Nicolai's Personal Account

This is a day-by-day narration written by Nicolai Sorensen, of the events that transpired during the Sorensen family’s journey from Haverup, Sorø, Denmark to that bright sunny Easter morning, when they arrived at the shining docks of Philadelphia.

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Account of the Voyage from Denmark to America

The Westmoreland
Tuesday, April 14th, 1857—
We left Haverup. We got up at 4:30 a.m. We had plenty to do to pack all our belongings. I was together with Jacob Nielsen at about 8:00 a.m. when some of the children came and made a very loud noise. So to make peace with those godless people, I had to give my watch to the ringleader, a very lively girl that would not give up till she got her wishes fulfilled. We packed all our belongings on Jens Nielsen’s wagon and left for the station. I, Peder, Abraham, Niels and Jens Johansen left to go to Sorø to get our passport in order, to say farewell to some of our friends there. The time went quick and at 12:00 noon we were all ready. Jacob Jensen came with some of his family. We had a big snowstorm on the way to the station. When we got to the station we were met by a large crowd of friends and relatives that came to bid us farewell. We had a good visit with them and also many bottles of brandy was consumed. 12:30 p.m. the train came and we all said a sad farewell to each other. We boarded the train and I lifted up little Stine so her Aunt Mette could see her for the last time. At least for a long time. We got to Copenhagen at 5:00 p.m. and stayed at a hotel located on Vestergade 16. Here we were made very welcome and had a very good time.

Wednesday, April 15th, 1857—
In Copenhagen we had plenty to do to take care of our luggage and money matters. We also had to buy some articles we needed. In the evening we all met for evening prayer. This made me feel very good.

Thursday, April 16th, 1857—
I got up at 6:15 a.m. and finding out I had forgot something back in Haverup, I boarded the early train back there. I arrived back on the noon train having completed what I went back to take care of. When I got back to Copenhagen our Maria was ill and we had to get a doctor.

Friday, April 17th, 1857—
We got up early and all was very thankful to find out Maria was better. There was still some things to take care of.

Saturday, April 18th, 1857—
I got up at 5:30 a.m. together with my family. It was a beautiful dawn breaking forth and it filled our hearts with thanksgiving to our Heavenly Father for all his blessings and for this day when we were on our way to Zion. I wrote a letter to my sister Mette in answer to a letter she wrote on the 17th. The morning went fast and at 10:00 a.m. we said good-bye to the people at the hotel and started for Larsen’s dock, where the ship L. N. Hvidt lay, that we were going to take up to England. When we got there, to my horror, we found out that some lady had taken little Stine with her. Not knowing if it was one of our church members or some other I was worried and started looking all over for them. After awhile I got word they were back and my heart rejoiced and I thanked my Heavenly Father for all his goodness to us, and for the safe return of little Stine. We stayed on the dock till about 12:00 when we all went aboard the ship. We left Copenhagen at 1:45 p.m. The sea was very calm and the weather beautiful. We soon passed Faldboden and Trekroner. We enjoyed ourselves very much this very calm and beautiful afternoon. We went to sleep that night happy and thankful for all our blessings and prayed for the safety of our ship and the ones that had care of it.

Sunday, April 19th, 1857—
This morning’s sky was a bright red. We made good speed till in the afternoon when it started to blow. The ship began to roll and nearly everyone got seasick. Little Stine, Peder and myself was the only ones not sick so me and Peder was plenty busy taking care of the rest.

Monday, April 20th, 1857—
Still after a very bad night we welcomed the morning. It was still blowing quite hard. Some of the sick started to move about. In the evening we made our beds up on deck but did not sleep very good.

Tuesday, April 21st, 1857—
The morning came forth beautiful. The weather was good. We were very happy as we were told that by noon we would be able to see land. This also was true. Everybody was very happy and not any would say they felt seasick. At 2:00 p.m. our ship docked at Grimsby, England. At 3:30 p.m. we were permitted to go on land. We were taken to a hotel that was fixed up to receive emigrants. Here we could get hot water and made us some coffee and sandwiches. One of the men had to sleep in an outbuilding where corn was kept, as there was no more room at the hotel.

Wednesday, April 22nd, 1857—
We got up at 5:00 a.m. We had been told we were to take a trip to Liverpool at 6:00 a.m. (Here I will say that our time was one hour ahead of English time). We left at 7:30 a.m. for Liverpool. The fields were all green and some things planted had all come up. This told us they were a month ahead of us in Sjælland. The cattle were out grazing. We rode over fields, rocky places and between mountains, through cities and countries, through tunnels, eight times. The largest one a mile long. It sure went a lot faster than we were used to in Denmark. At 3:00 p.m. we arrived in Liverpool. We were shown to a hotel and given something to eat. We were shown to our rooms and spent the night here.

