I love pioneer stories, but have a strong preference for ones I have not heard before.  I thought I would share one from my family:

Nicolai Sorensen came from Soro, Denmark where he (like most of the rest of the people, I would guess) farmed.  In the summer of 1854, two Mormon Elders, Christian Daniel Fjeldsted (from Logan) and Ola Nilson Liljenquist (from Sweden), started holding meetings in a neighbor’s house.  Two of Nicolai’s sons attended these meetings, which led them to reading the Bible, which made them believe that the elders were telling the truth.  They were baptized the following year, with various members following their lead; Nicolai was baptized in September 1855.  None of their extended family accepted the gospel, and Nicolai withdrew his children from school as their conversion had caused some contention in the neighborhood.

A year later, Nicolai sold his farm and by 1857, headed west to gather with the Saints.  The family started by steamship and took 7 weeks to cross the Atlantic.  They then took trains to Iowa City, where they got wagon and oxen.  I suppose their passage was quite typical, except for one incident which occurred in Nebraska.

As this group traveled the year after the Willie-Martin handcart companies, much care was taken NOT to be delayed.  When a young boy went missing, the wagon company was not stopped to search, all travellers committed to travel west.  All except Nicolai, who left the company and his family to search for the boy on his own.  He eventually found the young boy some distance back, asleep in the crook of a tree; Nicolai and the boy headed back after the company, rejoining them where they had camped for the night.  I am sure the gratitude from the boys’ family was great, but perhaps not less than his own familiy’s relief at Nicolai’s safe return.

A leader of the wagon company came to thank Nicolai and reportedly said: “Ask of the Lord that which your heart desires and it will be granted unto you.”  I can imagine many things that might be the “desires” of a poor immigrant’s heart. but Nicolai answered: “Never to be separated in this life from my wife, Malena.”  The then 57-year-old Nicolai obviously had real obstacles to this goal: a treacherous journey, unknown new home, and Malena’s own poor health.  Yet 30 years later, on March 30, 1887 Malena died from illness and only after completeing some paperwork to clean up his affairs, Nicolai lay down in his bed and died that same afternoon.  They were buried in the same coffin in Mendon cemetery, Utah.

Magdelena & Nicolai Sorensen


What pioneer stories are hiding in your life?