I, Peter Madsen, was called on a mission to Denmark, the 7th of May 1870.
On the 12th at 2 am, I left my beloved home and family, consisting of four wives and twelve children. My oldest son, Mads Peter, drove me to Salt Lake City. I went by train to Ogden, then to New York City, arriving the 18th. I sailed on the "Minnasota" to Liverpool, England, landed May 30th. Was in Copenhagen, Denmark, 5th of June 1870, sixteen and one half years since I left Denmark, my native land. Traveled to Odense and attended conference, then to Fredicicia and visited my mother in Tanlon, also my brother Hans Peder and his wife, also Madam Bjirregaqrd, Niels Jense, Raamis Neilson and others, words cannot express my joy.
June 18th received letters from home—little daughter Magrette had died. June 22nd went to Aarhus and was appointed President over Aarhus Conference on the 23rd. Received the appointment through President Jesse N. Smith; held meetings in Viele and Horsens.
Blessed a little child July 8th, he died the same day.
July 9th Baptized and confirmed Raamus Anderson, a soldier, at eleven o’clock at night.
July 16th 1870 much excitement, it’s the outbreak of the French and German war.
July 25th Went to Tanlon and visited Mother and the pool where I caught fish in my childhood was filled in and grown up but still had lovely memories, I gave thanks to my Heavenly Father for the good times I had had there. Went to Wilstrup and visited my brother Hans Peter, he would not listen to Mormonism but his son visited me and listened. The fields are very dry and the animals are poor, many people have no jobs and the soldiers are marching in full uniform toward the German border. I have been fishing in Braban Lake. I am troubled with rheumatism and have had headaches. Went with Bro. Rosenkrans to the ocean after mackerel, no luck, I rowed with the oars until I had blisters on my hands, this was new to me and Bro Rosenkrans laughted at my fine hands.
Sept, 2nd Letter from Mads Jorgensen, also one from Bro. and sister Sobel told me that soldiers had come to my home, that, I did not like. I wrote a letter to Mads Jorgensen and slipped in a letter to my family. Went to visit my Mother and Brother, my brother was full of meaness and would only make fun of me and tried to get the others to do the same, One and Han’s son Mads, had better sense, Met Niels Olsen from Wilstrup, in the field moving his horses, we talked a good while and said goodbye with a hearty handshake. I took leave of m6y Mother and gave her two Rigadaler.
Sept 13th Today and I had my picture taken, one with hat on and one with hat off.
On the 17th I tried to hire a larger hall to hold conference but no one would let me have it when they learned what I was going to use it for. 19th. Much headache today, weather bad. Baptized young man and a young lady, had a good conference, there has been 49 baptisms since our last conference.
On the 29th Went to a town called Beds and preached at two places on the way, held meetings in the evenings and spoke to many strangers. Went hunting and shot a couple of pheasants with a rusty old gun.
Oct 8th With orders from Bro. Cluff I went to Aalborg to take charge of the conference, spoke to the saints three times about one hour at a time, had a good conference, I slept with Bro. Elderson and became polluted with the itch, for which I was very sorry. After seven hours ride in snow storm we arrived at Aarhus.
Oct 13th Moved today into new quarters at Studsgade No. II. Received a letter from John Johnson and note from Sine and one from Mads Peter, all is well at home.
14th Traveled to Copenhagen to hold conference on the 15th. I spoke the main sermon and was able to bear a strong testimony.
On the 16th . it was my privilege to speak 45 minutes to a large audience, at night they had a dance and all enjoyed themselves, there were seven brethren from Zion; Bro. Cluff, P. Brown, P.F.. Madsen, P.O.Tomiason, Holmberg Edlevesen and myself. We visited Aarhus, held branch meetings in Randers, Priesthood meeting at night and a dance until twelve o’clock.
24th Visited saints in town and went with Bro Gjatrup to the Fjord where he promised to teach me to fish for Aal, we fished three hours, I caught 41 and he caught 22. A man named Bonding gave me a dollar for traveling money, he had given me one once before.
26th Went into the country and visited two families, walked three and a half Danish miles and had very little food.
