History of Isaac Sorensen, son of Nicolai and Malena Sorensen, born February 24th, 1840 on the Isle of Sjælland, Denmark, Town of Haverup, District of Sorø. My father was a farmer as well as a mechanic, he had a shop where he kept men at work, his trade was carpenter and wagon maker, but he was away from home much of his time on business for the insurance company, thus he kept hired men on the farm as well as in the shop. I was raised to farming having no particular desire for the shop. When seven years old I commenced going to school, there being no school in our little town, I had to go to the town of Pedersborg about a mile and a half distant. It was customary in that county to go every other day; there being two classes one to meet each day. This was in the common country school, but in schools of more advanced studies they attended every day. My parents, like all or most of the inhabitants of that country belonged to the Lutheran Church, (or Protestant Church) being named after its great reformer, Luther who done so much and succeeded in them northern countries in throwing off the Roman Catholic yoke and bringing a new and better light to that portion of the world in regard to God and His Holy Scriptures. Although not having authority to establish the kingdom of God, yet he inflicted as John the Revelator saw, a great wound in the beast, which was the Roman Catholic Church. The customs of that religion was somewhat peculiar. A child was baptized when a few months old, that is it was called a baptism, but it was only sprinkling a little water on the child’s head and when they became fourteen years of age they then had to come before the priest of the district and as they called it, renew their covenants. This then ended their schooling, except they wanted to engage in greater studies, they then went to greater schools.I accordingly gave up schooling at fourteen and remained laboring for father on the farm, but one year after that the Elders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints came along. The first time I saw them they came to fathers house on the first of August 1854, told us they had some paper called tracts to sell, which referred to the doctrines of the church. I did not pay much attention to them nor what they said, but supposed them to be like many others that traveled around, too lazy to work or like that. But they told us they would preach in one of the neighbors houses in one or two nights after, for curiosity I went to hear them preach, not at that time getting much of an idea of their doctrines. The priest was there to oppose them and several times through the summer did they hold meetings. I attended the most of them for sport or pass time, but along in the beginning of winter I began to read the Bible to see if they told the truth. By degrees I became convinced that it was something more than I had heard by our minister and took sides with them. Mother and my brother Abraham and Christina my sister and myself attended meetings regular, but father was backwards as yet. He did not oppose them, nor oppose us going to meetings. There was several of the neighboring families that attended meetings and was afterwards baptized. Although only fifteen years of age, I was now a champion for the truth, and it was my theme. On the 18th of June, in connection with my brother Abraham, was baptized. We asked our fathers permission, he said if we thought it was right he would not oppose us, he was not yet convinced himself. We now abstained from laboring on Sunday which at first did not agree with father’s old traditions. We felt as if we had found a great prize but before we was baptized there came near being an apostasy from the belief, Parley Pratt’s pamphlet entitled, “Marriage and Customs in Utah” came out and made a great stir but subsequently it was overcome and confidence restored.
The summer of 1855 passed away and we found much joy in our (to us) new religion, the Elders came frequently to fathers house, talked to him and in the month of September of the same year, father, mother, and my sister Mary were baptized. There now remained but three of fathers family, Sophia the oldest, Peter the next and Christina, who were not in the church. Sophia and Peter were much opposed to it. They plead with us and tried to show us all the beauty of Babylon to get us to remain, but all to no purpose, but it was not very long before they all believed. But out of all the relatives on fathers and mothers side there was not one that believed, although we tried with all the power and energy in our possession to convince them but to no purpose. A branch was organized in our town numbering a great many out of such a little place, it seemed that half of the town almost joined the church. We spent a very pleasant time from the fall of 1855 till the spring of 1857. All new members and most if not all, sincere in their religion. Father sold his place in the summer of 1856 and through the most of the winter I was employed in learning my younger brothers to read and write, for when we joined the church, (although there was freedom in the exercise of religious beliefs in the country) yet father took all from the school, the finger of scorn being pointed at them to a great annoyance.
The outfit for the journey to Zion was procured through the winter of 1856 preparatory to start in the spring of 1857. We had to procure a pass from the clerk of our district, denoting our size, color of hair, age, etc. With this we were permitted to leave but without we could not, except we were smuggled away. The time arrived for our leaving old Babylon, we took leave from the old homestead where father had dwelt twenty-seven years and raised a family of twelve children ten alive, two dead. After having left a faithful testimony with all the relatives and friends and procured the genealogy of hundreds of our relatives, we embarked on a steamship [L. N. Hvidt] at Copenhagen (the capital of Denmark) on the 18th of April 1857, and crossed the North Sea, landing at Grimsby, a seaport town in England. The next day we went by rail across England to Liverpool. Where we went on board, aboard the sail ship Westmoreland, we was seven weeks crossing the Atlantic Ocean, had considerable sickness. I was not so bad as some but not so well as I could liked to have been. We arrived in Philadelphia, after seven weeks on the sea, and was very glad to step ashore on the land of Joseph, that we had so much longed to see and walk upon. For with knowledge of the truth of Mormonism came the spirit of gathering to the land God had prepared for his saints, even the land of Joseph where his Prophets and Apostles dwelt. We now felt that the most dangerous part of our journey was accomplished and we were all (fathers family) alive and pretty well, for as soon as we got on land the sea sickness left us, or the most of the people and they soon experienced a difference from the beautiful smells of the fertile landscape to that of the offensive sea air. And we now stepped into the railroad cars to cross the continent towards the west. We were some eight days on the railroad, being much tired when we arrived at the City of Iowa, where we received our outfit for crossing the plains. A greater trial than we had experienced before on our journey was now on hand.
