seventy-four to labor in the Scandinavian Mission. He arrived in Demark on 5 June 1870 and served until 1 September 1871, when he departed for America.
Between 1850 and 1899, the mode age was 34 and the average was 38.6 years, based on the figure of 1,252 missionaries. During about the same period, the worldwide missionary mode age was 22 and the average age, 35.6 years, based on 1,030 missionaries worldwide.25 The average mission age fluctuated between a low of 32.4 years during 1860–64 and a high of 41.8 years during 1870–74. By the end of the nineteenth century (1895–99), the average mission age had decreased to 36.4 years. Several factors may be responsible for the decline. First, the overall mission age declined due to the federal prosecution of polygamist heads of families and the growing number of older brethren hiding in the Mormon underground.26 Second, “the initial pool of converts to Mormonism had steadily declined from earlier days and second generation elders, many of whom were presumably not skilled in the language, were needed to man these missions.”27 Third, Church leaders seemingly believed that younger men could learn foreign languages like Danish, Swedish, and Norwegian easier than their senior counterparts.28
Although the average mission age of the elders was declining after a high in 1870–74, elders were probably more mature in the gospel than their predecessors. Church age, or the number of years from baptism to missionary service, almost doubled. From 1850 to 1854, the average Church age was 11.2, years and from 1895 to 1899 it was 21 years. Correspondingly, the average baptismal age dropped significantly from 25.4 years in 1850–54 to 15.5 years in 1895–99 due to an increasing number of Utah-born missionaries. Clearly, younger second-generation Latter-day Saint men arrived in Scandinavia with more Church experience than their predecessors.
What priesthood office did these missionaries hold? The priesthood is divided into the lesser, or Aaronic, and the higher, or Melchizedek, priesthoods. Both the lesser and greater priesthoods are further divided into several offices whose members met together in quorums. For example, the Melchizedek Priesthood is composed of elders, high priests, and the Seventy (regardless of priesthood quorum, all male missionaries were referred to as “elder”). Revelation dictated that of these quorums, the Seventy were expected to focus on missionary work in the nineteenth century. Beginning in 1855–59, the quorums of the Seventy carried the Scandinavian Mission. Between 1880 and 1884, the number of quorums of the Seventy reached its low point in representation at 47.1 percent. From the year 1890 to 1894, they represented 95.4 percent of all missionaries in Scandinavia. Seventies comprised 83.3 percent of the entire missionary force in nineteenth-century Scandinavia. Truly, “the elders of Israel were, in fact, the seventies of Israel,” particularly in the Scandinavian Mission.29 Elders, at their height, contributed only 36.3 percent of the missionary force; high priests never contributed more than 20 percent after 1850–54.
How long did these men serve in Scandinavia? Between 1850 and 1899, the average Scandinavian missionary served for 21.3 months, or 1.8 years—shorter than their modern counterparts’ 24 months. During the same period, the average worldwide mission duration was 24 months.30 In the years 1850–54, the average mission duration was at its highest at 26.6 months. It reached its lowest in 1855–59 at 17.1 months. This was possibly due to elders being recalled to Zion during the Utah War. Beginning in 1870–74, there seems to be a strong correlation between mission age and mission duration—the younger the missionary, the longer the mission. Perhaps leaders expected their young men to shoulder more responsibility. Also, these younger brethren likely had smaller families, if any, and could afford to remain in the mission field longer than their older counterparts.
While the average mission duration in the Scandinavian Mission was 1.8 years, there were some notable exceptions. For example, the missionary serving the longest mission was Arne C. Grue, who served for 5.1 years. Grue was born in Norway and was baptized in 1859. He immigrated to Utah several years later after working as a watchmaker. At the age of thirty-five, he received his mission call and arrived in Denmark on 31 July 1867. For the next five years, Grue labored as a traveling elder in Norway and presided over the Jönköping Conference, Sweden. He embarked for Utah on 30 August 1872. One of the shortest and most unique missions was that of Janne M. Sjodahl. Sjodahl was born on 29 November 1853 in Karlshamn, Sweden. In 1886, he immigrated to Utah, where he was baptized on 7 October 1886. Between 1886 and 1887, he translated the Doctrine and Covenants into Swedish. In 1897, Church leaders called him to present a copy of the Swedish Book of Mormon to King Oscar II for His Majesty’s twenty-fifth-year Swedish jubilee on behalf of the Scandinavians living in Utah. At the age of forty-three, Sjodahl arrived in Scandinavia on 5 September 1897, and on 22 September, presented the volume to the Swedish king. He departed for America eight days later, having spent less than one month in Scandinavia.
