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Laurs/Lauritz or Lars Mathias Christian Christensen (1847-1928): Biography

Based in large part on research carried out by various of his children and grandchildren, especially Virginia Christensen Keeler (1901-1970) for her book Some Christensen’s’ Who Came from Thy…, published by J. Grant Stevenson, Provo, Utah, 1969, this biography about Laurs/Lauritz or Lars Mathias Christian Christensen (1847-1928), hereafter referred to as Laurs, was compiled in September and October 2009 by W. Bart. Christenson, Jr., Provo, Utah. It was a fulfilling exercise.

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After encouraging the Saints of his day to earnestly engage in acquiring certain necessary divine attributes of perfection, the Apostle Peter counseled:

Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:
For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
. 1

In our own dispensation, the Prophet Joseph Smith added an additional caveat, namely: continue in right living and patient endurance, which eventually will lead to obtaining the more sure word of prophecy. (The more sure word of prophecy means a man’s knowing that he is sealed up unto eternal life, by revelation and the spirit of prophecy, through the power of the Holy Priesthood. 2) He counseled:

Then I would exhort you to go on and continue to call upon God until you make your calling and election sure for yourselves, by obtaining this more sure word of prophecy, and wait patiently for the promise until you obtain it, etc. 3

Certainly, as will be seen hereafter, Laurs and his eternal companion, Else Kathrine Andersen, sought so to do. And judging by what was accomplished and the spiritual heritage which they bequeathed their posterity, we have every reason to believe that they succeeded. Evidently, their ecclesiastical leaders shared this belief, too. 4

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The ancient sport of chariot racing is now enjoying a modern-day revival in Utah and the western United States. In chariot racing, compatibility of the horse team is paramount.

The secret to winning…is getting two horses that can run together. You can have two really fast horses, but if they’re not compatible, they won’t run together… [and then] there’s nothing you can do to make them work together as a team… I got two horses that just clicked. They started running together the second time they left the gate. 5

A successful marriage also requires a team of agreeable, complementary participants.

Laurs and Else were compatible marriage partners, and though they differed in many respects, they loved one another and worked well together.

Undoubtedly, Else was the more aspiring and educationally-minded of the two. Certainly it was she that was the driving force behind their children’s subsequent accomplishments as scholars and trained professionals. Their son, Albert (1872-1957), described some of her attributes:

My mother was a great person….She always knew just what to do….Our mother was a firm believer in not letting wrongs remain long unsettled….She made her [medical service] one of love and mercy….This love of education and improvement was one of her outstanding characteristics….Mother’s complete confidence in me and the rest of the children was a shield to us against dishonorable things….A happy childhood home and the memories of that home are worthwhile companions for a young boy….Contention or quarrelling was uncommon….While Father was a patient, kind and affectionate father, our mother was the life and soul of the home ….
I have been told by those acquainted with her in her young days that she was of medium stature, a very happy disposition, and a general favorite with her family and friends
. 6

On the other hand, Laurs contributed much to the success of the partnership, as well. A few selected quotations about him now follow:

Speaking of Laurs and his brother, granddaughter Virginia C. Keeler (1901-1970) recorded: Christen [Laurs’ older brother, was] the taller and heavier one…while Laurs [age 17], a bit shorter but with curly hair [was] far more handsome. 7He was full of wit and humor and such good company. 8

Concerning a more precise physical description of Laurs at maturity, he was not a big man. The following was taken from a passport application in 1910, at age 63: Stature: 5 feet 5 ¾ inches, Eng.; forehead: high-bulging at base; eyes: blue; nose: wide; mouth: medium; hair: blond; complexion: ruddy; face: medium. 9

His daughter, Elsie Kathrine (1875-1964), remembered: Our home was a happy and congenial one and Father was especially kind. He never lost his temper. Both Father and Mother were devout people, busy raising and providing for their large family but always giving help to neighbors or wherever help was needed, practicing honesty in their dealings with man and God. 10

Their foster daughter, Anna Theresia (Tresia) Carlson (1889- - ) recalled: … [He] used to run races with the children and walk on his hands to entertain them. …He used to perch them on his foot or knee and bounce them up and down…Sometimes he pulled in fun at the children’s fingers, one by one, as he tried to teach them the Danish names for each…Yes, Grandpa Laurs always seemed to have time for the children. 11

Granddaughter Virginia C. Keeler (1901-1970) noted other attributes: He was a hard worker, steadfast, dependable, and so very honest. Though naturally a somewhat quiet man, he possessed a happy disposition and a natural wit and sense of humor that helped to pull his family over many rough places along the way. He was extremely unselfish and gentle and kind—oh so kind! He never struck one of his children in anger and gave them but very little unnecessary advice. He was immaculate in his personal habits. He had a fine mind and was conservative and deliberate in his decisions and very practical; though at times he may have seemed a little slow in making up his mind. Indeed, Laurs was a splendid balance for a wife such as Else who was somewhat impetuous, impractical and determined—yet withal gifted with great vision, faith and dreams by which she oft was guided. 12

Accordingly, with these preliminary assessments in place, let’s now look at his life in a more event-oriented and chronological way.

