Christian Petersen Family: Richmond, Utah, USA

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CHRISTIAN PETERSEN: A Profile of Determination and Courage.

By Larry D. Christiansen

The focus of this article will be upon Christian Petersen, an 1870 immigrant from Denmark, who settled at Richmond, Utah. Because names and their variations will play a recurring role, a brief preface alert on Danish names in this period may be in order. Usually Danes were identified by their given first name and by their father's first name—hence Christian the son of Peer was called Christian Pedersen (the son of Peer while a daughter would have her first name and be called Pedersdatter or Pedersdotter in a patronymic (named after their father) system that continued until 1904 when Denmark made family names compulsory by law. Today almost all Danish names that end with "sen" were originally patronymics. The patronymic naming complicates the tracing of Danish families that requires extra diligence to truly trace a family name. The earliest years of Christian will come from short family stories supplemented by information from a known younger brother, Peter Petersen, who also migrated to Utah largely due to the urging of his older brother. The family stories and genealogy passed down by Christian’s family have his parents as, father Peder Larsen (born in 1801) and mother Karen Pedersen (born 1800) with both parents born in Denmark on the island of Zealand. The information from the younger brother, Peter, cites the same parents with the same spelling, accepted as confirmation. A caution is here suggested as there exist two different family group records that give Christian Pedersen or Petersen’s data of his birth, death and locations correctly, but are highly questionable on other items which will be briefly noted. One has Christian having two siblings, a sister born thirteen years later, and a brother Lars Peter born nineteen years later who couldn’t be the Peter mentioned above. The second genealogy has the mother’s name as Anne Pedersen, with locations by both parents on Zealand Island but different and questionable for the locations except for the births of Christian and Peter. More troubling, the family had twelve children born from 1824 through 1849, with two brothers named Christian, born within thirteen months of each other with both immigrating to Utah, one dying in Huntsville, Utah, in 1910 and other at Richmond, Utah, in 1916. The information on Peder (Peter) was brief but correct on his birth and death dates and locations. There are other problems such as a brother and a sister born in 1836 within two months of each other. This genealogical group sheet has apparently combined at least two Pedersen (Petersen) family members together. This genealogy is highly suspect and will not be used further in this paper. It is highly likely that Christian and Peter had other siblings but only much serious research can affirm this.

Christian was born December 2, 1832, at Kidserup (or possibly Kisserup, but both places were close to one another) within Copenhagen Amt (a Danish administrative division or county) on the large island of Zealand, Denmark, leaves much blank for the time spent in Denmark. The brief known record jumps to “about 1866” when Christian was near the age of thirty-four and he met Metta Marie Jensen, who was the youngest of seven children and born on May 5, 1842, at Soro, approximately seventeen miles southeast of Kidersup / Kisserup area of Denmark. Metta Marie was ten years younger than Christian. A family story relates a little on how they met saying they both worked for the same family, Christian as a coachman and Metta as a seamstress. This account suggests they began to realize there wasn’t much chance of making a better life for themselves or of owning property in their home land. We have no date for their marriage other than “about 1866,” but we know they became parents of a young son named Jens born on March 4, 1866, at Allerslev in the southern part of Zealand Island, some thirty to thirty-five miles from his parent’s birth place. At the same location a second son named Hans was born January 13, 1869. Probably Christian’s time as a coachman ended sometime before he emigrated as his emigration documents list his occupation as a carpenter, which usually entailed several years apprenticeship before acquiring the occupation. The sequence of events are unclear as to how Christian, Metta Marie and her brother Anders Madsen (Jensen) and family became acquainted with the Mormon faith to the point of desiring to emigrate to Utah. The family accounts are not clear as to whether those over the age of eight were baptized in Denmark or not. The LDS ordinance records for Metta have her baptized in August of 1870, which would place it after arriving in America. No old LDS Church records for Christian have been found, but the probability of his baptism in Denmark remains high.

According to family stories, Christian’s “folks were angry with him for joining the church.” This family situation was sufficient that Christian made a break with his parents and “never saw or heard from any of them again.” From what we know this was correct except Christian maintained contact with his brother Peter, which will be covered shortly. About three decades later Christian’s third son, Peter Christian Petersen, served a Mormon mission in Denmark, and while in the land of his father’s birth tried to re-established contact with the family in Denmark and “they refused to have anything to do with him.” Shown on the map that follows is the general area along with a couple of the key localities for the Peterson story such as Copenhagen(on the far right side), Roskilde (20 miles to the left or west) and Soro (located southwest of Roskilde). Soro was both a community (along the railroad) and a district (with the district marked by the larger print and the dotted boundary line) whose northern line was adjacent to Kidserup. The other communities mentioned in the story were too small to be shown on this map.

1877 Map of Denmark with focus on Zealand Island (Sjǣland in Danish) the country’s largest and most populous island which is only about 68 miles wide from east to west. The railroad tracks shown had their beginning in late 1840s. The small village of Kidserup was southwest of
Roskilde approximately where large typed single “A” of Sjǣland is shown on this map. Allerslev would be directly south of Roskilde where the island narrowed to peninsula. Two other locations which will later be covered were Lejre (Leire) located directly east of Kidserup about three
miles, and Torkilstrup slightly west and over three miles north of Kidserup.

The Mormon missionaries preached both a new gospel and strongly advised the converts to gather to Zion (Utah). For the Petersen family this advice dovetailed with their personal views that their life would be better if they emigrated out of Denmark to America and Utah. When their actions and thinking reached this point, they learned there was an LDS emigration company scheduled for the summer of 1870. The Christian Petersen family and Anders Madsen (Jensen) family signed on and made the required monetary payments to cover the cost of the trip from Copenhagen, Denmark to Utah. This company made all the arrangements for the travel and other necessities for the entire trip to Utah. Those in Denmark traveled to Copenhagen where they boarded the ship Milo bound for England where they arrived at Hull on the evening of July 18, 1870. They boarded a train to travel across England to Liverpool, arriving on the morning of July 19th and boarded the passenger steamship Minnesota to cross the Atlantic Ocean. This ship was relatively new having been built in England in 1867 for the Liverpool & Great Western Steamship Company (better known as the Guion Line) and in its third year of voyages from Liverpool-Queenstown to New York. It had 3,008 tons of displacement and measured 335 feet in length and 42.5 feet in width of iron construction. It possessed one funnel, two masts and screw propulsion with a service speed of 10 knots, and had accommodation for 72 passengers in first class and 800 in steerage. According to the Mormon Immigration Index, the Mormon company boarding the ship comprised 357 persons with all but seven from the Scandinavian countries. Also on board the ship were 350 non-Mormon immigrants from Ireland and Germany which were kept “entirely separated from the Saints during the voyage.”

