CHRISTINE MARIE BERTELSDATTER BIRKEDAHL

A UTAH PIONEER

by Eugene H. Halverson

Christine Marie Bertelsdatter

This history will be more like a novel but it is as true as I can make it. I have searched for all the bits and pieces of history, in all the old writings and memories of her. I have always thought it to be quite unfair to only write about the accomplishments of the husband, forgetting about to sacrifices of the wife. During pioneer times especially little of lasting value could be accomplished without the help of a good wife.

Christina Maria and her twin, Zidsel Kirstine were born 11 April, 1825 at Rodding, Fros, Riberhus, Denmark (now called Haderslev, Denmark). They were the 11th and 12th children of Bertel Bertelsen and Maren Jorgensdatter. The tracing of the fathers family gets lost in going back to Sweden. The name is a Swedish name with a Danish spelling. According to the "Rollins Research Report" Bertel is first found in the Rodding 1803 census. Bertel age 22 was living with the Lorentz Haervborn family and working as a servant. Lorentz was a witness to Bertel's marriage to Maren. Bertel was listed as a shoemaker. Life may not have been easy for them due to the number of wars that were fought between Denmark and Sweden with Denmark recently losing most of them. Rodding was a town and a Parish, District of Fros in Riberhus County that was later given to Haderslev County.

Little is known about Christina Maria as a child. She did have some education as was required by Danish Law. Jobs were found for daughters of large families to help the family, I don't suppose Christina was any exception to this. After all a young girl would have to start building a dowry for marriage one day. She learned to cook, make cloth and sew.

Christina and her family lived on the Danish side of the border of Denmark and Slesvig. The site of the 1848/1850 War. A war against Denmark by the Grand Duchies of Slesvig and Holsten and their ally Prussia. We have no records of her father being in either army but he probably was. The last great battle of the Slesvig War was at Isted Heath on 5 July, 1850.

Jorgen Smith (in Treasured Trails) was wounded in the foot in 1849, taken prisoner by Prussia and spent the reminder of the war at a place in Slesvig called Rensborg (Rendsborg) in Slesvig. He must have been released after the war near where Christina and her family lived. It was only a matter of two or three months between the time when these two young people would meet, fall in love and would get married. They were married in the 6th of October, 1850.

How they met will never be known. Here he was either in prison cloths or in a Danish uniform hobbling into town on crutches. And she a 25 year old spinster. Anyway they did fall very much in love and got married. In time they had Four children born to them in a place called Nyby, Ribe county, Denmark, a place near where Christina was raised. Their first child was Theldren Maren (Mary) born 28 July 1851, then Christian 6 Feb. 1853, Bertel Birkedal 18 Sept., 1855 and Maria 22 March 1857. I have yet found Nyby or the Parish nor the records there.

The Elders of the Mormon Church contacted the Smiths and in time were converted to its beliefs. Jorgen believed in this and would do his share, everything the Church asked of him he would do, no matter how difficult his calling might be. And on 22 February 1854 Jorgen and Christina joined the Mormon Church. He served as one of its missionaries in Denmark until he immigrated in 1857. The Missionaries were telling them to leave this Old World and all its troubles "Come to Zion, help us build a City for God", here we can live as brothers and sisters. 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. Polygamy had already made the Mormons very unpopular with the rest of the world.

They came to America on the Tuscarora, the six of them, Jorgen Smith, Christina Maria Smith, Maren Smith, Christian Smith, Bertel B. Smith, and Maria Smith. After a five- week voyage arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on the third of July. Shortly after they were on a train going to Burlington, Iowa.

Baby, Maria who spent two months of her four months of life traveling got sick somewhere along the way and died. Maria died 16 July 1857, within days after arriving here. Then Christina lost another child two weeks later. Bertel died 31 July, 1857. Her heart must have been breaking. We know nothing about the conditions that they endured here. They were waiting and hoping for transportation to Utah. A year later, on 22 September, 1858 Christian, 5 years would die. Kate B. Carter said, times were hard and the immigrants suffered from the lack of clothing and food. We don't know what Jorgen did for a living here in Burlington or in Leharp, Illinois where Susane was born on May 30, 1859.

In 1861 the Mormon Church had very little money to bring the many immigrants to Zion but they had many wagons and oxen in Salt Lake City. So, many young boys were given a calling to go after them. They were the "Down and Back Boy's". These young boys brought over 20,000 Saints to Zion. They considered it an honor to serve. Jorgen also received his calling to be a Down and Back Boy, his calling will be told later in this story.

