John George Erastus Larsen

Born 3 Sep 1852, Christianshaven, København, Danmark
Died 27 Feb 1922, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, United States

A History of

John George Erastus Larsen

as told to his son,

Arthur Schmidt Larsen

My parents, Hans Larsen and Elena Dorthea Strombør Bentzen, were converts to The Church [of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints], being baptized on the 12 August 1850 in the Ramparts of Copenhagen, Denmark, by the Apostle, Erastus Snow. Father was born 8 June 1806 in Lund, Lyderslev, Denmark. He died 27 Feb 1876 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Mother was born 27 Dec 1810 in Copenhagen, Denmark. She died 9 Mar 1877 in Salt Lake City, Utah. One of my sisters, Eline Hansine Larsen, was the first young lady to be baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Denmark.

I was born 3 Sep 1852, being blessed with the name of John George Erastus Larsen, after the three prominent missionaries John E. Forsgren, George Dykes, and Erastus Snow. I was the youngest of seven children and the only son to grow to manhood. When I was but a few months old my parents took me with them and the first company of emigrants from Denmark, (this being the largest company to come to America), under the direction of John E. Forsgren, setting sail on the ship Forest Monarch, leaving the 23 December 1852.

While on the ocean an epidemic of smallpox broke out among the saints, causing much sorrow to the parents and friends, many of them were buried at sea. On 19 March 1853 we arrived on American soil at New Orleans, burying my young sister, Margrette Kristine Larsen, here, she had taken sick while on the ocean and had died one day out from land. We stayed here until the Saints started for Salt Lake City, Utah, crossing the plains with ox teams.

I was carried across the plains by my mother, she being afraid to ride behind the oxen. She would walk ahead of the family covered wagon to a considerable distance, then sit down to rest until the family came up to her, then she would go on again. There must have been an increased endearment and love for this baby as she pursued her long and tiresome journey, thousands of miles beyond the sacred grave in New Orleans that held the remains of her four year old and youngest daughter, Margrette, which beloved spot she would never see again in this life.

Here again, hardships and sorrow overtook us, at times when the oxen died on the way it was up to one of the older children to take its place to pull the carts. Many is the time we have had to stop and bury a loved one at the side of the road or take care of a very sick friend, wondering if the Lord would take care of their remains from the wild animals. There was at one time when a very sick child in one of the carts, the women taking care of it so that the mother could get some rest, she had been up day and night looking after her sick child, there was no use, for on the fourth day it died of a very high fever. The Saints tried to bury it, but the mother would not give it up, still thinking that she was alive. Then one night the father had a talk with her, explaining that the Lord had called her home. When he was through she laid the child in his arms and told him to lay it away. But during the early evening they had heard a pack of wolves in the distance howling. This frightened the mother and she would not let them bury her child. After one of the sisters had a talk with her, she let them take the child and lay it at rest.

My father has told me of a lot of hardships and experiences he and his family have gone through. We arrived in the Great Salt Lake Valley in September 1853, making our home in the 2nd Ward, on 8th South and 3rd East. One of my sisters being buried where the old poplar tree stands with the fence around it, but at this time there is not much left of the markings. As I grew to manhood I assisted my father in building the Capitol Building at Fillmore, Utah, also laboring many years hoisting granite rock for the Salt Lake Temple in Salt Lake City, Utah. I also helped to install the pipes for the pipe organ in the Salt Lake Tabernacle.

I also was a trustee to President Brigham Young, hauling hot spring water from the springs where the Wasatch Springs are now located. He used this water to relieve him of his rheumatism. While here in the Valley we always had to be on the lookout for Indians, many is the time I have heard the story of this child or that person being captured or killed by the Indians.

In 1873 I married a Miss Cecilia Mary Schmidt, who was born 12 Jan 1858 at Aarhus, Denmark. We lived in Salt Lake Valley eight years (1881) when I took my family and moved to a town up in the northern part of the state of Utah, that is now known as Tremonton, Box Elder, County, taking up dry farming on the banks of the Malad River, two miles north of the town, here again I had hardships. There were the Indians and the wild animals, the Indians sneaking up to the house at night and looking in at the window watching what you were doing and frightening the children nearly to death with their made up faces. But they were always friendly with my family and I, we giving them the things they needed and wanted by trading with them.

Another time after we had settled on the banks of the Malad River in Tremonton we let the Indians stay on the west side of the river until they decided to go on the east side for that was set apart for the Indians to make their camps, no settlers had settled there as yet. The day came when they moved their camp across the river, all the time keeping their eyes on the pigpen where there was a sow with her litter of little ones. All the while they were here they were peaceful, but they must have wanted a certain little pig, for one of the children a few days later, after going out to feed the pigs, one of the children came running in shouting that a pig was missing. He wanted to know if I was going to go after it. I said I was not and for none of them to bother about it either, and we would just wait and see what would happen. So we all went about our business, doing the chores we had to do and the other things that a farm requires. After waiting three or four days and at the morning feeding, the children came running in and shouting that the pig was back. It must have been during the night that one of the Indians brought the pig back, because there it was home and with its mother as if nothing had happened. The chief of the tribe must have had a talk with the one that had taken the pig.

Then there is that old Malad River that would get on a rampage with its rolling and roaring, taking everything with it, all the good grazing land from side to side and the bridges the boys and I and the neighbors had built to cross so that we would not have to go around by the road for it was about two and a half miles farther, which was quite a distance when in a hurry. But every time that old river got on a rampage we all knew just what we had to do, clean up and build a new bridge.

I will say this, that I used my head when I built my home on top of a hill. That is partly standing this day [before 1922]. The house has a large south sunny kitchen with a lean-to on the north where the menfolk left their working clothes when they came in from doing chores or working in the fields, a hallway running north and south with a pantry on the north and a closet on the south, a large living room with two bedrooms on the north. There was a duck pond on the south with poplar trees all around it as well as hollyhocks. There was a large lawn in front of the house with a path leading down to the driveway, it had lilac trees and all kinds of flowers on both sides. There are poplar trees on both sides of the driveway down to the main highway which is about a half mile long. Here is where my wife and I reared our family of twelve sons and daughters, until there were only four sons and a granddaughter whom we took to raise after her parents died.

My wife did fine with the children, giving them all something to do and told the older ones to see that it got done without any fuss. She was a midwife and would receive calls any time of the day and night. She has harnessed her horse and hitched it up to a buggy or cutter depending on the time of year and the weather, she delivered a lot of babies throughout that country at that time.

All this time the older children were leaving home, and the farm was getting too much for me to handle, there were just the four young boys and my granddaughter and my wife and I, also my health was getting poor, so I bought a lot in the town of Tremonton, the highway running east and west past it. Here we lived until 1915 then we moved back to Salt Lake City, Utah, buying a home up on MacClandon Street from where my wife and I could go and do temple work. But my health failed me so bad I had to give this up also.

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John George Erastus Larsen died 27 Feb 1922 in Salt Lake City, Utah, and is also buried there. His wife then bought her a home up on Douglas Street near the old prison. Here she lived doing a little temple work now and then for her health was also failing fast. Here she died 26 Aug 1930, Salt Lake City, Utah, and is also buried here. They leaving with us the wonderful thoughts and teachings to all who associated with them. ~ Arthur Smith Larsen

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More about John George Erastus Larsen:

Further Remembrances by son, Arthur

Larsen/Schmidt website

Photos and Other Documents

*The Emigration of the Hans Larsen Family

The John E. Forsgren Emigrant Company

**History of Eline Hansene Larsen Lambert, sister

Oblad.Org, a website for the
family of Marie Magdalene Larsen and John Frederick Oblad

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