Hans Sorensen – Modest in Heart and ‘Sole’

Screen Shot 2018-04-04 at 6.42.33 PMIn 1847, on the north shore of Zealand, as Danish citizens fought for “freedom of press, and religion,”1 fourteen-year old Hans Sorensen finished school and entered apprenticeship. That same year his mother and grandmother died. In 1849 the monarch gave in and the people won their desired freedoms.2 With a feeling of opportunity, Hans studied with a demanding shoemaker, and using local materials he became skilled at constructing shoes and saddles with maple pegs and strong flax thread.1 He was among the “industrious, peaceable, and skillful,”3 of his people. At age 20 his brother and father died4 but he continued his trade and service to his community. Nine years later, he married Maren Kristine Hansdatter also of his Parish and opened a shoe-shop in the nearby town of Tisvilde.1 The 1864 conflict with Prussia and Austria pulled him away from his work and bride as he was drafted in the 2nd battle of Schleswig-Holstein.1 He survived the painful war but Denmark lost significant portions of the country.2 Religious freedom was crossing the country as were the Mormon missionaries. As predicted by a Latter-day Saint leader, the war served to, “awaken the indifferent and the careless to a sense of their situation, and thus [brought] many into the Church…”3 Hans attended a Latter-day Saint meeting, “was impressed with their message… investigated…the doctrine, and was satisfied he had found the Pearl of Great Price.”1 #Ancestorclips

(1) Sorensen, George H, Hans Sorensen, as compiled in Hardman Biographies, Ancestors of Sidney Glenn Hardman and Dorothy Mae Griffin, Dec. 2009
(2) Wikipedia.org
(3) Christensen, Marius A. History of the Danish Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day-Saints, A Thesis, BYU, March 1966
(4) FamilySearch.org (photo of Hans Sorensen, and other information)
(5) Painting from Vejby in Nordsjaelland by Johan Thomas Lundbye, 1843, commons.wikimedia.org

Author Note:
Hans Sorensen is my great-great grandfather. I sense from him a patient, day-by-day determined character who followed his heart even in the face of loss. In his youth, he lost his grand-parents, parents, and a brother. As a new groom, he was taken from his wife for war. As a seeker of truth, he lost his friends and extended family. Yet, the choices later in life demonstrate that he built upon the strong character of his youth. He followed his heart. He worked hard, built a family, and became a blessing to his posterity and his ancestry by his faithfulness to God. Truly he lived the commandment to ‘honor thy father and thy mother’ (Exodus 20:12) including ancestors by the life he lived. As one in his family tree, I can draw from the seeds of patient character and diligence inherited from Hans Sorensen.

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Jens Hansen – Turning the Tide

Jens Hansenoroe

Young Jens felt alone on the Oro Isle;
alone as a boy could be.
His mother and brother were taken in death,
his father was gone, so you see

His grandmother’s sister took him into her fold,
but the fold was too cold for his care.
He attended the school, he attended the church,
he bided his time while there.

From the shores of his island he could see cross the fjord
through the mouth to the north of the bay.
The island grew smaller as the tide rolled in,
as he sat on the shore each day

Then when old enough to be his own man,
he set out to follow his dream.
A sailor he made in the navy of Dane
turning tide on the life that had been.

On ship he was agile, trustworthy and strong;
he climbed the rope latter and mast,
Unfurling the sails, catching wind round the world,
turning tide on his difficult past.

One day with the wind in his light brown hair,
he returned from the open sea;
and cast his blue eyes on a beautiful sight.
and married sweet Else Marie.

(by Ken Hardman based on the following references) #AncestorClips

(1) Hansen, Ray, Jens Hansen, as given in The Hansen & Gulbrandsen Family History, compiled by Jana Greenhalgh, Dona Losee, and Ray Hansen
(2) Hansen, Shannan, Denmark to Zion: The Immigration of Jens and Else Hansen, 29 Nov. 2000

(3) Photo of Oro island from google.com

Authors comment: Is life unfair? Are you always at the bottom, looking up? Jens Hansen is a great-grandfather of my wife, Joan Losee Hardman. I find strength in his example of moving from limited opportunity to great potential. I picture him in a lowly church pew looking upward to God, from a small island in the Isel fjord to the wide open seas as a seaman, from the decks of clipper ships to the heights of their derricks unfurling sails to unveil the horizons, and on and on upward to the potential of God’s plan for him as evidenced by the rest of his history. I’m pleased that my children and grand-children can look up to their ancestor, Jens Hansen as one who positively Turned the Tide.

