Ever since the announcement of plans to build a temple in Copenhagen (announced in 1999), Irene Buehner (granddaughter to Hans Madsen and Maria Sorensen) has had the dream that she could be there for its dedication. After some delay in construction, the dedication plans were finally announced in December of 2003. Irene then rallied several of her cousins into joining her in fulfilling the dream. The result was that she traveled to Denmark in May, 2004, with her daughter, Penny Merrill, her sister, Helen Bingham, her cousin, Truman Madsen, his wife, Ann Madsen, myself (David Peterson) and my mother, Linda Peterson. We were blessed to receive passes that assigned us to sit in the celestial room, just feet from the prophet as he pronounced the dedication. Truman was called up to give some impromptu thoughts. It was an unforgettable experience!
(Interior photos courtesy of www.mormon.dk)
We also took the opportunity to visit several other sites in Denmark. These included the birthplaces of both Hans Madsen and Maria Sørensen, as well as the parish churches in which they were christened.
Hans was born in Ørsbjerg in 1826 and christened in the nearby parish church at Kerte. The church at Kerte is distinguished in being the only medieval church in Denmark with a detached bell tower. (Usually the tower is incorporated directly into the church building.) At Kerte, the tower is separated from the church building by 16 meters (50 feet). There is a local legend associated with the tower's location. It is said that the troll living at the nearby town of Barløse was disturbed at the thought of a bell tower being built (because trolls hate bells), and threw stones at the partially-constructed tower, each night knocking down the day's progress. The advice from a wise old woman caused them to move the tower to its present location, where it somehow avoided the wrath of the troll. The details of this legend are found in a book that was given to us by the local librarian. Excerpts from that book will appear here in the future.
Maria was born at Gram in 1857. Today it is nothing more than the crossroads where several large farms come together (including "Østergaard", "East Farm", and "Damgaard", "Pond Farm"). She was christened in the local parish church at Rårup. We found the local history archive and actually saw some of the original church record books. At this season, the fields in Gram, as throughout Denmark, are a patchwork of deep green and vibrant yellow. The yellow is the flowering rapeseed, a relative of the mustard plant, which is extensively grown and harvested as fodder for farm animals. Towering over the sign for "Gramvej" or "Road to Gram", are another common sight through Denmark: huge wind-powered generators. Denmark (with its windy climate) is a world leader in generating power via this method.
After some difficulty, we actually found all the stones commemorating the emigration of our ancestors Hans Madsen, Louisa Tetzner, P.W. Madsen, Elise Larsen, Else Nielsen, Maria Sorensen, and Emma Vissing from Denmark to Utah. These are found at two sites (on opposite sides of the country!).
At Rebild Bakker National Park, you find the "Family" statue depicting an emigrant family, with parents and child looking forward to the new land, and grandmother gazing wistfully back to the old country. The commemorative bricks are embedded in the ground in a semicircular pattern at the foot of the statue. (We look like we are "praying" in the picture, but we are scrutinizing each brick, believing that all were to be found at this site, which was not the case...)
The other site has the statue "Kristina", a 16-year-old girl with wind-blown hair looking out at the Copenhagen harbor. (Both statues were created by sculptor, Dennis Smith, of Highland, Utah. Kristina represents his great-grandmother.) This is found on the "Amerikakaj"or "America" wharf (where many ships left for America). The commemorative stones are found scattered among the cobblestones at her feet. This is where we finally found the stone for Else, Maria and Emma.
Apparently, Hans and Louisa ended up with a stone at both places. "Jacobsen" is the married-name of Else Nielsen and "Ribe" is an error: it should be "Vejle" county (pronounced "Vye - luh").
Undoubtedly, we will share more stories and pictures of our adventure, including our expedition to "Robert's IsBar".