Mormon Missionary Diaries
About the Collection
Frihoff Godfrey Nielson
by Jeffrey S. Hardy
Frihoff Godfrey Nielson was born on 3 May 1851 in Copenhagen, Denmark, to Peter T. Neilson and Maria Helene Frederikka Posemann. In 1854 Frihoff’s parents were converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), and young Frihoff was baptized by his father in 1859. At the age of ten Frihoff emigrated with his family to America on the ship Monarch of the Sea, and crossed the great plains in the Samuel W. Wooley company, arriving in Salt Lake City on 22 September 1861. The following year they settled in Peterson, Morgan County, Utah, where Frihoff attended school and worked on the family farm. Starting in 1874 he began to teach school during the winter months and also served as Sunday School superintendent and home missionary for the Church.
In 1876 Frihoff was called to assist in the settlement of the Little Colorado River in Apache County, Arizona. He displayed his reliance on God in his journal while journeying to Arizona: “We have need of living nearer unto the Lord and leaving our foolishness then we will have claim on him for his blessings to attend us.”1 After arriving, Frihoff helped establish the community of Sunset, where he again worked as school teacher and served in the Sunday School and home missionary programs of the Church. During an extended trip back to Morgan County, Utah, he married Emma Waitstill Mecham on 20 October 1877; they were blessed with nine children over the course of their marriage. In 1884 they moved from Sunset to Ramah, McKinley County, New Mexico. Here Frihoff took a second wife, Mary Ellen Everett, on 3 February 1887, and five children resulted from this union. In 1894 the Nielsons relocated to Bluewater, Valencia County, New Mexico, where they farmed and raised livestock.
On 22 July 1899 Frihoff received a call to serve as a missionary in the Northern States Mission of the LDS Church. In October he traveled to Salt Lake City to be set apart for this assignment and there “received some valuable instructions regarding…keepings journals, …keeping clean, being a gentleman, keeping women at a distance, not go in the way of temptation, being temperate, chaste in language, not eat with knife, and being virtuous, pure and chaste.”2 After arriving in Chicago, Frihoff was assigned to the Southern Illinois Conference, with headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri. Following his first experience with street preaching he remarked, “Hard matter to speak to a traveling disorderly congregation.”3
Frihoff spent the majority of his time tracting and meeting with members and investigators of the Church. He also visited numerous meetings of other churches and frequently met with their pastors in hopes of converting them. These experiences did not result in any conversions, but Frihoff’s own convictions were strengthened; after one meeting he noted, “5 of us…were there some 2 hrs listening which makes me more satisfied than ever with our religion.”4 After nearly two years as a missionary, Frihoff was released to return home and on 27 September 1901 he recorded in his journal, “About 4 a.m. arrived at Bluewater,…walked on thro field to my home where I awoke my wife and children and found them all well and glad to see me.”5
After his mission Frihoff continued farming and also served as first counselor in the bishopric, ward clerk, and presiding elder of the Bluewater Ward. In November 1919 he moved to Mesa, Maricopa County, Arizona, but just months later Frihoff’s first wife, Emma, died. In Mesa he obtained work at a lumber yard, but this employment was soon terminated and he returned to New Mexico. During the 1920s he engaged in farming and ranching and also served civically as county commissioner and postmaster. In October 1927 Frihoff and Mary were called to be ordinance workers in the Mesa Temple of the LDS Church, an appointment that they held until Mary’s death on 29 December 1934. Frihoff Godfrey Jenson died less than two weeks later, on 9 January 1935.
1 Frihoff G. Nielson, “Diary, 1875–1876,” 13 April 1876. MSS SC 809, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University.
2 Nielson, “Diary, 1899–1900,” 9 October 1899. MSS SC 809, LTPSC.
3 Ibid., 19 October 1899.
4 Ibid., 10 December 1899
5 Nielson, “Diary, 1900–1902,” 27 September 1901. MSS SC 809, LTPSC.
Ancestry World Tree Project. Provo, Utah: MyFamily.com Inc., 2003. 19 April 2004 available from http://www.ancestry.com/trees/awt/main.htm.
Bitton, Davis. Guide to Mormon Diaries & Autobiographies. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Press, 1977.
Jenson, Andrew. Latter-Day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia: A Compilation of Biographical Sketches of Prominent Men and Women in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Vol. 1. Salt Lake City: Andrew Jenson Historical Co., 1901–1936.
Nielson, Frihoff G. “Diaries, 1875–1935.” MSS SC 809, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University.
________. Journal of Frihoff Godfrey Nielson. Edited by Frihoff Ellis Nielson. Phoenix, AZ: Nielson, 1974.