We were presented with two yoke of oxen to each wagon that never before had been yoked. They had their tails tied together and one of ours had broken his tail trying to get loose. We had a glorious time with our new team, we didn’t know “Woa” from “Gee” and the oxen knew less than we did, however we arrived at camp in the evening with less damage than could have been expected. Father had one wagon small size, on which he had one yoke of broke oxen, them I drove the first day or two, so unbroken was the oxen, that our Captain dare not permit us to unyoke them at night, and we traveled three-hundred miles, the oxen carrying the yoke night and day, then they was released. It might be supposed by the reader that changing from a life like we had been used to before leaving our native country, changing it to that of a company on the plains, might cause serious feelings, the oxen wild, the men not used to driving them, no houses to go into after a days labor, fires to make and supper to cook with very often poor wood and but little of it. But this was hardly even thought of, we had a mark in view and for that we sought the land of Zion, where Prophets dwelt and where God would instruct his Saints and learn them of his ways. This hope inspired us and the troubles and trials of the journey seemed lighter than they might have been otherwise and thus we reached Florence and there we stopped for a few days fitting out for the journey across the plains. We started in July with the same teams we had before. We made good progress, crossed the plains in ten weeks after combating with obstacles of the various kinds. Our oxen getting tender-footed and having to break in cows to work in their place and many of our work cattle died through getting alkali, but not withstanding this we had a pleasant journey considering the change of life to what we had been used to in the old world. We had our meetings, did not forget our prayers and thus we was prospered and reached the Valley in safety on the 13th of September, there was twelve of us in the family, father, mother, and a hire, nine children beside a hired man that was with father in the old country when he joined the church. This hired man was a brother to my oldest sister Sophia’s man, he was killed by the Indians about eight months after we arrived in the valley. My oldest sister Sophia did not come out till 1858.
We found Salt Lake City located on a beautiful spot of ground but was not in the least to be compared to Salt Lake City, twelve or fifteen years afterwards, there was but few that could be called comfortable houses and they were all or nearly so constructed of adobes. We settled six miles south of the city on a rented farm of which we paid one-third to the owner. The following spring I went with many others out into the mountains to guard against the troops of the United States who had come for the purpose of destroying the Mormons, root and branch. Many had been out through the winter and suffered much cold, for in them days clothing was extremely hard to obtain, such a thing as a coat was not known by many of the Saints, those who come from the old country brought a pretty good supply, the most of them, but the old settlers wore what they made themselves and that was rough for they had not yet attained too much skill in making cloth, like they afterwards did. I was one month in the mountains, which was the month of April. We was then released by some other boys from our ward, which was Mill Creek ward, and returned home. I will not soon forget that day we came in home, forty miles in one day. I had not rode a horseback but very little and my nag that I rode was poor and old and when we arrived at our journeys end I was very tired. I was home but a few days when we started to move South, a call made upon the church in general in the north country. We went south about seventy miles. They made several trips moving all the things down. I remained at Mill Creek to look after the crops of wheat we had put in there. It would have been pretty good but it was two-thirds smut, so of ten acres we got seventy bushels of wheat, not much for a family like ours but there was plenty of wheat in the country and we managed to get along. After remaining in the south a few months, they were again all permitted to return to their homes. They were not long making up their minds to that for in a day or two after the word came, the roads were lined with teams on their return to their homes. I had just happened to be down there on a visit in time to come home with them. Father remained in Provo making spinning wheels and I and the girls was all there was left to harvest the wheat, which we done very well.
The troops we had been guarding had now come in and made their quarters in Cedar Valley. Instead of killing our leaders, breaking up a peaceable community and sweeping things generally, it turned out for the greatest benefit and blessing for the saints, there was soon a market for everything and stores became plentiful, so instead of being destroyed by the army, they proved to be the greatest blessing for they had plenty of money, wagons and other things we much needed. No one could fail to see the hand of God in this, that had the least love for truth. After returning home from the south, and we again straightened up as before leaving, it took a good few trips to bring all the articles home from where we had moved them. I spent the winter of 1858 in Mill Creek ward. In the spring of 1859, I in company with my brother Peter, who was then living in Provo, started for Cache Valley. We left Mill Creek about the first of May, it took us a full week to go there as the roads was bad, it was raining and our teams were poor but we arrived in Mendon or on the spot where Mendon was afterward laid out and built. It was a beautiful green country, such as could be wished for and our teams soon recuperate up, although breaking the sod was hard on them, being so poor. Peter and I was obliged to double with another man who had two yoke of oxen, we had two yoke and that made four, and they had all they could do, but we managed to get in eight or ten acres and it done pretty well although the frost came pretty early. We done our cooking as well as our work until in the summer, Peter brought his family up from Provo.
