Biography of MARTHA LARSEN (Pioneer) came to Utah in 1862
Written by MAUDE (HOUGHTON) LUDLOW her granddaughter
WILLIAM WELLS HOUGHTON JR made some minor corrections/editing.
MARTHA LARSEN was born October 11, 1857 in Denmark. She was the daughter of NIELS LARSEN and ENGER MARIE ANDERSEN. She had one brother MARINUS LARSEN.
In the year of 1861, her father NEILS LARSEN, was converted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on January 31, 1861 by Elder Powell Peterson, and was confirmed by Elder CHRISTENSEN. Later the same year, her mother, INGER MARIE ANDERSEN, was baptized and confirmed on June 15, 1861 by Elder LAURITZ LARSEN.
In April 1862, Martha's parents responded to the call of the Gospel and started for Zion with their two children, Martha age five and Marinus age fifteen. They sailed on a ship from Aalborg, Denmark to Kiel in Germany, and on a small boat from Kiel to Hamburg, Germany. From there they sailed on the ship Electric in company with 336 Scandinavian Saints under the direction of SOREN CHRISTOPHERSON. They arrived in New York, June 5, 1862, and from there they traveled by railroad to St. Joseph, Missouri, and then by boat up the Missouri River to Florence or Omaha, Nebraska.
While here her father and a Mr. Westagore bought one wagon and two yoke of cows to bring their families westward. The cows pulled the wagon and were milked to supply food. They left there in an independent company under Captain C.A. MADSEN and C.N. LILJENQUIST. The wagon with their food supplies, camp equipment, several feather ticks (mattresses),and other necessary things was so crowded that their mother, INGAR MARIE, walked all the way across the plains, and when Martha, who was only five years old, became tired her mother would carry her on her back, never complaining, always with a song on her lips and a prayer in her heart for the safety of her loved ones. A true Pioneer Mother carrying her share of the burdens and hardships, and giving encouragement to her husband and son, who although he was only fifteen years old, helped to herd and drive cattle.
They arrived in Salt Lake City, September 23, 1862, five months after leaving their native Denmark, with their hearts filled with joy and praise to GOD at having arrived safely in Zion.
In the same month of September, they went to Spanish Fork and settled in the north eastern part, where they stayed until Spring then moving to the Utah Lake shore on the mouth of the Spanish Fork River.
The Danish people were noted for their thrift and their ability to establish themselves in a community, and to make the best of their opportunities, and this family was no exception. The father was an expert fisherman, and for many years made their living by selling the fish he seined from the lake, taking them all over the Valley to sell, as far south as San Pete County, and north to Salt Lake City.
MARTHA as a young girl loved to go on these trips with her father. They would stay with friends as night came on She loved to hear the stories told of their native homes. Once in Salt Lake, she saw some ripe tomatoes, and they were so pretty, and looked so colorful and good that she begged for one, but when she bit into it she didn't like the taste, although she later liked them very much. This family was also proficient in the art of weaving baskets, and made many of them from the willows along the river bank, both for their own use and to sell.
Among MARTHA's girl friends that lived on the lakeshore, were: MARY and ANNIE BECKSTROM, and LIZZIE ANNE HUTCHINSON. It didn't seem such a task for these girls to walk from their homes to Spanish Fork to attend Sunday School, and back in time to find the cows before milking time. They, as all the young people of that time, were expected to help to help their parents make a living. MARTHA with the other girls, would help shear sheep, taking wool for pay which was corded, spun, and woven into clothing, and used for making quilts. She also helped weave baskets.
In the fall, they moved to Spanish Fork. Here Martha attended school in a small adobe building, where the Reese School now is. Among her teachers were: SILAS HILMAN, J.P. JONES and JAMES HIGGINSON.
The pioneers in spite of their hardships entered into their recreation whole-heartedly and held many dancing parties in private homes and in Morrison's Hall. They also enjoyed the theatre very much. MARTHA loved to dance, and her sweet face and charming personality made her a favorite with everyone.
On February 1, 1875, she was married to WILLIAM ALFRED STOKER. They made the trip to Salt Lake City in a covered wagon and were married and sealed in the old Endowment House. They made their home in the Fourth Ward of Spanish Fork, in a small adobe house, later building a brick home on the same lot on 1st East and 3rd North.
MARTHA was an excellent housekeeper. Her floors were always scrubbed and snowy white with sand and homemade soap. Her windows shone with much polishing and everything was spotless. She was a very good cook, and her relatives and friends remember well the good Danish soup with potato dumplings, and countless numbers of people remember the old Danish custom of afternoon coffee that was served to one and all with it's accompanying hot bread and honey. The good coffeecakes, raison bread, and apple and pumpkin pies.
Her husband, WILLIAM kept bees, and she would preserve her fruit with the honey, and also seal it in five-gallon cans. She made hominy from the corn. She made her own lye and soap. When they grew tired of salt rising bread, she would trade a bowl of honey for a start of yeast from a neighbor.
Dressmaking was another of her accomplishments. Making her own and her families clothes, knitting their stockings and sweaters, piecing quilts from scraps, having her friends in to a quilting bee, and in turn helping them. She was always busy with mending, darning, or sewing some kind of article. Her hands were never idle. She made beautiful crocheted and knitted lace, giving a set of knitted lace and insertion for pillowcases and sheets to each of her daughters and granddaughters. She continued this handiwork until the time of her death.
Gardening was a hobby at which she spent much time. Her flower garden was a thing of beauty, and her flowers were given graciously to friends and neighbors, sent to cheer the sick and to adorn the graves of friends and loved ones.
She was loyal to the Relief Society, being a member before her marriage. She was Counselor to SARAH SWENSEN for seven years, and was an active teacher until her death. She was a charter member of the American Legion Auxiliary. Her son DAVID having served his country in the World War.
Her patience, courage, truthfulness, and honesty were characteristics that endeared her to all. In sickness and trouble her gentile hands and kind words brought help and solace to many people through their dark hours, and her own troubles were met without complaining, and faith and trust in her HEAVENLY FATHER.
She had eleven children; three of who died in infancy and three sons after they reached maturity.
Her husband died April 9, 1906, and she carried on being mother and father to her family. Her children were: WILLIAM ALFRED, who died when three months old; ALMIRA and ALMA, twins, ALMA died when 26 months old; NIELS MICHAEL; MARIE ELIZABETH; STEVEN WILFORD; ALFRED MARINUS; DAVID ELMER; MARTHA ELEANOR; WILLARD EARL; and LESTER FLOYD, who died when 21 years old.
MARTHA passed away June 28, 1936 in Spanish Fork, Utah County, Utah, and was buried 1 Jul 1936, in Spanish Fork, Utah County, Utah.