JORGEN CHRISTIANSEN SMITH (SMIDT)
CHRISTINE MARIE BERTELSDATTER BIRKEDAL
METTE MARIE JOHANNESEN (WILLIS)
by EUGENE H. HALVERSON
"According to his personal records, Jorgen Smith was born May 28, 1823 in Fasted, Haderslev, Projsen (Prussia). (This area was completely controlled by German landlords loyal to the Grand Duchy of Slesvig. It was their desire to be independent being neither a part of Prussia or Denmark but to Jorgen it must have felt like he was in Prussia itself). Fasted was in the Grand Duchy of Slesvig, owned by neither Denmark or Prussia but both had coveted the territory. Faested is spelled with the a and e joined back to back which is a special Danish sounding "A". There are many places with the Faested name - the town of Faested, Faested moors and Faested Plantation. The Lord of this area must have been very powerful.
Jorgen's father was Christian Andreasen from Stenderup, Haderslev, North Slesvig and his mother was Maren Jensdatter Svane (farm name) from Rurop, Haderslev, North Slesvig. All of the family names appear to be Danish. Jorgen was their seventh child. Jorgen was only five years old when lost his father he was drowned while a shortcut across a frozen lake to do his chores. The ice was thin and he fell through. Three months later his mother, Maren gave birth to her eighth child. This must have been a terrible ordeal for the family, but at least three of the children were old enough to work and help provide for the family. The Andreasen boy's took the farm name as their own but some spelled it differently, Smit and Smidt. The farm was named after some German landlord.
I couldn't find the Smidt Farm even though most of the people in the Rodding parish were Smidts. The remainder of the residents were Hansens. The Faested holdings went for many miles but mostly west from the town. Sr Hygum was the Parish, Fros District, and the Old County was called Riberhus, the County is now called Haderslev, in the Country of Slesvig or better still the "Grand Duchy of Slesvig", After the 1864 war it was made a part of Prussia, but in 1920 Germany was forced to give it back to Denmark. Hadersleben is the old spelling for Haderslev and Slesvig is old and Sleswig is new.
For many years Prussian nobles had controlled the provinces of Sleswig, Holstein and Lauenburg. These Princes, Dukes and landlords held powers over the people here that even the Kings of Denmark had given up many years ago. Only here in the Duchy's, Prussia and other backward countries were there laws binding the serf to the Landlord. The peasant was required to work on the masters farm 4, 5 or 6 days a week as he was needed, the remaining time he could work on his farm. What I found interesting was that the peasants in these provinces were fighting Denmark for freedom but should have been fighting their masters instead, maybe they had little choice in the matter? The Stavnsbaandet laws and customs were still in effect in the Duchy's and outlawed in Denmark. If the Dukes and Princes could break from Denmark serfdom would go on. Also farmers who needed care or protection signed their farms and themselves to the feudal nobleman. As a serf, he would still live on his farm, protected and cared for. His father's home, I'm told, was called Christian Andreasen Smidtgaardi (Smidt guard). He would be educated but also be required to fight as a soldier for his landlord. The realization that they did lose their freedom caused a massive migration the America after the 1848-1850 War. The laws that bound the peasants to the masters ended in 1945 and the peasant farmers celebrated their freedom from the master, when the Soviet Union gave them their land and freedom to farm it under a massive land redistribution system.
Laws demanded that everyone receive an education. Whether it was by his landlord or the public system Jorgen did receive a very good education, we are all amazed at what he knew. We don't know where he was taught or who taught him all of the incredible things he knew. He could speak seven languages and could write in five of them, your guess would be as good as mine in what they all were. He had a practical knowledge of drugs and medicines and how to mix formulas. He was capable of caring for the sick and infirm. He was a very good blacksmith and could even make shoes.
Sleswig did owe its allegiance to Denmark so when Jorgen was twenty-two years old, he was drafted by Denmark to serve in the Danish Army, and went to Copenhagen for training from 1845 to 1846 and apparently stayed there for two additional years. Some of the things he knew he must have learned in Copenhagen. When he was in Copenhagen the Duchy of Sleswig revolted and Jorgen was then conscripted by Denmark and sent to Sleswig to quell the revolution. If he had been home at the time, he would have fought with his brothers against Denmark. His allegiance to his landlord and Sleswig would have required him to do so.
When Christian VIII died on January 20, 1848, the new King, Frederick VII, made Sleswig part of Denmark. This caused the Duchies to revolt and their armies began to march north to the border. Jorgen's brothers were in this army. This was an opportunity for Prussia who also sent her armies against the Danes. As fate would have it, Jorgen would fight in a war against his brothers and neighbors. One of his brothers was killed in this war. Jorgen used to feel sad and sometimes cry about this war, praying that it wasn't his bullet that killed his brother. In time the Danish Army with a series of stunning victories recaptured all of Slesvig forcing the Germans beyond the Eider River and the Dannevirke fortifications, the ancient racial boundary built by Queen Thyra, mother of Eric Bluetooth, a thousand years ago.
Jorgen was in the battle for Flensborg on April 9, 1848, Slesvig on April 23, Dybbol on May 28 and Nobell on June 5th. Jorgen said "I was sent with the Frigate Gefioin and in the battle near Ekernforde, on 6 April 1849. I was wounded in my foot, taken prisoner and sent to Rensborg." (I have often wondered if Jorgen learned what he knew about medicines in the hospital at Rensborg.)