The passenger list for this company boarding the Minnesota included the following:

Pedersen, Christian – age 38 born at Kisserup – Copenhagen Conf. – Carpenter.
"          ,  Mette – age 28 born at Leire – wife – Copenhagen Conf.
"          ,  Jens Peder – age 4 born at Leire – son – Copenhagen Conf.
"          ,  Hans Peder – infant son born at Kisserup – Copenhagen Conf.

Mette was the correct spelling of her name in Danish and probably was Americanized to Metta. On the passenger list were Metta’s brother but not under the surname of Jensen but of Anders Madsen at, age 32 born at Leire, and wife Karen, born at Leire, daughter Stine, age 6, born at Leire, and infant son Jens Peter born at Leire. The town of Kisserup was close to the village of Kidserup with Leire (Lejre) being only three miles from Kisserup. The Copenhagen Conference was the LDS Church area they were leaving. They left Liverpool on Wednesday morning, July 20th, and they had, what was described by the company’s recorders, as a “good trip across the ocean,” arriving at New York City on August 1st. During their twelve day voyage they were organized into smaller groups for tighter control for most activities such as eating, cleaning their quarters, time to get up and retire, worship services, prayers, etc., under the care of their assigned company leader Jesse N. Smith. After landing, the company was taken to Castle Garden, the immigrant center operated by the State of New York, for processing (from 1830 until 1892 the year Ellis Island opened). Castle Garden had once been a fort located in Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan Island, and in its sandstone buildings the immigrants received their introduction to America. However, the Mormon immigration companies didn’t need this assistance to take care of their wants and needs like most of the immigrants arriving from abroad. The LDS company provided for those needs by an agent who took them from the immigrant center to a train station where on August 2nd they boarded a train to carry them to their destination. In 1870 they most likely were carried on the water-level route up beside the Hudson River, along the Erie Canal, at Buffalo crossed to Canada to Detroit, on to Chicago and to Council Bluff. They had to change trains several time as they traveled westward. At Council Bluffs they left the train as no bridge crossed the Missouri River. They were conveyed across the Missouri River to board the Union Pacific Railroad cars on the transcontinental route that had just been completed the previous year. They reached Ogden where they got off the transcontinental line and boarded the narrow gauge Utah Central Railroad that the Mormons had built to connect Ogden with Salt Lake City.

The company clerk recording the journey stated that en route towards Salt Lake City the immigrant company met or perhaps more correctly passed a group of Church leaders that included President Brigham Young, Daniel H. Wells, George A. Smith and others going in the opposite direction. The company reached Salt Lake City where they were officially greeted by Presiding Bishop Edward Hunter. Usually the company was feted with a reception and meal, and then if the new arrivals did not know where they should go, advice and sometimes assignments were made parceling out the many newcomers to various locations.

Unless the Christian Petersen family had some prior contact (in Denmark or during the time of traveling) that gave them an idea of where they wanted to go, then most likely they were advised to go north to Cache Valley, a relatively new area with bright agricultural possibilities. There was certainly a chance that a missionary could have influenced the decision for the same area, or a fellow-traveler who seemed to know much about the new area. Anyway, the Petersen family got on the train and retraced their journey to Ogden, then took another train to Brigham City where they would have to find other transportation to Cache Valley. We don’t know the details, but the Petersens wound up at Logan in mid to late August of 1870. Their arrival came two to three weeks after the 1870 federal census had been taken in Logan so they would not be enrolled among the approximately 246 families or 1,750 residents living there. The personal information continued sparse details except the following. At Logan on July 11, 1871, a third son came into the family and was named Peter Christian Petersen, and his father worked as a cabinet maker and carpenter. The family remained in Logan according to one source for a year while another report lengthened the stay somewhat longer. It could be surmised that the age old wish of many immigrants to own their own land became a significant factor in the family’s next move from the largest community in the valley to a smaller town where farm land could be obtained easier and almost always free of charge in allotments from the Mormon bishops in the these outlying areas.

One family source covered the move with: “After a few years in Logan, they moved to a farm two mile north of Richmond, Cache County . . . .” The Mormons arrived in Utah before there was a way to obtain land titles and before the area was surveyed (started with partial survey in 1855) and a land office was established at Salt Lake City in 1869. The Church established its own land policy which President Brigham Young summarized with these words: “No man should buy or sell land. Every man should have his land measured to him for city and farming purposes, what he could till. He might till it as he pleased, but he should be industrious and take care of it.” Young at another time added—“that if a man would not till his land it should be taken from him.” With a few dents from some who were unwilling to allow the Church to control land policy along with the eventual accessibility to government land titles actuated in Cache County by the completion of the surveying and opening of a federal land office in Salt Lake City, the Church began to lose some of its power over land ownership, but this came in Cache County in the late 1870s and into the 1880s. Therefore, in the early 1870s when Christian Petersen chose to relocate in Richmond, he didn’t just go up there and become a squatter on the public lands. More likely he went to Richmond and had land allotted to him by the local bishop, who determined the amount of land assigned, its location, and the size of the family of the new settlers. This could have been accomplished by Christian going to Richmond and explaining his intensions while his wife and children remained in Logan until they had a place to live in. It was either by a one step relocation or a move involving temporarily housing for his family within the town with a final assignation of his land some two miles north of Richmond where he established his dwelling. Now with possession of land, Christian became a farmer with not only a house but farm buildings to be constructed, animals to be cared for, and a garden planted to feed his family. He now probably put in more hours working each day than ever before and much of the effort was physically taxing.

We are not privy to much on this early time at Richmond. One source suggests that Christian may have continued some furniture making, and due to their location outside town, the Petersen family was “visited often by Indians begging for food.” We can only speculate on a host of things such as the co-operative store, the strong drive by Church leaders to initiate the United Order and its short existence, getting logs from the nearby canyon, obtaining more water for irrigation, using paper scrip in place of money, the anti-bigamy crusade and a host of other events. However, all we really know it that the family increased in size with a son named Frank born in 1873 (month and day not known) probably at Richmond. The fifth child was the first girl born to the family named Lena on September 11, 1875, at Richmond. Assuredly, Metta Marie had plenty of practice as a seamstress just for her growing family, and probably she did some for others. Surely, Christian’s former occupation as a carpenter served him well working on his house, barn, sheds, etc. To this point the children were born about every two years until after Lena when there was a four year span before resuming the two year interval for the rest of the children.

Magdalene and Peter Peterson with daughters Hanna and Mari K. 
nephew, Niels Christiansen, standing between his Aunt and Uncle. A Danish census listed him as a "plejesøn" or foster son
.

