Jens Frederiksen Svinth
Memories from My Life
Written from recollection and from various sources by Jens Frederiksen Svinth, Enumclaw, Wash. USA. Editors: Verner Svinth Eric BĂ¸gh Svinth
Jens Frederiksen Svinth
Memories from My Life
Jens Frederiksen Svinth
Memories from My Life
Written from recollection and from various sources by Jens Frederiksen Svinth, Enumclaw, Wash. USA. Editors: Verner Svinth & Eric BĂ¸gh Svinth
Memories from My Life Written from recollection and from various sources by Jens Frederiksen Svinth, Enumclaw, Wash. USA. Written in a few copies in 1924 and 1929. Reprinted in 1978 by V. Svinth and 2008 by Eric Bøgh Svinth (webbook) Translation by Peter Steen Jørgensen. You may download this translation for free. But you are not allowed to use it for comercial use. Bookprinting ect. Denne bog er til fri afbenyttelse og download for private og studier i udvandring. Den må ikke printes med salg for øje og i det hele taget bruges til kommercielle formål. Uddrag må gengives med tydelig kildeangivelse.
Original Preface by Verner Svinth
The original of this book only exists in a few copies, as far as I have been able to ascertain, however, parts of the second section have been brought in the book by Anton Kvist, called “Narrations by the Old Pioneer” (Translated) The original material has been borrowed from Peter Lodahl Svinth, who has also kindly procured the photos used. In the first part of the book, I have marked the paragraphs which are used word for word also in the second part, which is the most elaborate part. In the light that the two parts have been written 5 years apart, I have chosen to keep them as they are and not edit them together, hence the repetitions. In the hope that the content may interest several in the family, the book was here printed in 100 copies. Verner Svinth Mou, 1978
Short Bio: Verner was born in Herning may, 27th 1932 - Died the feburay, 15th 2008. He worked as photographer in Herning and later in Århus. In 1958 he married Lilian and moved to the small village Mou nearby Aalborg. Through the seventies and eighties he worked as leader of the printhouse at Aalborg University. Children Lili Bøgh Svinth (1958) & Eric Bøgh Svinth (1965)
Dec. 2nd., 1924
Since I am now the eldest of my sisters and brothers, after my oldest brother died two years ago, it is my intent to write down some of my memories, which may interest the family in years to come. My father’s name was Frederik Svinth Krestensen; but our parents Christened us children with the surname Svinth. Father was raised with Lieutenant Svinth, after whom he was named, because his father had been employed as his coachman for many years. This Lieutenant owned Vestervig Monastary for some years after 1798, but in his late years he resided in Ydby Rectorage where his widow passed away in the year 1847. My father was raised by this family, yet he was not adopted and he was not given any aid or inheritance from this family after he grew up. My mother was born in Gundtofte on a small farm, the lands of which now belong to Thalias Memory. Her father’s name was Jens Lodahl, and his roots was the Lodahl Farm in Hurup. My parents were married in 1845 and they made their home in Tvolm, in the parish of Ydby, where they owned a small farm with two cows. Here I was born on August 13th 1849 as the second of 5 children. In 1855 we moved to Kobberø, where we got a small farm with one cow and I attended school in Gjettrup. I was sent out to earn my living when I was between ten and eleven years old. When I was twelve I came into a more permanent tenure on Skibstedgård in Ydby. Here I was well, apart from two times when I was beaten. The first time because a sheep belonging to one of the workers had strayed from the flock into the neighbors wheat field. This neighbor used the opportunity to scold Lars Djernis, who subsequently came after me, immediately, with the beating that he meant I was due!
A similar event took place in the fall, and in November I returned to my parents in order to attend school and I was happy to leave the place. The next summer I served with Niels Krestensen on Holmgaard, also in Ydby and here I was well. The following Winter I was to attend preparation for my Confirmation, but in order to be Confirmed the following year an application had to be sent to the Church authorities because I would not turn 14 till August. However, the application was turned down and my preparations were halted around Christmas. A day later in the Winter, the aforementioned Lars Djernis came round to engage me for the next Summer, on the condition that I would spend half a day during the week preparing for my confirmation. On my return from school that same evening when I heard that I had been engaged for the coming Summer I was very sad, because I was afraid to go there again. Nothing could be done about it, I went and the Summer went comparatively well and later I had nothing against being engaged for yet another year. I was also confirmed at the designated time. It was meant that I should tend the cattle during Winter, but this he changed to tending the horses, and this meant that I had to drive two horses pulling a threshing machine, but for various reasons he could not make this machine work, often things broke, and then he thought I was at fault, for not driving as I was supposed to â€“ and on a regular basis I was beaten, and he used whatever was at hand to beat me, mostly straps from the horses harnish. One day in Mid-December he made me clean out a big room in which a mare and its foal had stayed for a while. He intended to help me load the wheelbarrow which I was to take out to the manure heap, but he loaded it too much so I could not get up and I lost the grip on the wheelbarrow and when trying to regain my hold he grabbed me by the seat of my pants and threw me face first onto the stone yard where I hit my head on a stone. I received a big wound in my forehead which bled strongly. He then went to the house which was a bit
away from the barn and got some bandage, which he placed on the wound and then he sent me to some of the outer fields to fetch the sheep. On my way, I met one of his laborers who was plowing. My wound had begun bleeding again and I told him what had happened, otherwise nobody would have known. However, I did not manage to find the sheep, and eventually, after it was dark and I thought about returning without the sheep, this also scared me. Thus I lay down on the moor in the hope I would freeze to death and thus be relieved of the misery I was in. Although it was cold, yet not frost, this did not happen. After some time I dug a hole with my hands in the sand below a heathery knoll, big enough for me to hide in, and there I spent the rest of the night and the following day. Then on the following night I snug back to the farm and onto the hayloft after having had some milk from the cow in the barn. I stayed in the hay and when it became day I could see several men, including my father through a hatch, and I understood that they were looking for me. However, as time went by I did still not dare show myself, in the belief that my misdoings would become even bigger as time went by. But when evening arrived, hunger forced me out in the open (by then 56 hours had gone, and I had not eaten anything apart from the milk I had drunk the evening before). I went straight to the living house and outside I met one of the men who had helped look for me; and he went to the window and yelled that the boy was here, and before I reached the house my master came out and said: â€œThank Godâ€? in the most heart warm manner. What probably worried him the most was, that whilst looking for me, he had worried that they would find me dead, and this fear that he was now rid of. When I came inside, I had to account for where I had been. Alas, I did not strictly keep to the truth, but told that I could not find my way back the first evening and had tried to find shelter in a gravel pit and came straight from there. My father left telling the man that it was best that I remained there â€“ till he mistreated me again!
The wound in my forehead healed over the next months, and life continued on the same path as before – and beatings on a regular basis. When my mother came to visit me on February 18th, I complained my grief to her and she then complained to the man saying that he ought to treat me better, but he just grabbed her by the neck and threw her out. She then came to the barn and took me with her home. A few days later I was summoned to the court of Vestervig. I was alone and I could not refuse his claim to return to my services. At this time another day was scheduled, where my father was to be present at the court, which he was. In court I refused to return, but after the court meeting he persuaded my father to go to the inn with him and by giving him drink, he made him promise that I should be back within two days – a decision which made me profoundly sad. As I then returned, he greeted me in an rough manner and requested my servant’s conduct book, which had been moved to Kobberø, and since I did not bring it with me, I was sent back to fetch it and have it signed by the parish executive officer, and when I returned with it the next day, he took it and wrote as follows: “The aforesaid, Jens Frederiksen Svinth, signed to serve from Nov. 1st, 1863 till Nov. 1st 1864, left his service without valid cause on February 18th, induced by his mother, for which reason I had him summoned by the police court. Settlement was tried, but not reached, however, on the evening of March 1st, his father Frederik Svinth came to me and asked that I take the boy back in my service and give him the 18 rix-dollars that we had agreed on, and I agreed, if the boy would behave in a proper manner. Skibstedgård, March 5th, 1864 Agreed Lars Djernis”
I thus returned to my usual work, but during the day I happened, unseen, to overhear a conversation between Lars Djernis and one of his laborers, where he said, among other things, that he, Lars Djernis, was bent on following me for a whole day to see how much work I could do, and if I did not do as much on the other days, he would punish me in the old manner. This made me so down-hearted, that I felt I could not stand being there, no matter how things turned out, and when I was sent to the vicar the same evening to have my servant’s account book signed, I walked home, not to return to my services again. As my excuse, I made the great sin and stupidity, instead of telling things as they were, to tell my parents that he had beaten me again, and when I was soon summoned to court again, I stuck to my claim, only to have to revoke this in the second meeting, in order that he would let the matter fall and let me fetch my clothes, which I had not had a chance to take with me when I left his farm. A few days later when I came to get my clothes, his wife found reason to scold me for being scum, having told a lie to the court. Had she known, that she would only a few years later die from her children, she would perhaps have kept her voice down: Lars Djernis, himself, I saw only one time over the years, yet he would not speak with me. The last time I saw him was in 1905, when my wife and I were back in Denmark on a visit. He then lived in Hvidbjerg on Thyholm, and I went to him and had a short conversation with him, and we agreed that this was the last time that we met in this life, and that we had better let bygones be bygones and forgiven. After this I served various places, half a year with the Hestbechs in Refs and half a year with Jens Søndergaard in Helligsø, and a full year with Thøger Petersen in Kobberø where I was well. Then I came to Kresten Hule in Kobberø, in order to fish lobster together with his son Peter. This we continued to do on a small scale and with a modest income until the summer of 1871. My “partner” from the years before was taken ill and could not continue. I therefore bought some of his tools and then became the “partner” of Anders
Pedersen from Jestrup on Thyholm on the condition that he was to have a third of the earnings, since the tools were mine. I was to live with him and pay a suitable sum for board and lodging and what else I needed. This summer we were to catch more lobster than ever before or since. The reason was that the big fishing ground outside of Jestrup was only little known by other fishermen. And when the rumor spread at the beginning of summer that we were fishing well, then all lobster fishermen from the area gathered here. However, they would generally fish where we had been, and we had to seek further out, and thus we would always fish on new grounds with a better catch to follow. Later, however, I was not to fish much outside Jestrup, because the following summer, in1872, I was drafted and served with the military in Copenhagen. In 1873 when I began fishing again, a lot more fishermen were living in Jestrup. My stay in Jestrup, also influenced my future in another way, in as much as I found the woman that was to become my wife two and half years later. I had been called in the Christian sense a few years earlier and this had embedded with me, the thought that if I were ever to marry it would have to be with a woman of a similar Christian mind. So in the fall when I was still with Anders Pedersen, he came home from town one evening and I heard him tell his wife that Niels Hansenâ€™s Karen had returned from Salling where she had served. She had become holy over there. To this his wife answered: â€œThat may well be, Karen is a good girl, it was she who always helped our smaller children when they tended the sheep and cattle on Dravetâ€? Thus my attention was raised and I had also then learned to call on God with my wishes and desires in prayer and with thanks and therefore did so also in this matter. And, as mentioned, when we were married two and half years later, I knew, that I had received a wife from the hand of our Lord, and thus received at good gift; and this thought has stayed fresh in my consciousness for more than fifty years of marriage.
The first 17 years we lived in Helligsø, where our 14 children were born, however, of these 7 died already when small and none of the 7 ever reached their 1st, birthday. Fishing and related work became our main income in those years, and earnings were so well that we had comparatively ease in meeting our earthly matters. As mentioned, I was awoken in the biblical sense a few years earlier. I was influenced by my brother Kristian who was my elder by two years, and in the fall of 1865 he signed up in the services of a believing master, goldsmith Erlandsen in Lemvig. This happened in part through conversations when we met at long intervals, but also by getting our hands on good books: from this time we had “The Sermons by Hoffaker”, “The Psalms by Brorson”, Luther’s “The Oil of Salvation”, “Soul Treasure” by Skriver, “The Song Catechism” by Peder Das, among others. And then there was a private person from Gudum near Lemvig, his name was Alexander Bertelsen, and he sold books by walking from house to house and came to us and sold a few books in the towns of Southern Thy, however, I am not certain whether his efforts were fruitful and later he changed views, first a missionary friend, then he became a Bornholmer ( inhabitant of the Easternmost Danish Island in the Baltic. Translator’s note), and once when I met him many years later he was a Baptist. Right before and in 1864 there was a strong Mormon movement in Kobberø and Gjettrup. They had gained a foothold via a farmer, Kresten Krestensen in Kobberø, and in his home their meetings were held, and a daughter was married to one of their priests. Eventually, the mentioned farmer sold his farm and was thus able to pay for the trip to Utah for many of those who had joined the movement. They left almost all of them, leaving nobody behind to carry on their mission. I remember a verse from a song they used much at their meetings, it went:
In the mists of Babylon, I ponderously walked, Searching for light, yet only darkness found Searching for the rock, yet only sand I found And the teachings were only foul water. (translated from Danish - yet the true verse may exist also in English?) Our priest at the time, Trouel, tried to work against them, but was not strong enough and he withdrew. Otherwise Christian beliefs were not felt, but we were a few in the neighboring parishes who found each other – sometimes to our own surprise. I remember a special incident. As mentioned, during my first stay as a young laborer at Skibstedgaard, there was a neighbor, Lars Brengaard, who was the reason that I received my first beating. He had only one child, by the name of Ole, and who was married and lived close to his parents. This family was not held in high esteem by me, and naturally, I not in their, after what had happened to me. Then in 1870, Wilhelm Beck and Jeanson were to hold a meeting in Struer. This I had learned and wanted to take part in. It was walk of six Danish miles. (approx. 25 US miles translator’s note). But on the way through Thyholm I was joined by Ole Brengaard and to our mutual joy and surprise we had the same goal of our journey. At this time he was living in Thyholm and over the years we often had the opportunity to visit each other to our mutual pleasure and edification. Ole Brengaard passed away more than 30 years ago, but until a short time ago his widow lived at Lyngs Station. In the late 1860’s individual meetings were held in the parishes. It was at the time when reverend Jeanson held a meeting in Ydby church and supposedly other places in Thy. It was said that after the meeting in Ydby, several of the priests were gathered and talked
about what Jeanson had preached and they were mostly agreed that it was absolutely unheard of and untrue, the way he had described the situation; but reverend Cramer from Boddum and Ydby said that it was true and that we should also preach in this way, if we had the courage to do so. Our vicar in Helligsø, then Herrup, said that such priests, who traveled from one place to the next, they could easily find something to spice their sermons with. This was harder for those who were forced to preach in the same place. It was also in those years that a few missionaries came to the area in order to hold meetings. One was Jens Krestensen Haasum, who soon became a lay preacher. And my partner, Povl K. Povlsen who was called to belief in a meeting by Kristoffer Hansen, which we attended at a farm east of Struer where we were fishing at the time. From this day he was the friend of the holy, although, it was some years later that he came to a firm belief and he began the work for God’s Kingdom, also by setting up meetings in the area. We were “partners” until 1870-71, when he was taken ill and had to give up fishing for a living and our roads parted. But a band of friendship had been woven between us which has held up to this very day where we are both old. In the winter of 1867-68 I stayed in Lemvig where I participated in meetings or gatherings held by the believing community, which were a great help on my way in life and I was helped even more when I came to Copenhagen in 1872 to do my military service. A friend from home had instructed me to go where reverend Frimodt preached when I came to Copenhagen, where I arrived on Easter morning – and so I did. I found the place immediately, and this was to be my religious home through the summer and I was able to attend every Sunday. It was in the Johannes Church (Church of John) on Nørrebro and it was P. Krag who was the curate who generally preached at the night services.
When my wife and I moved to Helligsø Beach in the Spring of 1874, we were part of a small and believing community and friends who sought together in edification, and who worked to hold meetings in the parish. It was often difficult to find a place to hold these meetings; it was mostly the schools that were used, but we had to have permission from the parish council, and they were not always willing to grant this. It happened that we had to approach the individual council members in their homes. The council consisted of 7 members, but as soon as we had the permission from four, we were alright. We always chose to approach those we thought to be most favorably inclined. Permission was always granted with the condition that the vicar was not against it. However, once we got the vicar (this was Strodtmand) against us. A lay preacher, Jesper Nielsen talked about two young men after he had preached at Helligsø School. He happened to say that one young student had gone to the factory in order to become a priest, the other he had said, had joined the teacher’s college in order that a teacher could be made out of him. The local school teacher had told this to our priest who never came to these meetings himself. At the first given opportunity our priest informed me that since Jesper Nielsen had lashed out at priesthood by talking about fabricated priests and made school teachers, then, if it were up to him, we would no longer be allowed to use the school building, until Jesper Nielsen had given his apology for the used terms. As soon as Jesper Nielsen came to us again I went with him to our priest and we had things smoothed out and everything went back to normal. Around this time we were told also that reverend Tranbjerg was to preach at a certain date in Odby Church, where Rønne was the functioning priest at the time. I was very interested in hearing him, as I had read about him and his preachings on Bornholm many years previously in the Jyllands Posten (one of the large Danish newspapers translator’s note), where he had also held kneeling prayer meetings,
After having heard him, I was very keen to have him preach in one of our churches, and I got him to agree to come one day or evening, if I could get the permission from our local priest on my return home. I was quite scared that my mission would fail, and in the beginning it was most strongly dismissed. Our priest took out all the misfortunes that Tranbjerg had said and done, and especially the fact that he had left the national church was held against him. But when he learned that reverend Rønne had allowed him to preach in his church, and after lengthy contemplation, the result was that I was given permission and Tranbjerg came and preached to the great joy and edification of Gods people; but it was also a serious call out to the unconverted to heed their time. His text was Luke 17, 20-29, where it refers to the days of Noah and Lot, and he drew a correlation and said, that like then, when only a few would let themselves be saved, there were also many parishes today where there were only 2 or 3 or perhaps 4 believers. Soon after when I met our priest on the road, he wanted to know from me, since there were only a few believers in our parish, who were they? Are they you and your wife, Kresten Hule and his wife, Kresten Jensen and his wife, Kresten Andersen and his wife? Naturally, I tried to avoid answering his question, but I had my own thoughts. In the time of Strodtmand, we also had a meeting in our school with the former teacher at the teachers’ college, Sigvandus Højer, and in this connection I also had to approach the vicar in order to get permission to use the school. Around this time meetings were held in the neighboring parishes by Dahlstrøm and Peder Madsen Hinge, as well as my friend from youth and “partner” as a fisherman, Povl K. Povlsen. The latter had become a lay preacher and lived in Ørumby. A vivid and wide connection between the believers was the result, and on my fishing tours I often participated in meetings in the parishes South of the fjord in Lemvig and Struer, and in Harboøre where Moe had become priest
But then in the beginning of the 1880’s, the socalled Thy War broke out which ended with my friend, Povl K. Povlsen being dismissed as a lay preacher from the Inner Mission. Jesper Nielsen was asked to be careful towards the clergy, and Jens Krestensen Haasum was moved from the Løgstør area to Thisted, since he was considered better at handling the 22 priests in Thy. However, this arrangement caused a lot of problems between the believers. Most concurred to the arrangement, yet we were some who were against it, especially the ones living in Helligsø and Gjettrup, where Povl K. Povlsen originated from. Also in the beginning of the 80’s, Løgstrup was ordained reverend in Helligsø, Deitman came to Hvidbjerg, and Paludan came to Sonbjerg on Thyholm. Further, at this time the movement called “The free Mission” emerged. The first leader in the area was the Swedish Miss Juul, and the movement was an anabaptist movement. However, they reached no longer South in Thy than to Bedsted. One of our best friends, fisherman Jensen Mår, joined them and was re-babtised, I believe at the same time as he started to hold religious meetings. He did not come to our parish, but I have been to two of his meetings, one in Ydby and one at Vestervig Inn. Participating in such meetings provoked some aversion with friends, yet not in our small circle in Helligsø and Kobberø. When reverend Løgstrup became the priest of our parish church, we hoped that we had received the right tender of souls and friend of the holy, but in our opinion his position was unclear in the beginning. It so happened that on the Sunday where Løgstrup gave his ordination sermon, we had a meeting the same evening in our school with teacher Guldmand from Agger. When Løgstrup was informed about this, he noted that on Falster, where he had been a curate, then at first, lay preachers had held meetings, but soon after he arrived these had become unnecessary and had stopped.
