Father’s Conversion in Denmark
I now want to give what little I know of my Father’s (Thomas Peter Peterson (Andersen)) conversion to the Gospel. He was born inDenmarkOct 31, 1833, and was baptized Oct 29, 1853 by PC Jenson, so he was twenty years of age when baptized. After his conversion he served as a missionary inDenmarkbefore going toUtah.
His home at his conversion was very different that of Mother’s, as his father (Anders Kjeldsen) became very bitter against his son and ordered him out of his home and told him to stay away forever.
Father however did return to see his mother whenever he could get an opportunity to meet her and finally converted her to the Gospel and baptized her. This further enraged his father who even went so far as to threaten the life of my Father if he ever came back again.
Here however, I must state in behalf of my grandfather (Anders Kjeldsen) that he afterwards relented in his feelings and consented to allow his wife, my father’s mother, to go toUtah. Father worked hard inUtahand was able to send money to his mother to pay her fare toUtahwhich he did, but his mother became ill and died inDenmarkso she never came toUtah. Missionaries in Denmark told Father (Thomas Peter Peterson (Andersen)) and Mother (Maria (Tyggeson) Thygesen) that Grandfather (Anders Kjeldsen) opened up his home to them and told then they were welcome in his home at all times, but told them never to preach Mormonism to him on the penalty of being driven out if they did, so they followed his instructions and did not preach to him. These elders say however bitter he seemed to be he could not keep from asking them questions about Mormonism, and when they would answer his questions and make explanations he would again fly into a rage and order them out of his home again when later on the process would be repeated when he asked more questions.
It seems that Grandfather could not let Mormonism alone. It worried him and he could not let it alone, but when it was presented he flew into a rage. He seemed to be afraid that he would be converted. He seemingly was not ready to pay the price for the truth that his noble son had done. Father has written a journal of his missionary work inDenmarkwritten in the Danish language, but I have not been able to read it. Several years ago when we lived in Thatcher, Arizona I let assistant historian Andrew Jensen take this journal and told him I would call for it, but in my visits to Salt Lake I have neglected to do so (A note in the margin: Since that time I have written and Father’s journal has been returned to me. I sent it up to Dale our son who lives inSalt Lake Cityafter his return form World War II. A Brother West is translating it for us, and has given us typewritten copies of it and of the journal which I have read. We must see that it is finished.) but must get it and see if I can learn to read it, as I used to be able to speak Danish in a very poor way. I am sorry that I can give so little concerning my father, but all that I have is what Mother has given me as I was too young at Father’s deather to learn anything of his life.
Now I am going to give what I can remember of our home inRichfield,Utahwhere we lived until I was nearly eight years of age or about seven and a half years, as my eighth birthday came while we were in the road toBrigham City,Arizona. I will give only those items which I deem important in my life and that of Mother and our family and will go to the events leading up to Father’s death May 29, 1873.
Mother said prior to Father’s death he dreamed three different nights that he would soon be called to go upon a mission and seemed to accept this as a fact so he went to work to stake out the foundation for a new house, which he hoped to complete before leaving for his mission.
Preparations to build house
Father was a mason and carpenter and intended to do the work at odd times when he was not working his farm. As a child I can remember seeing the stakes for the new home as Father had set them and Mother left them. He was busy getting the materials ready to build during the summer of 1873 so he would have it ready.
On May 29, 1873 Father with my brother Tom left home with their ox teams to work in the fields south ofRichfield. Father full of hope and vigor and looking forward to getting ready for his mission, left his home for the field. After he had gone out to the wagon he again returned to the house kissed the children and his wife again and left never to see his family again in the flesh as he returned to his home a corpse.
His death came about in the following manner. The men in the fields were working on a canal. Father had three yoke of oxen hitched to plow to plow the canal. My brother Tom then only ten years old was driving the oxen for Father. There were no men near enough to see what happened so my brother Tom was the only witness as to how it happened.
My brother Tom says they had a yoke of steers in the swing i.e. a yoke of broken oxen were in the lead and another yoke in the wheel and the steers in between them. The chain of the steers in some way came unhooked. Father had to go in behind the steers to hook the chain. He did this and as he came back one of the steers jumped and kicked father down between the wheelers. As the steer kicked Father, the steer also snorted which stampeded the rest of the oxen and they ran away. The plow caught Father in the leg and the running oxen drug him for a long distance. My brother Tom shouted and yelled to the top of his voice which attracted the other men working there. So they came to the rescue and finally succeeded in stopping the run-away oxen. When they pulled Father off the plow he was still alive but bleeding profusely as the main artery in his leg was severed. Instead of placing a tight bandage on his leg, they poured cold water on his leg, hoping to check the blood. This pained Father and he spoke to then and told them not to do it any more as it was causing him much pain. This was all he said and soon bled to death. Had a physician been present, his life might have been saved. The other men did not know what to do and his life was gone before they were able to collect their wits.
Think of the shock this was to Mother to bid farewell to her husband healthy and strong in the prime of life, and then have him returned to her home a corpse.
The shock was almost too much for Mother and for a time my sister Mary says they were afraid the strain would be more than she could bear. Father and Mother both were the only member of their families inUtah. They became acquainted going across the plains, and married soon after their arrival. They had gone through bitter trials together in the pioneer life inUtah, fighting the Indians and building up new towns. Now when they were in comfortable circumstances and future prospects very bright he was taken from her in an instant. They had valiantly supported each other. Now her main support and comfort in life was gone with four young children to care for alone. As stated for a time it seemed as though she would break under the strain.
She was confined to her bed under what threatened to be a nervous breakdown.
Mother administered to by strange beings
The following instance is given by my sister Mary. My sister (Mary was 12 yrs old) was watching over Mother during the night and as she lay there watching Mother from her bed she says two persons entered the room and went to Mother’s bed and laid hands on her. After this they both rested until morning. In the morning my sister Mary says Mother was a different person, her hopes and aspirations were back again. She immediately recovered and took up life with her children, giving them aid and comfort.
Father on Mission
Soon after this, Mother says Father appeared to her in a dream and said to her, “I am now on my mission.”
Mother states after this she commenced to think of what Father had said to her about the mission to which he was to be called. The men she then recalled who had appeared to Father on the three different times were all men who had passed beyond, so Father mission was preaching to spirits in the other world.
How many times I have heard Mother tell this incident to us children, not as something which she rather believed in, but as an actual fact. She now knew what Father was doing and why he had been taken and was reconciled to her fate, not in a jubilant sense, but accepted it as the will of God whose Church she had joined. To the end of her life Mother was as devoted to Father as if he had been living, so no step-father was ever introduced into our home. Father was still a member of our family, away on a mission.