It is in this setting shown below, out onthe plains of Nebraska, somewhere near the Platte River, that Nicolai mounted a horse and rode back toward the camp of the previous day, looking for a lost child. Somewhere along the way, most likely near the riverbank, Nicolai found the missing child fast asleep in the crotch of a tree. The child was quickly hoisted up on the horse and I am sure no time was lost in getting back to where the wagon company had stopped and made camp for the night. Oh, what a wondrous thing this must have been for the affected family, the mother of this lost child. I am sure shortly after a flood of tears, a scolding was in order…
— Crossing of the Platte River on the Plains of Nebraska —
Nicolai was not asked to do this, he most likely was advised against it, and had something happened to him or misfortune befallen his search, such as Indians or the horse falling into a hole and breaking a leg, he would have been on his own. The safety of the many was more important than that of the few. Yet, for reasons known only to Nicolai, he left his family and went back. Perhaps it was a child from a Danish family that he knew in the old contury, or perhaps it was a child from the handcart company that traveled along with the wagon company, that detail we just do not have…
However we do know that because of his faith, and his bravery, that upon his successful return with the child, one of the leaders of the company poised to him that line which has become famous in all of the Sorensen family. “Ask of the Lord that which your heart desires and it will be granted unto you.”
I don’t know what to say here, what would you choose, or ask for? What would be the desires of your heart? That of all the things in this world or the next, of which to select from, that Nicolai choose to “Never be separated in this life from his wife, Malena.” Nicolai was 57 at the time; he and his wife had been through a lot together and had already lived longer than many during this period. That Nicolai loved Melena so, as to validated his private promise between man and wife, to stay together, to help, love and support one another through it all, just humbles me.
Nicolai and Malena lived close to another thirty years or so. They were sealed in the old endowment house and had the whole of the family sealed to them in the Logan Temple. They saw their boys and girls grow up and marry, to become good and useful members of a pioneer community. Malena was not well in the later years of her life; as such she finally succumbed to an illness of the flesh and passed to the other side, at about 10:00 in the morning, 30 March 1887. The boys asked father, that which they should do? He is noted as saying that they would need to construct two coffins, as he would be joining her shortly. Nicolai sat down and finished up some paperwork, took care of some pending affairs of the living and lay down upon his bed and died. This was about 3:00 in the afternoon, so there was only a period of five or six hours between them being together again.
Some would like to say they were laid to rest in one coffin, but I don’t think this is or could be so. For one the Wake would have to be held out of doors in March, and a double wide would not fit in the door of the house, church nor of a wagon bed to make the trip to the Mendon cemetery. I do know they were buried in one large grave, each in a simple box of pine, made by the boys. They both left this life together and were buried as one, on 2 April 1887. They share a simple white marble marker with a ball on the top. Upon the lower section of the headstone the following is inscribed…
“Not dead but resting, From mortal strife, You’ve won the victory, And passed to life.”
There is really nothing more that can be said of this…
Isaac Sorensen, a son of Nicolai and Malena, and who lived next door to them recorded the following for us—
1887 was beautiful in the month of March. On the 30th of this month grandfather and grandmother died, both on the same day, grandmother in the morning, ten o’clock and grandfather in the evening or afternoon at three o’clock. They were sick about four weeks and were buried in one grave. In the “Will” we found the lot on which he lived was allotted to me, as also five acres of below town of farming land connected with my fifteen acres making it twenty, in my farm below town. This made our place feel very lonesome for some time although they were old, we felt it a loss to part with them. Grandfather was nearly 88 and grandmother 80 years old, they were the last of their family, of their brothers and sisters, all the other having died several years previously.(1)
Veda Sorensen related the following to me—
When Nicolai and his family were crossing the plains, in the summer of 1857, he offered to go back to search for a child which had become lost from the wagon train. Upon finding the child and returning to camp he was commended for his kindness and was told by one of the leaders to ask anything that his heart desired, and it would be granted to him. He requested that he and his wife Malena, should never be separated in this life. He realized this blessing as he and his wife passed away on the same day, March 30, 1887, only a few hours in the morning separating them, and were buried together in the Mendon City Cemetery, in the same grave.(2)
Franklin Sorensen has left us this account—
According to Franklin Sorensen, a grandson of Nicolai; “When Nicolai was crossing the plains he offered to go back to search for a child which had been lost. On finding it and returning to the camp he was commended for his kindness and was told by one of the leaders to ask anything that his heart desired and it would be granted to him. He requested that he and his wife Malena, never be separated in this life. He realized this blessing as he and his wife died on the same day, 30 March, 1887, only a few hours apart and were buried in the same grave.”(3)
- Isaac Sorensen, The History of Isaac Sorensen, Unpublished journal manuscript. Transcribed to typescript by Rodney J. Sorensen, 3-4 July 1987.
- Veda Sorensen, as recorded by Rodney J. Sorensen, March 1977.
- Franklin Sorensen, as recorded by Frederick Chester Sorensen.