With the arrival of Løgstrup great changes came. Many more began to attend church, many meetings were held also on ordinary days, yet we were some who felt that the trumpet did not sound loud enough, because actual missionary preaching was not preached. Løgstrup also called in outside priests to hold meetings in his churches, among these were reverend Ussing, who was then the reverend in Vejlby near Århus, and reverend Moe from Harboøre. However, as mentioned, in the beginning, we were a few families who were not content with the situation, and neither could we hold meetings with lay preachers any longer, in as much as the condition stipulated by the parish council always was that the priest had nothing against it. Thus we were some families who decided to try and build a meeting house. We had a constitution made for the house and I purchased a building site East of Gjettrup church, but having gotten this far, one of us (Kresten Hule) wanted that we should bring the matter before reverend Løgstrup. And this was done, and he did not approve of the plan, and at the same time he said, that he would not throw obstacles our way, if we were to use the schools for our missionary work. Therefore, this being the case, we found that there was no need for us to build, and we gave it up. Shortly after, I sold the site, which I had purchased. However, a few years later a new urge to build a meeting house emerged, and this project was carried through with Løgstrup as the leader, and as far as I know, the house has stood there for more than forty years, and has been used very much and the work has been blessed. The last time I heard Løgstrup preach there is more than twenty years ago. Towards the late 1880’s a serious crisis arose, which I was especially blamed for, and I guess, I was the external cause of it. There was a man named Rask who held a meeting with my friend Povl K. Povlsen, who had a meeting house near his home in Ørumby. This Rask was not a lay preacher, in as much as he did not share the Inner Mission’s work methods entirely, in his own words, and neither did we, after what had happened with our local lay preachers. I heard
Rask and liked it so much that I invited him to hold a meeting in our parish, which he agreed to. However, when I came home and wanted to obtain a meeting place, I understood that it had to be the school, and I therefore approached the head of the parish council. He was quick to say, yes, but added, as long as the priest has nothing against it. When I then approached our priest, he first said no, since he did not know the man, but at last he agreed and gave me his permission in writing. He wrote; “I am not against this person, Rask, holding a meeting in Gjettrup School, but I do not want to cast the decisive vote, since I do not know the man”. I never said that I had already approached the parish council – and this fact was later held much against me. The meeting took place in an orderly fashion, and nobody thought anything was wrong, but right after an article appeared in the Inner Mission Newspaper, by a named school teacher from the Viborg area, and he wrote that he and Rask had held a meeting together several years earlier where Rask had collected money for the Inner Mission, but had kept the money himself. Løgstrup had also read this, and when he and Rask met in Hvidbjerg Vestenå shortly after, he alleged the accusation against Rask, and in return Rask raised a civil lawsuit against Løgstrup. Thus, we who had something to do with the meeting were challenged to go against Rask, a thing we did not feel we could do, since we were not convinced of his guilt, and we were never convinced later. For me the matter did not end there. We had housed Rask one evening, and for this mistake I was summoned to the court in Vestervig, the accusation being, that I had housed a stranger illegally, by not having advised the head of the parish council. Such a summon, meant a reprimand and I used to opportunity to ask the presiding judge whether he meant that I was obliged to give the head of the parish council such advice every time I myself needed to stay in a foreign place, a thing I customarily did 2 to 3 times in the summer months. However, I was not given any answer. But so the matter ended; naturally, I was sad about the part I had had, and for a long time the suspicion from old friends, that I was on
my way to another community, lingered on. This was not from our friends in the immediate area. But nevertheless, although I was sad of the outcome, it was not long before I was in a new difficulty. A few years earlier our lay preacher, Jesper Nielsen had, via a cooperation with some Norwegian sailors, begun to subscribe to a Norwegian phamplet called the Bible Messenger. This was published by Lars Oftedal and Jesper Nielsen had circulated it widely in our area, and I had also begun to read it and had learned about Loftedal’s work both as a priest, and with neglected children and much more. Therefore, when I sent my subscription fee, I had also sent money as a gift to his institutions. Also I had encouraged him to come and hold a meeting in our area, should he ever come to Denmark. I did not have high hopes that this would happen, and I had almost forgotten it, but then a day shortly after the matter with Rask, I received a letter from Oftedal saying that he would arrive on a certain day and stay for two or three days. He asked me to fix two meetings per day. First it was important to find places for the meetings, at best the churches. To begin with it should have been our own church, but our priest was away and would not return till it was too late. Thus I approached reverend Deitman in Hvidbjerg, and together with a man from his congregation, who had also read the Bible Messenger, we were given permission. From there I went to reverend Lundby in Boddum, and he gave his consent willingly, but let it be understood that we were to procure lodgings for Oftedal, after he had preached in Ydby Church, ourselves. This was not so easy, given the poor quarters we had. My wife went to see the widow of Niels Smed (blacksmith – translator’s note) who lived on a farm in town. She had also read the Bible Messenger and was willing to take him in. But then on the day before the meeting, she sent us a note saying that she had spoken with Mrs. Løgstrup, who had said that her husband was strongly against the fact that she would house a foreign priest, and she ended by writing,
that since Løgstrup had always done right by her, she did not want to go against him, and that we had to help ourselves. We had an empty room with a bed, and we decided to use this. As agreed Oftedal came to Hvidbjerg where preached in the morning, but after the sermon he was invited to the local reverend’s home, and since I was there in order to accompany him to Ydby, I came along and we had dinner and reverend Paulidan was also a participant. I believe this gave us mutual joy and edification that these priests were together. I had a strong emotion that I had reached a higher level than where I belonged. When the meeting in Ydby was over, teacher Nielsen from Boddum approached me and asked where Oftedal was to spend the night, and when I told him, with us, he said that we should have gotten him lodgings at somebody else, e.g. with the widow of Niels Smed. I happened to have the note from her on me, and showed it to him, after which he said no more. We then drove home with a neighbor farmer, who had promised to drive us, and after we had eaten, we were gathered quite a few and conversed and sang to our mutual edification. But since Oftedal was tired, he went to bed before the others left. However, later, when we were even more gathered, reverend Løgstrup came in and demanded harshly to know what we had done with Oftedal, so we showed his chamber, in which he was already at sleep. Løgstrup then reprimanded us for not procuring Oftedal more suitable lodgings. I still had the aforementioned note with me and showed it to him. This was a surprise to him and he tried to apologize towards Oftedal who had left his bed, but he answered: “I have not seen this note. Oftedal then agreed to accompany Løgstrup as long as I had nothing against it, which naturally, I did not. After this we gained quiet and cooperation: it was no longer necessary for us to call in external speakers, and not long after, Løgstrup handed in his resignation as our priest, which he was granted, so he could devote all his time and skills as a secretary in the Danish Missionary Society. He had spent much of his time there before. In many
ways we think of him with thanks and joy, for the much good he had meant to us and those of our children who had been confirmed by him. About a year after he had left, we broke up in order to come here (the US – translator’s note). This was in April 1891. In more ways than one, this became a hard time, and it was several years before we were at ease and became somewhat satisfied with the circumstances we found here. Homesickness towards Denmark has remained in all those years. We took quite a step down in our financial position, since we had made better profits than before, the last years we were in Denmark, as opposed to here where we also used everything that our children could spare of their earnings. However, thinking back, it seems that the last months in Denmark were the worst of all. All thought and conversation with friends and relatives centered on what was about to happen, and the last farewell, which had to be said long before time to those who lived far away. When we had sold and organized everything, we had 2,500 Danish Kroner. The tickets for the nine of us cost 1,500 DKK, and when we reached New York and had the 1,000 DKK exchanged we stood with 200 to 300 US Dollars. On June 1st, when we had moved out into the woods after having bought 40 acres of land, and paid a fifth of the price, we had 20 Dollars left. Our first earnings were made in September the same year from picking hop. For a number of years this was to be our best profit, especially as the children grew older and were able to pick more than me. We also got a small flock of chicken, which grew year by year, until we had 700. It was comparatively easy to build houses, as we had the wood ourselves. When we had been here 13½ years we had put aside enough money to make a trip to Denmark.
This was in the winter of 1904-05. It was a big thing for us to meet with relatives and friends, and especially to witness that in the meantime many had become firm in their belief and choice, and that many, who we had considered doubtful Christians, had attained a firm belief. This encouragement has also been welcome over here, where we have often lived amongst those who call themselves free Christians, whose mouthes and pens bellow with the harsh verdicts over what they term the dead church societies. But we praise ourselves joyful, in that our Christian upbringing has taken place just where it did, where it is and the course set for us in our youth, which does need to be altered. We need all the help given us by grace in order to move forward. When we came back to our home, everything was in the same order as we had left it six months earlier. Two of our sons had taken care of things while we were gone. Thus we followed the same path till 1913. When my wifeâ€™s health became ailing, we found it best to sell our home and live next to our daughter and son-in-law in a home we built. However, three years later our daughter died, and now last Spring my wife became more ill, so we could not be alone, and therefore we have moved to the last of our daughters and her husband. And here we are well. When we came over here in 1891 our three eldest children found jobs immediately. They were 14, 15 and 16 respectively. One, our daughter found ordinary domestic work, one son found work with a Danish, so called milkman, who had a small herd of cows and sold milk in Tacoma, and the other son found work with a young Swede who grew vegetables which he also sold in town. Things went along the same path for a few years, then they found work at a sawmill, where Melankton advanced, so that he ran one of the big saws for several years. At this time he purchased five acres of land near the city and built a house of his own.
At this time he also acquired 160 acres of Government land, a so called homestead. His work was done in the evenings after his work at the mill. He sold the land right after he had obtained his papers on it and received 1,000 Dollars for it. In fact it was this money that he used to pay for the land that he built on. Not long after he was done, he was married. He continued several years working at the mill, but had to quit because of his health. Always standing in one place became to hard on his legs. He was then given the opportunity to exchange his property for a farm. His home was estimated at 10,000 USD and the one he acquired 17,000 USD. This he had for a few years before selling it and he now has a smaller farm worth 15,000 USD. The farm is much taken care of by his wife and younger children, who are still at home. The last few years he has worked away as a carpenter, where he makes the standard 6 USD per day. They have 7 children between ½ a year and 21 years old. The second eldest, a daughter, Else Marie, was married to a Danish man, who had a small farm on an island in the so called Puget Sound. They lived there till she passed away 7 years ago. She left her husband and five children, who are now between 14 and 25 years old, three are married. By now her husband has also passed away. The third, a son, Frederik attended a Norwegian folk high school after first having done odd jobs. At the school he learned bookkeeping and later began work in a grocery store. A few years later he became a bookkeeper for a Plumbing Company who installed water and heating in houses – later he has managed his own company in the same business for many years. He is married to a sister of Melankton’s wife and they have 4 children between 4 and 16 years. Their wives parents are still living and live in a separate apartment in Frederik’s house. The next, Hans. He was almost 8 years old when we came over here, and he went to an ordinary elementary school, which is English, and non-religious as they say.
When he came close to the age of his confirmation, he attended preparation with a Norwegian minister, who was the head of the school that Frederik had attended earlier. He was confirmed there and advised by the minister to become a priest, and this was embarked on with us buying a building site near the school where we built a house, big enough for him and one of his younger brothers to live in. They cooked their own food and in the mornings and evenings they would saw wood, which could always be sold and thus they made their living and paid for their tuition. This continued for several years. His two younger brothers, one after the other, stayed with Hans in the house and went to the seminary. During the last part,when Hans went there, he married an American girl, who was willing to live in the small house. When he finished school he went to the Danish seminary in Blair, Nebraska, in order that he could continue his studies to become a Danish minister. He was to have stayed on for three years, however, he stayed only one year, because it turned out that his wife did not manage to learn the Danish language, and he thus felt that it would be a bit difficult to become a Danish minister. Since Hans, had taught Sunday school all these years, and had held religious meetings each Sunday, there was a strong urge to become an English Lutheran priest, and setting this aim, he again began his studies at a seminary, here in the State. He was ordained and became the priest for the congregation in the area where he used to teach Sunday school and hold meetings. He has continued this work ever since. For the last eleven years he has lived in our old home, where he grew up as a child, when he was 8. Now he is 42 years old. They have 12 children from Â˝ a year old to 20 years of age. The next is our only living daughter, Margrethe. She was confirmed at the same time as Hans. She worked with domestic work and was married when she was 21, to a Dane, who had a farm on which they still live, and we old ones live together with them since my wife was taken ill in the Spring, so we could not live on our own. They have a
nice home. They have 11 children between one and 19 years who are all at home and take part in tending the farm. The next is a son, Povl, who is now 35 years old. He took part in the war in France and came back with a French wife; they have one child. He lives in Chehalis and generally works as a lumberjack. The youngest, Lars, who is 33 and unmarried was also in France during the war, he is a plumber by trade and has worked several years for his brother. Thus four of our sons work in the same town. When we came to this country in 1891, it was a serious question where to find our religious home. We were in Tacoma for a couple of weeks and one of the last days, (we had already then purchased land which was 20 American miles from town), I came across a Norwegian Lutheran Church, which we then went to on the following Sunday. We found ourselves at home, but almost had no chance to go there again, since we moved from town immediately after. Not long after the church was sold, and to my knowledge, the congregation was dissolved. However, later, we met with two believing, Danish families and this became the beginning of a friendship and brotherhood which has lasted the 23 years which have passed since then. In one of the families, both are still living, in the other the wife passed away a long time ago. When we came to the forest in the beginning of June, we had no chance to gather around Gods word for several month, apart from in our own home and with our own family. In October, however, we got acquainted with a Norwegian tradesman, who lived 12 American miles from our home on the way to Tacoma. In his home meetings were held by a Norwegian lay preacher named Tollefsen, and when he came, we took part and felt ourselves at home. The same Tollefsen had a son who was the priest in the United Norwegian Lutheran Church in Tacoma. We joined this church and were accepted as members of the congregation, and thus got to know several Norwegian families, who lived around the forests like we did.
As time went by we made arrangements to have our priest come out to preach and hold communion in our homes. Thus we realized again that we were in need of a church. After many gatherings we organized a congregation and purchased 18 acres of land on which to build a church and for a cemetery. There we helped each other to fence in the land which was measured out in plots and mapped so we could sell these to those in need of a grave site, and also we helped each other build a church. Later we had our own priest and our son, Hans was the congregationâ€™s Sunday School teacher. In this way the religious work was continued for several years under quiet conditions. Ordinarily, we only had one service per month, and after a while the congregation grew less in numbers, since some moved away and others passed away, and the young, to the extent that they were interested, went where the word was preached in English. When we two old ones moved to our daughter and son-in-law, at the time our daughter was still alive, there were no more than three families left of the congregation, and since one was fatally ill, they summoned the others and had the church transferred to the English Lutheran congregation which had formed with our son Hans as the priest. He has worked there since then, with the difference being, that he has 6 places to preach. He visits three of these every Sunday and the church is only used on ceremonial days and for confirmation and communion. This summer our congregation has had the old church torn down and have built a new and bigger church. Over the many years a lot of those who helped form the congregation at first, have been buried at the cemetery. We were the only Danes who belonged to the congregation, most were Norwegian and a few Swedish; but it was agreed in our constitution that we were to be served by priests from the United Norwegian Lutheran Church. But when we moved to the Anderson Island around 11 or 12 years ago to live with our daughter and sonin-law, we were again homeless in the religious sense. However, on the two neighboring islands, Anderson and McNiel, there was a Swedish Lutheran community which we joined.
The church was on McNiel, and we thus had to sail to church. Here we also held services only once a month, and we were a parish-atease to the Swedish Tacoma congregation. We had some difficulty with the language â€“ not when listening to a sermon, but when speaking with our fellow members of the congregation. We felt, we understood them somewhat, since we had had Swedish neighbors for a number of years, but the Swedes here had difficulty in understanding us, which we felt was a considerable loss. Otherwise we were glad that we were allowed to join and thus take part in the good offerings of the Lutheran Church. It is so, that we who live in the country, we have no choice, generally. Either we must join the existing church or live without it, a church in the country is a great rarity, as far as I am aware. In the Swedish congregation, like in the Norwegian before, we became acquainted with quite a number of the communityâ€™s best men and women, whom we remember with joy. However, the Swedish congregation on the islands, just like our Norwegian earlier, suffered from a high percentage of the elder who are perhaps close to death, since most of its members are old, almost no young or middle-aged. Whether it has enough young to be able to re-new itself, remains to be seen. Last fall we two old ones had to leave our home on the island in order to move in with our daughter and son-in-law here in Enumclaw, since my wife became ill and we could no longer stay alone. Here we are so fortunate that in the town of Enumclaw there is a Danish church and congregation which our daughter and son-in-law are members of. We live in the country, but since they own an automobile this is no big problem and, in general, we are able to attend every Sunday. Our situation as of today, Dec. 2nd. 1924 is as follows: We two old people are 75 years old and 6 of our children are still living, also our 6 son-in-laws or daughter-in-laws, 40 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren, who are all well and healthy.
We held our golden wedding anniversary in May this year here at our son-in-law and daughter and at this occasion we were gathered with our children and most of our grandchildren. In our case, we the old ones are glad at heart to have traveled so much of our lifeâ€™s road, and we expect to come home soon, where we know that Jesus has gone before us to prepare a place for us, where we will always be with our Lord. We consider it our blessing that we grew up as children under Godâ€™s word, rod of correction and guidance and we are thus able to say: Gods word is our inheritance Which we shall hand down to our children. God give us in our grave this praise: We have held your word in high esteem! (Translated freely, from Danish) When we, my wife and I, came here in 1891 both my parents were alive, but when we visited our old home in 1904 they had both passed away a long time ago and we went to visit their graves. On Gjettrup cemetery I went over in my mind what they, and especially mother had meant to us and will therefore try to put these thoughts in writing. As mentioned earlier, mother was born in Gundtofte in 1818. She often told us children about her mother who was a solemn Christian, bearer of the cross, whom she admired immensely, and wanted to be like. They lived on a small farm in Gundtofte, but were very poor, since her husband was partial to drink. In those times getting aquavit was done by exchanging grain for aquavit, with those who made it, and there was one of these in their area. It was a woman who engaged in this manufacture. The result for motherâ€™s family was that they were always very poor, and one year it was so bad that they did not manage to sow, since they could not get the seed, and thus they had to leave the farm impoverished. There were 12 children of which mother was the second eldest. She often said: It is bad to be poor in a house, but it is worse to be poor on
a farm. All this grandmother carried with great patience and used to say: “Welcome, dear cross, I joy in thy coming.” Her favorite choice of words or motto which she often repeated was: “This is my comfort in my misery, thy word keeps me alive”. To her son who had a fierce temper, she said: “He who rules his mind is better than he who conquers a city”. On Sundays, she always took the time to dress in her Sunday clothes and to sit and sing and read in her psalm book. My mother who had seen the difference between a quiet, god fearing, and indeed content person as opposed to a demanding and difficult one, she often told us children that she wished to be like her mother, who carried her burden with quiet patience. My mother also came to live her life under great pressure, since my father was also fond of drink, and thus was a far cry from fulfilling the obligations of a father and provider, which thus became the plight of our mother. However, she had both the spirit of mind and the strength of body to endure, so that we did not end in the poorhouse. Sometimes, and not rarely, she had the misfortune not to get enough bread to quiet our stomachs at night and we had to go to bed hungry. Then one of us children were sent to a certain farm the next morning in order to ask from our mother whether they would kindly give us a piece of bread, which in my recollection they always did. For two winters I had the job to go around the towns and beg for straw to feed our cow, a job that I was not too sad about due to the fact that I could often ride in a sleigh. In this way our childhood passed; my eldest brother who saw most of the misery, often said to mother, not to be sad, because when he grew up he would help her; and he kept his word. He had a house built for our parents and for a number of years he allowed them to buy all they needed on his bill, as long as it was not aquavit.
It then happened that father in his last years gradually abstained from drinking. He died with his youngest son, where he lived the years after our mother died. Three of our brothers and sisters died when little, and we are thus 5 who grew up. We have all since our childhood had our spiritual home in the holy community and of us, two are already home. The three of us who are left, are all, in as much as we know ourselves, on the path to the same goal, which we two old ones also hope to reach before long. The time where we expect to be received by our loved ones who have gone before us to â€œthe eternal dwellingsâ€?.