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Lauritz Mathias Christian Christensen, was born 22 July 1847, in Kobberod, Gettrup Parish, Thisted, Denmark to Christen Christensen and his wife, Karen Lauritzdatter. He was initially christened at home on the day of his birth, and then again three months later at the parish church in the village of his nativity. 13 Confirmation into the Lutheran church came in 1862. 14 He was the second of ten children, which included two surviving sons and four daughters. 15

His father was a self-made, well-to-do farmer, the most successful one in the region. His mother, an attractive, sweet-natured woman with special spiritual inclinations, had been first in the family to open her door to the missionaries. At the time, she was pregnant with her eleventh child and was quite ill. Indeed, it was in order to assist frail Karen in her weakened condition that Else Kathrine Andersen, a recent convert to the Church from another locality, had been engaged as governess for the children. 16

As has been related elsewhere 17, eventually the entire family of Christen and Karen Christensen (all except their oldest son, Christen) joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (Laurs was baptized a member on 8 May 1865, in Kobberod, Thisted, Denmark. 18) Moreover, a double wedding also followed eleven months later, on 22 April 1866, in Aalborg, Denmark, which joined together Laurs M. C. Christensen and Else Kathrine Andersen and Lars C. N. Myrup and Maren Christensen, Laurs’ sister, just prior to the family’s departure for America. 19

They then made the arduous 52 day journey by sailing ship across the Atlantic Ocean to New York City, during which time mother Karen died and was buried at sea. 20 Proceeding by train and river boat amidst much persecution to the overland outfitting station in Wyoming, Nebraska, they then continued on by ox-drawn wagons for the next two and one half months, to finally arrive at their new home in Manti, Utah Territory. 21 The journey to the new world took nearly six and one-half months from the time they first departed the farmstead in Denmark. 22

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In Utah at last, but late in the year, it was mandatory that the two young couples, Laurs and Else and Lars and Maren Myrup secure dwelling places—as well as begin acculturating themselves to the new language and surroundings. So, they applied themselves with vigor. Moreover, with the Utah Black Hawk Indian War then in full swing, it was not long before both young men, as well as Christen Christensen were pressed into military service. 23, 24, 25

It was during this six month military obligation that Laurs had two harrowing experiences:

In the first instance, one day while assigned to guard the town herd grazing south of Manti, the horse he was riding became frightened. It reared up, and threw him off. But one of his feet remained caught fast in the stirrup. The horse began to run, dragging Laurs behind, and it looked like he would be dragged to death. However, his shoe gave way and he was released—bruised and scratched to be sure, but safe!
On another occasion, while transporting supplies alone by covered wagon and horse team from Manti to Ephraim, some six miles to the north, upon arriving a mile or so from his destination, he noted some horsemen rapidly approaching in a cloud of dust. It was soon obvious that they were Indians. Reacting quickly, he tied the lines to the wagon box or seat somehow and slipped down onto the wagon tongue between the then thoroughly frightened horses, trying to calm them and yet urging them on faster and faster in almost one and the same breath. Soon the Indians came within range, pulled their bows and let fly in his direction, piercing the wagon box cover and drivers seat over and over in a rhythmic tattoo of arrows. From his hidden, awkward position Laurs could also hear the arrows whizzing over the backs of the animals above his head. A merciful heaven must have been on guard that day, for he and the team reached the outskirts of Ephraim and safety, unscathed by the Red-men’s darts. Although Laurs was cramped, lame and in a state of shock, he recovered and was soon returned to his home and family again, safe and sound in the main. 26

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Earning a comfortable living was never easy for Laurs. There were reasons for this. For one thing, although bright and pleasant, he lacked a beneficial education. His father, being a self-made man, evidently felt that extensive training was not needful, and whereas he insisted that all of his children learn to work hard on the farm, he was not a friend of advanced learning. 27 Laurs and his two oldest siblings had each attended the free church-sponsored school in their area, from age eight to twelve as the law required, but nothing beyond. Consequently, other than farming and honest manual labor, he had no defined skills to offer. (As an aside, early on when he first came to Sanpete County, Laurs earned an interesting title for himself: He had gotten down to nothing but white shirts and had been forced to wear them to work in until more practical ones could be made him. Thus he gained for himself the title ‘Chris of the White Shirt’. 28)

Moreover, as will be shown at the end of this piece, it is known that Laurs died from complications of adult-onset diabetes mellitus contracted prior to the insulin and antibiotic eras. It is more than likely that this condition hampered his ability to work at full capacity, perhaps as early as the Mayfield United Order period in the late 1870’s when he was in his early 30’s. This can be inferred from a statement concerning his strength and stamina at the time, namely: While he could not do the heavy household work … [he was as] hard-working as his strength would allow…. 29 Thus, this untreated, unrelenting condition must certainly have taken its toll on his overall abilities.