Did any missionaries die while serving in the Scandinavian Mission? Sadly, seven missionaries’ lives and missions were cut short. Willard Snow, Elder Erastus Snow’s brother and acting mission president, was attacked by an “evil power” and finally passed away in August 1853.31 President Niels Wilhelmsen died in Copenhagen in August 1881 after a hospital operation.32 In June 1887, Jasper Petersen passed away at Odense, Denmark, after fighting chills and fevers.33 Andrew K. Andersen, president of the Ålborg Conference, died in January 1890, of “lung trouble” after only a few days of sickness.34 In August 1893, Pehr A. Bjorklund, a missionary in the Skåne Conference, Sweden, died at Hälsingborg, Sweden, of a “rupture.”35 Anders Bjorkman, a missionary in the Stockholm Conference, Sweden, expired in August 1896, while helping harvest a field.36 Lastly, Albert Peterson passed away at Uppsala, Sweden, in December 1898, at the tender age of twenty-six after leaving his new bride in Utah for missionary service.37
Thus, the “typical” missionary from Zion would have been born in Denmark and likely converted as a boy or young man before immigrating with this family to Zion. He would have settled in one of the Scandinavian communities of Sanpete, Sevier, or Salt Lake counties. At about age thirty-eight, after being set apart as a Seventy, he would have been called back to Denmark to serve as a missionary. While in Denmark, he would have served as a laboring missionary and then have been called as a branch or conference president until he was released after 1.8 years of dedicated service. Most of these missionaries would have experienced much hardship and persecution while serving. While away from home, their families would have also sacrificed their means to support them. These missionaries and their families have left their “legacy of sacrifice,” which has benefited and will continue to benefit many of their descendants.
1. Journal History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1830–1972 (chronological scrapbook of typed entries and newspaper clippings, 1830–present), September 18, 1859, Church Archives, as quoted in William Mulder, Homeward to Zion: The Mormon Migration from Scandinavia (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1957), 48.
2. Journal History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, September 18, 1859, Church Archives, as quoted in Mulder, Homeward to Zion, 48.
3. Mulder, Homeward to Zion, 48.
4. Mulder, Homeward to Zion, 48.
5. Mulder, Homeward to Zion, 51.
6. Reid L. Neilson, Peter Neilson Sr: A Life of Consecration (Provo, UT: Community Press, 1997), 26–27.
7. Mulder, Homeward to Zion, 55.
8. Mulder, Homeward to Zion, 57.
9. Jennie C. Mortensen was the only sister missionary set apart to serve in the Scandinavian Mission during the nineteenth century. She was born 26 June 1865 as Paris, Bear Lake County, Idaho, and was single and residing in Salt Lake City when she was called on a mission at the age of thirty-four. She arrived in Denmark on 27 August 1899 and served faithfully for one year.
10. Mulder, Homeward to Zion, 56–57.
11. Mulder, Homeward to Zion, 62.
12. Neilson, Peter Neilson Sr, 125.
13. Neilson, Peter Neilson Sr, 128.
14. Neilson, Peter Neilson Sr, 131.
15. Mulder, Homeward to Zion, 62.
16. Mulder, Homeward to Zion, 56.
17. Mulder, Homeward to Zion, 31.
18. William R. Merriam, director, Census Reports Volume 1: Twelfth Census of the United States, Taken in the Year 1900–Population Part 1 (Washington DC: United States Census Office, 1901), 789–90. According to the 1900 United States Census, there were 4,924 foreign-born U.S. citizens living in Utah. Of this number, 513 were from Denmark, 204 were from Norway, and 552 were from Sweden, making 25.7 percent (1,259) of the foreign-born Utah population Scandinavian.
19. John Langeland, “The Church in Scandinavia,” in Encyclopedia of Mormonism, ed. Daniel H. Ludlow (New York: Macmillan, 1992), 3:1262–65.