The war ended in 1850, he was given a medal of honor with an image of Frederick VII engraved on one side and 1848-1850 on the other and a lifetime pension because of his wound. His wound was severe enough to cripple him some and in later life caused him to use a cane. Jorgen was proud of his medal of honor, we have pictures of him wearing it. I have a copy of a letter to his daughter Dena Smith Mulford when he tells of his pension.
When the last great battle of the War was fought on the 5th of July, 1850. Jorgen was still being held as a prisoner of war in Rensborg. How or when he returned to Haderslev is unknown but he would enter town on crutches wearing a soldier's uniform. He didn't waste much time because on the 1st of September, 1850 Jorgen Smith married, Christina Maria Bertelsdatter Birkedal, age 25 at Laeborg Ribe, Haderslev, Slesvig (film/fiche # 51703 batch # M208002). The two lived in the same county but Rodding was many miles to the east of his home in Faested. Did he know her before the war or did they just meet and marry in the two or three months after the war?
Christina Maria and her twin, Zidsel Kirstine were born 11 April, 1825 at Rodding, Fros, Riberhus (Ribe) now called Haderslev, Denmark. They were the 11th and 12th daughters of Bertel Bertelsen and Maren Jorgensdatter. Rodding was a town and a Parish, District of Fros in Riberhus County that was later given to Haderslev County. Christine and Zidsel had seven brothers and three sisters all older her Father was listed as a shoemaker. He came to Rodding from Sweden when he was a young man as a servant her mother was born in Rodding.
Four children were born to them in the next few years all in Nyby, Riberhus (RIbe)(Haderslev), Denmark, Theldren Maren (Mary) born 28 July 1851, Christian 6 Feb. 1853, Bertel Birkedal 18 Sept., 1855 and Maria 22 March 1857. So far I haven't been able to find Nyby. I have found many Nyby's but none in Ribe (Riberhus) County.
The Elders of the Mormon Church with their teachings and promises of free land with personal freedoms unheard of in Denmark, made the new world seem very desirable. The converts to the Church were persecuted and rejected here, so, the Missionaries began telling them to leave this Old World, come to a land where we will have freedom of worship. Help us build a City for God". Jorgen wanted to be part of this movement and would do his share, everything the Church asked of him he would do, no matter how difficult his calling might be. Jorgen and Christina joined the Mormon Church on 22 February 1854 and he served as one of its missionaries in Denmark until he immigrated in 1857. The Church was a very unpopular church because of polygamy. And when Jorgen's mother, Maren heard he was going to America, she came to him, cried and tore at her hair. "You're going to live with those wicked Mormons," she cried.
In 1857 Jorgen's family and possessions made their way to Liverpool, England. Some family records list the Jessie Munn as an immigration ship, if it was it may have been used on the voyage from Denmark to Liverpool.
On the 30 May, 1857, 298 Danes plus 249 from the English Missions sailed from Liverpool to America on the Tuscarora. The ship's records show that the family consisted of; Jorgen Smith, Christina Maria Smith, Maren Smith, Christian Smith, Bertel B. Smith, and Maria Smith. Elder Richard Harper and his Councilors established rules of hygiene and discipline to combat the misery of seasickness, dysentery, cholera, and other diseases. They provided the food and water also. The Tuscarora, a large three-masted Sail ship left Liverpool on 30 May 1857 and after a pleasant five-week voyage arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on the third of July. The family went from Philadelphia to Burlington, Iowa by train.
I had always assumed that the Smith name came from anglicizing his Smidt name but maybe not? Ethel Taft Petersen told me that, it wasn't so, she said. "When Jorgen came to America he tried to tell them, "My name is Christiansen but with his accent and an impatient government agent who wanted to write a short American name, the agent asked, "What is your profession." Jorgen said, "Blacksmith." "That's it", said the agent, "Your name is Smith."
The Smiths were poor and had no means of getting to Utah. And the Church who had promised them the transportation was deeply in debt. The Church was searching for a way a way to bring the tens of thousands of Scandinavian immigrants that were accumulating in these eastern states. They were scattered everywhere trying find housing and employment.
The crowding and the lack of income caused much pain and sorrow, within days after arriving here two of their four children would die here at Burlington. Four months old Maria died 16 July 1857 and Bertel one the 31 July, 1857, probably from diseases they caught either on the ship or train. A year later, on 22 September, 1858 Christian, 5 years would die. They must have suffered terribly but no one has written about it. Kate B. Carter in her book said, "Times were hard and the immigrants suffered from the lack of clothing and food." Jorgen later moved his family to Leharp, Illinois where Susane was born on May 30, 1859.
In 1861 the Church found a way, they were poor in money but there were many wagons and oxen that had been accumulating in Salt Lake City. So, the Church called many young boys to take these wagons and go after all these people. These youngsters were called the "Down and Back Boy's". And these young boys in a few years brought over 20,000 Saints to Zion. They considered it an honor to serve. They said, "We were able to look the girls over and marry the best looking ones, many marriages were performed along the way. Jorgen also received his calling to be a Down and Back Boy. He to must have looked the girls over because; He married a young good looking one and a weathy lady who helped him financially. (told in the story later)
The Down and Back Boys brought Jorgen to Utah in the Spring of 1861. Hundreds of wagons with about 20 immigrants per wagon. I have no departing and arrival dates or who was the captain of the wagon train? We only know that his covered wagon was pulled by an ox and a cow. The cow was milked for nourishment. I have been told that Jorgen was a scout and often went our to shoot wild game for food. It was a sixteen hundred mile trip to Utah and they had to ford rivers, cross prairies, deserts, and cross over mountain. The wagons were full and the oxen were slow, the pioneers walked most of the way. They walked in wooden shoes, woolen socks or bare feet.
