Monday, September 28, 2009

The Bertelsens of Denmark

Of all my ancestors, I have the most information about the Bertelsens on my mother's side of the family. The last names followed the patronymic style, which was changing the last name each generation to incorporate part of the father's given name. Obviously this makes for incredibly difficult tracking, but luckily many members of the family have felt it to be important, so the research was done. The whole history through the 1800s was compiled into a booklet of which I have a copy. The next few posts will be excerpts.
"The ancient city of Viborg, situated in central Jutland and once the most important city on the peninsula, was settled long before Denmark was Christianized. It was approximately 27 miles northwest of here, in Lundo, where Niels Bertelsen, son of Johanna Iversen and Peder Pedersen, and Maren Larsen, daughter of Ida Johanne Johansen and Lars Christiansen, were born (see pictures above). The disparity in Niels' surname (Bertelsen instead of Pedersen) should be explained. The family pedigree chart shows the name Bertelsen as the surname of Niels's great- and great-great-grandfathers. Most likely his parents decided to break the long chain and revert to this less common name. He was, however, sometimes referred to as Niels Pedersen Bertelsen.
Next to the eldest in a family of 5 boys and 6 girls, Niels was compelled at the age of 8 to leave the small farm his father owned to herd sheep many miles away. Because he possessed a deep love for his home and family, and with the prospect of seeing them only at six-month intervals, this parting was very trying. His early life was spent in this manner until he was old enough to row a boat and engage in the fishing business with his father. Niels worked with his father until his marriage to Maren in the spring of 1831. Niels had a happy disposition; Maren, on the other hand, had a sterner nature. She came from a family comparatively wealthy in the world's goods. Her father spurned her choice of a husband, and when she married him anyway, disinherited her, giving her only $25 in keeping with the law. On April 20, 1832, their first daughter, Johanne Maria, was born (who is my direct ancestor). The couple left Lundo and moved to Staarup, Viborg County, where they rented a cottage. It was near the Skive Fjord, so Niels could pursue the fishing trade himself. Fortunately, Niels was an excellent marksman and was able to supply his fast-growing family with meat as well as ocean fish. There were also swans in abundance, and Niels was very proud that he could shoot 3 swans with one shot. Nine of their ten children were born here.
The leanness of the times forced many Danish parents to send their children away from home to work while very young. This custom, common though it was, always grieved the gentle Niels, who often shed tears when he bade goodbye to those of his children who were forced to take upon themselves the hard yoke of adulthood while still only youngsters. Yet the children never seemed to resent it."

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Here is Robert's memory of meeting his future wife while visiting his step-father's nephews in Canada:
"It was the custom in those days to entertain visitors by letting them look through the family album, and while looking through the albums of each one of my step-father's nephews I would find pictures of a young lady I imagined I could like very much. She was the girl the Luckhams hired when they wanted a girl (to clean), and I was afraid she would be there. Later in the evening someone shouted, "There's Mandy," and when I looked out in the kitchen I saw her shaking snow from her feet. After she had warmed herself she came in and shook hands with me. I could see she was a natural leader because when there was to be a change of games they always asked Mandy what to play next, and this made me like her all the more.
I knew I was in love with her, and I also knew that it was against my religion to marry out of the church. The nearest missionaries that I could visit were 50 miles away and I was about to walk that distance to talk to them about it, but decided to go to the Lord about it. In answer to prayer a voice said to me as plain as though someone were standing behind me, which said, "Which is worse, to marry her and take her among the Saints where she can accept the faith, or leave her here where she won't have the chance of hearing it?" I concluded then to marry her if I ever got the chance." Later, Robert had the chance to talk to Mandy privately. He said,"Mandy, I'm smitten on you and was wondering if there was any chance for me." She seemed to feel the same, and they were married in about a week. Robert and Amanda lived in Canada until their first child, Martha, was born. When Robert began preparing to return home, Mandy refused to come because she had heard that anyone who went among the Mormons and did not join the Church would be killed. Robert swore to her that this was false and that she would be made welcome, which she was upon their arrival. She found all the reports about Mormons that she had heard were false. Mandy was baptized 28 May 1871, and she and Robert were sealed in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City 5 Jun 1871. Ten more children were born to them in Mendon, Cache County, UT.
Robert recorded his testimony- "My testimony is that Joseph Smith was a true prophet, and the only president of the Church I have not been acquainted with. Brigham Young was the smartest man we had. I proved him to my satisfaction to be a cautious man. I've never had a doubt, from the day I was baptized to today, that the Church was true- not a doubt. I came to Utah for the gospel's sake....I have believed in a Savior ever since I can remember anything and have never had a doubt and have believed, as the Savior said, that the Father was a being as well as He. I read every bit of the Book of Mormon when I was little and don't believe Joseph Smith made a bit of it up, but I believe he found it just as he said he did."
Amanda died 11 Mar 1903. Robert died 19 Jan 1936.