Compiled and Edited by Kristine Halls Smith
Jens Peter Christensen Winter was born in Arhus, Denmark on August 5, 1832 to Christen Pedersen and Maren Jensen Winter. Ane Pedersen was born on August 31, 1833 at Tilst, Arhus, Denmark. They were married on December 27, 1861. While living in Denmark, Ane gave birth to three daughters and one son, but only the son, also named Jens, born in 1865, survived infancy. They joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1869. They emigrated to Utah soon after the completion of the transcontinental railroad, arriving just a few months after the driving of the Golden Spike. They settled in Huntsville, Utah where four more daughters were born, but only Jensine, the youngest, lived more than a few months. She was born in 1875.
Because Jens was a faithful member of his church which at that time encouraged polygamy, Jens was married to Mette Marie Pedersen on January 18, 1882. Mette Marie gave birth to three children, Anna, born in 1883, Peter, born in 1886, and Mary, born in 1889. Unfortunately, with the birth of Mary, Mette Marie died, leaving her young children, to be raised by Ane who was at that time fifty-five years old.
Jens and Ane’s son, Jens N. C. Winter, was married to Mary Margaret Petersen in 1890 and they had four children born between 1891 and 1899. When the youngest was just a year old, in 1901, Mary Margaret died, leaving four young children. Ane and Jens P.C. took these grandchildren into their home to raise, so at that time the household consisted of Anna, age seventeen; Peter, age fourteen; Mary, age eleven; Margaret, age nine; Anna Eliza, age seven, whose name was changed to Eliza because she was moving in with an Aunt Anna; Dora, age five; and Elmer, age one. Ane at this time was sixty-seven years old and Jens was sixty-eight. Ane lived only two more years, however. She died on June 2, 1903. Care of the younger children fell on the shoulders of nineteen-year-old Anna until 1904 when her half-brother, Jens was remarried.
Jens Peter Christensen Winter lived to be ninety-four years of age. He died on August 17, 1926.Jens’s daughter Mary Winter Madsen wrote memories of her father and his granddaughter, Eliza Winter Halls included information about her grandparents in her autobiography.
By Mary Madsen, his daughter
My father, Jens Peter Christensen Winter, was born in Haest, Denmark, August 5, 1832. My earliest recollection of him was when I was five years old. We lived on his homestead in a house he had built of either brick or dobby. I think he made them himself as I remember seeing a wooden form to shape them in using clay and sand.
Dad was stern in his way; we had to be obedient to his orders. He never laid a hand on us but we knew when he spoke to us we had to get going and carry out the orders. When he wrote letters to his friends over seas, we had to be very quiet. Occasionally when we forgot and got noisy, we would hear, “Now you must be still”.
Father loved children. The neighbor’s children were always welcome at our home, but we were very seldom allowed to go to their home except on special occasions, such as birthdays. We had to be home at night, as he wanted to know where we were.
Very little do I know about his life in Denmark. He didn’t speak much about his life there. One day as we were talking about it, he said we had descended from honest and upright forebears. He believed and was honest in fair dealings with people.
At the age of eight he commenced school and graduated at fourteen. At that age children were confirmed in the Lutheran Church. His parents died the last year of his school. After their death, he supported himself by working for farmers for three years, such as herding and taking care of cattle.
The next three years he was apprenticed to a tailor and learned that trade which he followed and by which he earned his living. He became acquainted with Ane Pedersen whom he courted and they were married in 1859. She would go with her husband and help him in sewing. He worked in this trade for fifteen years. He related how he would sit on the table with his work, with his tobacco box beside him and every once in a while a drink of “Koffa Punch”. I think this drink had brandy mixed with it.
He met the Latter-Day Saint Missionaries and was converted to their religion. He joined them in 1869. On account of the bitterness towards the so-called “Mormons” they were not baptized until they were ready to leave Denmark and immigrate to Utah.
When the Elders came to baptize them, Ane thought they were rather abrupt and said, “You are not going to baptize me”. But evidently Dad persuaded her to be baptized. They arrived in Ogden to a stop called Taylor’s Switch.
Dad had ten dollars when he arrived in Utah for which he bought a shovel and a sack of flour. He had wanted to have a store in Ogden, but some friends in Huntsville persuaded him to come there. He made it his home and lived there until his death.
Three of four children were born to them in Denmark, two boys and a girl or maybe two girls. The oldest boy died there. Jens, the second boy, turned four a few days after their arrival in Huntsville, Utah. The baby girl, Maren, died sometime later.
They worked at odd jobs that were available at that time until they were able to get a farm and made farming his life’s work. Sometimes he had a difficult time getting his pay. And took flour and produce for pay. They didn’t like the country at first, and I can easily see why as coming to this barren place after having lived in a lovely green country. After becoming adjusted to it, Dad never regretted coming.
Father’s first home was a shanty with a dirt roof. This roof caved in Christmas Eve. That was a discouragement to them. They had eight children born to them. All but two died in infancy. Jens and Sine (Jensine Christensen Winter) lived to a ripe old age, (Jens passing away at the age of ninety-one and Sine at this writing February 4, 1967, was still living with a daughter in Pocatello, Idaho. She died in 1968). Ane couldn’t nurse her babies and perhaps didn’t understand how to dilute cow’s milk at that time.
The Latter-day Saint leaders advocated plural marriage. Dad paid passage fare for a lady friend in Denmark with the understanding of plural marriage. I was told after her arrival she married another gentleman who won her away from father. So father tried again, paid fare for a lady and she became his second wife and had three children with this union. Two daughters and one son, namely, Anna, Peter, and Mette Marie (known as Mary). This wife died after the birth of Mary. After her death, Ane (the first wife) raised the three children to maturity. Both families lived in the same house peacefully in plural marriage.