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Andrew and Anna Maria Peterson – Before the Wind

petersonandrewannaAndrew Peterson was surely heartbroken when his sister Johanna was thrown from a buggy, her dress caught in the wheel, and dragged to death. A heckling mob had frightened the horse, persecutors of the Denmark Mormons. Instead of giving up, the spirit of truth urged Andrew on, he taught the Gospel for a number of years. Then in faith he accepted a mission call to his home country of Sweden where he met and taught widow Greta Pherson and her daughter Anna Maria. Like Andrew, Anna Maria felt the truth, embraced the covenant of baptism and joined Andrew and his family for immigration to America following his release. They travelled from Copenhagen to the major seaport Hamburg and boarded the ship Athena with the saints. Before heading to the North Sea on the river Elbe, the captain needed more room for passengers. He learned that there were six couples engaged to be married. Calling them together he told them he had the authority to marry them and if they would allow this he would have the cooks prepare wedding cakes for each couple and all they could hope for in a wedding dinner. This way he would have six extra beds. Each couple chose to marry including Andrew and Anna Maria. They travelled by sea, rail, and wagon finally settling in Lehi Utah, true to their faith and advocates for Scandinavian saints that would follow.

(Story by Kenneth Hardman, adapted from, Losee, Ferril A., The Losee Family History, Ancestors and Descendants of Lyman Peter Losee and Mary Ann Peterson, Nov. 2000. Photo provided by Elynn P Badger)

Video Song – Before the Wind
Written by: Joan (Losee) Hardman (2nd great-grand-daughter of Andrew and Anna)
Music: based on the Wexford Carol

In a home far away in Swedish land, the Book of Mormon was placed into my hand.
As the pages were read, I felt in my heart, a sweet assurance and a brand new start.

The scorn of the men was readily near. My sisters life taken, a result of their jeers.
Though painful the trials, I felt His hand, and served a mission in my native land.

So before the wind, we set sail on the sea, crossing over the ocean e’er on bended knee.
We ask of the Lord, Ne’er leave us alone, On Zion’s journey to our new mountain home.

The elder who once brought us the truth, became my sweetheart, the love of my youth.
We sold all we had, for a handful of coins, in eternal marriage some day we would join.

On a crowded ship our captain said, If I wed you this evening, there’ll be one extra bed.
So marry we did, and hand in hand, we faced together a foreign land.

So before the wind, we set sail on the sea, crossing over the ocean e’er on bended knee.
We ask of the Lord, Ne’er leave us alone, on Zion’s journey to our new mountain home.

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Myrtle and Edna Elton – About Pigs, Giggles, and a #3 Bath Tub

Myrtle and Edna EltonNine-year-old Edna ran through the orchard with her straight brown hair flapping in the summer air. “Hey Myrtle!” She called back to her ten-year-old sister. “Watch this.” Edna jumped on to a pig, patted his side, and held on. “We’re supposed to be feeding them,” Myrtle pretended to object. “not riding them.” Myrtle looked back toward the house, then dropped her apple bag and with bouncing curls chased down another pig. Both girls laughed, squealed, and finally fell on the orchard grass, giggling, trying to keep their hair out of the rotting summer apples. ‘Emily Myrtle’ and ‘Edna’ Elton were the youngest of eight. The children were taught to be honest, to mind, and to respect and care for others. For chores they packed wood and coal, gathered grain, hauled hay, white-washed walls, pressed apples, thinned beets, and herded sheep. They found fun in many chores as they wove plant stems into chains, made up songs, played school, and ate lunch in the fields with dad. In the winter they rode sleigh, fashioned snowmen, and laid on their backs making snow fairies. Christmas gifts were few, but given with love, then cherished. On Sunday they had a bath in a number three metal tub and wore their treasured Summer dress to church. Forever young and beautiful on the outside, they were playful, loving, and devoted on the inside. Myrtle and Edna loved life, not wishing for things they didn’t have. Their simple dreams fed their imaginations and added spice to their lives and all who knew them.