Thursday, April 23rd, 1857—
We got up at 6:00 a.m. and as usual had morning prayer. We then were served coffee and French bread, all we could eat. Each family was given their passport. It was made out in English so we could not read them. We left the hotel to go to the dock where the big sailship [Westmoreland] lay that was to take us over the mighty ocean to the State of Philadelphia in America. At 12:00 noon we all was registered and had to spend the night on the ship at harbor. We had very nice beds to sleep in, three in a bed. Husband, wife and one child in each.

Friday, April 24th, 1857—
Friday morning, for the first time, we crawled out of our nests and we were all happily satisfied. We spent some time straightening up our belongings. At 8:00 a.m. together with two brethren, Olsen and N. Nielsen and a few more, we went into the city of Liverpool. Here we bought six loaves of English bread and a looking glass. We would have bought more things but didn’t have more time to spare, as the ship was to leave at 12:00 noon. We got there plenty early. We didn’t leave till 3:00 p.m.

Saturday, April 25th, 1857—
This morning was very special. We were to begin our long journey across the big ocean from Liverpool to Philadelphia. At 8:00 a.m. a small steamer pulled our large ship out of the harbor to deeper water. Here the sails were hoisted. The wind was good and we sailed along at good speed and all was well. There was given out food, one-half loaf of bread to each and 1 lb. of pork a week per person. A few began to get a little seasick. We went to bed at 8:15 p.m. Three men were chosen to stand guard.

Sunday, April 26th, 1857—
Again we saw a most beautiful morning break forth. This was Sunday and we were especially happy as were told we were to have an assembly in the afternoon at 2:00 p.m. on the upper deck. All that was feeling well attended. Mother was sick. Also Abraham, Isak, Henrik and Niels and all had to stay in their beds. We had a wonderful meeting and I was very thankful for all the things we were taught. As the day ended many got seasick as could be expected as most was not used to the sea.

Monday, April 27th, 1857—
Got up as usual. Had prayer and as other days we were given our allotment of water every morning at 10:00. We got more food given out. 13 and one-half lb. meat, 16 and one-half lb. beans, 16 and one-half lb. rice, 16 and one-half lb. flour, 11 lb. oatmeal, 22 lb. potatoes, 11 packages of tea, salt and pepper. The main problem now was to get some food cooked. Our kitchen was very small for so many.

Tuesday, April 28th, 1857—
The weather was quite ruff. The wind blew hard. A few of the brethren met in prayer to our Heavenly Father. Our prayer was answered. The wind stopped blowing and we were very thankful and happy. We were all up and about but mother. She was still confined to her bed and was very sick. Henrik had a bad ear but felt pretty good. I felt fine. Not seasick at all. All was feeling pretty good except mother. She had trouble with diarrhea rather than vomiting. Sister Liljenquist gave her a remedy that helped her a lot.

Wednesday, April 29th, 1857—
I stood watch from 2:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. therefore being the first man up I put the teakettle on and had plenty of warm water when the rest got up. Most of the saints were feeling better, all but mother. She was still pretty sick although some better. The ship’s doctor had given her some pills to stop the diarrhea. Henrik also was given some powder for his ear but I don’t believe it is helping him any.

Thursday, April 30th, 1857—
I woke up early as I had rheumatism in my legs. Peder came with the teakettle of warm water and I had to get up anyhow. The time now is 6:00 a.m. We had good day. The weather was fine and the wind just right and the ship made good speed. All was well but mother was seasick, but was feeling a little better.

Friday, May 1st, 1857—
This morning I was extra happy and thankful. Mother had slept good all night and felt much better. This day went as usual. We had good wind but it came from a direction that made the ship roll an awful lot. So much of our belongings fell on the floor of the cabin. Those who had porcelain got most of it broken up.