20. Andrew Jenson, Missionaries Who Labored in the Scandinavian Mission from 1850 to 1905, Church Archives, Salt Lake City. Jenson’s team painstakingly recorded each of the missionaries’ information on 8 ½-by-14-inch, hand-ruled paper. For each missionary they included as variables: number, meaning chronological order of the missionary at arrival in the Scandinavian Mission; name, meaning missionary’s full name; priesthood, meaning priesthood office held at arrival in the Scandinavian Mission; arrival at Copenhagen, meaning MM/DD/YYYY arrival date in the Scandinavian Mission; departure from Copenhagen, meaning MM/DD/YYYY departure date from the Scandinavian Mission; and time spent, meaning mission duration. In addition to this ledger, Jenson and his team drafted a short, biographical sketch for each missionary. For a complete analysis of this database see Reid L. Neilson, “Danes Teaching Danes: Missionaries from Zion in the LDS Scandinavian Mission, 1850–99: A Demographic Analysis,” paper presented at the annual symposium of the Mormon History Association, Copenhagen, Denmark, June 2000; copy available at the Church Archives.
21. Iceland was considered part of the Scandinavian Mission from 1851 until 1894, when it added to the British Mission.
22. Denmark statistics include missionaries who served in the Scandinavian Mission office located in Copenhagen, Denmark, while they presided over the mission, or were involved with the mission’s translation and publication efforts.
23. Rex Thomas Price Jr., “The Mormon Missionary of the Nineteenth Century” (PhD diss., University of Wisconsin–Madison, 1991), 91.
24. Price, “The Mormon Missionary of the Nineteenth Century,” 92.
25. William E. Hughes, “A Profile of the Missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1849–1900” (master’s thesis, Brigham Young University, 1986), 133.
26. Price, “The Mormon Missionary of the Nineteenth Century,” 102. These same polygamous heads of families may also have been called to serve in Scandinavia to protect them from federal prosecution.
27. Price, “The Mormon Missionary of the Nineteenth Century,” 102.
28. For a more detailed analysis of thoughts of early Church leaders on language ability, see Price, “The Mormon Missionary of the Nineteenth Century,” 102–7.
29. Price, “The Mormon Missionary of the Nineteenth Century,” 113. See also James N. Baumgarten, “The Role and Function of the Seventy in Church History” (master’s thesis, Brigham Young University, 1960).
30. Hughes, “A Profile of the Missionaries,” 151.
31. Jenson, History of the Scandinavian Mission, 82.
32. Jenson, History of the Scandinavian Mission, 256–57.
33. Jenson, History of the Scandinavian Mission, 301–2.
34. Jenson, History of the Scandinavian Mission, 313.
35. Jenson, History of the Scandinavian Mission, 331.
36. Jenson, History of the Scandinavian Mission, 350.
37. Jenson, History of the Scandinavian Mission, 367.
Parameters in Preparing This Work
It takes courage to accept a religion that requires sacrifices of the heart, of one’s worldly goods, perhaps of one’s reputation or familial relationships, and sometimes of life itself. When native sons who had left the old country for the sake of that religion were called upon to return to share their new beliefs, the sacrifices were even greater because most of them were now married and had families—and most were not affluent. However, when the call came, they went, sometimes selling all they had to raise funds to accomplish the task. Many left wives and children destitute, sustained only by their faith that their families would survive while husbands and fathers were gone.
It is hoped that some day the true story of the tremendous sacrifices made by the wives and children of the missionaries whose names are recorded herein will be told, so they may also receive the honor due to them.
The main purpose of this work, however, was to identify, acknowledge, and honor some of those missionaries who sacrificed so much to spread the restored gospel of Jesus Christ among their fellow Scandinavians and other Europeans. To provide as complete information as possible, we set three major goals.
1. To provide the dates and places of missionary service.To assist descendants who might want to locate the places their ancestor served in the old country, we have provided the counties in which the towns were located.
2. To document in original sources to the extent possible the birth date, exact birth name, exact birthplace, and exact names of the parents of each missionary found herein,so descendants who wish to follow their missionary’s ancestry in the old country will have a valid starting point from which to research. Some “Americanized” versions of the original birthplaces were so garbled or some initial information was so incomplete in various record sources that it took up to twelve hours or more to finally track down just one missionary’s true birthplace.
