Between 1860 and 1869 thousands of Scandinavian People immigrated.............
Check out the above listed site. It is wonderful to research and use.
Between 1860 and 1869 thousands of Scandinavian People immigrated to the United States. The reasons were varied, and often personal. One particular group left their beautiful homelands because they had converted to a young American Religion which many opponents claimed was not even Christian. Their sacrifices and their efforts as they immigrated to the USA brought a great range of knowledge, talent and good old ‘Scandinavian stubbornness’ to this fledgling church and the region that would become known as the State of Utah, helping them to grow in ways that few, who journeyed to Zion (“The Mountain of the Lord”), could begin to imagine. This story honors those who heeded the call of their prophet to come to a desert place known as Utah. Though factitious, being based on journals and oral histories told over the years, this is a work of fiction written to honor the decisions of our forefathers who chose to travel to a New World following a new religion in an exciting and confusing time of worldwide turmoil and change, especially in the United States 1. The names of the ships and character, in this story, are fictitious, though my Great-Grandfather, the real, Julius Berntsen and his wife Trine (Kristiansen), arrived in the United States with their family of seven children (Karen, Inga, Kristoffer, Anna, John (Johan), Karl and Sigrid) in 1905 to join the Mormon Saints in Utah.
The title 'Deseret' Bound' comes from the fact that the Mormons originally called their new home the Territory of Deseret, a word taken from “The Book of Mormon” meaning 'honey bee'. This territory contained nearly all of present-day Utah and Nevada, large parts of California and Arizona as well as parts of Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, Idaho and Oregon. This was changed by an act of congress in 1850 and the Territory of Utah was created. Efforts to keep the name lasted until 1872 when the legislature dropped the name from the petition for statehood. Utah became a state in 1896.
Bernsten Family; June, 1865
Father, Julius: Age 45. Master Carpenter and Farmer
Mother, Trine: Age 43. Seamstress and Farm Wife
Kristoffer: (Kris) Age 24 Went ahead to New York. Does not like new religion.
Nils: Age 21 Went to Christiana to earn money for passage. (Becomes a sailor)
Inga: Age 19 Went ahead to New York. She embraces the new religion
Karen: Age 17. Very pretty, more interested in boys than anything else.
Bernt: Age 14, Is kind of against this ‘church thing’.
Johan: Age 10. Has the ‘toy’ wooden troll.
Anna: died at age 2 would be 6.
Sigrid: Age 4. Precocious and curious.
by Martin Calderwood
With grateful acknowledgement to Julia Nielson for her superb editing of this story
Julius Berntsen stood, stoically gazing out their front door at the small six-acre plot of land he and his family had lived on for more than 21 years. Only a single tear in the corner of his eye revealed any of the strong emotion that surged through him as he stood silently watching the shadows of the nearby mountains creep toward him, one last time, as the sun set in the west. Beside him, his wife, Trine, wept silently, not bothering to hide her emotions that held a bitter sweetness. In her heart she knew that they were doing the right thing.
Just inside the door, stood Johan, Julius’ youngest son, quietly listening, and clutching his most prized possession, his carved wooden troll. The boy had received the toy before he could crawl and it had been a part of his life for all of his memory. Now, as his world changed in waves around him, all he could do was cling to the last stable thing in his life. Already his two oldest brothers, Kristoffer and Nils, and his oldest sister, Inga, had left the farm to prepare the way for the rest of the family to migrate to a strange place called Utah, to follow a new religion that he could not even begin to understand. Nils was waiting in Christiania (Oslo) where he was working at the docks, earning and saving money to help the rest of the family pay passage. They had planned to first to go to Copenhagen, then to Liverpool. From there they hoped to book passage to New York, where Kris and Inga were waiting to meet them. A recent letter from Nils had changed those plans slightly and it was hoped they could skip England altogether, and perhaps Copenhagen, thanks to the White Star Line’s variety of new options. Already, they had made some arrangements for supplies and boarding, but they knew they had to see the agent Nils had met, once in Christiania, to make final arrangements for passage and stores.
The transition and planning of the last few months had not been smooth, nor had been the decision to move to America. Johan remembered the argument Kris and his father had just before the young man had left. The eldest son was against joining this new Mormon religion and had argued passionately that the family should skip Utah and go to California where it was said the gold flowed from the hills into a person’s hands.
“Once we have sufficient for our needs,” he’d exclaimed, “we can unite in ‘Zion’ and help build God’s Kingdom then. Maybe we could even help others with the wealth we have earned through honest labor! Surely God will bless his followers with wealth if He wants HIS Kingdom to grow!”
Their father had insisted they follow the prophet’s words and gather in Salt Lake. "First there, to Zion. If God wants to send us from there to this California you speak of, then we will go and we will go anywhere else He commands, but not until then! It is not for us to decide!"
As for the rest of the family, Karen, the next oldest, had embraced the new religion but really didn’t care where they went because she really didn’t want to leave their home in Norway.
Julius’ next son, Bernt, however, felt like Kris and really did not care for this new American religion, which had been banned and/or harassed since it had first appeared. Bernt had been in more than a few bouts with various tormentors, most of which he had won. He was missing a tooth and his nose was slightly crooked as a result of his “discussions” on the topic
Next to Johan stood the baby of the family, four year old Sigrid. She was dragging her favorite toy, a well-worn rag doll, sewn by their mother for the little girl’s first birthday. She could barely say the word “Mormon” 2), let alone understand why the family had to leave. Her job, she was told, was to keep an eye out for trolls and remain out from under foot while her family worked. This she did with only a modicum of success.