The hay and farming land was divided out, being surveyed out through the summer. An organization was made in the summer with Charles Shumway, Bishop, James G. Willie and Alexander Hill Counselors. This organization however, did not amount to much for we were obliged on account of Indian trouble to move to Wellsville through the biggest part of this summer, so we did our work in Mendon but lived in Wellsville, till towards fall when we returned, which made it lighter, being nearer our labor. Now came the time a thorough organization of Mendon, in a church capacity. Andrew P. Shumway, son of Charles Shumway the previous appointed bishop, was elected bishop, the people being unanimous in their choice. Meetings were held regular and we had a splendid time through the winter meeting, first at one and next at another brothers house on dirt floors. This proved to us that true happiness do not consist of worldly wealth, for the brethren was poor but they did not feel so, they were much united and there was not much for the Teachers to do as far as difficulties was concerned. I was chosen the leader of the singing, which was very poor in the start, but we got along as well as we could and we got more help little by little. I spent the winter of 1859 in connection with the rest of the family in Mendon. We were all belonging to the father’s family, living in the same place, his sons and daughters and his sons-in-law, there was at this time five out of the ten of fathers children married. I had now finished a hard summers labor, the making of a new home, the first father had been the owner of since he left the home where his children had all been born, and although we were not as well fixed as more older settlements, we still felt that the foundations was laid in a good creation and that with proper management we might in a few years be quite comfortable.
Sixty and sixty-one passed away with no great improvement being made as we was built in a fort, two rows of log houses facing each other four rods apart but the fort was never completed, yet we was in a situation for better defense than we would have been laid out in the form of a city. My principal pursuit was farming. I labored for father in all things, still I had taken up a piece of land of my own, but all went as fathers. I took most interest in getting him in a comfortable condition for living. He had but one cow when he came to Cache Valley, but traded some improvements we made while in Wellsville for another. He had two or three sheep, two yoke of oxen and a wagon.
In the spring of sixty-two I started to Florence in company with Peter Larsen, to fetch the poor Saints who were brought in by the church, who hired us or rather the settlements throughout the Territory was called upon to furnish a certain number of men and teams and the bishop of each settlement chose the ones he wished to go. I volunteered and was accepted. We had a big hard time, the waters being very high and difficult to cross, but we was prospered, we made the journey and returned without any loss to our settlement. It was a journey of two thousand two hundred miles in all for us from Cache Valley. We had eighteen passengers each and mine increased one making nineteen, I brought to Salt Lake City, some of them came with me to Mendon. I passed the winter in going to meetings and parties of which we had a goodly number. A good feeling prevailed, the people was much alike in regard to worldly means, none was very rich nor was any very poor. Yet each one for himself. We cooperated in fencing our fields thus making it a light job, whereas if each man had fenced his own by himself, it would have been a big work.
President Peter Maughan the Presiding Bishop of Cache Valley, divided out the land to the brethren not leaving much chance for idle speculation, for if it was found out that a man did not intend to become an actual settler, he was not permitted to take or claim land or city, thus in a great degree preventing land squatter as speculators to get much of a foothold. In these times people could live comparatively cheap, not much extravagance was indulged in, such a thing as tea, coffee or sugar, raisins or other nicknacks was not much thought of, if anyone had coffee it would be a little wheat or crust coffee but milk and water was mostly used. But not withstanding the severe winters and scanty clothing people was provided with, they could stand the cold well, this of itself being proof that high living is behind that of a plain rough diet in giving strength and endurance as well as any life to the human beings.
Sixty-three had nothing particularly new in the way of change. We ploughed and reaped, the land being very rich, from having such long rest, how long no one could tell exactly. This year passed with me much the same as the previous year. Our preaching was generally to adhere to the commandments of God, and that the day was not far off when we would be tried and proven if we loved our religion more than the gold and silver of the world. Our hopes in the future glory of him was firm, although we did not know how it would be brought about.
Sixty-four was a starting point for a little more improvement, we broke up forts and had cities laid our in most of the settlements in Cache Valley, now there was a chance for setting out orchards of which some availed themselves while many was careless, not believing that fruit could be raised to amount to much. But a few years proved that our valley was well adapted to raising most all kinds of fruits except peaches and apricots, these could make no headway as the winter each year would kill the growth of the previous year. I set out a number of fruit trees on my lot, which I took up, but they did not all live, a hard winter killed half of them. It was much more pleasant to live in a city with the scope of an acre and a quarter to improve on, than to be jammed together in a fort. Still we got along splendid not many difficulties although sometimes brethren would be a variance and it would require the Teachers or Bishop to straighten them up. Thus passed the first years of our settling Cache Valley, we had no apostates. We believed in the gospel and to some extent practiced it yet we weren’t as zealous as the saints afterwards were required to be when greater temptations were laid in their paths.