Nov 1st. Went over the sea to Mols and stayed two and a half days visited saints. Have received news from Utah about Governor Shaffer and the soldiers.
Nov 6th Had branch meeting in Aarhus, I talked one and one half hours, had Priesthood in evening, we ordained ten brothers to the Priesthood.
15th Bro. Cluff and I organized Sunday School here in Aarhus for the first time. I paid Bro. Cluff’s way from Aarhus to Copenhagen.
19th Visited my mother and gave her 4 R.b.d. walked one half mile into the country and talked with a young girl who had been educated with my mother. Held a meeting in Fredericia; one in Veile and went to Aarhus
The 21st received letter from my family, all is well.
26th Straightened up account, paid 50 R.b.d.(Rigadaler) on our conference debt.
Nov. 27th Today I am wondering about my little Juline’s birthday. Am feeling very sick, the itch hurts me much, I have a high fever.
28th Last night and today I have been the sickest in all my life—My landlord and husband and brother Provstgaard have done so much for me both night and day. A letter from Bro. Cluff tells me that the report I made out before my illness, together with 235 R.b. had been stolen from the mail carrier, I am safe I have my receipt but must make out new reports.
Dec. 9th, 1870 Today is my wife’s (Lena), birthday, 24 years. Have been at home all day, have much headache, I feel very lonely and hope my Father will hear my prayers and let me go home next summer, Denmark is not good for me.
Dec. 12th Am more sick had to go to Dr. Bynke at 3 P.M. on the 10th. And have sent for a Dr. today, have had stomach pains and diarrhea the doctor gave me English Salt to clean my stomach.
Dec. 25th Very sick Christmas day, the saints are fasting and praying for me.
Dec 31st Received a letter from home, Sine has given birth to a daughter is well.
From Jan 1st to 9th very little change, fever most of the time.
Jan. 20th 1871. It is five weeks since I went to bed have had much fever and sweat, gastric fever is a hard sickness to have.
Feb 16th Am slowly getting better was up nine hours today, received a letter from my loved ones and Mina has a new daughter. I am definitely better have gained strength and flesh on my body.
Feb 17th Received a letter from Jens Knudsen in Provo, which informs me that Niels Jorgensen is dead. I feel very sad over this. I also received a letter from Norway stating that I would receive no money. It has been a cold winter.
Mar 3rd The doctor told me to work in the garden so I helped the gardener and felt better. Received a litter from Bro. Cluff asking me to come to Copenhagen and remain until the first emigrants leave and if I’m not too well he will send me home. The doctor advised me to go to Copenhagen and then go home as soon as possible, He promised that I would become well but I must divert my thoughts and work to have again a good humor. I am planning on going to Copenhagen early in the morning that 8th. If only I can live to get back home.
Mar. 8th I arose at 4:30 to get ready and several of the saints went with me to the ship to see me off, it is with much sorrow that I leave them. Arrived in Copenhagen and was met by Bros. Cluff, Madsen, and Petersen. My eyes are full of tears and I can hardly stand to talk to anyone or have anyone talk to me, there is nothing bothering me now but a bad humor (spirit), sadness caused by my nerves.
Mar 10th I have taken a walk, written home to my dear family and enclosed a violin string to my son.
Mar. 16th Bro Cluff is also going home, we agreed that when we get home we would travel some among the Scandinavians and raise money to send to the poor here.
Mar. 18th I was today in Sunday School and talked three fourths hour and played on my harmonica for a few saints in the office.
Apr. 6th, 1871 Today is my 47th birthday—I spent the day writing to my mother and bid her to go to the school teacher and get as much of my genealogy as possible.
Apr. 28th 1871 Today Bro. Cluff sent me the English Star, in it a letter from President Brigham Young containing names of brethren from Sanpete, who are coming to Denmark on a mission this year—Knud Peterson, Pres. Christian Willersen, A.H. Lund, T.C.A. Weiby, C. Madsen and Paul Dehlin, all from Sanpete County. Bro. Cluff is to leave for home as soon as Knud Petersen arrives and he has promised to let me accompany him home. The weather is bad, strong wind cold with rain, hail and snow, I am so tired and weary of Denmark.
