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HISTORY OF JOHN CHRISTIAN LARSEN


Short History of my father as he told it to me Dec. 26, 1933 at my home in Filmore -
(Hazel)

Original Handwritten History

I , (John C. Larsen son of Christian John Larsen and Barbara Olsen Larsen)  was born 
at West Weber January 13, 1855 in a willow house.  The house was made  by driving
stakes in the ground and then the willows were woven in and out  to make the walls. The
roof was of dirt. From Weber we moved to Spring City,  ( Ephraim), Sanpete County.
We lived in a log house and it was so cold the bread would freeze as hard as
ice in the house.  The furniture was very crude.  The bed was three poles fastened to the
wall and then braided across with rawhide.  I wore home-spun clothes that my mother
spun. My hat was braided from straw. Mother soaked the straw and then braided it into a
hat.  My mother taught me how to spin as well as braid hats.  We used to tell lots of ghost
stories and delighted in frightening one another at night.  My Brother Brigham and I saw
a wonderful mirage when we were still small boys.  We saw an army of men fighting in
the sky. This was at the time of the Civil War This happened in Spring City where we
were then living.  My first school was in a log school house.  Our seats were rough slabs. 
The room had a fireplace at one end. We wrote on slates held on our knees.  I  had a Blue
Back Speller and the Wilson Reader.  We took a great pride in reading, writing, and
spelling.  Sometimes we would write love letters to our favorite girl and if we were
caught, we were punished; perhaps whipped or stand bent over with our finger on a nail. 
The last school I attended was at Logan,  Utah in 1875 (The Brigham Young Academy)
under Miss Ida Cook (after whom Ida Nash was named).
When I had reached the age of between 6 and 7 years I passed through a very severe spell
of sickness and I was told by my mother that for three days she had considered me dead
and had commenced to prepare my burial clothes.  I recovered.
When about 10 years old, I took part in the Black Hawk War, “blowing the bugle”.  I was
reared on a farm and learned to do all kinds of farm work.  Being the oldest of a family of
9 children. 3 girls and 6 boys, I had to drive the oxen while my father plowed. The first
horse I rode was an ox.  When father used to plow, I drove the oxen and I had no shoes
I was bare footed and I would cry because the wire grass hurt my feet.  When I was a
small boy I was nearly drowned in the Sandwich River.  In1868 my father left Spring
City and moved his family to Logan,  Cache county. I was still a young boy.
I was about 13 years old when I went with my father to work on the railroad.  I drove an
ox team 10 miles each day to haul water for the animals and culinary purposes.  I was the
only boy on the works and I got so tired at times I played sick to keep from going to
work.   I used to work in the canyon a lot.  When a young man, I hauled out lots of wood,
lumber, posts, and rock out of a green canyon on a bob-sleigh in very deep snow.  I
helped build the road up Logan Canyon.  I was then 17 years old.  The rock from green
canyon was used for the building of the Logan Temple and Tabernacle.  I helped build
the road up Logan Canyon.  I laid the first tie on Utah Northern Railroad.  I was then
17 years old.  Ralph Smith and I did the first day's work on the Logan Tabernacle.  I
helped dig the foundation of the Logan Temple. All work was donated and I gave $10.00
on the temple. I remember the first engine on the railroad.  It was called the John W.
Young.  They used wood instead of coal for power.  It had to be pushed up the hill. I
remember being in church in the Second Ward at Logan. Pretty, brown-eyed
Susannah Titensor came into the church.  This thought came to me, "That pretty
little girl is going to be my wife. "  I took her home from church. and she did become my
wife. I didn't sleep much that night.  We were married by Wm. Preston at his home Feb.
7, 1877 in the presence of Joseph Morrell and Mary Ellen Titensor ( my wife’s
sister.)  We later went to the Endowment House where we were sealed.  We went
to Salt Lake City in a covered wagon in company with Chris Peterson & lady and
Joseph Knowles and lady.  We had our baby son eleven weeks old with us. There were
three Endowment houses, one at Saint George, one at Box Elder and one in Salt Lake
City.  We built us a little two-roomed frame house in Logan on Center Street, near the 0.
S. L. depot.  The home still stands.(That’s  where Ida Larsen Nash was born)  My lovely
little wife  went with me a lot when I hauled the material in the canyon to get material for
our first home. In 1881 we moved to Cove, a town fifteen miles north of Logan, to a farm
and built a three room house.  There was nothing on the place but sage brush and snakes.
I never saw so many snakes.  Through hardship and plenty of work, we made a beautiful