We had a good harvest this year but the greatest difficulty in those days was to find a market for our produce. About these times the mines north had been pretty well opened and many people had made their homes there, depending on Utah mostly for their breadstuffs. This made times pretty good for a few years in regard to disposing of grain, in fact too good for the people did not take heed to the counsels given by our leaders, and they were so anxious to sell that in a few years the market got overstocked and many, after paying for the freighting of the flour to Montana, they scarcely had enough to pay for making the sacks. Thus by disobeying good counsel they sustained a great loss. The counsel had been all along to let them come to our door, and buy our produce and charge a reasonable price, but many of the brethren were so selfish and wanted the first chance, and thus the price were very low. In this year, sixty-four there were some pretty good improvements made both public and private, at least better than had been before. We built the best meetinghouse in Cache Valley at that time. I did not go to school very much, not one month in a year but took some pride in reading the church works. I had a pretty good education in my native language, which helped me to advance in the English language.
Sixty-five brought no particular change with me, I was twenty-five years of age and still unmarried, nevertheless believing in fulfilling the great commandment to multiply but it seemed my time had not come yet. We farmed, met in meetings together, danced together, sang songs together and enjoyed ourselves together as best we could having no Babylon in our midst yet, except what we make ourselves, but a few years brought different changes and we were required to be more humble and strict in keeping the commandments of God. I had now a good place in Mendon. I had horses, cows, sheep, barns, hay ground and father was well fixed, his property had increased well.
Sixty-six and seven were much the same except a good many improvements, such as rock dwelling houses and other improvements. In 1867 we partly completed a rock house for father containing four hundred pieces of rock with dressed corners. It was a great labor but was never finished altogether. In the fall of 1867 the grasshoppers made their appearance, deposited their eggs in the ground ready for hatching in the spring, which they did. In 1867 the crops were also much damaged by the hoppers. They stayed with us five years and were more or less destructive. Some of the brethren did not raise a crop for several years. Father and I was fortunate enough to raise a portion of a crop every year..
In the spring of sixty-eight there was no grasshopper eggs to be hatched out but when they got their growth in other portions of the country they paid us a flying visit, doing much damage eating of the leaves of the wheat and the potato tops, still all raised crop this year being however below an average. This was the year for the Union Pacific Railroad being built and in the fall of the year I spent about three weeks working on it. It was a general call as President Young and taken a very heavy job of the same to complete, several hundred miles. Money was now plenty and many seemed to some extent to forsake their religion and place their whole affection on the Mammon of the world. I had never left home on any occasion to make money until this fall and then it was counsel to do so, our little crowd behaved themselves pretty well at least we were led to think so when we saw how some called Saints carried on. I spent the winter at home, doing a little freighting out to where they were at work on the railroad. A man with a team could make from ten to twenty dollars a day. Wheat brought from three and one-half to four dollars per bushel, hay on the railroad, which was about forty miles from home, brought fifty or sixty dollars per ton. We had our meetings but few parties during the winter. The preaching was continually to cling to our religion and love it more than gold or silver, but many seemed to think a little, the most of the latter.
In the spring of sixty-nine the railroad was completed and that put an end to this much running after money, which if it had continued it is hard to tell what would have been the end, still there were chances to make money yet, but the advice of our leaders was to stay at home and make improvements and in the long run, we would be better off in means and we would not inherit so many gentile traditions. I liked the counsel and although for the time being it might seem as if by living to it one would be deprived of means which he might obtain by going freighting, or going off to gentile cities to make money, yet a few years proved that those who stayed at home and cultivated the soil and assisted in making public and private improvements, came out the best in the end. They had plenty to eat and drink, and some to donate for the building up the kingdom, in the way of gathering the poor from the nations and for various purposes and best of all they had not defiled their religion by partaking of the habits of the wicked world, for God had commanded us not to build up gentile cities but to beautify our homes as much as we could.
Sixty-nine was an eventful year for me. I labored on the farm but this year our crops were light owing to ravages of the grasshoppers in the fall. I was married to Mary Jacobsen Poulsen, who lived at Providence, Cache Valley. We went to Salt Lake City and on the 15th day of November we went through the house (Endowment House) and was sealed for time and eternity. We spent the winter in our little cottage of one room very pleasant, having had enough of single life, and now having commenced to lay a foundation for what we all come here for, to multiply and replenish the earth. The winter passed smoothly and the spring of 1870 came, I still continuing in the same pursuit of making a living. I had now belonged to the choir since 1859 and still continued. I had been a School Trustee four years, and this spring a Gardeners Club was organized and I chosen president. I took a considerable interest in horticulture and making a nice home generally but being alone to do everything, and a good many public calls beside my own, I could not do as much at it at I would have liked to have done.
On the 19th of September, Willie was born, and was blessed when two or three months old by Bishop Hughes. The Word of Wisdom, which had previously been but little regarded, had now been given to the Saints as a commandment, namely to leave off tea, coffee, tobacco, whiskey and other thing that were not pleasing in the sight of the Lord. I had previously used all these things but found by leaving off, a person felt much better, besides showing their willingness to comply with the requirements of our Heavenly Father. Many observed to keep these commandments while many were careless in regard to them, although we were told that those who would not leave off those filthy habits would in time apostatize and leave the church. I was promised in the revelations in regard to the word of wisdom, that those who would live up to it should have power over disease when the destroyer should go abroad in the land and although pestilence had not at this time made itself known to any great extent, yet we were looking forward to a time when it would be so. But diseases and sickness of various natures were much more prevalent among the Saints than they had previously been. I myself with other brethren went many times to administer to the sick and with nearly always good results but we found that where they kept the word of wisdom and lived as near as possible to the instructions given in the revelations, there was generally the greatest faith and there could not be much faith with out keeping the laws. I had pretty good health generally, although not robust in constitution and on one occasion shortly after we came to the valley I came near going under. I had about given up but recovered after an illness of three weeks.
