The following is a brief history of my husband Roy's great-grandparents, Hans & Karen Thomsen. I am so glad I did not have to go through the things they did, leaving their home country of Denmark and coming to America knowing they might not ever see family members again.
Hans Adolph Thomsen 1835-1904 ~ Karen Karoline Sorensen 1833-1892
Hans was born 18 February 1835 at Brabrand, Aarhus, Denmark son of Cai and Inger Marie Petersen Thomsen. He was the eldest of four children and the first of his father’s people born outside of Grimsnis, Kappeln Parish, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, where the Thomsen’s had lived for many years without change of name on the Roest Estate of the Earl Van Rumohr. Hans was married 13 November 1855 to Karen Sorensen who was born 8 September 1833, daughter of Soren and Frederikke Olesdatter Jespersen at Abby, Aarhus, Denmark. Here four children were born to them; Mette Marie, 24 June 1856; Ane Marie, 17 May 1859; Jens Adolph, 22 October 1860 and Sofie Frederikke, 18 February 1862.
From a journal kept by Hans Adolph we learn that he and Karen joined the Mormon Church in 1861. Hans was baptized on the 11th day of August by Soren C. Stark and confirmed the same day by P.C. Geersteen who was the President of Aarhus Conference. Karen was baptized and confirmed on the 6th day of September by her brother, Ole Sorensen, at Abby. Hans and Karen became active members of the Abby Branch.
Hans Adolph Thomsen’s record states that on the “30th of April 1863 traveled from Aarhus with my family.” They made their way down the coast of Jutland to the river Kiel then across the sea to Hull, England and from there through England to Liverpool where they were housed in a large barn like structure for two days, along with many other Saints. Friday May 8th, 1863 they sailed for Zion aboard the ship “B. S. Kimball”, whose Captain was H. Dearborn, with 648 others under the direction of Hans Peter Lund. After six weeks of rugged sailing they landed in New York the 15th of June and then continued by rail to Florence, Nebraska.
It was here that they were greatly saddened by the death of baby Sofie Frederikke who died on 28 June 1863 just 8 days before their group, John F. Sanders Company, left Florence, Nebraska. They left from Council Bluffs on 6 July 1863 for the valley. The other children, much worn from travel and strangeness of surroundings, fretted when their mother was out of sight, so sacrificing herself Karen walked most of the way between the wagon and the oxen, so the children might see her and rest easy. On the 22nd of July little Ane Marie died and was buried on the trail near Sandy Bluff. The caravan, with which they traveled, dared not stop so Hans and Karen buried their dead alone. They dug a shallow grave, spread a few wild flowers to soften the fall of earth, said a prayer over the unmarked grave of their treasure and hurried to catch their group as their only safety was in numbers.
They arrived in Salt Lake City on Saturday, September 5th, 1863 and on the 7th their eldest child, Mette Marie, was buried leaving only Jens Adolph, to commence their family life in Zion, at Fountain Green in Sanpete County. Here their fifth child was born on 13 June 1864 and according to Danish custom received the names of her sisters who had passed away, Ane Mette Marie Sofie Frederikke. There was much Indian trouble in this area. Savages raided the herd grounds and drove off many cattle and horses, often killing the herders, so with making a living, standing or riding guard, dispatch riding and chasing Indians, Hans was kept busy while adjusting to a new language, country and religion.
On Tuesday May 1st, 1866, President Brigham Young instructed the people of Sanpete County to collect themselves in bodies of not less than 150 men arm themselves well and protect their stock from the Indians. In May of 1866, a company of armed militia from Salt Lake and Utah Counties was sent out to assist the settlers in Sanpete and Sevier Valleys in protecting themselves against the Indians. Hans was sent to Fort Monroe to help protect that settlement, while here their next child Karoline was born 25 May 1866. In 1867 many settlements had to be abandoned because of the Black Hawk War and other Indian troubles. The Black Hawk War of which Hans Adolph Thomsen was a veteran, lasted three years. A treaty was signed on 2 March 1868 but troubles didn’t end then.