Meanwhile, back in Denmark we picked up an abbreviated account of younger brother Peter to fill in some of the account. Peter was born January 26, 1835, at Kidserup, the son of Peder Larsen and Karen Pedersen. Around the age of eighteen he was in the Danish army in 1863 Second Battle of Schleswig-Holstein. After the military service Peter met Magdalene Larsen from Torkilstrup (spelled in family stories as (Torkseldstrup) some ten to fifteen miles north of Kidersup on Zealand Island. It is not known if before or after their marriage Peter started as a blacksmith apprentice to Magdalene’s father. Peter was married in 1865 and learning to be a blacksmith about the same time as when Christian met and married Metta. Danish records show Peter as a journeyman blacksmith in 1866 and two years later he purchased his father-in-law’s blacksmith shop in Torkilstrup. During this period, Peter and Magdalene had a baby boy who died soon after birth. A short time later Magdalene’s sister had a baby boy named Niels Christiansen, and because the husband and father was engaged in compulsory military service the mother was at her wits end trying to handle the situation with young Niels and a new infant. After some months of this struggle some one thought she needed help. Peter and Magdaline (Niel’s uncle and aunt) offered to take young Niels and care for him, and Niels’ mother agreed to the arrangement, and even after the husband and father returned home, the arrangement continued without any interruption. Peter and Magdalene had children; Maria Karen in 1869 and Hanna in 1871 with a third girl Laurain 1875. In the mid-1870s Peter sold his blacksmith shop and  other possessions and relocated to Copenhagen where he established his business and home, and Niels went with them.

When Christian joined the Mormons and had the breakup with his father and emigrated out of Denmark, he kept his younger brother in mind. After getting established in Utah, Christian resumed his contact with brother Peter. A series of letters went back and forth between Denmark and Utah. Beside the personal items Christian tried to persuade Peter to relocate to Utah with the invitation that they could live with him and his family until they decided where they would like to live in the new country. In a long and involved manner young Niels and his Petersen Uncle and Aunt were baptized in 1875 and 1877, and they joined a LDS Emigration Company and left Denmark in September of 1877 bound for America and Utah. Peter apparently did not inform his parents of his intentions, and Niels’ father was upset about his son joining the Mormons and tried unsuccessfully to use force to prevent his son’s leaving. Peter and Magdalene Petersen with their three young daughters and nephew Niels Christiansen arrived in New York City and took the railroad to reach Ogden, Utah, on October 6, 1877.

At Ogden many of the company’s immigrants went south to Salt Lake City, but most likely the Petersens, knowing their destination lay to the north at Richmond, didn’t go to Salt Lake City. Instead they boarded the narrow gauged Utah & Northern Railroad train and traveled north bound for Cache County. Three years after Christian reached the area, the railroad came into Cache in 1873. The train with the new Petersen family went through Logan and arrived at Richmond, ending their long trip from Denmark. The earliest they could have arrived at Richmond would have been on Monday, October 8, 1877. According to the family stories, Peter’s family lived initially with Christian’s family until Peter found a small house he could rent. However, there is no indication when this took place. We only know that shortly after arriving in Richmond, the children of the new arrivals were struck with the acute bacterial disease diphtheria. The Petersen’s three young daughters, with the characteristic high fevers and the formation in the throat of a membrane that hindered breathing, succumbed. The diphtheria bacterium was first identified in the 1880s and there was no medicine, thus, diphtheria was a leading cause of death among children.

Laura C. Petersen’s headstone.

Marie K. Petersen’s headstone.

Hanna C. Petersen’s headstone.

Frank Petersen’s headstone.

 The family stories had the three girls dying “within forty-eight hours” while the Richmond Cemetery records show young Laura C. (born May 6, 1874) dying on October 18th; Marie K. (born May 21, 1869) passing on October 19th; and Hanna C. (born August 6, 1871) expiring on October 21st. Outbreaks or mini-epidemics such as this caused some panic in the town with people afraid to have contact or assist the family involved to the point that burying the dead could be a problem. The family stories from Peter’s line have Peter and Niels making the caskets and digging the graves for the three girls. It would be a safe bet that brother Christian was also involved.

Words alone can’t adequately express the loss and heartbreak of this sudden tragedy, so suffice it to say, it was great. Over a century later in researching the cemetery records and the graves in the Richmond Cemetery, a small mystery came to light. Just north of the graves of the three Petersen girls within the same family plot was another grave for Frank Petersen (1873-77). This was the son of Christian Petersen with no further burial information other than the two dates. Three scenarios come to mind, first, Frank could have died in the same period as the three girls; second, he may have died previous to the girls’ deaths; and lastly, he died after the girls’ burial. The first option somewhat cancels out due to questions why the burial records of Frank weren’t as detailed as the girls. The second choice of Frank’s dying first, would have had Christian obtaining a burial place for his dead son, and Peter just buried his children on his brother’s family plot due to the circumstances of just arriving in Utah. The last choice would be just the reverse of the second, with Peter obtaining the burial plots and Christian later placing the body of Frank in this same area. The family stories and the available cemetery records don’t shred enough light to solve the mystery, leaving open a possibility of digging into the original Richmond Cemetery records, handwritten in old ledger-type books to see it they solve the puzzle.

In late June of 1880 when the Tenth Federal Census was taken at Richmond, Utah, (including the town and nearby area within the precinct) the two Petersen brothers were recorded together again after ten years far separated from each other. Most of the census information given below is self-explanatory, but perhaps a few items should be noted. Peter and his wife now had two new daughters following the death of three daughters shortly after arriving in Richmond in 1877. Peter’s occupation is cited as a blacksmith but ten months unemployed. In the next dwelling Peter’s brother’s family was enrolled. Unusually the Head of each family was listed first, but at Christian Petersen’s place two servants (laborers on his farm) were placed first. They were a 64 year-old widower and Niels Christiansen, the nephew of Christian’s brother Peter. Perhaps Niels was there to be close to his work and/or there was more room there than at Peter’s place. Christian’s occupation was a farmer with six months unemployed technically as the census took it. The five children were listed with a couple of problems. In recording where son Hans was born, the census taker made a capital “D” and abruptly changed the entry to read “Utah.” Hans was born in Denmark. On the last son at two years of age the name written was Frank, either this was wrong or the child had two given names with only Frank cited. This son was Mangus born August 11, 1879, at Richmond. The most important elements of the census are listed below:

1880 Census – Richmond Precinct, Utah taken June 22, 1880.
[Key—D# -Dwelling enrolled; F# -Family #; Rel. – relationship to head; M/S – marital status; M/unemployed – “Number of months this person has been unemployed during the Census year.”; Place of birth – person listed, father, mother.]

