Alvin Moroni Jensen

February 3, 1885 - February 13, 1978


Alvin Moroni Jensen
( Began August 13, 1964 - Completed March 1, 1974 )

Believe it or not, I may have been the instigator of birth control. How do I know? Well, on February 3, 1885, my mother, Ane Jacobsen Jensen, wife of my father, Jorgen Peder Jensen, gave birth to me. I was her ninth child and sixth son, and they named me "Alvin Moroni Jensen".

Very soon after my birth I had my first cry, which I have been told was loud and clear. I have since wondered if my parents didn't also cry when I did. Anyhow, it should be noted that I was the last child born to my parents.

I was born in Parowan, Iron County, Utah, which is located in the southern part of Utah and it was in this same town and in the same house that all of my brothers and sisters were born before me. Their names are as follows: Annie Mary Kirstine Jensen, born February 24, 1871; Emma Julia Jensen, born December 18, 1872; Jorgen Andrew Jensen, born November 29, 1874; Alfred Jensen, born March 18, 1876; Waldemar Jensen, born November 29, 1877; Sophus Jacob Jensen, born July 6, 1880; Elizabeth Nora Jensen, born February 2, 1881; and, John Peter Jensen, born February 7, 1883.

At the time I write this history, they are all deceased, and I am 89 years and 26 days old.

My life story really begins with my parent's marriage, so I want to first tell something about them before I go into the story of my own life. They were both born in Denmark. My father was born October 27, 1844 in the town of Raadved, Skanderborg, Denmark, in the Parish of Hansted, and my mother was born May 20, 1842 in Kellehauge, Skanderborg, Denmark. They both came to America because of their belief in the Gospel as found in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

My father joined the Church in Denmark on March 9, 1866. On January 13, 1867, he was ordained a Teacher in the Aaronic Priesthood by Elder A. Larsen, who was at that time the President of the Frederica Conference in Denmark. On August 25, 1867, he was ordained an Elder in the Melchizedek Priesthood, following which he was called to serve a Mission for the Church in his native Denmark. He filled his mission and was honorably released in 1870. It was through his teachings as an ordained minister of the Gospel that my mother was converted to its teachings.

My mother emigrated to Utah in 1868, thus making her one of the original Utah pioneers; however, my father, having stayed to complete his mission, is not eligible for that distinction. However he came to Utah under much more favorable circumstances. On May 10, 1870, a few days after his arrival in Utah, he and my mother were married in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City for Time and Eternity. On that same day, following their marriage, they were called by President Brigham Young to go to Parowan, Utah, to help build up the Church in that area.

Parowan had seen hard times in the past, and President Young had already sent several Danish families into that community, including my father's brothers, Rasmus, Peder, and Niels, and also my father's sister, Bodil Marie Jensen, who had married a man named Peter Jensen. All of them had preceded my father and mother to Parowan.

The Danish people knew about livestock and farming. They knew how to "card" wool from the sheep, and how to make cloth. And they also knew how to get a living from the soil. It is interesting for me to note that they also needed a new "meeting house" and my father was a real craftsman. This must have been a "happy" assignment for my parents for it permitted them to be among loved ones as they established their first home in a strange land.

In the early days of Parowan, father did much to warrant President Young's faith in him. He did most of the cabinet and "finish work" on the new meeting house - the first ever to be built there - which still stands in good condition as one of the high and noble landmarks of Southern Utah, after more than 100 years of service. In fact, it was in this meeting house, which had been dedicated to the Lord, that I was blessed and given my name by Elder William C. Mitchell on March 5, 1885.

Father was privileged to do much of the cabinet and fine finish work on the St. George Temple. In fact, it was here that he met two persons who were to becomehis close and dear friends, and have a lasting influence on my life. They were Mahonri M. Steele, who was working on the Temple as a carpenter, and Miss Mary Ellen Jepson, who had been sent there to cook for the workers. They were destined to be the parents of my future wife, Emily Steele. I also wish to record that the influence for good which Emily's father, Mahonri M. Steele, and my father had upon my life gave me the ideals upon which to pattern my own life, and much of what I am today I owe to these two wonderful and dedicated men. They were very frank in their speech and very definite about all the things they did. They were true Latter-day Saints, always doing good things for those in need.

During their years in Parowan, my parents became known as very hardworking, dedicated and sincere people, who were always willing to help others.. Throughout their lives they were faithful Church members and they taught their children to be the same. Father's beautiful singing voice always added strength and beauty to the choir, as did the voice of my sister, Julia, who inherited much of his musical talent and was often called upon to be the soloist on special occasions.

Mother was a dedicated Visiting Teacher in the Relief Society. Also, her cooking was praised by all who knew her. Besides being an excellent cook, she made butter and cheese of such fine quality that people came from miles around with their cans and crocks to be filled with her butter, and to buy what cheese she could spare. It was into such a family of "talent" that I was born.

