Our Family Legacy
March 15, 1888
I guess this is the last chance I will have for a while to write home before I go to the pen, for I will get my sentence tomorrow at 2 o'clock. I found out I could not get it put off for the term. I understand that R. Clousen is out there to subpoena you again as witnesses. I hope you don't come. If you should come when I am gone, be sure and demand your pay.
Now dear wife, I hope you feel better now and that you will forgive me for what I have done and I hope the Lord will forgive me. I feel to repent to the bottom of my heart, and ask the Lord to give me strength to overcome my weakness. My mind has been full of vain things, consequently I have been overcome both inwards and actions. I hope that we will be able to overcome and to love one another as husband and wife, for I cannot conceive of anything else. Dear wife, I hope that nothing to the contrary will trouble your mind. I shall be glad to hear that you feel well in body and spirit.
I think I will write to all of you in one letter most of the time. Of course I can tell better when I get there. I want to send some letters off on the sly if I can. I have listened today to the case of young Uell from Nephi, you know him, that was taken up for perjury some time ago. It has taken two days. I did not stop to hear the verdict of the jury. I think I will have to go alone tomorrow. I can't hear from anybody else. I could have the sentence put off for a few days, but I could not see any benefit in that. I will send word if I can, but I don't think I will be able to pay for a dispatch.
Well, I hope that you will feel well and try to bear up under the trials. Your reward will be great in the heavens, and take good care of the children and remember your prayers. And do not forget me, that I may be able to keep up both in spirit and in body. I have not got too much to write this time, hoping that these few lines may find you feeling well in spirit and body and also the children.
From your loving husband,
P.S. I have written to Julia also. I hope that the old postmaster will not open my letters or yours. I understand that I cannot own more than thirty dollars when I come out to take the poor man's oath. So you know that team and wagon and land belong to Martin and have for a long time. Say nothing if you say anything at all. Maria Christiansen went home yesterday.
I have been here a week and I begin to be anxious to hear from home. A letter will always be welcome. Mail comes in here every day but Monday. If I could afford to take the paper here this summer, I would do so, but I can't afford to. I told Simonsen to stop it the first of April, and if it is not stopped, tell him to stop it.
I want to start to school next Monday. It costs one dollar a month and some little expenses for books and so forth. I feel pretty well with exception of some headaches which I hear others complain of. It is hard for me to stand the tobacco smoke in the evening when the cell is closed, owing to my weak lungs. I have a good bunk partner. The prisoners are allowed to have a little butter, milk, and sugar. A pint of milk every morning costs ninety-five cents a month. I hope to be able to do without. If somebody goes down to Salt Lake City at Conference, send a letter, butter, and sugar, and get them to come up here with it if you can afford it. If not, don't put yourselves out too much.
Everything works in order here and the prisoners all behave well. My old partner O. Johnson is here, three weeks ahead of me. If I behave well, my time will be up the middle of September. I suppose you know my penalty, if I did forget to tell it myself in the last letter. Six months here, fifty dollars fine, and costs about fifty dollars. Amounting in all to about a hundred dollars.
I would like to write to a good many in Monroe and elsewhere, but I can only write one letter a week and I feel like I owe that to my family. I hope that you are all well and feel well. Take good care of the children. I will be glad to see some of my friends here if they go down to Salt Lake City. Ask Brother Cooper and William F. Warnick and my brothers to write to me once in a while. Give my kind regards to them and Mother and all the relatives and friends and neighbors and to Brother Griffith and the quorum.
(This part was censored) But I do despise spectators popping up from the wall on prisoners. (Also a picture of the prison is on the stationery.) Tell them all I feel first rate and no reason to find any fault with anybody. I was lucky enough to get my stripes on two days after I got here, while others have to wait until they are made. Prisoners going out and coming from here nearly every day. That's all I can think of this time.
From your husband and father,
P.S. Direct letters to: Bent Larsen, Box E, Salt Lake City, Utah. All letters are opened at the gate, both coming and going.
Your letter dated April 1, I received today. It affords me much pleasure to hear from home, and that you are all well at home. I had the privilege of visiting with two of my brothers from Monroe yesterday for half an hour at the gate, which is all the time for visitors when they have a pass to see the prisoners. I received the sugar and butter all right and two dollars in money, so I will now get along splendid for a long time. I don't want you to rob yourselves to send anything to me, for I know how bad you need it yourself and I will not send again for anything unless I need it.
I do all my washing, which is not much, but quite often, as I have not received any underclothes yet, but expect every day to get them. I have worked a few days outside in the garden since I came here. I am now going to school, started the first of April. I got along pretty well for a new beginner, or rather an old one, as it is nearly thirty years since I left school. Most of the prisoners are busy doing something. Some of the prisoners are making bridals [bridles], whips, watch chains. All of it is very fancy. Some of them write and some of them walk up and down the yard wearing out shoe leather.