D# F# Name Personal Des. Rel. M/S Occupation M/unemployed Place of birth

137 - 139 Petersen, Peter W M age 44 [head] M Blacksmith 10 mo. unemp. Den Den Den
                "        , Magdeline W F age 36 Wife M Keeping house Den Den Den
                "        , Anna W F age 2 Dau. S Utah Den Den
                "        , Norah W F age 1 Dau. S Utah Den Den

138 - 140 Petersen, Ole W M age 64 Servant W Laborer Den Den Den
              Christensen, Niels W M age 17 Servant S Laborer Den Den Den
              Petersen, Christian W M age 48 [head] M Farmer 6 mo. unemp. Den Den Den
              "          ,  Mette W F age 38 Wife M Keeping house Den Den Den
              "          ,  Jens W M age 12 Son S School Den Den Den
              "          ,  Hans W M age 10 Son S School D/Utah Den Den
              "          ,  Peter W M age 8 Son S Utah Den Den
              "          ,  Lina W F age 4 Dau. S Utah Den Den
              "          ,  Frank W M age 2 Son S [*? really Mangus] Utah Den Den

The months unemployed cited for both blacksmith Petersen and farmer Petersen were not unusual for persons such as farmers and blacksmiths, being self-employed; it could also indicate there was not enough work to keep these men fully occupied. The census positioning of the two Petersen brothers indicates they were living in close proximity to one another, and possibly casting some question on the family assumption that Peter’s first residence in Richmond was two miles north of town. After living in Richmond for a period of time for whatever reason Christian’s family name was changed by some from the typical Danish “sen” ending to “son” to the degree that some of his family used the Peterson form thereafter down to the present day. In 1881 the Christian Petersen family increased when Metta Marie bore her seventh child named Charles on April 6, 1881. The town of Richmond was also growing, both in population and public improvements as it had four stores in operation with plans to build a tabernacle, a building for the Relief Society, a new co-op store, a steam operated sawmill and a gristmill. The community had reached a size sufficient for a doctor to set up his office. Apparently some time before October 7, 1881, Dr. William H. Olsten established his office in Richmond. The Logan newspaper, on the date cited above, gave the following description of him, that he was “Among the most successful medical practitioners of this region . . . . He is a thorough pharmacist, and well understands the physiological effect of remedies. . . . Dr. Olsten has an extensive practice in this and Oneida counties, and can be found or reached at his office in Richmond.” From November 4, 1881, he ran frequent advertisements in the Logan newspaper that read: “Wm. H. Olsten, Ph. M.D. / Surgeon and Physician / Richmond, Utah.”

The outlook for the Petersen brothers and their families at Richmond also appeared good with perhaps ideas and plans for obtaining more land and other improvements. From Peter’s family comes information that sometime after the second brother arrived in Richmond, the two brothers decided to work together in farming. If this agreement came prior to the 1880 census maybe young Niels’ (servant-laborer) status was part of the arrangement. Shortly, Niels went to work for the railroad in construction but Richmond remained his home base. Surely by 1882 this partnership was in full operation as on Thursday morning September 7, 1882, both brothers were mowing grass or hay southwest of Richmond down near the railroad tracks. Christian’s granddaughter Waunetta Small (daughter of eldest son James) many years later gave the location of the mowing as southwest of the present North Cache Middle School in a story she wrote. The date was pinpointed by a newspaper article on a bad accident and a written article by Peter’s granddaughter, Arta Larsen Hansen. What took place on this fateful day will be pieced together from the brief accounts by the two granddaughters mentioned above plus information in the newspaper following the accident.

To set the stage, on the morning of the 7th of September both Christian and Peter were mowing in a field called the “Doby Yard,” and the mowing continued into the afternoon when Peter quit to go cleanup for the Mormon fast day and testimony meeting (held on the first Thursday of each month). Peter tried to get Christian to also stop working and go to the meeting, but he decided to continue mowing. So the brothers parted and Peter went home, cleaned up and went to the fast and testimony gathering at the meetinghouse. During the meeting a violent thunderstorm came up with considerable thundering and lightning. After the meeting, Peter, and his family if they accompanied him to the meeting, went towards his home and in someway quickly learned his brother had had a bad accident. The account does not make clear if the following discussion took place at Christian’s home or at the doctor’s office. When Peter arrived there ensued a discussion with Dr. Olsten saying both hands must be amputated and he wanted to amputate one leg as well as the accident victim’s condition was so serious as to doubt whether he could live. The account does not specify who was in on this decision other than the Dr. Olsten and Peter, but although seriously ill at the time wife Metta could have been there or even James who would have been sixteen. At this point Peter said no to cutting off the leg, stating that it would be better for Christian to die than to live like that (without both hands and one leg). Now to break away from the family stories with an account the following day in the Logan newspaper under the heading “Shocking Accident” that stated:
Yesterday afternoon, about four o’clock as Christian Peterson was employed mowing grass at Richmond, in this county, he having accidentally dropped a line, jumped off the machine to recover it, failing in his attempt, he made for the horse’s head, which frightened the animal causing it to move faster, at the same time kicking him. He finally got to the collar of one of the horses, missed his hold and was caught on the knives of the mower.
It was found on examination that the right hand was nearly cut off near the wrist. The left arm cut partly in two and badly smashed and contused. The limb from the groin to the knee lacerated and torn open to the bone, a huge place the size of a hand and two inches thick cut out of the left hip, besides many smaller wounds in various parts of the body. Dr. W. H. Olsten was at once called for, and he telegraphed to this city for assistance at midnight. Dr. Ormsby, assisted Dr. Olsten, performed the operation of removing both arms, one above the wrist the other below the elbow.
The sufferer is about 48 years of age, has a wife and six children, and is a native of Denmark. 
Great sympathy is expressed by the people in the case.
Early this morning the patient was feeling bright, but the physicians have a precarious case.
In view of the many accidents that have recently occurred from the use of badly trained horses we shall at a no distant day devote a portion of our space to this evil.
(The Utah Journal, Sept. 8, 1882.)