The home father built for my mother in Parowan was an adobe brick structure, which had a large front room that was also used for dining purposes, a kitchen, three bedrooms, and a back porch. It was here we lived until the early months of 1896 when we all moved to Circleville, Piute County, Utah, with the exception of my oldest brother, Jorgen Andrew Jensen. He was already married and remained in Parowan.

It was during those early years in Parowan that President Brigham Young, their true and trusted friend, passed away on August 28, 1877. Following President Young's death, President John Taylor took his place. President Taylor died on July 25, 1887, and in 1889, Wilford Woodruff was called to be the new President of the Church.

My parents lived in this same house in Parowan for nearly 26 years, and I lived there for the first eleven years of my life. So I still have vivid memories of those years I lived in Parowan. I well remember when I was transferred from baby dresses to what they called "pants". As I recall, this took place when I was between the ages of two and three years of age. Mother had made the pants out of yarn she had spun and woven into cloth. She stood me on our big, old fashioned cook stove in the kitchen, and paraded me off for all to see. I'm sure we were all proud --- I of my "pants", and she of her handiwork!

Another note of record: my father's records show that he was ordained a Seventy on May 21, 1885, three months following my birth, by this same Elder Berman who had baptized my father into the Church. Only This time, however, the setting was in Utah, rather than in Denmark.

I remember well when I was baptized into the Church. I thought it was great fun. In later years, from Church records, I found out that I was the 109th child to be baptized in Parowan. This event took place on July 6, 1893 by Elder Simon A. Matheson, and I was confirmed the same day by Bishop Charles Adams. I was eight years, five months, and four days old.

As I remember, I had but one school teacher in Parowan. Her name was Mamie 011erton. She was unmarried at the time, and to me she was wonderful and a very, very kind person. It was in Parowan that I was first introduced to the violin, which my father played very well. My brothers, Alfred and John, were also accomplished "fiddlers", and though I played only "by ear" I, too, was soon doing a fairly presentable job of "fiddling" with this musical group.

Besides our house in town, father owned a farm just a few miles outside of Parowan, where he planted his crops. He also owned a ranch at Housier Lake, which is located about ten miles southeast of Parowan. The summers spent on this lake were among my most happy ones. As I remember, this was a very beautiful lake - not large - about 200 yards wide and a mile long. There was a log house on the ranch, which had a big cellar. Each summer when the warm weather arrived, father would move us up to the ranch along with about 30 head of milk cows. One of my chores was to help milk the cows. Aside from the milking, which always seemed a chore, these were great days for us younger kids. Father made us a boat, and when our chores were done, into the boat we would go. We used to have many spills, but no casualties. People said they thought we were Lamanites. We younger ones were indeed privileged, for the older boys were assigned to work with father on the farm.

My mother and sisters spent their time at the ranch very profitably, making butter and cheese for winter use; however, mother's butter and cheese were so good and in such demand by everyone in Parowan, we never seemed to have any left over for ourselves for winter use - at least not enough, and so the cows were always brought back down from the ranch to Parowan for the winter. Then my milking chores would start all over again. I think by the age of eleven I was a human milking machine!

I particularly liked the trips I used to take with my father from the salt flats of the little Salt Lake (which is northwest of Parowan) to Pioche, Nevada. Father would sometimes average one trip per week. He had two wagons and four horses. These were great trips for me. The older kids couldn't boss me (not that I didn't need it) , and father was very kind to me. He would tell me many stories about the pioneers who crossed the plains, my mother being one of them. He would also talk about our Prophet Joseph Smith, and much about John Taylor, Brigham Young, Orson Pratt, Lorenzo Snow and many more of our pioneer leaders. As I look back, I realize how greatly blessed I was to have these happy, carefree years during which I was cradled in the bosom of a happy home life, surrounded by loving parents, brothers and sisters.

In the early months of 1896, Apostle Francis M. Lyman visited Parowan, at which time and under the instructions of the President of the Church., he called my father to be the Bishop of Circleville Ward, and he asked father to dispose of his property in Parowan and move to Circleville. I understand this is one of the rare times in Church history where a man has been called to be Bishop of a Ward in a community in which he had never resided. My parents talked it over briefly and then, faithful servants that they were, they accepted the call. On August 28, 1896, father was ordained a High Priest by Apostle Lyman and set apart as the Bishop of the Circleville Ward. He was the second man to be called to serve as Bishop of that Ward, and he served in that position for seven years.

When father disposed of his property in Parowan, preparatory to moving to Circleville, I remember that Bishop Charles Adams of Parowan purchased the Housier Lake Ranch. Then, inasmuch as he wanted to get rid of all of the fish in the lake, my brothers, Waldemar, Alfred and I were given this task. We brought down two wagon loads of Carp from the lake and sold them.