I can't think of any more news this time. Don't try to do too much in your garden. There are plenty more years to raise turnips, carrots, and they are coming this way you know. Well, I was glad to hear from C. Dorius from Norway. I showed his father the letter.
From your ever true father and husband,
P.S. My address is the same. Box E, Salt Lake City, Utah Penitentiary. Tell the children all to be good and to do as they are told and I will have something nice for them when I get home. Minnie and Bent must be able to read for me when I get home again. My kind regards to all that are interested in my welfare.
Our writing days come around regular once a week and I don't forget to make use of it. I am well, hoping that these few lines will find you the same. That is feeling well in body and spirit. Your letters have come to hand quite regularly every Saturday, but today I have not received any. Two weeks ago I wrote to Martin and not home, so I guess you have had no letter to answer. I see from the last letter that Eugenia was not well. I am anxious to know how you are all getting along by this time. I hope you will keep up good courage. When you write again, let me know a little about the general prospect for fruit in Monroe.
I have not much news to tell you from here. I attend school when I am not told to do something else. I find that it is not easy for an old head to learn as when thirty years younger, but I learn a little all the same and I hope it will come good some day. I thought I should have written somewhere else today, but I can hardly afford it. I should be glad to hear from home and to know that you are all well. I will close for this time, praying God to bless you all.
From your ever true husband,
P.S. Give my kind regards to all the folks. If anybody comes down to Salt Lake City this summer, if you can have them bring me a little sugar. All well it not all well [??] I know you need every cent you can scrape together. It will soon be warm here for butter [i.e., it won't keep well].
In your kind and welcome letter today I am sorry to hear that Eugenia is not well. My prayer is always in your behalf at home that you may be able to bear up in these trying times. Last Saturday I wrote Sam in regard to the U.S. Certificate. I don't think it can be cashed, only by the person that it was issued to. I have tried to get all the information that I can glean from anybody in here in regard to it, but I think that if you and Ole went before the Justice of the Peace and filed an affidavit and authorized Orson or someone else that you can trust to draw the money for you in the District Clerk's Office, it might be taken in consideration the long distance that you are from the court. There is no harm in trying. I don't expect that either of you can make it convenient to come down yourself. Maybe there will be time this fall after I get out of here and get home if you can do no better.
If you get any money of that, get some shoes for the children and for yourself. And don't trouble about me, for I get along very well. When I need anything I will let you know. I hope it shall not be while I am here. I go to school quite regularly and I am doing pretty well in that regard.
I had a letter from Brother C.P. Christiansen three days ago. Give him my best regard and tell him I will write to him before long. I am thankful to hear that he and Brother Hyrum are willing to mend shoes for you. I hope to be able to pay them someday. One third of my time has now lapsed and I hope the other four months will pass also. Keep up good courage and depend on the Lord for strength.
That's all from your kind husband and father,
It is now two weeks since I write to you and also two weeks since I received any letters from you. I did not expect any letter a week ago, as you had all gone to Manti, yet I expected one before this time. I hope that you are all well and that none of you are sick and that you don't stop writing on that account. I wrote to Brother Christiansen last week as you were all in Manti. I feel pretty well, have no reason to complain.
I have now moved into the new prison three days ago. Rules and everything changed very much. Our places of abode now are iron cells, five by seven feet high, and three men in each cell. Some things again suit better than before and I feel well in body and spirit. There are many good men here and they all feel well, hoping that the day of deliverance will come sometime. We will have to live by faith now days. I feel more to repent of my sins and imperfections and keep the commandments of the Lord than I ever did. I hope you feel the same way.
We have good news from Manti and also from the YMM at Salt Lake City. I have had some hope of Oscar's coming up here, if he has been to conference. I don't know as yet. I expect to get a letter today. Give my kind regards to the brothers and sisters. Ask the Bishop to write me a few lines. If I could write more than once a week, I would write to many, but under the circumstances I think I am excused. I have been busy making some small mats for you which I think will be a little surprise to you.
My letter is short this time. Hoping these few lines will find you all enjoying good health and spirit.
From your ever true husband,
I have received three letters this last week one from Maria, one from you all, and one from Brother T.H. Cooper for which I am very thankful. I am glad to hear that you are getting along as well as you are considering the circumstances. I have not felt as well the last few days since we moved into the new building. I hope to be able to stand it without a murmur. Remember me in your prayers. Yesterday was three months since I was sentenced. We all keep our own accounts here in regard to that and are not likely to make many mistakes.
