The Life History of Jens (James) Christensen
Compiled from histories written by sons David, Moses, and daughters Ada and Anna, my grandmother.
Jens Christensen was born at Tobberup, Aalborg, Denmark, on July 1, 1830. He was a son of Christen Pedersen, who was born in Maarum Aalborg, Denmark on July 2, 1778. His mother was Else Nielsen, who was born October 7, 1798 at Tobberup, Aalborg, Denmark. Jens was one of five sons and one daughter born to this couple. The names and birth dates are as follows:
Peder, Born 2 August, 1823
Christen, Born 8 March, 1827
Jens (James), Born 1 July 1830
Niels, Born 21 October, 1833
Niels, Born 5 December, 1834
Johanne Marie, Born 3 September 1838
All of the children were born at Tobberup. They must have moved to Horby a short time after the children were born, as that seems to have been their home.
At seventeen years of age, Jens left Horby and went to Horbo, where, according to Soren Jensen (Uncle of David) he had some sort of store, selling wooden goods. He also made rope, wooden barrels, buckets, and wooden kitchenware.
While he was away attending school, it seems his father, Christen Pedersen, heard and accepted the gospel. When he returned home and found what had happened, he was very much disappointed to think his parents had joined such a strange and unpopular faith. Later, however, he became interested and attended church gatherings. It was during these gatherings he met his first wife, Karen Anderson, who was born 4 January, 1840. Whe was one of eight children born to Christen Anderson, who was born in Simested, Viborg, Denmark, and was Christened 1 February, 1807. Her mother was Mette Marie Anderson. She was born 3 December, 1809 at Skorping, Aalborg, Denmark.
Jens was baptized 7 December, 1863. He was married to Karen Anderson, his first wife, at Logster, Viborg, Denmark on 17 May, 1862. They had twins born on 3 May, 1863 at Hobro, Randers, Denmark. They were Mary Elizabeth and Christian. Christian died shortly after birth.
A record of Jens Christensen was found in the military records. The war between Denmark and Germany had started, and Jens was sure to be drafted into the Danish Army. This was the war over Sleafig, Holstein. He had intended to go to America for some time. He left what interests he had in the hands of Soren Jensen, who later disposed of the business and brought the money to Utah and gave it to Jens. Jens got what money he could, deserted the Army, and went to Sleafig Holstein, which was neutral territory. He left Sleafig Holstein in the spring of 1864 to make the long journey to Utah. According to the shipping record of the shipping vessel “The Monarch of the Sea” on which they came, Jens Christensen was in charge of the following group:
Jens Christensen 33
Karen Christensen 24
Mary Elizabeth 1
Niel Christensen 22 (a brother of Karen)
Kirsten Sorensen 19 (a spinster)
On 18 April, 1864, they landed at Liverpool. They left Liverpool 28 April, and the shipping record shows the amount he paid for the tickets, team, railway ticket, etc. It is believed the figures in the following table represent dollars, as the record showed that money was paid for exchange:
Deposited with the Ship Co. 695
Deposited for his wife with
The ship Co. 80
One-half team 270
(which must have been wagon also)
Passage on ship 208
Railway tickets 99
Exchange 14 and 38
(This must have been on all of
His money.) There was also listed
1 cow, which was cossed out.
There were 973 other immigrants in the Company. They arrived in New York 3 June, 1864, having spent 36 days crossing the ocean. They proceeded West by rail to St. Joseph, Missouri, then by boat to Omaha, Nebraska. This was the outfitting place for crossing the plains. Jens was to drive a wagon drawn by four yoke of oxen across the plains. His wife and baby were permitted to ride in the wagon. It is believed that he crossed the plains with the William B. Preston Company, as that was the Company that left nearest that time.
They endured the usual hardships in crossing the plains. The oxen became exhausted and would often stampede with the whole outfit, plunging into passing streams to cool off. The wheels on the wagons became so dried out that they had great difficulty in keeping the tires (iron rings) from coming off.
When they arrived at Fort Laramie, Wyoming, a baby boy was born on August 22, 1864. They remained at Fort Laramie for four days, and then continued on their journey again for Salt Lake City, where they arrived in September of 1864. The baby was named Christian Laramie.
