I recently started a family tree on Geni.com to share with all my far-flung and long lost relatives. Everyone has been very excited about learning about our ancestors and I'm lucky enough to be in possesion of a lot of old photos and other family history tid-bits.
I've always wanted to find a way to share all this with my extended family and now thanks to the internet I can.
My 3rd great grandfather left behind a jounal entry that was translated from Danish. I've always thought that he wrote it for a reason--that being to leave a legacy to his descendants. Up until now, I have been the only one benefitting from this gift, but I am so happy now to be able to share it.
So, without further ado, here is the translation from Danish of my 3rd great grandfather's journal of his conversion to Mormonism and his subsequent immigration to the U.S. He was a Utah pioneer and later, at the age of 55 returned to his homeland on a mission for the Church.
Journal of Niels Hendrick Borreson
Born August 2, 1826
First some incidents from my childhood. I was born Aug. 2, 1826 in Skovhus, Solve, Ostereojborg, Presto Amt on Sjaelland, Denmark. My father was a school teacher for 20 years and was born 1779 on Moen; his name was Peder Christian Borresen. My mother’s name was Maren Kjestine; she was born on Moen March 7th, 1777. They were good to me. I went to school from my 7th to my 14th year, was confirmed by Pastor Sotoft and had second place in the group of confirmants. Then I was apprenticed to a blacksmith, Hans Rasmussen, who was my father’s neighbor. I was here only three months, as the work was too hard for me. For some time I was with Jens Skoffod, a fiddler, but soon gave that up, and May 1st I started working on a large farm for Hans Person of Baggebolleby. There I learned to plow, harrow, and cultivate the soil. Nov. 1st I went to another farmer, Boe Rasmussen, in Kragenby, and there again I cultivated the soil.
In 1846 I went to Copenhagen; arriving there May 2nd, I started working for Captain From. Later I was with a merchant Goldager. Later again with Sjofer. Finally on April 1st 1848 I joined up with the Danish Army and fought against the Germans, who had attacked Denmark. On May 29th I fought for two hours in one battle and on June 5 I fought for 9 hours at Dybbol Hill. Later I was assigned the job of taking care of sick and wounded horses. During the latter part of the war, from ‘49 until April 1st ’51 I was coachman for Lieutenant Borthty (spelling of this name questionable). I left Augustenborg April 2nd 1851; arrived in Copenhagen April 4th and was married to Hanne Marie Nielsen Nov. 1st ’51.
We started a small retail store and I got a position in the Federal Post Office sorting letters to be sent to all the capitals of the world.
During this time I became convinced that the Lutheran Church was wrong in it’s teachings. On Christmas Day 1852 I was in Holman’s church and in the sermon the minister said that though we lied, stole or killed; still the blood of Jesus atoned for all our sins, and we should be saved as the robber on the cross was forgiven. That was not my belief, and when I heard about Mormonism, I realized that was what I believed. I was baptized (Mormon) April 12th 1853, and my wife had been baptized April 8th 1853 by Ebbesen Jessen on Enikeswern, Copenhagen.
We continued our retail store on Reine Street, #200, and I kept my position in the post office until we left Denmark Dec. 25th, 1853 together with my brother Philip Borresen, my sister Anne Marie Olhus Borresen, my niece Trine Amalie and her husband Peder Christensen and their two girls, Anne and Sofie.
When we arrived at Gluckstadt, we stayed there some time, as the frost was so hard and the ice was so thick that the harbor was ice-bound. The people were so mean to us poor Mormons that we had no peace, night or day. Then our President, Mr. Olsen, proclaimed a day of fasting , and we prayed to God to deliver us, and He heard the prayers of 800 to 900 of his children who had left everything for the faith in the Gospel God had given them. The storm came and it rained and the ice broke. As the ship was ready to sail, we left Gluckstadt, but the sailors were bitter and spiteful and treated us poor Mormons very badly. I was seasick and my sister Marie bought a cup of coffee, which I drank. It only made me more sick, as it was made with salt water. This made Marie feel so bad that she cried.
Finally we reached Hull City safely, and from there we went by train to Liverpool, where we had to wait for passage to America. As far as I remember, 32 children died while there, and among them was my 18 month old daughter Herik Jette Marie Borresen. With hearts full of sorrow, we poor fathers and mothers had to leave them behind.
At last we boarded Benjamin Adams, a large ship, and we set sail. A few days out my niece’s little girl Sofie, 8 years old, took sick and died. She was put into a sack weighted with a stone and dropped overboard to the great sorrow of her father and mother, Peder and Trine Amalie Christensen. After nine weeks we arrived at New Orleans where Peder Chistensen died. Four men took him off the ship and we saw him no more.
Now we were transferred to a steamboat and sailed up the Mississippi River to St. Louis. From there we sailed on another steamboat to Kansas City. Many of our dear brethren contracted cholera and died and were buried there. The rest of us bought open and covered wagons and started on the long trek across the desert which took us 17 weeks. The Indians took some of our cattle, so President Olsen commanded us all to carry our guns on our shoulders. When we came to Fort Laramie (Wyoming) the captain with 32 soldiers promised us compensation for our loss. They pursued the Indians, but were ambushed and killed by the Indians, who then took over the fort.
We finally arrived in Salt Lake City October 5th, 1854 and shortly after that my sister Anne Marie Olhus died. We lived in Salt Lake City till the first of February, then we moved to Little Cottonwood and lived in a cellar, but we could find no water. I prayed to God and one day I took my spade and looked for a place to dig a well. As I walked, the word came to me to dig where I was standing, and I’d find water. I obeyed, and when I had dug about 6 feet, the clear spring water gushed out of the ground about 2 feet. Niels Madsen and Frederik Jessen came and got water too from the same well.
Dec. 11th we went to Lehi and on the 14th we went to Provo. Feb. 1st we went to Spanish Fork and the 16th of March as far as I remember, we went to Sandpete and Mount Pleasant. And the first of April 1861 we moved to Spring City.
I fought all through the Black Hawk War. I was out in the mountains during the winter of 1857 to guard Jorgensen’s Army. We captured a picket guard and he said he saw 100,000 harvesters.
My notes: When he talks about his conversion, and that he didn't believe what he heard in the Lutheran church, I think he meant that he didn't believe that you could sin and then repent on Sundays just to sin again. The way it's written almost sounds like Mormons don't believe in the Atonement, which isn't true. I think a little something was lost in translation there. Some of the other references too are a little vague. Not sure what he means in the last sentence about seeing 100,000 harvesters. He really had a rough life as a pioneer (as they all did), and I can't imagine the courage it took to go back as a missionary to his homeland some years later and repeat the trip across country and the voyage across the sea. He is a great example of faith and obedience.