I recently received crisp, beautiful scans of my great-grandfather’s personal diary and autobiography written in his own hand. I have transcribed the first 9 pages and included .jpegs of the scans. Let me know if you want the full .pdf. Enjoy!
Andrew Christian Peterson
Flagstaff, Arizona Dec 22, 1931
The purpose of the following pages is to give in a brief form some of the principal experiences in my life and a few of the events on the life of my mother as I remember them as they have been given to me by mother. From mother, I also obtained a few items in Father’s life, as I was not given the privilege of hearing him as he was taken from us when I was only two and one half years old.
My family including my children and my wife have often asked me to write these experiences that they might have them for future reference. This request became more urgent last summer when my wife, Glen our oldest boy who was at home on a visit from New York, Dale our next son Arman our youngest son and Laurel our youngest girl made a trip to Zions canyons Bryce canyon and on up to Salt Lake City where Myrtle our third daughter is working, and on to Kaysville, Utah where Eleanor, our second daughter and her husband Lynn Hales are living.
On the way we went by Lee’s Ferry and over many of the old scenes and roads over which I passed in 1878, when a mere boy, on our trip toArizona. Since that time I have traveled this road two times, with horse trains, the last trip in 1897, so it has been some time since I went over the field, but as I passed over the roads again, the scenes became very familiar. As we passed over these scenes, I related some of our experiences, and the unfaltering faith always made manifest by my dear mother. As I related these experiences, the members of my family again requested that I write these out that they might have them so they would not be lost. So I began to think this matter over seriously. After our return home I again took up my work in theArizonaStateTeachers CollegeatFlagstaff, still thinking of getting at this work but as my time is quite well taken up it was put off. During the fall Myrtle wrote requesting my wife and I to write up our lived in a brief way as they wanted then for reference in her Mutual Improvement work, as the Church is having the young people write up these pioneer experiences, that they may be preserved for the Church and future generations, si I resolved to get at this work during my leisure time, during the Christmas vacation, so today I have commenced.
Mother’s conversion inDenmark
First I am going to give you Mother’s conversion inDenmarkas she has related it to me a number of times.
Mother said as she read the scripture she could not reconcile the teachings of the Bible with the teachings of her church, theLutheranChurch. She could readily see that her church did not contain the Gospel in its fullness and beauty and power and strength as it was taught by Christ and his Apostles, so she began to visit what few churches were then found inDenmark, but none of them satisfied her.
She still continued to search and pray for the truth to be made known to her. One time after much search and prayer she dreamed that some men came from the far West toDenmark, and it was shown to her that these men would give to her the true Gospel as taught by Christ.
Time passed on and she still continued visiting other churched but obtained nothing that fed her hungering soul. They did not have the Gospel in its fullness.
At length she heard that the so called Mormons were inDenmarkpreaching a new and strange doctrine. All manner of reports were sent out concerning these and peculiar people. They were generally held to be vicious, and seeking people to draw them away from the truth. In fact many thought they were emissaries from the infernal regions. The most dangerous, wicked and deceiving people the world had ever known. Surely, she thought such a wicked people can’t have the truth, so she avoided them as she had been told they were dangerous men to meet as they exercised an undue influence over people who came in contact with them, so the only way to be safe was to avoid them. This however did not satisfy her as she could nowhere find the truth, and she had seen in a dream that some men from the west would bring the truth to her, but she fought it off.
Finally two of these Mormon elders come in her community, and friends had told her they would hold a meeting in a neighbor’s home. The question came to her “Shall I go and hear these men who are said to be ____ and vicious.” At first she resolved not to take any chances on being deceived, but then pondered, “I am hunting for the truth and all the church I have heard so far do not have anything that satisfies me, so why should I not go and hear their message?” She did not want to give in but something urged her on. She was not able to resist. But instead of going openly she went in a round about direction so people would not see where she was going. Soon she reached the home where the meeting was held. They were singing church songs. She stopped and listened and as she stood there listening, her whole being was thrilled and their words went through her being. “There is the truth.” For a moment she felt like fleeing from the place. How could she a girl accept the teachings of these men or people who were held to be ignorant and degenerate in every way?