Saturday, May 2nd, 1857—
The night had been bad for me. I had been busy bringing pots and picking things up that was always falling down and rolling around the floor. Most cases of things were not fastened. I would say most of them were just thrown about. I had fastened ours when we first went aboard. I had some rope with me from Sorø. We were given some more provisions, bread, bacon, meat and potatoes. The weather was very good and all the sick was brought up on deck and here we were many hours. I got some of our bedding up on deck in the sun. Everyone enjoyed this day and all felt much better. It did mother a lot of good to be out in the sunshine and all the others that had been seasick. In the evening we as usual had prayer and our Brethren Robt. and L. Larsen spoke many enlightening things to us. Brother Liljenquist also joined us. He also spoke and gave us many things to think about. Also reminded us it was Fast Sunday the next day and wanted everyone to go to the kitchen to do the cooking needed as to be free all day Sunday. He promised us we should have meetings at 10:00 a.m. and also 2:00 p.m. This made us all very happy and we all went to bed very happy.

Sunday, May 3rd, 1857—
At midnight we were all awakened by all our belongings again being thrown around the floor. The ship was rolling very bad all day and we were not able to have our meetings.

Monday, May 4th, 1857—
This day did not promise to be any better. Big waves rolled over the deck and some water came down to us. We were busy wiping up the floors under beds and all over. The day went as the others. Being of the Mormon faith we looked forward to the holy things and the promises to all faithful, that make our lives worth while and makes us happy day-by-day. I now remember a very special event May 3rd. Brother Goff’s wife presented him with a son and was named after the ship. Those saints were from Sjælland. The mother and baby were getting along fine.

Tuesday, May 5th, 1857—
This morning the weather was a little better. Niels Jorgensen had been standing watch from 2:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. He told me there was a good fire in the stove and to bring the teakettle so we could have some boiled water. I was soon upon my feet to help some of the others that were not feeling well. We again were given our provisions. Rice, flour, beans, sugar, tea, sennip and pepper. We also could have had some oatmeal and vinegar but we had some so didn’t take any. We also were given some fruit juice. In the afternoon all the sick was brought up on deck. The weather was very calm. The ship did not make very good speed as the wind had almost stopped blowing but what little we had helped the speed of the ship. We saw a lot of sea hounds near the ship. A lot of them were bedding out on deck, drying in the sun.

Wednesday, May 6th, 1857—
This morning the teakettle did not awaken us. We had two cooked meals the day before and had used all our water that had been given us. Bro. Mikkelsen had saved two cups of water. He gave it to mother and me. At 6:00 p.m. all was called together for prayer meeting. I forgot to tell that we had been divided in four different branches. I was head of one of them. We belonged to the second branch. Me, Mother, Kirsten, Maria, Henrik, and Stine. We opened with song No. 29 and 30 in the outside room where the drinking water was stored. Peder, Abraham, Isak, Jacob, Kristian and Niels were also in the same room. For two days we had no wind. It was for this purpose that we had met for prayer to ask our Heavenly Father to let it blow enough so the ship would make speed. Our prayers was answered and all went to bed happy and thankful.

Thursday, May 7th, 1857—
After a good night’s sleep I woke at 5:00 a.m. Got up feeling very happy although my clothes were all wet from being too warm and had been sweating. The weather was wonderful and the wind just right. Niels and I were busy all forenoon fixing things. It being Sophie’s birthday we were giving a special fine dinner, soup and meatballs. In the afternoon at 4:00 all had to meet to pay the tickets for the train fare across America. I paid $132.00 for my family. For the stay in Liverpool $4.20. Then there were some small debts to pay. Like money spent for drinks for the sailors that cooked for us from Copenhagen to Grimsby in England. You could give any amount you wanted to. I gave 80 cents. This was to be given back to us at the purchase of the rest of our tickets. Bro. Laurizt Larsen went around to each to see how many would like to learn English by having a class. We all signed up but mother and little Stine. Our President Kovlif was to have charge of the school. Another day went and we all were happy and thankful, especially as mother was much better and was able to be up most of the day.

Friday, May 8th, 1857—
After a good night the morning broke again with a beautiful dawn. The sky was overcast with bright red. I had slept good as the night before. I was again ringing wet with sweat. I had a little cold and thought this would do me good. I got up feeling good and the hot water was ready for us to use. The wind was beginning to blow a little harder and mother again felt seasick and had to stay in bed all day although she didn’t feel too bad.

Saturday, May 9th, 1857—
I woke up after six hours sleep. I heard from some of the brethren already up that we had the best wind we had ever had so far on our journey. I got up happy and contented. I made two cups of coffee. This was all the water we had and I gave Bro. Mikkelsen one cup. Mother had to stay in bed all day, as she could not stand the rocking of the ship. We were to have provisions given out but as it was blowing quite hard, it was given up till Monday. The wind changed to northwest and we had to change our course accordingly. The wind was blowing very much now and the waves were very high. The ship rocked very badly, not side ways but up and down. The front would stand straight up from the water and then down again like it was going under the sun.

