Caroline Sophia Sorensen Buchanan

picture of Caroline Sorensen

I was born in the month of April, on the 30th day, in the year 1858, at Shalen (Slagels), near the city of Copenhagen, Denmark.

The winter before my birth my parents heard the Gospel for the first time, as it had just been brought to that Country, and they accepted it at Christmas time. The ice was broken with an axe that they might be baptized.

When I was two years old, my parents moved to Judland (Jyland), thinking they would get away from persecution, but as the Church grew, persecution grew also and when I was old enough to go to school I was treated very badly by my school-mates. They even spat upon me and pulled my clothing, calling me "Mormon", and that was the worst name they could call anyone. And I being a child, only thought of my own grievances, but as I grew older I realized what my dear parents had endured for the Gospel's sake.

My father was ordained to the office of a local elder, and he worked hard and preached the Gospel faithfully in that, my native land, for many years. He was a stone-cutter and a mason. It was hard to get rocks for building purposes in that country, consequently father had to go into the woods and dig deep in the earth to find them, or go in a boat out in the ocean and draw them out of the water. He was a very busy man and a hard worker.

When I was between 7 and 8 years of age we lived about four miles out from the city of Aarhus, close to the beautiful woods. The elders came often to our home and finally prevailed on my parents to move to the city and live with them at headquarters so that my mother might be their cook and housekeeper, which she faithfully did for nearly five years. During that time my father labored in his calling in the Church whenever his financial circumstances would permit, and we did enjoy the sweet spirit of the Gospel while living under that influence. Even we children partook of it, those of us who could stay home and who were not compelled to work for our living.

In the year 1868 my sister Mariam emigrated to Utah. In 1869 she married Peter Christensen, whose mother at that time lived in Salina, Sevier County, Utah. In the year 1870 my mother and my youngest brother, Parley P. Sorensen, and myself emigrated to Utah. My mother took my young brother to my sister's home to live, and she hired out to do general housework in order to help get money to emigrate my father and my brother, William Sorensen. Brother William Cluff was president of the Scandinavian Mission at that time and had just received his release to return home. He paid for my emigration and sent me to his parents' home in Provo, Utah. Brother Cluff was married and lived in Brigham City, Utah. He thought I would do well with his aged parents, but the lonely little girl that I was no one can ever tell. I couldn't speak their language nor understand a word they spoke. They meant to be kind to me I'm sure, but I couldn't stand it. I had to find my mother. I left the old couple and found a chance to go to Salt Lake City with two men who appeared to be half drunk. When they camped for the night I crawled into a haystack and stayed until morning. When we reached Salt Lake City I knew not where to go. I had them let me off on Main Street and I wondered where my mother lived, but I found her. I was only then from April until August over 12 years old, but during the space of time from then until the next summer I saved $13.00 of my very own and sent it to my father and brother to help pay debts which father had incurred in our preparation to leave the city of Aarhus. But I was well paid for the little mite I sent them when the next July, after mother and I had worked hard to get necessary furniture to start housekeeping and everything was in readiness, we wended our way to the railroad station, and, as the emigration train pulled in, I stepped upon the platform to enquire of the conductor if there was anyone on the train by the name of Sorensen. Just then father gathered me into his arms and I was so happy.

My brother, S. Peter Sorensen had not joined the Church so he remained in the Old Country. My brother who came with father, Anders Wilhelm (William), procured work with Mr. Brockbank who lived on a farm in the very southern part of the city.

My mother and we two children came over on the first steamship that ever crossed the Atlantic.

We stayed in the City of Salt Lake until I was 15 years old. During those years my father worked on the Salt Lake Temple. After that we came to Sevier County where he built the old grist mill and several other buildings. From then on he spent most of his time in farming. He entered into the principle of plural marriage when he was quite advanced in years. His second wife was Matilda Torgeson. They raised a family of three boys and three girls, all good members of the church, and of whom we, the children of the first wife, are proud.

My father served a term in the penitentiary for obeying one of the commandments of the Lord - the law of plural marriage. He only lived a few months after his freedom. I, his daughter, can truthfully say he died a martyr to his religion, his death being caused from exposure while he was held a prisoner.

In the year of 1876 I married Archibald Waller Overton Buchanan and entered into the law of plural marriage. I had my trials and sore afflictions, but as far as the principle is concerned, I can say it is a pure and holy one, and I am glad that I have had the experience of living it, with his other wives. They are all true and good, and I love them.

In about 1878 or 1879 the United Order was established in Glenwood. This was a new experience and one that I appreciate. I made hats for the boys, nursed the sick and I, with my husband's wife Maria, went up on the plateau to Grass Valley and milked cows and made butter and cheese for all that were in the Order, for one season.