Just two weeks after father received his call as Bishop of the Circleville Ward, my brother Jorgen Andrew was married in the St. George Temple to Miss Katherine Amealia Lowder of Parowan. They were married September 14., 1896. My sister Mary had previously married George Holyoak in the St. George Temple on July 7, 1892. Though the move to Circleville was made without these two, Mary and George soon followed us to Circleville to make their home.

Arrangements for the move to Circleville entailed finding a new home for our family, which father did by renting a 500-acre ranch just outside of town from a man by the name of Ambrose Thompson. It was a fully equipped farm and had some 3000 cattle, which father agreed to care for on a percentage basis. There were over 100 acres of good farm land, large hay meadows, and much pastureland. Mr. Thompson also had about 200 thoroughbred horses, which were cared for by hired help. All of this gave Alfred, Waldemar, Sophus, John and me plenty to do, which I think was father's main idea.

There was also a large ranch house with many bedrooms to amply accommodate our large family. My sisters, Julia and Nora , helped mother in the house, so we were all busy. We lived there for two years. The first year on this ranch I again resumed my old chore and profession of milking cows and helping on the farm. I remember one day I was harrowing in the oats that had been sown when I made the mistake of hitting one of the horses on the leg with a willow. I thought he was traveling too slow. In return he kicked me in the stomach, and for three days I did not know anyone and only moved when I was moved by someone else. This was a lesson which took me some four months to learn. I still say "don't hit a horse on the hind legs unless you are in front of him!!

It was while living here that I was given the Aaronic Priesthood and ordained a Deacon on June 10, 1897 by Bishop James E. Peterson, and then appointed President of the Deacon's Quorum. President Wilford Woodruff died on September 2, 1898, and Lorenzo Snow was appointed as the new President of the Church.

During this same year, our second one spent on Thompson's ranch., father decided to build a home in the town of Circleville. Father purchased a lot and he and we boys built a large two-story house, which I still remember as a very beautiful home. It had a living room, a large dining room, a large kitchen, with an 8 x 10 foot storage room off the kitchen, which was always well-stocked with food. There were two bedrooms downstairs, a screened-in porch, and a bathroom. There were also four large bedrooms upstairs. It also had a nice cellar, as basements were called in those days. The house was built with only one casualty: my brother, Sophus, fell off the roof while shingling. He broke his arm and several ribs. For the remainder of his life he carried a stiff arm because of that fall.

My father was always looking to the future, and it was not long after we moved into town that he acquired a small farm of about 30 acres just outside Circleville. Following this, he acquired 160 acres of land on a flat located some three miles below a spring which fed into what was called " Lost Creek." Townspeople considered this worthless land, and many felt he was just throwing his money away on an unwise investment, but, because of the nature of the ground, we were able to divert the water through a flume - or wooden ditch - from Lost Creek., so named because the water from the spring, flowed for about two miles, then began to disappear into new channels. Within two years we had 50 acres of alfalfa, 20 acres of corn, and a nice patch of wheat and oats on this so-called "worthless" property. This was one of father's most productive financial achievements.

My brothers Sophus and Alfred never cared much for horses or cattle, and so they were father's main help on the farm. John had remained in the employ of Brose Thompson after we moved from his ranch, and when I grew older and wiser in the ways of horses, 1, too, was hired by Mr. Thompson to help care for and train his horses. John and I were both taught to train them as Mr. Thompson wanted them trained, and he knew his business.

At the first Iron County Fair, which was held in Parowan, the horses we had trained for him won him first prize and top money in the white- top buggy team races, top money in the buckboard races, and they also won all the sulky races, both for the trotters and the pacers. John and I were the drivers and, needless to say, this brought us a slight increase in wages. You should have seen the monkey suits we wore - bright shirts, tight britches, purple neckerchiefs and goggles!! We were really dudifie!! John and I sometimes stayed on the ranch overnight" but on weekends we were always home. We had good beds, and we loved our home.

In thinking back to those days when John and I used to train horses, I recall one instance when father used one of the sulky horses and a sulky to take a man who had come down from Salt Lake by train to Marysvale, and then on to Kingston for an appointment. Father had never trained horses and he didn't know that these horses had been trained to stop whenever you let up on the reins. All went well until they arrived at their destination. Father pulled on the reins to stop, instead, the horse increased it's speed and they went around Kingston several times without him being able to make the horse stop. When he finally let up on the reins, the horse stopped - as it had been trained to do.

Another incident, which called for a good sense of humor on father's part, happened not too long after the Kingston incident. John and I were working out in the fields and father came out to get us. We asked him to take the team and wagon in for us. It was a very cold afternoon, and after father had climbed up into the wagon, he began to beat his arms back and forth and stomp his feet in order to keep warm. Unfortunately, this was the signal to these trained horses to run, and, of course, they obeyed. Poor father was somersaulted to the back of the wagon, and John and I had to walk all the way back to the barn.