L. D. S. Journal History, page 3, 5 April 1868 states, “A company under Frederick Olson, numbering 22 men and 4 boys with 15 wagons were on their way to reopen one of the settlements in Sevier County. On April 5th near Rocky Ford on the Sevier River early in the afternoon they found the Indians were following them. They immediately corralled their animals to prevent a stampede and prepared for an attack. An express was started to Gunnison and Richfield, one man to the former and two to the latter. On the express to Richfield one man, Adolph Thomsen was mounted on a tired horse, which the Indians soon detected, pursued him and he had to turn back. Another party of Indians tried to cut him off. Five men from the camp came to his rescue; but not before he received a bullet in the right thigh and an arrow in the left side. He had to have part of his right foot amputated because the bullet in the thigh cut cords, nerves and veins running to his toes. His daughter, Maria Ann Thomsen Hawkins, gave the story as told by her father. “After being hit by a flying arrow, he dropped to the side of his horse thus using the animal as a shield to his body, but was shot in the thigh that held him to the horse. He was very weak from loss of blood and prayed for strength to get through.” The express reached Gunnison and a party of 29 men under Major Frazer went to their assistance. The united parties returned to Gunnison.”
In the spring of 1869, the Thomsen’s moved to Spring City in Sanpete County, where Hans acquired a lot. Though badly crippled he managed with Karen’s and Jim’s help to fence his lot with poles cut and brought from the hills and to support his family. Here another daughter Hansine was born 5 June 1869 and on the 17th of October that same year Hans and Karen were endowed and sealed in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City. In spite of opposition and persecutions, Hans, age 40, and Jensine Christensen, age 41 were endowed and sealed in the Endowment House on Monday the 12th of July 1875. On 23 February 1878 Peder Engmar, Elmer or P. E. (my husbands grandfather) as he was called in later years, was born to Karen and on 9 March 1878, Marie Ann came to cheer the home of Jensine. P. E. was my husband’s grandfather. The two families lived on the same block in separate houses in Spring City.
According to Hansine, here at Spring City, Hans was more active in the church than ever. He was always being called to administer to the sick, for no matter what the disease he never failed to attend them. One time he returned from administering to a case of Yellow Fever and was asked if he wasn’t afraid he might carry the disease to his children. He said, “no” but in a few days one child showed symptoms of the fever. He administered to her and the fever disappeared. In this manner he built his life on faith and he said it never failed him.
In the 1880 census of Spring City, Sanpete County, we find him with Karen’s family on Polk Street, while Jensine and her daughter Marie Ann are on Walnut Street. On 15 October 1880, Stina Elvine, Jensine’s daughter arrived to complete their family. About this time the Latter-day Saint authorities called upon families in well-established communities to go into new territory and begin other settlements to make room for incoming immigrants.
When one man was called to go to Arizona he refused to go so Hans volunteered. On Wednesday April 6th, 1881 he was set apart for a mission to Arizona. Soon afterward, accompanied by his son Jim who was 21 and Soren who was 9 years old they started for St. Johns, Arizona. When they reached the Colorado River it was too high to cross. They turned back and worked some time in a valley at or near Peoche on a railroad-grading job. On Tuesday, September 20th, 1881 he and the boys together with his wife Jensine and her two daughters, Marie Ann and Stina, then left for Arizona again. Although only three and a half Marie Ann well remembered the rugged trip in crossing Lee’s backbone. They arrived in St. Johns, Arizona on Tuesday November 15th, 1881 and occupied a house located one block north of the courthouse and across the street east from Marcor Petersen’s house. According to the St. Johns Ward records Hans was received as a High Priest from Spring City in November 1881.