(by Kenneth R. Hardman. Ref. Sidney Lehi Hardman & Myrtle Emily Elton: Their Life, Their Love and Their Family, 1900-1991 compiled by Dorothy Hardman) #AncestorClips

Inherited traits – Myrtle Elton Hardman is my grandmother. In this story, I can see the influence grandma had on her son, my father who has many of her qualities. Dad often said, “When we work, we work hard; and when we play, we play hard.” I also inherited this tendency. When I work, I put my heart into it; and when I play, I strive to make it fun, as do my siblings. I notice that Myrtle and Edna often combined work and play, finding fun in the labor. Like them, when I am working, I look for joy or satisfaction in the task.

Patterns for my life – There are a few more things I can learn from grandma, and her sister, Edna. In the story, I feel devotion, a sense of companionship beyond friendship. In my life, I can be more devoted in my relationships, especially with family members. Also, even though life was hard back then (from my present perspective), grandma seemed satisfied with what she had, found joy in the moment, and didn’t expect more of what the world might offer. I too can exercise more focus on my present blessings with less envy for what I could have. With more devotion and contentment, I will be happier, like grandma. Thanks Myrtle and Edna for helping me build a happy and useful life.

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John Andreas Coon Jr. 1768-1840, Becoming a Tower of Strength and Manhood

Screen Shot 2018-05-19 at 1.49.22 PMOn September 11, 1777, General Washington collided with the British here at Brandywine Creek, Pennsylvania; booming cannons echoed 25 miles east to Philadelphia. There were heavy American losses on the battlefield. John Coon Jr. was serving his apprenticeship nearby and heard the blasts, a penetrating sound for a 9 year old. ([1] Goble, pg. 120, ref 12). The very next spring, the British launched “a secret night assault [10 miles] to the north in Paoli.” Not yet aware of the attack, “John Coon roused himself from…his thick…German-feather comforter. He rubbed the sleep from his eyes and stretched to greet the dawn. Clad simply in a long nightshirt, he stepped…into his britches…, pausing only to splash water on his face and straighten his thick [untidy] hair… His thoughts were on his chores, [and] the few moments he could spend in his forested hideaway at Brandywine Creek catching fish for breakfast, and [then] his afternoon at the cooper shop…” (Goble, pg. 123) But, instead of a pleasant spring morning, the penetrating sounds of death again rolled like thick fog across the Great Valley. Word spread that 150 Colonials were found dead. As the wounded “were transported…along the road through Chester,” the neighborhood wept at the groans of the dying. As a young man John experienced these realities but continued industrious and of service to family and country in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio, and Illinois. At age 16, after the death of his father, he returned home to Lancaster, “rented a barn, and freighted [for the local militia] until he married,” (Goble, pg. 124, 129) at age 30. He was becoming a “tower of strength and manhood” upon whom his present and future family could trust. (see Goble, pg. 130) Thank you, to those who served here, and thank you, to my 4th great-grandfather, John Andreas Coon Jr.

(Written by Kenneth R. Hardman, with quotations from reference [1])

[1] Goble, William Kent, and Ord, Gayle Goble, Heritage of the Abraham Coon Family, 1989, pg. 120-130

Author Notes: Special thanks to the authors of reference [1] for their significant research into the times and places of this ancestor. From John A. Coon Jr. I learn that life is not always easy but I can learn from the challenging times and continue to strive to do good things in my life. John served an indentured apprenticeship away from his family for many years, and then lived through the uncertainties of the American Revolutionary War. Later in his youth he took care of his younger siblings. I’m a better person having studied his life.

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Anne Marie Hansen – A Young Mother in Richfield