Sunday, May 10th, 1857—
I had been awake most of the night and had listened to the howling of the wind. At 5:00 a.m. Niels came. He had been standing watch and offered me a cup of coffee. I got up, washed and had prayer. We were told each to say how we felt. A brother from Jylland talked to us to keep everything neat and clean and gave much good advice to the saints. We saw four ships go by not far away from our ship. Jacob saw a large fish close to the ship. I got there too late so didn’t get to see it.

Tuesday, May 12th, 1857—
I woke up and found my hurts was almost gone. I was very thankful for this and I knew my prayer has been answered in my behalf. A man with the water pump came. I had a barrel I kept some of our provisions in and it had to be moved. Where we stayed was just across from the water supply. It was time to give out water again. All was asleep yet so I had to take care of this alone. I got the teakettle and when the rest got up at 6:00 a.m. they came one after the other for hot water. Mother was able to drink a little warm and ate a little bread. For dinner all we had was rice mush. All ate good but Maria. She was very sick and at 2:00 p.m. I got two Elders to come and administer to her. She got better and went to sleep. One thing happened at 3:00 p.m. The first one to die since we left Sjælland was a baby. The baby’s mother was alone as her husband was not of our faith. The baby was buried at 5:00 p.m. Bro. Liljenquist gave a good talk and Pres. C. Larsen gave the prayer. We also sang a song. Mother was able to be up and also attended prayer meeting that night. It was the first time she had been able to do so.

Wednesday, May 13th, 1857—
I got up at 5:30 a.m. and as usual got the teakettle on. I had good hot water when the rest got up. We were all ordered to get up on deck at 10:00 a.m. but it has turned very cold so all that was not feeling well had to stay in their rooms. We just had peas for dinner and all ate good except Maria. She did not have a very good appetite yet. I was thankful to my Father in Heaven that we were as good as we were. The wind was not too good but the ship’s captain said we were doing ok.

Thursday, May 14th, 1857—
I woke up early after a good night’s rest but instead of getting up I just lay and rested when I was informed if I didn’t hurry up all the hot water would be gone. It didn’t take me long to get up. Inside of 15 minutes I had my hot tea. It was a wonderful morning. The sun was shinning and the wind just right to make good sailing. We were all very happy and were told to all be on deck by 10:00 a.m. Just about that time it started to rain and hail very bad. At about 1:00 p.m. the sun again came out and we were able to bring all the sick upon deck in the sun. At 5:00 p.m. it started to storm again. The sea got very rough and everyone was ordered down below to their cabins. The ship’s help had plenty to do to take care of the sails and for a time it looked very bad but after awhile it stopped and again we were happy to have the privilege to meet together in a wonderful meeting. It was the first time we had Bro. Kovhy with us. He bore his testimony and gave us many faith-promoting incidents. Bro. Liljenquist translated it in Norwegian language. Many of the brethren bore their testimonies. The meeting lasted till 9:30 p.m. when we all went to bed.

Friday, May 15th, 1857—
I woke up early. It was still dark so I just stayed in bed till it got light. As I usually did first thing in the morning was to get hot water ready for tea. The wind was good and we made good speed. At noon it started to storm and by afternoon it was really bad. Most of the sails had to be taken down but we still made good headway, more so than any time before. The storm was bad the rest of the night. The sea was rolled and we in our bunks rolled from side to side. I didn’t sleep very much and was far from well.

Saturday, May 16th, 1857—
This morning the weather was still bad. I got up but did not feel very good. I met in prayer with the rest but most of the time I spent laying down. I felt some better after having had dinner.

Sunday, May 17th, 1857—
This was Sunday. I got up feeling fine after having a good night’s sleep. I was especially happy as we were to meet in conference and also was asked to fast. The weather was again good with sunshine. The wind was not blowing as hard as before and as the day advanced it got better. In the middle deck we all met for conference. We had a very inspiring time and I felt we were very much blessed. We left the meeting at 12:30 and we were to meet again at 2:30 p.m. We again had a wonderful time together. We all were happy there out on this big ocean. I would have been more completely happy if mother had been able to attend the meetings, but her health was so she had to stay in bed all day. She could not stand the rolling of the ship. Another child died, 9 months old. The father’s name was G. Jensen from Copenhagen.

Monday, May 18th, 1857—
Got up as usual things. 7:00 a.m. the baby was buried. There was given provisions. The weather was just right all day and we made good speed.