Enumclaw, Wash., September 1929
I will hereby write down some of my memories, and what else I know, either from what my mother has told me or I have learned from other reliable sources. What I write, I believe to be the truth without embellishment. I was born on August 13th, 1849 in Tvolm, in Ydby parish and my father’s name was Frederik Svinth Kristensen, and as far as I know he was born in the same house on April 8th, 1817. His father’s name was Kresten Krestensen and he had the nickname “Kusk” (coachman – translator’s note), since he was the coachman for Lieutenant Svinth for a number of years. Lieutenant Svinth had owned Vestervig Klostergård, and later Ydby Kirkegård, or I should say Kirkegård in Ydby. (The reason for this correction may be that the name “Kirkegård” means cemetery, and rightfully this here is the name of a farm and could be roughly translated “Church Farm” - translator’s note). He was buried at the local church and his grave was covered by a big slab, which covered the whole grave, and we children remember seeing this while we grew up, however, when my brother Kristian, tried to find the the grave in the beginning of this century, the stone had been moved to a place against the church fence, together with other things disposed of from the cemetery. Lieutenant Svinth’s wife was called: Madam Svinth and she passed away around the year 1847 after having been a widow for many years. My father was named after this lieutenant Svinth and was raised there, however, I am not sure whether he received any help from them, yet it is possible that they have helped him in getting his parents house when he was married.
Father’s mother was called Else Kusk, and at times she had a large practice as a doctor, or rather a quack, as it was called. In this capacity she was in conflict with the authorities. In everyday life, dad was called Frederik Svinth, whilst his brothers and sisters were called Kusk. The eldest of the brothers, Kresten, settled on the island of Funen, and I have only seen him once, when I was around 8 years old and he visited us. However, we never heard from him again, and his trace has been lost completely. The other brothers were Anders, Ole and Jens Kusk, and in addition there was a sister who was married and lived in Thisted, where she died after her first child birth. I know that both of father’s parents were inclined to drinking more than they should, and that this was inherited by their sons, but, as far as I know not by any of their grandchildren who were my brothers and sisters. My mother’s name was Kirsten Marie Jensen, and she was born on March 6th, 1818 on a farm in Gundtoft, which belongs to Gjettrup parish. Her father’s name was Jens Pedersen, with the surname Lodal, since he came from the farm Lodal in Hurup parish. I have seen him once when I was around 7 years old and he is the only one of my grandparents that I remember seeing. A strong inclination to drink was also a strong feature of his during his manhood. The name of my mother’s mother was Maren Nielsdatter, and to my knowledge she was born on the farm Gundtoft, where they lived. She was a god-fearing woman who practiced her Christianity under especially harsh conditions because her husband drank and was rather demanding. They became so impoverished that they had to leave the farm, for the same reasons. Mother told that she never complained, no matter how bad the situation was, like, one Spring, when they did not get anything sown because they could not get the seed. Around this time the distillers of aquavit came around in the parishes, and
the farmers could exchange grain for aquavit. In Gundtoft it was a woman who did this kind of business. Mother told us children about her mother, how she always took time on Sundays to dress in her Sunday clothes in order to sit and sing from her psalm book, - I don’t know whether they had other books than a psalm book and a bible. My grandmother’s motto was: “If not thy word, Lord, had been my comfort, I would have perished in my misery”. To her eldest son who had a fierce temper she used to lift a finger and say: “He who can control his own mind, is better than he who conquers a city”. Mother also told that she was kind to the poor, albeit she was poor herself. I have known and old girl who used to serve my grandmother, and she held against her that she was too generous and that she did not oppose the abuse of her husband strongly enough. I believe grandmother died in the winter of 1845. Her youngest son, Kresten, was preparing for his confirmation that winter, and when he came home from the priest one day and was told that his mother had died he took this very hard. At this time they had left the farm and lived in a house, also in Gundtoft. Grandfather lived there for a short while, then moved in with his son, Peder Jensen Lodal, who was married and lived on a farm in Kobberø. I remember him there from the last year that he lived which was in 1857. Mother had four brothers, who all ’emigrated’ when young, - not to America, but to Copenhagen, which was not far, but far enough that the two of them, Niels Kristian and Kresten, never returned home any more. Niels Kristian became a school teacher and worked on Lolland (one of the southern most islands in Denmark) where he remained until his death, I believe in 1874. Kresten became a customs officer at the border near Ribe (A town in southern part of the peninsula Jutland) and he passed away around 1895. Peder returned home after having worked as a foreman on a sugar factory for many years where he made a good living. He was married, and as mentioned, he purchased the farm in Kobberø, which was the farm where his wife was born.
A fourth brother, Anders, came back from Copenhagen after a number of years. He had become invalid after losing one eye. He was married and lived in the area till he passed away in 1872. Mother had 7 sisters of which I have known four: Else, Karen, Maren and Ane. Ane was married to a tailor, Jesper Hove. She and mother were the two who seemed to take most and the clearest after their mother in the biblical sense. Aunt Ane would also seriously guide me and correct me in matters of Christ when I stayed with her while I grew up. She died in 1905 as the last of her sisters and brothers. My wife and I visited her the last year she was alive. My parents were married in 1845 and lived in Ydby until they moved to Kobberø in 1855. In Ydby they had had two cows, however in Kobberø only one. At that time the number of cows was how the size of a farm was determined, or rather by how many cows it could feed. In Ydby, it had been especially bad with father’s drinking, first, the inn was close by, and second, father’s brothers and his old friends tempted him. But mother also had old friends there who felt with her and helped her. Of these, she especially mentioned Madam Svinth, father’s foster mother, and the wife of father’s brother who lived in Brændgaard, which was near by. However, both of these women died within the first two years that my parents were married. – There were more, however, who had both the will and ability to aid mother in her need, because it was then that father used to come home drunk at night. I can recall a few such nights, when my two year older brother and I would wake up with great fright. Then we moved to Kobberø, and father came away from old friends and temptations, but both inner and outer temptation followed along, yet not as adamant as in Ydby. And at the same time this also meant that mother was away from the friends and helpers that could aid her. It was very hard on her, and we children also felt how poor we were. I remember how it struck my heart one of the first summers in
Kobberø. A piece of land between us and our neighbor, planted with wheat had been nearly covered with thistles during the summer, yet our neighbors’ chickens wanted to go there. I was sent to hush away the chickens and our neighbor who happened to be close by saw this. He then said to me: “Oh, our chickens want to ruin your thistles?”. Another bitter memory from this time is the following: My mother was paid a visit one day by her brother Anders, who had just been married and lived in Hurup. Father was far away working and my two year older brother, Kristian, was at the house of my mother’s brother Peder, - I was around 8 at the time. My uncle had dinner with us and when he left, mother followed him on his way. They had a lot to talk about and she was away long, more than two hours, I believe. We children had become hungry in the meantime and I thought we would do nothing wrong in eating some of the bread, as long as we did not touch the butter on the table. Mother had just churned some butter, before her brother arrived, but had not had time to take the butter out of the churn. We then took a little of this to taste with our bread, however, it became more than just a little, and I knew this was wrong, and I told the others not to say anything to mother. When mother returned we went to meet her and I told that we had become hungry and had eaten some bare bread that was on the table. Mother praised me and said that I was a good boy. However, when she came to the churn a bit later, she saw that we had dropped some flowers into the churn and from the two others (Peter 6 years old and Maren 4 years old) she had learned everything. I tried to stay away from mother, when I felt I was about to be discovered, but was then called to her and she spoke with me seriously and scolded me. I, whom she considered to be a good boy, that I would do such a thing and then tell her that we had eaten only bare bread – when I knew this was a lie. – In punishment I would have nothing more to eat that day, and I was allowed to help with nothing, she would not have such a bad boy help her at all. I was accustomed to being her best help at the time, to help tend the cow and also help her with her
weaving, which was her main occupation. But at bedtime she relented and forgave me my mistake and I was very determined not to do this again. It may seem that we had a very sad childhood, but there were some strong lucid moments in our lives. Mother confided in us and told us stories, where the good always prevailed and evil was subdued. We were then agreed that we would be good and hope for the future when we grew up. My brother Kristian, who was the eldest sometimes said to mother when things were especially bad and he saw her cry: “Don’t cry mother, when I grow up, I will help you”. And he kept his word, and was later able to help my parents to a great extent. From he was ten he went away to serve in various places, both summer and winter, until the winter when he prepared for his confirmation which he spent at home. However, his school was neglected under these conditions – we attended Gjettrup school. I was sent out to serve a few months during summer, when I was between 10 and 11 years old, but when I was 12, I got a job for the duration of the summer. This was with Lars Djernis, who owned Skibstedgaard in Ydby parish. My brother had been with him the preceding summer and this had gone fairly well. He was there also the following summer so we both served together, and this by the way, was the only time we ever served the same place. For me it went fairly well, but I was beaten twice, and without being to blame. This is not to say that I did not sometimes deserve punishment, but punishment was not dealt out by merit, but by whim. However, this summer my brother was beaten quite often, and there was period when this took place almost daily, yet I believe there was not once that he deserved it. He was to have stayed on for a year, but when it became too bad, he was released of his service on the next expiring day which was November 1st.
I returned home to attend school during the winter and the next summer I went to Holmgaard also in Ydby parish. This was considered at good place to serve and I was well there. Beatings were not in question, yet I felt a bit burdened. This may be because I was not as quick as I ought to be. And there were both a farm hand and a maid, who were engaged and well thought of by the farmer. The three of them were determined to ridicule me high and low, and the farmerâ€™s wife who probably had some compassion with me, was unable to help me since she was rather frail. This summer my mood was bleaker than usual. I left the place on November 1st, in order to attend school and prepare for my confirmation next spring. In order to be confirmed at this time, an application had to be sent to the Church authorities because I would not turn 14 till August. However, the application was turned down and my preparations were halted around Christmas. However, this meant a great loss for poor folk, when a child had to stay home for yet another year. A day later in the Winter, the aforementioned, Lars Djernis came round to engage me for the next Summer, on the condition that I would spend half a day during the week preparing for my confirmation. On my return from school that same evening, when I heard that I had been engaged for the coming Summer, I was very sad, because I was afraid to go there again. Nothing could be done about it, I went and the Summer went comparatively well and later I had nothing against being engaged for yet another year. I was also confirmed at the designated time. We had agreed that I should tend the cattle during Winter, but this he changed to tending the horses, and this meant that I had to drive two horses pulling a threshing machine, but for various reasons he could not make this machine work, often things broke, and then he thought I was at fault, for not driving as I was supposed to â€“ and on a regular basis I was beaten, and he used whatever was at hand to beat me, mostly straps from the horses harness. One day in Mid-December he made me clean out a big fold in which
a mare and its foal had stayed for a while. He intended to help me load the wheelbarrow, which I was to take out to the manure heap, but he loaded it too much, so I could not get up and I lost the grip on the wheelbarrow and when trying to regain my hold, he grabbed me by the seat of my pants and threw me face first onto the stone yard where I hit my head on a stone. I received a big wound in my forehead which bled strongly. He then went to the house which was a bit away from the barn and got some bandage which he placed on the wound and then he sent me to some of the outer fields to fetch the sheep. On my way, I met one of his laborers who was plowing. My wound had begun bleeding again and I told him what had happened, otherwise nobody would have known. However, I did not manage to find the sheep, and eventually, after it was dark and I thought to return without the sheep, this also scared me. Thus I lay down on the moor in the hope I would freeze to death and thus be relieved of the misery I was in. Although it was cold, yet not frost, this did not happen. After some time I dug a hole with my hands in the sand below a heathery knoll, big enough for me to hide in, and there I spent the rest of the night and the following day. Then on the following night I snug back to the farm and onto the hayloft after having had some milk from the cow in the barn. I stayed in the hay and when it became day I could see several men, including my father through a hatch, and I understood that it was me, they were looking for. However, as time went by I did still not dare show myself, in the belief that my misdoings would become even bigger as time went by. But when evening arrived, hunger forced me out in the open (by then 56 hours had gone, and I had not eaten anything apart from the milk I had drunk the evening before). I went straight to the living house and outside I met one of the men who had helped look for me; and he went to the window and yelled that the boy was here, and before I reached the house my master came out and said: â€œThank Godâ€? in the most heartily manner. What probably worried him the most was, that whilst looking for me, he had worried that they would find me dead, and this fear that he was now rid of.
When I came inside, I had to account for where I had been. Alas, I did not strictly keep to the truth, but told that I could not find my way back the first evening and had tried to find shelter in a gravel pit and came straight from there. My father left telling the man that it was best that I remained there – till he mistreated me again! The wound in my forehead healed over the next months, and life continued on the same path as before – and beatings on a regular basis. When my mother came to visit me on February 18th, I complained my grief to her and she then complained to the man saying that he ought to treat me better, but he just grabbed her by the neck and threw her out. She then came to the barn and took me with her home. A few days later I was summoned to the court of Vestervig. I was alone and I could not refuse his claim to return to my services. At this time another day was scheduled, where my father was to be present at the court, which he was. In court I refused to return, but after the court meeting he persuaded my father to go to the inn with him and by giving him drink, he made him promise that I should be back within two days – a decision which made me profoundly sad. As I then returned, he greeted me in an rough manner and requested my servant’s conduct book, which had been moved to Kobberø, and since I did not bring it with me, I was sent back to fetch it and have it signed by the parish executive officer, and when I returned with it the next day, he took it and wrote as follows: “The aforesaid, Jens Frederiksen Svinth, signed to serve from Nov. 1st, 1863 till Nov. 1st 1864 left his service without valid cause on February 18th, induced by his mother, for which reason I had him summoned by the police court. Settlement was tried, but not reached, however, on the evening of March 1st, his father Frederik Svinth came to me and asked that I take the boy back in my service and give him the 18 rix-dollars that we had agreed on, and I gave my consent, if the boy would behave in a proper manner.
SkibstedgĂĽrd, March 5th, 1864 Agreed Lars Djernisâ€? I thus returned to my usual work, but during the day I happened, unseen, to overhear a conversation between Lars Djernis and one of his laborers, where he, among other things, said, that he, Lars Djernis, was bent on following me for a whole day to see how much work I could do, and if I did not do as much on the other days, he would punish me in the old manner. This made me so down-hearted, that I felt I could not stand being there, no matter how things turned out, and when I was sent to the vicar the same evening to have my servantâ€™s account book signed, I walked home, not to return to my services again. As my excuse, I made the great sin and stupidity, instead of telling things as they were, to tell my parents that he had beaten me again, and when I was soon summoned to court again, I stuck to my claim, only to have to revoke this in the second meeting, in order that he would let the matter fall and let me fetch my clothes, which I had not had a chance to take with me when I left his farm. A few days later when I came to get my clothes, his wife found reason to scold me for being scum, having told a lie to the court. Had she known, that she would only a few years later die from her children, she would perhaps have kept her voice down: Lars Djernis, himself, I saw only one time over the years, yet he would not speak with me. The last time I saw him was in 1905, when my wife and I were back in Denmark on a visit. He then lived in Hvidbjerg on Thyholm, and I went to him and had a short conversation with him, and we agreed that this was the last time that we met in this life, and that we had better let bygones be bygones and forgiven. After this I served various places, half a year with the Hestbechs in
Refs and half a year with Jens Søndergaard in Helligsø, and a full year with Thøger Petersen in Kobberø where I was well. My brother Kristian had served several places, until he was lucky to obtain an apprenticeship that he had long wanted at Gundtoft mill. However, this lasted only ½ a year because he was hurt when a chain broke that he worked with and he was inflicted with wounds on both his legs. He came under medical treatment and was ordered to stay in bed for quite some time. But after a few days and when he no longer felt any pain, he left his bed and began to work again also because his help was needed at the mill. His legs, however, grew worse again, worse than they had been before and this time they would not heal, no matter what was done, and thus he was forced to leave the place on Nov. 1st, 1865 and he returned to our parents in a rather poor condition. At this time a few young people from our area wanted to be sailed to the market in Lemvig, and my brother joined them. But a strong wind blew for three days, so they could not return, and my brother was very sad about the situation since he had never been there before and found that he did not know a single soul there – which he did after all, - because on the afternoon of the third day he met a painter’s apprentice, Harz, on the street, who had worked on at the mill the year before. He was a believing man, a reverend’s son, who was born on Greenland. Harz asked my brother what he was doing in Lemvig, and my brother answered that he was trying to find a place where he could learn a trade, and to the question, which trade, my brother said: Goldsmith, a thing he had thought about, but not found within his reach. This said, it turned out that Harz knew a believing goldsmith, whom he thought was in need of an apprentice, so he went with my brother to goldsmith F.F. Erlandsen and it was decided that my brother was to be taken on as an apprentice, but on trial basis to begin with. This is what we call one of God’s strange doings, which became a blessing for our whole family. We were considered god-fearing people, since we sisters and brothers were all taught to shy lie and all
evil, and we had also acquired our belief at mother’s knee, especially the catechism of Luther. My brother was also influenced by Erlandsen, and my brother again influenced us to be serious about matters in life, and with the help of believing friends and good books that we found and through which the path of God was explained to us in closer detail, we all, eventually, found a firm ground on the basis of what we had been taught as children. When my brother returned and told that he had been apprenticed, our parents and we brothers and sisters were happy, naturally, with the possibility that he could begin again and we hoped that he would eventually, become a goldsmith – the fact that his master was a man of God, we also found very good. However, the matter had one grave hitch. When it had been deliberated earlier that my brother was to become an apprentice, it had always been with the presupposition that he would be allowed to work for himself on Sundays, and thus earn so much on his own that he could clothe himself during his apprenticeship. This was out of the question here, since Erlandsen would have nothing of work on Sundays. Things turned out well after all, since my brother had saved some of his wages and a suit was made for him by the local village tailor, and my mother had some flax linen woven from which shirts were made. Father borrowed a boat and wanted to sail him across. When they had left the shore, a neighbor, Søren Kristensen, who was present said to us, who were left on the shore: That boy will return soon, - he had seen how frail my brother was on his legs. Things did not go smoothly, either. The trip to Lemvig, which could ordinarily be done in 2 hours, took them almost three days, because the wind forced them to make landfall at Thyborøn where they had to stay for two days and nights. Her my father and brother had the opportunity to see a stranding in real life, because a ship stranded one of the nights and was wrecked immediately and of the crew of ten only one man was saved.
When my brother got to Lemvig, he was soon to go to the hospital – and as I recall it, he stayed there for a little more than a month, and the cause was his legs, as well as a skin decease that he suffered from. Later he was attended by a surgeon, Peder Grummesgaard, and the advice that he was given by him, my brother followed all the time during his apprenticeship. He had to spend at least half an hour every evening washing his legs and putting on a liniment and as far as I know the wounds had healed by the time he finished his apprenticeship. – I had great expectations for the future, in the spring of 1867 when I quit my work as a serving boy to begin fishing together with Peder Hule from Kobberø. He was two years older than I and had some experience in fishing. However, my expectations were not met, and the catch too small, so I had to take various work on shore. I worked in the peat moor in the summer and helped with the harvest, and thus I was better equipped the following spring where I began fishing with father in our own boat. The summer’s catch enabled us to live from it. We also earned quite a bit by sailing people across the fjord to Lemvig and the surrounding area. In the fall of this year a Russian Manof-war with a crew of 750 men stranded on the shore right across from our home approx. 2 Danish miles away (between 9 and 10 miles). Many hired father and me to take them across in order to see the huge vessel sitting on the beach. But then one Sunday afternoon a friend, my own age, came to ask me to take him across. I wanted to turn him down because the wind was fresh and we would have a head wind on our return, - I let myself be persuaded though, and we left and soon arrived. We had 1½ miles to sail and ½ a mile to walk across the Rønland Peninsula. We saw what we came to see and also went with one of the boats to see the ship. The sea was calm and work was done to salvage some of the ships inventory. However time passed and we had to think of our return. We came back to the boat almost when it was dark. The wind was stronger than before and on top it was also raining, so I felt that sailing back was hopeless. My friend however, said that he had to be back, he was
a blacksmith’s apprentice and such he was allowed to go out, but not to sea. I gave in, convinced that as soon as we came a bit from shore he would also see that it was futile. This also happened, but not till we had labored intensely for many hours. We therefore returned and were lucky to reach the shore where we went up to some house which lay on the middle of the peninsula. There was a farm where there was still light burning, and we knocked on the door with the hope that we would be allowed to sleep in the hay in the barn. It was the farmer’s wife who opened the door, a middle aged woman, and luckily for us she had earlier taken in castaways. She wanted us to take off our wet clothes – to the bare skin, and got us to bed. It was past midnight when we got there, and I don’t remember whether we slept, since we were in a strange bed and without a shirt, - the woman wanted all our clothes and took it without any explanation. We were in their living room. Long before daylight a light was lit, and a man and two women entered and began to sow. These were tailors, who were sowing on a wedding dress for a daughter who was to be married a few days later. The two of us were somewhat troubled, but we remained quiet and were uncertain how it would go. The man who sowed, talked with us a bit, but the woman we did not see till far later in the day. – She came with our clothes, which she had dried and she then ushered the tailors in for lunch so we could get up and get dressed. When we had had a bite to eat we got on our way home. We thanked the woman for her help, but we could not offer her any money, since none of us had any. Also we had a strong sense of guilt since it was our lack of prudence which got us into trouble. This also taught me to be more independent another time, when a decision was to be made. With much trouble we returned home that day, and a fright was set in me which lasted long before it disappeared. It was easy for my parents and brothers and sisters to persuade me to give up fishing and to learn a trade instead. This was arranged quite easily, since my brother, who was a goldsmith’s apprentice in Lemvig, found me a position with a shoemaker called Jacobsen.
