This Sorensen family of the descendants of
Nicolai Sorensen and Magdelena (Olsen) Sorensen joined
the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
(the Mormons) in the early summer and fall
of 1855. They emigrated from Haverup, Sorø Amt., Sjælland, Denmark in the
early spring of 1857 via the steam ship, L. N. Hvidt from Copenhagen,
Denmark to Grimsby, England and then traveled by rail across England to
Liverpool, where they boarded the sail ship Westmoreland, traveling
on board her from Liverpool, England to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United
States of America. From Philadelphia they traveled by rail once again to
Iowa City, Iowa. At Iowa City they received their wagons and ox-teams with
which they traversed the heartland of America, the great plains and on to
the mighty Rocky Mountains, through South Pass and finally on to the Great
Salt Lake Valley.
The family settled first at Mill Creek on a
small farm in Salt Lake County, then they moved to Pond Town (now Salem,
Utah County) during the time of the great ?Move? south just prior to what is
now known as the Utah War in 1858. In the early spring of 1859 a vanguard of
the family (Peter Sorensen and Isaac Sorensen) went to Cache Valley from
Provo by way of Mill Creek, building a three room log home for the family
and settling at Mendon, Cache County, Territory of Utah, United States of
America. Nicolai, Malena and the rest of the Sorensen family arrived in
Mendon, Utah by mid-November, 1859.
Nicolai Sorensen, son of Soren Abrahamsen
and Catharine Jappe, was born third or twenty-third [christening date] of
June, 1799 at Fjenneslev, Sorø Amt., Denmark. He married Magdelena (Malena)
Olsen, 6 July, 1830 and they had 12 children, all born in Haverup,
Pedersborg Parish, Sorø Amt., Sjælland Island, Denmark.
Henrik Carl Christien
Ingeborg Kristine Larsine
Nicolai lived with his family at Haverup, a
very small village outside of Pedersborg, about forty miles west of
Copenhagen. He had a large farm for little Denmark and kept a milkmaid and a
cook and two farm men. Besides his dairy business, he had a wheelwright shop
in which he made everything from spinning wheels and farm wagons to coffins.
The Nicolai Sorensen family were independent
land holders. Their home at Haverup was built to form a square about 150
feet on each side. One wing was used for the family living quarters. A large
recreation room was in the east end. Leading from this were living rooms,
bedrooms, and a large kitchen with bake ovens. The bedrooms had two tiers of
beds; the lower for the small children and the upper for the older members
of the family. The other three wings of the building were used for farm
machinery, hay, grain, and cattle. The inside of the buildings formed a
court or yard. Outside of the buildings were the gardens, farmland and
The children started to school when they
were seven. They had thorough training in speaking the Danish language and
were taught reading, writing and arithmetic. Music and recreation had an
important place in the education of all classes. They were taught to sing by
note as well as rote, and most could play some musical instrument. They
learned their national songs, folk songs, played and danced together. They
were taught to do tasks and help about the home. All the boys were taught to
work on the farm and in manhood were good farmers.
A lover of music, Nicolai sang many songs
and played the violin. In his young manhood he belonged to an orchestra
which played in the famous Tivoli Park in Copenhagen. Nicolai worked at
times for the Danish Government in checking forms of inns. Andrew Andersen
who married his eldest daughter was an apprentice in his shop.
In 1854 Brother Fjeldstead, later of Logan,
Utah, and his companion, were the first missionaries to preach the gospel
to the Sorensen family. According to Isaac, one of Nicolai’s sons, “When I
was 14 years old the L.D.S. Elders came to our town, and in time all of
our family was converted. Father sold his farm in the spring of 1856, and
lived in his workshop until 1857,” when he left for Zion. He used much of
his means to help many saints come to Zion.
According to his diary, Nicolai and his
family left Haverup on April 14th, 1857 for Copenhagen. On April 18th,
they left Copenhagen on the ship L. N. Hvidt bound for England,
where they docked at Grimsby, England on April 21st. Crossing England by
rail, on April 25th they left Liverpool on the sailing vessel
Westmoreland and arrived in Philadelphia on May 31st, 1857. Malena the
mother was sick most of the way.
Disembarking at Philadelphia, they went by
rail to Iowa where they purchased a wagon and two teams of oxen with which
to make the journey to Utah. When they arrived in Salt Lake Valley with
the Mathias Cowley company, September 15th, 1857. They settled in Mill
Creek and spent the first winter on a small rented farm.
They lived here until the approach of
Johnson’s Army, when they moved south and stayed at Pondtown, now Salem.
Then returned again to Mill Creek. In 1859 Nicolai with two sons, Peter
and Isaac, went north to Cache Valley. Later in the year they went back to
Salt Lake and moved their families to Mendon. They lived in the fort for
some time, which consisted of two rows of houses running east and west
through what is now the south side of the public square.
According to the account of Isaac Sorensen
again: “In the spring of 1859 the move to Cache Valley began. I walked to
Provo, forty miles south of Salt Lake, for my brother Peter. He and I with
two yoke of oxen and a wagon spent nine days in reaching the site where
Mendon now stands. The fort consisted of 25 log houses, with dirt floors.
Our house had three rooms. Each room had a fire place. In the spring of
1864 the old fort was broken up and the city laid out, and homes built on
the city lots of hewed logs with nice doors and lumber floors. We were
each given 20 acres of farm land and a little hayland. 1867 was a year of
much building, especially rock houses, and it was this year that fathers
two story rock house was built.”
In America Nicolai’s financial status was
far below the comfortable and highly respected plane he lived on in
Denmark, but he never complained; rather he fervently thanked the Lord for
bringing him to Zion.
According to Franklin Sorensen, a grandson
of Nicolai; “When Nicolai was crossing the plains he offered to go back to
search for a child which had been lost. On finding it and returning to the
camp he was commended for his kindness and was told by one of the leaders
to ask anything that his heart desired and it would be granted to him. He
requested that he and his wife Malena, never be separated in this life. He
realized this blessing as he and his wife died on the same day, 30 March,
1887, only a few hours apart and were buried in the same grave.”
Nicolai Sorensen and his wife died March
30, 1877 and were buried in the cemetery at Mendon, Cache County, Utah.1
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