The Bundersons - Overlooked Fitzgerarlds, Part 2


When John D. Fitzgerald created the family genealogies for Papa and Mamma in his bestselling book, Papa Married a Mormon, he reduced the number of all the siblings of real-life Papa and Mamma's families considerably. The siblings he chose to keep in the books each represented important connections to the real family story. Aunt Sena was one such connection.


Mamma Fitzgerald was the tenth and final child of Niels Christian and Karoline Andersen Nielsen. Sena Christina was the seventh child in the family. However, her immigration status bumped her up in familial importance and is likely the reason John selected to credit her achievement by including her by name in his book.



In the far away country of Denmark in the year 1872, a band of humble saints had met to say a fond goodbye to loved ones that were leaving for Liverpool and then on to Utah for the sake of their religion. Parents not having enough money for the family to go, were sending their little children on with the hope that all would be well until they themselves could leave for Zion. - Sena Christina Nielsen & Peter Viktor Bunderson History

Initially, Sena's older brothers, Niels aged fourteen, and Peter aged twelve were selected to make the arduous trip. Yet, the night before they boarded the ship, non-Mormon relatives secreted Niels away. Thus, preventing him from fulfilling his family obligation. The timing was awful, the fare had already been paid. If two did not sail, the family would lose money. Hastily it was decided that ten-year-old Sena would be the second passenger.



The first leg of their journey was on a small sailing boat. Upon reaching Liverpool, England, the passengers boarded the steamship Minnesota to cross the mighty Atlantic.




The two young Nielsen children were supposed to ride on the lower deck, Peter knew enough about sailing to realize that everyone below deck would soon be sick. Looking around he found a smoke stack that he and Sena could hide behind. Abandoning their meager provisions, the two kids, tucked themselves away and hoped to successfully complete the passage they were assigned to make.


Peter's instinct was good. Below, all the passengers were violently ill. Fortunately, Peter and Sena were found by a kind woman on the ship who would bring them food and make sure they were covered up at night when they slept. Thus, sparing them the seasick horror that lay below. Three days later, everyone in steerage had their sea-legs soon they came upstairs. The rest of the voyage was uneventful.


No family records explain how Peter and Sena Nielsen navigated across the American expanse. The written narrative states,


"They were bewildered most of the time, so most all passed as a dream."

Eventually they arrived in Mayfield, Utah. A haven for Scandinavian Saints. As they settled in with local families, their siblings, one by one made the crossing. Their parents, Niels and Karoline and baby sister, Lorimine Christine (Mamma) came last. Their fare was largely covered by Peter's selling of his horse and saddle to one of Butch Cassidy's gang members. The final cost was covered by the sale of a barn to a neighbor.


Along the way Sena met another Peter, Peter Viktor Bunderson. He and his siblings had sailed on the same trip. They never met until they settled in Mayfair. Peter Bunderson won Sena's heart and hand. They were married in 1885.


Why John made some of the choices he did is beyond me. However, I appreciate the respect he gave to Sena and Peter Bunderson. They really were a foundational couple for the Fitzgerald - Nielsen families.

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