Monday, January 13, 2014
Today at DUP (Daughters of the Utah Pioneers) I get to give a little history on one of my ancestors.
I am going to talk about this fellow, Jorgen Christiansen Smith. He is my great great great grandfather.
He had a very interesting life, I think it was pretty rough as well.
He was born in Prussia in 1823 on a country farm as the son of a tenant farmer for a rich German landlord named Smidt (Smith.) He went to school and was drafted into the Danish Army. He had to fight in a war between Denmark and Prussia, as a member in the Danish Army, which means he fought against his brothers and cousins.
My heart goes out to him, considering my fascination with the American Civil War where brother and cousins fought each other. One of his brothers was killed, and he always felt badly about it and hoped it wasn't his bullet.
Growing up as a poor serf boy, when he heard the Mormon missionaries talk about America and the building of Zion there with all of the wonderful freedoms and liberties he couldn't imagine, he and his first wife were baptized and headed to the United States.
This picture is of him and his third wife, my great great great grandmother, Mette Marie Villadsen Smith. She had a great story as well. She was born in Denmark as a set of triplets in 1841.
Her parents could not care for her, so she was raised by a wealthy family in the area and was never allowed to see or speak of her real parents, family, and home. She was baptized and left at the age of 17 for the United States, so that tells my dramatic mind that her life wasn't so great living on a large Danish manor.
This photo was taken at a Blackhawk War reunion. Jorgen and Mette are the two in the center.
Mette was Jorgen's third plural wife and eighteen years younger than he was. There are some very colorful stories of living in a polygamist marriage that have been recorded in Jorgen's life, and my heart goes out to her and the other wives as well. Their story was not a happy story. Living in poverty, moving multiple times, losing many children, sharing a house and husband, and all the other hardships they had to endure makes me grateful for the simple, easy life I lead.
There is one quote that I love that makes me giggle by Jorgen:
"I am sure lucky and fortunate to have tree Danish vimmens for vives, but one would have been enough."
I hope my little report on Jorgen goes well today, and that he might be pleased with the information available to present. It is a bit unfair that one entire lifetime of 85 years is condensed into a few pages of words. There is so much more that we will never know.
I also need to bind these two little quilts today. Confederate Stars and Bars. I love how they turned out. They are for the Fort Douglas Military Museum's Living History Detachment Inaugural Dinner this weekend. That's a mouthful. They are gifts for the two outgoing commanding officers of our civil war group. They led us through a great 2013 reenacting year.
Oh, and I told Matt I would make him a cherry pie. I need to go get busy.