Christian Hogensen (1830-1899) and Karen Petra Larsen (1830-1917)

Taken from History of Bear Lake Pioneers – by Mrs. W. Louis Perkins

Courtesy of Marjorie Swensen Whitchurch

Christian Hogensen was born in Lier, Norway February 6, 1830. He was the youngest of five children born to Hogen Nielsen and Ingborg Olsen. He moved to Drammen as a young man. He fulfilled the Norwegian educational requirements and worked at a warehouse. His future wife, Karen Petra Larsen was botn to Lars Nielsen and Ann Pedersen December 20, 1830. Her father was a blacksmith, but he died when she was a young child. Because of the family circumstances, she was compelled to go to work at an early age. Petra became a nursemaid to the children of a wealthy family in Drammen. She was able to travel quite a bit, because she had full charge of the children. Later she was promoted to cook for the family.

Out of curiosity, she and some friends attended the meetings of the Mormon missionaries. Petra was very impressed and after investigating the church, she was baptized. When her employers became aware of her baptism, they were very concerned for her welfare. After a discussion with their minister, it was decided that Petra could still work as long as she didn’t influence the other servants.

She met Christian Hogensen at the Mormon meetings. He had joined the church previously, Petra wanted to emigrate with a group of Saints in 1859, but she lacked the necessary finances. Christian offered to loan her the money. Petra accepted and they sailed from Liverpool, England, on the William Tapscott in the spring, April 11, 1859. This proved to be a very romantic voyage for Christian and Petra. They were married while they were still on the Atlantic. After disembarking at New York, they traveled by freight car to Florence, Nebraska. They were organized into handcart companies and began the trek west. The Hogensens were in the George Rowley Company. It consisted of 235 people, sixty handcarts, and six wagons.

(June 9) The journey across the plains was very hazardous. Once Petra did not feel well and she fell to the rear of the line and fainted. She was picked up by a horseman who was traveling to California. By the next morning, she was rested and ready to take her place behind the handcart. When they were fording the Green River, she was swept off her feet by the swift current. A soldier saw her go down and urged his horse into the stream and rescued her. They arrived in Salt Lake City September 4, 1859. They were in a weakened condition, but very thankful.

Christian and Petra went to the Endowment House while they lived in Salt Lake. In 1861, they moved to North Logan, Utah. On July 16, 1861, a baby girl, Caroline, was born. She passed away in 1866.

In 1863, they were called by Brigham Young to help settle the Bear Lake Valley. They arrived in Paris on November 1, 1863. Christian hastily dug a cave in the north bank of the creek. In this dugout, their second daughter was born November 9, 1863. They named her Agnes. She was the first white girl born in the valley. The dugout was their home until spring. They noticed that the snow melted off the east side of the valley first, so they moved to what was to become Montpelier.

Christian built his first home on Third Street, but later he built a new home where the Lorenzo Swensen home is now located. Another daughter, Mary Jane, was born here. Christian owned most of the block east of Third Street and between Jefferson and Washington. The foot of “M” hill was completely covered with corrals, pig pens, chicken coops, hay stacks and firewood. After a few bad winters, Christian moved his family to Richmond, Utah for a year. Their son, Charles Henry, was born there. They moved back to Montpelier the next year. Christian said, “We were called to settle and build up Bear Lake Valley, and here we will stay.” Christian took great pride in his home, his horses, and his white top buggy. The church authorities passing through often stayed at the Hogensen home.

Christian had a special way of choosing his sons-in-law. Charles R. Pearce, a Londoner, crossed the plains with his mother and grandparents. He lived in Salt Lake for awhile and then came to Montpelier to work on the Hogensen farm. He worked for a number of years and then married Agnes Hogensen. They were blessed with ten children. While Christian was in Norway on a mission, he baptized Ole Swensen. Christian paid Ole’s way to America and supported him for one year. Ole helped on the farm and later married Mary Jane Hogensen. They also had ten children. When Christian returned from Norway, he brought a boy, Alfred, who had been left to his care. Alfred married Sylvia Broomhead and moved to Boise. Charles H. Hogensen married Emily Charlet Anderson, a recent convert from Sweden. They had four children, but Charles, the father, died at a young age.

In 1884, Christian married a second wife. To this union were born two children. Petra was a very diligent worker in the church. She served as president of the Relief Society when they were responsible for taking care of the sick and preparing the dead for burial. They were very hospitable and always shared with those less fortunate.

In Christian’s declining years, he suffered a great deal from arthritis. He resorted to the Indian steam-bath method of digging a hole in the ground, placing flat rocks in the bottom, and then starting a fire which would heat the rocks. They would then drop a wooden platform on the hot rocks and pour water in to create a steam. The patient would get in for a steam-bath. He passed away December 16, 1899. A niece, Ingborg Hansen, lived with Petra until 1914, when she married. Then Petra moved to Ole and Mary Jane Swensen’s home where she remained until her death October 2, 1917. She read books and knitted up until a few weeks before her death.