3. To give brief biographical and historical information about each missionaryas ascertained from compiled resource files, information sent in by descendants we were able to contact, ward records, Scandinavian branch records, U.S. census records, and other sources as needed.
Explanation of Biographical Information
The following is an example of a missionary biography page:
George Daniel Olsen
Residence: Fillmore, Millard Co., Utah
Arrival date in Copenhagen: 4 May 1883
Missionary labors: Copenhagen Conference
Departure date from Copenhagen: 19 October 1883
Name of departure ship: Milo
Birth date: 2 September 1833
Birthplace: Høsterkjøb, Birkerød, Frederiksborg, Denmark
Father: Olsen, Daniel
Mother: Jørgensdatter, Anna Maria
Spouse: King, Delilah Cornelia
Marriage date: 14 November 1861
Death date: 9 May 1893
Death place: Fillmore, Millard Co., Utah
Burial place: Fillmore, Millard Co., Utah
You may find that your missionary ancestor has two names listed on his biographical page, as in the example above. The explanation is as follows:
a. The top name is the one by which he was known in U.S. records, under which he was found in Passport to Paradise: The Copenhagen “Mormon” Passenger Lists, 1872–1894, or under which he was found in the book History of the Scandinavian Mission, by Andrew Jenson.
b. The name in parentheses directly underneath is the name found in his original birth record in Scandinavian parish registers.
In America the custom is to use your father’s family name, or surname, and an English-language version of your first name. Many Scandinavians, including early Latter-day Saint immigrants, adopted those customs in their new land. This includes anglicizing their names, as is evident in the above example. Jørgen Danielsen anglicized his first name to George, then used a shortened form of his true patronymic surname (family name) as his middle name—that is, Daniel[sen]—then, according to American custom, he began to use his father’s surname, Olsen, as his own surname.
A more complete explanation of the various names you might find connected to your missionary ancestor and his parents is as follows:
Scandinavian Surname Formation
Before the mid- to late-1800s, a Scandinavian’s surname was generally formed by using patronymics. The term comes from two Latin words, patro, “father,” and nymic, “name.” This means the first name of a Scandinavian child’s father, plus -son or -datter to indicate gender, formed the family name. Peder Andersen is literally “Peder, son of Anders.” Maria Pedersdatter is literally “Maria, daughter of Peder.” This is why ten Scandinavians living in the same town who were completely unrelated could have the same surname. Patronymics were a good system for those countries because, given the small number of names that were chosen, they always knew the first names of the next generation.
Danish and Norwegian patronymic surnames generally have an -sen or possibly -ssen ending for males, and a -datter (-dtr) ending for females: for example, Jensen, Rasmussen, Andreasen, Thomasen, or Pedersdatter, Jensdatter, Knudsdatter.
Swedish, Finnish, and Icelandic patronymic surnames generally have a -sson, or possibly -son ending if it is a male surname, and a -dotter or -dottir ending if it is a female surname: for example, Jansson, Halvorson, Olasson, or Persdotter, Haakonsdottir, Larsdotter, Olufsdottir.
Note: Beginning in the mid- to late 1800s, all Scandinavian females began to be recorded in the records of their native countries with a -sen or -sson ending instead of a -datter or -dotter ending. In the cities, they may have been recorded with a -sen or -son ending as early as the 1830s. The -dottir ending is still used in Iceland today as part of a female’s patronymic surname.
If your ancestor in this book does not have a patronymic surname, or if any of your Scandinavian ancestors have a name that does not end in -sen or -son, -sson or -datter, or -dotter or -dottir, the following may be the explanation.
Denmark. If your Danish emigrant ancestor or the subsequent generation used a surname that did not or does not end patronymically, there is a 25 percent chance that nonpatronymic surname is the name of the farm or village in Denmark where the emigrant ancestor was born, lived, resided close to, or worked at some time during his or her life. If the name is unusual enough (in other words, if there are only one or two places with that name listed in a Danish gazetteer or postal guide), you could go directly to the church records for the parish to which that place belongs to see if you can find your ancestor.
Finland. Some of the Finns who emigrated also used a “place name” as their surname when they arrived in the United States. If you have a Finnish ancestor whose name does not end patronymically, look in a Finnish gazetteer or postal guide to see if the name or a close derivation of it appears. If it does, you could search the church records of the parish to which that place belongs for your ancestor, as explained in the entry on Denmark above.