During the time of polygamy, the Saints were hounded from house to house. The U. S. of America passed laws forbidding it. Utah was not accepted to become a state or admitted to the Union as long as they practiced polygamy. The church claimed it their right to their beliefs and religious freedom. The United States Government said, “We’ll have no plural marriages in our country”. So laws were passed forbidding it.Father was arrested Friday, June 28, 1887. He was brought to Ogden, placed under bond for the so-called unlawful co-habitation. He was sentenced to the penitentiary for six months and a fine of $300.00. He was released Wednesday, December 21, 1887. That must have been a happy day for the family at that Christmas time.
Father bought or acquired a farm of about 35 acres south of town. He cleared this ground of brush and willows. The willow being hauled home to be used for firewood. To get to this farm we had to cross two streams of water that were called the first and second rivers which united at the head of Ogden Canyon to form part of the Ogden River.
When Congress passed the Homestead Act, Dad was one of the first here in Ogden Valley to file for a homestead. He and a neighbor went to Salt Lake City and filed for a quarter section. Their sections joined each other. Others followed after them also. People had to live on and improve this property to get title to it. Father built a three-room house of brick or dobby. Also barns and coops. Some of these roofs were thatched with straw. For fences around his section, he cut trees for poles. That must have been a job. He got water from a spring which was used to water his garden in front of the house. I do not know how he got the right to use this water as he had to make a ditch across a part of another man’s property, but I believed he made some arrangement with said owner as Dad was fair in his dealings. Once in a while his ditch was torn out. Trees and small fruits were planted. He really had a fruitful place. Dad was the first to dry farm in Huntsville. He raised rye, wheat, and alfalfa. The grain and hay was cut with a scythe, mother would follow after with a rake and tie the grain into bundles. It was a homemade rake; the tie was made with a whisp of straw from the grain. After the event of mowers, reapers, and binders, this method was abandoned. We children thought this surely was a miracle. We would follow behind the machines and shock the grain bundles. It made it easier for mother. The homestead was infested with rattlesnakes. Dad told us to kill them if we saw them. We used rocks and clubs, but we were told to be careful and not get too close to them. There were foxes and coyotes around. Once in a while one would catch a chicken. We had a black dog named “Nig” who would chase them but as soon as the dog turned back towards home, the coyotes would follow him, so the chase would start over again.
Occasionally, the Indians would call at the house. I remember one-day brother Peter and I were left alone while mother and dad had gone to town for supplies. We saw two Indians on horseback coming down the ridge. We climbed into the loft and kept very quiet. The Indians stopped in front of the house but as no one was at home they left. They didn’t molest anything.
After the town decided to sell the herd range to Nelson and Hall Brothers, Dad traded his homestead to them for another section adjoining his farm. People who had to travel through his property would often leave the gates open so there was a spat once in a while.
I remember one day while father was driving his hay rack trying to get the neighbors cattle out, calling at them, the team got frightened and started up hill which tipped the wagon over with dad on it. His leg got caught on a wire of the rack and he was dragged along. But he was lucky he got loose just before the wagon hit the gate and stopped the horses. Mother was frightened and we were afraid Dad would be killed.
One dark rainy night while living at the homestead there was a knock on the door. A family by the name of Sam Halverson had come over the divide from Weber Valley, asked dad for help as something had broken on his wagon. Dad and Mother put them up for the night and helped them on their way the next morning. It turned out many years later Halverson’s daughter, Helen, married dad’s grandson. When Halverson discovered dad was the person who had helped him that stormy night, he couldn’t do enough for us. We became friends.
Mother Ane worked side by side with father. She took care of the milking; I can see the rows of milk pans standing in the cellar to cool. When cool, she would skim the cream off for butter. Sometimes she would leave some of the cream on the milk and we youngsters were allowed to have it. That was a treat. Once a week butter and eggs were taken to the store.
On washdays in the summer, when wash water was heated in the large copper kettle outside, potatoes were baked in the hot ashes. Sweet cream was used for gravy and it was very delicious.
I know very little of dad’s wives lives while in Denmark. Both accepted the L.D.S. religion. Done their share of the work; Ane was a Relief Society visiting teacher for many years. When Mette Marie, the second wife, passed away, Ane raised the three children. Then when her son Jen’s wife (Mary Margaret Peterson) died she took her four children and cared for them until her death June 2, 1903.
Father and Ane and Mette Marie always paid their tithing and fast offerings. In earlier days this was done by produce such as eggs, butter, hay and grain. I remember mother Anne taking the butter to the Bishop’s storehouse.
Father was a reader of the Bible. He read in the scriptures that in the last days he would be flying like doves to our windows. He could not understand how that could be done. This was before the days of the airplane. He lived to see this come to pass. When Lt. Russell Maughan flew from the Atlantic coast to the Pacific coast from dawn to dusk, he went out of his way to fly over his sister’s home in Huntsville, (Ione Wansgaard). Dad saw his plane as the Lt. Was flying low. I had been to Ogden that day as United States President Wilson had been in Ogden and was in a parade. When I got home Dad told me what he had seen. He was so thrilled about it and said; “Now I will believe all things!” At the time of his conversion to Mormonism he stopped using tea, coffee, tobacco, and alcoholic beverages. He was a strong adherent to the Word of Wisdom. This was hard for mother to do, as dad would not allow these things in his home. Mother would occasionally go to a neighbor and get a cup of coffee. All three remained faithful to their belief until their demise. Dad lived to a ripe old age of ninety-four. He died August 17, 1926. Mother Ane was a kind and wonderful mother to the children in her care.
While father was in prison he composed a song; his granddaughters told me of this.