Another definite obstacle was the status in which newly-arrived Scandinavian immigrants were held at the time: It was not popular in some areas of Zion, even in Sanpete, to be a Danish man or a Swede. In fact, a few of the early Danish converts in Sanpete County, and elsewhere, apostatized from the church because of shameful treatment accorded them by their English ‘brethren’. Likely none of these early English converts who may have prided themselves on their ‘royal’ descent from England’s great ‘William the Conqueror’ knew that this same William, Duke of Normandy, was a grandson of the early Danish Viking Chieftain, Rolf (Rollo in French) who more or less seized Normandy from the French king in 911 A. D. Is it not an advantage to know who one really is? 30

In any event, as already indicated, Laurs was a hard worker, honest and dependable. He basically made his living farming, raising some livestock, and freighting supplies to the various mining camps in the area. [He] was also away from the home at times, herding sheep, working on the railroad, freighting, etc., to bring in a little extra, but mostly he farmed on his forty acres or worked about the place.... 31

Consequently, along with his educationally-minded spouse, as can be seen from the record, he was insistent that his own children seek to obtain as much education as possible—in skill areas that had eluded him.

Furthermore, since they never enjoyed an overabundance of material possessions, they depended upon all they had. So, the loss of any important item could engender discouragement. However, again, Laurs and Else were a team, and encouraged one another forward.

On one such occasion, during the winter of 1880, in an especially economically trying time when there had been much sickness in the family and when the United Order experiment in Mayfield in which they were then participants was not working out well, Laurs lost two of the four valuable animals upon which his family was so dependant—the milk cow, and one of his oxen. The loss was devastating to him. Virginia C. Keeler (1901-1970) recounts what happened:

The disparaging voice of Laurs: ‘Let’s give it all up and go back to Denmark where we belong! I’m sick and tired of the never-ending struggle of it all. Ever since we left the Old Country we have had little else but grief, worry, toil and failure!’
Then the answering voice of the oft outspoken Else, weary with the burden of her tenth child, yet unborn: ‘I gave up my family, home, friends, all that I then held dear for the sake of the Gospel. I risked my life with you on the angry sea; I walked by your side over vast plains and rugged mountains, in the scorch of sun, the beat of wind and rain, the chill of snow; I held my ears to shut out the shrieks of murdering Indians and pounding of drums, as I bore your first sons; I have feared for my life and at times gone hungry; I have slaved and toiled with you, and born your many children—I have buried one of our own flesh and blood. Now if you think I am going to give it all up, as you suggest, and take our sons and daughters far away from the influence and strength and blessings of Zion to raise, because of an old dead cow, you are not the man I thought you to be! You may go—but you will go alone.’ And that ended it.
Discouragement can weaken body and mind and cause even the spirit to falter at times. Laurs too was a thoroughbred in every sense of the word. He also had given up much for the Gospel and almost everything for his wife and children. He had not only done his own work, trying to build and provide for his family, but of course had taken a great deal of the responsibility of the home while Else had been in training
[learning to be a midwife and medical practitioner, in Salt Lake City 32], and continuing to do so while she was acting as nurse and doctor. While he could not do the heavy house work [because of subsequently developing medical issues, evidently secondary to diabetes], he did more than his share in caring for the children…. He was faithful to the Church and his Priesthood, honest in his dealings with man and God, a kind, helpful and devoted husband and a wonderfully patient, understanding and loving father. Hard-working as his strength would allow, he was dependable as the coming of the night after day. He seldom complained and cast off most of his troubles with a shrug of his shoulders and a witty remark.
Can one think of Grandma Else without Grandpa Laurs? Nej, nej, for they belonged together. The thorns and thistles in our paths of life may retard our progress briefly. It is no disgrace to stumble o’er them. The important thing is that we rise again and go forward, even though bruised and torn, fighting our way along. It is not what one has to content with along the way of life but what one is able to endure and overcome that signals success. Laurs squared his shoulders again, yoked Tom up with the neighbor’s ox, put his hand to the plough and went forward with his farm work. Then Else gave birth to their tenth
[eighth] child33

