LIFE STORY OF HANS CHRISTIAN DAVIDSON
Hans Christian Davidsen was the son of Hans Davidsen, who was the son of Christian Davidsen, who was the son of David Jørgensen. He was born on the peninsula of Kegnæs,per Alsen Island in the Ducy of Schleswig Holstein in North Prussia, (Denmark, it is also referred to as Aabenraa-Sønderborg amt, or district), on March 28, 1820. On November 2, 1852 he married Miss Anne Maria Jensen. Five years later on the 16th of November he was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, through Ivan N. Iverson, missionary of the church.
Anne Maria Jensen of Mommark, Lysabild church district, was born February 14, 1828.
Mr. and Mrs. Davidson lived in Mommark, home town of Mrs. Davidson for six years after their marriage. During this time two children were born to them, Mary and Hans.
Mr. Davidson was a draftsman, drawing maps and sketches of land. In this way he was able to have a home of his own and provide well for his wife and family so that they lived happily and comfortably.
Shortly after their baptism and uniting with the church, their people and relatives became angry with Mr. and Mrs. Davidson and turned against them because they wanted to give up their home in Mommark to go on what seemed a foolish trip filled with many sufferings and hardships, to make their home in a far away country that they knew but very little about.
Not withstanding the fact that their people did not want them to go, Mr. and Mrs. Davidson made arrangements soon after their baptism to leave for America on the first boat carrying emigrants. It was not until the following year that they learned of a ship that was to leave Liverpool, England for American, transporting Scandinavian emigrants.
What property and furnishings they could not sell they gave away and left immediately for Liverpool. There they made their departure for American, setting sail on Monday, March 22, 1858, on the ship John Bright. They took with them just what food and clothing needed until they reached their new home across the sea. They helped make up a party of emigrants of about ninety Scandinavians under the direction of Ivan N. Iverson. While on the ocean their supply of drinking water, which was boiled and stored in forty gallon barrels, ran short and because of this many suffered badly and some died. After six weary weeks of tossing and shifting about on the water they arrived in New York on May 8, 1858. From there they began another long and toilsome journey to Iowa City. Here they remained for a period of six weeks. Resting themselves and preparing for the longest and most dangerous part of their journey, west across the plains. The oxen, cattle and other stock were turned out upon the hills and mountains to feed.
Mrs. Davidson led Captain Iverson’s horse and cart while she herself walked the entire distance, over a desert waste of sagebrush, sand and rocks, moving steadily into a wild uncharted country. H.C. Davidson took his turn with the other men, herding and standing guard at night. When they camped in the evening, they drove wagons and carts into circle formation, the tongues on the outside and the fore wheel of each cart or wagon locked in a rear wheel of the one in front of it. Both man and beast were made to stay inside the enclosure for protection against the marauding Indians.
At times it was difficult to find a camp with sufficient grass and feed in the enclosure to graze the cattle and stock, then it was necessary to stake some of the stock outside the circle with vigilant guard.
All the wagons and carts carried their own water tanks and barrels, usually lashed to the outside, with buckets and tubs and kettles swung from the end-gate or axel. They did all their cooking, eating and sleeping inside of the circle. Frequent night attacks were made upon the caravan by the Indians, throughout their long journey, but the men pretty well stood their ground with their guns and crude barricade. After every evening meal the company always united in prayer to thank God and ask Him for their safe deliverance and guidance along the trail to their destination.
The journey lay along the Platte River to the North Platte, then along close to the Sweetwater, following that to its head. When the rivers were left behind, mountain streams and springs were found from time to time. Never was there a time when the caravan was more than ten miles from drinking places. Barrels and kegs on the wagon sides provided ample reserves between these waterholes.
On one occasion Davidson turned back on the trail, and traveled one whole day, a possible fifteen miles to recover a hatchet that had been overlooked at the last camp. He was obliged to swim the Platte River to secure it, and swim back again carrying the hatchet between his teeth, then doubling his efforts in order to catch up with the ever moving caravan.
The women who came on the long journey were not afraid to live the rough life of pioneers nor did they go about their daily tasks and privations with any reluctance. Every struggle, sorrow or accident, they considered God’s will as they passed slowly over the rude paths beset with hunger and risk toward the vision of a better country. To the assemblage of men busy with the hard earned rewards of the day, they brought the three sterling qualifications of endurance, faith, gentleness and home with the nurture of children. Due to the fact that the children were distributed among the wagons to equalize the loads and care, the mothers seldom saw them except at morning and night.
And it was, while traveling thus that Mrs. Davidson led Captain Iverson’s horse and cart across the plains while she walked, finally reaching Salt Lake City in September, Monday the 20th, 1858. After a brief stay in Salt Lake City, they traveled southward with Captain Iverson to Battle Creek, now know as Pleasant Grove, where his home was located.