After several minutes of silence Julius sighed and turned. “We have to get the rest of our things into the wagon. I will take Bretta and the chickens to the Olafsens’ and collect our money.”
Trine nodded, wiping tears from her eyes. “She’s a good cow, always gave good milk. She is worth far more than we’re getting for her.”
Julius shook his head. “They are doing us a favor in buying her at all. Ever since Reverend Jonson told the people not do have anything to do with us Mormons, no one has offered us anything. No, I am grateful to Sven for promising to take care of her. He is not a wealthy man and I am sure that he gave us all he could.”
Trine smiled. “You are right, papa. I am just glad we sold the farm before the sermon.”
Julius reached out and tousled Johan’s, hair doing his best to smile. “It was indeed a blessing, and it did allow us to send the others ahead. God promised to provide a way, and our being allowed to stay here, on the farm, this long has been a blessing. I do not blame them for asking us to leave now. It is time.”
“I will get the children going. You take the cow.” said Trine softly.
“Have Bernt get the harnesses and wagon ready. I want to leave first thing in the morning,” concluded Julius, softly patting his wife’s hand. “I will hurry back.”
“Make certain you leave those chicken innards for the trolls that live down in the glen,” said Trine half seriously.
“Momma, you know what the Elders said about trolls and leaving the old wives tales behind. We are members of God’s church now, we are Mormons and that is all that matters,”
“But it does not hurt to be careful,” chimed in Johan, who still believed very much in the strange hulking creatures of lore.
Julius shook his head. “Okay, for you and Sigrid, we will leave the gift.” He smiled gently but his voice turned spooky and soft. “Can’t afford to get one of those trolls mad at us, now that we are leaving. One might follow us to America and cause us all kinds of grief. Better safe than sorry.”
The children giggled.
Trine chuckled. “Old softy,” she muttered, handing her husband a small pail of the guts cleaned from this night’s supper, all carefully cooked and seasoned as her grandmother had taught. “Now off with you!”
It was Julius’ turn to chuckle. “Come Johan. Help me gather the chicken’s into the cage. It is not too far so they should be fine crowded in it for a while. Don’t forget to have the wagon readied.”
“One wagon for a life time of...” Trine’s voice trailed off and without another word she took Sigrid by the hand and walked into the house as Johan trotted off behind his father.
The next morning, as Julius made the final adjustments on the horse and wagon, Johan watched as his brother and sister loaded the last two boxes on the wagon. Both contained furs and blankets and the remaining clothing the family had decided to keep. All three of the older children kept looking back, knowing many cherished items were still inside the house awaiting the new owner, including Grandma’s favorite chair, an almost new ax, pots, dishes, and furniture, much of it made by Kris and his father. It was easy to imagine that these and other items were all watching forlornly as the family left, wondering why.
Bernt had argued that they should take both their axes instead of leaving one behind. He claimed they could sell or trade one in Christiana, but Julius had insisted that the new owner would need it more than those in the big city. Besides, Julius explained, it was a good way to show their appreciation to his friends for taking the farm. The ax, the better of the two, had remained on the table.
Julius had tried to get Johan to leave his toy troll behind promising to carve him a new one when they got to the Promised Land. Lots of tears, shouts, and finally Trine’s putting her foot down made the exasperated father finally relent. The troll now resided in the boy’s pack instead of an extra cup and a carved squirrel Johan had received for his sixth birthday. Although happy he had the troll, the boy seemed sullen as he placed the squirrel on the table. No one saw his mother quietly pick it up and place it, along with a few other abandoned items, between the folds of the blankets and furs packed inside the last chest.
As they climbed up onto the wagon, Sigrid clung to her mother, crying softly as she finally realized that she would never sleep in her little bed again and that her kick sled and skies could not come with her.
Everybody watched as papa closed the door for the last time. Only Trine noticed her husband sadly pat the frame, holding it briefly before pulling the door shut and walking to the wagon.
It was a beautiful morning and the earliness of the hour was not unusual as they, like most farmers and folk who lived off the land, always arose with the dawn because the animals and chores all needed tending to before schooling or other events.
Father turned the wagon north and guided the horses just over a kilometer into the wooded area near the farm. They entered the small village and were acutely aware of the eyes that followed them as they drove through to the old church at the northernmost end. Here, the family stopped and walked into the grave yard. Reverently, they searched out several old markers, taking a moment to clean the graves and say good-bye. The Mormon Elders who had taught them had told them that families are of God, and can be together forever. They promised the family that they would see their loved ones again. When they had taught this principle, neither missionary knew of the tragedy that had occurred just a few years back when their daughter, Anna, had been stricken with the measles at age two and died. Surprisingly no one else in the family had fallen ill of the deadly disease, but the loss of one daughter, their youngest, had been very difficult. The Mormons had made them other promises that had comforted Julius’ mind. Now, as he stood before the small wooden cross that marked Anna’s final resting place, he simply spoke words of good-bye and the hope that they would meet again in the Kingdom of God. Though everyone cried, they all left buoyed by the trust they had in their new religion. Once again at the wagon, Papa turned south and began the first steps of their long journey to Utah.