Early in 1882, Hans and Soren returned to Spring City for the rest of the family. They traveled by St. George where the older children were sealed to their parents and did work for their dead on Tuesday March 27th, 1883 and the next day continued on their journey. They had two four horse outfits with wagons loaded to capacity with household goods, machinery and supplies driven by Hans and Jim, also a camp wagon with a single span of horses driven by Karen. They had some saddle horses and twenty or thirty head of cows and heifers driven by Hyrum and Elmer. From St. George they traveled through Kanab, Fredonia, Kaibab Forest and Horse Rock Valley to the Colorado River. It was a time of high water and they had to use a small boat because the big ferry was unmanageable in the swollen stream. They had to unload everything, take the wagons apart, load them on the boat, ferry across, unload, reassemble the wagons, take the goods across and reload them, then swim the horses and cattle across. After crossing the river came the long hard pull out of the canyon over Buckskin Mountain and the rocky ridge call Lee’s Backbone. They reached their destination in St. John’s in the latter part of May 1882.
In 1889, Hans and family were called to go to the Mormon Colonies in Mexico around Colonia Juarez. In the spring of 1891, the Thomsen’s leased out their Juarez farm and moved to the Pratt Ranch in Cave Valley, Mexico. On the 19th of September 1892, renegade Apache Indians murdered Karen and her son Hyrum who was 18 years old. Elmer, who was 14 years old, was shot through the chest and severely wounded, but lived to be 73 years old. Annie Strate, Hans and Karen’s granddaughter who was 6 years old at the time was not harmed, because her grandmother Karen hid her under her skirt. After the Indians killed Karen she fell and the Indians saw little Annie and started to come after her. Before they could grab her they noticed that Elmer was no longer lying where he had fallen. Afraid that he may have gone for help they grabbed what they had stolen and left the ranch. Elmer had somehow dragged himself over to the chicken coop and climbed underneath it. He got Annie’s attention and she hid there with him until they felt it was safe to come out. Elmer called to his faithful dog and he and Annie started walking to the nearest ranch for help. After only a short distance Elmer could go no further and so he told Annie to continue and sent the dog with her. Annie had not gone very far when S. C. Richardson found her and she told him what had happened. They went and got Elmer and took him to James Mortenson home on the William’s Ranch. Hans who had been away from home helping neighboring farmers get their harvests in, was found and told the tragic news about his wife and son.
The following picture is of Karen and her granddaughter Annie, who she hid under her skirts, which was taken just a few short months before Karen was murdered. The other picture is of Elmer (my husbands grandfather) who is setting and his friend George Sevey whose family helped to nurse Elmer back to health after he was shot by the Indians.
In the spring of 1893, Hans volunteered to go on a church mission for which he was set apart on Thursday the 6th of April, just twelve years to the day from the time he was set apart to go to Arizona. Hans went back to his native land and fulfilled an honorable mission in Aarhus, Denmark. Hans got to meet again with his brothers and sisters and other family members that he had not seen in 30 years and had a joyful reunion.
Late in 1902 Hans visited his children in Arizona where he sold his teams and wagon and went by train to April Conference in Salt Lake City and worked in the temple. Then he went on to Manti visiting with old acquaintances and doing ordinance work for deceased relatives in the Manti Temple then back to his home in Juarez Stake in Old Mexico. On Wednesday the 6th of July 1904 Will Palmer brought Hans from Pacheco to Marie Ann’s home in Juarez. When he walked in he handed Marie Ann a bundle saying; “These are my burial clothes, take care of them.” He had a very sore throat and hadn’t eaten since Saturday. He was in great pain and unable to rest, yet refused help. He died Saturday afternoon on the 8th of July 1904 at the age of 69 years. His funeral was held in the meeting house and he was buried in the cemetery on the hill east of town.
Excerpts from the Journal of Hans Adolph THOMSEN and written by his great-granddaughter-in-law Vickie Beard Thompson 22 Sep 2001. Additions and corrections made 14 May 2003.