Father was a very skilled craftsman, but he was not a horseman. He would never ride or drive one if he could possibly keep from doing it, and he didn't even want to feed one. He was always surprised that John and I liked them so much. But on both of these occasions, when his lack of knowledge in the ways of horse training was brought to light, he proved he could take a joke, and he was secretly very proud of the fine work we did in training the horses in such obedience. More than once he said, "You crazy kids - how can you train them like this? No one else knows how to handle them."

More seriously, father was my first Ward Teaching companion and he taught me much about Ward Teaching, especially how important it was to do it on a certain day of each month. His respect was always for the High Priest of the home, and he never imposed on their rights. He also taught me how to pray. He often said, "What we have is only loaned to us by God, and we will be rewarded accordingly." Also, "What we make of our probation here on this earth is what we will be in eternity." He always told his children that we were building our own future, and he admonished us that our "best" would never be good enough until we came to a state of greater understanding. As for his fine workmanship and skill in whatever he did, I have often tried to pattern my work after his, but always seem to fall short of my expectations. He was truly a master craftsman.

There were no moving picture shows to go to in those days. Sometimes we would have a party at someone's home, which never appealed to me, so the "highlight' of the week for me was the Saturday Night Dance. I thought they were exciting and " top railing." This being a "Mormon" town, the dances always closed just before midnight, and always with prayer. One of these Saturday nights brought me an experience I shall always remember.

It was the Saturday following the 10th day of October, 1901, which was the death date of President Lorenzo Snow. And wherever the Apostles and dignitaries of the Church were, they were hurrying back to Salt Lake City for the funeral. While I was at the dance, father sent word to me that he would like me to come home; that Apostle Francis M. Lyman, Professor Howard Driggs, and Professor Ward were at the house waiting, and I was to take them to Marysvale to catch the early train to Salt Lake City. They had been driven to Circleville from Panguitch, some 30 miles away, by Mahonri M. Steele, a member of the Stake Presidency, and I was to take them the rest of the way to the train in Marysvale. Realizing the importance of getting there in time to catch the train, I decided rather than use one of father's teams for such a hurried trip, that I would go around to Thompson's ranch and get one of the teams John and I had trained, and one of his white top buggys, which made me later getting home than had been expected. As I remember, it was about 1:30 am, Sunday morning. By this time Apostle Lyman had worked himself into quite a tizzy. He was a man who never wanted to be late for anything and he was very sure he would be late this time, so he wasn't in a very happy mood. And when he saw I was but a mere slim lad he showed plainly he did not approve of father's decision at all, even though father and President Steele tried hard to convince him that I would get him there in plenty of time to catch the train.

He realized, however, that this was his only chance to get to Marysvale and the train, so he finally consented but when we left he was not happy. My father was in ill health at the time, and President Steele had already tired his team of horses in the hurry and rush of the drive from Panguitch. So I left with a kind word of warning from President Steele "not to be disturbed over Apostle Lyman's displeasure, but to use my own judgement --- and that he had faith in me". He knew I had been well-trained as a horseman, regardless of my size or age.

For the first eight miles., which took us to Junction.,Utah, I did not drive very fast--- anyway, not fast enough to please Apostle Lyman, and he let me know he did not like it. Like a broken record, he would say over and over "can't you drive a little faster, I know we will miss the train." Leaving Junction, we crossed a strip of road called "The Ten-Mile Bench". I crossed this at quite a rapid speed, but he still asked if I couldn't drive faster. At this point my nerves became quite edgy. I had always been taught not to talk back to an Authority, but to listen and to obey, so I decided to drive faster and give him a good ride. Down in my heart, I wanted to give him something to remember me by ---The Ride Of His Life !!!

Professor Driggs sat with me in the front seat of the white top buggy, with Apostle Lyman and Professor Ward in the back seat. I told Professor Driggs to hang on, as I was going to make Apostle Lyman say "don't drive so fast."

This was the team that had won all honors at the Iron County Fair, so I tightened on the reins and we took off. The road was muddy in spots and had deep ruts in some places. After a mile of fast driving, we hit one of those deep ruts and broke the back spring directly under where Apostle Lyman was sitting. After that happened, he began to say "Don't you think you are driving too fast?" All I could say was, "Hold on Brother Lyman, we will get you there on time." I think he would have liked to change sides with Professor Ward, but this he could not do, as he was too busy holding on to the seat. Well, we were not only on time for the train, but were there fifty minutes early. When he left the buggy he graciously thanked me, but to me, he certainly didn't look much like he meant it. Professor Driggs said it was the best ride he had ever had, and I am sure Professor Ward also enjoyed it.

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