After arriving in Salt Lake City Brigham Young sent them down to Springville and then on to Fountain Green. This was where Two year old Susane died on the 17th of June 1861, shortly after their arrival. Christina had lost four of her five children during their travel to Zion. She seems to have lost a child in every city along the way, only Mary, age seven still lived. Another child was born a few months later here in Fountain Green on September 13th 1861. He was named Jorgen (Jack--John) after his father.
From a hand-written story by Artie Smith Taft, she said, "President Young (Brigham Young) sent him (Grandfather Smith) back to Nauvoo with other men back to bring more Saints back to Utah. (May Nielson Jones also talked about this) She said, "This was about the year 1859 ( 1862 or 1863) and told the men if there were widows or girls old enough to marry, they should marry them. So, there was a widow, Wilhelmine Petersen fell to him to bring. So, he married her before they left. He brought Maria Wilson and married her later. Artie said, "Grandfather said that Christina Maria and he (Jorgen) were separated over little difficulties with his third wife. (Mette Marie). So, if Jorgen married Wilhelmine in a civil marriage, she could be the second wife and Mette the third wife. Mette was his second Temple marriage and Wilhelmine his third. I'm not sure who is second and who is third. I only know that the marriage to Wilhelmine made him quite well to do.
Jorgen Smith married Mette Marie Villadsen on the 21st of February, 1863. He introduced her to Christina by saying "This is my new wife" but Christina would have nothing to do with it. She had already told Jorgen that she wouldn't stand for polygamy. She said "If she comes in one door, the children and I will go out the other." And they did. Each child carried a bundle of clothing on the end of a stick like a hobo in Huckleberry Finn carried. But she had nowhere to go, she planned on asking her parents in Denmark for help but that would take to long. So, she had to swallow her Danish pride and returned home, as she was soon to become a mother again. My wife's great grandmother Christena Marie (Stena) was born one month after she returned, on March 22, 1863.
I recently discovered that Mette Marie didn't like polygamy either but she had no choice. She also didn't want to marry a man twice her age. Jorgen even said: "I am sure lucky and fortunate to have tree Danish vimmens for vives, but one would have been enough". Mette was only a girl of eighteen at the time.
Mette was born in Norr Halne, Biersted, Aalborg, Denmark 3 June, 1841 to Johannes Villadsen and Ane Kirstein Christensen. She was a triplet (2 girls and a boy) she had seven brothers and sisters. She was the smallest of her siblings and her family couldn't care for her. So, Mette was given to a wealthy family who owned a large manor. Her adoptive family didn't allow her family to see her again and did not tell Mette her family name. She never knew her father or his name but believed that it might be Johnsen or Wilesen. In later years a granddaughter found her father’s name to be Johannes Villadsen. Her name then would be Johansen or Johannesen. According to a story by Mariah she called herself Mette Marie Willis. Her husband, Jorgen wrote her name as Wileson. Mette's given name was pronounced by her as Matta Morie. Although Mette was treated as a servant and worked very hard, she did receive a good education. She went on to an agricultural college where she learned the dairy trade.
Mette joined the Mormon Church and wished to come to America. The missionary who converted her to this new religion was young and very good looking. He promised her that there were lots of young men to marry over in Utah. So, she left Denmark. She crossed the ocean on the Franklin with 413 other Danish Saints from Hamburg to New York. These emigrants were quartered below deck. Their bunks were so wide that three persons could easily have room in one of them side by side. Rations included water and such staples as beef, pork, beans and potatoes. There were eleven lanterns, five furnished by the emigrants and six by the ship. The emigrants hired an extra cook and assigned two men to assist him. During the crossing, measles, chicken pox, and other ailments claimed 48 lives (43 of them children), or 11 percent of the company. Mortality was especially high among children. A ladder or steep stairs provided the only exit, and during storms the quarters were "hatched down; to prevent water from flooding the hold. The only light came from a few lamps hanging in strategic locations and shedding a dim yellow glow. The only sanitary facilities were buckets or chamber pots.
Jorgen married Wilhelmine Pedersen on 30 January, 1864. She was a recent Danish immigrant, who was visiting her daughter in Fountain Green. No one seemed to resent Wilhelmine probable because she was a lot older than Jorgen and didn't seem much of a threat, everyone seemed to love her. She had one son and two daughters from a previous marriage. Jorgen more or less married her to give her and her children a home. Wilhelmine's children were loved, adopted and sealed to Jorgen.
Wilhelmine was born on April 6, 1816 at Scowpillow on Lolland Island, a beautiful fertile part of Denmark. Where she grew up and graduated from an agricultural college. She later operated a large dairy farm where she met and married Hans August Swensen. They had three children Christine, John and Amelia. The Family prospered but Hans became tired of the country life and left home for several years.
Wilhelmine and her children had joined the Church and planned to leave Denmark, but her husband returned and forbid them to go. Christine left with missionaries in 1862, a year later John was sent with other missionaries and Amelia was sent to Germany. Wilhelmine left alone but policemen were searching for her, since she had no children with her they let her board the ship. She had a lot of money and even brought her servants with her to Utah where she freed them. Her money also helped Jorgen at times and was used to bring other immigrants to Utah. Her oldest daughter Christina Wilhelmina who left Denmark a year earlier was now married and living in Fountain Green, she married Niels Peter Larsen.
Wilhelmine and her children, John and Amelia were united in England and sailed on the ship B. S. Kimball to America. They had a hard and dangerous trip across the plains to Utah, walking all the way. John tells a very detailed story of the Petersens and the Swensons in his story in this book.