Seventy-one was bright with events for the Latter-day Saints, those who were faithful in keeping their covenants were filled with the hope that the time was nigh, when the Lord would make himself known by his mighty power upon those who would pull down this kingdom. This was the year the Utah Northern commenced to be built after getting through the spring and summer work, I went and labored on it until winter sent us home. It was a general affair, it was to be done in a cooperative principle, there was no pay right down, but each man who labored there would become a share holder, big or little, according to the amount he would labor for or buy from those who did not have faith enough in the future success of the road to keep their earnings and have it entered in stock. It was counsel from President Young for the brethren to do this, and keep the road in their own hands, for it would soon be a source of profit to them. Many however couldn’t see it and gave away their stock for a song. I was much interested in the road and labored whenever I could, for I knew it would be a great benefit to Cache Valley. There was not much track laid this year.
A man or woman who desire to be in full fellowship, had to be on hand for every call, and by this means the good spirit could always be with them. The winter passed away with much preaching and teaching as well as testimonies for we began to see by the signs of the times that it would not be very long before many of the prophecies concerning the latter days, would be fulfilled when God would deliver his people as well from the oppressions of the outside enemies as those in our immediate midst. The Governors and Judges sent here by the President of the United States, were anything but just men who had the interest and welfare of the people, over whom they presided, at heart on the contrary, they were sent here by the government to obliterate or destroy the Mormons from the face of the land and had by this time already commenced their schemes and plans by colligating themselves into a ring for that purpose and commenced making false accusations against President Young and others of the brethren but in all this they did not make much headway as yet, it always passed off without much being accomplished.
1872 came along and we were still to a great extent enjoying peace. Cooperation had in the previous two or three years been much advocated and organizations in the mercantile line had been made. A store was established in Mendon with some seven or eight hundred dollars capital stock at twenty dollars a share, I took one share in the same. The understanding was that from this we would not long hence go into a complete order of cooperation, like Enoch and his brethren or Nephi and his brethren. In the summer after being through with the springs work I spent a month on the Utah Northern Railroad, working much of the time with pick and shovel, it was rough work, much of it. There was about twenty of the brethren for by this time it was not an easy matter for the leaders or superintendents of the work to get men to turn out and labor and it was not money down, but promise in the future of stock in the road and that it would pay. I raised a good crop this year but grain was late to what it had been in previous years. I went north two-hundred miles in the fall with freight for the stage line and when I returned after getting out a few loads of wood, again worked on the grade of the Utah Northern until winter stopped us, which was not till after New Years. All who felt themselves interested in the kingdom of God more than all else on earth expressed a willingness to work on the road. The winter passed off in peace for our enemies had gained no particular ground, they had not succeeded in doing much in the way of confining any of the members of the church in prisons, which was their steady aim, they did all they could in tormenting our people and depriving them of the right guaranteed by the Constitution and letting criminals at liberty whose deeds according justice, would be merited to them either death or many years imprisonment. The railroad track was laid down to Logan by the middle of the winter. On the 23rd of September, 1872 Malina was born, it happened while I was on a trip two-hundred miles north on the stage line with freight. The weather was very cold and while traveling I was compelled to wear mittens and overcoat and wrap in blankets to keep from freezing. It was also very cold here at home.
1873 brought no particular change in our affairs; it was a beautiful spring for cropping. Our enemies and those who had now come among us that were not of us, had by this time introduced many evil practices among us and many of our people were led away by the same, such as very great extravagance in dress, pride, haughtiness and love for the things of the world forgetting that it was God who had blessed them with all these comforts and by those who had once belonged to the Church joining in with our enemies it gave them a great support, nevertheless the Saints minded their business and remembered their prayers and all their duties and trusted in that God who brought them to their mountain home, for he knew what was best suited for his saints, to perfect them and bring them into one in Christ their Redeemer. The summer passed with nothing unusual in the way of my pursuits to gain a living for my family. I had now belonged to the Teachers Quorum some time and in the summer my time was entirely taken up by laboring in the weekdays and tending Sunday schools and meetings on Sunday while in the winter I scarcely had an evening at home having some meeting to attend.