Tuesday, May 19th, 1857—
Got up at 6:00 a.m. did my morning chores as usual. I had oatmeal soup to warm up instead of tea. The wind was good but it rained bad all forenoon. In the afternoon it let up some but most of day it rained. We met a large steamship. It was not far from our ship. I heard it was carrying mail from America to England. The wind was good and we made good time. I thought it was faster than any time before.

Wednesday, May 20th, 1857—
As usual I got up early and done the usual things. The weather made good sailing. The ship rocked a lot no matter how little it blew. Henrik had not yet seen the kitchen as he had been in bed most of the time. I took him down so he could see how we cooked our food. It rained so bad we cold not get back so we had to stay there 1 and one-half hours before we could. A large ship passed us in the afternoon. They said it came from Philadelphia.

Thursday, May 21st, 1857—
Got up at 5:30 a.m. did my morning chores as usual. There was almost no wind. Mother was better and was able to stay on upper deck. We got all the bedding out in the sun. Today was Henrik’s birthday. We were given out some provisions like rice, flour, oatmeal, peas and bread.

Friday, May 22nd, 1857—
Got up as usual at 5:30 a.m. The weather was fine and not much wind. We got some more things given us like potatoes and meat.

Saturday, May 23rd, 1857—Sketch of the Westmoreland
Got up at 5:30. I got no hot water for tea, as there was something wrong with the stove and had to get repaired. The wind blew a little from the east. The weather continued to be good. Later in the day it blew a little more. Towards evening the wind almost stopped altogether. We did not make very good speed. Two other ships followed us almost all day. One with two masts, one with three. The one with two masts made fairly good speed but the other we lost entirely. We had seen many ships coming and going.

Sunday, May 24th, 1857—
Got up at 5:15 a.m. The weather was wonderful. It was blowing some from the east and as we were going west it did not help us any. We seen a lot of fish swimming in front of the speakers. It was Sunday and we had meetings. Bro. Liljenquist and Bro. Kovey was the speakers. We had a wonderful time together. The meeting lasted from 2:00 to 4:30 p.m. In the evening we saw a lot of small fishing boats.

Monday, May 25th, 1857—
Got up at 5:15 a.m. There was hardly no wind and a thick fog was laying over the water. But as the sun rose higher it lifted, and by noon it was all gone. The wind was hardly blowing so we made poor headway.

Tuesday, May 26th, 1857—
Got up at 6:00 a.m. Sometimes it was not possible for all to use the stove so some had to wait their turn for hot food and tea and this day we could not use it. The weather was still calm and we did not make very good time.

Wednesday, May 27th, 1857—
Was glad to get up at 4:00 a.m. I cooked coffee and also served some to the cooks. The weather was good although we had a little fog. We passed a small boat. We were so close we could read the name Carolun on the side. We had much better wind for sailing and made better time. At this good speed we were promised to see land in a couple of days. We started to get our belongings together so when we got there we could know where our things were.

Thursday, May 28th, 1857—
I got up at 5:00 a.m. after a good night’s sleep. Bro. Gudmund came and told me there was a place on the stove for our teakettle. We all were busy cleaning and getting things ready as we expected to see land before night. We all got dressed and spruced up, to go up on deck. I was so happy mother felt fine and also dressed for the occasion. The weather was good and at 7:00 p.m. we lowered the anchors. We were to lay here till next morning before going into the harbor. We could see land on both sides of us. We had a meeting that evening and also some provisions given out.

Friday, May 29th, 1857—
[No entry for this day.]

Saturday, May 30th, 1857—
Got up at 5:00 a.m. The weather was good. We were still anchored. We could hardly wait to see the state of Philadelphia. At 10:00 a.m. the anchor was taken up. Two small boats were helping us to get in the harbor, one on each side. At 7:30 p.m. we again lowered the anchor as it was getting dark and was hard in the small stretch of water to get to the docks. It happened, an old man 82 died between 6 and 7 in the evening. He was from Vendsyssel. We seen many big and fine looking ships.

Easter Sunday, May 31st 1857—
Got up at 4:30 a.m. Today was Easter and never in my life had I seen such a wonderful Easter day. We were getting into the harbor fast. I got up on deck. I never will forget the most beautiful sight. I have never seen a more beautiful one. Those big beautiful buildings, the green meadows where cattle were out grazing, the green forest. It was all too wonderful for words. We landed at Philadelphia at 6:00 p.m. It had been very slow to get into the harbor, as the harbor is long and narrow. A few got to go into see the city and also to buy things needed. I sent with Bro. Jeppesen.

Nicolai Sorensen