modern country home with many shade trees, a large fruit orchard and grass everywhere
and berries of all kinds. (The Larsen home was torn down in the late 1980’s, and another
modern home was built in its place)  I finally owned four farms.  One in Weston, Idaho,
one in Lewiston, Idaho (where the Lewiston Sugar Factory now stands), one in Franklin,
Idaho, and one in Richmond and one in Cove, Utah. Farming and dairying were my
occupations.
     I   was ordained a high priest and Bishop of Cove Ward in Nov. 27, 1882, by William
B. Preston. I was then 27 years old.  I felt a great responsibility placed upon me.  I served
as Bishop of Cove 34 1/2 years. My first councilors were Andrew Allen and Edward
Kingsford, and later John Esklinson and then later, Joseph Allen and Alma Hendricks.
I did the first day’s work on the Cove Meeting House.
On November 24, 1881 I married my second wife Mary Ellen Titensor in 1882 in the
Endowment House by Daniel H. Wells.  He also sealed my father and mother. Eight
children were born to us.  My two wives were sisters and we get along very fine as two
families, sometimes living in one house.  Later, I built a nice modern home for my
second wife, Ella. (He married Emma Jane Howland Comish, sister to Martha Howland
Nash, after Emma’s husband died, leaving her with nine children.  Her husband died in
1882, and they married in 1887.  They had one child, named Newel H. Comish) 
From then on I had officers on my trail for having a second wife.  One day I was in the
stable which was near the road, when two officers drove up.  I had no time to hide.
I lay flat in the manger.  They  collared my oldest son and passed the stable and went on
to the house but they never searched the stable.  Welston was one of the  officers.
Egarton  from Ogden came to the  home one day looking for me. My first wife Susannah
was there alone with a very sick child - Reuben. (John with a broken leg.)  We had only
one room. He stayed there in the room for hours, frightening the sick child  and annoying 
my wife. Many a time your Mother has heard the door knob turn in the night when she
and her small children were alone. Susannah went through many frightening experiences
for my sake.  One day my councilor and  I  were sitting by the window at my desk
working on the ward books.  Once I looked up and there were the two officers.  I knew
they had seen me, but not my councilor.  Luckily we both wore beards.  I jumped up and
rushed up stairs. He slipped into my chair. I barely made the top of the stairs when they
entered.
I didn't have time to go through my little trap door into a closet I had for hiding . They
addressed my counselor saying, “This is Mr. Larsen I suppose.”  He answered  by saying,
“No, I am his clerk.”   That was a close call. These are just a little of underground days 
This is just one of many experiences I had trying to keep out of sight.  I finally gave
myself up, had a mock trial  and paid $300 to Judge Goodwin.  West went blind,
McClellan was shot, and Irwin dropped out of sight.  These men were after the
polygamists.    I was called to Canada and was getting ready  to go when Apostle Merrill
stopped me and said we need good men here as well as in Canada.  I have stood in the
face of a lot of funny things.  The worst has never been told.  Issac Morley a patriarch
said to my mother when I was a little boy, "Take good care of this boy, he has a great
deal of work to do.” I was baptized by my father when I was 8 years old and later took an
active part in all the priesthood quorums and organizations.  I always worked hard. When
John went on his mission in the Southern States he sent home for $5. 00.  I knew not
where it was coming from. We prayed about it. I happened to put my hand in my vest
pocket and pulled out $5. 00; I have no recollections of putting it there.
I moved to Logan after I was released from being Bishop (1917).  My first wife had
lived in Logan a number of years making a home for  her children and my second
wife's children going to school there.  Since living in Logan I have done considerable
temple work.  Also home missionary work.  I am now a high priest and temple
worker.  I have sent four of my children on missions. Three of my sons have been on
missions.  John filled two missions, one to England where his mother was born, and one
to the Southern States.  Lou filled a mission in the Eastern States.  David in the Western
States, Hazel a home mission. Four of my daughters have been school teachers.   Lew has
his Master’s degree and he taught five years at the University of Utah..  My first wife has
five children living, and my second wife has six living.  The experiences I have had
would fill a big book. One son taught at the U. of U.  Another son taught at the University
of Oregon. Newel is still teaching at this school.  My son Rube is a cattle man.  Rube was
always very ambitious.  He has accomplished much in his life.  I always looked to Rube
when I needed help. He is a fine boy, good as gold.

