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Quiet Heroes

Elsie Rasmussen and Jens Nielsen

In The Peoples of Utah, William Mulder writes:


A photo of the first meeting house built in Bluff, Utah. Bishop Jens Nielsen is the third from the left.

The hidden resources of the humble could be magnificent.... How could their [Danish neighbors] ever see in Elsie Rasmussen and Jens Nielsen more than simple, hard-working hands hiring out from one farm to another, now and then walking arm and arm to dance away the night and return in time to do the chores?

How could anyone predict their heroic history?

Underway to Zion, Jens's courage would fail him crossing Wyoming's snowbound plateau, and Elsie would load him, his feet frozen, into her handcart and pull him till his courage returned, saving him, though permanently crippled, to pioneer five settlements and build as many homes to make good his dedication to the Lord for his deliverance.

As colonizer, Indian peacemaker, merchant, stockman, bishop, and patriarch he would make his broken-tongued maxim sticket to trude--"stick to the truth"--a badge of honor.

While in sandswept Bluff, Elsie would plant mulberry trees to raise silkworms, tend beehives to provide the settlement its only sweets, spend long hours at the loom, giving her days to manual labor, her evenings to the Bible and other good books, and devote herself as foster mother to the children of her husband's plural wives.