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1870 Lehi pioneer rocking chair crafted of handcart wood now on display



Lara M. Bangerter | Lehi Historical Society

The recent donation of a rocking chair made from the wood of a pioneer handcart is the inspiration for this week’s “Men and Women Who Built Lehi.” 

The maker of the rocking chair was Jens Nielsen Holm. He and his wife, Margarethe Christine Hansen, came to Utah in 1857after joining The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in their homeland, Denmark.

After five weeks on the open sea, Jens, Margaretha and their 14-year-old daughter pushed and pulled a handcart to Utah with the Christian Christiansen Handcart Company. 

According to the June 20, 1947, Lehi Free Press, “The crossing of rivers, pulling through sands and loose soil, over hills and up mountains for 1400 miles had reduced Father Holm to almost a skeleton. The waistband of his trousers reached almost twice around him. He steadied his wobbling walk by a mere touch to the cart that his wife was pulling and … daughter….”

Upon arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, Holm “was ashamed to satisfy his hunger and was under the necessity of searching the table scraps for an additional supply.”

After living their first winter in Brigham City, where Holm mended and soled shoes, the family moved to Lehi, where they lived the rest of their lives.

Family records indicate that in 1870, Holm built the rocking chair now on display at the Archives from a handcart that came across the plains. Although there is no indication the wood came from their own cart, a handwritten note that is no longer legibleon the bottom of the chair once read, “This rocking chair was made by Great-Grandfather Jens Nielsen Holm, he willed it to me upon his death…. Great-Grandfather found a wooden cart that came across the plains….”


Holm’s grandson, Richard David Bradshaw, wrote in his memories, “My Great-Grandfather, Jens Holm, had calluses on his strong hands, he could mend your shoes, with his scythe cut wheat and with his wooden-toothed rake gather the grain [and] tie it into bundles with straw he would twist around them. Over 150 years ago (written in 1970), he built a rocking chair from hardwood as comfortable as any chair built today in our modern jazzy times.”

After being painted white and residing in Canada for some time, on Feb. 12, 2012, the chair made its way back to Lehi when it was given to Melvin Anderson, great-grandson of Holm, who then entrusted the chair to niece, Donalyn Nielsen Ford. Ford donated the chair to the Archives in 2022.

Holm was born Mar. 23, 1818, in the city of Ronne on the Island of Bornholm, Denmark, and died Apr. 22, 1908. He marriedMargaret Christina Ipson Holm in Denmark on Apr. 30, 1842. She was born Aug. 14, 1817, and died Jan. 28, 1896. Both are buried in the Lehi Cemetery. 

Their only child and daughter, Margaret Christina Holm, was born Sept. 5, 1843. She married David Evans, Lehi’s first LDS bishop and second mayor, on May 4, 1861. She was the seventh of his wives. They had six children, one son and five daughters. Much of their posterity is still in Lehi. She died June 17, 1898, at the age of 54.

Holm married Karen Christiansen on Nov. 8, 1862. She died in 1885.

If you know someone instrumental in Lehi’s building of or success, please submit your 1000-word or less write-up on the person along with photos to for consideration in this series. For more information, call 801-768-1570.

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