I am sorry to hear that Martin has lost his horse. I wish I could assist him in every way. I would be glad to. I feel grateful to Brother Cooper for the letter he sent me. Give him my kind regard and the brethren of the Quorum. I wish I could write to some of them, and I have to give that up and only write home after this. Brother Levi Curtis from Springville is here. He sends his kind regards to Sister Ellen Lazanby and family. He would like to see a few lines from her. He has just had a letter from his wife. He says the old lady and Dora are well.
I now have my cell to myself as my companion has gone for a few days again. We are locked up in our cells at 7 o'clock in the evening. After that I spend my time in reading as long as I can see through the glimmer of light that comes through the bars. At nine o'clock all must be in bed and everything quiet. Rules are very strict and very different to what they were when Brother Bates and Christiansen were here. Give them my regards.
I am glad to hear that you all had the privilege to go to the Manti Temple dedication and receive the good instruction that was given. We need all the encouragement we can get nowadays to strengthen. By faith we must learn to live. I have received the five dollars all right. I will now be able to get along very well. I hope that you will at home. If you have to go without some of the necessities of life, try to be contented. Realize that it is in a good cause. We cannot become perfect but only through suffering, we must remember. I have no fear for the outcome if we can only prove faithful. Well, I have not much more to tell you from here, being inside of these adobe walls. Give my kind regards to Mother and my brothers and family and relations. Friends and neighbors, if they assist you in any way, I will pay when I get rich. I will close for this time, praying God to bless you all.
From your loving husband,
I have waited today till this afternoon, thinking I would get a letter from you, but I failed, but I received a very good letter from Martin yesterday. He tells me that you are all well, which is a great satisfaction to me. I feel tolerable well in body and never better in spirit. I hope that these few lines may find you all well and looking forward to a bright future which I know is before us if we can have a little patience. I was glad to get a letter from Martin, but sorry to hear that he lost his horse. Trials of that kind are bad enough on a poor man, but there is greater trials I think.
I hope that the boys are doing well. I know that they are not short of plenty of work and I think you have all got your hands full. I wish I were there to help you. I have made some small mats for some of you which you will think is not so badly done for a green hand [greenhorn]. Some of the long-timers here do some of the nicest hair work that you ever saw, human hair and horse hair of all colors. The convicts used to do a great deal of whittling before we moved in here to the new prison a month ago, but the pocket knives were all taken away.
I have written all the news I can think of. Remember that I am in here. Charley Dorius was here about ten days ago visiting with his father and also some of the folks from Ephraim that came to meet him. They appeared on the wall where I could see them. I think Dorius will go out the 10th of August. Excuse my short letter.
From your affectionate husband,
Another week has passed away and our writing day has come around again. I feel first rate. I was glad to hear the same from you. I received your last letter last Sunday. I expect one today. I don't know if I will get it or not. I don't very often fail to get one on Sunday.
James Sorensen from Redmond is still here. He is quite sure to go out in a day or two. He is going up to Monroe and he will come and see you. No letter for me today. I hope that you are all well at home. When I can hear that, I feel satisfied. It is about the same all things here, nothing more of any consequence, and as a man is supposed to keep within a certain bounds in his writing, it is not always easy to find something to full up the letter with that would be of any interest to you. But suffice it to say, four months is passed in prison and if I am not mistaken, I go out two months from tomorrow morning if I don't make a mistake in my reckoning and I am not likely to. That is if I don't lose any copper, that means the five days that are deducted off every month for good behavior.
I was thinking that next Saturday I would write a letter to the Bishop. I feel it is my duty. What do you think of it, that will be all right I guess. I hope that you have had a good time on the fourth [July 4th] and that you will on the twenty-fourth and that you all can get out. I don't know if there will be anything new here or not, I don't look for [expect] anything.
I hope that you are all doing well and all the brethren and sisters of Monroe. I guess this month will be scarce of water as near as I can learn everywhere in Utah. You see I am quite well posted in regard to that from St. George to the north end of Cache Valley. There is not many convicts going out now till fall. C.C.N. Dorius goes out the tenth of next month. I don't know that I can tell you anything more worth writing. I hope that you all feel encouraged in the work of the Lord. Everything will work out for our good in the end if we are faithful. I pray the Lord to bless and comfort you all in my prayers.
From your ever true husband,
I have waited till the last today, thinking I would get a letter today, but I did not get any. I hope that there is nothing serious the matter. I hope that the children are better. I wrote a letter to the Bishop last week. I hope he has gotten it by this time. As for myself, I feel pretty well and I shall be glad to hear the same from you. I don't have much news to tell you. J. Sorensen is here yet. He doesn't expect to get out now till court sits in Beaver.
