Compiled and Edited by Kristine Halls Smith
In the LDS Biographical Encyclopedia, Volume 2, page 345-6, we read, “Lars Petersen was born February 27, 1837 at Systofte, Denmark, the son of Hans Petersen and Margrete Larsen. He was baptized April 17, 1861, by Ole Petersen; ordained a Priest September 1, 1861, and an Elder by Jens Hansen November 3, 1861. In October 1861, he was called on a mission to the island of Falster and during the following three and a half years he labored as a missionary on the islands of Falster, Moen, Lolland, and Fyn. He also spent nine months in the Danish army during the war between Denmark and Prussia in 1863-64. In 1865 he emigrated to Utah, crossing the Atlantic in the ship B.S . Kimball, which sailed from Hamburg, Germany, May 8, 1865, and arrived in New York on June 15, 1865. He crossed the plains in Captain Miner G. Atwood’s company, which arrived in Salt Lake City on November 8, 1865. After spending the winter of 1865-66 in Ogden he settled permanently in Huntsville in the spring of 1866, where he has resided ever since. On April 7, 1866, he married Anne Larsen Jensen, daughter of Lars Jensen and Maren Rasmussen. She bore him six children, three boys and three girls, whose names are: Mary M., Lauritz, Rosanna, Peter A., Sarah E., and Joseph H. Elder Petersen acted as Ward clerk, subsequently as counselor and still later as president of the Sixth Quorum of Elders in the Weber Stake, and on December 27, 1902 he was ordained a High Priest by Lewis W. Shurtliff. For fifteen years, commencing with November 1882, Brother Petersen acted as postmaster of Huntsville; otherwise his occupation has been that of a basket maker, gardener, and farmer.”
In Remember My Valley by Laverna Burnett Newey, published in 1977, we read, “Lars Petersen, the basket weaver, was indispensable as everyone had to own a clothes basket, or how else could they pack their loads of freshly laundered clothes to the strung lines or the willows in the back yard? His woven baskets were used to carry butter, groceries, flowers, and babies. He made a living and the settlers benefited.”
In Ships, Saints, and Mariners — A Maritime Encyclopedia of Mormon Migration 1830-1890 by Conway B. Sonne, University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City, 1897, it says: “On 8 May, 1865, Captain Dearborn sailed the B.S. Kimball from Hamburg with 558 Saints aboard. Most of the immigrants were from Scandinavia. The company was directed by Elder Anders W. Winberg, his counselors John Swensen and Hans C. Hogsted. The voyage was tragic, measles and scarlet fever breaking out at sea. Three adults and twenty-five children died, one of the highest death tolls of an emigrant company. After a thirty-seven-day passage the ship arrived at New York on 14 June.”
Soon after Anne’s death, Lars wrote about her and her conversion to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and about their travels to Utah in 1865. Many life stories skim over the part of the person’s life that tells of their travels from Europe to Utah, but his story is interesting in that it gives a very detailed description of their problems and trials in leaving Denmark and then getting to America and Utah. Anne had been born on September 5, 1838 in Skjerne, Maribo, Denmark, a daughter of Lars Jensen and Maren Rasmussen.
Written by her husband, Lars Petersen, Huntsville, Utah, 1916
Anne Larsen was born in Skjerne, Gunslev Sogn on the island of Falster, Denmark, September 5, 1838. Her parents were poor. When they were first married, they were well to do, but sickness overtook them and reduced them to poverty. Her mother was once sick and bedfast for two years, and in that time some of their children died. The mother was so sick that she did not know or understand it until she commenced to get better. Then she missed the children and asked for them. Her father was a weaver by trade, but he also worked for the farmers and at other kinds of work.
Anne did not have much of an education. She did not go very much to school. She had to help her mother to sew, wash and iron, etc. to make a living. She told me her mother was expert at doing fine work, and to wash and starch fine linen for rich farmers wives which they were not able to do for themselves, but were willing to pay for it. They did not generally pay her in money, but in provisions such as they had plenty of, and of which she was always in need. In that way she often got more for her work than if she had received her pay in money.
When Anne got older she had to go out to work, and she got a place to work for a farmer by the name of Peter Green, in which place she stayed nine and one-half years. This Peter Green lived on his farm away from town. He had a neighbor a little ways off who also lived an his farm. His name was Hans Madsen, his wife’s name being Hannah. Anne and Hannah had been neighbors and good friends for years.
In the summer of 1858 a Mormon missionary by the name of P. C. Nielson came around that district of the country and made the acquaintance of Hans Madsen’s folks, and after a time they embraced it and became members of the Church. Of course Anne learned something of that new religion from them. She said she studied on it three years before she was baptized.
In the fall of 1861, I was called on a mission to preach the Gospel and was set apart to labor in the northern part of Falster and the island of Moen, under the presidency of P. C. Nielsen, who had been traveling elder there for a couple or years. He took me around in the district to show me where the Saints and friends lived, and introduced me to them. On this occasion I came with him to the Madsen’s place one evening and there I saw Anne Larsen for the first time, but little did I realize at that time that she would afterwards become my wife. She was not at that time a member of the Church, but I could well understand by conversing with her, the way she was learning. In November 1861, she was baptized and confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by Elder P. C. Nielsen.
As soon as it was known that such a respectable girl had joined such a disgraceful society as the Mormons, they raised a great excitement over it, so that they almost terrified the girl so such that for a while she hardly dared go anywhere for fear of being kidnaped and mistreated. She had been engaged to a man and perhaps was soon to have been married, but he broke up their engagement on account or it. Her parents both cried and scolded her for her foolishness and begged her to give up those religious Ideas. Perhaps her fellow would accept her again, but she would make no promise. Still she said their crying and begging hurt her more than any racket they made. I saw her once in a meeting after she had been baptized, but only once. From that time they guarded her so closely that she could not come to any meetings or come to any of the missionaries, hoping that she would forget it, but she did not forget it, although she had to keep quiet for a while.
In the spring of 1862 quite a large emigration prepared to leave those islands for Utah, my parents and two brothers being among the number. I had to go to Moen to assist the emigrants from there while P. C. Nielsen looked after them from Falster. Hans Madsen and his family also emigrated at this time. I had lent a book, a “Voice of Warning” to Hannah Madsen, but was not there to receive it back, so she gave it to Anne Larsen, and I was glad of it when I learned about it, for she would have that much more to read.
After the emigration had gone, some changes were made in the mission fields. P. C. Nielsen was sent to Bornholm to preside over that mission, and I was appointed traveling elder over Falster and Moen. Before P. C. Nielsen, left he charged me with the responsibility to hunt up that girl, Anne Larsen, and bring her out of her captivity, as she was too good a girl to lose sight of. I tried for a long time to find her unobserved. I passed by the place where she was working many times, hoping to see her or to find her outside. I knew it was no use to go in there. I would not be able to come to talk to her and it would only make matters worse, as I understood the woman in there was very bitter against the Mormons. Finally one day I met her on the road in company with another girl. I could see on her face that she would like to speak to me, but I understood that she did not dare to on account of that other girl that was with her, and I did not speak to her for the same reason.