Twins were born in each family, 36 grand-children, 49 great grand-children, at the time
of his death, in the Cache Valley Hospital, April 27, 1943.

(The following tribute was written when he was released as Bishop.  The author is not
known)
     
     Although but twenty-seven years of age when John C. Larsen was installed as Bishop
of Coveville Ward, he had a pretty good idea of the great responsibility that was placed
upon his shoulders, as his Father had been in the Bishopric in Logan for many years.  He
took hold of the reins with a firm hand and never relaxed his grip until release in 1917.
     Winning the commendation and esteem of all, he possessed sufficient power to hold
the attention of seemingly every congregation which he attempted to address.  He
reproved with sharpness betimes and perhaps offended by a word some of his hearers, yet
he was always willing to extend his hand of fellowship and goodwill afterwards.  He has
ever had strict regard for authority over him and sought to obey its counsel.  As a servant
of the people, none can deny that he was ever willing to come to their call in sickness by
day or by night to minister to their loved ones.  His presence was always demanded at
meetings of the people and was never denied when he found it possible to attend.  To be
a target for public musket practice is no coveted position.
     Yet he has withstood the shot and shell for thirty-four and one-half years and came out
a better and wiser man.  A record of the work accomplished under his leadership is kept
only on the Church records and in the minds of the people who have participated therein. 
From the schoolhouse on the hill in the blazing sun we come to this commodious house
of worship and amusement that we now occupy made the spacious grove, which
furnished ample shade for rest and recreation.
     In all propositions, for the benefit of the Ward he has given his loyal support, but
being of a different nature, he would rather have born the burden than ask donations from
the people to carry on the work of the Ward.  He is very hospitable -- so much so that
visiting brethren express themselves as always feeling at home in Coveville.  We honor
him with our presence and goodwill and pray God to bless him through the remainder of
his life’s labors, that he may accomplish much.

     {The site of the old Larsen home in Cove was once visible from US Highway 91, just
north of Richmond.  It sits upon the bluff approximately 1/4 east of the highway, but the
site is now hidden by several large trees.  If you take the asphalt road north from
Richmond, parallel to the highway, you will find the site when you make a gentle turn
from west to east.  The Cove Ward Church is easily visible from Highway 91, just a few
hundred yards east.  If you look around inside the church you will find a handsome
picture of Bishop John C. Larsen hanging on the wall.}