Another old acquaintance was run in here last night from Ogden. Namely James Hale, that used to live in Monroe. He has been in Oregon for four years and came back to Hoopersville, where his mother lives, on a visit a month ago. He was arrested on the old charge that was against him and his father eighteen years ago. I learned from him that Jane Gifford is dead. You know she and family moved up into Idaho not very long since. Dorius left here a few days ago. He promised to write to you after he got home. I must cut this short so that I will not miss the mail, and there is some meeting that I must go to. I hope these few lines will find you all well and that you may all be spared is my constant prayer for you all.
From your ever true husband,
P.S. Don't make fun of my poetry or let anyone see it:
In my lonely cage I sat thinking
Inside the prison my lot is cast,
Though many a trial we must pass
It was a day of sorrow
That sacred tie, that family tie
Your letters dated 19 and 20 I received yesterday. I did not expect it until today. It left Monroe the 21st so it came here on the fourth day, quickest of any letter yet. I am sorry to hear the children continue to be sick. I can do nothing but ask the Lord's blessings upon you, and for His preserving care to be over you all, as we are all in His hands. And I hope you will not be slow in calling in the elders when needed, and exercise all the faith you can in behalf of the children and yourself, and myself not left out. That is the best advice I can give you.
I received a letter from Dorius two days ago. He says that he has written to you so I think you have got it by this time. The folks are all well. Diphtheria has about died out in Ephraim. Dorius did not tell me much news. Well, we get the newspaper here quite regularly, so we are not so bad off as far as outside news. As for this place, it is about the same old thing, only prisoners going out and a few coming in occasionally, although more going out of late than coming in. I think there must be about one hundred prisoners less now than when I came here. I don't think I would cry much if the whole business were empty. My old missionary friend Claus Johnson goes out in four days and in little more than three weeks I hope my turn will come. I don't suppose I am mistaken. There is three places my time is kept that I know of, so I don't think I am liable to make much of a mistake.
Well, I go to school now five days in a week and try to make the best of it. My health is moderate. Some days I feel quite good and again at times not so well, although I have no reason to complain. I feel that the Lord has been with me so far and also with you at home, and that all things will be for our good if we prove faithful. Give my best regards to my brothers and sisters, Mother, and do not forget any of the relatives and friends. J. Sorensen is here yet and also J. Hale. He sends his regards. He seems anxious when I get a letter from home to know what news there is from Monroe. A man being in here is anxious to hear news from most anywhere for this is a dry old place, I tell you, the best you can make of it.
I will close, asking the Lord's blessing and preserving care to be over you all, are my prayers for you all.
From your ever true husband,
I wrote last Sunday and stated that I would not write any more from here, but I feel to write a few lines today all the same. I received a letter last Sunday evening and also one last Friday. Do not answer this letter. I am glad to hear that you are all alive and as well as you are. My time is up next Sunday, but I don't expect to go out till Monday as I have to go before the commissioner. I stated in my last letter that I intended to leave Salt Lake City Tuesday. I guess you got my last letter.
Last week was visiting days, Thursday and Friday. I was outside working and I saw many visitors coming, but of course I did not expect any, but I had some all the same. Gordy Andersen and three of Uncle Jacob's daughters came here to see me. Nicaline and Marie and their youngest sister. They brought me some sugar and butter and fruit. Next day I got also a box of fruit and a pound of butter from some unknown friend. Who it is I do not know. It came in good all the same. The prisoner that has his home close by here has the advantage of us that live far off.
Jim Hale sent his regards to you. I see from the paper that David Collings has gotten home. I don't suppose Ephraim Magleby has gotten home yet. He has a long stay of it. I could hardly read Marie's letter, it was so poorly spelt, but I was glad to get a letter from her and to know that she is good and willing to help all she can. I don't feel like writing much. Give my love to all relatives and friends and accept the same yourself.
I received your welcome letter yesterday. Glad to know that you are all well. I would like to see a few lines from all of you. You said nothing if you have sent the hair or not. There is a registered letter for me in town that I think I will get tomorrow, but I don't know as yet if it is the hair or the five dollars from Moroni. If you have not sent the hair, you must send it quick or it will be too late for the chains to be made. I hope you did not forget to send word to Moroni. I have no news to tell you from this place.
PS Address Box E. Salt Lake City
The following citations are from Church Chronology 1805 to 1897:
1. Arrests for Unlawful Cohabitation: Bent R. Larsen arrested Wednesday, May 11, 1887. C.R. Brown and Christian Anderson were arrested the same day at Monroe. (p.148).
2. Friday, March 16, 1888, Bent R. Larsen was sentenced by Judge Henderson to six months imprisonment and a $50.00 fine for Unlawful Cohabitation. The First District Court in Provo. (p.159).
3. Discharged from State Penitentiary Sunday, September 16, 1888. (p.165).
4. Monday, November 7, 1892. Sentenced to serve one month for Unlawful Cohabitation by the Judge of the First District Court at Provo, Utah. (p.200).
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