Certainly, discouragement can come at times in all of our lives. On the other hand, Laurs was one who usually demonstrated determination and resolve. The following illustrative story about digging a well in 1887, after the family had moved to Gunnison in 1880, was related by his son Albert (1872-1957):

At first we used water from the open ditch the same as the neighbors. I well remember when my father arranged to have a well dug a little west of the old house and northwest of the new. He showed Mr. William Wasden where he desired the well to be, but Mr. Wasden wanted to be sure that the place selected was a place where water could be found, so he held in front of him a forked limb, one hand upon each prong and the main stick pointing directly in front of him. He walked over to the place where Father had located the site of the well. This was on a rather high area above the old home and the land sloped eastward from here. He said that the stick failed to indicate that there was water to be found there. He walked all over the lot to the north and whenever he got near to the north boundary the end of the stick would point, indicating (to him) the presence of water. Father went about his work. Other members of the family, including myself, were interested observers.
Finally Brother Wasden approached Father to render his decision. He said it would be useless to dig the well at the place indicated by him. After some discussion Father said he didn’t care where the water was, he wanted the well dug at the place he had suggested in the beginning. Brother Wasden protested, stating that there would be no water there. ‘I don’t care where the water is,’ Father repeated, ‘here is where I want you to dig the well!’ That finally settled the matter and Wasden, with apparent forebodings, started to dig the well as directed.
It was rather a slow process as it was necessary, after the first few feet, to dig through rock. In the course of weeks, however, Wasden had dug to about thirty feet when to his great amazement, almost consternation, water gushed forth in a veritable stream so that it became impossible to sink the well further. Wasden cleaned out the well as best he could and then was windlassed out of the hole with his tools. The well soon had some six to eight feet of water in it, ample for all of our domestic uses. That well served the family for as long as any of us lived there. As far as I know, it may still be there yet
. 34

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Laurs and Else lived in Sanpete County, Utah 35, throughout most of their lives. Their first residence was in Manti for three years, from November 1866 36, 37 to December 1869. 38 They then moved to Gunnison for five years, between January 1870 39 and January 1875. 40

Becoming part of a United Order experiment, they next lived in Mayfield for about five years, from January 1875 41 to July1880 42, following which they then relocated back to Gunnison. 43 Here they remained for the next nearly 29 years. (During their early years in Gunnison, they kept a boarding house. 44 It was also there, on 20 February 1882, at age thirty-five, that they both became naturalized citizens of the United States. 45, 46)

Thereafter, becoming actively engaged in family history research in 1907, it is known that they moved to Salt Lake City for a period of time to participate in temple ordinance work there. 47 However, in February 1909, they returned to Sanpete County, where they then resided in Manti to the end of their lives 48, faithfully serving in the Manti Temple.

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During their nearly 57 years together, Laurs and Else produced eleven children of their own and additionally raised two foster daughters. A listing of the children now follows:

Christian “I” was born 4 October 1867, in Manti, Sanpete, Utah. He married Caroline Larsen 28 December 1893, in Gunnison, Sanpete, Utah. He died 5 October 1917, near Lyman, Uinta, Wyoming.

Andrew “B” was second born, 6 June 1869, in Manti, Sanpete, Utah. He married Sarah Jane Bartholomew 1 July 1896, in Manti, Sanpete, Utah. He died 17 December 1931, in St. George, Washington, Utah.

Joseph “C” came next. He was born 7 March 1871, at Gunnison, Sanpete, Utah. He married Roxie Ellen Bartholomew 6 September 1893, in Manti, Sanpete, Utah. He died 23 July 1926, at Gunnison, Sanpete, Utah.

Albert “H” was fourth born. He entered the world at Gunnison, Sanpete, Utah, on 13 December 1872. He married Ellen Virginia Snow in Manti, Sanpete, Utah, on 26 September 1900. Upon her death, he later married Myrtle Farnsworth in St. George, Washington, Utah, 23 June 1920. He died 13 March 1957, at Provo, Utah, Utah.

Twins came next. Elsie Kathrine survived. She was born 8 March 1875, at Mayfield, Sanpete, Utah. She married Alma “C” Bartholomew 26 June 1901 at Manti, Sanpete, Utah, and died on 28 June 1964 in Provo, Utah, Utah.

Mary Karen (Elsie Kathrine’s twin sister) did not survive beyond her birth. She was born and died in Mayfield, Sanpete, Utah, on the same day, 8 March 1875.

Another daughter, Emma Eliza was also born in Mayfield, Sanpete, Utah, on 8 July 1877. She married Charles Peter Peterson 30 September 1903, in Manti, Sanpete, Utah, and died 4 September 1927, in Gunnison, Sanpete, Utah.