I was to stay there for 4Â˝ years and was to receive food and lodgings, plus the shoes I needed. In the case I was drafted, I would get a postponement until my apprenticeship was finished, - all this was entered in my services conduct book. I then arrived there on Nov. 1st, 1868, and again a spot of difficulty arose. I was 19 years old, healthy and fit, used to do hard and heavy work, and thus I was in need of more food than was custom in the case of an apprentice. Since I only had what was intended for me in the mornings and evenings, and I could not eat enough to fill my stomach at dinner, I got way to little to eat. The food was much better than I was used to, and therefore going hungry felt so much worse. However, my master had discovered that I ate much more than a shoemakerâ€™s apprentice should. I did not get to work much in shoe shop, but I got to run errands, and I would much rather be do this than sit inside. Among other things, I went out at least twice per week to fetch the groceries needed for the household. I was then called down to the wife and given a list of what to buy, where after I went to my master in order to get the necessary money. This always made him in a bad mood, and I had to hear a lot of reproach for eating so much. I never answered back, which my brother had seriously told me not to. So my master felt that I ate too much, and I felt I did not have enough to eat, but kept my thoughts to myself. Christmas eve arrived, when I was there, and the journeyman and I were to eat in the dining room. I had already had one bowl of soup and the wife asked whether I would like some more. However, the journeyman answered for me and said, naturally, since what I had already eaten did make me more full, than a potato dropped in the Baltic Sea. Sometimes other people borrowed me to run errands. Once after Christmas I was sent to the Mansion Rysensten in BĂ¸vling Parish with a bill for a brother-in-law, who was a tailor. At this time I had lunch at home, but when I arrived at the tailor I was also offered lunch, which I gladly accepted, and the same repeated itself in the
evening where I had dinner in both places. A few days later the two sisters had had a chance to talk together, and then my master and the journeyman learned about this and I was made the subject of discussion for several days – they were convinced that they were not exaggerating when estimating that I had eaten 22 halves of open-faced sandwiches that day. In February the shoemaker suggested that I better quit the shoe-making profession, since it was his view that I would never make a good shoemaker, which was probably correct. I for my part was convinced that Jacobsen was a good shoemaker, and even so, he had a hard time making ends meet. Always when talking about the trade, he said: We poor shoemakers – And I reckon that he was not convinced that I had earned my keep whilst working for him, however, for me it was a good time because I was able to attend services at church and go to the meetings with friends, which in turn were held at their homes. I returned to fishing again, and eventually, things worked out better and for more than twenty years this became our best source of income. I began fishing with our neighbor’s son. Poul Kr. Poulsen, and this became the beginning of a friendship and brotherhood, which has lasted in the 60 years that have elapsed since. Now we are both old and frail. At the time I bought a large, stranded boat which I had converted to oyster fishing in the winter, however, this was not successful. The boat never met my intentions and thus I incurred a great loss the two following years. – However, the lobster fishing became better each year, until the spring of 1871, where we had made a new discovery which made us expect a bigger catch than before. But Poul was taken ill just at the time when we were to begin fishing and he quit the fishing entirely and I bought his part and the tools on credit. I then went to Jestrup on Thyholm, where I partnered up with the small farmer Anders Pedersen. I was to live with him and pay a suitable amount for lodgings and whatever else I needed, and he was to
receive a third of our earnings, - it was custom to calculate a third of the earnings to the tools, which were now mine. This was according to the plans that Poul and I had made the year before, but which Poul did not benefit from now.Anders Pedersen and I caught many more lobster this summer than I had ever done before. We were fortunate in several ways, because just outside of Jestrup we had the largest area we knew with a rocky bottom and we lived just next to it. When rumor spread at the beginning of summer that we were fishing well, the fishermen from the surrounding area gathered here. When they learned where we had caught well the night before, many would go there the following night, which made us go further out and onto new grounds as long as there was room enough to do this. However, it was not to my best liking that we were the last to go out, but this was necessary because my partner had his farm to run. In time we learned to hold back on purpose, but in turn the others would also wait and then surround us with their fishing tools when they arrived – however, this was when the summer had almost gone. I remained with Anders Pedersen most of the winter and fished. I attended Lyngs Church where the curate Aagaard preached. I was happy to go there and found nourishment for my soul. From the beach at Jestrup, I was one day hired to go on a large boat to Aamølle to collect a cargo of peat. In addition to the two owners and myself, there was and older ship’s hand who had a special gift for ridiculing and making fun of things he did not like. When we came to the place where we were to load the peat, we went to a house up on the beach in order to eat the food we had brought along. In the house lived a gardener who worked at Aamøllegaard, which lay just behind farther inland, his wife was outside helping to load a boat with peat. Inside the house was a boy, whom I reckoned to be about twelve. When we had seated ourselves, Karl (the ship’s hand) said: Listen folks, do not swear in here, because it is holy people who dwell here. – I should have replied, because the ridicule was aimed at me, since I was counted amongst the holy.
But the boy looked firmly at Karl and said: “Well, is that such a bad thing?” – and when none of us answered, the boy answered his own question and said: “No, belonging to Jesus is not a bad thing, this is the best a man can do, my father did so and he is now home and well”, (the boy’s father had died a few years earlier from consumption and he now had a stepfather), and he continued, “I suffer from the same disease and must soon go home to Jesus”. – None of us said a word, but this is the most openhearted confession I have ever heard from a child, albeit it is more than 57 years ago. At the time I had no opportunity to speak with any of the parents, but when I came in the vicinity around a year later, I went ashore and found the mother at home. She told that here boy had returned home several months earlier and she was happy to learn what I had to say of my brief meeting with her son. Just like the Lord, led Eve to Adam, I feel that it was also the Lord who made our paths meet, so that I found the woman in Jestrup, who was, 2½ years later, to become my wife for better or for worse for 54 years. She was called home by a blissful death only three months ago. As I have mentioned earlier, I had been awakened in the Christian sense a few years earlier, and when I thought about marriage under these circumstances, I knew that if this were to happen, then it had to be with a woman of a similar Christian mind. I knew only a few believing girls, and I had reached 22 years without doing more than think about the matter. Then at the beginning of November, I was still with Anders Pedersen, and he came home from town and did as he usually did, tell his wife the news he had learned on his way. He told, among other things, that Niels Hansen’s Karen had returned home from Salling were she had served, but, he added, as he lowered his voice, - she has become holy over there. To this his wife answered: Well, that may be so, Karen was a good girl and it was always her who helped our children when they tended the cattle and sheep on Dravet. This vigorous evaluation which they gave this young girl, whom I did not know anything about, sparked the firm intention in me, that I
must get to know her! – However, this was not so easy. I thought that she would be a churchgoer, but I did not find her there. I knew she worked in the house of her sister and brother-in-law, and I had been there once before, so I made myself an errand there one night, and made her acquaintance. After this we walked to and from church, and time passed and we got to around January, and in February she was to start working in Salling. She had been engaged to do this before she left Salling earlier. – And there I was, ready to propose, but I did not get up my courage till a Sunday when we walked together from church. And this was in due time, because she was leaving the next day.I did not receive a “yes”, but I was not turned down either, and we agreed that I should come to visit her, when I was to go to Copenhagen in March, in order to do my military service. And so it was. – I arrived in the morning and left again before evening and she accompanied me on the way to Skive, but she remained indecisive, since she knew that the decision would be for life. I was then in Copenhagen for ½ a year, and during this time we exchange quite a few letters, and when I returned in October, she came with me home and our engagement was announced to both our families, and time passed, - she worked in Salling till November 1873, and during this time we had the opportunity to meet every other month or so. My stay in Copenhagen was a rare and good time for me in the Christian sense. Ahead of time I was a bit hesitant, because I had heard that a very un-godly life was lead at the soldiers’ barracks. On my way to Copenhagen I had been together with my cousin, Peter Lodal, at my brother’s in Aarhus. He was a teacher and had traveled quite a bit. On Easter eve, when I said goodbye to him, I asked him: “Where should I attend church in Copenhagen?” And he answered: “You should go to listen to reverend Frimodt.” When I arrived in the city, where I had let myself be guide to a lodging house somewhat hesitantly, I asked the caretaker, whether there
was a church close by. He smiled at the question, but answered politely, yes, however it depended on which priest I would like to hear. When I answered: Frimodt, - he looked in the paper and said that he preached now at 10 a.m. in the Church of John on Nørrebro. He showed which tram to take that would bring me directly to the church and so I went. I came quite a bit late and the church was more than full and I could not get in, but I was able to hear the strong voice of Frimodt, - indeed, I can still hear him say, that our Savior had ascended and was among the living, and we, who belonged to him, should live with him. This situation I was almost to relive on Easter Saturday of this year, 56 years later than the above mentioned Easter. A few days earlier our son-in-law and daughter’s house had burnt during the night. We had managed to save ourselves, but all our things in the house burnt. Two days later, which was Easter Saturday, we were fetched to Chehalis by our son Frederik, so we could stay there for some time. I knew that there was a priest in Centralis, the neighboring town, that I would like to hear – he was the reverend colleague of our son Hans – but I did not know where he preached, or on which street the church was located. However, I caught the tram car and found the church in good time and I was positively invigorated by listening to a sermon in the English language about the ascension and life. Also about the old truth, that Jesus is the one decided on by Our Father, the judge of the dead and the living, and that each and everyone who believes in him, shall be given life in his name. – It was a great joy to me, that I thus found a church to attend from the beginning in Copenhagen, a church I continued to go to all the time during my stay. Besides Frimodt, there were also the reverends Krag and Rindom, who preached there, and one of the officers at our barracks soon made known who I was and what I stood for. We were a little more than 100 men at the barracks and each had a so called
chest to sit on and store his things in. In order to tidy up our things in the chest we had to sit and kneel in front of it and on such an occasion where I had been in my chest, some stains of red sand from the courtyard had come on the floor, and when one our superiors saw the stains and my name on the chest he exclaimed: “Oh, so he, that darned holy rascal, goes to the Church of John to cleanse his soul, and then he forgets to wipe his shoes properly”. More of the same was handed out, but it had the effect that none of the men tempted me to take part in their foul matters. – In all, it was a good time for me. I was off duty from 10 a.m. till 10 p.m. on Sundays, and thus I had the time to participate where there was something of a homiletic nature. When I returned from my military services I was penniless. The good profit from the summer before had been spent to cover the debt on the bigger boat mentioned earlier. Therefore I got a job for the winter at a small wage, and when summer came again, I began fishing with a married man who had a boat that he made available, since I was the more experienced as a fisherman, and since I had sold my boat the year before to my partner, when I was drafted. This summer I fished fairly well again, but not like the previous year. My fiancé returned to me from Salling on the 1st. of November 1873. She took on a position in the house of Poul Kr. Poulsen’s parents, because their daughter had been married. They were neighbors of my parents, so finally, we were close together, and during the winter it was decided that we would marry on May 1st. a half year later. I worked at a farm in the neighborhood. However, at the beginning of March, I was taken ill with pneumonia. I was in bed at my parents, when a new difficulty arose which was from my past. As I have mentioned my parents had moved from Ydby to Kobberø, when I was about 6 years old, and there we lived approx. ½ a mile from the beach, and we had access to the beach through a small valley. This was the Western part of the Limfjord, and regularly wreck-
age floated in from the sea via the Thyborøn Canal…. From early on, I had a strong urge to walk the beach, in order to find something, as we called it. We knew that it was against the law and there was a wreck master, but he was not that specific about things, yet if he met us at the beach, he would have us help him with some wreckage that he wanted to salvage, and when this was done he would thank us. He did not offer us any money, but said, that he would now leave, and not return till this and that time, and we took this as a quiet understanding that we were to pay ourselves from what was on the beach, while he was gone. Thus things went for many years in understanding with the wreck master, but as a whole it was a very meager business. I never recall that we had anything to sell, but we had good timber to use in our home, and sticks to light the fire with. This, mother was very appreciative of, and thus I always brought a bag with me to the beach. I went whenever I had the opportunity, and when the wind was right so something useful was to be hoped for. At such an occasion I had found a sack with some linen which I had brought home with me. The contents were useless apart from a good woolen blanket that I used on my bed where I was to spend some time on various occasions. However, when I was awoken in the Christian sense, there were several things that I had to abstain from – also a thing called beach theft or euphemistically, larceny by finding. After some time I rid myself of the bad habit and no longer took anything found on the beach. But I did have the blanket, mentioned earlier, and thought nothing wrong in that. I kept it and also used it while I was at Anders Pedersen in Jestrup. I also borrowed a ship’s chest to have my belongings in and when I tried to return it, when I moved, he no longer wanted it, but gave it to me. This chest he had taken on the beach a long time ago. – However, at this time the old judge at one of inferior courts in Vestervig had passed away and the new man Johnsen had taken his place. He
wanted to clear up some things that the old judge had neglected and a man called Jens Kristian, with the nickname Dump was arrested for having run a speak-easy. However, this Dump admitted to more thefts, and among these also theft from the beach, and in doing so he also framed most of the neighbors as accomplices. Among these were my old partner Anders Pedersen. So the judge also appeared at his house and asked questions to his wife, who was the first one he found at home. She did not like this and told the judge that he had come to the wrong house and that he better ask their neighbor. The judge was of a similar mind, but found that there were various issues about this neighbor that he could not quite make out and he would therefore be very happy if she could throw some more light on things, which she did. Later he told what one had said about the other and quite a number of people were brought in and arrested, among these were Anders Pedersen. Anders was kept for a long time because they wanted him to witness against the wreck master Niels Jensen. However, this did not happen, because he would not tell any more than what he knew. During the interrogation of Anders Pedersen it was disclosed that he had had a ship’s chest, and this was to be found. It was said that I had it, and that I also had a blanket which had also come from the beach. Thus, the judge also had to pay me a visit, but before this he paid a visit to the jail to say hello to Anders Pedersen and he told him the good news that he was about to bring me in, so I could share the cell with him. As mentioned earlier, I was in bed at my parents house, when the judge appeared before the door with a closed carriage, a coachman, a scribe and a police officer. He entered, but I was in bed ill, and it took me some time to become aware what he was asking of me, but it was the blanket and ship’s chest. I was covered in the blanket, so this matter was easily taken care of, but it was harder when it came to the chest which I had lent to my fiancé, who was at our neighbor’s at the time. So then they had to go there to see Karen and the chest.
