Niels Christensen -- Utah Pioneer of 1857. In the little town of Nykobbel, Soro, Denmark, Niels Christensen was born, August 4, 1844, to Peder and Ellen (Andersen) Christensen.
His great-grandfather had been an officer in the Danish Army, and as a reward for gallantry, received from the government a section of beautifully wooded land to be held by him and his descendants. At his death his son inherited the land. Then the daughter, Ellen Andersen, next fell heir.
It was here that Niels Christensen was born. Shortly thereafter, his father died leaving the mother with two small sons, Paul and Niels. Two Mormon missionaries were to change the whole future of this little family. The mother was inspired with their message and soon joined the Church and became anxious to start for America and Utah. They sailed from England, April 11, 1857, on the ship “Westmoreland.” After six weeks voyage on the ocean, they rejoiced in reaching America, and soon started for Utah on foot, pushing a handcart. They reached Utah in July, 1857, first settling in Lehi, then moved to American Fork, Utah.
|Niels & Phoebe Christensen|
By this time, Paul was fourteen years of age and Niels, a year younger. As these boys grew into manhood they acquired land and became farmers. Paul managed their own farms when Stephen Chipman asked Niels to manage his farms. This Niels did for ten years. After the death of Stephen and Phoebe Davis Chipman, Niels married their oldest daughter, Phoebe Adelaide, and helped her raise her little brother and sisters.
Niels and Phoebe had seven children of their own. Their oldest, Phoebe Helen, died when she was 16. That left our grandfather, Bernard Niels, at age 14 the oldest in the family.
The picture on the right was taken sometime after their marriage when their daughter Phoebe Helen was a baby because another one of Phoebe and her daughter Phoebe Helen was taken the same day.
|Niels and Phoebe Christensen's Children Who Lived to Maturity|
Niels and Phoebe raised their family in this home in American Fork, Utah.
Phoebe, passed away July 14, 1894, leaving Niels with six young children. From this time on, he assumed the double role of mother and father. He was ever faithful and watchful of his children, always keeping before them the image of their sainted mother.
Niels farmed all of his life. He loved the land and his animals.
|Niels and his horses|
Another thing he loved was guns. Clare B. Christensen, Niels’ grandson “wrote from time to time about his grandfather and great-uncle Paul.” He recorded a “telling difference about Ellen’s two sons. In an account he called ‘Christensen Family Treasures,’ Clare wrote:
“My grandfather’s brother, Paul Christensen, owned a gun. He bought it because Brigham Young told the men of the Church to carry a gun for their protection. Uncle Paul did not like guns! He always carried one when he went out in the wilds because he was obedient to counsel. He fired the gun once to try it out. He never shot the gun again. In contrast to this, my grandfather was a lover of guns. When grandfather spent that first winter in Cottonwood, Utah and worked for his board, the man of the family owned a muzzle loading rifle with a revolving chamber like a six shooter. Grandfather fondled that gun with a great desire to possess it. Said he, ‘I would have been glad to work a whole year for that gun.’
“It is interesting that today many of Niels’ male descendants are still extraordinarily fond of guns and not a few own several of them.” (p. 19)
Through the years his children enjoyed one another and felt a great family loyalty.
This picture seems to reflect the closeness and fun-loving nature of these brothers and sisters as adults.
In the spring of 1923 he was 79 years old. He had always expressed the wish that he be permitted to die with his boots on. “On the morning May 18, Niels planted corn in his lot, then he and his daughter-in-law, Maud, had dinner. After dinner he fell asleep at the table. When he awoke from his nap he told Maud that he had dreamed that he had died. She said to him, ‘No, you are going to live at least another ten years.’ Bernard was late coming home from the office. Niels was just climbing into his wagon when Bernard drove in. He ran down to talk to his father and asked about the wisdom of doing any additional work that day. Niels said he was just fine and was off to the farm. His bay team was hitched to the wagon, the harnessed he went to his favorite field to plow. He had completed one furrow around his field. -- He was found there beside the plow. . .While they waited, the horses pawed a hole in the land, large enough to bury a man.” It was sunset on Utah Lake.
“When Niels had not returned at the approach of sundown, Clare was sent to investigate. . . .He found the silent form of his greatly loved Grandfather lay face down in the freshly plowed earth. . . .[He] rode home in a hurry just in time to find his Dad and brother, Paul, who were coming by car to see what the problem was.”
“Niels was buried by the side of Phoebe near the very center of the American Fork Cemetery. . . .
For twenty-nine years he had led the family alone. . . .The long mortal pilgrimage of sustained devotion, adventurous service and exemplary family love had been successfully finished.” pp. 148-149.
|Niels and his children and grandchildren|
Niels was a widower for 29 years. He and Phoebe raised a wonderful posterity.
Much of the information for this write-up came from a legal-sized page
titled Niels Christensen Family.
All materials in quotation marks are from The Christensen Family of Soro, Denmark and American Fork, Utah, USA, Allen C. Christensen, 1994.