The first dwelling place of Mr. and Mrs. Davidson was in a cellar given them by Mr. Iverson. The Davidson family endured a very severe winter the same year in their cellar-home. Many times they had to go to bed to keep from freezing to death. Mr. Davidson’s heels were frozen and became swollen and raw, with sores the size of dollars on them.
The next spring Mr. Davidson worked hard, and received one ham valued at fifteen dollars on one occasion, and by careful portioning of it, the ham lasted them all summer. He cut hay for the first cow they had after coming to Utah. In the summer when she was dry they turned her on the mountain to feed, but she died.
During the time the Davidson family lived in Pleasant Grove, four children were born: Lorenzo, Bell, Amasa and Sara. The latter, born September 9, 1864, died at the age of six months, eleven days. Mr. and Mrs. Davidson were very poor while living in Pleasant Grove and when the second child was born they had no clothing for it. A neighbor lady called to see Mrs. Davidson and seeing the destitute condition of the family, went to a daughter, who had previously lost her child, and they immediately brought some of the baby’s clothes to her.
The fall after the baby Sarah died (1864), Mr. Davidson borrowed old man Bacon’s new wagon to haul hay to Salt Lake to sell. He had made several trips previously, before this time. There were two roads at the point of the mountain, and Mr. Davidson was on the upper road with two yoke of oxen hitched to his wagon. The head team somehow became unhitched, exciting the rear team. They became unruly, the wagon tongue slipping out of the ring in the yoke and Mr. Davidson, wagon, hay and oxen rolled off the dug-way, landing at the foot of the mountain near Jordan River. Mr. Davidson was badly injured and was brought home late that night. One ox came home later with a jaw bone broken. The other three had been killed. Mrs. Davidson fed the crippled ox mush, using a long handled wooden spoon to do so.
Flax was raised quite extensively during the year of 1864 at American Fork, where Davidson worked and received flax for his pay. He and his wife made ropes, kite strings, candle wicks and shoemaker’s thread from it. Mr. Davidson made the rope that was used to raise the first flag at Pleasant Grove, Utah.
Davidson became acquainted with Peter Godferson, Sr. who urged him to sell out in Pleasant Grove and move down to Mt. Pleasant in Sanpete County. The Davidson family did so in 1864, buying a farm of twenty-seven acres of Godferson in the North Field, at Birch Creek.
Due to Davidson’s ambitious nature, when he left Pleasant Grove he was able to pay for his farm in full, $1,000.00 in all; some in money, but the biggest part was in stock. Later he bought the home and lot now owned by Andrew Norman, in Mt. Pleasant (1932) which was closer into town. At the time of his purchase, the place had a small log house with one room and a rock cellar on it.
While living here, five children were born to them; twins, Sarah and Ephraim, another baby girl dying at birth and Lucinda and Joseph.
One Sunday afternoon, a small band of Indians came and made an attempt to take Bell away with them. A neighbor, Rastmus Mickelson was sent for help and in the meantime Bell was hid until the Indians left.
In the years 1876-1877, during which time E.A. Day was teaching in Mt. Pleasant, Davidson, who was also an astronomer, was asked to lecture to his pupils. His talks and illustrations proved very interesting and beneficial. Mr. Davidson was always eager and willing to be of help at any time. In another instance he was the means of S.H. Allen becoming the doctor that he was. He loaned money to him, enabling him to acquire the necessary education for his vocation.
Lorenzo and Amasa Davidson attended the first Presbyterian school, now known as Wasatch Academy, founded here in 1875 by Dr. Duncan J. McMillan. The school was first conducted in an old dance hall which was converted by McMillan into a school and church. This building still stands on Main Street as one of the land marks of the early pioneer days, and is now the meeting hall of the Masonic Lodge.
They moved to Birch Creek in 1879 and lived there until Mrs. Davidson died, May 2, 1886, after which they moved back into town. The farm was sold to James C. Meiling of Mt. Pleasant. Davidson remarried a few years later to a widow from Ephraim.
During these early years, there was no dentist of course, so Mr. and Mrs. Davidson did their best to take one’s place and pulled teeth for people, using the old fashioned turn-keys, which we still have with the relics. Mr. Davidson was also the first printer in Mt. Pleasant, and did job printing up until the time of his death in 1891, making him seventy-one years old.
We all know the long trek across the plains was anything but a pleasure trip – surely no picnic – for these pioneers, but it is hard to realize the actuality of the dangers and hardships with which they had to put up. On they came to an unknown wilderness, with but little food and no homes, with starvation and massacre ever threatening. These intrepid people did not give up but fought on, conquered a wilderness, and gave us our towns and cities, the conveniences of which we enjoy today. Can we sufficiently appraise the great, splendid service our pioneers have rendered? May the good God give us a determination to be more like them in spirit, thrift and industry. We need more of their dauntless courage to face the ever present trials and hardships surrounding us in our present day and age.
The IGI on the computer in "Family Search" has Hans being born March 20, 1820 in Schleswig, Holstein,, Germany, and his baptism as November 16, 1858 just a year later than what I have from my family records. Ann Buhr