Louis “D” (Lars Peter), the fifth son, was eighth born, on 20 March 1880. He was also born at Mayfield, Sanpete, Utah. He married Sarah Florence Mellor 6 March 1901, in Manti, Sanpete, Utah, and died 6 February 1959 in Lyman, Uinta, Wyoming.

Two years later, another set of twins made their appearance. Arthur Mariuns was born 19 July 1882 in Gunnison, Sanpete, Utah. He married Amelia Jane Gledhill in Manti, Sanpete, Utah, on 3 February 1904, and died in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah, on 1 December 1932.

His twin sister, Martina Lauriette, was born and died in Gunnison, Sanpete, Utah on the same day, 19 July 1882.

The eleventh and last child born to the couple, another daughter was Elvena (Vena). She was born 27 March 1887 in Gunnison, Sanpete, Utah. She married George Thomas Clark on 14 August 1917, in Evanston, Uinta, Wyoming, and passed away on 5 July 1956, in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah. 49

As mentioned, they also raised two foster daughters:

Ada Lorena Madsen was born 14 March 1888, in Gunnison, Sanpete, Utah. Laurs and Else adopted her into their home on 26 May 1888, upon the death of her natural mother and raised her until she died, just shy of her ninth birthday, 3 January 1897, in Gunnison.

Anna Theresa (Tresia) Carlson was born 9 February 1889, in Fjarstad, Ostergotland, Sweden. Immigrating to the United States with her mother, but becoming an orphan at age nine with no one to care for her in mid-September 1897, she was taken in and raised by Laurs and Else as one of their children. She took the name Christensen as her own surname and remained with the family until she first married in 1911. 50

Laurs and Else received their endowments and were sealed in the Endowment House, in Salt Lake City, Utah, on 30 October 1871. 51 All of their younger children born after this sealing, of course, were “born in the covenant.” The three older sons, born before their parents’ sealing, were separately sealed 52; but neither foster daughter was sealed to them.

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As time went on and their children married and had children of their own, it appears that the greater family of Laurs and Else periodically got together at family gatherings. Granddaughter Edythe Christensen Robbins (1900-1991), daughter of son Andrew “B” (1869-1931) expressed fond memories of such gatherings—including one held on 22 July 1907, at which time 46 family members joined together to commemorate Laurs 60th birthday:

I recall wonderful family reunions at the old Christensen homestead in Gunnison among our beloved grandparents, the erect, aristocratic-looking Laurs Mathias and the stately patrician-in-homespun Else Kathrine, and the families of relatives. Their welcome seemed so genuine—with no exceptions. Grandmother C’s welcome came straight from the heart. It was honest and all enveloping! Anything she had was yours for the asking. The uncles would [both] proudly or shyly ask questions and tell us of many things. The aunts, less reticent, took us into their hearts and arms. They then proceeded to ‘kill the fatted calf’ or poultry; to bake unbelievably light breads, rolls and cakes; pick the choicest produce from their garden and bring out their special pride in pickles, jellies and jams. Ice was brought from the sawdust and a large freezer of ice cream was on the way. Need I give the amount of thick jersey cream and the number of fresh eggs that were poured into these makings? [This type of open-ended diet antedated the understanding of proper caloric intake as well as the discovery of insulin in 1923 by Banting and Best in the treatment of diabetes 53—complications of which led to Laurs’ eventual death.] Oh, these were the times of feasting, visiting and comparing notes for the adults; and for the children, a never-to-be-forgotten opportunity with cousins, more cousins—and double cousins. If the events resulted in a family group picture by a professional, as it did during at least two of these reunions 54, we today are all most grateful to have such records of those choice gatherings. 55

It wasn’t too long after the 60th birthday party celebration in 1907 that Laurs retired from day to day manual work. (Else had discontinued her public practice as a midwife, the forepart of 1893. 56) Concerning his last days of earning a livelihood, daughter Elsie Kathrine Christensen Bartholomew (1875-1964) recorded the following:

While Father could not do heavy work in his later years, he did his share of caring for the home whenever Mother was away. He held many positions of trust in early Gunnison. After the railroad came to the valley he was freight collector for a number of mercantile establishments, including the co-op store where he was also watchman for many years. He also hauled freight to Manti and other areas. He was a school trustee for years too.
Additionally, regarding the approbation of his ecclesiastical leaders as was noted at the beginning of this biography, she also recalled: ... in the early part of the twentieth century [he] was called to receive a special blessing in the Manti Temple because of his faithfulness in his calling in the priesthood. 57

After his retirement, he and Else began devoting their full time to family history research. Now the two of them could fully collaborate together on this project.

