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CHRISTOPHER MARINUS OLSEN (1835-1873)

written by Emily Olsen Savage
brother to Gideon Elias Olsen and 1st husband of Caroline Sophia Jensen
Christopher Marinus Olsen was born 8 December 1835 in Aalborg, Aalborg, De- nmark. He was the son of Jens Olsen and Marie Dorthea Berg. He was named after his brother of the same name who was born and died a year earlier. Christopher was not a very strong child; therefore, his parents decided that he should have extra education so that he could earn a living without hard physical labor. He learned to be a bookkeeper. In the year 1850 the Gospel of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was taken to Denmark. According to the mission records of the Church, when the third group in Aalborg were baptized, Christopher's mother and sister were among them. Two months later, 11 December 1850, Christopher was baptized at the age of fifteen. He became secretary of the Danish Mission. Some sixty years later, H. F. Liljenquist of Hyrum, Utah, went to Denmark on an L.D.S. mission. He saw the old mission records and it was pointed out to him that the records kept by Christopher Olsen were the best-kept records they had. The following paragraph is his own account of some great changes in his life: On the 10th day of December 1852, I left my father's and mother's house, and on the first day of October 1853, I arrived in the Salt Lake Valley, in Capt. I.E. Forsgreen's company. In the fall of 18541 went to South Weber. On the 27th of October 1856, I was married to Karen Christine Johnson, daughter of Syver and Boletta Johnson. She was born in Fredreckson, Olsa County, Norway, June 2,1837. According to the given dates, Christopher was seventeen when he left Denmark and was married just before he was twenty-one years old. While they were in South Weber, the couple buried an infant son in 1858. In 1859 their daughter Mary Marie was born. In the early spring of 1860 a group of pioneers settled in Hyrum, Cache County, Utah, about forty miles northeast of Weber or Ogden as it is called now. Christopher and his wife Caroline (Karen) Johnson were among the twenty-one families who first settled there. A pioneer monument is now standing in front of the city hall bearing the names of those early settlers. Before building their homes, it was necessary to plant crops and bring irrigation water from the canyon. However, the crops were very poor because the water was not there soon enough to save them from the scorching sun. The settlers lived at Camp Hollow near a spring of fresh water. They slept in wagons or in dugouts and cooked their meals over open fires. Matches were scarce so the fires had to be banked to save them for the next time. Upon the suggestion of Apostle Ezra T. Benson, the settlers built their homes a mile southwest of Camp Hollow, where it would be farther from the mountains and a greater protection against the Indians. Needing all protection possible, they built their homes facing each other on each side of a wide street. They either built them very close together or had them connected by a high tight fence. There were no windows at the back of the houses and when the huge gates at each end of the street were closed it formed a very effective fort. At first they had no glass for windows. They used oiled paper to let in light. They dug-wells to supply culinary water. The Olsen home was near the east end of the Fort (what is now about 260 East Main). In the early summer of 1864, when everything looked promising, a swarm of grasshoppers came from Blacksmith Fork Canyon and ate most of the crops. They left as suddenly as they came. The Indians were troublesome. At one time an Indian carried a white child away to his camp but the mother followed and recovered her boy. Another time the quick action of a friend saved a young girl from being carried away. That first fall the Indians demanded food and were given an ox because Brigham Young had said that it was better to feed them than to fight them. Many things could be written here about conditions under which they Jived. How- ever, I like to think of them as pioneers who were young and happy. They were all interested in a common cause and there was no class distinction. They were all poor but made the best of their condition. I have heard many pioneers say they were just as happy and had just as much fun as people have now-a-days. As soon as their homes were built, people began doing the things they were best adapted for. Christopher helped with the tithing. They had very little money so tithing was paid in kind. When the women churned ten pounds of butter, they gave one for tithing, and so with everything they earned or produced. Records had to be kept and Christopher's early training proved valuable. In less than a year Bishop Calvin Bingham was appointed Postmaster. Later he was called to Bear Lake and Christopher took his unfinished term of office. The mail was kept in his own house but he did more than hand out the mail. In the growing population of Hyrum there were many Scandinavian immigrants who could not read or write the English language. According to their needs he would read or write their letters or explain the customs and give them advice. He made many friends in this way. Christopher was about five and one-half feet tall and slender, with medium com- plexion and fine features. He was very congenial and his clothes were always neat, which gave him a gentlemanly appearance. In the fall of 1863 a group of immigrants came to Hyrum and among them were Hans Jensen and his wife Christiana and family. Their oldest daughter was named Karen but changed to Caroline when she came to