The family now consisted of Wilhelmine and her two children, Christine and her three children and Mette who gave birth to William on 3 January 1864. Three wives and their children in a small one or two room house prompted Jorgen to find a house of his own.
So, in early January 1864 he was one of the ten men, under the leadership of Albert Lewis, who came to a place later called Richfield looking for good land and water for a new settlement. These men were not ordered or "called" by the Church they came because they thought the Church would want them to. Later that year thirty families were called (asked) to go. For protection from the weather, the original ten men built a dwelling place called the "Hole in the Ground". It resembled an Indian wickiup. This strange abode was located where the McKinlay Garage now stands on Main Street. This was on Spring Ditch, which then ran through the 200 South Main Street, two blocks south of the present public square.
So, in the spring of 1864 the family would be split. Christina and her three children would remain in Fountain Green. (Artie Smith Taft told of the difficulties and subsequent separation of Christina and Jorgen when he married Mette Marie) It also would have been harder for him to take another wife and more children before there was even a house to stay in. Hard as it was it was Christina's choice to stay.
The other two women would leave in early spring for Richfield This was Mette and her three-month-old baby, William, and Wilhelmine and her two youngest children. They would have to make do with only what they could carry in their covered wagon. Life was very hard of them there. They lived in the covered wagon and a dugout they built. The floor in the dugout was about three or four feet below the surface of the ground with short walls made of stone or sod and a roof of sod. Rye (Maria) in her story tells of how Mette and the babies escaped the dugout when it filled with water. Both families lived together here for awhile The two families got along quite well and eventually a larger home was built for them. It was built of rock and located on the corner of 408 South First West. Here Jorgen opened the first store in Richfield. Wilhelmine ran the Drug Store in the house. The house is still standing and in fine condition, it now is covered with aluminum siding. I have pictures of it before the siding but not soon enough to see the outside stairway to the attic where the many children slept.
The first trying summer in Richfield was a terrible ordeal. Fields had to be planted, cared for and harvested. They lived in the wagons while the dugout was being prepared. Cattle herds, travelers and settlers were being attacked randomly by the Indians. They did have a good harvest of wheat and it was a blessing because all the northern settlements were plagued by grasshoppers.
Mette gave birth to Maria 28 April 1865, Maria (Rye) was the first white girl born in Richfield. Next year another child, Ane C. was born to her on the 2 November, 1866 but died the same day.
The Blackhawk Indian war had started soon after they settled Richfield. The settling of Richfield without a treaty with the Indians was part of the cause for war. To keep the mail moving between the towns Jorgen, assisted by August Nielsen were appointed the arduous duty of carrying the expresses (Pony Express) during this time, riding from Richfield to Monroe. The job was dangerous and the Indians did interfere with them. A different route had to be taken each time to avoid being ambushed. Jorgen's sixteen-year-old stepson, John, (Wilhelmine's child), rode for him on occasion. Rye said he rode at night and John said his father was fearless.
Fountain Green was about eighty miles away from Richfield over inhospitable terrain inhabited by the Ute Indians. Jorgen must have visited both homes because Christina in Fountain Green gave birth to twins. Wilhelmine and Caroline on 11 May 1865. (from the Nielson and Jorgen's handwritten records) Christina and her family still had to live in Fountain Green until the Fall of 1866 or the Spring of 1867 when they were brought to Richfield. It must have been difficult because it wasn't until 1875 that the rock home that housed his drugstore was finished. (Richfield's first drug store) Jorgen's other families were living in a dugout and a small home at this time. Ethel Taft Peterson said, "The rock house had stairs built on the end of the house so that they entered the attic from the outside for more bedrooms."
The ladies did seem to get along most of the time. But at times at times they were very jealous of each other. In those days a feather tic was given to the wife who was sleeping alone. After sleeping on this feather tic for two long weeks, Christina picked up the old tic, opened Mette's door and threw the tic at her and said "Here's the tic, I want my man."
Christina owned a copper tea kettle that began leaking. Jorgen who was an excellent tinsmith took it away to repair it. When it didn't seem to ever come back, she asked him why he didn't bring it back. He said Mette wouldn't let him. She grabbed him by his beard, pulled him off his chair, and all around the room. The kettle came back.
Richfield had been occupied without permission or a treaty with the Ute Indians. The loss of land and the overgrazing of cattle and stock were causing the Indians to starve. They no longer had access to the most fertile and water of their ancestors. The Indians were now starving, sullen, and angry. They were going to the settlers homes demanding to be fed and stealing livestock. They could be pushed no father, they decided it would be better to fight than to be put on the reservation in the Unita Basin as was suggested.
John Edward, Jorgen's adopted son by his third wife tells how they lost most all their stock and cattle to the Indians in 1865, this was when he and his father joined the militia.
Maria, Mette's oldest child, tells how her mother would climb a scaffold built behind their home to watch for the Indians. She would beat a bass drum to bring the men in from the fields at the first sign of danger.
Mette told Dollie Mulford that; Jorgen was a part of the Militia protecting the settlers and he hated the Indians. Dollie said, "One day when he was away some Indians entered their home sending the children into hiding. Mette scribbled a note on a piece of paper and let the Indians see her burn it. She said it was a message to her God in Heaven, "If they didn't leave, they would be killed and sent to hell." They left in anger.
"An other time Mette and the children where alone when the Indians came for food but found beer instead. When the Indians became drunk Mette was frightened. So, she gathered her children and left the house going down to the river where they hid under a bridge. She stood in the water all night with a baby in her arms and with the other children huddled around her, trying to stop the children from crying or making noises. All night the Indians rode back and forth over the bridge cursing and giving out war whoops."