I could not go along, because as judge said, illness must be respected, but I had to report with him as soon as I was well enough. When he returned to the jail, he again went to see Anders Pedersen and regretted that he was not able to keep his promise of procuring him a cell mate, and among other things he also said: “Jens Frederiksen was sorry to tell the truth, but his holiness forbid him to lie”. The result of it all was that I gave up the two items to the wreck master at Helligsø and they were sold at a beach auction in the spring where they brought in four Marks each. When a verdict was pronounced in the case I was omitted and a few years later I was made the wreck master at Helligsø beach. I got over the illness and in April I had completely recovered. I now became busy renting a piece of land at the beach on which to build a house. I purchased an old house which was moved to the rented land and here we arranged a temporary dwelling in which to live while the real house was built. Karen and I were married on May 1st. 1874 and thus we were two to decide and two to work. My wife was born in Jestrup on Thyholm. The name of her father was Niels Hansen, and her mother’s name was Else Marie. She had passed away when my wife was 9 years old and her father died when she was 14. After her mother died the eldest sister and her husband had come to take over the home, and Karen stayed with them till she went out in service at the age of 13 – however, at this time it was only in the summer. When she was confirmed she would stay for a year or more at each place. – When I met her, she had taken 3 months vacation, which she spent in her parents’ home. She had three brothers and one sister. Two of these had died earlier and one of the three brothers died 26 years ago and left a wife and 5 children. Now the widow has passed away along with three of the children. Another brother died 5 years ago and his widow died soon after. They left 3 daughters which are all alive. The third brother who reached the age of more than 80, died three years ago. He had never married. One sister, who was a widow, died many years ago and she left an only daughter, who has been a widow for many years. She had
no children. – My wife was the youngest of them and was the last to pass away. My wife had gone into service in Lem and Skive and here she was among Christian co-servants and Christian masters, as well as a good priest which they had there at the time, the renowned reverend Kirkeby. - Now she and I were to begin our walk in life together and we felt mutually happy that we had come this far, and that we could be together. Meanwhile, in the beginning I was to go out fishing from noon on Mondays till Saturday and then on Saturday night fish close to home. But it felt extremely nice to have a home return to and rest. However, when it came to our relations to our surroundings, we were soon to find out that we would have to go against the stream. One of the first things that arose was Sunday rest, or keeping Sundays holy. In the beginning I was reluctant to fish on Sundays, but there was also our relations with the surrounding area. For many years I had had harvest service – which meant that I was to assist in harvesting through the whole harvesting time, and at an agreed price. But when I engaged in this kind of work I would asl the Sundays off. This made my employer a bit suspicious, however, in the end he agreed and I had the job for many years, and as long as I was willing to participate in the harvest. I also made some profit by sailing passengers across the fjord, especially, during the years when breakwaters were built at Thyborøn. A lot of people from our area worked there and wanted to sail back on Saturday evening and return on Sunday. Personally, I did not want to sail passengers on Sundays, and this was not so bad, since there were many others willing to get this profit – However, then after four years, came the worst. We had come to own the land on which our house was built, plus a bit more, all in all 1½ acres and we had begun to sell sand and gravel to a large area. A large proportion of small farmers and small holders were used to having things done where horses were needed, on Sundays, so when
somebody then wanted a wagon load of sand on Sundays – it was difficult if they could not have it on Sundays. So they started coming anyway under some pretext, and when they were already there, they felt that I ought to let them have it this time – they were willing to load the wagon themselves, so all I had to do was accept the payment, so this we did. Then somebody, drew my attention to the fact that I had let some people get sand on Sundays, and he did not find it right that I treated people differently. However, then my wife made me aware, that no matter how little this was, we were about to lose our Sunday peace, and not long after we refused to let a small farmer have a load of sand, and the wagon had to leave empty. This raised quite an opposition against us, but it soon blew over and things went back to normal. When we had lived here at Helligsø beach for 17 years, and we were almost ready to leave for America, Karl Kristensen, also called Jestrup, came, among others, to say farewell. He then said, that there was one thing he could not understand. This was that we had now fished lobster, he and I, for more than 20 years, - He had started a year before me – and we had the same teacher, namely Peter Hule. We had had the same opportunity to do well, the same area to fish in, but he had had 7 nights each week, while I had had only 6 nights – to him Sunday nights had always been the best, because I was not in his way. However, when we were then, on August 1st., told by the lobster salesman, how many had been brought in by each boat, it had never happened in all those years that he had caught half the amount that I had. I understand, and know that it always pays, as much as it is possible, to let God’s bidding rule our way, also in daily matters. And it goes without saying that one must treasure this gift that God has given us in the day of rest, without becoming slaves of this. I do not remember that I heard mention of a life in faith during my childhood, although god fearing people were spoken of. Of these we became connected with, I remember Kr. Eriksen’s widow and Peder Briksen. From the latter we borrowed books, and of these I remember
one written by the English Bishop Ryle, its title was: “Will you be blessed?” This book made me acquire more of his writings which all dealt very seriously with the question of salvation. At this time we had Reverend Troyel as a minister, and I remember him at our exam at school, and it was also he who prepared me for my confirmation, which was aborted since I was too young. Around this time, the Mormons had come to the area (Year 1863) and they had gained a strong foothold. Their meetings were held at Kresten Kristensen’s farm in Kobberø, and one of their daughters were married to one of their so called priests. Once I attended a meeting at Nikolaj Kristensen in Kobberø where reverend Troyel was also present. I remember him ending a speech to the Mormons with these words: “Answer me!” – and everything was quiet for a few moments – then one of the Mormons spoke, and finished in the same words, directed at reverend Troyel: “Answer me!” – yet the reverend left the meeting at once. I don’t recall any of the speeches, neither do I remember what the question was about, but I do remember a verse from a psalm that was sung: In the mists of Babylon, I ponderously walked, Searching for light, yet only darkness found Searching for the rock, yet only sand I found And the teachings were only foul water. (translated from Danish .- yet the true verse may exist also in English?) The Mormons were successful in drawing most of the people to them, who were considered to be among the believers, among others the aforementioned widow of Kr. Eriksen and Peder Briksen, and when the aforementioned Kresten Kristensen soon sold his farm, he helped a lot of his friends with the travel money, and a large group left for Utah, and the movement died out in our area. A small try was done a few years later, but this never gained a foothold. We may have thought that the movement had also died out over here, but I guess
this is far from being the case. In addition to the headquarters in Utah, there are hoards of them in the big cities and when we read the list of preachers in our newspapers, then we also find the Latter day Saints – even in two parts or parties. The old and the reformed. It was in the late 1860’s, that a few meetings were held in the parishes by lay preachers. These were Anders Stubkjær and Jens Kristensen Haasum, and also a priest called reverend Jeanson, who held a series of meetings in Thy, and also in Ydby church. I did not have the opportunity to go, but on the following Sunday I heard our priest – the reverend Herup, talk about the foreign traveling preacher, and he said that it was easy for such preachers, who went from place to place, to spice their sermons – as opposed to those who had to preach the same place Sunday after Sunday. However, from this series of preachings we felt the impact, that especially, some families in Thy had been awoken and during the winter of 1873 and 1874 Beck came through Thy and preached in Thisted and Vestervig and Hvidbjerg on Thyholm. Before my wife and I were married, there was a believing family who had settled in the parish. The man’s name was Kresten Jensen, and we became very close, and shared both the good and the bad times during the years that we lived close to each other. Both have now been called home – his wife, three years ago, and Kresten Jensen this summer. Since we came here we have exchanged letters with them and now with their children. One of these is a priest, after having spent a number of years in Sathalistan as a missionary, another son is a schoolteacher and spends his spare time holding meetings for the cause of God’s kingdom. My friend and old partner, Povl Kr. Povlsen had been awoken at a meeting we had attended East of Struer, where we had come to fish. It was a lay preacher, Kristoffer Hansen, who spoke at this meeting, and after a few years Povl began to hold meetings on his own, and he was later taken on as a lay preacher. However, he did not get to
hold many meetings in his town of origin, since he was married and moved to Ørumby, where his parents also moved after having sold their farm. As a whole, a great and important exchange had come about amongst the believers in a large area and a few also joined us in our own parish. Our priest was called reverend Straatmand. He did not look kindly upon the fact that we held evangelical meetings in the school, however, he did not try to prevent them, as long as the preachers would not lash out against priesthood. It was the parish council which granted the permission to hold the meetings in the school, but it was always understood that the reverend would have nothing against it. Straatmand once gave the reverend Tranbjerg permission to speak in Gjettrup church. In the beginning of the 80’s, the so called “Thy War” broke out and this ended with my friend Povl Kr. Povlsen being dismissed as a lay preacher, and Jesper Nielsen was asked to be careful towards the priests, and the lay preacher, Jens Kristensen was moved from Løgstør area to Thisted, because he was deemed better to prevent clashes between the priests. This arrangement gave rise to some friction amongst the believers. Most agreed to the arrangement, yet we were some who did not. Especially, us in Helligsø and Gjettrup, since Povl Kr. Povlsen had come from our midst. In the early 80’s we got Løgstrup as our parish priest in Helligsø, and Deitman came to Hvidbjerg, and Paludan to Søndbjerg on Thyholm and at the same time, we saw the movement which called itself: “The free Mission”, which was was led, in this area, by the Swedish miss Juul. The movement was anabaptist. However, they did not reach further South in Thy than to Bedsted. One of our best friends, fisherman Jensen Maar, joined them and was re-baptized. For some time he was their most important force in Thy, he was eloquent and held many meetings in a wide area. At the arrival of Løgstrup, great changes occurred, because a lot more became churchgoers, and many meetings were held, even during the week. However, we were a few, who did not feel that the
trumpet was sounding clear enough, we did not feel that the missionary preachings were strong enough and we found that he was a bit antagonistic towards the lay preachers, by speaking against them on two occasions. Once against Jesper Nielsen, and the other time against Kr. Jensen Hammershøj. Both had held meetings in the school and Løgstrup spoke last at these meetings. However, he also invited outside priests, which we were happy to listen to. Among these were the reverend Thorvald Elmquist, the reverend Henry Ussing, who was then preaching in Vejlby by Aarhus, and the reverend Carl Moe, who was at Harboøre. After what had happened to the two aforementioned lay preachers, and since the parish council was somewhat reluctant to let us use the schools for meetings, we were a few friends who had the thought to build a meeting house. We even had a constitution written and I purchased a piece of land East of Gjettrup church, but having gotten this far, one of us (Kresten Hule) wanted that we should bring the matter before reverend Løgstrup. And this was done, and he did not approve of the plan, and at the same time he said, that he would not throw obstacles our way, if we were to use the schools for our missionary work. Therefore, this being the case, we found that there was no need for us to build, and we gave it up. Shorthly after, I sold the site, which I had purchased. However, a few years later a new urge to build a meeting house emerged, and this project was carried through with Løgstrup as the leader, and as far as I know, the house has stood there for more than forty years, and has been used very much and the work has been blessed. There were more problems between Løgstrup and us, however, they ended well, because we recognized that God acknowledged Løgstrup’s work in the parishes and blessed this. A lot of bad habits had to stand down when sermons advocating correction were spoken from the pulpit when Løgstrup preached. One of the fruits were that work on Sundays was almost stopped, and for me an my family, indeed the whole area, this became a time of prosperity which has lasted to the present.
In these years, I was also personally, fortunate, because I was often able to attend prayer meetings held in the Thyholm, Struer and Lemvig areas and on Harboøre. This was because I was fishing, that I came to these areas and because most of the work was done at night I was able to attend without falling behind with anything. Sometimes I also sailed people across who wanted to attend church on Harboøre, and in the fall, some who wanted to take part in the youth and girl meetings. However, at this time the tide changed, because the reverend Moe left Harboøre and then the people there came across to listen to reverend Løgstrup in Helligsøe church. But in both cases we benefited from this traffic because we were living at the landing place, so people came to visit both when they came and when they left, so many meetings with friends were held at our house. Not long after, the reverend Løgstup also left as our parish priest, in order to use all his time and efforts as a secretary in the Danish Missionary Society. We, who had not been entirely happy with the way Løgstrup worked, to begin with, were reprimanded that we were not better able to accept our young priest. And there may be a bit of truth in this, however, seen from a distance and after many years, then this seems to have been a part of our mutual Christian upbringing and a result of the fact that each of us had a deed to fill, where we stood at the time. Indeed, I also think, we in a small way came to do a good deed for the realm of God. I am thinking here of the two sons of Kresten Jensen. On is a priest and the other a school teacher and both work for the teachings of God. - We in America, had our house built in the forest, and here we literally, lived hidden by and in the shadows of the almighty, since the very big trees both hid us and shadowed us. But this house has now for the last 16 years been the lodgings of our priest, and our son carries out his preachings to a large area here, so that words like sin and grace are being preached, Sunday after Sunday, to those who want to listen.
In a critical moment I happened to secure ourselves a piece of land on which we had a church built and a cemetery made, and these have now been in use for 27 years. My part in this is indirect, but I feel, nevertheless, that this also proves that God had a mission for us to fulfill by sending us here. For the 17 years we lived at Helligsø beach, fishing was our main source of income, as mentioned, and for me it was my life and joy, but it was also extremely dangerous. After a few years, I was equipped with the best available, both in regards to fishing tools and especially, the boat we used. During fishing we used oars, and this was not dangerous, but on the tours to and back from the fishing grounds, where we have a fresh wind from behind, and things went well and quickly, often, however, the wind would increase and we had to put a reef in the sails, - if one reef was enough it was not too bad, but if we had to put in two reefs, and the seas were heavy, then it could take us hours to gain a quarter Danish mile (approx. 1.5 US miles) back against the wind. When we were getting close to our destination, we would always make an extra effort to get home, and my wife could then stand at home and be frightened on our behalves, yet when we then did get home, the joy was so much the bigger. I remember one incidence in this connection, where we gambled more on getting back , than I care to think of, here afterwards. In the specific situation we were on our way to Struer with a load of 2,000 oysters in our boats. We had had a head wind and we did not reach the sound of Venø till it was dark – and there was yet another half mile to Struer up against the wind. Having come this far, the question was whether to sail forward, or sit tight in the shelter behind the point, where the water was calmer, yet none of us said the decisive word, before we were out in the sound in a heavy sea, and here it would have been more dangerous to turn around, since we were so heavily loaded. Luckily, things went well and we reached our destination. Another time when things were rough, I was on my way back from
Thyland with a cargo of gravel. It was at night, but in a boat with a good deck, so although we took a lot of water, only a little reached the holds and could be pumped out. At this time, I was made the wreck master at Helligsø beach – Wreck master, Jens Søndergaard had passed away, and we were several who applied for the job. Two were hired, because in the view of our county judge, one was not enough. Such a position, however, also has its problems. In the counties Hasing and Refs we were 42 wreck masters in total. Twice a year, we had to appear at the court and have our things looked over. There was no waiting room, so we sat in the inn, which lay directly opposite the courthouse. Usually, a lot of drinking took place and it was given thing that whenever there was a new wreck master, he had to spend a round on all the others. But this I did not go along with, and I got quite a bit of bad comments, both at this occasion and when I ran into one of the other wreck masters later. Luckily, my partner, Jens Mørk, was of the same opinion that I was, and thus a bad habit was broken. The profit made on the beach was small. The things that landed on the beach during the year were gathered at one of the wreck masters and sold on an auction in the beginning of April. The customs authorities took 10 % of the earnings in the case of wreckage, and if the items were new lumber it was valued at the existing duties. We were paid for the handling and transportation, and if there was anything left we would get one third and the government two thirds, yet it was very little that was ever left to be split into thirds, so this did not matter much. Once a wreck master had handed in an invoice that was much bigger than the earnings, and he was asked to lower his bill. In my recollection we sold for around 200 Crowns on the beach ( approx. 40 USD in today’s prices) per year, albeit the things were worth ten times as much in my view. Sometimes, we had the chance to see how much each had gathered, when we entered our names in a protocol, which functioned as a receipt. Quite an amount of goods drifted ashore where the owners could be ascertained, and the owner could
then have the goods handed back against paying a third of the value, however, it was always difficult to establish the correct value. In some years a lot of lumber drifted ashore from the breakwaters being built at the North Sea. This lumber was marked, so it was easy to recognize, yet as wreck masters, we were not permitted to hand out anything to the owner till permission was given by the county. I made a bit of a profit sailing back such lumber at a fixed price per yard. 7 Øre per yard of wood, 10 x 10 inches, 2 Øre for planks, and 1 Øre for slabs. This price was fixed in those 11 years that we were there. Once we had a raft which brought us a bit more than 50 Kroner, but in general we made around 30 Kroner. The work was heavy and difficult, especially, if we were to tack against the wind, but this was rarely the case. However, once we were becalmed and with the stream against us, so we had to anchor in the canal for a whole night with the risk of drifting out to sea, if our anchor had given way, the anchor was small and only made to hold one boat so our fear was warranted. As I have mentioned earlier we sold fine sand for mortar from the hill and coarse sand from the canal and we also transported bricks and drain pipes from the brick factory which had been built right next to us. For this work we were paid 33 Øre per 100 pieces or 1 Krone per 1,000. We had no direct responsibility for the goods and were not to collect any money, but only had to hand out these to the right persons when they came for them. We did have a price list, so we could accept payment, if somebody wanted to pay on delivery. We kept a ledger, where we wrote down what had been delivered, and what had been paid for, and this ledger was brought to the owner, who was the widow of Jens Søndergaard. Once a month the figures were thus transferred to her main accounting book, and in our ledger a counter signature was entered that these figures, to date, had been entered into the main account. This was done for many years without any errors, and it was only during the winter that we had this job, in the summer the person in charge of the brick factory handled this.
However, then one summer the proprietress came down to us and said that her son Thomas, who handled her affairs had been with the small farmer Lars Pedersen with a bill of 15 Kroner and some odd Øre, but he had said that he had already paid you, and she ended – how does this add up???? I was not able to answer, but hoped that things would take care of themselves once we had a chance to think things over. But the matter did not solve itself, and none of us could remember that we had delivered anything to Lars Pedersen and we knew that he was absolutely reliable. We felt that we were in dire straits, since we had failed. Then three days later, Lars Pedersen came, because he had also felt bad about being charged for something he had already paid. He knew that he had been at the brick factory on that day in April when the manager had begun work, and when Lars Pedersen wanted to pay, he had sent us over to us, where he had seen that I wrote it down immediately, however, I did not have the ledger at hand and thus went back to the farm. The ledger was found and the last entry was found and it also said: Paid, and thus the mistake was cleared away. The problem was that it had been written in two places, which the owner had overlooked, but both entries had the same date, and thing were quickly corrected to my great relief. I also had a considerable business with shipwrecks, or parts of shipwrecks on the large beach. We dismantled these or had them brought to Helligsø beach. Once, I had one eighth of a whole ship which had gone down in the canal, leaving only the steering house on deck above the water. We salvaged the steering house and some of the inventory, plus about half of the cargo, which was 2000 barrels of coal. The last fall we were in Denmark I also delivered gravel to the port facility in Lemvig. I got this on the Thyside and the work took 1½ months. It was in this connection that one of our hard journeys, that I have mentioned earlier, took place. At the mentioned work and when fishing, I generally, had a partner who got one third of the profit. For 4 years this was my wife’s brother, Kresten Houmøller, and he was also my partner as a wreck mas-
ter. When my partner as a wreck master died after two years, his successor became his father-in-law, Kr. Olsen who also died two years later. My brother-in-law, Kr. Houmøller continued till his death, and the title has been passed on to his son, Jens Houmøller. The last two years, we were in Denmark, my brother-in-law fished with his own boat, and my eldest son then helped me. Then the last summer in Denmark, plans were made to come here, and therefore we began to sell our gear. I had three fishing boats at the time, which had all been built to order, and then the deck boat with tender and two other boats. I succeeded in selling these and some of the equipment during the winter. My brother-in-law got the house and the rest was sold at an auction in early April, at the same time the wreckage was sold. When everything was sold, we had 2,500 Kroner, but the tickets to America cost 1,500 Kroner, so we had 1,000 Kroner left, and when this was exchanged in New York, we had between 200 and 300 USD. But before we left our old home, we had to say goodbye. We brought our 7 children, but we had 7 graves at the cemetery, which we could no longer care for, and then there were my old parents which we could not expect to see again in this life, and indeed both had passed away when we returned to see our old home 14 years later. My mother died 3½ years after we had left, and father died 8 years later. My parents had had better conditions than before, because my brother Kristian had kept his childhood oath to “aid mother, when he grew up”. A few years earlier he had had an extension made to their house, which then became the actual living quarters and he had then given them permission to buy whatever they needed at the local grocery store, on his account, as long as this was not aquavit. Thus, my father gradually got away from his drinking in his late years. He lived with his youngest son, the last years that he lived after mother passed away. During the years we lived at Helligsø, I had had good opportunity to visit my parents and I also spent at least at bit of time there every Sunday. Before I was married I always stayed with them, and when
my sister and her family settled next to us, both they and their children found it easy to visit them. And they could continue to do this since the remained living there. However, we also in this connection we tore ourselves lose and said our goodbyes to our brothers and sisters and our respective friends. We had purchased our tickets from a Dutch Steamer Company, which may have been less expensive than other companies, according to themselves. We took the train from Ydby to Struer one afternoon and visited our old friends, the house painter Sand, where we spent the night. Our actual trip started from here and we had tickets for Hamburg, where we were received by an agent, stayed at a hotel during the night, together with a lot of Polish people, which were all from the lower classes. However, they did not insult us, and even helped us carry our things. The next day we boarded the train and during the night we crossed the border into Holland. There our things were to be looked through by the customs authorities, and we got through, yet there was a lot of confusion, but we continued and the next evening we arrived at a town in Holland called Grooningen. Here we were to stay for 3Â˝ days, and both the lodgings and the food were simple. However, we were enlightened by the fact that 3 more Danes made us company. 2 of these had been to America earlier. It seemed that the landlord showed these more respect, they were given better food, and so were we the last day. From there we came to Rotterdam, where we were also given a place to stay, however, this was entirely different from Grooningen. Here we received our own room, yet since there were only two beds, several of us had to sleep on the floor. We spent three days here, but found a Norwegian Sailorâ€™s Home where a Norwegian service was held. On one day our whole family went aboard the Missionary ship, Eliezer from Stavanger, so the time in Rotterdam did not seem long. We left one evening after having spent quite some time in the port area. Here we met a group of Danes that were also going on the ship.
