Hans Lorentz Dastrup – 1859 Trail Stories


Hans Lorentz Dastrup

Hans Lorentz Dastrup was born 13th, October 1813, the son of Hans Jorgen Dastrup and Ane Marie Schiotz, at Horsholm, near Copenhagen in Denmark. 16 October 1841, he married his cousin, Ane Marie Berg, daughter of Mathias M. Berg and Sophia Magdalena Dastrup. They had two sons, Peter, born 8th March 1843 and Hans Lorentz, Jr. born 14th February 1845.  The family lived happily in Holbeck.  There they heard the gospel and joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons). Early in December in 1855 the family started for Utah.  They left Copenhagen, crossed the North Sea to Hamburg, Germany, and then to Liverpool in England where they boarded the sailing ship, JOHN J. BOYD, Dec. 12 1855, with a company of Latter-Day Saints. They had a very rough voyage across the Atlantic and were 65 days on the water. After processing, they went on to St. Louis, Mo., where they located first. After one year, on May 2, 1857, they moved to Omaha, Nebraska.  After 2 years at Omaha, In preparation for the trip across the plains,, a portion of the company was organized on the camp ground a little south of the city into a handcart company for the crossing of the plains which left on June 9th to cross the plains by pulling their children, bedding, cooking etc., on a two wheeled cart, which looked rather a heavy task for a man and his wife to undertake across a desert of 1100 miles. On June 23rd, ox team of sixty wagons, of which Hans Lorentz Dastrup was part of, divided into companies often 10 wagons each with a captain, set out for Salt Lake.


There were 56 wagons and 380 people in this company. Most were from Scandinavia, but there were also some Swiss and Germans. They left Florence on June 26. Edward Stevenson’s company left Florence the same day and as they proceeded westward, the two companies were never far apart. Before leaving, they unanimously agreed (by vote) to help one another, especially those who lost cattle during the trek. However, by July 10, when they had reached Wood River, some had forgotten their earlier promises. When some had cattle die, others refused to loan them their cattle. They claimed that their own heavily-laden wagons needed the extra pulling power of all their cattle. At a meeting it was decided that some of the freight would be removed from excessively heavy wagons. Stoves, earthenware, and china were unloaded from these wagons and buried, with the idea that the owners would someday return and retrieve their property.

On July 15 tragedy struck. While teams were getting hitched up and everyone was preparing to move out from the camp, someone tried to yoke up a wild cow. The terrified animal let out a bellow, frightening other teams and causing them to bolt. In the confusion, one man was killed, another got a broken leg, and five others were injured. The sorrowful man whose wild cow caused this disaster became so despondent at shouldering the blame that he went down to the Platte River with intentions of drowning himself. He was found sitting on the riverbank. He told them that there was not enough water to carry out his plan.

The company also faced a prairie fire and a herd of buffalo stopped the train temporarily. They met and fed several bands of Indians. When they were 40 miles west of Ash Hollow on August 17, there were reportedly only 51 wagons in the company. Neslen wrote Brigham Young from Fort Laramie on August 6 of his concerns about their supplies. They had to travel slowly because of the large size of the company and lame cattle. He hoped that their supplies would last through to Salt Lake.

At Ham’s Fork, Apostles John Taylor and Franklin D. Richards met them with enough fresh cattle and food to last them for the rest of the trip. Accompanying them was Peter Hansen, who then took charge of the Scandinavian part of the train. As they neared Salt Lake and crossed Big Mountain, a terrific thunderstorm burst on them. During the storm a child became lost but found the camp at the foot of the mountain early the next morning.

The company arrived in Salt Lake City on September 15. A two-wheeled covered cart pulled by a small white ox led them into the city. The ox was bedecked with garlands of wildflowers and on the sides of the cart was written, “Hail Columbia, This Beats the Hand Carts.” Large crowds met them and gave them fruits and vegetables. Neslen was credited for his ability in successfully bringing such a large company comprised of people from many countries and speaking so many different languages. There had been six deaths and three births along the trail, and the company lost 24 head of cattle.

Following are stories told by Hans Lorentz Dastrup’s Travel companions:

“Lars Christian Peterson, Pioneer of Hyde Park, One of Few Remaining Pioneers Has an Interesting Journal,” Logan Republican, 10 Aug. 1915, 6.

. . . On Monday the 6th of June a portion of our company was organized on the camp ground a little south of the city into a handcart company for the crossing of the plains which started from here on the 9th to cross the plains by pulling their children, bedding, cooking etc., on a two wheeled cart, which looked rather a heavy task for a man and his wife to undertake across a desert of 1100 miles but, however, that was accomplished and they arrived at Salt Lake City two weeks before us who left Florence on June 23 with an ox team of sixty wagons, which company was organized with Elder R. F. Neslen as captain.  The company was divided in companies of ten wagons each with a captain.

Before starting on our journey it was agreed by unanimous vote of the company what amount of load for each yoke of oxen and not to exceed that amount, and not to leave anyone on the road who had conformed to that rule, but to assist those who might be unfortunate and lose their cattle by death or otherwise as the plains were dangerous both from poisonous weeds and Indian depredations.  After traveling a short distance some of the cattle began to get tired and worn down, and cows were yoked up, but they were not able to draw the heavy loads, but these gave out too, consequently help was asked for which they got for a while, but also these cattle gave out and several began to died which caused ill feeling, as it was argued that these wagons had more than was allowed, on account of which Captain Neslen called the people together on Sunday, July 10, when we were camped at Wood River and gave instructions in this particular.  It was found that S[oren]. P[eter]. Guhl and others of the leading men were overloaded and was afterward obliged to unload some of their heavy articles such as stoves and earthen ware which were buried on the bank of the Platte river for safe keeping till they returned for them, which they did after apostatizing on their arrival in Utah and went back to make their homes with their own kind of people.

On July 15 as we were about hitching up our teams a misfortune occurred through the carelessness of parties who had hitched their teams to their wagons and then laid down about the wagons while others were busy yoking up unhandy cattle, and when a wild cow belonging to my mother was yoked up she bellowed.  Five teams were frightened and run, killing J. C. Waden and wounding several others more or less.  This caused considerable confusion in the camp.  S. P. Guhl who several accused of being the cause of the contention by his heavy overloading which caused the displeasure of God on the people, went, down to the river Platte to drown himself but said he was unable to find water enough and was sitting on the bank when the people came in his search.  After burying the dead, dressing the wounded we proceeded on our journey.