Dollie's last story tells about Jorgen when he was with the Militia and they were following the trail of a herd of cattle the Indians had stolen. The trail passed by an Indian village occupied by mostly Indian women and children. Something caused the militia to kill them all, even the babies. History calls this the "Squaw Battle". Jorgen didn't like this, so he left. He rode to a spot above the village where he sat on the ground and watched the terrible happening."
The war with the Indians had been going on for two years now and conflicts were becoming more numerous. Brigham Young had forbidden travel between settlements unless they had an armed escort. But it seems that rules were sometimes made to be broken. There were no stores in Richfield at that time and Warren Snow had come from Salt Lake with some calico cloth and other desperately needed items.
Mary Smith asked her mother, Christina if she could go with their neighbors, Hans Peter Petersen and his wife, Amalia, to Glenwood. So, early in the morning of March 21, 1867 they left without an escort. Every thing was going quite well until the wagon started going over a small dugway at Black Ridge where they were spotted by the Indians. Chief White Horse (Shena-Vegan), the cruelest and most daring Indian in the Territory, was herding stock he had stolen near the river. The three were killed and terribly mutilated. Christina could never forgive herself for allowing Mary to go. She grieved terribly.
Rye's story tells of her father's (Jorgen's) premonition at the time of the massacre. As he lay on the bed he said, "Something has happened to Mary, I can see her slumped on a horse and someone is holding her". This was the way she came home. Mary is buried in the old Richfield Pioneer Cemetery West on Center Street where the football field and tennis courts are. When they tried to move her remains to the new cemetery they couldn't find her and some other old graves so they left a marker with all these names on it.
Kaye Bybee was told by a child in one of her classes that, "An old Indian woman called Grandma Florie remembered the massacre, and said, "The killing of Mary, Jorgen's oldest daughter and Jens and Amalia Petersen was a vendetta for what the settlers had done to her people."
Artie said, "When Jorgen Smith heard of the awful tragedy he fainted. The soldiers came and stood guard while the people from Glenwood moved to Richfield and all gathered with their livestock, families and all they owned into the fort (Richfield Fort). Jorgen stretched his wagon cover out from the fort wall to the wagon . This was to keep them from the rain and sun. Christina was never quite the same after this, she always felt that she was to blame for allowing Mary to go. It was hard for Jorgen also
but he had not time to grieve. He had to load his covered wagon with most of his possessions and his three families and go to Richfield Fort. He stood guard night and day at the Fort shooting at the Indians who tried to start fires and do mischief. Jorgen left the safety of the fort many times to secure provisions. He received a Medal of Honor for being a Blackhawk War Veteran and his name appears with others on an historical marker in Bicknell. Jorgen Smith and August Nelson captains of the minutemen to defend Richfield.
Chief Blackhawk sued for peace in 1867 but Shena-Vegan (Chief Whitehorse) was not ready for peace, he kept the settlers out of the southern part of the state for another four years.
The settlers, under orders from Brigham Young, left their homes in Richfield. Wagon after wagon came from all northern settlements. Jorgen's family was taken to Fort Ephraim. The Fort was built of logs, stone and adobe with walls twelve feet high, like an old middle aged European fortress. Three months later Christina gave birth to her last child, Joseph, June 6, 1867.
As soon as they could they moved back to Fountain Green. Times were hard and the children were always hungry. Caroline went out to the fields looking for something to eat. They had learned how to find sago lilies and to eat their bulbs. But this day she ate the bulb of the "False Sago Lily". Today we call the plant, Death Camus. Caroline died 29 April 1869. Caroline was the twin sister of Wilhelmine. Both Caroline and her sister Susane are buried in Fountain Green in unmarked graves. Floods have ruined the area where they would have been buried and I have given the town the records of the death of the children.
In October, 1867, Mette had another child and called her Mary after her sister who was killed by the Indians. Three years later 17 March 1870, James Andrew was born to Mette in Fountain Green. The families all moved back to Richfield in the spring of 1871.
The Indians hadn't bothered anything in the four years that they were absent from Richfield, everything was well preserved. All of the homes and buildings were still standing just as they had been left. The settlers planted their crops and waited for a prosperous year. The town was growing as never before. Then came the grasshoppers, wave after wave of them. The farmers tried to crush them with large rollers and with fire, but nothing worked to stop this terrible scourge. Families were reduced to near starvation. They had nothing to sell. Clothes were made from tents or wagon covers and it was common to see men attending church in buckskin clothes. They who had spinning wheels spun and wove cloth.
Artie said, "On March 1871 under Bishop Higgens, head teachers were appointed, Niels M. Peterson First Ward and Jorgen Smith Second Ward." (Sevier Stake Memories)
Brigham Young had sent his son, Joseph A. Young, to make the settlement safe and to begin the "United Order". Jorgen was appointed head water master over the water of Spring Creek which was used to irrigate the city lots. Like all of the other settlers, he had given everything he owed to the church. One hundred thirty-five families in Richfield had joined the United Order of the Sevier Stake. They felt it was their sacred duty. They were brothers and sisters and worked for the common good of all. Each man was given a job to do. Irrigation canals were dug, roads built and buildings and churches were constructed. With the pooled money from the settlers, the "Order" brought in machines to harvest the crops and grist mills to grind the wheat. The Order soon fell apart, but it had done its job.