Else had kept up a fitful correspondence with her kinfolk in Denmark since her return from there [she had made a genealogy research trip to Denmark without Laurs in 1890 58] and Laurs had written to them also. He liked to write letters much better than Else and was a good penman. In spite of the fact that they usually requested some genealogical information when they wrote, little came back to them….The urge to know more of their relatives, especially their dead, was always with them. The death of an aunt here, an uncle there, a cousin married, a niece or nephew born—everything of the sort was set down quickly in their joint Temple Record Book as a source and reminder of future work to be taken care of in the temples of the Most High. 59

As indicated previously, they first removed to Salt Lake City in about 1907 to work in the temple there, and then in 1909 permanently moved to Manti. Here they resided for the rest of their lives, working in the Manti temple.

In July 1910, they made a genealogical trip together to Denmark, returning home some three months later in October. Financially, it was difficult for them, but they felt it was important to go. Virginia Christensen Keeler (1901-1970) recorded some interesting facts about the trip:

This should have been a fine trip for Laurs and Else since neither of them ever suffered from seasickness, having been raised to the lullaby rhythm of the sound of the sea. However, they were plagued by a shortage of money, doubtless having overspent a bit ‘putting on airs’ in Denmark that they could hardly afford; though it must have been well worth it to be able to impress their kinfolk there. If Else was inclined to fret about it, Laurs probably smoothed things over with a shrug and some comment such as: ‘Well, better to be poor and right than to be poor and wrong,’ having in mind their Danish relatives utter lack of interest in the Gospel, as well as their modest circumstances…. Upon docking in New York City, the two found it necessary to telegraph home for money with which to continue their westward journey… 60

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Living close to the land as they always had in the still largely agrarian society, and by maintaining a garden, fruit trees, and a few domestic animals—chickens, a milk cow, and a few sheep—they were able to satisfactorily provide for their daily needs. Accumulating many “material things and possessions” had never been a major priority with them.

Nevertheless, in 1917, at age 70, Laurs began receiving a monthly government pension based on his service in the Utah Black Hawk Indian War. 61 This stipend, perhaps coupled with occasional monetary help from their children, afforded them an extra financial surplus and allowed them to periodically visit their family and friends.

…Laurs and Else didn’t bury themselves in temple work entirely but succeeded in doing some of the other things they enjoyed. Else especially loved to visit her friends—and she had a host of them….
Grandmother Else not only visited all around Sanpete Valley but in Salt Lake and other places and it seemed that everywhere she went she found friends to talk to. As she progressed in years she abandoned the horse and buggy and took the train for her visits…. Some of Laurs’ and Else’s greatest joys in later years came from visiting their children and families

Byron Charles Peterson (1904-1985), son of Laurs’ and Else’s daughter, Emma Eliza Christensen Peterson (1877-1927) remembered the following about his grandparents:

At first they came by horse and buggy, and whenever we saw Grandma coming we’d go out and kill a big fat hen, for we knew she’d want to make Danish soup and dumplings right off…. I remember driving to Manti with Grandpa in a horse and buggy with a cow tied on behind. That was a long, slow trip. Another thing I remember about Grandpa is how much he liked fish of all kinds, but especially smoked herring. He always ate fish the Old Danish way, putting whole pieces into his mouth—bones and all. Soon the bones would come flying out either side of his mouth, looking like ‘cat’s whiskers’; but sometimes they got caught in his moustache and had to be untangled. Both Grandpa and Grandma came to help us thin beets and later to harvest potatoes, and of course Father paid them. If they came from Manti on the train they walked the mile from the station at Christenburg to our house.
Grandma expected to be minded and usually got her way. I remember one time Mother went away and left her to tend Ada and me, when we were quite young. Something we were doing bothered Grandma, perhaps it was playing in the water—I don’t quite recall now. Anyway, she cautioned us several times not to do it and the last time with an ‘or else’! But we continued to defy her until we could see she meant business. When she came toward us with that look in her eye, we ran. To our utter surprise she took after us and caught us and ‘ker-plunk’ her hand came down several times where it hurt the most. I’ve never seen anyone run that fast, especially an old woma
. 62

Else passed away of unknown but natural causes, on 19 November 1923, in Manti. 63 Of course, it was a difficult time for Laurs. Even so, he continued to live alone and to work in the Manti Temple.

