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Annie Margaret Thompson

This is the story of two young girls who were born and raised in far away Copenhagen,
Denmark. Annie Margaret was born 28 Oct 1858 and Josephine Eris Minnie was born 15
May 1851. The parents were Neils Thomsen and Karen Nielsen. The Thomson family were
taught and accepted the gospel message of the LDS missionaries in the year of 1853. They
were baptized in icy cold waters at midnight because of possible persecution for joining the
Mormon church. The family dream was for the complete family of six children to come to
America and join with the thousands of other Scandinavian Emigrants coming to the Utah
Valley. Neils worked very hard to save enough money and even rented out a portion of
their home to help finance their dream. Their kind mother, Karen, took good care of the
Elders by washing their clothes and cooking meals for them. When the time came there was
not enough money for the entire family to leave together. Annie Margaret, nine years old,
and her older sister, Josephine Eris Minnie, then fourteen years of age were selected to be
the first of the family to make the journey. The plan was to send others of their family at a
later date. A family that were good friends of the Thomson's agreed to take the girls and
be responsible for them. Their names were Frederek R.E. and Wilhelmine Berthelsen *
also of Copenhagen. They had four children of there own, ages ten months to nine and half
years. The cost from Copenhagen to Wyoming, Nebraska was about 82 Danish Rigsdaler
or $42 American dollars. Emigration records show that the Thomsen girls used the church
Perpetual Emigration Fund.

The day of parting finally arrived at 1:00 PM on the 17 of May 1866 at the Copenhagen
harbor. Mother and father, sisters and brothers all waving their good byes as the girls left
on the Steamship Aurora. The ship blew its horn as it
moved out into the ocean on its short voyage to Kiel,
Holstein, Germany. The girls shed their first tears and
probably many more followed during the many months
ahead of them as they missed their family and home.
From here they took a short train trip of 70 miles to
Hamburg, Germany. Saturday, May 19th, they boarded
the Kenilworth **, a two deck Square -Rigger sailing
ship. The ship was put on hold for six days for more
passengers coming from other destinations to make the
On Friday at noon May 25th, the Kenilworth finally lifted anchor and made its way
down river into the ocean with 684 passengers made up of Danes, Norwegians, Swedes
and Germans.

The Captain decided to take a longer route into the North Sea by going around Scotland
rather than the usual route through the English channel to America. The passengers were
experiencing sea sickness because of the rocking of the vessel, due to very high winds in the
North Sea.

The schedule aboard ship was morning bugle at 6:00 a.m. At 8:00 a.m. there were
prayers followed by a breakfast which consisted of tea and rye bread. At 11:00 a.m. they
had dinner, which was good and solid food. At 6:00 p.m. they had supper. At 8:00 p.m.
they had evening prayers and at 9:00 p.m. they were to retire.

The voyage was uneventful for the most part, sailing 52 days on the ocean. There were
twelve deaths, seven marriages, and two births. One of the deaths was Wilhelmine
Berthelsen ***, age 37 years, the one entrusted with the girls. She became sick and died
May 29th. Now the girls were pretty much on their own as Mr. Berthelsen did not show
them much attention.

The ship arrived in New York harbor on July 16th. As the passengers rose early to view
the countryside and said “how beautiful” it was. They saw the green hills of Staten Island
and the tall steeples and magnificent buildings of New York City and Brooklyn in the
distance. Doctors came aboard at noon and found that no contagious diseases existed
among the immigrants. The next day a small steamer took them to Castle Gardens were
they had to pass through usual examinations and registrations.

After arriving in New York they found out that route fares had been increased, so an
alternate route was secured which took longer and added many additional miles to reach
their destination to Wyoming, Nebraska.

They boarded a large steamship 80 miles up the East River to New Haven, Connecticut.
From there by railroad they were taken north to Massachusetts and Vermont, crossing the
St. Lawrence River into Montreal, Canada. In Canada they changed trains and found the
accommodations were not very good. They occupied cars that were unclean with no seats
which made them have to sit or lie on the floor.