The fifty kilometer trip to Christiana would only take nine or so hours with the fully loaded wagon, allowances for small children, and the unexpected. They knew, from experience, that they would never be far away from some form of civilization, so there was no need to hunt or even camp if all went as planned. Papa, however, had provided for two days with food and provisions to match. They had to be at the docks a full day before departure, so Julius had planned three to allow time to meet up with Nils, pay the fees for the tickets, and most importantly, to make certain they had all their provisions gathered and secured.3) Normally, they would have made most of the arrangements ahead of time, but given the times and seasons and Nil’s advice, they decided to hold off. They were also curious about the surprise he had for them on their arrival.
Only Sigrid and Trine were allowed to ride the wagon, while the others walked alongside. The road itself was well used, and after the first hour or two they began to encounter people traveling either to or from the big city. As they walked, Julius talked, telling stories to keep the family entertained. Stories like, "Why True Trolls have only four fingers and toes’ and “How ‘Ashe Ladd’ rescued nine princesses from a nine headed troll.” In the few gaps between civilization, the younger children strained their eyes, staring into the deep shadows in search of trolls or other strange creatures.
It was in one of these gaps that they encountered a young couple struggling to fix a broken wheel on their handcart. Since Julius was a master carpenter and Bernt was an excellent apprentice they stopped and helped the couple. It took three hours to carve and fit new spokes for the wheel and another hour to heat up the metal rim and refit it to the wagon. The man, who was a fisherman carrying his wares inland, presented the family with two small boxes of dried fish. At first, Julius refused the offer, but was persuaded by the young man that it was fair trade for the work.
Satisfied that the delay would not hurt them, the family pushed on. Fearing that they might not arrive until after dark Johan was loaded on the wagon and the horse was prodded to move a long at a faster rate, almost six kilometers an hour instead of the four or five it had been traveling.
They reached the edge of the city as the sun was going down so they found a place to camp and build a fire. Though the days were starting to get warm during June, the nights were still quite cool. The family huddled close and slept under several of the blankets and furs. If papa had seen any of the extra items his wife had hidden, he said nothing, and the next morning he saw to it that she re-packed things as they had been, because he was “just no good” at those types of things.
Julius had been to Christiania several times before, so as soon as it was light enough to see, the family entered the capital city. With an unerring memory he guided the wagon down to the docks, which were a beehive of activity. Three ships were docking and two departing, overlapping in such a way that only a miracle kept the flaring tempers and inattentive accidents under control. Father made a few inquires and located the ship where his son was working. He led his family there in hopes of finding Nils in all the hubbub.
It was Karen who spotted her brother, laboriously rolling a large wooden cask up the gangplank of a vessel. It was equipped with both sails and a powerful steam driven engine, like those that were becoming common on the waters of the world. Soon, it was predicted, steam ships would take over much of the immigration/emigration trade.
Sigrid’s calls rang over the crowd, echoed by Johan’s boyish yells. Nils turned only briefly to wave before forcing the barrel onto the ship. Moments later he appeared again and walked quickly down the ramp, waving all the time to his family. They watched as he rolled two more barrels of water onto the ship and after a brief but animated conversation with the bosun’s mate, he raced down the wooden planks to greet his parents and siblings.
The young man anxiously proceeded to give his family a short tour of the area, and even got permission to bring them briefly aboard his ship. It was then that he told them that he had signed on for two years as a crewman. He took them to his berth and with a great flare presented his father with almost a dozen coins that he had saved.
“I can always go to Utah,” explained the young seaman, “but now I can see the world.”
They continued the tour, careful not to get in the way of the crew and dockworkers running around on the ship. Everyone was impressed, but to young Johann it was the most wondrous sight in the world.
“The captain,” Nils continued after returning to the upper deck, “is a good man and the Line 4) is one of the best. It sends many ships to America every month.”
A typical Bark
The young man bubbled on and, no matter what his family said about his coming with them, he was determined to honor his commitment to his job, promising that when his contract was over he would work his way to America and follow them to Zion. The ship, named the S/S 5)
Charity Hope (a.k.a.: The Hope) was new, and because it was primarily steam powered it needed
fewer crewman to run it; many of those could be apprentice level. Nils was one of five young men who were on the crew. Father Julius was still planning to ride on one of the bark-rigged ships he’d watched in the harbor all his life because he did not trust all the new technology.
“What if something were to go wrong?” he asked looking up at the masts. “Seems to me they are planning for that very possibility.”
Nils explained that if all went as planned, the travel time would be more than cut in half and, in the unlikely event that there was a problem, the crew was well prepared to handle it.
The boy, when he had shown them the lower decks, had explained that accommodations on his ship, even for steerage 6) passengers, were better than anything they would find on even the nicest of the three masted, rigged ships that his father planned to use. There would even be more passengers aboard and for a few coins more, he hoped, they could have a family berth which would allow them to stay close together in more comfort than other ships. Nils even told them how he might be able to get them aboard his ship at a cheaper rate if the agent allowed, especially, since the Hope would be going to America in a few days.