But he was lonely—there was no doubt about that! Being naturally a rather quiet man himself, he missed Else’s humming at her work, the exuberance of her conversation—her small talk—her soul talk; and oh how he missed the comfort and strength of her presence. After all, they had enjoyed more than fifty-six and a half years together as man and wife—mostly happy years in spite of hardships; one didn’t put aside a thing like that without longing. But Laurs needed a companion—and he needed a housekeeper.
One day in the Manti Temple he happened to mention the latter to a widow whom he often met and visited with there. In fact the two seemed to be somewhat attracted to each other. Though Laurs was half way joking about it at the time, Sister Nielsen took him up on it right away and practically popped the question herself (or so her only daughter, Helga N. Larsen of Springville seems to think it happened.) Well why not?
So Laurs M. C. Christensen, widower of seventy-seven years, and Sorena Boleta Thyring Nielsen, widow of nearly sixty-seven, went to the County Court House at Manti and got a marriage license
64 and the same day, 21 November 1924 went into the Manti Temple and were married, for time only. 65 Laurs shaved off the moustache he had worn for many years and the new bride and groom had their pictures taken together.
Sorena made Laurs a good housekeeper and a splendid companion. She was of a very cheerful nature and at times even a regular ‘cut-up’. They got along wonderfully together. She was extremely attentive and good to him. She belonged to the Scandinavian Choir there in Manti and was also often featured on Danish programs as a singer and entertainer. Laurs was proud of her. She like Laurs, loved to dance
. [Interestingly, in Denmark, before immigrating to Utah, both Laurs and his father were considered the best of dancers. 66]
Byron tells of going to Grandpa’s house there on Union Street one day after they were married, but it appeared that no one was home. Yet the house was unlocked and he sensed that someone was there. He found Grandpa and Sorena in the basement dancing—they were having a fine time….
But time passes and people get old…. The long hard school of life began to close in on Laurs
[some three years after marrying Sorena]. He became ill of a diabetic condition which settled in his toes and gradually spread. He suffered a great deal for many months…His mind [was] as keen as lightening but his body [was] racked with pain…. 67

Laurs died 10 November 1928, in Manti 68, 69, and lies buried next to his eternal companion, Else, in the cemetery at Manti, Sanpete, Utah. 70

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Along with his parents, sisters and eventual wife, Laurs gave up much to join the Church, including a favored lifestyle and his beloved homeland. The new life that he embraced was not easy. There were hardships, persecutions, hard work, disappointments, discouragement, illness, and poverty.

And yet he remained true to the faith.

With his forever partner, he did what was asked and expected and secured an eternal reward.

There is much to be learned from his life.

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Sources of Information:

1. 2 Peter 1: 10-11.

2. Doctrine and Covenants 131:5.

3. Joseph Fielding Smith, compiler, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Deseret Book Company, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1976, p. 299.

4. See 1908 (age 61): Copy of an original letter to Laurs from the South Sanpete Stake Presidency, dated 10 January 1908, found in the Document section of this file.

5. Ray Grass, Sweet Chariot: Racers Love Speedy Sport, Deseret Morning News, 22 March 2006:

6. See Autobiography of A. H. Christenson, found under Else Cathrine/Kathrine Andersen/Christensen (1847-1923): Additional Family History, on this website.

7. Virginia C. Keeler (1901-1970), Some Christensen’s Who Came from Thy…, published by J. Grant Stevenson, Provo, Utah, 1969, p. 130; copy of book in possession of W. Bart. Christenson, Jr., Provo, Utah, or found at BYU-HBLL, Call # BX 8670.1 .C4623k.

8. Op. cit.: Virginia C. Keeler… p. 145.

9. See 1910 (age 63): United States Passport Application, submitted on 16 July 1910…, found under Documents of Laurs/Lauritz or Lars Mathias Christian Christensen (1847-1928), on this website.

10. Op. cit.: Virginia C. Keeler… p. 356.

11. Op. cit.: Virginia C. Keeler… p. 356.

12. Op. cit.: Virginia C. Keeler… p. 250.

13. See 1847 (birth): Record of Laurs' birth and christening (at the top of the page) in the Gettrup, Thisted, Denmark, Parish church (Lutheran), 22 July 1847…,found in the Document section of this file.

14. See 1862 (14+): Laurs' Lutheran confirmation in Gettrup, Thisted, Denmark, 27 April 1862 …, found in the Document section of this file.

15. See Christen Christensen (1817-1899) in the World Connect section, on this website.

16. Op. cit.: Virginia C. Keeler… pp. 130-144.

17. See Else Cathrine/Kathrine Andersen/Christensen (1847-1923): Additional Family History, on this website.

18. See 1865 (age 17+): Laurs' L.D.S. baptism in Kobberod, Thisted, Denmark, 8 May 1865…, found in the Document section of this file.

19. See 1866 (age 19): The marriage of Laurs and Else in Aalborg, Denmark, 22 April 1866…, found in the Document section of this file.

20. Op. cit.: Virginia C. Keeler… pp. 183-184.

21. See multiple entries under 1866 (age 19): 1866 Abner Lowry Wagon Company…, found in the Document section of this file.