Screen Shot 2018-04-22 at 3.38.50 PMAnne Marie gasped as her knees buckled. She sat down immediately on the rough porch covering her mouth with one clinched hand, holding her chest with the other. She widened her beautiful gray eyes to prevent tears from falling, which eventually spilled to the ground. She had married in Denmark, leaving her “quaint Danish home…dirt floor and thatched roof,” and set sail with her new born child promising to work hard and send money so her husband could join them in America. Her mother and brother had immigrated earlier and by their toil had saved and sent enough for Anne Marie to come. “She crossed the North Sea,” where she and the child suffered terrible sea sickness. Now in Richfield, Utah, “she scrubbed floors and cleaned to…take care of her little son. When she had saved enough…, she sent it to her husband…so he could join them…” But that was not to be. ‘Tell me again what he said,’ she asked. “During the voyage [to New York,] he heard so many derogatory things about the Mormons, and about the Indians killing people in the west, and he got frightened. When he arrived…he turned around and went back to Denmark.” More tears fell from her eyes. She never heard from her husband again. A few years later her child died of typhoid fever. Even so, she retained here kindness and faithfulness as a member of the church. She married again, had seven children and cared for several more. Her youngest child, Harvey, later said, “My mother was a wonderful person…she just couldn’t see anything bad about anyone…my parents never had anything…they gave it all away…we had a happy home…she just loved everybody and everybody loved her…”

(by Kenneth R. Hardman, based on the reference below) #AncestorClips

Reference: The Hansen & Gulbrandsen Family History: Ancestors & Descendants of Edna Violet Gulbrandsen & Harvey Ralph Hansen, compiled by: Jana Greenhalgh, Dona Losee, Ray Hansen. Excerpts by Ray Hansen and Harvey Hansen

Authors Note: Anne Marie Hansen is my wife’s (Joan Losee Hardman) great-grandmother and the 2nd great-grandmother of my children. It is not known whether Anne’s 1st husband communicated with Anne directly by written correspondence about his decision to return to Denmark, or if he sent word by other travelers. It is also not known exactly how Anne learned of his decision. Therefore the opening lines of this story are from the authors imagination; however, whether she learned by messenger or written message, the emotion described in this story seems appropriate for the pain she must have felt. Regarding her ability to read, according to her grandson, Ray Hansen, “She commented later in life that she learned how to read by reading the Bible when she was out herding cows on the beautiful Danish hillsides. Being very familiar with the Bible, when she heard the missionaries teach, ‘It just rang true in my heart.'” I am inspired by her faith, determination, and kindness.

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Walter Pitts Griffin – Gunpoint

WalterPittsGriffinOpportunity was slim in Newton Utah in 1899. Walter and Eliza Caroline journeyed by steam locomotive from Newton to Indian Valley Idaho, anxious for promising, “cheap and plentiful” land further north. A “lawless element…infested the railroad,” so, “mother and the two baby boys rode in a passenger car” while Walter guarded the family’s possessions in a box car. Aroused from the continuous clickety-clack, he heard galloping horses and rough voices outside the train. An instant later, rough fingers wrapped around the end of the box car door. “Get out o’ here,” he yelled. The door opened a few inches with a slow screech. The Griffin “livestock” stirred, “penned-off at one end,” of the car. Their furniture and [belongings] were at the other end, and their heavy “machinery, wagon and food…were…near the doorway.” No stranger to guns and outdoors, he had learned hunting and defense from his frontiersman father. Walter grabbed his Colt .45 from beside his books and lantern. He stood, shoulders back, chin high, and aimed. A “tough” face looked in. Walter pulled back the hammer; the click filled the car. He “tighten[ed] his finger on the trigger.” The intruder “read the message in his eyes,” muttered, then backed out and “dropped off” the train. The family made it safely to Indian Valley, prospered “handsomely” for ten years then returned to Utah due to concern over “raising their family in this relatively untamed country.” Moving from “a prosperous…ranch” in Idaho to a “alkali-infested lake shore [in Utah] brought years of toil and struggle. However, [Walter] tackled it resolutely, often stating that, ‘hard work and perseverance could overcome any obstacle.’” #AncestorClips

Author Note: Not knowing for certain what type of gun Walter owned, the author used the model most popular at the time. A few other details were added without explicit basis including “galloping horses,” “rough fingers,” and “Get out o’ here.” All else is based on the primary reference (1) and related scenarios.


Train Image Caption: Train History, Image of Delaware box car. “A Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroadwagon at a level crossing, circa 1900.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_rail_transport_in_the_United_States)


  1. Geraldine G. Griffin, The Family of John Griffin and Ruth Keep, June 1988, adapted from account by Henry LeGrand Griffin (primary reference)
  2. Revolver, “Although originally made for the United States Army, the Model 1873 was widely distributed and popular with civilians, ranchers, lawmen, and outlaws” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Revolver)
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