Papa chafed at the possible delay in his departure schedule, but reluctantly he agreed to investigate the possibility, especially if the travel time were indeed to be cut in half.
Nils had been given an hour, and the argument and tour had taken over half of it. Finally, the family followed Nils as he led them to a small inn near the dock, where Nils had already reserved and paid for the nights lodging. Quickly, Julius made arrangements for a second night and moved the wagon into the corral for safety and storage. By then, the hour had passed. Nils hurried back to his work where, as promised, he worked an extra hour plus the time he was gone to satisfy his boss. That night, with permission of his captain, he joined his family. Except for the two youngest, they stayed up most of the night, sleeping finally for a couple hours as the night waned.
The next day, before he reported for duty, Nils and his father went out to meet the agent who specialized in taking care of Mormon emigrants. They found him in an office directly above the shop next to the White Star offices. Nils quietly introduced his father and left for work, leaving Julius and the agent to work out the details for passage. In the end, the Bernsten family was booked on the S/S Charity Hope, departing the upcoming Tuesday, only a day later than they had planned. To save money, they booked Steerage (third class), which the family got for the same price as conventional passage on a sailing vessel. All told, there would be ninety-two passengers and thirty-five crewmen. Twenty of the passengers would be in first or second class cabins while the rest were Steerage.
Julius spent the rest of the day of the day arranging to purchase the final supplies. Since they were going to stay through Sunday night, he made the arrangements for shelter until they boarded the ship.
After all the work was done, Julius decided that, since they were going to be in town for Sunday, he would inquire as to where the Mormons met. His started this investigation with the agent with whom he had been working. The agent knew of a home where he suspected a few Mormons met, but he surprised Julius by suggesting that he keep his membership in this church secret.
“And whatever you do, do not preach. The last young man who did this was carried to the ocean and thrown in. He was lucky he did not drown.”
“So why do you help us?” asked Julius. “Surely if some of our enemies found out they would attempt stone or drown you too.”
The man smiled. “I would simply explain that I was taking your money and helping rid the country of the ‘Mormon Menace’. I would add that by doing so in a civil manner I can help maintain the honor of our land and get more of your money in the process from references. I would be viewed as a hero.”
Julius grinned. “You are an honorable scoundrel, and I thank you!” he said, pumping the man’s hand.
The man grinned back. “Your money is always good with me.”
When Julius returned to the boarding house he found Johan playing with his troll in the middle of the main room. At first the boy was apprehensive when he saw his father standing in the door. But when the man smiled and reached down to tousle his hair, he relaxed completely and resumed his play.
“Please don’t eat me, Mr. Troll!” the boy said as he moved the troll toward the carved squirrel that sat a few feet away.
“I would not eat you, little critter. I am a nice troll. I will help you find nuts for the winter,” came the low, gruff, troll-like reply.
Julius sat down on one of the wooden chairs and watched his son play, enjoying one of the few moments of rest he had gotten since he had decided to move the family to Zion. The decision had not been easy and the opposition had been strong, but he had insisted that following the call of God and his prophet was the right thing to do. Besides, there was no place for Mormons in Norway. Many Norwegians were leaving for America to make a better life for themselves and religion had nothing to do with it. Julius had second guessed himself a dozen times since making the decision. Even today, as he paid for room and board, supplies and passage, he wondered if it would all be worth it. Most of the money was gone and he was far from certain whether or not what they had left would get them out of New York, let alone get them all the way to the Utah Territory. In his heart, he knew he could work. There was always work for a carpenter of his skill level, but the hardships of the journey would not be good for his family, especially young Johan and his sister.
As he sat there pondering, little Sigrid came in the room and climbed into his lap to snuggle. With her in his lap the concerns doubled and he even began to worry about his eldest son, who was so opposed to the entire move and this religion they had joined. Kris was loyal and would stay with the family until they were settled, but after that was anyone’s guess. Now Nils was a sailor and Bernt was beginning to exert his independence. It was then he noticed that his son had not come in to greet him. Trine, he knew, was in the boarding house’s kitchen preparing food and Karen had nodded in passing as she checked to see who had entered the small two-room boarding space. She was likely in the sleeping area reading, and would only come out again to eat. Still, for a few moments his world was quiet and that was very nice
All too soon, the moment ended as Trine came up from the guest kitchen with a cauldron of hot mutton stew and a loaf of crispy crust bread. Nils arrived with a friend and fellow crewman named Sven, who was Danish. Naturally, he was invited to eat with the family. He had eaten on board ship, but as a sailor he knew that it was unwise to pass up a home cooked meal, so after taking a small portion he sat and ate quietly. Finally, after two more helpings and to Trine’s delight, he pronounced it the best he had ever eaten. When Sven announced that he wanted the secrets of her recipe he explained that he was, in fact, the ships cook, and sometime physician and dentist. Though Trine was hesitant she finally gave in and told the young man that she used a few drops of honey to sweeten the broth from which she made the gravy. Sven promised to take her secret to his grave.
Nils had brought with him a copy of the Ship’s Rules, that all passengers were expected
to follow. 7) His biggest concern was the fact that crew and passengers were not supposed to mix,
and he wanted his family to understand why this was. Sigrid and Johan did not understand why they could not see their brother on the ship, but the most fun was had with Karen, who was forbidden to flirt with all the fine young sailors while she was aboard. Sven commented that he would keep an eye on the sailors, especially the ‘young bucks’ to make certain they obeyed their own rules.