It should be noted there are also some areas of Finland where a set surname was used. In other words it did not change every generation like a patronymic surname. If in American records your Finnish ancestor’s father and grandfather are listed with your ancestor’s same surname, he or she might be from a set surname area.
Iceland. A few Icelanders may also have used a place name as a surname. However, since the patronymic naming system is still being used in Iceland today, it is more likely an Icelandic emigrant would have taken a nonpatronymic name after he or she were in the new country. To discover if an Icelander’s nonpatronymic surname might be a place name, check in an Icelandic gazetteer or postal guide.
Norway. Approximately 50 percent of Norwegians who emigrated began to use a place name as their surname after arriving in their new country. This may have been the name of the farm they were born on, worked at, resided on, or just knew about. It may also have been a shortened version of the whole name of the farm. For example, Ramsgaardslie may have been shortened to Ram or Lie [Lee]. That name change may have taken place long before, immediately before, or shortly after immigration or later, such as in the family story that says, “Grandpa Ole Olsen’s mail kept going to the other Ole Olsen down the road, so about three years after he emigrated he began to call himself Ole Tregaard.”
To find out if your Norwegian nonpatronymic surname is a place name, check a Norwegian gazetteer or postal guide. If there are only a few listings for that place name, you could go to the church records of the parishes where those names are located and try to find your ancestor in a life event record.
Sweden. If your Swedish ancestors or subsequent generations carry a nonpatronymic name, it is rarely a place name. It could have come from your ancestor having been in military service, where nonpatronymic names were assigned so the captain would not have to deal with a company full of ten “Per Perssons.” It is possible that tradesmen took the name of their mentor when they finished their training in a particular field. Other times it seems as if they just became tired of being known by their given name and simply chose a new name at random. There were no laws in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, or Iceland or even in early America against doing that. You could call yourself by another family name without having to register it. If such an event occurred, we hope it is still in family memory or recorded in family records.
If you should find your Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, Icelandic, or Finnish ancestor on a U.S. Census record with a nonpatronymic surname and a middle initial, such as Johan A. Pikop, the chances are very good the A is the first letter of his true patronymic surname—Andersen, Andreasen, Augustinussen, Ambrosiusen, for example.
First names of a Scandinavian-American ancestor may also be different. For example, someone known as “Tilly” in America could have the first name of “Mathilda” or “Tilda” in the old country.
Other name equivalents could include but are not limited to:
Anne: Ane, Anne, Anna, Hanna, Johanna, Johanne
Catherine, Karen: Cajsa/Caisa
Christine: Kjesty, Kersti, Kirstine, Kristine
Haakon, Haagen, Håkon
John: Johan, Johann, Johannes, Jon, Jöns
Lewis: Lars, Lauritz, Laust
Mary: Maria, Marie, Maja/Maia, Maren
Nelly: Pernille, Nilla, Nelle
From the time of the Reformation in 1535, until religious freedom was granted in 1850, all Scandinavians were Lutheran by law. Most Scandinavians remained Lutheran even after that time period. The vital record-keeping jurisdiction of all Scandinavian countries was the Lutheran parish—comparable to an LDS ward—and everyone living in towns or on farms encompassed by the parish boundaries went to a specific physical church building to take care of their religious ceremonies. Since the Lutheran minister was charged with keeping track of all births, marriages, and deaths that occurred in his parish, the parish registers are the official vital records of those countries. If the first name on the birthplace line is underlined as in the previous example of Jørgen Danielsen, or George Daniel Olsen, that is the name of the village or farm where your ancestor was actually born within that Scandinavian parish. For example:
Birthplace: Høsterkjøb (village), Birkerød (parish), Frederiksborg (county), Denmark
Since most Scandinavian, European, and early American births occurred at home, that name is the actual place where your ancestor was born.
If your ancestor was born in a city, the entry could look something like this:
Birthplace: Kongensgade (street), Trinitatis-Copenhagen (Trinitatis parish in Copenhagen City), Copenhagen (county), Denmark
Father and mother: The names of your missionary ancestor’s parents appear as they were spelled in the original parsh register entry of the ancestor’s birth.