The person writing the article probably received most of his information at Richmond from Dr. Olsten and others knowledgeable of the accident and situation with the victim. Four days after the published account of the accident, the newspaper mentioned the accident briefly in a short item in its local news columns as follows: “A correspondent sends us an account of the accident to Christian Petersen, of Richmond, who was dreadfully injured by a mower some days ago, which is substantially the same as that we gave in our last issue. It appears that the unfortunate man is a worthy object of charity. He has a wife and six children. His wife was seriously sick at the time of the accident, and should he recover, he will be dreadfully crippled.” (The Utah Journal, Sept. 12, 1882.) This item seems to confirm that the original account was accurate plus gives the added information that Christian’s wife was “seriously sick” at the time and Christian’s recovery was still questionable as was his permanent situation thereafter. The much later accounts of the accident by the granddaughters of both Christian and Peter denote some slight differences. Christian’s granddaughter wrote on how it happened to her grandfather saying: “He climbed down from the mower to adjust the harness on the horses. Just then the train passed by frightening them, and they lunged forward knocking Christian to the ground. Before he was able to get out of the way, the mower knife severed both of this [sic his] hands. Someone took him to a doctor who lived in a large two-story house in Richmond.” She observed that possibly the thumb and index finger on the right hand could have been saved, but the doctor responded that “there was no point in that since Christian was going to die from shock and loss of blood anyway.” In the account by Peter’s granddaughter she wrote that the thunder and lightning “frightened the horses so that they ran away and he could not control them. He was thrown from the mower and the knife cut his hands and legs terribly.” This granddaughter wrote that whenever Peter related the story of the accident years later he “always” said the accident happened because his brother “didn’t quit work and go to Fast Meeting.” The minor differences are merely hiccups as oral accounts transitioned into written stories.

Both of the granddaughters’ written accounts are quite negative concerning Dr. Olsten, but they have nothing on injuries beyond the hands or merely mention the word “legs.” However, given all the injuries, their extent, time lapse from accident to medical care then possibly the newspaper’s “precarious case” was in reality an understatement when in fact Christian’s recovery even with loss of his hands was somewhat amazing. Furthermore, the midnight telegraph to Logan brought the very best doctor available in Cache Valley at the time, Dr. Oliver C. Ormsby, and he did the actual amputation and certainly played a crucial roll in the overall treatment of the various injuries. It is beyond the scope of this article to attempt a summary of his long and storied medical career except for two brief instances. After establishing himself as a physician for a few years, to advance his knowledge he went to Chicago and attended the Rush Medical College in 1869. Later in the spring of 1881 he was called on a short proselytizing mission to England, and he persuaded Church leaders to make the call of a two-fold character, with “some of the time to be devoted to the acquirement of professional knowledge.” In accordance, he went to Paris for a time to see the leading physicians and hospitals of France, the same in London and made a trip to Edinburgh, Scotland where he watched more surgery by some of Scotland’s celebrated surgeons of the time. Dr. Ormsby returned home to Utah in July of 1882. The call for assistance from Dr. Olsten was neither the first nor the last. In fact on the Friday following Christian’s accident, a young teenage was thrown from a wagon load of wood with the wagon passing over his body; the Richmond doctor called Dr. Ormsby on Saturday for help, an amputation of a leg and in this case the victim died.

With Christian’s recovery, it would be slow and long. The newspaper gave further information in its issue two and half weeks after the accident. In a short article entitled “Convalescing” the Logan paper wrote: “Christian Petersen of Richmond, who met with a serious accident a short time since, by falling in front of a mowing machine, is doing much better than was expected. The sufferer is under the medical care of Dr. W. H. Olsten, in whose office he lies, till he becomes sufficiently recovered for removal.” (The Utah Journal, Sept. 26, 1882.) Even if wife Metta had not been serious ill, it would have been wisdom to have the Richmond doctor care for Christian, checking for infection, monitoring healing of flesh on his arms and legs, and whatever else was essential. It is not known how long he remained at the doctor’s office. Some ten and a half weeks after the accident, a man traveling through much of Cache Valley for his private business and at the same time writing articles for the Logan newspaper encountered a Mr. Traveller. This gentleman desired him to write in behalf of “Mr. Christian Peterson, the unfortunate man's hands were taken off with a mower, that Mr. Peterson wished publicly to acknowledge the practical sympathy and kindly feelings extended towards him by his friends in the surrounding neighborhood.” (The Utah Journal, Nov. 21, 1882.) Probably by this time Christian had returned to his home where his primary care was in the hands of his wife and children, with some help from his brother Peter and friends. Time was required for the healing of the severe injuries to his leg or legs being the crucial area, so that Peter’s grand-daughter wrote finally “his legs became better” and now he faced the difficult situation of learning to exist without the use of his hands. This process would involve experimentation, trials and refinement or adaptation, finding one way only to improve upon it. Above all it took determination, will power and a double portion of patience. More on some of this will be given later.

At the 1882-1884 juncture in Christian’s life another misfortune of a different sort took place that impacted him. When he established his home north of Richmond, his closest neighbor was Jens Peter Nielsen. The latter owned 160 acres directly north of Christian’s eighty acres situated just to the west of the Utah & Northern Railroad tracks and east of Cub River. They were both Danish immigrants with Jens Peter coming to Richmond first. Apparently after living in Utah with Mormon teachings for nearly twenty years, Jens Peter Nielsen became unhappy with the area and disenchanted with his faith that brought him there. He decided to sell everything he possessed and retuned to his native land of Denmark. The move came in January of 1882, and since he had sold his farm, home, animals and all, he asked Christian to carry him and his wife from their newly sold home two miles from town to the train depot in Richmond. So accordingly Christian went early one morning and picked up Jens Peter Nielsen and his wife with their baggage, taking all to the Richmond depot where they boarded a southbound train and left the area on their journey back to Denmark. This act of neighborliness was nothing extraordinary until a little later when some shallow thinking and possibly some wagging tongues turned the departing couple’s departure into a disappearance mystery that those who concluded something mysterious had occurred sought to resolve it.

It hasn’t been ascertained when this transformation took place, but almost assuredly most of it took place after Christian had lost both hands in the mower accident in early September of 1882. While there may have been some swirling gossip and rumors alive in Richmond earlier it came to a head in written form in a Salt Lake newspaper on February 3, 1884—over two years later. The article entitled “Where Are They?” was written from Richmond by a man who gave his pseudonym or pen name of “AN OBSERVER OF THE SIGNS OF THE TIMES,” with the article published in the extremely anti-Mormon paper at Salt Lake City. The high points of the article asked if the Mormon priesthood had done away with the couple because they apostatized from the faith and were telling secrets. With the added emphasis that the couple was done away with to save their souls and the Mormon priesthood’s garments were “crimson” and stained with the innocent blood very much along the standard fare of the virulent Mormon haters. Then the “Observer” got specific and charged that “Christian Peterson” could have been involved in the mysterious disappearance.