I had been married nearly four years when my first child, a boy, was born. I buried him at the age of a year and a half and was childless for some months. I was the mother of four sons and three daughters. My three daughters have grown to womanhood and motherhood. My second little boy was nearly three years old when I was called upon to mourn his loss. During this time the persecution against plurality had begun. Also about this time I had childbed fever and what is called milkleg. I was a long time getting well but I had to get out of my bed of affliction. I was finally cured by the power of the Holy Priesthood. I went into hiding first in one place and then in another. I did considerable work in the Manti temple one fall and winter, and while there was compelled to go by a fictitious name. My husband's wives and children who were old enough, were arrested and subpoenaed to appear in the city court as witnesses against each other and were made to testify against their husband and father. The marshals had found them at their respective homes, except their father and myself.

His wives came to my hiding place in Manti and left their children who were too small to testify in court, while they went to testify in the case. The marshals were pursuing me, and it became necessary for me to find a new hiding place. I was moved to Wayne County, to a small place that is now called Lyman. My two little girls were stricken with diptheria while I was there, and my little son died of the disease, and was buried on a little hill which later became the Lyman cemetery. This boy was the child for which I was hiding. We were watching our baby draw his last breath when we were warned that the marshals were approaching. My husband said to me, "What shall we do?" I remember saying to him, "Do what you please, I would just as soon go to the pen now that my last boy is taken from me." But it happened that the marshals took the road that led back to our house which gave my husband a chance to elude them. I was left alone with my two sick girls and my dead baby, and I didn't dare let my name be known.

Although persecution still continued, I was finally allowed to go back to Glenwood. I had no home of my own as I had always made my home with my husband's first wife. Since the law did not allow a man to keep two women in the same house, my husband and I went to Colorado. There he obtained a job in a grist mill. The very first $25 that he made he sent home to his families. We made our home in Mancus, Colorado for only a short time. There were many other exiles there. John Henry Smith and another apostle whose name I cannot remember, came there to hold a meeting and they counselled the brethren to take their families and go to Old Mexico, as the Mexican nation was allowing the Saints to go there with their families.

After much talk and consultation one with another, the brethren began to prepare for the long journey. We left Mancus early in the fall. There were four families of us. My husband took mountain fever soon after we started on our way and I had to drive the team all the way. I helped unhitch the horses, get meals and tend my husband, as he became very ill and weak. At one time we almost thought we would leave him by the wayside, but the Lord spared his life.

We passed through many experiences on that journey, and finally reached Colonia Diez on Christmas Day. There we met other brethren and sisters who were also exiles for the Gospel's sake. We certainly passed through the narrows and endured many hardships.

We had a pair of twins come to our home the second spring we were in Mexico, a girl and a boy, both strong and well developed children. They both lived to become parents.

At the time of the dedication of the Salt Lake Temple, my husband decided to go to Salt Lake for that event and also to see if he could get the rest of his family to accompany him to Mexico, but home and family and friends looked good to him, and he decided to come back for me and the children and bring us back to Utah.

After that we never lived together as husband and wife, as he said if we were going to live in Utah we must obey the law of the land. I took care of him in his old age, and I am very glad I did.

We lived in Glenwood, Utah for eight or nine years and then moved to Venice, Utah. My husband was getting old, and having deeded his property to his family before going to Mexico, he had nothing left when we came home, so I was compelled to work at most anything that I could turn my hands to, to support myself and family.

In the year 1908 I borrowed money, went to Salt Lake City and took a course in obstetrics and nursing. I went out nursing and soon had the money paid back that I had borrowed. I assisted those who needed me until I had brought 90 babies, which number has now increased to over 100.

In the year 1915 my husband died. During the years previous to that he was very much a care to me, as his health had failed to the extent that he could not care for himself at all.

Since my husband's death, my health has failed rapidly, and the fourth year after he died, I underwent a very serious operation, having one of my kidneys removed, and while I could not live without that operation, I would never have received my health without the power of the priesthood.

Since the operation I have gone out nursing again, and have assisted in many afflicted homes.

I had a stroke of paralysis on the 16th of March - would have been 65 years old on the 30th of the next month.

(Finished by Mary A. Black, second daughter of Caroline Buchanan)

"Mother was taken suddenly ill on April 30th, 1928, her 70th birthday. She passed away on May 3rd at 8 o'clock A.M. Our darling mother, God bless her memory."

(On page 465 of "Through the Years" centennial History of Sevier County, Utah, is the following note:)

"During this time Mrs. Caroline Buchanan served women of Venice and surrounding towns very faithfully as a midwife, working at this profession for many years, until ill health caused her to retire."

Typed by Joseph F. Buchanan - 6 Apr 1996