The winter between 1873 and 1874 commenced about the 24th of November, and continued until after the middle of April. It was the hardest winter by far we had seen in Cache Valley, all the old straw came in good and kept many stock alive, still many died. Although the spring was very late when the snow was once off, the land soon dried up by the south winds blowing steady and soon made even the lowest land ready for the plow. This spring was the beginning of a very eventful period in by life. We had for sometime had the Order of Enoch or the United Order taught to us from the mouth of President Young and the priesthood in general, but so far it had only been talk, yet we knew that Zion never would be redeemed until the Saints entered into this law, to live as one family and labor for each other’s welfare and in earnest, go to work and become one in spiritual things and also in temporal matters, for the Lord had said in the revelation that unless we were one in temporal things we never could be one in spiritual things. This spring the Order was preached to people and they were told that they must go into it for it was a commandment from God; accordingly we were organized in our settlement with a President, two vice-presidents, one secretary, one assistant secretary and one treasurer. I was chosen the treasurer. We now went to work and organized, partly for working in to Order but this was all we done, we put all our strength together, all who were willing (which did not at first amount to more than one third of the people in our settlement) and put in our grain together, plowing first for one and then for another, as the land was ready by this means the land was all put in, when it was in, was in good trim. This was not exactly the Order, it was merely a cooperation of our labors but it prepared us for the Order in full, which in the fall of this same year we entered into in full with all we possessed, so one had a piece of land or any stock or anything he could call his own he might be placed as a steward over it, but it was all controlled by the board of directors and the Order. I omitted to mention that there was eleven directors in our organization, this was left to each board of the Order in the settlements to agree upon for themselves, they could have less or more to suit themselves. The Order had not been started in all the settlements as yet; our settlement was the first in Cache Valley who commenced it. There was a number of settlements in the southern part of the Territory that commenced it. I labored the most of the winter in the canyon getting out lumber for a cheese factory, which we had concluded to build, the great object in uniting ourselves together was to become a self sustaining people, to cease importing articles from abroad that could be made at home, as we were repeatedly told by our Prophet and leading men that Babylon would soon be broke to pieces, and we would have to rely on our own resources for our support. As soon as we returned from the canyon, we started ploughing, laboring together in putting in our grain and continued so through the summer, dividing our grain in the fall, the land receiving one third of the grain and the other two-thirds was divided according to days works. Bishop Hughes, who had been absent on a mission about nineteen months, had returned and took his place as bishop.
A reformation took place in the fall of this year 1875, and all who wished to renew their covenants by subscribing to the rules of the United Order, had the privilege, by being baptized into the United Order with all they possessed and being willing to be controlled in the temporal, as well as spiritual matters by those who were placed to lead and preside. I was baptized in the latter part of the summer for the remission of my sins and had hands laid upon me (also my wife) for the reception of the Holy Ghost, the Saints had gone astray or become lukewarm and needed waking up to a newness of life and the Lord through his tender mercies, gave them another opportunity to forsake their evil habits and live nearer to the Lord. We were stewards over our property and our laboring together as companies somewhat ceased, but we were now striving to consolidate our means together to erect something that would enable us to manufacture what we needed to eat and wear. On September 21st, 1874 Hannah was born. This I omitted to mention in its proper place. After having made the attempt to carry on the United Order we were counseled to discontinue the same, it seemed that the people at this time were not prepared to live it, and many was not willing to take hold at all. I felt as willing to obey counsel in ceasing the Order as I was in attempting to live it, when it was counsel to do so and in the labors while working together was rewarded with much joy. 1875 was now passed and all was again planning for themselves, Bishop Hughes in his place as Bishop. It was then as it always has been and always will be with a Latter-day Saint, to be on hand for all calls, no matter what it might be and so I always felt and was always rewarded with the comforting influence of the Lord.
1876 found us busy in summer, spring and fall as usual but rest in a [?] our greatest annoyance, through many of those years was the unjust U.S. Official who were sent by government, such as governor, district judge, prosecuting attorneys, it was seldom we had a good one, and it seemed when we did chance to get a good one he would not stay long, those should be administrators of justice, would join a ring that existed in Salt Lake City, whose whole aim seemed to be continually to manufacture lies, and dispatch them all over the county, the real object being to induce government to take steps to drive the saints from their homes, they never ceased their efforts in this respect, from one years end to another and if by chance we got a just Governor, who would administer justice to Mormons as well as Gentiles, he would not be admitted into their society for such men were not what they could make use of. (Bertha was born 7th December 1876). It was a long time that these conditions continued to exist, however the saints always put their trust in the Lord, knowing that he was able to protect them in their homes if it was his will that it should be so. The Utah Northern was completed to Franklin, Idaho and now we had railroad communication with the world at large. My farm did only consist of fifteen acres of farmland below town and ten acres of dry land north, which I did not cultivate except one acre of same. From two to three hundred bushels of grain was considered a good crop but it was not enough to make much headway with so we still lived in the log house which I built in 1866 and was then the best in Mendon. I had put a rock lean-to behind, but Ma never thought very comfortable.
1876 passes on and 1877 came with some important [changes]. In this year the Stakes were organized with a President and two Counselors for each Stake, also the wards with counselors to the Bishops. H. Hughes was still retained as Bishop, Andrew Andersen and John Donaldson his councilors and quarterly conference, of each stake commenced. President Young did all this traveling although the country from St. George to Bear Lake, then the most northerly stake. In this year the foundation of the Logan Temple was laid. I went on horseback to Logan to witness the ceremony after a heavy snow in the beginning of May, which broke branches from trees and injured many of them. After completing all their labors President Young died in August of this year, mourned much by the people by whom he was much beloved. He was a natural leader, a man of much faith, a great organizer and financier; to him we are indebted for much of our prosperity in machinery, colleges, etc. We now had the temple on our hands to complete. I contributed two hundred dollars towards it before it was completed, it lasted seven years to finish it. Thus passed 1877. I was still a School Trustee and assistant Sunday school superintendent, also choir leader, with many other duties and responsibilities to perform.
