Pioneer Day is coming up this week (July 24th) and I already mentioned that we had a chance to celebrate yesterday with the parade. Today I hopped onto FamilySearch.org and clicked back through the generations on my pedigree chart until I reached a few of my pioneer ancestors that came across the plains to Utah in the mid-1800's.
I love that Family Search provides a place for the sharing of photos, histories, and stories. I snagged one of those histories and thought I would share it today. I've never read about Rebecca and I have to say that she has a very interesting start to her story.
Rebecca Christiana Friis (my great-great-great-grandmother) was born in Valbe near Copenhangen, Denmark on July 11, 1818. Her parents, Casper Gottlob Friis and Rosine Kristina Konig, were both natives of Denmark.
In fact, her father owned a large estate in Denmark and was one of the nobility. Casper had a young Swedish man, Johannes Svenssen, working for him as a gardener. He and Rebecca fell in love and were married. This was contrary to the wishes of the parents of Rebecca and they disowned her. (Doesn't this sound just like a book or movie?!)
The young couple lived in Denmark and struggled for a livelihood. They had two children -- a girl, Emma Elisa and a boy, Frithiof Emmanuel. At some point they met the Mormon missionaries. Sadly, Johannes died in February 1853 in Fredriksborg, Denmark. A few months later Rebecca was baptized and joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
She made plans to go to Utah with her two small children. While crossing the ocean her precious baby boy died. Once she reached America she crossed the plains - walking - with a pioneer company. She and her daughter arrived in Utah in 1854.
Within a year she met and married Jens Peter Andersen in Salt Lake City on February 23, 1855. (Jens had also joined the church in his homeland of Denmark and had also lost a child while crossing the Atlantic with his first wife. The wife died soon after they arrived in Salt Lake.) While still in Salt Lake thier first child, James Peter (my great-great-grandfather) was born on November 28, 1855. Hmm, if I do the math that is exactly 9 months and 5 days after their wedding date. ;)
Rebecca's history says that at that time she and Jens suffered much for want of food as the grasshoppers had taken their crops.
In 1856 they moved to Ephraim and 4 children were born. Rebecca learned to do many things common to frontier life - such as making soap and candles, spinning and dyeing yarn for clothing. She did the sewing for her family and other fine needlework. Remember, she came from a family of nobility in Denmark and lived on a large estate. I wonder how different her life was back then and if it was difficult to live and work as a pioneer in a new, undeveloped territory. She obviously made the best of it and learned what she needed to do to take care of her family.
In 1863 they moved to Glenwood, Utah (Sevier County). Her youngest child died while living there.
They were in Glenwood just a short time before the Indians drove them out. They returned to Ephraim where they lived for the rest of their lives.
Rebecca endured many hardships during her life, but at no time did she ever complain. She was a lady, kind loving wife and mother, and she lived up to ideals of right, and died as she had lived, a true and faithful Latter-day Saint on November 24, 1866. She left three small children.
What a great lady - and to think of all the places that life took her: living as nobility in Denmark, being disowned by her family, crossing the Atlantic and losing a child, walking across the plains to Utah, enduring hunger, being driven out by Indians . . . . this truly is the stuff of novels and movies.
Amid the hardship she did not complain and she remained a lady. I love that. What a great example and I'm glad to have her in my pioneer heritage!