They came to Utah in the Spring of 1861. To Salt Lake City and then on to Springville where they were sent to Fountain Green. Fountain Green wound claim the life of another of their children, two year old Susane died 17 June 1861. The journey to Zion was a terrible experience for Christina. Only one child, Mary, the oldest survived; four of her children were buried here and there along the way.

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. While living in Fountain Green Jorgen accepted a calling to bring more immigrants to the Territory. Christina was left alone to care for her two children for at least four or five months. Artie Smith Taft wrote, "The men were told by Brigham Young that if there were widows or girls old enough to marry, they should marry them. This was when he married Mette Maria Wilson and Wilhelmine Pedersen. Artie also said that, "Grandfather said that Christina Maria and he (Jorgen) were separated over little difficulties with his third wife. (Mette Marie).

Christina was dreading something like this, so, when he introduced them to her. Christina 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. She didn't know what to do or where to go. She planned on asking her parents in Denmark for help but she was about to become a mother again. This would be my wife's great grandmother Christena Marie (Stena) was born one month after she returned, on March 22, 1863. Still suffering from the lose of her children, all buried here and there she now had to face losing her husband. This was so unfair, she knew she was no match for a little slip of a girl who was only half his age. Three wives in a one or two room house must have been quite an adjustment. What once belonged to Christina was no longer hers. Even Jorgen must have felt some discomfort with one wife older than he, one wife who thought he no longer wanted her and another wife who dreamed of having a young handsome husband of her own. Most all the farms here were taken up by other settlers so he along with other men began looking to the south, in unexplored areas of the Territory.

So, in January, 1864. Jorgen Smith with ten other men came to Richfield looking for good land and water for a new settlement. By spring he loaded up most all he owned in his covered wagon and his two new wives off to Richfield to build a new home. This left Christina and her three children feeling like he had forgotten them. It must have been a terrible time to be left all alone, wondering if she would ever see him again. The Indians were restless and were soon on the warpath, the Blackhawk Indian War was on and many terrible things were happening, stock being stolen and setters being killed.

Jorgen didn't forget Christina and he visited when he could but it was hard. Christina in Fountain Green gave birth to twins. Wilhelmine and Caroline on 11 May 1865. But it wasn't until the spring of 1867 that they were brought to Richfield with the others. Christina and her children were very happy to be here with the rest of the family. It was crowded but there was a wooden house and a rock house. 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."

Everything Christina owned was old and ragged and there were no stores in Richfield. But Warren Snow had brought a wagon load of store boughten cloth to Glenwood. Her daughter , Mary who was now 16 desperately wanted a dress made from this calico cloth. But their was a war on. It had been going on for two years now. Brigham Young had forbidden travel between settlements unless they had an armed escort. Ignoring the rule Christina gave Mary her permission to accompany their neighbors, Hans Peter Petersen and his wife, Amalia, to Glenwood early in the morning of March 21, 1867, without an escort. As the wagon was going over a small dugway at Blackridge, 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. We have a story about Mary and the Blackhawk War. Christina would blame herself for letting Mary go for as long as she lived. How did she ever survive the agony of losing Mary and being driven from her new home by a large scale attack by the Indians. Rye 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. Christina seemed to just fall apart, she felt the mother's guilt of allowing Mary to go off with the Petersen's.

The war was all around them settlers being shot and farms being sacked and burned. Jorgen a captain in the Richfield Militia was not only responsible for his large family but also for the defense of Richfield. Brigham Young now ordered the complete evacuation of Southern Utah. The families were scattered and taken north. The Smiths went to Ephraim. Now their were three wives and children living out of the back of a covered wagon. This was where Christina gave birth to her last child, Joseph, June 6, 1867. They later moved back to Fountain Green to live until the war ended.

The war ended four years later in 1871 while living in Fountain Green. Christina would lose another child here. Caroline died while they lived here. She was one of the twins who was born here four years ago. Her sister was Wilhelmine. Caroline I'm told was hungry and went into the fields looking for something to eat. She thought she was eating a bulb of a sago lily, but the bulb was from the Pioneers called a "False Sago Lily". Caroline died 29 April 1869. Both she and her sister Susane are buried in Fountain Green in still unmarked graves.

In 1871 the Smiths moved back to Richfield to their old home. The Indians had left everything alone and it was just as they had left it. 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. Those who had spinning wheels spun and wove cloth. The Smiths were better of than most. But with the coming of the United order everything was given to the Church.

The ladies did seem to get along most of the time. At times they were very fond of each other and at other times jealousy raised its ugly head. 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. We will talk about this kettle later in the story.