The biggest known reaction to these charges came from the Logan newspaper, The Utah Journal. It sent a reporter to learn the particulars of the accusations in the Tribune article. After interviewing Mr. Petersen and others, and they concluded that the Tribune’s article was a lie and base fabrication of the worse sort. Step by step they tore apart the various charges with signed affidavits and direct witnesses in a series of articles beginning on March 1, 1884. The charge-makers countered back but soon lost their interest in the battle of the printed word as their case was shredded and shown to lack substance. The Logan newspaper stated that in this affair especially the charges by the “Observer”—“His accusation had been bitterly felt by Christian Petersen,” and it indeed would take time to efface the pain inflicted. (The Utah Journal, Mar. 1, 1884).

At the same time, life went on and the work on the farm was taken care of by Christian’s brother, Peter, sometimes with his nephew Niels, and Christian’s boys—James (age 16), Hans (age 14), Peter Christian (age 11) and daughter Lena and her mother were not forgotten in the various chores around the farm and in the garden. There are few specifics on these activities, which must have been persistent and time consuming, in the family stories and reminisces. In addition Metta Marie gave birth to her eighth child named Mary born February 6, 1884, at Richmond, Utah. With the parents and seven living children, the large family worked as a team to meet their needs so the predictions about the family proved far off—“dreadfully crippled,” and “object of charity.” In 1884, according to Peter’s granddaughter, Peter thought his brother’s family were able to care for their farm, and they needed and “ought to have the farm”—the whole farm, “so he took his family and his few belongings and moved to Newton.” Where Peter did some blacksmithing and took up a homestead. Nephew Niels didn’t move with Peter’s family but worked in the gravel pit and at railroad construction for Richmond contractors until his marriage in 1886 when he moved to Newton, leaving the possibility that his Richmond base was with the Christian Petersen family when needed, including helping on the farm.

On February 14, 1884, Christian Petersen, using one of the legislative acts for obtaining public land, filed for land in Township 14 North Range 1 East of the Salt Lake Base and Meridian for 80 acres as plat #60. The land was a little over a mile north of Richmond, west of the county road to Franklin, Idaho, and just to the west the Utah Northern Railroad tracks. It was in section 15 for the southern half of the SW quarter section with the area marked in red pencil on the Cache County Township Plat map (with a red number 60). It is very likely this was in actuality a move to get legal title to land Christian had possessed and farmed for years after having the land assigned to him by the Richmond bishop. This will remain an open question until the Cache County land records and the final probate of the estate of Christian Petersen are examined to reveal the full story.

In 1886 the last child was born into the family when Metta as the age of forty-four gave birth to her ninth child on June 16, 1886, and named Clara Sophia. Eight weeks later Metta Marie died of a heart attack on August 7, 1886, at Richmond, and she was buried in the local cemetery. Since Clara was a new infant it was decided best to have Clara placed with the Swen Nelson family for rearing. The Nelsons consisted of Swen a 47-year-old farmer who immigrated from Sweden and his wife Sophia a 42-year-old housewife who had immigrated from Denmark. On the 1900 census for Richmond, Swen (age 61), Sophia (age 56) had one living son named Charles at age 28 and single. The remaining listing was “Nelson, Nelson” as a daughter born in June of 1886 at age 13 and single. This likely was Clara Petersen given to the couple back in 1886.

Headstone of Metta Marie Matsen Petersen in the Richmond Cemetery.
She was the wife of Christian Petersen.

With the passing of Metta Marie in the summer of 1886, the Petersen family was left with a difficult situation consisting of father Christian at age 56 and handicapped, sons James (age 20), Hans (age 17), Peter (age 15), Mangus (age 7), Charles (age 5) and daughters Lena (age 13) and Mary (age 2). With much effort and some struggle the three older boys could in most cases handle the farm and care for the animals. But under the circumstances there was a garden that had to be planted, cared for and harvested at the proper time for the family food and preserved food for later use. The younger boys could be assigned some chores and work in the garden, Lena with some assistance from her brothers had the next to impossible task of taking over the bulk of her mother’s work, keeping house and garden, plus caring for a young sister. On top of all this the children needed to help care for their father in those things he could no longer do for himself. If there was a home in the Richmond area that needed a helpmate in the worse way, it was the Petersen household. Possibly there were times when individuals or small groups from the Richmond Ward assisted the Petersens in their farm work, and the Relief Society could have assisted Lena in all she had on her young shoulders. But what was needed was someone available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week on a long-lasting tenure. In the operation of the local church, those presiding knew this and probably believed they had a responsibility to see what could be done to make the Petersens’ condition better in some way or other. Into the Richmond Ward came a lady immigrant from Norway, Berthe Marie Ingebretsen (sometimes spelled Engebretsen) who was born some twenty-nine years earlier in her native land on February 18, 1857. An attempt to find her name on the Mormon Immigrant Index failed but on the 1900 census she had her immigration in 1886. We have no family stories on how Berthe and Christian came to be married or even the date of their marriage. Therefore perhaps a little surmising would not be amiss. Possibly the ward leaders saw a need to find a place for newly arrived spinster Berthe and thought a solution for both Berthe and Christian was a marriage of the two. The twenty-five years age difference was not a significant factor at that particular time, and in fact such marriages were fairly common. Very likely the Church leaders played a significant role in at least the introductive phase of their becoming acquainted. Sometime in late 1886 or more likely 1887, Christian (age 54-55) and Berthe (age 29-30) were married, providing a stepmother for Christian’s children and a new major player in the Petersen family for the next three decades.

There would be four children born at Richmond to Christian and Berthe Petersen; first, Margaret Amelia born July 8, 1888; Anette Julie born January 26, 1890, and died after eleven months; Alma Henry born October 17, 1891; and finally John Christian born October 15, 1897. No family history or stories have been found to amplify this aspect of the Petersen family. In late June of 1900 the Federal Census was taken at Richmond, Utah, and the Petersen family was listed thus: {Key- Name, Rel.=relationship to head; M/S =marital status; Place of birth – person listed, father, mother.}

Name Rel. Personal Description M/S Place of birth Occupation

Peterson, Christian Head W M Oct. 1832 age 67 M 13yrs Den. Den. Den. Farmer
 
“              , Birtha Wife W F Feb. 1860 age 40 M Nor. Nor. Nor. Keeping house
 
         , Mangus Son W M Aug. 1878 age 21 S Utah Den. Den. Day laborer
 
         , Charles Son W M Apr. 1880 age 20 S Utah Den. Den. Day laborer
 
         , Mary Dau W F Feb. 1884 age 16 S Utah Den. Den. [no entry]
 
         , Maggie Dau W F June 1888 age 11 S Utah Den. D [wrong]* at school 9 months
 
         , Alma Son W M Sept. 1891 age 8 S Utah Den. D [wrong]* [no entry]
 
         , John Son W M Oct. 1893 age 6 S Utah Den. D [wrong]* [no entry]

Christian gave the date of his immigration to the United States as 1865 and in the U.S. for 35 years which was incorrect as he came in 1870 with 30 years in the county. Bertha gave the date of her immigration as 1886 and in the country for 14 years, and in 13 years of marriage she had given birth to four children with three surviving. The first three children listed on the census were from the first wife with the remaining three from second wife Birtha (Bertha). On the last three children the census taker mistakenly listed their mother as born in Denmark when it should have been Norway. More important the census showed that the family owned their home and place but with a mortgage, while in the earlier available census in 1880 showed the family owning their home and place free of any mortgage. The census clearly showed the Christian Petersen family in the precinct but not inside the town of Richmond.