As the evening hours drew toward night, Nils announced that he would not be coming again and would likely not see them again until they left port. Nils explained that they had scores of tasks to do in the final preparations for departure. He did promise he would wave whenever he could and would not be a total stranger if they should happen into each other aboard ship. Hugs and promises were given all around as Sven looked on, and Nils said he would try to come to the church meeting if he could leave the ship on Sunday for a while. Sven seemed to think it was not an impossible task and that Capt Harbormiester was actually a very reasonable man.
After the two young men left, they were all surprised to find Johan still up and alert. In fact he appeared to be rather anxious.
“Can I have some stew for my troll,” he said urgently. “He told me he is very hungry!”
Trine smiled and winked at her husband who looked briefly skyward but said nothing.
“Certainly you can. Just fill the ladle with some stew and make certain there are some nice meat chunks in it. Then balance it into the corner and put your troll next to it. I hope he enjoys it. It should be a nice feast for your little friend.”
Papa snorted lightly. “Or it will attract every mouse, rat, or stray cat in the area,” he thought but again he said nothing.
The next morning Sigrid was the first to discover the ladle was empty. “Licked clean,” she said.
Johan rushed over and lifted up his toy. “He looks happier now,” said the boy overjoyed, “And look, there is a bit of stew stuck to his nose.
“Sloppy rat,” whispered Julius to Bernt, who bit back a guffaw.
“Or my little brother was not careful when he set the food out,” added the teen.
Even Trine smiled at the comment but both the youngsters were oblivious to the humor of the situation. They all watched as Johan carefully licked his finger and wiped the stew stain off the figure.
That morning, breakfast consisted of hot porridge and milk (the men also finished off the remaining stew). After, Trine took the children for a walk while Julius and Bernt went down to the docks. Karen stayed and cleaned the dishes and started preparing their clothes for the church meeting the coming day.
To Julius’ and Bernt’s surprise the dock area was very busy. It took them longer than planned to get to the Hope and aboard. They found the good ship sitting lower in the water, which told them the ship was almost loaded. After some waiting they were joined by the mate, who told them that they could start loading their supplies Sunday afternoon.
“The earlier you get your things aboard,” he told them, “the better your accessibility will be. The last aboard get put down near the bilge.”
He chuckled and they made arrangements for them to bring their goods aboard as suggested. Because the family had a son on the ship the mate volunteered to do his best to get them a prime spot though he suggested they tell no one. Julius agreed.
The family, it was decided, would board Monday afternoon and spend the night on the ship, getting used to being on the water - something the mate had also suggested, especially if they wanted a good berth. With a shake of their hands the mate and the emigrant sealed their contract.
When they were finished Julius, thought that he would go to the local bar and get a drink, but then he remembered that Mormons are not supposed to drink any spirits. So with a sigh and a memory, he walked back to the boarding house, perhaps, he hoped, to take a nap. Bernt decided he would just walk around town for a while.
Sunday morning found the family up and moving almost before dawn. Bernt grumbled loudly as he tried to pull the covers back over him after his mother had pulled them down.
“At least,” he complained loudly, “Elder Matthewsen had the decency to start his church at a reasonable time!”
His mother chuckled. “You would have been up long ago had we been home. The chores had to be done and the Elder knew this so he started his church services the time he did.”
“We’re in the city now, and city folk don’t hold to the same schedule we farmers do, did. They do their work in the afternoon,” added his father quietly.
Bernt rolled off his cot and walked out the door to the common toilet area, mumbling about wanting a big breakfast to make it worth his while.
“Will you settle for a big supper?” Mother asked, the sparkle in her voice very apparent as the door closed. She looked at Julius. “What? You’ll be hungry too.”
By eight the family was walking through the quiet streets of Norway’s capital city. Here and there, clusters of families were seen hurrying into a variety of churches, mostly Lutheran. The group of Mormons the family would visit had decided to meet at a time just later than most of the local religions, mostly to avoid persecution and harassment. They were careful to end their services before the other groups got out. The meeting consisted of hymns, a speaker or two and the Lord’s supper (sacrament) and usually two or three prayers. When it was over a few of the members took the opportunity to welcome the visitors and wish them success and safety on their way. Many said that they would include the family in their “prayers and supplications before the Lord”. They even provided the family with a few recently translated pages from the Book of Mormon. 8)
After a very large lunch, which satisfied even Bernt, the family loaded their wagon for the last time and drove it to the docks, where they unloaded the goods with the help of a few crew. They then took the horse and wagon to the livery and sold them, getting enough money to pay the bill and, they hoped, enough for a night’s stay in New York as well. By four, they were back for their last night at the boarding house. At family prayer, a tradition for the family every Sunday night, they praised God for their safety and success so far and prayed for further blessings for them and those who had gone ahead. When they were finished, they retired to bed so that they could get an early start walking to the docks.
Only the most personal of items remained with each family member as they made their final preparations. Their breakfast was simple: fresh fruit, smoked herring, and cold water. They had already packed their cookwares to put on the ship. The only luxury was Johan’s troll, which he refused to give up, and Sigrid’s doll, one of the few things that could keep her quiet if she got upset.
