Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Peder Mortensen

                                                   PEDER MORTENSEN
                                                     By: Rebecca Little
(note: this was taken from the Sons of Utah Pioneers website. Peder Mortensen is Verna Nelson's great grandfather and my (Melvin's) great great great grandfather).

Peder Mortensen is my great, great, great, great, great grandfather. He was a pioneer in the
Martin Willie Handcart Company. He was born in Jan. 23, 1806 in Haarbolle, Fanefjord,
Praesto, Denmark. He had 7 children , but one died when he was 10. They lived in Denmark
on an island called Mon. He was a cooper and a shoemaker. He was crippled or lame. They
had a farm that was well cared for and was on land that had been in the family for many
generations. Because of their farm animals they could make cheese, cream, bacon, and could
get milk.

He and his family joined the LDS church in 1855. Non-members of the church became mobs
and were being mean to them. So they wanted to gather with other members of the church in
Utah. The Mission President wanted to have his son, Morten, stay and go on a mission. They
were very sad because they didn't want to separate. The mission president said, "If you will
consent to his staying and filling a mission, I promise you in the name of the Lord that you
will, everyone of you, reach the land of Zion in safety, and God will protect you on sea and
on land." They took this promise to heart, told their son goodbye, and began their journey,
eventually ending up in Iowa City, where the members of the church were preparing for their
trip to Utah.

They became members of the Martin Willie Handcart Company. Leaving late in the season,
they had to endure many hard things. How ever they remembered the promise the mission
president told them. They were very wise with their food. Peder fixed his children's shoes so
they didn't have to go barefoot. One of his sons drove a supply wagon so he could sit in it
because was crippled. Near the end of the trip he would sleep on the food to guard it. One
night someone tried to steal some food. Peder woke up and said, "If you steal one morsel of
food from the mouths of my hungry children, you shall not live to reach Zion." That night that
man froze to death. Many people died, 67 out of 500. Just as promised, all the Mortensen's
that were part of the handcart company arrived safely in Utah. It was a miracle that they all

Soon after arriving, the Mortensen family was asked to go to Parowan, UT to help settle that
community. Nearly three years after leaving their son Morten to serve a mission in Denmark,
Morten arrived in Utah along with a new wife he had met during his journey. The mission
president's promise was fulfilled. Peder and his wife Helene were eventually sealed in the St.
George Temple. Until Peder's death in Apr. 9 1866, he was pushed to church nearly every
Sunday in the same handcart that his family brought across the plains.

I learned how difficult it was during their travel. I'm very, very, very thankful fo what my
great, great, great, great, great grandfather did that so I could have this life today

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