During the summer of 1905 a couple of young men from Richmond while hauling gravel found a human skull and a few other bones in a gravel bank that was becoming a public gravel pit. The location of the gravel bank was on High Creek some two miles north of Richmond where the stream flowed in a curve that had undermined an elevated section of a sizeable gravel bank that kept caving off in slides making the gravel accessible near the stream. This place was about 100 yards southeast of the old mill that local lore had it where “Peter the Miller”—the romanticized name for Jens Peter Nielsen—who supposedly owned a water-powered grist mill. The skull was viewed by the Richmond doctor and turned over to an osteopath in Logan with nothing further from medical opinion, but the gossip mills carried the burden willingly with a vast array of lurid stories and rumors. This caused another Logan newspaper to send a reporter to Richmond to check out what was taking place. In the end the whole tale of 1884 about a mysterious disappearance was published again in the newspaper. The investigating reporter wrote a long account of what he found and the situation present at Richmond while rehearsing most of what happened in 1884. The Logan reporter called the tales and rumors he found at Richmond connected to the bones as “nothing short of . . .ludicrous” and there was “no reasonable connection between” the bones found and wild stories and rumors of a old couple’s disappearance. (The Logan Republican, Aug. 30, 1905.) This reporter did not go and interview Christian Petersen, but if he had he might have found him to be more upset about this later round of his name being used in the stories. Still he wrote: “There are a thousand and one gossipy tales which Mr. Peterson figures.” These extremely flimsy claims were spouted with no evidence whatsoever. If any of the readers want to follow the 1884 and 1905 episodes in detail, they are advised to look atA RICHMOND DISAPPEARANCE MYSTERY OR A CANARD – 1882 to 1905,” found on this site.

The Thirteenth United States Census for 1910 conducted by the Census Bureau determined the resident population of the country to be 92,228,496 showing an increase of twenty-one per cent over the census a decade earlier. At Richmond the population increased in 1910 to 1,562 the highest population total for the community until in the late 1970s. The increase was significant since the population had fallen from 1,232 in 1890 to a low of 1,111 in 1900. The 1910 Census for Richmond, Utah, showed the Christian Petersen family as follows: {Key- Name, Rel.=relationship to head; M/S =marital status; Place of birth – person listed, father, mother.}

Name Rel. Personal data M/S Place of birth Occupation

Petersen, Christian Head W M age 77 M 23 yr. Den Den Den Farmer
 
         , Bertha Wife W F age 52 M 23 yr. Nor Nor Nor Keeping house
 
         , Margaret Dau W F age 22 S Utah Den. Nor Stenographer Milk Factory
 
         , Alma Son W M age 18 S Utah Den. Nor. [none]
 
         , John Son W M age 16 S Utah Den Nor [none]
Pearce, Wilbur Boarder W M age 21 S Utah Utah Utah Laborer at Milk factory

The census showed the family as owning their home and farm without a mortgage and different from the previous census. Apparently by this time Christian’s first family had come of age and moved out on their own such as son James who married in 1890 and probably had little to do with the farm in the last year or so before leaving. He chose to become a carpenter rather than a farmer. This writer remains unsure who came to inherit or possess the family home and farm.

Now backtracking to the time of Christian’s accident in September of 1882, to focus on some of Christian’s adaptations to life without his hands. We are only given tiny glimpses of certain aspects of what took place and don’t want to speculate too much in relating the developments. At the time of the accident Christian was three months sly of being 50 years of age, and living until the spring of 1916 meant he lived without any hands for almost 34 years. Beginning the next morning, September 8, 1882, there were a great multitude of things he could not do without assistance. In regard to personal hygiene he was severely limited in cleaning himself, dressing, undressing, putting on and taking off shoes or boots, eating, opening doors which had doorknobs that had to be gripped and turned, etc. For instance, he couldn’t shave himself, and while he probably already possessed a beard in the style and custom of the days. With a full beard he would only need an occasional trim with the scissors by someone. In taking care of personal needs he couldn’t feed himself so starting with the convalescent period while in the Dr. Olsten’s office, the doctor or someone had to help get the food into Christian’s mouth. When he was at home, initially his wife must have been involved and soon the some of the older children could help their father in this and in time the younger ones were able to do it. Young Mary (born in February of 1884) recalled from her early life doing it. This continued until, according to Mary’s story, “they discovered he could feed himself” if utensils were strapped to his arm. Just when and how this became the standard procedure hasn’t been ascertained, but another family account stated “Bertha would strap a spoon to one arm and a fork to the other so father could feed himself.” If this reflected total accuracy, then this came at least five years after the loss of his hands. Perhaps more essential was the process whereby an idea was tried, and by experimentation and effort turned into a better or improved idea as Christian undertook to do more things without any hands.

His son James recalled his father would have his family strap a pitchfork to his arms so he could work in the hayfield with the older boys. To make this successful, experimentation (trial and error method of problem solving) had to be learned to make up for the normal articulation found in the human wrist and fingers in managing a pitchfork. One Sunday when the rest of his family were at Church a fire broke out in the barn and Christian managed to untie all the halter ropes or straps with his teeth to get the animals safely out. Possibly even more amazing he came to be able to drive horses on a wagon and buggy. In Mary’s reminisces she mentioned that while at a young age she learned to harness the horses so her father “was able to continue his farming. He had a large family and had to work hard to support them.” It was never explained as to what end the harnessing of the horse or team led to, whether hitched to a farm implement or for transportation purposes. The question arises, why hadn’t Christian asked the older boys to harness and hitch the animals to whatever needed attention? There exists the possibility that on those occasions when young Mary was used to help harness a horse, it was in a situation when the boys were busy with the farming and Christian was still in the process of learning what he could and could not do, and needed to experiment on his own. However, from previous experience he knew the important factor in handling a horse or a team of horses was the driver’s ability to use the reins to communicate to the animal or team whatever he wanted them to do such as stop, turn left or right, backup, change speed or even start. The driver used his hands on the reins to make it all work out, but without hands to grip or hold the reins how could this be done? Quite possibly Christian, after much thought, began experimenting how with two arms without hands could someway use the reins to adequately control the horse or team.

