Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Broken Engagement

(This was printed many years ago on the back of the Church News published with the Deseret News on Saturdays. The date is missing from this clipping. Christena is the mother of Tilda Wasden.)

To find better work, the Ake Nilsson family left Sweden for Copenhagen in the 1850's. Sixteen-year-old Christena, Ake's seventh and youngest child, found a job in a factory weaving cloth. There she learned about Mormonism and asked for baptism. Ake gave permission, knowing how headstrong she was, but also knowing that "she usually chose the right anyway." Fearing the elders might be ordered out of her area, she asked for mid-winter baptism. After cutting three holes in the North Sea ice to find sufficient water, the elders baptized Christena Jan 8, 1856.

At times persecution flared against Mormons, like the meeting Christena attended during which hostile neighbors threw an ax through the window, badly gashing an elder's head.

Christena herself was hurt because of her religion, but her hurt was emotional, not physical. She and a wealthy young man fell deeply in love and became engaged. But when her fiance understood how strongly she felt about Mormonism, he forced Christena to choose. She could marry him and enjoy wealth. Or she could be a Mormon. But not both. Sorrowfully she broke the engagement. He demanded back the costly gifts he had given her, and in a rage he tossed his picture framed in gold, and her engagement ring to the floor and stomped them to pieces. The broken-hearted girl managed to save but a few items, including a pair of earrings and a beautiful lavalier.

These small keepsakes came with Christena to America when she emigrated to Utah in 1861. She married Swedish convert John Christenson, a fellow passenger with her on the Monarch of the Sea, on the way to America. They raised four faithful children.

Today their descendants cherish the earrings and lavalier as mementos of their great-grandmother who had courage enough to choose her religion and a life of pioneer hardships over a life of wealth and ease with a non-member husband. - (written by William G. Hartley)


Elizabeth said...

There is lots more to the story, according to the other family histories that were written by Aunt Sofe and others. Of course, we know that the lavalierre was given to the youngest daughter, Aunt Cindy, so it is in the Sorensen family. Anyone know where the earrings are? It always seemed like a very poignant story.

Kemp said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kemp said...

I was excited to recognize this familiar family story as I read it in the Church News while I was in the MTC in late May or early June, 1980. Hartly later published this story in his book "Kindred Saints: The Mormon Immigrant Heritage of Alvin and Kathryne Christenson" - long out of print, but good copies can still be found through used book outlets.

It is good to have reminders of the many things that have happened to create the world we live in, and the courageous people who set the stage for the life I am blessed to lead.

Ann said...

I think this is one of the values of the blog. Many family members who did not know Grandma and Grandpa Wasden are probably not familiar with this story and don't have access to what has been written by other family members. Who has a copy of Aunt Sofe's history?