Apr. 24th I have bought today a few small items to take home with me, if the Lord will strengthen me and let me live to go home, the things I have bought are, a pair of ear rings for Old Mother, and five albums for pictures each of my wives and one for Mads Peter, that he can give to Hannah Groneman. Six small hearts, one for each of my girls, eight breast pins to my seven sons and one for myself, two watch keys, one for Mads Peter and one for myself, this has all cost me 26 R.b.d. (Rigadaler) part of 50 R.b.d. which I have borrowed from Bro. Sorensen from Tilst and I have to pay him back when he gets to Utah.
Apr. 25th 1871 I slept almost six hours very restless, my nerves bother me much and I think they will until I get home.
Apr. 26th Today I have been fairly well and talked to a meeting for one half hour. Last night we baptized several, Bro. Cluff came to see me, we expect to leave Denmark together.
Apr. 30th I talked twice in meeting today, still haven’t had any mail from home, it has been sixteen days.
31st 6 P.M. I was overjoyed to get a letter from those I was so lonesome for, I read it with tears in my eyes, it has lightened my spirits and I feel a great deal better.
May 3rd Restless again, I have been out for a walk, I ate a little for breakfast and drank one half bottle of soda water, I think it is good for me., I drink a cup of tea occasionally, but I mean to cut it out, coffee I have not had since I took sick last fall. It is hard for me to lay off tobacco, I use only a little, a few cents worth each week, it can’t neither hurt me nor do me any good but it is bad old habit, I would like to lay off it but I can’t, I hope the Lord won’t hold it against me.
May 4th I went with Bro. Sorensen home and felt lots better than I did in Aarhus, feel good today, slept good last night, have raked a little in the garden, am baby-sitting in between but don’t like that very much, it is a little girl the age of the two I have at home that I have not seen, my thoughts are with them, it does me harm to see small children and it’s hard for me to pick one up in my arms.
May 6th I must go to Aarhus again to commence conference. Bro. P.F. Madsen came from Copenhagen and Bro. J.H. Jensen and Bro. Sorensen from Aalborg, We have now had conference and the district is in good shape, the presiding Elders have a good report. The Lord’s spirit was with us and strengthened me, even tho I was ill, I talked to the people on half hour to three fourths hour, three different times and I bore such a strong testimony as any one had ever born on earth to the truth of the gospel, there were 250 or 300 people, including saints and strangers. In these six months we baptized eighty-five and excommunicated seventeen. With the help of the Lord we had three times as many as any other conference in Denmark and Copenhagen district is three times larger than ours, I am glad the conference is over. I received a letter yesterday from my dear ones and one from Bro. Sobel, all is well at home. Have released three of the brethren from the district, to go home and named others to take their places. Have received promise of money for my house-keeper and her little son’s emigration for which she is very glad, her husband and older son must remain behind.
May 9th The missionaries and presiding elder have stayed with me today, our last time together and we regret having to bid each other farewell, we have had our picture take, eight of us, we have talked much together, I have given them much advice and warning.
May 10th,1871 The man to replace me will be here in a few days, I’m glad for that as I can’t stand to take care of all this business alone.
May 11th Traveled with Bro. Prostgaard to Fredericia, then to Tanlon, where I found my old Mother with fairly good health although she is 73 years old. Went to see Bulette, she lies on her death bed, very sick, she bid me greet all her friends and family, we then went up to my brother, Hans Peter, at Wilstrop, my brother received us as usual, very cold, we stayed there until the 12th., then to my cousin Hans Peter Nielsen, but he wasn’t home. At Tanlon I again saw my brother at the R.R. depot, I reached my hand to bid him farewell, he gave me his hand very coldly. The school master, Mr. Petersen, promised to give me my genealogy as well as he could and I paid him eight mark for it. After talking with my Mother I gave her six Rigadaler and three mark and took leave of her for the last time in this life but did not let on to her that it was our last visit. Visited the saints in Fredericia and stayed in Veile that night. Had sacrament meeting in Silkeborg
May 14th I was sick all day although I spoke three times to the saints and gave them many good instructions, we slept with Bro. Alstrom where he had his own bed and he went to town to find lodging for himself, he bade me to take his only daughter (11years old) with me home, which I promised.