Since we don’t know how he did it, only he was able to do it, then we can only conjecture what and how he accomplished this. One guess would be that it was more than just using one arm stub pressed on the reins against the other arm to do all the maneuvering necessary to handle a horse or team hitched to a wagon, light wagon, sleigh, carriage or buggy. Very likely he did something to the lines to adapt them so with both of his arm stubs he handled the horse or team as needed. Maybe Mary’s times helping harness the horses came when her father had devised a way and wanted to give it a trial run. When he found the way, then he could with some assistance harness the horse or team, hitch it to whatever he wanted to drive to be of assistance on the farm. We do know he delivered mail on a route from Richmond using a horse-drawn vehicle for “many years.” The source for this written information came from brother Peter’s granddaughter born at Newton in about 1904. In a written account on her grandfather she included the following on Christian: “. . . for many years he delivered mail on a route, out of Richmond. He took care of his horses and drove by himself. I remember him tie the horses, many times, with his stubs of arms and using his teeth on the ropes.”

In short, Christian overcame some of the handicap of losing both hands, and if we knew the whole story, it probably would be amazing. Giving a glimpse of the inter man is another of daughter Mary’s remembrances. Her mother died when Mary was only two and a half years old so she had no memory of her mother. When she was a little older she asked her father to tell her about her mother. Her father related that her mother was a good seamstress and learned the trade while in Denmark. In addition her mother made a practice of keeping a record book wherein she wrote down important dates, events, etc., that were significant to the family. Unfortunately this book has been lost. He dwelled longer on the many special things Mary’s mother did for him, fixing things nice for him. On one occasion Mary was preparing a sandwich for her father and she cut the sandwich diagonally which caused a welling of tears in his eyes along with an emotional response, “Marie, that’s just the way your mother used to do it.”

In Christian’s latter days he had an occasion to ride in an automobile. His son James purchased a Model T Ford, one of the earliest in Richmond. The son tried for a long time to give his father a ride without success. Finally, repeated coaxing won Christian’s approval to go for a ride in the renowned Tin Lizzie or flivver. On the day James with his daughter Waunetta (Christian’s granddaughter) and Christian took their ride in the open Model T Ford and rode to the Oneida Narrows in Idaho. Those close observers thought “Christian was very frightened.” It took a long time for him to accept another ride in the contraption that moved in every direction and probably too fast. He eventually changed his mind and took another ride and another and came to love riding in the car. The first ride had to be after 1908 and probably came sometime between 1911 and 1914.

In early December of 1914 in celebration of Christian’s 82nd birthday his children and grandchildren along with his spouse met and had a fine dinner and “pleasant time.” The honoree was given “a nice and useful present.” (The Logan Republican, Dec. 8, 1914) There were occasions when friends and family came by including one of Bertha’s nieces from Salt Lake City visited in May of 1915. (The Logan Republican, May 25, 1915). However by the beginning of the new year of 1916 life’s hour glass was showing its age when in February a Logan newspaper report that at Richmond, “Mr. Christian Peterson is very low at this writing.” (The Logan Republican, Feb. 16, 1916.) Two months later on Tuesday, April 11, 1916, Christian Petersen died at his home in Richmond. (The Logan Republican, April 15, 1916).

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Headstone of Christian Petersen in Richmond Cemetery.

This more modern monument gives the birth and death dates plus cites that he was the husband of two wives:
Metha Maria Madsen
Bertha Mary Engebretsen

The following Sunday his funeral was held in the Richmond Tabernacle with interment in the Richmond Cemetery on April 16, 1916. A couple of days later one of the Logan newspapers printed the following:

Funeral services were held in the Richmond tabernacle Sunday at 2 p.m. over the remains of Mr. Christian Peterson. The opening song, I Need Thee Every Hour, was rendered by the choir. Prayer was offered by G. M. Thomson. The choir further sang, Unanswered Yet.  Mr. Austin Rainey sang, Sometimes We'll Understand.  Mr. C. I. Stoddard sang, O My Father. J. C. Johnson, Hyrum Larsen, A. S. Schow, C. Z. Harris and Bishop T. H. Merrill spoke comforting words to the bereaved family, and praising words of Mr. Peterson. The closing song, Oh It is Wonderful, was sung by the choir. The benediction was pronounced by William M. Merrill. Many relatives and friends from neighboring towns attended the services. The Richmond Condensed Milk Company office girls, were the flower girls.” (The Logan Republican, April 18, 1916.)

His widow lived on the farm with presumably some of her family operating the farm for about two and a half years. Then in late October or early November Bertha Peterson was moved to the home of Hans Peterson, son of Christian by his first wife when her condition warranted more care. Here she died on October 30, 1918. In the Logan newspaper under “Richmond News” for November 12, 1918, came the following report:

RICHMOND, Nov. 9.--Funeral services were held Sunday, Nov. 3, at 2 p.m. over the remains of Mrs. Bertha Peterson, wife of Christian Petersan [sic- Peterson], who died Oct. 30, at the home of Hans Peterson. Music was furnished by the choir singing Though Deepening Trials Throng Thy Way.”  A duet by Anna V. Merrill and Mortel Wight, “Will There Be Any Stars in My Crown.[”]  Stoddard brothers sang, “Rest Thee Now From Care and sorrow.”  The speakers were O. H. Monson, J. W. Funk, Carl Olsen, A. S. Schow.  Bishop J. L. McCarrey offered the closing remarks telling of the good care that had been taken of the deceased in her recent illness.  The opening prayer was offered by T. H. Merrill and Wm. Anderson dismissed.  Mrs. Peterson was born in Norway sixty-one years ago, and was the mother of four children, Mrs. Margaret Sorenson, Alma Peterson, and John Peterson. A daughter preceded her to the great beyond.

[Also under Richmond news]
John Peterson who has been in military training is home again, having come home on account of poor health.
(The Logan Republican, Nov. 12, 1918.)

Headstone of Bertha Mary Engebretsem
Wife of Christian Peterson in the Richmond Cemetery. Note the spelling of the Peterson name on this monument compared to the name used on the other Petersen headstones.

 

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Left photo
Christian Petersen

Right photo
seated: Christian Petersen and daughter Mary,
standing: daughter Margaret.

Christian Petersen’s life was full of trials with setbacks, a serious accident and wild rumors circulated beyond his control. Still, he ventured out to a new land, faced life and met each challenge and helped bring up two families of merit. He exhibited determination, courage and did his best through it all.


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