All of Jorgen's children were required to begin working outside the home. His oldest son, Jorgen, age ten was sent to Monroe to work in the home of the father of George Hunt. Wilhelmine worked in the home of Jim Peters. The children, because of the times and conditions, received little education. It was only after the Presbyterian schools gained converts to the Church that the Mormon Church and the State began building schools and requiring attendance that things began to change. Opportunity for education came too late for most of the Jorgen's children.
Elizabeth Lazenby Nielson said her mother and father knew Jorgen Smith and said what a good man he was. When it was supper time, he would go out in the streets to invite some traveler or someone who looked hungry to dinner. Jorgen would share all that he owned with others. He gave money to the church to help other immigrants come to Utah. Jorgen and his older children helped haul stone and materials to help built the Manti Temple.
Wilhelmine died in 1882 at age sixty-five. She was a wonderful woman and became a friend to all who knew her. For one who was well-educated and used to servants, she adapted well to her new life style and harsh living conditions. Her daughter, Christine (Mrs. Niels Peter Larsen), preceded her in death in 1878 at the age of 33. John and Amelia, her other children married and lived long, productive lives. She used her wealth to pay the passage for many emigrants, for her church and to help her husband. All their cattle, had been lost to the Indians at Richfield. Family history saved by Lars Peterson said she left Jorgen well fixed.
In the 1880 census Christina Maria (55) lived alone in her own house with her two remaining children, Wilhelmine (15) and Joseph (13). Jorgen (57), and his other two wives, Wilhelmine (64) and Maria (39) and children lived in the other house.
In 1886, years before the Manifesto, when the Mormon Church renounced Polygamy, Jorgen at age 63 was called by the Church to leave Richfield and settle an area farther south. They only got as far as Grass Valley, now called Koosharem. He was probably trying to stay ahead of the Federal Marshals. They were now entering their homes, arresting and jailing any polygamist if they could catch them. They came without warrants, day or night, breaking the door down if it wasn't opened quickly. Jorgen did have more than one wife in one house here but I have yet to hear of any confrontations with the law. This was when the Church asked him to leave Richfield. Federal Law and these laws were now being enforced.
Before Jorgen left Richfield he divided up everything he owned, Christina received one-third of everything. She received the house and lot, five acres of land, two cows, one horse, five sheep, and the lower hay lot for a total of $445 dollars.
Christina's life was never an easy one, only four of her ten children lived to be adults. The hardships of pioneer life had killed six of her children. She never accepted polygamy, but tried to make the most of it. After enduring all this she had to watch her husband with a younger wife leave the place they worked so hard to build. She was 61 years old now, she had been left in Fountain Green and now in Richfield. Autobiographies found here and there in Christina's family has been our only source for information. Ethel Taft Peterson said, "When it was time for Jorgen to leave, Christina walked up to Jorgen, looked him in his eyes, then put her hands on his chest and gave him a push, "Go, she said, "Take her and go, don't come back." Then she picked up her copper kettle and said, "Here, take this with you, Go".
All of Christina's fears had now come to pass. Her husband was gone and she loved and missed him very much Her oldest son, Jorgen, had left for New Mexico taking his sister, Wilhelmine and her husband, John Franklin Haws with him. Jorgen had taken Joseph, her youngest son with him. Christina was left in the care of her daughter, Stena and Stena's daughter, May. A couple of Mette's daughters, Rye and Dena also remained here.
Richard Brinkerhoff said, "His Grandfather (William) was angry because of his many callings, he said, "Jorgen would do anything that Brigham (Young) would ask him to do, this caused much hardship for the family."
Christina would live near here daughter, Stena and her husband, James Nielson. They would live in Richfield for the next eleven years. Then they would move to Spring Glen in Carbon County taking Christina with them. Her granddaughter, May Nielson would stay with her grandmother and care for her until May married. The stories that May tells us seems to be most of our history about Grand ma Smith, stories of loneliness and how she would often cry at night and how she would accept going blind. Recently I found an autobiography of May's husband, Peter Fredrick Jones, he said, "I met May Nielsen while playing at dances at Spring Glenn, she was living there with her Grandmother who was blind". She had five brother's who I had to fight to show them my intentions were honorable. I know Christine lived in Spring Glenn and before that possibly Winter Quarters with the Nielsons because May was there and May was always with her Grandma.
May Tells this story; "I took my two grandmothers to a musical concert. One grandmother could see the performers with their fancy clothes and beautiful instruments, while the other, (Christina) was enchanted with the sound of the music. After telling each other what each had heard or seen, they argued who was the better off, the one who could see or the one who could hear.
Christina still loved her husband it was a hard and lonely for her now, she became very ill for awhile and even lost her memory. May Nielson Jones tells of how she used to cry and feel so depressed and lonely. Her death was slow and sad. When she became well again, her mind was keen. She would sit at her spinning wheel and sing Danish songs and she would take her knitting wherever she went. Christine was always clean and neat and seemed to enjoy herself when and where she could. She would make noodles when eggs were priced low, they were hung on the clothes line in a flour sack to dry. She was remembered for her Danish Dumplings and delicious puddings.
Christina lived in Spring Glen with the Nielson's until her son-in-law James Nielson had gambled away all of his property in Richfield and Spring Glenn leaving the family near poverty. Then Christina returned to her home Richfield in about 1898. She had no money or means to care for herself. Somehow Christina must have got word to Jorgen asking for help. This was when Mette Marie buys the rock house from Jorgen and Christine for $500.00. All three of them sign their names on the deed in the Wayne County Court House 10 May, 1898, witnessed by H.M. Hansen, County Clerk. I believe Christina would only receive a potion of it. But she did get help.