It was a Danish couple with 7 children like us. Their eldest was the same age as ours, but their youngest was a bit older than our youngest. The husband was also the guide for 7 young men who were also going to America. It was to our mutual joy that we met, since the family was going to the same town that we were, the manâ€™s name was Anders Nielsen. The young men were to go to individual destinations. The voyage across the ocean lasted 12 days and was actually the most pleasant part of the journey, since we had both cabin and board. The passenger list was composed from many nations, there were especially many Germans, but there were also English, Norwegian, Swedish in addition to a lot of Dutch people who had a lot of children. We did not see our Danish friends as much as we had expected, and we also had a strong feeling that they felt a bit above us. The kids spent some time together, but even they had the impression, that our friends would soon be in the land of great opportunity where they would become grand people, and then they wanted to return to Denmark to show off to their old friends who then would have to look up to them. We arrived in New Your, but then we met with many difficulties again. However, we did get ashore and got our things straightened our. At the same time we were informed that our tickets said that we were to board a steamer south to a town called Norfolk. This took 1Â˝ days where we were cooped up on the middle deck, and we had to find ourselves a spot to lie down and we had to take care of our own food, if we wanted any. We got to Norfolk and were very hungry, yet this could easily be taken care of, since there right on the docks bread and other foods were sold. In order to make myself easily understood I offered the salesman one dollar, in return for which I wanted a loaf of bread. He took my money and, and started to give me the bread, then held back until I gave him another dollar. We had no time to spare, and needed the bread, so I gave him the money and got the bread, which I had paid for twice in a way. I learned a lesson and would be more careful
another time. We got on the train west-bound together with our friends Anders Nielsen. He felt he had acquired some proficiency in the English language and was willing to help us when necessary. However, when we had been on the train for ten hours, we had to change trains, yet Anders Nielsen did not think that this was correct and remained in his seat, so when it finally dawned on us that indeed we had to change trains, we hurried, but with our small children and our luggage we could only move slowly and thus, when we got on board the other train, there were only few empty seats left, scattered in the wagon. We needed at least one whole seat for the sake of the children. I asked two of the young Danes to move together and let us have one seat â€“ but they refused. I was not able to contact the conductor in order to get help, so we had to accept our situation, until we were to change trains again. By this time we had learned that over here one had to fend for oneself. Thus, we arranged it in such a way that when we were to switch trains, I would try my best to go on ahead and show our papers, and when we were shown were to go, Fillip and Frederik should rush in with their things and grab a seat each, then spread their things till we could come and get a seat next to them. In this way we managed to get the necessary room every time afterwards, and this was quite a number of times during the 8 days and nights that we spent on the train. At one time Anders Nielsen complained that we got better seating than he did, but this we could thank the boys for, especially, Fillip, who had helped me two summers fishing at home, where one also learned to use ones elbows, unless you wanted to be left behind. All in all it was a rather tiring trip to be on the move for 8 days in a row, and sit in the wagon all the time. We also had to sleep and food we had to get whenever we could buy something being offered at the stations, where a small halt was made. My wife also became seriously ill en route, whilst we were going through the Rocky Mountains. Luckily, a Swedish family was on board here and they helped us and advised us. A doctor was tele-
graphed, who then met us at the next station where he examined her, and she recovered before we got to the end of our journey. We arrived at our destination, the city of Tacoma, a morning in early May. We had been traveling exactly for one month. Our traveling companion, Anders Nielsen, was then better off than we were, since he had two grown up sons in the city who were there to greet them. We had neither friends nor acquaintances in the town, so for the time being we could do no more than wait in the waiting hall. This was not unusual, that there were people in this situation, and there were also some people who tried to strike up a conversation with us. After some time a Swedish freight man arrived and things began to look brighter. He knew another Swede, who had a house, and he was summoned and we rented the house, whereupon the freight man took our things there, plus some other things that we purchased, among others a stove. Thus we now had a roof over our heads without having to resort to a hotel. It did not take long for us to get to know a Dane who sold bread for a bakery. He got us some inexpensive bread, which had been left over from the day before. He also knew a Danish milkman with whom Fillip got a job for the summer and with one of our Swedish neighbors we got the address of another Swede who sold vegetables. Frederick came to work for him also for the summer. Else Marie found work with a Dane, called Madsen, who kept a boarding house. All in all things had gone well, but it felt a bit cumbersome to us old ones, since I was also to find myself a sort of income, and if possible, we would also like to have our own home. â€“ Most of all I would like to fish, and almost purchased a boat, although I did not get it â€“ and also I would prefer to have some land near the water, but I did not find anyone who could show me such land. On the contrary, there were a lot who were willing to sell land further inland, and I were to make two tiring trips to look for land. Finally, I went to see the land, of which we, eventually, purchased 40 acres. This land was heavily forested, so it cost us a lot of work to
make ourselves and our four youngest children a home. We moved to the new land on June 1st, and started off by living in an abandoned house, right next to our land. During the first couple of weeks we were able to erect so much of a house that we could live in it and have a roof over our heads â€“ and then it was our own. Whilst building on our home we had constantly been afraid that the owner of the abandoned house would come and order us out â€“ yet he never came. The land we lived on was about 40 acres and had cost 480 Dollars, of which 48 Dollars had been paid, the rest we owed and were to pay an interest of 7% on. Our social circle consisted of Americans, which we had difficulty in understanding, but amongst our neighbors there was an old Irishman, who was married to a woman, who was half Indian, and they were to help us more than will ever know. In general, they were in no hurry, and the wife was especially curious and interested in seeing our clothes and things, which we had brought from Denmark, and thus she often visited us. Even though a lot was said that we did not understand, this was a good way for us to learn enough English to get by. During the summer we were able to build a bigger and better house, but during this work, I accidentally cut a finger and was unable to work for more than a month. The first few months we got milk from the Indian woman, but later we bought a cow ourselves, which Fillip paid for with his earnings. It was agreed earlier, that our children were to pay us back what their tickets had cost. During the summer, I went to town twice, one time to pick up the above mentioned cow, and otherwise to see the children and get money from them in order for us to purchase the things we needed. When we got to September 1st, the Indian woman had found work to us as hop pickers. This lasted for three weeks, and we were fetched and brought back on a wagon when it was over. We worked hard while we were there, yet we could not keep up with the ones that were used to hop picking. â€“ In time we learned it, and over the years
this became a good source of income for us. When the children grew up, both Hans and Margrethe, and later Poul, were able to pick considerably more than I. The Indian woman, or rather her husband, had agreed to look after our cow, and two chickens with chicks, but this was not so fortunate, since when we returned the cow was dry, and the chicks were all dead. Had we known these Irish, we would have known the outcome, it was their custom to let their own things take care of themselves, so we could not expect that our things would fare any better. The Irishman and the Indian woman had 3 healthy sons and 4 daughters. The daughters had all been married, but three are now widowed, but living. The 3 sons have all died more than 20 years ago, and from what it seems, from drink and debauchery. The old folks are also now long gone, and at times they were hard on us, but for the greater part they were a considerable help to us on our path through the hard years. On the trip where we picked hop, we got to know several Danes, who also had their homes in the woods, unfortunately, many miles away, and only accessible via bad roads. I also got acquainted with a Danish man who, especially, grew root crops, amongst these many potatoes and here I got work for two weeks helping dig up potatoes, and my earnings were a wagon load of potatoes and some cabbage, which he drove back to our place. We then purchased a 111 lb. pig which we butchered and thus we had pork and potatoes to last us the winter. Also we bought 2,000 lbs of hay for the cow, this we paid 18 Dollars for, which was way too much, alas, at the time we knew no better. We were still to see if we could get the money from our children, who had kept their respective jobs over the summer, but on November 1st. Frederik came home and stayed home for a few months. We then began clearing the forest, in order that we could sow something the following spring. The first two months, we managed to cut down the trees on 32 of the 40 acres. We burnt them down by drilling a two inch hole into the trees from both sides and a little above the ground. This hole was filled with burning charcoal which then burnt the tree
down from within, a process that lasted from four to eight days, and after which the trees would fall down on their own. I could drill 20 trees in a day and we thus managed to clear the 32 acres. Frederik and Hans could light and tend the fire, and would have to have a fire going continuously, from which to take the charcoal for the trees. It took more than two months from we had arrived in Tacoma till we could receive letters from home. During our trip and after arriving in the US we had written quite a number of letters, and when those at home learned our position and also the fact that I had cut my finger, then a collection in our benefit was made which raised between 80 and 90 dollars, which was then sent to us. At the same time my brother offered to lend us the money we still owed on the land that we had purchases. We took him up on this offer and the money was sent to us and as far as I recall this was 1,800 Kroner. However, when we received this money, and being with our children, especially Fillip, we decided that it would be better to get our hands on a good piece of land for Fillip, and he would then pay back the money as he earned it. This was done and I bought 80 acres for Fillip and paid the outstanding amount on our own land, and the rest of the money, both from the loan we had received and the gift was paid as a down payment on Fillipâ€™s land. A year went by before we could see how stupid this had been, and the result was that the down payment made on Fillipâ€™s land, the 80 acres was lost. Fillip paid back to me over time and when he was able to, however, I donâ€™t think everything was cleared, since the bills and books from that time were lost in a fire. During the first years we realized that it would take very long to clear so much land that we would be able to live off it. We were offered a piece of land that we could rent, only a mile from our own. There was a piece of land which had been cleared and which had a barn on it, so we rented this for five years and moved there when we had built so
much of a house that we could live there. However, this did not give us the expected profit â€“ yet it enabled us to think things over, and we thus laid a better plan for our own land, and the many buildings we were to build there. In the beginning our plan had been to raise chickens as our main income and the second spring we had bought a dozen old chickens, from which we hatched so many chicks that we had 100 the third year. Each year in September I left our home with the children to pick hop. Karen and Lars always stayed behind to tend to our things. The place where we picked hop, we had an old shed to stay in, which had a stove so we could do our own cooking. We were paid by the crate that we picked, and generally, we were between 20 and 30 people picking in the same area, as long as it lasted. Already the first year we were here, the Indian woman offered to take me to a stream in order to fish salmon â€“ and this tradition was carried on each fall until now. The first two years on the rented land we put in our main effort there, but the last few years we have worked on our own land burning and clearing in order to build houses. I shared the work with a Swede, a carpenter who built the house we lived in, and I paid him by working for him â€“ and this was done on a day to day basis. Later, I came to work at a sawmill and was paid in boards and planks for the houses. Shingles for the roofs we made ourselves from cedar which we had plenty of on our own land. As I have mentioned earlier, all my interest in the daily work in Denmark had been centered around fishing and working on the water, and we had come here with an idea to continue this kind of work. However, conditions forced us to become farmers and as such we had great difficulty in getting draught animals. At first we tried with a pair of oxen, which we had for over a year on the rented piece of land. It worked, but not very well. When we had to plow, we always
had to be three to do it. I held the plow, and my wife walked in front pulling the oxen and Hans had to drive them with a stick. In the end we sold them to the man from whom we had purchased them and we got our money back. The first two horses we had died from a infectious disease, which one of them had before we bought them. As time went by, we got younger and better horses, and eventually, everything went as we wished. When we got back on our own land, six years had gone by, but then things began to go well. In order to sell our eggs and sometimes chicken and chicks, I generally, drove to Tacoma twice a month. This was 22 US miles, and I always spent two days on the trip and put the horses and wagon in a livery stable. The wagon was covered, so I slept in the wagon and could come and go as I pleased, while looking after the horses. On my trips I met with friends and made new acquaintances, and I could also visit with the children, who at first worked in the city and later settled there. In Tacoma we also came in contact with a Dane, called Hans Rasmussen. He was the manager of a trading house, which also sold eggs, so we sold our eggs to him, until we moved to Vega on Anderson Island, where we sent them by railroad to Tacoma once a week. But then we wanted to try something different again. We had heard that somebody had traveled about a hundred miles West in our state in order to get so called free land, or a Homestead. I also wanted to try this and so it was done. A young man from our area, Ben Hang, Fillip and I went there, and each of us got the deed to 160 acres. The condition was that we were to live on the land for five years, then we would own the land. However, since I had a family, I could not go to live there, but Hans and I worked quite a bit there, and we were able to build a house, yet we began to doubt that we would be able to keep it and thus sold our deed for 75 dollars. It had all cost us about 20 dollars and a lot of work. Ben Hang also gave up his land, but Fillip kept his for the five years, and got his final papers,
but soon after he sold it for 1,000 dollars. He had to pay the cost of the paperwork himself, which was about 40 dollars, if I remember correctly. So then we had tried this also, had become wiser, if not richer! But our actual home was improved and we got more chickens, until we reached 700. And in 1904 we had paid back our debt to my brother, after he had waived his right on the interest we owed him over the years we had had the loan. On September 17, 1904 our youngest daughter, Margrethe married Fred Weston from Enumclaw. And it is with these two that we old ones have lived since May 1st, 1924, and where my wife passed away on July 27, this year (1928). At the time when they were married, we old ones had laid plans for going to Denmark, and our son Frederik had agreed to watch our things, together with our youngest son Lars. So we old ones left for Denmark on September 18, 1904. I have tried to describe our earthly position the first 13 years we lived here in this country, yet we do not believe that man lives from bread alone. - Our 3 eldest children were confirmed in Denmark, and had received a good preparation, two from the reverend LĂ¸gstrup, and one from the reverend Pedersen. And they had also been a part of the religious movement which had come to our area, as I have mentioned in the first part of these writings. But when we came to Tacoma, neither we, nor our children had and congregational ties to any church. I seemed to be the hardest on the 3 eldest, who came to stand much on their own.While I was in town, I became aware of a Norwegian, Lutheran church, where we went when it became Sunday. Here we met with two, believing, Danish families, C. Petersen and Jens Henriksen, who have been our friends in the years since then.
Mrs. Henriksen passed away many years ago, but the others are still living. The priest, Pedersen, we enjoyed listening to, but since we had already purchased land, we had to leave town before the following Sunday, and thus did not go back to this church. According to what I have heard, the church was later sold because of debt. Later I have been together with the reverend Povlsen, who had moved into the woods, where the Danes and Norwegians lived, - one of these was the man, I helped with his potatoes, and here I went to two of his meetings. I was quite sorry, that he later moved to the Mid-west, however, he said that he had to go a place where he could actually live, and later I lost track of him. As I have mentioned earlier, the first season when we had picked hop, we got acquainted with a Norwegian tradesman, and we got him to come to us with the necessary things for our household. He lived 12 US miles from us, about halfway to Tacoma, and he invited us to take part in the religious meetings which were held, once in awhile, in his home by a missionary, called Tellefsen, who was the father of two priests by the same name, however, I donâ€™t recall their first names. One was a priest with the Norwegian Lutheran Church in Tacoma, which we joined and became members of the congregation, and some if not all of our children also. However, in town there was also a Norwegian Baptist minister who had a great following, mostly by the young and our two eldest, Fillip and Else Marie went there and were strongly influenced to let themselves be re-baptized. Soon Else Marie withdrew, however, Fillip joined them, yet he came home to us first, to let us know his intention to re-baptize. As parents we were a bit sad to learn this, but we could not do anything against this, however, with the responsibility vested in us as parents, we asked him to postpone his decision till he was 21 which is the full age over here. This we did, also to give him some more time to reconsider, and he seemed to follow our advice, since he did not have to wait very long having just turned 20.
But when he returned to his friends and told what his parents had said, they declared that one should abide God more than humans, and thus the matter was settled and Fillip was re-baptized soon after. I donâ€™t know these advisors, yet even here more than 33 years later, I still feel resentment towards them. If I were to be asked, whether it was something bad that happened, whether a baptist is not just as good as a Lutheran, then I would have to say that I can not judge this, nor should I. I know that it is estimated that there are 8 million Baptist and only 5 million Lutherans in the United States and I know that there have been many great men on the side of the Baptist, who have done, and do a great job in saving souls. I am thinking of people like Spurgeon and F. B. Meyer, who both did their work in London, yet both they and their followers may be wrong in important matters. When I recollect such a Baptist in Denmark, he was exposed to unpleasantness, which we were free of. I am thinking about my old friend Peter Ullits. He had become a Christian by joining our small Sunday gathering, where we sang, read and spoke of the Godly things, and for a number of years he was always with us. But then he was no longer content with us and found new friends and was re-baptized. Our Christening he called water splashing, and he would not have his children go to school where religion was taught, although this was compulsory. He kept his children at home and was to pay a school mulct, which he would not pay, and he was thus sent to prison. This happened several times, but I am not sure how things ended, since we came over here, yet in Jestrup on Thyholm there were four families who were Baptist and they had a female teacher for their children. However, the question of Christening was discussed off and on, so it was a good thing to have an answer at hand, which was satisfying to one self. In those seventeen years we lived in Denmark, 7 of our children died as infants, or before they were one year old. When a person has passed away, it had to be reported to the county sheriffâ€™s office, and
then a note was issued to prove that the death had been reported. Such a note was called a burial note and had to be shown to the priest in order that he could bury the body. I had to bring such a note, and the first time I was not sure what the meaning was. I had to answer questions as to how old the child was and its name, but I was also asked whether the child owned anything? - This question came as a surprise to me, and I thought, the child was only a few months old, and born by poor parents, how could it own anything? When the notary saw that I was curious, he said: â€œWell, this question is absolutely necessary, because it could well be that somebody had bequeathed something to the childâ€?. I understood this, but then I also understood that if a person can bestow a gift on a small child, which it may benefit from in its own good time, then it is also a duty on the parents or guardians to tell the child that it has been given such a gift. But if it will not accept the gift, then it is in vain, and showing contempt towards the donor. Thus, the same thing is true with the birthright of a place with God, which is bestowed on a child by the holy trinity, our Father, Son and the holy ghost. And indeed such a gift was given to me when I was born. But with this gift follows also an obligation, which must be taken up in life, where we meet struggle, not only with our flesh and blood, but also with the princes and powers ruling in this age of darkness. Later we joined a community called the Norwegian Synode, which had just a short time earlier been formed as a colony and congregation. They built a large school, which was called a university, eight miles south of the city, and we were to join their church. The reverend, Harrestad, also came to our area to preach, indeed he even preached in our home once, and when two of our children, Hans and Margrethe, reached the age of their confirmation it was arranged that they could prepare themselves with him.When they had been confirmed, the reverend advised us and Hans, that we should help each other in having Hans educated for priesthood. This we embarked on soon after. A lot was purchased close to the school and a house was built. When everything was in order, Hans began to study
in the winter and the rest of the year he would work with anything at hand. Also during the time of studying he would work mornings and evenings sawing wood. He cooked his own food and for several winters he was joined by his two brothers Povl and Lars, who went to the Norwegian Bible School which was also in the school building. It was in turns that Lars and Povl stayed there, one at the time, and in this way things were continued for several years. Hans was married while he lived there, and then came the time when he was to continue his education at a priestâ€™s college and so he went to Blair, Nebraska, since he wanted to become a Danish minister. Yet he only stayed for one year in Blair. It had been the idea that his wife, who was an American, should learn the Danish language, however, this did not happen, so they returned and settled on a piece of forest land, which his wifeâ€™s stepfather had bought for them. However, after while Hans began school again, and on certain days he would attend the English Lutheran Priestâ€™s college in Seattle, where he would study for some hours and then receive some homework. In this way things were for 2 years, after which he was ordained and made the priest of a congregation who had just been formed. As mentioned earlier, we old ones had joined a Norwegian congregation in Tacoma and from here we had the reverend come to our houses to preach and to celebrate communion. At this time we were so many Danes, Swedes and Norwegians in the woods that we thought we would be able to form a congregation, have our own priest, our own church and and cemetery, and we also succeeded in this. We became organized as a congregation under the state laws and had a chairman, secretary and treasurer, and with luck, or I should say rather with the blessing of our Lord, we bought 18 acres of land. One from the congregation knew enough about surveying to divide part of the land into plots for burials. We were then able to sell such lots to the ones who needed it, and each member of the congregation was given one also. We were also
given such a plot that we aimed to use when one of us died. And here when Karen died, it was debated strongly, that she should be buried there, however, we found that it was too far away from where I am, so she was put to rest on a cemetery here outside Enumclaw, where Fred and Margrethe have two children buried. Here I can visit her grave whenever I want, and it is my intent to remain here as long as I live. We had a church built on the above mentioned land and did all the work ourselves, although it may not have been first class. A few years ago, when the Lutheran congregation took over the church, they tore it down and built one considerably larger, but for many years we had used it for our monthly services. When the church was built and we had arranged everything, one of the members began a Sunday School, yet this only took place a few times, and then our son Hans was encouraged to continue this, and so it has been done for more than the 26 years that have passed. The only exception was the six months when Hans went to Nebraska. However, the Sunday School efforts were soon extended to many other schools. It happened in the way that somebody from a different area came to our services, and would ask Hans to take up the work with them in their area, and if it was possible, a plan was made as to when it could be done and where. In most cases the schools were used for this. Then the big day arrived, which we had been looking forward to with great expectations â€“ which were indeed not let down. Margrethe and Fred Weston had been married, and Frederik had agreed to handle our affairs at home while we were away. For this he would get the earnings that he could make from the chickens and what else there was on the place. Lars was still at home, he was the child in the family, being just 15 years old. It was a quick journey, since we only made short stops at the major cities, and we got straight aboard the ship from the train in New York, and after only 5 days and nights we were in Liverpool, England. Here we were to spend two days in a hotel, but both here and
on the ship we made friends, and were very well. Then we went across England and boarded the ship for Esbjerg. This took 2 nights and 1 day, and we arrived in Esbjerg in the morning. Aboard this last ship it was less pleasant, since Aquavit was sold on board, and there were many Swedes on the trip, who drank so much that they became very drunk, so this was unpleasant company this last night. When we got to Esbjerg, my brother Kristian was at the docks and we could talk, while we were still on board. It took some time getting through customs, and afterwards we ate at a hotel at the expense of the shipping company, and then we proceeded to my brother’s home in Århus. Here we spent a few days getting some things done, and I had a suit made. A little later we got on the train to Struer, and then Lyngs, where my wife’s sister had her home and here were would make our base. She was a widow, but a brother was living with her, and her married daughter lived a bit away. This daughter’s husband drove us to Helligsø, where my sister and her family lived in our old home. On the following Sunday, we went to church and took communion in our old parish church and here we met with old friends and neighbors after having been away for 13½ years. It became a time with quiet joy and delight to our hearts, visiting our old friends and neighbors, and we were especially glad to learn that many had become firm believers. Many more than we had expected, had come to this standpoint. Meanwhile, my parents had both passed away and we visited their graves in the Gjettrup cemetery. Also we visited the 7 graves of our children in Helligsø, and my wife’s brother had also passed away. We stayed in Denmark a little more than four months, and in the final part of our stay we said our goodbyes to our sisters and brothers, and it was clear to us, in all cases, that this would be a final farewell here on earth, which it also was. The first to die, was brother Peter. He left a widow, his second wife, and 8 children, who were all from his first marriage. His widow has