They boarded the Charity Hope just before noon Monday morning, as planned. They were welcomed by the mate whose job it was to see to the passengers. They were the third group and second family to embark. Neither previous group was Mormon.
Sven was also there to greet them. He apologized for the fact that he and Nils were not at church, but he explained that the Captain had them standing watch during that time.
“A chore,” he added, “that fell to single crewmen and recruits, which Nils filled in both area It was then their son emerged from below decks. He was carrying a shovel and a hose over his shoulder and as he passed by he smiled and waved slightly before disappearing around a corner. Several of his family shouted hello and encouragement. They all, especially Sigrid, seemed disheartened by his hasty passing.
Sven waited a few moments then spoke softly. “Remember the rules. He acted as he should and you need to recall that he is working. From the looks of it he was helping our chief fireman put out the new hoses.”
Julius nodded and glanced over at his wife, who was busy coaxing Sigrid with her doll.
“Momma always knows best,” he thought gratefully. “So where do we go from here?” he asked aloud.
The first thing young Johan noticed was the stench and the way the oily smoky smell made his eyes water. Even as they went down the steps to the quarters the acrid air made him cough.
“What stinks?” he finally demanded.
Sven looked down at the young boy and smiled. “I am so used to it, I forget that smell exists. We tested the engines a few minutes before you arrived. The coal smoke combined with the greasy smell of the oils and stuff we put on the gears makes up a pretty bad bunch of smells and sometimes, especially when we are in port like this, it filters down here. When we are underway it will be blowing out the aft of the ship. We will be venting the lower levels in a little while and that will help. In the meantime, if you breathe through a folded cloth it will help.”
“Just be glad we are no longer on the same deck as the animals,” joked Bernt
Sven smiled as he noticed Karen’s nose wrinkle in disgust at the thought. “They are directly below you, it is true, and if you want to see something funny come and watch us trying to herd the animals into the lower hold in a couple hours. I think Nils will be there because again…”
“It falls to the lower members of the crew,” said Bernt completing the thought.
Sven nodded. “Let me show you where you will be sleeping.”
Steerage passenger areas on the steam-assisted sailing vessels like the Hope, varied little from those on the older full sail ships. The Hope, however, was among the first to move away from the large common bunk areas, where the people slept in large rows of bunks. Often they would sleep in their clothes and even their shoes and coats. The good ship offered her passengers a small degree of privacy. The company recognized that competition for passengers was going to get tighter, so they were starting now in hopes of getting the edge on their rivals. They were even holding the third-class passenger costs (a.k.a. steerage) as low as they could to accomplish this. Julius had decided to wait because he knew God was opening the way for him and his family to get to The State of Deseret 9) in the best possible way.
The stateroom to which the family was lead was an eight by ten, three sided room with a heavy sail curtain across the front. Inside were four metal bunks about thirty inches wide. Each bunk had a rail around three sides and a thin mattress. They did not see any kind of pillow. A wool blanket and a white “hospital sheet” were folded on the bottom. At the back, between the beds, was a commode with a removable bucket underneath combined with a small night stand-type structure with a fitted bowl and pitcher set up. There were hooks on the end of each bed so that two cloth cots could be hung between them. These were also folded on the top bunks. A plank table with fold-down legs, about twenty inches wide by forty inches long, could be set up once removed from the wall brackets next to the commode. It would fit nicely between the bunks.
Sven recommended that, whenever possible, they keep their luggage off the floor and secured to the beds so that if the ship hit rough seas the items would not be tossed around. The ship’s cook and physician showed the family the straps that crisscrossed the bed for this purpose.
“During really bad storms you must store your things under the lowest bunks so you can
strap yourselves into your bunks for safety. The captain will order all below and you are expected to obey immediately,” explained Sven in a low, professional voice. He had done this before, though usually it was much quicker. He also informed the family of a general meeting the captain would hold to explain other policies and procedures the passengers needed to be aware of. When he left, a few minutes later, he lingered briefly during his hand shake with Karen, a fact that Bernt did not fail to notice.
The family settled in shortly after Sven left. Quick decisions were made on bunks, Mom and Dad would be sharing the lower left bunk with Karen above them. Johan and Sigrid would share the other lower bunk and Bernt would be above them. As they carefully opened and secured the few personal belongings they kept with them Julius could tell that the gentle rocking of the ship at its dock would take some getting used to. He noted, with some concern, that his wife was already showing signs of discomfort as she unsteadily made the bed and laid out some of their cloths to air.
“It’s only two-and-a-half to three weeks, depending on the weather and the like,” he comforted. “We can get through anything as long as we have each other. I promise it will get better.”
Trine smiled balefully. “If I can get through supper I will be happy,” she said her smile waning. “Let’s go up on deck and look at the cooking area. Maybe a little tea will help.”
Julius smiled and patted her hand then walked over to the box where they stored their cookware. After a few moments rummaging he pulled out a small metal kettle, a little sugar, and a bag of black tea. Moments later he found a couple of spoons and a cup and, of course, some matches.
“Come children,” said Papa Berntsen. “Let’s go. Bernt, carry these so I can help your mother.”
Bernt smiled and accepted the items.
