Jens Peter “Bitte Jens” Anderson 1826-1910
Full
The family story has it that Jens Peter Anderson, at the head of a company of immigrants from Copenhagen, arrived at Saint Louis in 1852. The leaders startled him with the news that he was expected to obtain a firearm: “We’re headed for the frontier, you know”. Obediently, our “Bitte Jens” consulted a gunsmith and purchased this very ordinary smoothbore musket, manufactured earlier that year at Harper’s Ferry.

Four generations later, one must acknowledge the peril of apocryphal encroachments, but this one’s been in the family a lot longer than I have. Seems Bitte Jens (we long wondered whether the sobriquet was descriptive or ironic. Just ’til this great family portrait turned up. Now we know: it’s descriptive) was an energetic purveyor of the distinctive Scandinavian tales that folks keep publishing as the “Bruder Pedersen” yarns. One of his favorites has him holding this very weapon when Brother Brigham came out to welcome their wagon company. As the newcomers’ only English-speaker, he was chatting with the Church President while the others milled around. When Brigham cocked his head and inquired, “Is that Danish they’re speaking? Never could stand to hear spoken Danish. Sounds to me like chickens in the hen-house! You folks can go to Sanpete County!”
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