shown a rare, and loyal care and ability to keep the children gathered around their home, and the eldest is now 28 years old. Brother Peter, who was two years my younger, and I were to share the most, both in our school years and in our early adult years when he was being educated, first at a high school, and later at a teacherâ€™s college. Generally, he had a vacation each year, which he spent at our childhood home, and it was at the time when I was fishing. Once we had made plans to going to the US together, and since brother Peter was a much better writer than I, he was the one who wrote to the emigration agent, with a request to aid us in coming here, but the agent never answered us, so at that time we did not go. Also, when the Christian awakening reached our family, we were close to each other, and his widow has been the dearest of friends to both my wife and I â€“ we have also exchanged many letters with her and one of his children. The next of my sisters and brothers to be called home was brother Kristian, and his wife had died a few years earlier. He was, as I have mentioned, the person who especially helped my parents and we sisters and brothers, both in the spiritual and the timely sense. He left four sons, who are all goldsmiths, and three of them live in their birth-town, Ă…rhus. The youngest, Ferdinand has given us two old ones much joy by paying us many visits, when he worked in Seattle many years ago. Ever since, we have kept up writing letters, which have also been a joy to us, and I hope this may continue also after I am no longer here. The next of the flock to die, was brother Anders Kristian. Death came swiftly in his case. He was 12 years younger than I and left a wife, his third, and as far as I know, he left 11 children, of which he had three with his latest wife, whom I have never met. We have never had a chance to exchange letters with her. It was with Anders Kristian and
his first wife that my father lived his last years, after my mother died. – In this connection I often remember something that I should have done towards father. When we came to the US, it was my mother who wrote letters to us. And we exchanged many letters, 24 to be exact, in the three years before she died. I kept these letters together and often read them, but unfortunately, they were burnt, when our house burned together with all our other things. But when father went to live with Anders Kristian, I wrote to him and sent a greeting to father, however, I never addressed a letter directly to him. Then when we were back in Denmark and father had passed away, my brother told me that father had been very sad that I had not written him, and he had taken this as a sign that I was perhaps mad at him. He thought that perhaps I had learned of some problems which had arisen as to whether he should go to my brother or stay in the house after my mother had died. On the contrary, I thought it a good thing that my father thought things over twice before deciding. I can also well understand the wrong that my father had met with, when he was given to the rich family Svinth. Indeed, he probably had all he could wish for, yet with no form of discipline, and he was together with the servants and found his friends at the local inn, while he grew up. My brother Peter was given his name after two of father’s friends from youth which were called Mads and Peter from the inn – my brother’s name was Mads Peter. But perhaps it was not so strange that father suffered from this childhood, and that the repercussions followed him all his life, yet by his contemporaries he was considered a lucky child. The last of my brothers and sisters to die, was our only sister, (two had died as children). This is almost 2 years ago. Her husband, Kristen Houmøller, had died a few years earlier. She left 5 sons and 5 daughters, who are all grown up. 7 are married and live in various places in Denmark. My sister and her family were our neighbors for a number of years and Kristen Houmøller was my partner in those
years, both when fishing and as a wreck master, and when purchasing wreckage, together. - It can be said about we brothers and sisters, to the extent that we knew ourselves: We wandered towards the Lord, and I now believe that they have all come home to our Father. I, the last one, also wait to come home when the Lord calls me and my time is done. I will now report a little about our farewell to brothers and sisters, relatives and friends in Denmark. 3 of my wife’s relatives were also still living at this time. The eldest sister, Mette Nielsen, the widow of Povl Kristensen, passed away about twelve years ago. It was she and her husband, who were as parents to my wife, when she lost her parents. They had only one child, a daughter, who for many years have been widowed after Anders Nielsen. The next who passed away was a brother, Mogens Kr. Nielsen from Boddum, and a few years later his widow also died. I believe she was the only person who really had an idea about what we were in for when we wanted to emigrate and as far as we know, most thought we did wrong in leaving a good earthly position in Denmark, in exchange for the uncertain, over here. - She said, that she thought it was God’s will and that it was necessary that some from the old country went here where there was much more room. And thus it may have been the will of our Father that we should leave, because he had a task for us over here, that he wanted us to undertake. - Mogens and Karen had three daughters and of these, two own their parents’ home. The last to die was a brother, who lived his last years with the other brother mentioned, and his daughters. He reached the age of more than 80 years and had never been married. On a day in March, we began our voyage back to the US. We also felt ourselves that the old truth that having two homes causes grief, since you can only be in one place. The voyage back became somewhat longer than the trip going to Denmark, and it was more uncomfortable. We had a return ticket with the Hamburg – America lines, and when the time came for our departure, we received a card from our
agent to meet in the steamer line’s office in Hamburg, on a certain day, which we did. Unfortunately, it turned out that the company had miscalculated things and had called many more passengers to Hamburg than could be accommodated on the ship, and thus had to hold some back and make room for these on the next ship. We were held back for four days, and were put up in a hotel together with 20 to 30 others, mainly Germans – at the expense of the company. It was said that we were 2,800 passengers on the ship. Many were from Poland and Austria, and they had all been held back in Hamburg and were eager to board the ship, and the ship’s officers had to keep them back with force, which was often done in a rough manner. Karen and I also felt this, and were pushed so hard aside that we tripped in some rope on the deck. However, when we had finally been shown our bunks, things quieted down, but we had problems in getting our share of the food. The voyage to New York took 18 days, but we arrived safely and 8 days later we were back home again, and found everything well. Frederik and Lars had taken good care of things and we could not have wished it better. And all our children were all well. We returned in April of 1905, and we resumed our usual work and tended our things, and naturally, we were busy hatching chicks from our hatching machine. The last of our children soon left home, leaving us two old ones to do the work. Our chores with the church also continued at a normal pace. Hans, together with the Sunday school, had begun to hold edifying meetings on a regular basis, but soon he was to go to Nebraska, after having sold his house and things in Parkland, in the fall. He only stayed one year at school and when he and his wife and two children returned the following spring they settled on a piece of land which his wife’s stepfather gave them. They lived her a few years till 1913, and at the same time Hans was busy on Sundays with his Sunday school and meetings. After this came eight years where we continued the work around our homes. We had some more land cleared, built some more chicken
houses, and made improvements here and there. To do the heavier chores, we had to rent help, and also to saw our wood. At this time our friends Marius Sloths settled just next to us, and they were a great encouragement to us, and we were able to share Godâ€™s word and go to church together. Marius we could hire to do the work I was not able to do. However, then age became felt, especially, for my wife. She began stooping heavily, and we were sure that this came from carrying feed around to the chickens. Around June 1913 we had a visit from Hansâ€™ wife and one of the women from the congregation, a Mrs. Gustafson, and when they saw how tired my wife looked, they recommended that we made a change, and this was done in the following way. Hans went to see those of his brothers and sisters that he could reach in a short time, and they decided to meet at our home on a specific day, with the understanding that we had to leave our home and sell it. We old ones knew that they were coming, but we were far from happy about our position, or the thought that we were to leave our home for the last 22 years. We knew that none of our children had the money to buy the place, and we had no desire to sell the place without having a reasonable down payment of the total sum, so we did not think anything could be done in a hurry. However, they came and we were all agreed that their mother needed some relief. During the talks it appeared that the only solution would be for Hans to take over our property against paying 1,500 dollars, which were to be paid in installments of 100 dollars per year and at a 4% interest â€“ the two first years no installments were to be paid. Thus we would get 100 dollars a year to live on, plus what we could make ourselves, and the final amount would be paid to us when we were 79 years old, or in the year 1928. The animals we had were approx. 600 chicken and 500 chicks, and the last batch was only three weeks old, and the next batches were
6 and 9 weeks old, respectively. We had 2 or 3 cows and one was to follow us when we got settled in a new place. Additionally, there were 2 horses and wagons, plus some tools to work the land, which were estimated to have a value of 800 dollars. We were to have Hansâ€™ home as a down payment and if we were able to sell this for more than 800 dollars, Hans was to receive the surplus amount. However, we did a bad mistake in doing this, since we handed over our things, but Hansâ€™ home which we were to receive as payment, we did not get anything in writing on, but this we did not think anything of till later. The exchange was done immediately, and my wife went home together with Fillip. It was our plan to live next to our daughter and son in law, Else Marie and Andrew Anderson, and to live with them, till we had our own home arranged next to theirs. Our furniture and household items, together with our tools we were to keep, and the next day I began to drive these items to Steilacoom at Puget Sound where they were put in a barn belonging to a freight man, and they were then later to be sailed to the island where we were going to live. I hauled a load each day for two consecutive days and on the second day our neighbor, Marius Sloth, went along, so he could take the horses and wagon with him back and the next day I rented a boat to sail the things across to the island. It became a good resting period for my wife with our children, and when she came to the island to stay with our daughter and son in law she could rest when she wanted, however, it has always been contrary to her nature, a trait which lasted to the end. But Hans was not to do so well. In the course of two weeks the chickens only laid half the amount of eggs that they had done in our time, and one night the chicken coop burned with all the chickens. That chickens will lay less eggs if they are moved or if something changes in their daily routine is well known, a problem which could have been corrected, but the chickens were not so easy to replace, so we felt sorry for Hans about the loss, and we also understood that it would be difficult for him to pay us what he owed. Thus we
had to see if we could sell Hans’ house in order to get some money. But when we or Hans found a buyer, then Hans’ father in law was against it because he did not like the buyer, so no deal came of it, and this happened twice. Then both I and Hans’ brothers and sisters put pressure on him, so I was given the deed to the house, and soon after Hans found a third buyer and the house was sold. We then had a sum paid to us, and the rest was secured and, eventually, paid us at the agreed time. We found it a blessing that we sold this house, since it has changed owners many times since, and none have lived there very long, so we suspect the owners have taken a loss on the property. We received a bit more from Hans’ house than the worth of our animals, which he received from us, and later we received a horse and wagon, which both gave us the sum that considerably reduced the amount owed us by Hans. Nevertheless, Hans had a hard time, since everything was laid out to raise chickens like we had originally intended, but he did not quite succeed and after two years he had to give it up and since then the chicken coops have been empty. Yet, it is from this our first home that Hans has carried out his vocation as a priest, so we old folks think we have a part in this, if only indirectly, in as much as our old home is now the home of a priest, our son. This is also one reason that we believe that we had a task to fulfill by coming here. It is a joy to us that our heavenly Father chose one of our sons to work in his vineyard, and it is our hope also for the future, and we pray to the Lord that he will give our son faith. We know that it still holds true, that if the Lord does not build the house, then the builders work in vain, and when the Lord does not watch over the city, then the watchmen men watch in vain. We old folks had now come to live next to our son in law and our daughter. We lived on an island right on the fjord, and I had a boat built, and I tried my luck fishing, but did not have much success – and I ended up paying more than I ever made. Yet I had the boat and it gave me much joy and pleasure. Also, it was a nice little home
that we had built, and additionally, we had a cow and a small flock of chickens. Further, we became members of the Swedish Lutheran congregation, which had a church on one of the neighbor islands. The members of this church were spread across the two islands: Anderson Island and MacNeil Island, and we were to go by boat when we had to go to church. It took 1Â˝ hrs. to row one way. It was a quiet place we had come to, however, some distance away the neighbors were less quiet. Near our church on MacNeil Island, there was a large prison with almost 1,000 prisoners, and once in a while a prisoner found the opportunity to escape. But when it was discovered a siren was sounded, which could be heard far away. This was to awaken the people who lived around, so they could aid in apprehending the fugitive, against a high reward. This repeated itself two or three times a year, but most were caught before they had a chance to leave the island. Right opposite our island, on the mainland, there was a gunpowder and dynamite factory, and once in a while it happened that one of their depots blew up, and when this happened, the houses on our island shook strongly! And when we went to Tacoma, we came close by a mental institution for the insane. We would be able to see the patients doing their work in the nearby fields and they had a comparatively large farm in connection with the institution, and in Danish we would call it an exemplary farm to a very high degree. Every Sunday we were able to attend Sunday School where our daughter was one of the leaders, however, soon a change in our lives was to take place. Our daughter began to feel ill and went to see a doctor, who recommended her to be committed to a hospital in order to have a tumor removed from her stomach. But she died on the operating table. Her husband was with her, but I did not get to town till around the time we thought the operation was over, but I was allowed to see her body. - Three days earlier when my wife and I had seen her off, I had repeated a verse from a psalm that goes like this:
For my children and seed I would mourn, if at every hour I should cry and should ask, where they should earn their bread and happiness. God yet lives and will remember them, so I shall not complain. (Roughly translated into English from Danish – translator’s note) It was a rather serious sorrow and loss for her husband and their 5 children, and also for us old ones, but we practiced and tried to say to ourselves: With grief and complaint restrain, God’s word let thee comfort and guide thee. (Roughly translated into English from Danish – translator’s note) And also we believed that she had come safely home, because in her lifetime she would say: “Also I, the great sinner, God saved in Jesus’ name.” - Life continued again, and with time, the loss of our daughter became less harsh also for her husband and children. For me it was a happy diversion to have my row boat, which I used once a month when we went to church. Here Karen always went along. At other times when I went for other things, either to fetch sand for the chicken coops, or to get wood for the houses which we felt necessary to build, then Karen would stay at home. This was all right by her, as long as I was happy and encouraged by these trips. When we were on the island, the time came when we had been married for 45 years, and on this occasion our children joined us at home and threw a large party for us. They brought us various gifts, among others a roll of linoleum with which to cover the floor in our livingroom.
And so life continued for five years, till the special anniversary where we could celebrate our golden anniversary. During the years, we lived on the island, the first WW broke out, and our two youngest sons, Povl and Lars joined. First in the military camps in this country and after their training they were sent to France. This was a turbulent time, especially, for them. In the papers, Lars was reported as being lost, but around the same time, we had received a letter from himself, saying that he was lightly wounded and was in an infirmary, and he was to stay there for quite some time. He had been injured by a shrapnel in the leg, but luckily it healed and he was dismissed from the hospital as cured. However, a nurse protested, since she believed that there was still a part of the shrapnel left in his leg, and so they had to start all over â€“ and this time his leg took more than a whole month to heal, yet this is what saved him from being part of the most bloody part of the war for the American soldiers â€“ and not long after the Armistice came. After this came a longer time with guard duties in the occupied territories and Povl had time to get married and he returned with a very nice French wife. However, I will let him report this himself here: â€œWe had left New York on December 12, 1917 and when we had been at sea for two days many of the soldiers became seasick and could not eat. Thus there was more for those of us who were not seasick, otherwise we felt that food was not enough. I was on guard duty three times a day and for the duration of the voyage I was never out of my clothes. To begin with, we were 7 transport vessels and one man of war, but when we had sailed for 10 days the man of war and three others left us, and we were give smaller ships to protect us. Everything went well until the last day where we ran into a whole group of German submarines. I was on guard duty when the first one appeared. It was very serious, and we knew this was a matter of life and death. But we were not hit, and many of the submarines were destroyed by our small warships and the rest fled and we were not to see them again.
We arrived in Saint Naisaire in France and remained there for two days, then we came to a camp in a city called Toul. Here I was to drive a truck, first with provisions and later carrying the wounded. After three months, others came and took our places. After this I started to work on a train and was stationed a different place, and it was here that I got to know the girl, who was later to become my wife, and her parents. Her fatherâ€™s name was August Roy, and he had participated in the war from the beginning, and almost to the end when he was wounded, after which he did not go back to the war. His wife is called Emelia, and their two sons were Edmond and Frank Roy. At the time went I got to know Louise, she worked in a munitions factory, which was operated together with a prisoner camp. One day an explosion happened in this factory, killing 200, mostly women. Louise was blown over a high fence by the pressure and fell into a large, empty cauldron, and a bit later another explosion went off blowing her away from the cauldron again, however, she came to no harm. Here I had the opportunity to be around German prisoners of war. They said that they liked the Americans better than the French. I understood that they had expected the Germans to win the war till the very end, but as we know they didnâ€™t. There were many of the German prisoners who were mere boys around the age of 15, and among the prisoners there were also quite a number of German-Americans that I could converse with in English. As a rule they were happy to be prisoners and thus not have to fight any more. In the 20 months that I were in France I came around a lot in the country and the cities which I thought looked nice. I was in Paris twice with a short stay, and at one time I was on leave and spent 5 days there. People were generally a bit withdrawn towards us, however, if we first got to know each other, then they were very hospitable and as kind as could be wished for, and this went for both men and women. When I first met Louise, whom I was later to marry, the language was a quite a problem. We
had to use both words and gestures, as we thought best. I had a ten day leave, and we were married on May 10th, 1919, and after this I remained here and spent approx. 6 hrs. on guard duty day or night. Later, we were camped a bit outside Bordeaux, for two weeks and after this we began our journey home. About 100 soldiers brought their wives along.â€? As mentioned then we had our golden wedding anniversary. This was planned long ahead and was to be held here in Enumclaw with our daughter and son in law. We two old ones arrived the evening before and our old priest who had spoken to us 25 years ago at our silver wedding, he was also present at this occasion and spoke to us together with our son Hans. Our old priest had also married Fred and Margrethe, when they were married 19 years earlier, so it was a day of great joy and festivity for us. However, our joy was blended with part fear, since our bodily, and age-related weaknesses had long been present. Our children gave us 30 dollars in gold, among other things, and the next day the whole family were photographed. But when we got up on the third day, in order to travel back to the island and our home and things there, my wife was ill and quite helpless. She had suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and the following paralysis. Thus, I had to travel back alone, and when a week had passed, she had recovered so much, that we hoped that she was well on her way to recovery, and Fred and Margrethe drove her back in their car. Yet another week passed, but then we had to call for a second doctor who told us in confidence that we should not expect my wife to life for years, only months. So when Fred and Margrethe were willing to take us in, we did not think about this for very long, and they took my wife with them back, while I stayed behind in order to sell our cows and other things, which we wanted to be without. Our chickens were moved here, and we got to use one of Fredâ€™s chicken coops. Time went. My wife was very weak and her mental faculties also, but here we were fully taken care of and I could concentrate on being together with my wife the whole time. We could walk both inside and
outside, we could sit in the sun or the shade as we wished. She has been seriously ill twice since, but has recovered both times. Thus things went, until one of the last nights in March this year, when Fred and Margretheâ€™s house burned, and we all praised our luck that we got out safely, - we two old ones, and Fred and Margrethe, plus their eight children who were home. The four eldest were away from home working. But we got out wearing only our nightwear. I had our clothes on my arm, as these had been put on a chair when we went to bed in the evening. Otherwise, everything we had burned, our bed and clothes, our book collection, letters and pictures. Luckily, Fred and Margrethe had their house and belongings insured, so their loss was bearable. We old folks had no insurance, but our loss was also bearable, since we did not have so much to lose. The two of us were lodged temporarily with a neighbor, Peder HalkjĂŚr, and Fred and Margrethe had their old house near by. This had been maintained and had been rented out. The tenants moved out and our daughter and son in law moved in. We old folks were later fetched by our son in Chehalis, were we stayed for two months, in turn we stayed with our three sons, who are married and live there. They are Fillip, Frederik and Povl. Lars is also there, but he is unmarried and does not have a household of his own. We arrived in Chehalis on April 7 and returned here at the beginning of June, where we again moved in with the others. There was room enough, since the eldest of the children could sleep in some of the outhouses. Time passed till around Mid-July, when my wife became more ill, and this time with death to follow. She was unconscious the last 3 to 4 days, and no longer recognized us, but then one evening, just before we were to say our evening prayers, where we had spoken about the fact, that all signs said that she would soon take her last breath, and would return home to take her place which our Lord Jesus had prepared also for her in the heavenly dwellings. When we had read and prayed and ended by saying the Lordâ€™s Prayer, then she did as she was used to and prayed with us and with a joy in her voice. When we tried to do the same thing the next morning, and she tried to follow
us again, then she could no longer say the words, yet her somber look told us that she was with us, and this was to be the last understanding look I was to get from her. Also on this day, Margrethe lifted the smallest child up for her to see, and a smile was present on her face, - while we had stayed here, she had been especially fond of the smallest child, a girl, who was just one year old. When her time came, my wife died without any death struggle, and a new part of my life began. We had been together for 54½ years, and now I practice saying: With grief and sorrow hold back Let thee comfort and guide by the word of God Let not yea heart sin in sorrow, in death life begins. And I know; A soul in this dust hut dwelled, a soul, who believed in our Savior, and who yearned with hope towards Heaven seeking our Father and his joy (Both verses are translated from Danish- a more correct translation may exist – translator’s note) During my wife’s illness and death it was possible for us to take care of her without outside help. The doctor was here a few times, but otherwise I was with her day and night, and Fred and Margrethe were also close at hand. Margrethe did all the washing and practical things. Hans and his wife were here a few days before, and their four sons from Chehalis came at noon and were here when she passed away a little before evening – and on the evening of her burial they were all here. In my life, when it comes to my earthly matters, I can say to a high degree that I have had neither poverty nor wealth, but I have always
had what I needed. Here after the death of my wife, when everything has been settled, I own 500 dollars, but nothing in the form of land or realty, and it is agreed that I shall have my meals and lodgings with our son in law, Fred Weston and his wife, our daughter Margrethe. None of our children have received any inheritance from us, the two oldest. When we emigrated here, we were the ones to finance the trip, but this money and more, we received from each of them, when they began to earn money, and so we got through the first hard years. When it comes down to it all, I suspect we two old ones were the ones to suffer the most, since in all the 37 years here we have had our home in two places. This means that our hearts still yearn for Denmark, although this can to some extent be compensated for by books and letters from home. The worst is that we will always be more or less strangers to our own kin, our grandchildren. When we had been here the first 3 to 4 years, I was able to do alright language wise when trading and doing things, and my wife was also able to get by in her more limited circle around the home. However, towards the younger generation, which is growing up, even our own grandchildren, we become more like strangers. They are not interested enough in carrying on a conversation with us, and indeed they do not want to listen to us speaking English, because it is not fluent, a thing we also feel ourselves. Thus we are a bit withdrawn, and in addition our hearing have not been so well in the last few years. Granted, this could perhaps have been different, if we had been more diligent in trying to cope with the English language in our home. In the early stages we could have learned something from our children, who went to school, but we didnâ€™t. And even though we have felt the transition the most, then we must be happy, that things were not any worse, and I can now say, that I am well and have everything I need.