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.

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. 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.

Polygamy had been outlawed by Federal Law and these laws were now being enforced. Jorgen couldn't live in the same town with two wives anymore. He had to leave and take one wife with him. Christina knew that it wouldn't be her, her children were raised and Mette's children needed a father. But it still hurt to be cast off like an old shoe. Christine was given the house and one-third of all Jorgen owned. but that didn't help. 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 go off with another woman. 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 and her daughter Wilhelmine, had left for New Mexico. Jorgen had taken her youngest son, Joseph with him.

Christina was left in the care of her daughter, Stena and a couple of Mette's daughters, Maria (Rye), Mary (May), and Dena. These girls married at an early age.

Christina's daughter, Stena and her husband, James Nielson lived nearby, their daughter May who was now thirteen would care for her grandmother. May tells how her grandmother in her loneliness would often cry at night. She also tells how Christine accepted going totally 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 took her 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.

Life was hard and lonely for Christina, 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. But she did become 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.

Spring Glen must have been good to Christina but she had to returned to Richfield in about 1898, without money or means to care for herself. Her son-in-law James Nielson whom she was living with had gambled away all of his property in Richfield and Spring Glenn leaving the family near poverty. Somehow Christina must have asked Jorgen for help at this time. This is 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 portion of it but not many men would give help and money for a wife who he had already divorced and settled with. I believe he still loved her and the Christina knew it.

She was 75 years old when she passed away on 28 December 1900 and was buried in Richfield Cemetery as Christina Maria but a granddaughter (I am told by the Taft's) took up her headstone and replaced it with one bearing her twin sister's name, Fidsel Kirstine. This was done in the 1930's, now this stone being replaced by the Taft family with a Christina Maria stone again.

This story was written by Gene Halverson He is in the process of having a book published about Jorgen Smith and family. If you are interested in obtaining more information about this family please contact him.

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The Autobiography of Clifford Smith

The following account was written by Cliff in his 64th year. It was transcribed from his words, spelling and accounts by Allison Hamaker.

Preface

This is a story of a American boy. From a pore German and danish father and a english and irish mother and also the seventh son of this marige. And what he can remember about the kind of life he had as a boy, and young man, and what happened through 64 year's of wonderfull life. As close as can be remembered.

The Life of Clifford Smith

Clifford Smith

First my father was a big tuff cowboy who could ride any horse are fight any man and win in both. And he stressed the fact that the word of a man was just as good as his bond. My mother was the kind of a woman that did as my father bid. He was the boss of our family. We lived in a two room log and scrap cabin one mile east of Desert Lake Utah. The kitchen had no floor. Just mother earth. In the other room we had a ruff wood floor with knotwholes in most of the boards. Between the logs, we had blue clay, for plaster. And any kind of a jar would shake some of it out. Then one could see outside through the logs. We were mostly cold in the winter, for we burned wood in a old fassion cookstove for heat and we had a small heating stove in the other room. It also burned wood are coal, but we hardly ever had any coal.

One of my first memories was of my father, comming home from riding on the range. Our horses ranged, in luckey flat and seader mountain and through all the country through that aeria. In the winter he would have iccles hanging on his whiskers. He would set by the stove and my mother would hurry with the coffee. All of us kids would crowed as close as we could to him. And myself, I loved to feel his cold ears. After a few minutes tuching his ears he would blow his cork, and sometimes he would slap me. He couldn't see mutch sence in me playing with his ears. But I really bleive he loved me more than any of the other children.

My folks said I learned to walk by crawling to old red and climbing up, by holding to his tail. And when he would move, to another tuft of grass, I would have to drag, are walk. And I didn't like to drag. But I was to young to remember for sure.

This was 1917. That same year the Utah railway built a track from Martin to Black Hawk and Morland right past our ranch. And Mr. Wattis started a coal mine joining our property. The town was started and the Wattis coal company built my family a four room house for a right of way through our property.

Our first school at Wattis was a two room house in the east end of the town. We lived about 3 quarters of a mile from the school, but we had to cross a big deep canyon. Sometimes the snow was deeper than my youngest brother was tall. But we made it to school pretty regular.

In the 4th grade I was driving cattle from Elmo to Wattis and the teacher explained long division to the class. I was not to school that day, so I coppyed the rest of that year and learned to do them the next year, when she explained it to the 4th grade. I was in the 5th, but I listened in.

My brother Ferd quit school and went to work for the coal company on the tipple. He was 14 years old, but when the fall roundup started, my dad ask him to git a few days off and help find our cows. We had twenty or thirty scattred around in the mountains. This was 1920, October.