They traveled two days westward up the St. Lawrence River to the shores of Lake
Ontario into Toronto, Canada and down to the state of Michigan. From there they went
through Illinois to Chicago and then to Quincy across the Mississippi, finally arriving in
Saint Joseph, Missouri.

They made a two day trip up the Missouri River to the Church's out fitting station of
Wyoming, Nebraska where preparation was made for the long journey across the plains to
The “Peter Nebeker” wagon train departed camp in Nebraska on August 7, 1866, with
400 hundred individuals, 62 wagons, and two to three oxen per wagon. The immigrants
had little or no extra clothing. When they received their trunks and boxes, they found that
they had been opened and robbed of many of their contents.

Peter Nebeker's wagon train was selected as the wagon train for the Thompson girls.
Many other passengers from the ship “Kenilworth” left with the Joseph S. Rawlins wagon
train which left on August 2, 1866. The wagons were loaded with merchandise and
provisions, besides their luggage.

All those that were able to walk were expected to walk the entire way to the Utah valley.
Those that were older or sick could ride in the wagons. This was done to make the burden
lighter for the oxen. At night camp was made using the wagons circled making a corral to
protect themselves and the cattle from Indians. However, the Indians were friendly and
only wanted food, clothing, or guns. On one occasion it was remembered that the Indians
were given a sack of flour.

The girls custodian, Frederick, gave the girls little to eat. When potatoes were the food,
he would eat the potatoes and give the girls the peelings. It is said that later in the wagon-
trip he came up missing and never was seen again.

The Thompson girls walked every step of the way and waded every stream and river.
When they came to the Platte River, Annie Margaret almost drowned. A man, hearing her
calling for help, went to her rescue and brought her to shore. It was necessary for the girls
to stay close to the wagons because of buffaloes coming close to the wagon train and also
Indians were a danger.

When the sisters would come upon wild berries they would collect as many as they could
eat to help satisfy their hunger. When night came they would find what food was available
to eat and then went right to bed. Both girls had beautiful long hair in braids which
eventually they had to cut because they didn't have time to care for it properly. Another
problem was their difficulty in understanding the captain of the train. Captain Nebeker
would ride up to them giving orders and they had difficulty understanding what he had
said because they had'nt learned English yet.

The wagon train reached Salt Lake City September 29, 1866. All were taken to the
Tithing Yards which looked like a large corral. It was here that loved ones would come to
meet and greet the new immigrants into the Valley. A Danish man, also named Thompson,
not a relative agreed to take Josephine to his home where she could work. Annie Margaret
was separated from her sister and was put in another

Josephine said that the family had a large ranch and

she was doing the cooking and housework. She was paid
one dollar a week. Josephine married Samuel Smith and
they had thirteen children. They later moved to Idaho
where she passed away.
Annie Margaret was brought to this same ranch to work for them
doing chores. This is where she probably met George William Smith,
younger brother of Samuel. She was married to George on December 23,
1872, at the age of 14 years of age. Not much is known of Annie's life in
Utah. She lived in South Cottonwood where she gave birth to 10 children.
She lived a very short life. She was 41 years old when she died June 9,
1899. She died of convulsions while she was six month's pregnant with her
eleventh child, which never lived.

Annie and Josephine lived a very adventurous life and if living could tell us many more
exciting stories. The sister's parents never came to America. Their mother, Karen Nielsen
Thompson died November 8, 1867, just one year after the girls left Denmark. Their father
remarried and stayed in Denmark. Some of the brothers and sisters did come to Utah at
later dates.

Written by: LaMar E. Poulson, great-grandson of Annie Margaret and a story received
from reatives and Edith Scott, an Emmett, Idaho Historian.

*My Research shows that the guardians of these girls were probably Frederich and
Wilhelmine Bertelsen. The research document was: Copenhagen Conf. 1866 on
“Kenilworth”, Emig. S.M. - film 0256961, page 2, This was the only adult family on the
ship who were from Copenhagen.

** The girls were also listed on the “Kenilworth” as 14 and 9 years of age.

*** “Heritage Gateways” http:heritage.uen.org/companies/Wc786ed5db431c.htm