As I have mentioned already, our eldest son, Fillip Melankton, worked for a milkman the first year, - first for a Dane, and later for others. He also worked one winter driving around with firewood. At this work his employer tried to cheat him for two months wages, but Fillip succeeded in getting his money via the courts, taking the advice of one of his friends. He then began working at a sawmill, as an ordinary worker, and from this he advanced to being in charge of one of the bigger saws on the biggest sawmill in town, and the area as whole. Thus, he got a bigger wage, but the responsibility was also bigger, not alone for the work, but also for the co-workers. While he worked at the mill, he got a piece of Homestead land and also got the papers for it, sold it and with this money he bought 5 acres on the outskirts of town where he built a house. Then he was married to a Norwegian girl, Julia Andersen. She was 17 and he was 27, and they were married on April 12th, 1902. They lived here for a few years and then purchased 5 acres more, where they built houses for their pure breed chickens, Blue Andalusians, whilst he continued his work at the sawmill. In the end, however, he had to give up this work, since his legs could not endure standing still so much, and therefore he quit this job. A bit later he had the opportunity to exchange his property in Tacoma for a farm, four miles south of Chehalis. This was 110 acres. His home in town was valued at 10,000 dollars and the farm at 17,000 dollars, and thus he owed 7,000 dollars at a 7% interest. This almost got to be too much for them, since the farm was a bit neglected, but during the first two years they were able to sell 40 acres of the land, and could thus pay back 4,000 dollars of the debt. Over the years he had all the land drained, and it was all low-land, and a stream went through it. Once the land was flooded so much that it took a barbed wire fence with it, which ended up on the neighborsâ€™ property, and it took quite a lot of hard work moving it back to its original position.
Not long after, they exchanged the farm with a house in town, where they spent 2 years, and here the eldest children found work. Fillip began to work as a carpenter. He, actually, had not learned this profession, but for two winters in Denmark he had attended a cottage industries school. One winter with the teacher Andreasen in Dover School, and one winter with the turner Bundgaard in Vestervig. Also he had worked in one of the workshops for the railroads where they built the freight carts for the rails, and of course he had built his own houses also. But later he exchanged the town house for a farm again. This was only 33 acres and valued at 11,000 dollars. Here he has built a new living house, plus out houses and they have a silo. He has now been there for five years, but while he keeps the farm he also works as a carpenter, and his wife and the children, still at home, tend the farm. I believe they have 10 cows giving milk, a flock of chickens and two horses. Generally, Fillip makes 6 dollars a day plus his dinner. There is a paved road just in front of the house, and a river runs a little behind their land. They have 7 children from 3 till 25 years old. They held their silver anniversary in April 1927. The next of our children was Else Marie. She was 15 years old when we came to the US. In the beginning she worked doing household work in town. From the start she joined the Norwegian Lutheran congregation in town and took an active part in their youth activities. She was the one who helped us the most money-wise, when we needed it. When she was 21 years old, she was married to a Danish man, Andrew Andersen. He was ten years older than she was, and he had a farm on an island, located some 20 miles from Tacoma, and about the same distance from our home. In order to get there, they had to come and get us by boat, or we rented one ourselves and rowed over, and it took about 1 hour to get there. They lived there for 19 years, before Else Marie passed away. They have 5 children, of which two are married and have two children each. One, a son, is married to a girl who had a Swedish father and
a Norwegian mother, and they also live on one of the islands. This son, Jens Andersen, the eldest of our grandchildren, was born shortly after my father passed away. The other is a girl, and she is married to an American, who deals in milk in town.- We old folks lived next to this daughter and son in law for 12 years, but Else Marie died already three years after we arrived there, and three years ago, her husband also died, and their home has been sold. Their son, Jens Andersen, has his home near that of his parents, and the fjord is right outside his house. The third, Frederik, was 14 years old when we came over, and he had just been confirmed before we left Denmark. First he began working for a young Swede, and later for a German family, which had a couple of boys his age. These boys wanted to let Frederik know that the Germans were stronger than the Danes, and had beaten them in 1864. But then I told Frederik that in 1849, it were the Germans who were beaten and had to leave the country. The boys told this to their father, and he then explained to them that at that time the Germans had not been in the mood to fight. Frederik found work in various areas, and on several occasions he gave us money to buy things that we needed. I kept a ledger, where I put down how much we got from each of our children, with this in mind to pay them back, but in the end they did not want this. However, at one occasion, we persuaded Andrew and Marie to accept 100 dollars as a gift. Sometimes Frederik would work for somebody who could not pay him his wages, and thus he once got two sows instead of money. We then received these, and at one time we had a lot of pigs to butcher and sell, yet we gave this up again, and concentrated on the chickens. Another time Frederik received a horse instead of money, and this we also got, yet this was a bad deal, because it got ill and died, and our own horse was infected and also died. Then Frederik went to school and learned accounting and later he worked several years for 3 different grocery stores. Later he became
an accountant for a plumbing business, and he later began to run such a business of his own. It was also Frederik, who gave us the most help, when looking after our things when we were back home in Denmark. Not long after he was married to a sister of Fillip’s wife, called Alice Andersen, and her father, Ole Andersen is still living. Frederik and Alice have settled in Chehalis, and have run a plumbing business there for many years, and also, they sell farming machines and tools. They have three sons and a daughter from 3 to 16 years of age. Frederik has done the plumbing on Fred and Margrethe’s new house here in Enumclaw. The fourth of our children is Hans, whom I have mentioned on numerous occasions earlier. He and Margrethe were those of our children who especially shared in our difficulties when we settled in the woods. They were the ones to cry with us, when our situation seemed hopeless, as was the case once when we could not find our cattle and had to look for them a long time – once indeed we never found two young pieces of cattle.Both when Hans was young and while he studied, he was the one to do mostly heavy work, sawing wood and working for the neighbor’s at 1½ dollars per day, plus dinner. In this way he worked for an Englishman by the name of Wells in 1913. At this time he suggested Hans that he finish a job at a fixed waged, which somebody had agreed to do at a fixed rate, but left half finished, when he had been paid part of the sum. It was a piece of fence which had to be made. ½ a mile long (2640 feet) and 264 fence posts had to be dug in. They were all pointed at the tip, but were sitting at one end and had to be carried to their place, since there was no room for any vehicle. Hans asked 15 dollars for the job, and Wells was willing to pay this, and when he met his neighbor Anton Wong the same day, he said: “This time I fooled the priest.” Hans began work the next day, and with the help of a horse that could carry four posts and he himself one, he got the 264 posts placed on day one, and the next day had got all the posts rammed in place, since the ground was fairly soft, and on the third day he got all the
wire rolled out and fixed. Wells helped rolling out the wire and fixing it, this was part of the agreement, and he was positively surprised that it had all gone so fast, and did not say anything about anybody being fooled. During and in the years after the war, a big lumber company began cutting down the trees around Hans’ home, and this took between 5 and 6 years and gave jobs to a lot of people. And Hans also worked there in those years, so close to his home as he possibly could, and this helped get his finances back in order, while he was able to carry out his work as a priest also. He was never bound more by work, than he could take a day off, when he had to perform a burial, or had other church work to do. As a whole, the wood cutting work was very dangerous, and many lost their lives, and thus it also became Hans’ plight to bury several of his work mates, both from his own camp and those farther away. These took place under completely different circumstances. To name the extremes: Once he had to perform a burial 7 miles from his home, - and at this time he rode a bike. It was long after the agreed time that they came with the body, and only very few, I believe five took part in the burial. Hans had to do most of the work, covering the grave, and when they were finished it was almost dark. This was one side of the work, but I will also mention the other. This was a man in his prime, who had been struck so hard, that he died shortly after from the blow. He said to his wife, when he died that she should get Hans to bury him. He had been present at a burial that Hans had performed, and thus he also buried him. Afterwards, the burial agent gave Hans an envelope with 15 dollars, on which was written: “From the comrades at camp”. One had passed his hat around between the work mates. These were the opposites, the normal lies in the middle, - normally, a burial would not cost anything.Often it was also dangerous for Hans himself in the woods, but now he has worked as a well-digger for the last 5 or 6 years. This is also
dangerous, especially when dynamite is used to penetrate rock or other hard material. In such cases he has to go down and drill a hole in the rock in which to place the dynamite. Then a fuse has to be lighted, before he can come back up, and some time later then the explosion comes, depending on the length of the fuse. In some instances he has been 110 feet down, and at all times he has his own tools with him, both wire and hoist, and he has one of his sons along to help him. These last years he has had plenty of hard work, while being a priest at the same time. At times he has been hard put to make ends meet, but in the last few years he has been paid a good salary as a priest. The United English Lutheran Church has gotten its affairs in better order, and among these have also been paying a good salary to their priests, when they are working and a good pension for when they retire. The last three years Hans has received 1100 dollars per year, and on Sundays he works according to the following schedule: He preaches at two churches during the day and in the evening he preaches at their own school, and in addition, he takes part in three Sunday Schools also. He has a long distance to cover, but these days he has a car, and the roads are good. His wife is an American, and is the adopted daughter of Frank Morgan, who used to live in our neighborhood. He passed away a few years ago, but her mother is still alive, - and she came along, when Hans began teaching Sunday School at our church, when it was built. Now on December 12th, 1928, they have been married for 25 years. They have 13 children aged 1Â˝ till 24. We were several who were gathered with them in celebration on the above date, - two of their children are married, one son was married this summer, and a daughter was married only a short time ago. The fifth of our children is Anne Margrethe. She is a little more than a year older than Hans, and like him, she shared the first hard years with us in our first home and they joined each other in going to Sunday School in Roy, which is about 6 miles away. With thanks, we
think back on the priest and others who led this school, among others the Engel family. He was the station manager at the railroad. He and his wife sometimes took some of the children with them back to their home and fed them supper, and as mentioned earlier, Margrethe and Hans were confirmed on the same day in the church hall in Parkland. Margrethe was soon asked to work for some families in the neighborhood. This was often when somebody was ill or was in need of help. She did this in both our railroad town of Roy and in Tacoma, and it was generally with household work. In this way she once worked for Captain Clofft. He was widower and had two daughters. One was 14 years old and the other was 17, and she ran the household together with a maid. She had attended a domestic science school in order to learn to cook, however, it was finer cooking that she had learned, and this did not suit her father. He wanted a more basic food, like the one he had been used to on his ships. Among other things he wanted to have a pea soup, but this his daughter would not make him, and thus they had some disagreement, and the daughter would leave the house, without letting her father know where she was. After a while he would become worried and had to telephone family and friends, until he located her. At such times Margrethe had to take charge of the household until the daughter was back. On one of these occasions, when they were dining and eating the dinner that Margrethe had cooked, the captain said that he believed that her mother was better at an art which he had not been taught. When Margrethe asked him what this art was, he answered: â€œThat her mother was better at raising girls than he wasâ€?. As a shipâ€™s captain he had had to raise a lot of boys, which he had succeeded in, since many of his boys where now as men in high positions around the country and on ships, however, in order to raise a boy, nothing else but an end of rope was necessary. This he could not use when it came to girls, and thus he felt rather helpless as things were for the moment.Margrethe was married on her 21st, birthday, on Sept. 17 1904, with Fred Weston, who owned the farm on which they still live, and it is here we old folks have lived since May 1924, and where my wife
passed away four months ago. It was also here that they built a large house, four years after getting married, the same house which burned to the ground on one of the last nights in March of this year. The house has been re-built during the summer of this year. The farm has around 63 acres of land and apart from 3 acres, all have been cleared. On an average they keep 20 cows, and they sell the cream, but not the milk. They have 12 children from the age of 15 months till 23 years. Of these the 3 or 4 eldest are away from home. Fred Weston is ten years older than his wife, and he came to the US when he was 18. He came from the Danish part of Schleswig, and to a large extent, he came in order to avoid being drafted to the German army. They were three brothers who left at different times, but they all settled on the West Coast, were they have found each other, and all three acquired free land, which they held long enough to get the title for, whereupon they all sold it, in order to buy a large piece of land here outside Enumclaw, which they then split. This land is closer to civilization and cities. The eldest brother, Peter, who was married and had an adopted daughter, passed away some years ago. He was killed by one of his bulls, but his widow lives in their home together with their daughter and her husband. The other brother, Hans, sold his farm a few years ago, and it was then worth 17,000 dollars. He had never been married, and he now runs an exemplary chicken farm here near Enumclaw. Our son in law, Fred, is on his farm, which he tends in the best manner. The farm is located at the foot of Mt. Rainier, which can be seen here outside, although it is almost thirty miles away. Fredâ€™s property is valued at 25,000 dollars, however, it is not for sale. All three brothers have been gold diggers in Alaska for three summers, but they always came back here during the winter. They all worked together, and Peterâ€™s wife worked as their housekeeper, before Fred was married. They say that they earned well, yet not more, than they could perhaps have earned the same doing other jobs. The
trips and the tools up to Alaska also cost a considerable amount. Fred an Hans Weston, first worked a year in Alaska for the railroads and for two summers Fred joined in seal hunting. One summer on the Northern coast of the State of Washington together with an Indian in a canoe. One summer he was on a sailing ship hunting seal in the Bering Strait, where they would go out in smaller boats from the sailing ship and return in the evening. The boats, ten in all, would be pulled up on deck during the night. When they went out in their boats, there were always one white man and one Indian on board. The white man rowed the boat, and the Indian would throw the harpoon. Fred has told, that never once, has his partner failed in hitting his target. He would never throw until he was sure that the line would be long enough. Fred has a lot to tell from his life on board the ship together with the Indians, but now in the more than 25 years that he has been married to Margrethe, he has been a farmer, completely. It is very descriptive of them, that when Margrethe one day asked her mother, whether she did not think that Fred was good to her, then her mother solemnly answered: Yes, he is too good to you.The sixth of our children is Povl. - He was 2Â˝ years old when we came to the US, and was to attend an American school when he was 6 to 7 years old. Later on he went to live with Hans at Parkland, and there he went to the Norwegian Missionary School a few months each winter, and later again he prepared for his confirmation at our local church, and was confirmed by our own priest, who was then StrĂ¸mdal. There was a whole class of the children from the congregation who were confirmed together. Early on, Povl began picking hop together with us, and when he grew older he got himself longer lasting jobs with the local farmers. He later tried many different kinds of jobs, both in lumber camps, and quite a bit in the coal mines. When we joined the WW, he signed up for the army and after a short training period, he was sent to France, where he worked with transportation and he was based for a long time in the same city.
As I have already told earlier, he was married to a French girl there. The time he spent in the army lasted 2 years altogether and when they were sent home, they were taken good care of on board the ships, - and quite a lot had married over there. When they returned, they settled in Chehalis, where 3 of our sons were already. Eventually, they have managed to get their own house in town, and Povl has worked in the forests around the city. They have had 2 children, however, the eldest has died, so now they only have one child, 7 years old. Povl’s wife is a very nice and lively wife, we two old ones spent a whole month with them this summer, when the house here burned. Povl’s wife’s parents came over here, not long after he and she had returned. They also live in town, and the father and sons have good work in the forests also. The seventh and last of our children is Lars. He was 1½ years old when we came here, and like Povl he attended the elementary school, and the Missionary School, and he prepared for his confirmation at the same time that Povl did. He stayed home till he was 17, but after that he got work as a help in a canteen at a factory. Later he worked at a saw mill, after which he became an apprentice plumber, at the same place where Frederik was an accountant, and he got his authorization here. When the war broke out, he was drafted and went to boot camp, which I have mentioned earlier, and later he was sent to France where he was at the front and was wounded. His stay in the infirmary was, due to special reasons, so long that he was lucky to miss the worst part of the war, and thus he got through it fairly easy. After the war he was posted on guard duty in Germany for quite a while, and here he got well acquainted with the local population. He has now worked many years as a journeyman plumber for his brother Frederik, he is 39 and unmarried. I think, that the things I have written here, are so ordinary and daily things, that they may not interest people in general, but perhaps relatives and close friends that I have met over the years will take an interest.
A few years before my wife and I got married, we had both, each on his and her own, and in each our own place, decided that we would serve the Lord, and when we were married, we said with one voice: “I and my house will serve the Lord”. And now that my wife has returned to our home in Heaven, I often think of a small text, which was written by the reverend Johannes Clausen. Its title was: “What good is there in serving the Lord?” And now that time has gone, the question I ask myself is: “Have we, my wife and I carried out the plans from our youth?? - And to this I must answer, no, we have come no longer than to practice. But we have tried always to practice having a clear conscience towards both God and people. I know that by making the choices that we made, and yielding the practice that we have, we have really been given an advantage, both now, but also for eternity. And thus I shall end and say with David: “My soul, promise the Lord, that all that is within me is, praise his holy name. My soul, promise the Lord, and forget not his well doings. He who forgives us our sins, he, who heals all our illnesses, he who gives us life beyond the grave, he who crowns us with loving kindness and mercy. Psalm 103, 1 – 4. And should there be, on the edge of the grave, yet an hour left, and if we shall then only do what little we may, being old and weak, then we shall receive, that which He calls right. The generous of mind, easily miscalculates and would rather give than take. Translated freely from the Danish Psalm writer Grundtvig.
Jens Frederiksen Svinth died in 1940, at the age of 91. Data about his descendants will appear in the book about the family, which is being worked on, if and when I am able to gather this information. VS