1878 found us moving on. We had a good harvest, had not been troubled with grasshoppers for a number of years and truly President Young’s saying was fulfilled, that if we would spend a portion of our time and means for completing the Temple we should continually increase in means. In the fall of this year I went to work on the Utah Northern Railroad, which was now being pushed north to Montana. We returned two weeks before Christmas, having worked on Battle Creek, a few miles from Weston. The creek derived its name from the famous Cache Valley battle with the Indians, which took place between 1860 and 1865, Patrick E. Connor killing about two hundred Indians— which settled the Indian troubles in Cache Valley to a very great extent.
1879 was also a beautiful year, we could now raise fruits of many kinds but Mendon was not the best place in Cache for fruit, but we had beautiful apples, pears, and plums of many kinds, which we enjoyed very much. Alma Nicholas was born March 3rd of this year. In the fall I was called on a mission to my native land (Denmark). It was quite an effort to raise money but by hauling grain to Corinne at seventy cents per bushel I raised the means, with the proceeds of a dance to assist me. My mission cost me altogether about three hundred dollars. I left the family with some little wheat on hand, that by economical living they got through without needing assistance from the ward, except some of the neighbors helping to do chores a portion of the time. A portion of the farm I put in, in the fall before leaving home, the rest I rented to my brother Henry and neighbor Peter Larsen. The wheat I put in myself yielded fifty bushels to the acre, the other did not do quite as well the first year. The second year I came home, the crop was less than half an average, so I did not have much for my share, as I only received one third of wheat raised.
I returned July 15th 1881 in time to get up my hay. The folks at home had been very careful with the means they had, and had a little wheat on hand at my arrival, also some money received for my interest in the Utah Northern. The amount they had left was twenty dollars, which came in very handy, as I owed forty or fifty dollars on the wagon I purchased before going on my mission. I spent the summer and fall working hard, as everything was somewhat neglected and needed repairing and in fact there was not very much to repair, only the old house and the old sheds. I done much canyon work, as I could make three or four dollars per day, at that I seemed to be quite strong. Thus we got along and did not feel any particular want, we felt satisfied with what we had. I was again put in leader of the Choir ands also had charge of the Sunday school, Brother Donaldsen being on a mission to England. While on the mission I visited all our relatives on both my own and my wife’s side. While they were glad to see me, as also our old neighbors, yet I only baptized one of our relatives and some twenty-five or thirty others. During my stay in the Branch I presided over the last year, over thirty more were baptized shortly after I left. I sent one hundred and seventy five dollars to Copenhagen to bring out our relatives, the one I baptized and her sister and two boys John and William. I scarcely know where the money came from but we seemed to get along as well as our neighbors. The folks arrived this year, the boys stayed with me over winter, the girls stayed with grandfather and grandmother. I now had the old folks to take care of, they had their income from their farm and hay land, the farm was rented to the boys (all had a part, Henry the biggest part of it) at four bushels of wheat to the acre per year, then we could farm it or not as we pleased, the boys each hauled three loads of wood, which was twelve loads and as a rule we met together and cut it up, still grandmother was quite sickly and needed much care. Good harvest crowned our labors this year but my farm was still small. Mary Eva was born on the 2nd of June this year, 1882.
In 1883 there was nothing outside of the usual events, attending to ecclesiastical duties, which always occupied much of our attention, than building the Logan Temple, and, no improvements of the home nor increase in the farm. Stock for many years brought a high price, calves in the fall ten dollars; a good cow from thirty to fifty dollars, horses also brought good figures as yet. We had no extremely hard winters since 1879.
1884 was quite an eventful year, the persecutions for polygamy commenced this year, and at first was thought much harder than afterwards when it became more general— those living in polygamy went into hiding. Some a long distance away, others staying near home but were continually exposed to hateful search of the marshals. Some of those officers were anything but gentlemen, many went to the pen and the leaders were prevented from associating with the people. This year as a rule the harvest was not an average one. I raised the most this year I had ever raised, eight hundred bushels. This year I started improving, hewed logs for our kitchen, twenty-five feet by sixteen feet. I put up the logs, put on a shingle roof, plastered the ceiling and lived in it for two years; in this way we thought it quite comfortable to what the old house was. Thus 1884 passed away with its cares, sorrows and pleasures. Joseph was born April 5th of this year— 1884. The Logan Temple was dedicated in 1884. It was a grand time, I had an invitation through the Temple which is very beautiful, very many people assembled on the occasion and a happy feeling prevailed, whether in the Temple or in the streets of the city which was thronged with people.