22. Op. cit.: Virginia C. Keeler… p. 218.

23. Op. cit.: Virginia C. Keeler… pp. 221-222, 226.

24. See 1867 (age 19+): Affidavit Concerning Laurs' Service in Indian Wars Within the State of Utah and of Service Relating Thereto, 1 May 1867 to 1 November 1867 Militia records…part 1…, found in the Document section of this file.

25. See 1867 (age 19+): Affidavit Concerning Laurs' Service in Indian Wars Within the State of Utah and of Service Relating Thereto, 1 May 1867 to 1 November 1867 Militia records…part 2…, found in the Document section of this file.

26. Op. cit.: Virginia C. Keeler… pp. 227-228.

27. Op. cit.: Virginia C. Keeler… p. 140.

28. Op. cit.: Virginia C. Keeler… p. 250.

29. Op. cit.: Virginia C. Keeler… p. 289.

30. Op. cit.: Virginia C. Keeler… p. 534.

31. Op. cit.: Virginia C. Keeler… p. 315.

32. Op. cit.: See Else Cathrine/Kathrine Andersen/Christensen (1847-1923)

33. Op. cit.: Virginia C. Keeler… pp. 288-289.

34. Op. cit.: See Autobiography of A. H. Christenson, found under…

35. See Composite Internet maps of Utah... found in the Photograph section of this file.

36. Op. cit.: See multiple entries under 1866 (age 19): 1866 Abner Lowry Wagon Company

37. Op. cit.: Virginia C. Keeler… p. 218.

38. See 1903 (age 56): Abstraction of Gunnison Ward Records, Sanpete, Utah…, part 2…, found in the Document section of this file.

39. See 1903 (age 56): Abstraction of Gunnison Ward Records, Sanpete, Utah

40. Op. cit.: Virginia C. Keeler… p. 259.

41. Op. cit.: Virginia C. Keeler… p. 259.

42. Op. cit.: Virginia C. Keeler… p. 290.

43. Op. cit.: See Autobiography of A. H. Christenson, found under…

44. Op. cit.: Virginia C. Keeler… p. 360.

45. See 1882 (age 35) Copy of the Certificate of Citizenship issued to Laurs in the Territory of Utah on 20 February 1882..., found in the Document section of this file.

46. Op. cit.: See 1910 (age 63): United States Passport Application...

47. Op. cit.: Virginia C. Keeler… p. 375.

48. Op. cit.: See 1903 (age 56): Abstraction of Gunnison Ward Records, Sanpete

49. See Laurs (Lauritz or Lars) Mathias Christensen (1847-1928) in the World Connect section, on this website.

50. Op. cit.: Virginia C. Keeler… pp. 669-674.

51. See 1871 (age 24): Extraction of 30 October 1871 Endowment House Sealing Records…, found in the Document section of this file.

52. See 1889 (age 42): Extraction of 15 November 1889 Manti Temple Sealings … three oldest sons sealed..., found in the Document section of this file.


54. See 1907 (age 60): Laurs M. C. and Else Kathrine Christensen Family reunion picture..., found in the Photograph section of this file.

55. Op. cit.: Virginia C. Keeler… p. 369.

56. Op. cit.: Virginia C. Keeler… p. 340.

57. Op. cit.: Virginia C. Keeler… p. 356.

58. See Else Cathrine/Kathrine Andersen/Christensen (1847-1923): Biography, on this website.

59. Op. cit.: Virginia C. Keeler… p. 375.

60. Op. cit.: Virginia C. Keeler… p. 399.

61. See 1917 (age 70): Copy of the original pension certificate granted to Laurs for his service in the Utah-Black Hawk Indian War, in 1866…, found in the Document section of this file.

62. Op. cit.: Virginia C. Keeler… pp. 408-409.

63. See Documents of Else Cathrine/Kathrine Andersen/Christensen (1847-1923): 1923 (age 76) Death Certificate for Else who died 19 November 1923..., on this website.

64. See 1924 (age 77): Marriage License for Laurs and Mrs. Sorena T. Nielsen, at Manti, Sanpete, Utah, 21 November 1924..., found in the Document section of this file.

65. See 1924 (age 77): Extraction of 21 November 1924 Manti Temple Sealings for the Living Records, showing Laurs (Lars) and Sorena … married for time…, found in the Document section of this file.

66. Op. cit.: Virginia C. Keeler… p. 155.

67. Op. cit.: Virginia C. Keeler… pp. 459-461.

68. See 1928 (age 81): Death Certificate for Laurs, who died 10 November 1928..., found in the Document section of this file.

69. See 1928 (age 81): Obituary notice for Laurs taken from the 16 November 1928 edition of the Manti Messenger..., found in the Document section of this file.

70. See 1928 (age 81): Laurs' burial location in the cemetery at Manti, Utah..., found in the Document section of this file.

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