Christina Maria was 75 years old when she passed away on 28 December 1900. She was buried in Richfield Cemetery as Christina Maria but a Granddaughter, I was told took up her headstone in error and replaced it with one bearing her twin sister's name, Fidsel Kirstine. Now this stone is being replaced again by the Taft family with a Christina Maria stone.
Coming to Grass Valley (Koosharem) from Richfield was like, jumping out of the frying-pan into the fire, (from Federal Marshals to Indians) There were Just too many Indians. Time after time Jorgen showed his contempt and hatred for the Indian. It had been twenty years since they had killed and mutilated his daughter, but time had only made him hard and bitter. (this was told to me by a lady in Richfield) One day a band of Indians came to his blacksmith shop to kill him. Read Ryes story of how Jorgen and Mr. Behunin foiled their plans.
Traveling by covered wagon Jorgen took his family down through what is now Wayne County, formerly Piute County, below Fruita and just below Capital Reef National Park and then back up Pleasant Creek towards Boulder Mountain. There were no roads, only a trail. This was a lonely God-forsaken place and he was its second settler. At this time it truly was a Pleasant Creek, it was about 15 feet wide and 12 inches deep and the stream flowed perennially in narrow channels lined with willows. After 11 years of heavy grazing and farming floods deepened the channel to about 20 feet deep and very wide taking gardens and farmland with it. Under his influence, it briefly flourished into a community. Mail service was established between Cainville and Teasdale and he was the first Postmaster. He called it Pleasant Creek but the postal authorities told him there were too many Pleasant Creeks, so he promptly named it Notom. Some say it means No Town. Tom in Danish is a word for vast emptiness. I wonder if Notom means (No longer emptiness). One can only guess how he came up with the name. What else could it mean in the other seven languages he knew?
The Smiths it seems followed the tribe that killed Mary to the far reaches of the earth. As Jorgen was being sent (called) to settle his family in the wildest and the most remote parts of the Utah Territory he naturally followed the Indians who were seeking a sanctuary away from the white-man. He followed them from Richfield to Grass Valley and finally to Pleasant Creek.
Elijah Cutler Behunin who in 1883 was sent by the Church (A.K. Thurber, President of the Richfield Stake) to open the area east of Capital Reef for settlement. Jorgen was following his friend, Elijah down to Pleasant Creek. In her book, "Notom--An Oasis in the Desert" Esther Coombs Durfey told how, "Elijah Behunin and his brother, Mosiah while living at Notom brought a wagon load of food to the tribe of Chief Whitehorse who had contracted measles and were starving. Whitehorse was so grateful he broke down and cried, and was their friend thereafter. And even Jorgen would learn to live peacefully with the Indians but not without some difficulties.
Jay Coleman Smith said, "One day at Notom while all the men-folk were away a band of hungry, hostile Indians rode up to the house demanding food. Mette did feed them but they wanted more and more. She and the children became very frightened. Luckily Mosiah Behunin came riding by at this time and rode his horse up to the Indians and demanded that they leave. But they had no intention of leaving. Mosiah had been around the Indians and knew their language. He told them that they must leave because he knew God and they were displeasing him. He said they were asking to much of these people and they should go away at once. But they still wouldn't go away. So, he got a piece of paper and wrote something on it, with a safety-pin he pinned it on a long cane fishing pole and put it up as high as he could reach. He did this a time or two, telling them that God had told him that he was getting angry and they must go. A dark rain cloud had came along and had now darkened the sky. Taking this as a sign they soon rode off."
I recently seen and photographed Jorgen's old Eli Whitney six-shot pistol (the same man who invented the cotton gin also mass produced guns) and his powder horn, a cow horn on which his name was carved: Jorgen Smith, 1871.
Clay Mulford Robinson said, "Great Grandfather Smith, a Mormon pioneer and emigrant from Germany used this old pistol, an E. Whitney six-shot, to protect his families and property from Indians and desperadoes. He and his three wives and children, were sent to help settle new country. As true frontiersmen their lives were of adventure, hardship and peril. Great Grandfather may not have killed many Indians with this old cap and ball pistol because he was a diplomat. In most cases he was a friend of the Indians and they respected him. Even the chief of one band of Indians apologized to him when some wild young bucks attacked a wagon load of white villagers and murdered, among others his half grown daughter. And without a doubt Great Grandfather carried this old gun at his side, in its homemade holster at the time he visited the chief to investigate the killing. Jorgen Smith was well armed with the best weapons money could buy. His muzzle-loading shotgun is in the possession of Ken Smith and his breach-loading rifle is in the possession of Vern Mott.
Jorgen and his children built several homes and a few are still standing but it is hard to find out who lived where and when. One of the houses that Jorgen built was a rock house and was listed in his wife's (Mette) name on a warranty Deed. A kitchen 15' by 15' and a bedroom 10' by 15'. Orlo's family said the house was torn down and the rocks were removed from the field, it is now an alfalfa field. There was also the Log home that the Mulfords moved in after Jorgen moved to Thurber to live. (the logs were notched on the corners and had a fruit cellar) Elma Mulford Bracy was to young to really know but, "I think we moved in Grandfather's house." (the log house) The rock house and Post office were torn down by the Durfey's in later years. I don't know what happened to the log house. Then there's the Jorgen Smith wooden house that Ester and Golden lived in that still stands but is now a part of a fence in a land dispute between Orlo and Golden. A book "Notom" by Ester Coombs Durfey shows that house, a rock wall, a fruit cellar, what Smith lived in that house is still unknown. I also have pictures of the William Smith home. There must have been another Smith home or two at Notom. Smiths also built in Aldridge and Fruita here in the lower valley.