No attempt was made to research original records to verify names of wives, marriage dates, death dates, or death places, unless it was necessary in able to completely track down and identify the birth date, birthplace, and parentage of the missionary. Many of those pieces of information did come as a result of research done for the missionary, but they have not been verified. It is hoped that descendants of these great men will take this up as a challenge—a place to begin verifying and documenting family records—so they can have a well-documented family history.
Scandinavian Alphabets and Letter Substitution
The following is designed to help the nongenealogist understand the importance of keeping an open mind toward spellings of people and place names and to provide information that will be helpful in using original record sources.
It is important to be aware that record keepers in every country of the world and every age of the history of the world, wrote what their ears heard, spelling words how they thought they should be spelled. There were no spelling rules for most countries until the beginning of the 1900s, so the sounds that were heard were recorded. Even if record keepers copied directly from another written source, they may or may not have copied it exactly. The same process—that is, writing phonetically—was happening in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden, as well as the rest of Europe, at the time vital records were created.
The Scandinavian Alphabets
If you have Scandinavian ancestry, you also need to be aware that the various Scandinavian alphabets are a little different than the standard English alphabet. All Scandinavian languages have the letters A through Z, then some extra letters that come after Z.
Those letters are:
Æ æ = “eh” Å å or Aa aa = long “o”
Ø ø = “ooh” Ä ä = “eh” (sometimes “ē” used instead)
Å å or Aa aa= long “o” Ö ö = “ooh”
The Icelandic alphabet is as follows:
A a Á á B b C c D d Ð ð E e É é F f G g H h I i Í í J j K k L l M m N n O o Ó ó P p Q q R r S s T t U u Ú ú V v W w X x Y y Ý ý Z z Þ þ (“th” combination as in the name “Thorstein” or “Thingeyer”) Æ æ Ö ö
Also keep in mind that because spelling was not standardized in earlier times, spelling variations occurred in the records, both in names of places and names of people. Some letters may have been used in place of others. For example:
aa used for å
b used for p
c used for k
ch used for k
d used for t
e used for æ
fi used for v
g used for k
i used for j
ö used for ø
q used for k
tj used for ki
u used for v
w used for v
x used for ks
See the Swedish alphabet variations below. Finnish records were kept in the Swedish language until 1867.
See also the Norwegian and Danish alphabet variations (Iceland was ruled by both Norway and Denmark).
See also the Danish alphabet variations above because Danish record keepers served in parts of Norway.
aa used for å
b used for p
c used for k
ch used for k
d used for t
e used for æ
f used for v
g used for k
hj used for j
i used for j
j used for gj
ld used for ll
nd used for nn
q used for k
tj used for kj
u used for v
w used for v
x used for ks
Example: kvinne (female and/or wife) spelled as quinde/qvinde
e used for ä
i used for j
j used for g, gj, hj, lj, dj
k used for ck, ch, g, gg, c, q
s used for ss, c, z
sk used for skj, sch, sj, stj
t used for d, th, tt
v used for hv, fv, ffv, f, w
Example: änkamannen (widower), spelled as enkamannen
 Much of the initial biographical data came from a compiled record source known as the Ancestral File. This file was intended to be a lineage-linked program, whereby descendants of a common ancestor could find each other. It was an idea and a program far ahead of its time—far ahead of the computer power to support it properly. From the time of its introduction to the world in 1979 to its close in February 2002, hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of names in lineage-linked format were submitted to the file. As the file grew, “merges” were performed, using statistical probabilities and computer algorithms to attempt to make correct merges.
Unfortunately, for the Scandinavian countries (and other countries where the patronymic naming system was used), these merges did not all work properly. Place names, crucial in identifying many “same-named” Scandinavians, were not linked to the right people. For those with Scandinavian ancestry, this means that neither the birth, marriage, and death information nor familial relationships in the Ancestral File may be correct beyond the immigrant generation, if they are even correct to that point.
While doing research for this book, we discovered that many times even the immigrant Scandinavian’s birth date or birthplace information was not correct and that children born in this country were not necessarily connected to the correct Scandinavian emigrant parents.
For this reason we expended hundreds of hours doing original research, trying to find and document each missionary’s actual birth date, birthplace, and parents—all so descendants could trace their ancestral lines using original records of Scandinavia.
We sincerely hope this information will be helpful to you in your efforts to trace your ancestry, thus further honoring your marvelous missionary ancestor.