REMEMBRANCES OF JOHN C. LARSEN
(John D. Nash - great grandson) I was thirteen when my Great Grandfather John C. Larsen died. I remember him as the most saintly person I have ever met. My father Uless, has told me the same on several occasions. I do not remember Great Grandmother Susannah Titensor, but I do have a picture of her holding my hand in front of her home in Logan. I had lost a shoe. (Mary Ellen Titensor Larsen - wife) Being an early settler, John C. Larsen has done much toward building up the Cove Ward. He always took a great pride in planting trees, improving and making public places more beautiful. He was a great advocate for education. Four of his children filled missions. Four girls and one boy have taught school. All of his children attended school at the old BYC at Logan and some went to the USAC. He was always very prompt in paying his tithing and fast offerings. He was very faithful in attending all meetings, Mutual, Sunday School, often Relief Society and Primary. He was called to Canada and was getting ready to go when Apostle Merrill stopped him and said, ‘We need good men here as well as in Canada’ All the children have married good LDS men and women and all married in the temple. (Ellen Maughn Silver - granddaughter) I remember my grandfather as a kind, concerned gentleman. He was short in stature, and wore a short, well-trimmed beard. He liked to see me wince when I kissed him. He grew a large, well-groomed vegetable garden. He was so generous with those vegetables and gave them away many times to the neighbors. Grandmother’s table always showed the tasty things they grew. Grandfather had a cow and provided the milk for our table as well as theirs -- all the milk and cream we needed. Grandmother had chickens so we had plenty of meat and brown eggs. Grandpa had his favorite chair, a rocker with a brown leather seat. He loved to sit there and read the scriptures from the old well-worn books. He always asked me if I was taking seminary -- I wasn’t because I liked music classes -- and he seemed disappointed in me. Frequently, he liked to show us his agility. He would go out in front of the house, grab a branch of the pine tree and “skin-the-cat” -- pull his feet and legs up through his arms and go right over and drop to the ground. He did this well over the age of 80. Grandpa took good care of making the fires each morning -- they had no central heating. He never missed his meetings. He remembered Danish well enough to speak it. He loved to get the family together for Thanksgiving dinners. They lived well -- but simply and good. (Bernice Larsen Robbins - granddaughter) "I remember Grandpa, John C, Larsen coming to our home to visit, quite often. He was short in stature, had a well-trimmed beard, walked straight and erect. Frequently, he liked to show us his agility. He would go out in front of the house, grab a branch of the pine tree and "skin the cat" which is to pull his feet and legs up through his arms and go right over and drop to the ground. He did this well over the age of 80. He loved to gather his family together for Thanksgiving dinners. They lived well, but simply and good. I was in both of his homes and remember them well The houses were un-alike. Susannah, my grand- mother's was very small and homey with a glowing coal stove in the kitchen that always had a pot of tea on. Grandma Susannah was a highly intelligent woman, an avid reader and a wonderful storyteller, she was very tiny and to me just a lot of fun. She visited us very often and was available to her family whenever they needed her. She was at my home the day my little sister, Lafay died and met me at the door to tell me the sad news. Her hair was very black and never went really gray, just having gray and white streaks in it at her death. Her face showed the demanding life and lines if a pioneer. I loved her and admired her and named my first daughter, Suzanne, after her. (Teresa Larsen Green - daughter) Many times he would ask Ella (or Ellie) her advice and take it. She seemed to be blessed with the power of discernment and sharp judgement. No one could deceive Ellie. While my father believed everything, everyone told them, Ellie would say, “Now John, don’t be such a Trusting Soul.” He was really too trusting (J. Rube Larsen - son) .. Father was a hard working man and he taught us to work - one thing that I appreciate him for more than anything that I know of. He was very firm. When he said, you know he'd done it. He never made promises that he didn't keep. He was very well respected in his community. He lived in a scattered ward that was about ten miles from one end to the other. There was no automobile service in those days. He had to ride a horse or go in a wagon. We didn't even have a buggy when I was a small boy. We had to go in a wagon. He was the first Bishop of Cove Ward and the Presiding Elder before he was put in as Bishop. I remember him when I was a small boy. I thought so much of him that he would allow me to go up on the stand where he was sitting at the rostrum and sit on his knee while in church and I thought that was very wonderful to be able to be that close to my father. They were married and first lived in Logan and then moved to Cove. We lived on a hill which was the corner of Grandfather Titensor's homestead. He gave it to my mother and father and he built two homes on it. This hill comprised of the approximate vicinity of ten to twelve acres of land. When we would want good cold water we had a spring that came out the side of the hill down at the bottom of the hill - a wonderful spring. We always had good cold water if we had ambition enough to go down the hill to get it. He had a very fine farm on what we called the Weber River, raised hay and had pasture. He had a farm in Lewiston, a very good farm joining on the property where the sugar factory was built. We raised grain, hay, and sugar beets. My father was quite a speculator on land. He rented what we called the Cutler Ranch