Finally she gained courage to enter the house. As she opened the door and walked in, one of the elders, I have forgotten his name, spoke so all could hear him and said, “That girl will join the church.” And in a very short time she did join and never from that time did she doubt the truth of Mormonism.
As Mother would relate this story of her conversion, her whole countenance would bean and her soul was thrilled. As I relate this, I can now see that sweet, heavenly smile creep over her countenance and again I hear that voice bearing that unfaltering testimony to her children and others who happened to be listening. A doubt never entered her mind. This characterized her whole life. Mormonism was true and she knew it.
She was the only one of her family who accepted the truth as taught by the Mormons. However, Mother said her people were not bitter as some were but they plead with her _____ her and wept bitterly over her as she determined to leave them and the good home in which she was reared, for indeed it was a good Christian home filled with parents and brothers and sisters who dearly loved her, to go to that far off land Americar and in America, Utah, that much reviled and misrepresented place.
Talk of a test of faith. Here my mother as thousands of others have done, left her home and loved ones to go into a strange land thousands of miles away where they would never see her home and parents and brother and sisters again. Then again, these Mormons were despised and held to be a vicious and degenerate lot. But in Mother’s case, there was no doubt. The Spirit of God had revealed the truth to her and in it she found joy and happiness beyond all earthly expressions.
What dark hours I have seen Mother pass through, but through it all that testimony carried her on without any doubt, and out of her tears came a heavenly smile and a fervent testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
When she leftDenmarkher youngest brother Tygge wanted to come with her but his parents would not let him go as he was only as I remember about sixteen. Several years afterwards, he did come to theUnited States, with the intention of coming on toUtah, but when he reached theUnited States, he heard such terrible reports ofUtahand her people that he gave up his westward trip, Mother corresponded with his for some time. He was in the Southern States and the Civil War come on. Finally she received no answers to her letters, and concluded that he had lost his life, but later elders wrote her that her brother Tygge was back inDenmark. Mother’s name was Maria Tyggeson.
She came across the plains by ox teams toUtahin 1859. It was here she became acquainted with my father Thomas Peter Peterson, as they were in the same company across the plains. They were married soon after their arrival inSalt Lake Cityand later received their endowments in 1867, in the Endowment House inSalt Lake City.
Soon after their reachingSalt Lake City, they moved toEphraim,Utahwhere my brother Thomas, sister Mary were born July 24, 1861, and my brother Thomas Mar 15, 1863.
Then they moved toGunnison,Utah, where my sister Elsina was born July 9, 1865, and my brother Joseph who died in infancy was born, 1867. The family record does not give the month and date of month. I was born inGunnison, Spet 24, 1870. While I was a babe only a few months of age, Father and Mother moved toRichfield,Sevier County,Utah.
In my statement concerning Mother’s journey across the plains by ox teams, I forgot to say that she walked most of that distance and carried a baby whose mother was in poor health and unable to care for her babe. Part of the time the baby also was ill.
The obligations came to them
When I stop to think of my mother, then an unmarried young woman, carrying that babe in her arms across the dry sandy plains, with her face turned to the West or Salt Lake City, to cast her lot with that little understood people the Mormons, my heart goes out in pride and admiration to her. Think of her thousands of miles from her home, parents and brothers and sisters whom she loved and more dearly than her own life, but pushing on away from them to the Rocky Mountains, because she loved her God and the Gospel He has revealed in this day, more than all earthly possessions. She knew that she had accepted the truth and nothing could turn her from it. When I see the image of that sweet, kind, loving girl with that babe in her arms walking over the dry sands plains of the West giving up all for the truth, I pray God that I may have the courage and strength to defend the truth to the end. Oh may I never prove to be recreant to the heritage she and my Father suffered so much to give to me, but may I use my voice and all that I have to promote truth in the earth so that I can meet that Father and Mother and my God and say I have been true in my weak way to the truths you bequeathed to me. If I can do this my joy and happiness will be complete when I meet them hereafter.