1885 commenced, it was a nice early spring. Henry, my brother had moved to Snake River and came down in the fall of this year and we went to the Temple and was sealed to our parents. Henry was very sick but started to go home but had to return to grandfathers. There he lay sick and died and was buried in the latter part of November. His wife and children being here at the funeral, John Anderson came down and brought them up to Snake River. This was a hard blow to grandfather and grandmother.
1886 was among the eventful years for us all, thought I was not in polygamy yet when the people suffered all was affected and this year brought no change in that respect. Henry was born February 6th of this year. My farm had increased some by buying pastureland and farmland and my crops increased some. There were no bad years; a crop had been raised every year since the grasshopper years in the beginning of the seventies. I finished our kitchen this year.
1887 was beautiful in the month of March. On the 30th of this month grandfather and grandmother died, both on the same day, grandmother in the morning, ten o’clock and grandfather in the evening or afternoon at three o’clock. They were sick about four weeks and were buried in one grave. In the “Will” we found the lot on which he lived was allotted to me, as also five acres of below town of farming land connected with my fifteen acres making it twenty, in my farm below town. This made our place feel very lonesome for some time although they were old, we felt it a loss to part with them. Grandfather was nearly eighty-eight and Grandmother eighty years old they were the last of their family, of their brothers and sisters, all the other having died several years previously. Uncle Frederick was ninty-one when he died. 1887 passed away my labors still continuing as usual, but the Lord prospered me in my labors temporally and spiritually and we were as well off as our neighbors although in our less prospered times I had spent quite a little money and I only made what I had, it may by said by hard work.
1888 had made things no better as regards the persecution except it was more common for the brethren to go to prison, and when a man was sentenced there was not much comment— as it was in reality a great honor to be imprisoned for the principles of the gospels sake and the Lord did bless them and make their burdens light. The families at home suffered more than their husbands. But there was still more to bother the Saints, in 1887 the Edmunds-Tucker Law passed in Congress confiscating much of the church property, which for a time seemed to inconvenience as well as loss of property. One million of dollars was escheated to the government and they also tried hard to get possession of our temples and tabernacles. Unjust as all this was on our people, it was nevertheless done having been worked up by the ring of the Liberal Party in Salt Lake, and Congress stooped to them and passed those unrighteous laws but even through all this the Lord preserved and blessed the people, guiding them for their good in every instance. In this year we started building our house, the front part of it, covered it in, adobe it and used it during the winter, although not finished it gave us more room. The harvest was very good this year. Willie was now a big help and made it much lighter on me. Ina was born on 22nd of May, of this year. We had made an addition to our meeting house in which I donated about sixty dollars work and cash, I was one of the committee on the Co-op farm, which was quite a labor especially on the committee. I was put in to that place in 1888 and acted four years.
1889 we are moving on as usual. Work in the summer and amusements in winter. There was always much to do as our means for carrying on Sunday school purposes as well as the choir, was passed by exhibitions and theaters we managed to run all these institutions without donations from the people, but there was not much idle time, for as soon as one celebration was ended another was approaching thus it was almost a constant labor. I had been City Recorder since the spring of 1882 and still remained so. The grain market had for many years not been overly encouraging, wheat bringing from fifty to seventy cents a bushel, oats sometimes run up one and three quarters to two cents. There was one year, 1888, when wheat was up to ninty cents for a short time. I had sold the most of mine before it got up, sending some money to a poor friend in the old country, who was my schoolmate and he was brought out to this country by others also contributing.
1890 was quite an eventful year to me. The spring was cold and rainy, considerable of the grain was light on account of it. I and Willie had torn down the big rock house on grandfathers lot in which was four hundred pieces of rock and sold some of the same to railroad depot, built a chicken coop of some and sold others for foundations for other houses till they were very nearly all gone. In September, I was arrested by a United States Marshall named McLellan, on the charge of murder. In 1863 a horse thief traveled through our country and I with some others, was asked to go and help secure him. The man was shot that night by one of the officers for trying to get away. I was not there when he was shot, being one and a half miles away. This fall we were arrested and taken to Ogden, admitted on one thousand dollars bail, which we did not succeed in getting soon enough, and remained eleven days until our bond was procured. Our trial came off the 1st day of December. We were all acquitted, there being no evidence to convict anyone. This had been worked up by apostates, who thought they could implicate certain men; but they failed as they had in all their other old Mormon murder scrapes, as they called them. It cost me one hundred and fifty [dollars] for risking my life with the others, in securing a desperado, of which new settled countries generally abound, although there was nothing near as bad in Utah as they had been in many other new settled States and Territories. Thus passed away 1890. It had been a good year for making money; the Bear River Canal was worked on this year as also the railroad down Bear River Canyon. Eulalia was born on April 1st this year, 1890.
1891 was the most fruitful year ever known in Cache County. Not only the grain crops were first class, but also fruit was very plentiful. My crop was near thirteen hundred bushels. Potato crops were also good but no sale for them. Wheat ranged from seventy to eighty cents. There was great scarcity in Europe but America had raised such abundance that it did not get as high.1
1. History of Isaac Sorensen, Isaac Sorensen, unpublished journal manuscript. Transcribed to typescript by Rodney J. Sorensen, 3-4 July 1987.