Genealogy of the Rigg, Hargleroad, Orchard, Mortensen and Allied Families
Grandfather Poulson, as he was known among his relatives and friends, was born in Falster, Denmark, July 11, 1817. [Note: Poulson and Poulsen spellings are found in different sources.] Little is known of his early life. He grew to maturity under adverse circumstances; was married to Bodella Katherine Larsen (Pedersen). Soon after they were married, both found employment in a large dairy.
One evening, they heard the Mormon Elders speak on the street, telling of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, quoting James, Chapter 1: 5-6. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.”
Next day, Grandmother Poulson tried to find the scripture referred to but could not remember where it was found in the Bible, but recalled what it said, that if you pray humbly you would receive the wisdom desired. She prayed as instructed. When she again opened her Bible, it was at James Chapter 1, and directly over verses five and six was a small bright light that moved over the lines as she read them. She was so happy that she wept with joy and then closed the Bible without remembering the chapter. When grandfather came home she told him of her experience. He was much disappointed that she could not tell him where it was found and finally said, “Mother, let us pray again and perhaps we can find it.” With all the faith and fervor humble people could have, they did so. This same experience was repeated again to both of them. Along with study, prayer, and this miracle, they were converted to the Gospel. (This event was told by Grandfather Poulson to his daughter Karen, who in turn related it to her son Dan, who shared it with Fred Christensen.)
Joy and happiness where theirs in full measure, so they told friends of their experience and conversion. Grandfather was employed as a foreman at a big Gary and getting nine cents per working day from 4 AM until after seven. Grandmother was in charge of the cheese-making at six cents per day. When the owner learned they had joined the Mormons, he demoted grandfather to just a milker at four cents a day, and grandmother was likewise placed at a lower position at four cents a day. He also reported them to the minister who hastened to warn them of their mistake, but to no avail. They told him their experience and bore their testimony to him. He demanded their Bible, which they refused to give up. At that time only priests and ministers were allowed to have and read Bibles, but they had secretly obtained one. After this, their employer discharged them and Grandfather had a hard time to get work at two or three cents a day.
They studied the scriptures, attended all meetings possible, and made preparations to emigrate to Zion (Utah) as soon as possible. A Danish convert, who was quite wealthy, was persuaded to loan them the money needed, above that for which they sold their possessions, in order that they could make the trip to America. It was agreed that this loan or money would be prepaid as soon as possible after their arrival in the United States, which was done.
They sailed from Copenhagen, Denmark, in December 1852 to Kiel, Germany and then from Kiel to Altonah by wagon. They then boarded a ship and were three days and nights crossing the North Sea to Hull, England. A severe storm was encountered and many ships were lost. It is said that the prayers of the Saints saved their ship from being wrecked.
In the words of their daughter, Annie, “The storm had been terrific and the entire bulwark of our ship was torn away. We stayed in the hull several hours, in the cold and darkness.” The next segment was by land, across England. “The 29th of December, my 12th birthday, we boarded a train for Liverpool. These cars were like freight cars, we entered through doors at the sides of cars.”
Mormon missionary work having begun in Denmark as early as 1850, there were nearly 300 converts ready to sail for America from Liverpool at this time. They sailed under the direction of John E. Forsgren. They went on board the sail ship called Forest Monarch on New Years Eve 1852. Owing to the stormy weather, they did not leave Liverpool until January 16, 1853.
“We were all sent down in the lower part of the vessel, all of the family’s belongings was packed in a box, except a roll of bedding to be used on the trip. I still have the little chest  that all our clothes was carried in.
“The food on the ship was very limited, each adult person had one oatmeal cracker, about as large as a common pie plate, and ½ an inch thick and 1 pint of peas, per day. Every other day we had rice instead of peas. It was nearly always burned. The children received half ration. The cracker was to served for morning and evening meal. Our drink was one pint of stale water (green and stinky) per day.”
Four deaths occurred during the voyage, including a small son of Andrew and Bodella Poulson, whose little body was dropped over the side of the ship into the Atlantic Ocean, much to the grief of the parents.
“When we had been on the ocean a month, Mother’s babe, nine months old, died, and was buried at sea. There were three or four deaths before we reached America. When we got near the continent, the yellow fever broke out and 16 people died from the time we left Liverpool until we landed at New Orleans.
“About the middle of March, after tossing on the ocean for almost 11 weeks in a very severe storm, we landed in New Orleans, Mississippi. We stayed in the harbor for two days, then we were transferred to a steamboat for our trip up the Mississippi River. I was very frightened when I had to walk on a plank from our old sail ship to the boat, but this was our only means of transfer.”
They remained in St. Louis, Missouri for nearly a month.
“Father secured work on a railroad that was being built and earned a few dollars, so Mother was able to get calico for a dress for herself, Karenstene and myself. This was the first calico dress we had ever owned, so we thought it very fine, and was very careful of it for a long time.”
They then proceeded up the Mississippi River by steamboat to Keokuk, Iowa, where the saints purchased oxen and wagons in preparation for the overland journey to Utah, leaving May 1, 1853, with 34 wagons and 137 oxen.
