THE BEAVER PRESS Thursday, February 22, 1979
TRUE PIONEER STORIES
THE NIELS JENSEN STORY
November was the month of his birth. The topaz
his birthstone, the chrysanthemum his flower. Niels Jensen,
a long time citizen of Beaver, was born in Parowan in 1873,
a son of Peter and Boudild Marie Jensen. His life began when much
of the old west was still with us, when men and horses were
the motive power. Boys of twelve years of age were already
good teamsters and helped much to provide for the family
needs. In those days, making a living was a difficult and
full time job. Mr. Jensen was the same type of man as those
who helped to bring the wagon trains across the prairies,
who blazed the trails and felled the tall timbers, who cut
the great slabs of granite, who made and laid the brick for
homes, schools, and churches, who turned the soil and planted
grain, who kept silent vigil over the herds at night while
watching with sharp eyes and listening with keen ears for
the tricky Indian
When about 12 years old, Niels lost his mother. To him this
was one of the saddest moments of his life. He had turned to
her with all of his youthful problems and shortcomings. He
had sought her wisdom, council and helpful decisions at all
times. She had been his guiding star. At her death, he was
like a little boy lost. The earth had suddenly been pulled
from under his feet. The sorrowing family had been drawn
closer together. The father kept him close, taking him along
on many freighting trips. His two older sisters tried to keep
him in school, but there were interruptions when there were
jobs to do. He soon learned the ways, means and responsibilities
of caring for a team and wagon loaded with freight.
Soon after his mother died, the family moved to Richfield. They
went by way of Little Creek Canyon. The weather was bad, but it
took a turn for the worse with sleet, snow and a north wind.
While going over a dugway, the wheels of the wagon bogged down
in the deep mud. For a while they were stranded, wet, hungry and
tired. Wood was water soaked. The father went back to the wagon,
pulled out the old wooden bed and chopped it up for firewood.
After a good warm meal their strength and courage were somewhat
restored. After working furiously to get the wagon out of the
mire, they resumed their journey and camped for the night in
After reaching Richfield, Niels soon found a job herding cows for
five cents each, per day. He managed to get five cows and felt very
fortunate to be making 25 cents a day. It wasn't long, however,
before he was driving his father's freight wagon from Richfield to
such points as Pioche and Ely, Nevada, Milford and De Lamor, Utah
and other places where their produce could be sold.
From Richfield, Utah to Pioche, Nevada and back was about a 300 mile trip;
a big undertaking for a boy of 14. When he was about 15 years old,
he accepted a contract to haul mail from Taylor, Utah, a mining
town, to Ely, Nevada. He worked steadily at this job for four years.
Later in years, he received a contract to drive the mail from Milford
to St. George. On one of these trips, he was caught in a heavy snowstorm.
While trying to make it to the Buckhorn flat, he was almost lost in the
blinding snow, and so he decided to return as far as the Beaver
Ridge and wait. He cleared away the snow from around the white topped
buggy, tied up the team, made a fire and waited for daylight. He moved
on about 7 a. m. and reached Parowan, cold, tired and hungry. His
young days were filled with experiences of this kind. He never turned
down work if he could make an honest dollar.
While still living in Richfield, his sisters heard that Beaver was paying
good wages for good cooks, so they decided to move to Beaver. They brought
with them the family organ which the girls loved. They were fine
singers and many was the evening they gathered around the organ with
neighbors and friends to sing and play. Niels was their driver and all
went well until they reached Pine Creek Hill. Here the horses
balked and refused to move. Niels tried every known method to start
them, but to no avail; so the three sat down by the roadside
to wait. Someone may come along who could help them. They waited a long
time, told stories and sang songs, but no sound came from the road. No one
was coming their way on that day. Soon there was complete silence. Suddenly,
like a flash from the blue, the horses bolted up the hill as fast as they
could go with such a load. Neils leaped to his feet and ran after them. The
girls screamed out, "Oh, our organ, our lovely organ. It will be
smashed to pieces!" Niels shouted back, "The devil take the old organ, run!
Let's get in the wagon. If the horses have decided to go on, we may make Beaver
by night fall." At the top of the hill, the team had come to a stop and was
all out of wind. The travelers took advantage of this opportunity to climb into
the wagon. They reached town in safety, organ and all. Thus began their life
Niels Jensen has always been a hard worker. He was never without a good team
of horses and a good wagon. He treated them with kindness and a steady hand.
Many men still remember one of his favorites, a span of big and powerful
buckskins, pulling huge loads of the best wood obtainable. When Niels brought
in wood from the hills, you got your money's worth. For years, he was the champion
of all haulers. He was a man of great strength, stability, courage and with a big
understanding heart. His parents, being Pioneers, he was called upon, even
as a boy, to endure many hardships and make many sacrifices which in turn
prepared him for the years ahead.
In the early days of the west, God needed leaders of every profession. He called
them all. He also needed, and in great numbers, the brave rugged men of the
out-of-doors. Side by side they struggled, conquering and subduing
this wild and
uncharted land. In his day, Niels Jensen did his share.
In 1928, Niels Jensen was elected Sheriff of Beaver County. He served in this
capacity for many years, receiving as his monthly salary $114, which, he said,
"is somewhat different than they pay today, and we had a heck of a lot more to do."
It was back in the year 1898 that he married one of Beaver's fine young women, Kate
Bell Levi. To this union were born four lovely daughters, Clerynth, Norma, Letty,
and Faye. Mr. and Mrs. Jensen loved their home in Beaver and had many friends
throughout the entire County.