Taking slow and easy steps, Julius helped his wife up the corridor and up the steps. He knew better, at this point, than to remind his wife that the Mormon missionaries had taught them that Mormons are not supposed to drink hot drinks, which meant Tea and Coffee. They had been careful to point out that it was by invitation, “not by commandment or constraint” so for now Julius knew better than to stop his wife from enjoying her favorite beverage. Besides, he reasoned, it was for medicinal purposes and thus was not technically breaking a commandment. 10)
Amid-ship, just aft of the mizzen mast, was a three foot high, four foot by eight foot box filled with sand. A sailcloth canopy flapped gently over the structure and a dozen ten-foot-long wooden benches and tables were bolted securely to the deck. This was the oven area where passengers could come and, using wood and water provided by the shipping company, they could build a fire and cook their food in safety. Though facilities varied, the Hope’s cooking area had two metal rods suspended parallel to each other about eighteen inches above the sand. Small chains were hung so passengers could hang their pots and kettles above the fire. A few tripods were also available that could be set in the fire. These provided a small, usually circular, platform on which to place fry pans or other pans without handles. Julius figured that eight or nine fires could be built on the sand and he determined that he would rise as early as possible, something he was used to doing. Still, depending on the day, he knew he and his family might have to wait until mid-morning to eat.
Julius had his sons get the wood from a box secured to the deck at the edge of the eating area. A large barrel of water was attached to one side of the box, a small pump was in place so that filling the kettle or any other pan was easy. Passengers would first have to get their wood and water then stand in line to cook it. Johan seemed to enjoy the pump and actually tried to drink, the splashing water soaking his face, hair and shirt in the process. Though Trine was a bit embarrassed, Julius laughed and, as he filled the kettle deliberately splashed water on the already wet boy who enjoyed the dousing in the warm late afternoon air.
Smiling and laughing he handed the full boiler to his daughter and with Bernt’s help quickly built a small fire and suspended the kettle over it.
As he worked a sailor came up to them and cautioned them not to waste water like that again as they only had a limited supply aboard. Julius nodded and apologized then looked at his family who all agreed with a simple nod.
While they waited for the water to boil, Julius looked around. Already, he noted, another couple was busy cooking some kind of meat. The smoke and fumes being held in by the canopy were enough to make his eyes water, especially after he’d built his small fire. This fact did not, however, worry him much because, once underway, the sea breezes would keep the area clear. Cordially, he chatted briefly with the other family, learning they were going to America at the request of her parents who had left the year before. They were going to some place called Minnesota where many other Norwegian Immigrants had gone. When the water boiled, the family shared some tea with the young couple while Julius, his boys, and Sigrid, drank water they had poured from the kettle. Karen and her mom sipped tea and chatted sociably for over an hour, sitting at one of the tables.
The rest of the day was spent exploring the open areas of the ship. As more people arrived, the first meetings with the Captain and other designated crew were held. Those present were taught the signals and calls that might be used along with some emergency rules, just in case. Johan enjoyed the exploration part of the day the best. Even Karen enjoyed the non-meeting time, especially on the few brief occasions when she caught a glimpse of Sven, who was seen frequently carrying medical, food, and other galley supplies on board for the ships stores. They also spotted Nils twice - once as he worked with some rigging near the aft rat lines and the second time as he and two other young men were carrying a heavy laden wooden box toward an on deck tool shed.
Supper was a lot more crowded. More than seventy of the passengers had boarded and now the eating area was far less comfortable. Still, the people were congenial and though sometimes boisterous they shared space and even food with each other as they chatted. Music was played and sung and a dance or two took place between some of passengers. The excitement and anticipation was palpable, and even as the group gradually slipped below decks the noise and mild degree of chaos continued. Those, like the Berntsens, who had small children, found it difficult to get them to sleep. Only exhaustion and Trine’s soft lullabies got Sigrid to sleep. Johan finally fell asleep after the lights were shut down by the ship’s crew, determined to enforce the rules. Still, for most of the night soft voices could be heard discussing a variety of topics from the recent assassination of the American President, Abraham Lincoln to the fact that many believed that more and more people would be going to America from Scandinavia. There was even some excitement about the plans for the laying of the transatlantic cable which would make it possible to send messages home easier than ever before. It was well after midnight that Julius finally got to sleep. Trine, however, had a more difficult time, thanks to the continued rocking motion of the ship.
FOOTNOTES (hit "back to get back to the text)
1. Some important events between 1860 and 1869
United States Civil War: Begins, April 12 1861 and Ends April 9, 1865
April 14, 1865. Lincoln is assassinated. Reconstruction and Reunification Era begins.
July 1865 the first successful transatlantic telegraph cable was laid by the Great Eastern
1865 to 1866 Economic depression throughout South Africa. War between Orange Free State and Basutos.
1868 Nobel invents dynamite
1869 - May Golden spike nailed in, completing the First Transcontinental Railroad (North America) at Promontory Point, Utah.
1869 - Suez Canal opens making shipping a lot easier in the region.
2. Known officially as: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
3. The following is a list of provisions printed by Det Norske Udvandringsselskap in Christiania in the early 1870s. It probably had not changed much from the time the story is set. I found the information at http://www.norwayheritage.com/ . This a great site to look at and I recommend it highly.