It seems Jens Christensen was called by Church Authorities to settle in Sanpete County, where he moved soon after arriving in Salt Lake City. This venture proved quite unsatisfactory. The settlers were having a great deal of trouble with the Indians during the Black Hawk War. The Indians stole most of the livestock belonging to the settlers, and to add further to this desperate situation, another child was born. Because Jens was unable to secure the necessary help for his wife, Karen, both she and the child died, and were buried in Manti, Utah.
Jens, now left with two young children to care for, Mary Elizabeth, 1, and Christian Laramie, 2, brokenhearted and thoroughly discouraged, sold the few remaining cattle he had, and purchased a team of horses from the Catholic Padres from Mexico. With this team and wagon he moved his two children and what belongings he had and went north. He obtained the services of a woman to assist in caring for his children. Her name was Mary Regastine Jensen, daughter of Jens Engberg and Marie Sorensen. She was working as a domestic for a family in Salt Lake City. Whether they were married before they left Salt Lake is not definitely known. At any rate they were married in 1867.
About this time they moved to Brigham City. Jens had a brother, Peter Peterson, who was then living at Bear River City. He thought of moving there. He acquired a small tract of land at Bear River City, but at that time the only water available for irrigation was the Malad River, which was so heavily charged with alkali that a few irrigations ruined the Land. Jens decided not to move to Bear River City.
At Brigham City he got permission from Peter Jensen to use one of his outbuildings to live in while he was building a house. Three children were born at Brigham City. They were:
Charles Martine, born 17 November, 1867
James, born 28 May, 1869
Joseph Adolph, born 17 May, 1871
James died in infancy.
The family moved to Newton, Utah, about 1871. Here three other children were born:
Peter Nephi, born 7 May, 1873
Moses, born 28 April, 1876
Henry Moroni, born 2 December, 1877 (died at birth)
When Nephi was a baby, Jens and Mary Regastine, his wife, heard of a Danish immigrant named Karen Jensen, who was working for a Fredrickson family in Weston, Idaho. After due discussion and prayer they journeyed to Weston to talk to Karen about entering into the bonds of Celestial Marriage (plural marriage) with them. Karen (Carline) had a little girl named Signe (Zina) whom she had brought with her from Denmark. Karen was encouraged by Mr. Fredrickson to marry Jens Christensen, and after a short time to prepare, both women were endowed and sealed to him.
Karen Jensen married Jens Christensen 21 December, 1874. She was the daughter of Jens Jensen and Anna Christina Jensen. Karen Jensen and Jens Christensen had five children:
Karen Elizabeth, born 30 October, 1875
James William, born 17 September, 1877
Anna Christina, born 25 December, 1879 (My Grandmother – Gerald C. Jones)
Ada Boletta, born 25 October, 1883
David Wilford, born 18 October, 1885
They endured the privations and hardships of pioneer life, working always together for the common good. In 1878, Karen moved into her new home. Stories were told her children of how, with the help of the older boys, she would cut the wool from the sheep, they would then wash it, cord it, and spin it into yarn and then weave it into cloth. From this cloth they would sew suits for Jens and the boys and dresses for the women and girls as well a sheets and blankets for the beds. Jens was a good provider. They always had plenty of meat, honey, cheese, molasses, fruit and vegetables.
At this time, the U. S. Marshals began persecuting the polygamists. One day, while he was at his ranch (Karen’s home) the Marshals slipped up on them by lying down on their horses, although the children were always on the lookout. Jens went through a trap door and hid in the cellar. The Marshals opened the trap door and, holding two six shooter on Jens, ordered him to come out. He served six months in the Penitentiary, but he had many polygamist friends there. This polygamist family was successful.
On the 17 of February, 1892, Jens died, after an illness of only six days. He was free of debt. He was intensely loyal to the Church, which wielded a tremendous influence on his life. He left his children a wonderful heritage of honesty and integrity, and a tremendous challenge to carry on the love for the Gospel and for their fellow men.
The wives, drawn closer together by his passing, helped each other to carry on, and in April, 1900, Mary Regastine died after a short illness of Spotted Fever, and on 28 May, 1920, Karen died.