“The men were inexperienced as to steers and those from Falster had never seen oxen used. The Danes thought surely the poor animals could never draw a wagon with that big yolk piece of wood across their necks, so they took their heavy homemade feather ticks to make pads and straps to make sort of a harness so they should not be pained with the weight of the yolk – of course this did not last long.”
They crossed Iowa to Council Bluffs where they were again delayed two or three weeks waiting for flour.
“Each family received some flour, piece of bacon, black tea, and some brown sugar. My greatest trouble the whole trip was lack of sufficient food. I was always hungry.
“There was two yoke of oxen to each wagon, but our wagon carried the belongings for three families, so I had to walk, so did many others.
“Crossing the plains we often met with unfriendly Indians, so each night our wagons were driven in a circle with the cattle inside and several men was on guard each night. We often saw great herds of bison of buffalo, but our company had no weapons except a few shot guns, so we did not get any game or meat on the whole trip.”
After five months of trekking, the Poulson family reached the Salt Lake valley on September 30, 1853. They endured nearly 10 months of a long and tedious journey from Denmark through storms, hunger, thirst, death of a child, and many challenges to remain in Salt Lake City for but a very short time. They were advised by Brigham Young to help settle the Sanpete Valley, about 100 miles south of Salt Lake, and they soon left for that part of Utah to make their home.
Here they began life anew under the most humble circumstances; food was not plentiful and money scarce. Stena, a daughter of Anders, related that for days during the summer she went out of the grounds where the Manti Temple now stands and plucked pig weeds to be used for food when cooked and returned the following morning to find the weeds again as fresh and green as they were they day before.
In Utah the Indians being unfriendly at seeing their hunting grounds taken over by the whites became troublesome. A fort was erected, made of stone, where their herds were enclosed for protection during the night, also where the settlers could rush for protection from Indian raids. It was here that Andrew and Bodella Poulson and their three children, Annie, Karanstena and Peter (our ancestor), under these circumstances began life anew. Grandmother continued to grieve over the loss of their infant son and his burial in the Atlantic Ocean, yet worked with her husband in assisting other settlers in building the city of Manti.
“It was very hard to settle in Sanpete as the Indians were very hostile for years. Many of the men traded their only coat for seed grain and the grasshoppers came when the grain had sprouted and took it clean, so it was almost starvation for years.
“We suffered so many privations in the early years of pioneer life that hard work was our only heritage.”
They helped build up Manti, Utah for 27 years and in the midst of hardship, assisted in the construction of the beautiful temple, often sacrificing their own comfort and desires. During this time four more children were born to them.
In 1880 a number of families were called by church authority to help settle the barren San Luis Valley of Colorado and assist converts from the Southern States in the art of farming in the west. This call included Andrew Poulson, who was over 60 years old at the time. Although they had become quite comfortably located, they responded to the call and prepared to move to the San Luis Valley and again take up pioneering. Disposing of their home and farm land in Manti, together with a few others who had received a like appointment from other nearby settlements, they left in July of 1880 for the two month journey in covered wagons, drawn by oxen and some by horses. Travel was very slow, as often they were forced to build their own roads and sometimes forced to make camp without water. To provide for this emergency a barrel with an attached spigot was fastened to the side of the wagon holding water for culinary purposes. They arrived in the San Luis Valley in September of that year; purchasing small tracts of land in and around Ephraim, as provided by settlers in an agreement a year earlier.
It is presumed that father Poulson saw the valley with cheap lands, an abundance of water for irrigation and large open range for grazing, an ideal place for growing livestock and so advised his sons and daughters to accompany the family. Our ancestor, Peter Poulson, his wife Margaret, brought their young family with them.
Aside from the oxen and horses used for pulling their wagons a number of loose cattle were driven from Utah by the younger men of the group. All settled in Ephraim, which had been laid out as a town site the year before. Here they built log houses, purchased land and established themselves in the new settlement, building ditches to divert water from the Conejos River for irrigation, hauling poles and other timber from the mountains for fences, corrals, etc., thus beginning life anew.
These pioneers of 1880-81 and those coming later were helpful and influential in building a new community. After Ephraim’s soil became water-logged from irrigation most of the settlers there moved to Sanford, building new homes or moving old ones from the first location.
They reared their families to maturity in honor and were laid to rest in the Sanford cemetery, leaving to their posterity a heritage of character, honesty, faith, and sacrifice.
– Compiled and edited by Jill Rigg Johnson, includes several excerpts from “A History of Andrew Poulson, Sr.” by Fred T. Christensen, grandson, and excerpts from the memoirs of Annie Catherine Poulsen Christensen, daughter
Note on the Poulson name:
On shipboard to establish identification, grandfather’s very scant baggage was marked Poulson, a corruption apparently of Poel. A custom of name change among Danes in early days was to use your father’s first name as your last name, adding “sen” or “datter” to the end. This is called patronymics.
Later, either Andrew or some other party Anglicized his first name from Anders and made it Andrew. Grandfather held to the name Andrew Poulson. His father’s name was Poel Mortensen.