May 15th Arrived in Aarhus and received a letter from home also one from Mads Jorgensen and what gave me more joy, I met the man who was to take my place, Bro L.C. Madsen from Fort Gunnison. My sickness left me toward evening and we rejoiced together, we slept together in my bed.
May 16th. I have been to town and bought a harmonica, which cost ten Rigadaler, I expect to take it home with me. Bro. N.C. Petersen, from Lesten, gave me 50 Rigadaler as a free gift to me, God bless him for it, I hope to see the day I can repay him should he ever need it.
May 17th and 18th Hard storm with snow and hail, much sick from the cold, much pain in my whole body and am shaking all over, went to bed with much fever, drank some elderberry tea, sweat all night and my thick woolen garments were soaking wet.
May 19th Today a little better, had to keep my wet garments on because I had no other clean, I miss my dear wives to care for me. Bro. Madsen is not well today either, he is not a strong man, he is a good man and has two wives and two children.
I thank my Heavenly Father for what little good I have been able to do while I have presided over this Branch, my earnest prayer is-He will forgive me because He has seen my failures.
Today, 21st went with Bro. Madsen to Randers where we were warmly received, held sacrament meeting, talked much to a large gathering, gave them much good advice and warning, many had tears in their eyes, gave a young girl a blessing and confirmed her, blessed a little boy belonging to Mr. Bonding, who is not yet in the church, was received by many saints at the depot at Aarhus. A sister Jorgensen, for six months has been sick with lung sickness, died today, leaving a husband and two children.
May 23rd Very sick today, the doctor advised me to go home as soon as I can, but I have at least five weeks left.
I am lonesome, Bro. Madsen tried to encourage me, he says he knows many, both in Denmark and in Utah, that has had the same sickness and has gotten entirely well, Bro. Madsen’s lungs have been twice affected, my lungs and other parts are as good as they have ever been but my nerves are bad, I have pain, lonesomeness, fear, sorrow and low in spirit.
May 25th Today I got myself weighted in a depot and to my surprise, I weighted 150 lbs. in American weight, almost the same as I weighted back home.
From May 26th To June 2nd. Have been in Veile and Horsens, held meetings and visited saints. I took a shot of vaccine and I think it did me good.
June 2nd Arrived in Aarhus today, received letters from home and the good news that my leave is arranged for the 23rd of this month, only 17 days left.
June 7th Today again sick, I caught cold, went to Tilst to visit Bro Sorensen, I stayed with him until the 10th. I left together with Bro. Madsen to Silkeborg to hold a branch meeting, I talked twice to the saints, I was fairly well, but the time goes so slow. I am very thankful to my Heavenly Father that He continues to bless me and strengthen me. I rejoice with the thought, I shall soon be with my family again.
June 12th I have today bought a Dohlet (?) –My prayers are that I will live to use it and that it will be good, I also bought several small items to take home to my wives and children.
June 13th Hardly any sleep, very sick, I said goodbye to my doctor and he said, as usual, that there was no danger and he is quite sure I will be all right on the ocean and will be well when I get home.
June 14th Sick all day, have had another shot of Vaccine from a lady here in Aarhus, she took some blood out of me and I hope that will help me in time, right now I am very sick and weak.
June 15th Sick and weak this morning, slept four or five hours, no appetite.
June 23rd I have today the joy of starting my trip home.
July 23, 1871. Today I have the great joy of meeting my beloved family, who are all well for which I thank my Heavenly Father. I miss two of my dear children.
Note---Peter Madsen did recover from the Gastric Fever (typhoid) and lived to be 87 years old.
Note---The translation of this diary was done by Mrs. T.A. Madsen and her daughter Ann Madsen Hanagen June 1956.
The original translated document consisted of very, very long paragraphs and other gramatical mistakes.
I have broken the paragraphs down to the daily entries and corrected sentence structures so the document is more reader friendly. -dlm