America. She was fifteen years old. It was in the days of polygamy and a certain man asked her father if he could marry her. He said yes because he thought an Elder in Israel was someone special. Later Christopher asked him if he could marry her, but of course she was already spoken for. When Caroline heard that he wanted to marry her she thought, "That's the man I want so wait and see if I ever marry the other one." She had other offers of marriage but when she was eighteen she married Christopher. They went to Salt Lake City and were married in the Endowment House, 18 May 1867. They made the eighty-six mile trip in a wagon drawn by two horses. Christopher and his first wife, Caroline Johnson Olsen, had three little girls. (His second wife was named Caroline Sophia Jensen, so to distinguish between them we will call this second wife Caroline S.) They lived together in the same house and Caroline S. tried hard to help and make things pleasant. She did a great deal of sewing for the family. While it was not all sunshine she has told of many happy times they all had together. The next year she became the mother of a little girl they named Elizabeth, but called Libbie. Christopher was called by the L.D.S. Church to go to Richmond to take care of the tithing. They moved in October 1868. In Richmond, there was a larger house and Caroline S. moved into her own room and began keeping house alone for the first time. At the end of each year Christopher and three other men from different parts of Cache Valley would go to Logan and audit the tithing record books of all the Wards in the Valley. His wives took turns living in Logan with him. He had homesteaded a tract of land near Lewiston and he had also accepted a bookkeeping job at the ZCMI Store in Logan. At that particular time, Caroline S. was sick and her children were too young to do any work, so it was left largely to the first Caroline and her family to live on the land during the summer. While living in Logan, Christopher became ill with pneumonia. He was always very particular over his appearance and even when he was sick he wanted to look nice. The men wore stiff-bosomed shirts and stiff collars that were attached to the shirt with buttons. He wanted his collar on but his wife thought that he was too sick to be bothered with it. He insisted and said that we didn't know much about style here but when we get on the other side, then we'll know. In a short time he died, 9 September 1873. He was thirty-seven years old. At Christopher's funeral Samuel Roskelly was one of the speakers. He related a dream that he had the year before and one that Frank Gunnell had. The story of those dreams follows: The four men who settled tithing were Samuel Roskelly, Lionel (Liney) Farrell, Christopher Olsen, and Frank Gunnell. Peter Maughan of Wellsville had helped them until his death. Roskelly was very sick and in his dream Peter Maughan said that he needed help in the position he was now in and had been given permission to call one of these four men to help him. He had come to learn what Roshelly's financial condition was in order to know if he could be spared on earth better than the other three he had mentioned. Roskelly soon became well. Lionel Farrell became seriously sick but recovered. Then Frank Gunnell also became ill. He was so sick the doctor could only give him medicine to allay the pain, which had no effect. While he was thus afflicted, he prayed to either die or have the pain relieved. Peter Maughan appeared to him and said they were going to hold a council to decide if it was best for him to get well. In less than an hour they would know. A 11 pain left him within an hour and he was soon well. Christopher was the last o f the four to be sick and when he died Roskelly felt sure it was because Peter Maughan needed his help. Another remarkable incident was told after his death by Moses Thatcher who was manager of ZCMI when Christopher was bookkeeper there. There was something about the books that Thatcher did not understand. Christopher appeared to him in a dream and explained the situation. Christopher Marinus Olsen was buried in the Richmond Cemetery not far from the main gates. His wife Caroline C. Johnson is buried near him. His wife Caroline Sorensen is buried in the Hyrum Cemetery near the graves of their two children Willard and Emma. This Caroline Sophia Jensen Olsen married Christopher's brother Gideon. They arc the parents of four children. I am the youngest of these (Emily Olsen Savage). Children of Christopher and Caroline C. Johnson Olsen: 1. Elias, who died at birth 2. Mary Maria 3. Emma Boletta 4. Carolina Anneta 5. Anna Maria 6. Christopher John . 7. Julia Mina Children of Christopher and Caroline S. Jensen Olsen: 1. Elizabeth (Libbie) 2. James Ezra, who died at birth 3. Willard, who died at age 3 years and 9 months. 4. Emma, who was born after her father died and died at age 1 year and 10 months. This account was written by Emily 0. Savage daughter of Caroline S.& Gideon E. Olsen & niece to Christopher Marinus Olsen.

Source of Information

The foregoing biography is an excerpt from the following and is used here by permission of the author A Family History Gideon Elias Olsen (1844 - 1919) Scandinavian Immigrant Compiled by Mary Jean Garrison (1983) (email: maryjgarrison@earthlink.net) [vii. 381p.: ill., facsims,; geneal. tables, maps, ports.] pp. 364 - 367 (JSMB FAMHIST Book 929.273 OL8g) (FHL US/CAN Film 1035727 Item 10)

LINKS

RETURN TO LARSEN HOME PAGE Larsen History Index Larsen Immigrants Page Converts Page Marie Dorthea Berg Olsen (mother) Barbara Jensine Dorthea Olsen (sister) Christian Waldemar Olsen (brother) Gideon Elias Olsen (brother) Julia Olsen (sister)