Thursday, July 24, 2014

O Pioneers!

My Great-Grandparents: Nils and Margrethe
Today is Pioneer Day, a State Holiday in Utah.  It marks the day in 1847 when the advance company of pioneers, led by Brigham Young, entered the Salt Lake Valley.

While Nils and Margrethe didn't cross the plains, they were very much pioneers in their day.  Nils joined the Mormon church in his native Norway, enduring great persecution for his faith.  He would emigrate to America in the late 1800s, coming first to Salt Lake, then settling in the wilds of Colorado.

Margrethe was born on the island of Bornholm, Denmark. She, too, joined the LDS Church and endured persecution for her faith.  She came to America as an indentured servant.  It was there, in Salt Lake City, she met and eventually married the Norwegian immigrant Nils.

Their lives in Kline, Colorado (near Durango), were hard.  Nils and Margrethe had eleven children, but buried six of them in infancy.  Five would grow to adulthood.

This picture shows them seated surrounded by their children and grandchildren.  The daughters, Agda, Evine, Dagmar, and Hilda are the young women on the left side of the picture.  I wish I could tell you who was who, but I believe Hilda, the youngest, is in the white dress with the bow in her hair standing in the back row.

Their only son, Axel, is standing on the right.  He is my grandfather.  His wife Pearl, the only non-Scandinavian of my grandparents, is seated in front of him with their oldest son, my Uncle Clifford, on her lap.

I have no idea who the other children are or which of the sisters they belong to.  I'm guessing they are the two oldest daughter's kids (Agda and Evine's).

My grandmother Pearl died the year before I was born, but I knew my Grandfather Axel and my Uncle Clifford (a truly wonderful man!) well.

In her diary, Pearl talks about going to live up on Red Mesa with her husband and how they would have to haul their water about a mile. She married Axel when she was 14 and can't be more than 17 in this photo. Life wasn't easy for them, but they left a great legacy of faith.

Pearl and Axel went on to have a total of seven sons and three daughters.  I have 45 (if I counted right!) first cousins on this side of the family.

So, in honor of this day, let me just shout out:  Blessed, Honored, Pioneers!

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