He camped out with some other riders for a week and when he came home he had a bad headache. It kept gitting worse. And he started to have a feever. The company had a mine Doctor by that time, so he came down to our house, and looked at him. My mother told him it looked like typhoid fever, because he wouldn't stay in beed, he just wanted to walk and walk. But the Dr. said no, it was not. He said their was no place up in the mountains for the germs to breed.

A few days later my two younger brothers got sick. Then the doctor sent for some vaccin for typhoid. The two young brothers started to improve right away, but it was too late for Ferd. He passed away. The rest of the family were vaccinated and did not git the deaseas.

So when I was fourteen years old, I tryed to work in the coal mine loading coal with a no. 2 scoop shovel, but I only lasted six weeks. I worked with my older brother. He was the best loader in the mine. After a mounth, my nose started to blead from no air and to mutch power smoke, Even some of the horses they used to pull the coal with would die from lack of oxigen.

At that time, we had no union, and the only thing you could do was quit. So I quit and worked on construction, building roads for a couple of years. I broke horses to ride for people and rode in rodeos. Painted a few houses for people for fifty dollars a mounth. I tyed fleeses in a shearing coral and went on the Bum through Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.

My brother died in Rawlins, Wyoming, So I came home and started to work in the coal mine again, loading coal. I was seventeen. That 1925-1926 I was High tonage man.

I started to buy a 1926 Ford roadster. It cost $585.00. I payed twenty or thirty dollars a month untill I had a down payment. I had $265.00 payed on it and I got hert and lost my right eye and went to Salt Lake to St. Marks Hospital. That was in March 1926 right after I was eighteen years old.

While I was in the hospital, my dad died and I came home. Then my brother Leo got Dropsey and went and stayed with my sister Pearl. My sister Pearl had five children of her own. She wrote me a letter, and told me the Doctor said Leo was going to die if he stayed at her place any longer, and he wanted to come home. So I left my job and went on the train to Richfield and brought him back.

He died as I was taking him of the train in Price. The undertaker felt sorry for us and he only charged me $113.00 for the whole funeral. That was in March 1927.

But in June, Clayton got killed in a car wreck in Huntington Canyon. And the L.D.S. Church made all the arrangements for the funeral. All I had to pay for was the carpenter that made the coffen, and the lumber. So altogether it cost me $40.00. I still had my mother, my neice, one younger brother and sister. That was 1927.

So that fall I got marrid and in May we had a beautifull baby girl. She was born May 27 and we called her Hazel Leon.

In 1930, the 12th day of June, Hazel and I had a fine baby boy. He weighed 9 pounds. We called him Harvey Clayton. We had a girl and a boy, real healthy, and we were all happy.

In the fall the coal company put us back to work in the mine, steady through 1931 untill the middle of 1932.

The 13th of February my wife had another baby girl. She was a beauty. We called her Laura LaRae.

Then in 1935, I heard about a farm on Miller Creek. The man that owned it was Dave Henderson. So he wanted three hundred dollars for it. So I went in to three banks and tryed to borrow the money, and they would not lend me $300.00 on eighty head of sheep and thirteen head of cows, So I talked to the F.H.A. man. And he told me they couldnt lend me any money to buy a farm. But if I would trade my sheep for the farm, he could lend me the money to buy my sheep from him. So I gave Dave a bill of sale on the sheep, and he gave me a bill of sale on the farm, and I borowed the money from the F.H.A. to buy my sheep back.

I think about how mutch more I wish I had done for my mother. But after she got on wellfare, She was a very happy woman. That was 1935. She had a better house than she had ever had before. My younger brother built her a two room house on my farm at miller creek, and Dee lived with her until he got married. And after that my wife would take her shopping and to church. She seemed to be happy. She received twenty eight dollars a mounth from the wellfare from 1935 untill she died in 1942. She was the greatest woman I ever knew. My sister Estella was very good to her and helped her all she could. But we were a very poor family and Dee was good to her too. She loved him and Stella with all her heart.

I am glad she died before Dee had to go to World War two.

My oldest girl was in California with her husband and three sons. But she was having kidney trouble.

My wife wanted a place where she could build a desent home, so I bought six acre place in Springlen. It was about twelve miles north of our farm. It had a basement house, four apple trees, three apricot trees and one pear tree. And a half of acre of rasberrys, booth red and black. I gave three thousand dollars cash for the whole thing. So we started to think about building a house on the basement.

End of history

Photograph donated by Charlotte Hamaker.

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