and bought a big ranch of 100 to 160 acres of dry-farm wheat land. My brother and I used to hoe tumbleweeds on that ground. believe me we didn't have shoes and the sand would burn our feet. We sure had to have tough, thick skin on the bottom of our feet to be able to stand it. He sold the Cutler Ranch and bought what we called the Pitkin Ranch from a man by the name of George Pitkin - a big place that was dry-farm in Millville, Utah. He finally sold that ranch which we were all very thankful for. It was so far away and it was across the valley near Weston, Idaho. He was a great stockman. He had a very wonderful dairy and that was where I learned to work. When I grew to be fourteen years old (1901) my mother moved to Logan so my older brothers and sisters could go to the B.Y. College to school. They all had an opportunity to go to school. My father always said his children could have all the education that they wanted and he'd give them all the help that he possibly could, but it was entirely up to them. They could not come back on him and say that they didn't have a chance at an education because he made it possible for them to have an education. My father was a polygamist. He had two wives. He married sisters; my mother and Aunt Elly as we all called her. She was a very fine woman. I had to live with her in the winter months, for nine months. My mother moved to Logan which is a distance of sixteen miles from Cove. My Aunt Elly's children would go and live with her and I had to live with Aunt Elly, and I resented it very much. I didn't think it was right then and I don't think it is right now. To think that I was at that age taken away from my mother and had to live with an aunt who was very good to me. My dad claimed he was in the Blackhawk War. They tried to get a pension for him but they couldn't quite make it. He said that he carried water to the soldiers in the Blackhawk War but he wasn't eligible for a pension. Some of them got pensions that didn't do as much as he did. If he would have had the right kind of connections and the right people handling it, he no doubt would have got one. But he was a small boy. He was on a load of hay at one time when they lived in Sanpete and the Indians took after them and they shot the lines off between my grandfather's hands and the horses. So he dropped down on the tongue between the horses to guide them. He told my Uncle Brig and my father to crawl down in the hay so the Indians wouldn't hit them with their arrows. They made it into town without any accident. My father lived in Logan when he was a young man. He used to chop ties. When they first went up Logan Canyon they had to furnish ties to the Utah Northern Railroad. They hired my father to fish for them. He used to catch fish for the men who were working when he was a boy. Fish were very abundant in those days I guess. He used to catch an awful lot of fish that way. And then of course he chopped ties. That was the way he made his living, chopping ties - hard work, tough work to go up there and chop ties and hew them off. His farm was all covered with beautiful meadows and beautiful springs. He had that farm on the Cub River at the mouth of High Creek. That was his home on High Creek, on the hill. It was the place that I told about before where he built his two homes - one for my Aunt Elly and one for my mother. He was called by Card to go to Canada and he was in to Richmond. Cove was about two and a half miles from Richmond and he was in to Richmond to get his horses shod preparing to go to Canada because he had been called by Charlie Card to go there. Apostle Merrill saw him and asked him what he was doing. And he told him. Said he'd been called to go to Canada. He said, you're not going to Canada. You stay where you are. Of course Card was sent by the Church up there to colonize Canada and he called men to go and my father was one. Old man Kingsford would always come to Fast Meeting and get up and bare his testimony. He'd get up to singing - a big long rigmarole that nobody could understand - just nothing to it. It was a lot of hot air It wasn't any testimony at all. He'd go on and my father would tell him to sit down and he'd sit down. But one time he went on and he wouldn't sit down and my father jumped up on his feet and he said, “Brother Kingsford, you sit down immediately and don't you get up again”; And that man humbled himself and sat down on that bench right now and stopped. He had a command that would make anybody mind when he spoke. I know I minded him when he spoke. That's all I knew. I knew him just enough that he meant what he said and I'd do it. He bet a companion once he could cut a log in two over a river in a certain length of time and he bet a week's cutting of ties that he could do it. The man bet him that he couldn't. He went out and cut that log in two in the time that was allotted him and got the ties. One day he had me herding some sheep to keep them out of the garden. There was a cold north wind blowing and I laid down in the ditch to keep the wind from hitting me. It was very cold. It was in the spring of the year and I went to sleep in the ditch. I never will forget it. My father never said a word to me but walked over and he stood over me and I looked up and there he was. He said, “That's a fine way to herd sheep. They're all over the garden.” I said, “I'm cold.”; That was all he said to me. He was very kind. He had a great deal of wisdom and he had a lot of problems that he had to solve and he never raised a hand on us. I never did see him hurt any of them. He might have given them a little willow or little stick or something, but it didn't amount to much.
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LINKS

RETURN TO LARSEN HOME PAGE:
Go To History Page Index:
History of Susannah Titensor Larsen:
History of Mary Ellen Titensor Larsen:
Comish Histories:
John C. Larsen Photos:

Dennis Larsen

dkrka@utah.uswest.net
10890 Bohm Place
Sandy, UT 84094
United States