-70 pounds hard bread (or the equivalent in soft bread or flatbread)
-8 pounds butter
- 24 pounds meat
- 10 pounds sidepork
- 1 small keg of herring
- 8/3 Td. potatoes
- 20 pounds rye and barley flour
- ½ bushel dried peas
- ½ bushel pearl barley
- 3 pounds coffee
- 3 pounds sugar
- 2½ pounds syrup
- Quantities of salt, pepper, vinegar and onions
These provisions were intended to be adequate for an adult for up to ten weeks. Sometimes the provisions were not enough if the ship ran into trouble. Passage rates included room for these items. Julius had 3 adults and 3 children, which could use the equivalent of one and a third adults in provisions. Much of this they brought with them but much of it they had to secure from venders near the docks or the shipping lines themselves. That was one reason they needed an agent. It was also the reason there was so little room for ‘extras’ like dolls, trolls, furniture and extra axes. Steamships naturally required less because travel time was less but, often as not, people carried some extra on the early vessels just in case. Eventually food was included in the ticket price and this expense was unnecessary.
The immigrants were also advised to take along equipment, such as a water pail, (the size according to the needs of each family, about 3 quarts a day per person) cooking pot(s), coffee kettle, dishes and eating utensils.
4.The White Star Line was originally founded in Liverpool, England in 1845 by John Pilkington and Henry Wilson. All ships used in this story are fictitious but are based on the types of ships used in the era in which the story is set between 1860 and 1869.
5. S/S = Steam Ship. The Charity Hope ‘is’ a fictitious sail and steam powered ship with three masts and a single, powerful steam engine.
6. The origin of the expression "steerage", comes from "steers" aka cattle, and indicates that the emigrants traveled on the same decks as those used for transporting livestock. Quarters for passengers, sometimes temporary were set up in many of the ships. The "steerage" term was used for the lowest priced accommodations on ships a long time after they stopped using the same areas for both cattle and human passengers.
7. This list was also found at http://www.norwayheritage.com . Most ships had rules that were stringently enforced, not only for the protection of the passengers but for the protection of the ship and its crew.
Sample of Ship Rules:
1. A fire can be lit on the fire place (stove) each morning starting at 6 o'clock a.m., and every passenger not hindered by sickness or some other valid reason shall get up no later than 7 o'clock a.m.
2. All fires shall be put out by 8 o'clock p.m. and passengers must be in their bunks by 10 o'clock p.m.
3. The deck in the passengers' quarters and under the bunks shall be swept each morning before breakfast, and the sweepings be thrown overboard. Once a week, the deck in the passengers' quarters shall be scraped.
4. Each morning before the fires are lit, necessary fuel and water will be distributed to the passengers. This task,
and cleaning of the deck and the cabins on deck, will be carried out on a daily basis by a suitable number of men
on a rotation basis. This group is also to check the cleanliness of the passengers and adherence to all other
5. Lamps will be lit in passengers' quarters after dark and be kept burning until 10 o'clock in the evening.
6. Tobacco smoking is not permitted below deck, nor is the use of open flame or hay or straw permitted.
7. All cooking utensils must be washed after use and always be kept clean.
8. All bedding must be taken up on deck once or twice a week and be aired out, and the bunks cleaned each timethis is done.
9. Clothing may not be washed or hung up to dry below deck, but each week, as conditions permit, a day will be determined for general washing if necessary
10. All passengers who bring spirits or other alcoholic beverages on board are obligated, upon embarking the ship, to hand over the same for safekeeping. These passengers may receive a reasonable daily portion. Passengers are forbidden to have gunpowder in their possession, and this as well as guns or other weapons brought on board must be placed in safekeeping with ship's officers. These will be returned to passengers at journey's end.
11. Cards or dice are not allowed on board since these can easily lead to quarrels and disagreements. Passengers should treat each other with courtesy and respect. No quarrelsome or disputatious behavior will be tolerated.
12. No seaman is allowed on the passenger deck, unless he has received orders to do specific work. Nor is any passenger, under any circumstances whatsoever, allowed in the cabin of a crew-member or the ship's galley.
13. It is not permitted to drill holes, do any cutting, pound nails or do any other kind of damage to the ship's beams, boards or decks.
14. It is expected of the passengers that they appear on deck each Sunday in clean clothing and that they, as much as circumstances permit, keep the Sabbath.
15. All manner of games and entertainment are permitted and recommended as contributing to the maintenance of good health during a long journey. Personal cleanliness also contributes a good deal to this and is therefore highly recommended to the passengers.
16. Passengers must not speak to the man at the helm.
17. It is taken for granted that every passenger is obligated to obey the orders of the Captain in all respects.
8. The Book of Mormon was translated into Danish in 1851. Because many Norwegians could read Danish the book was not translated completely into Norske until 1951. Bits and pieces were ‘unofficially’ translated, however from time to time.
9.Members of the LDS/Mormon Church originally called Utah, Deseret (meaning Honeybee) even after it became the Utah Territory.
10. The LDS/Mormon ‘Word of Wisdom’ was given in 1833 to founder and prophet Joseph Smith Jr. Adherence to the proscriptions of the ‘Word of Wisdom’ were not required of members for temple entry and other ordinances until 1902. It was originally sent out by greetings; not by commandment or constraint but by revelation. Joseph Smith verified that the “Hot Drinks” mentioned were tea and coffee.