Jorgen was a most influential man, he was an experienced pioneer by now and knew almost all the building and survival skills. He will always be remembered as a great colonizer of the Church and as one who would do all that was asked of him. His knowledge of medicines and drugs was often needed. His skill as a blacksmith was used to make household utensils and farm equipment. He was also the postmaster, Justice of the Peace (performed the marriages of two of his daughters), and shoemaker. He was the second presiding elder until this branch of the Church was discontinued and went to Aldridge. A trustee on the school board for the Aldridge and Notom Precinct. Their son Johnny (John Christian)who came from Richfield as a three year old died in Noton 8 October, 1896. He was buried in the Smith cemetery at Notom. Marylyn Mott has given us a map and a list of the known family members burried there. Does anyone know where Myrtle Ivie Holt was buried?
Jorgen was an excellent shot and was able to furnish food for his family in both good and hard times. Deer, rabbits or ducks were always a part of the family dinner. He used a muzzle loading rifle, an Ely Whitney pistol and a shotgun all three guns were loaded by pouring the powder and shot down the muzzle of the gun and seating the shot with a ram-rod.
While living in Notom Jorgen was kicked in the head by a horse, for awhile it was believed he was dead and was about to be buried. It took a long time to recover. Jorgen wrote to the Church authorities around 1900 and asked if he could be released from his calling. He said that he was getting too old and life was too lonely. He was immediately released. He sold his 160 acre farm to his son-in-law Charles Mulford who had married Dena Smith. All of the Smiths except Dena had left Notom by now.
The town that Jorgen and his children built eventually turned into a ghost town but Notom has always provided shelter, livelihood and security for those who desired to live there. It is now the Durfey Ranch but is still called Notom by everyone. The Durfey brothers, Lawrence, Golden and Orlo own the ranch.
In 1900 Jorgen's family moved to Thurber (Bicknell), where they enjoyed life and family and made many friends. The cover of my book has a photograph of Jorgen, Mette and Jed Mott and son near his covered wagon at Thurber sometime after he moved here. It was a celebration in honor of the veterans of the Black Hawk Indian War.
We all know how Jorgen fearlessly faced death from the Indians but I was quite unprepared for what I read in Lars Petersen's notes. This story was told to him by a Jane or June Brinkerhoff. As Jorgen lay waiting to part this world a fly began to bother him, he began to sing "Shoo Fly, Don't Bother I", but death really didn't come to him without pain, Clint Chedister said, "His groans of pain were heard all over Bicknell." He died 28 August, 1908 in Bicknell, Utah and was buried there. He was a man with a great determination and left a proud heritage and a name that future generations can be proud of.
The children of all three wives grew to love each other and this special relationship continued through out their lives. The Nielsen Family said Stena and Rye were especially close. Stena Nielson's grand children, Norma and Merle Jones said, "They loved to visit Rye and John Petersen. "John was so jolly and she was so happy. She just loved us to pieces." Jorgen, husband of three wives and father to twenty-five children, always seemed capable, of providing the necessities of life for such a large family, but had the ability to love and give the devotion his family needed.
I was determined to write Jorgen's complete story but the "Rest of the Story" is better told in autobiographies of his children in their own words, Read Rye's and Edward's story to really understand the many hardships the family endured.
I don't know how long they lived in Bicknell but Mette Maria Smith would live out her remaining years in Torrey. She lived thirteen long and lonely years after her husbands death. She said, "This would not have happened if she could have married a man near her own age". She felt that to much was asked of her when she was told to marry a man almost twice her age and a married one at that.
The death of her youngest son, Condy in 1911 caused her a great deal of pain. She would never know what happened to him. She often said, "If I could of known where he was: if I could have laid him away as we did his brother. Oh, this has been worse than death."
Mette was a loving, agreeable woman with a sweet disposition and was loved by all children, her own or the neighbors. Dollie said, "She always had a sugar lump or a cookies for me when I came over. I watched her shear a sheep while rocking a cradle with her foot" She spin wool and make it into cloth. She loved to read and sew quilt blocks. Her health was good most of her life and never seemed to complain. I have a few of Mette's letters that she wrote to some of her grandchildren. Mette was short of stature but moved about like a stately queen. Her smile was beautiful to behold. She had been a widow for sixteen years. She died in her home at Torrey 22 February 1925 at the age of 84 and was buried beside her husband in Bicknell, Utah.
I visited the Durfey Ranch (Notom) and was amazed at how fertile the ground was. they were cutting hay three weeks sooner than up north an it was of an excellent quality. There were many good orchards also. Near his farm was his oldest son William house. There was a mail drop on the front door as he was the postmaster after Jorgen left for Thurber. I talked with Mr. and Mrs. Orlo Durfey about Notom. Jorgen Smith Jr. married Sarah Durfey. We told each other stories of the town and its people and the few who were buried there. the sun was beginning to set and it was peaceful and pleasant, it was hard to leave. There is still a graveyard there with a son and a few grandchildren of Jorgen's there. Jorgen's hearthstone that was moved from his home to be used as a door step on his son's house was moved again to the Old Spencer home in Escalante owned by J.C. and Eva Spencer Haws and is still being used as a stepping stone. His post office had been moved to a spot to save it but some say it has also vanished.
My wife, Joyce Houghton Halverson, is a Great Great Granddaughter, of Jorgen and the fist wife, Christina Maria Smith. A descendant of their oldest living daughter, Christena "Stena" Marie Smith, who married James Nielson. Joyce's Mother was a Nielson."