Nicolena Marie Bertelsen was born on 26 January 1845 in Aalborg, Denmark, to Maren Larsen Dam and Niels Pedarsen Bertelsen. Lena's parents lived quiet lives as fishermen on the coast of Denmark. Early in the 1850's they were converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They longed to go to America to gather with others of their faith. Because finances were meager, the Bertelsens decided to send their children to America one by one with the hopes that they could join them within a year. Lena, accompanied by two missionaries, was the third child to go to America. However, the missionaries were unable to take her all the way to Utah and they left Lena with a family in St. Louis. She knew that she needed to gather with the Saints in Utah, so she worked two years to earn enough money for transportation to Council Bluffs, Iowa, where companies of pioneers were preparing for the long journey west. During these years, she also learned to write and speak English well. When she arrived in Iowa, Lena joined Cyrus Snell's company and they arrived in Utah Territory in 1854. In Lena's early twenties, she became engaged to Mr. Christensen, who was killed by Indians. Twelve years later, Lena became the second wife of a well educated, talented, and financially stable man named William G. Baker. She was the mother of 10 children: Mary, William, Nelson, Lars, Annie, Ida, Ralph, Ruth, Albert, and Hazel, although two died in infancy and one died at the age of four of whooping cough. Although in 1890, polygamy was outlawed and husbands were required to divide their property, William continued to care for Lena. In the 1890's she sold some of the land she was given and opened a millinery store. Three years after the death of her husband in 1902, Lena sold the store and moved to Salt Lake City, where she died 17 July 1905.
This collection is a combination of various letters, genealogical materials, photos, biographies, and autobiographies of the Baker family. The section containing Lena's biography is five typewritten pages long and also includes five pictures of Lena's family, a genealogy chart, and some histories about William G. Baker. The copy of this biography was written by Geneva B. Russell and can be found in the book Our Pioneer Heritage on pages 67-71. This broad overview of Lena's life emphasizes her childhood experiences, with very little detail about her adulthood. According to the biographer, Lena was only seven years old when she left her family and traveled across the Atlantic. She begged her father to allow her to stay in Denmark, but she only received the strict admonition to keep clean, pray every day, and never cry. Although Lena loved the family she stayed with in St. Louis, she longed to see her own family again and meet other members of the Church. When she arrived in Iowa, she discovered that all of the companies were full. She pleaded her cause to Cyrus Snell, who allowed her come with him if she would care for his ill wife and children. When she arrived in Utah, her sister taught her how to sew, spin, weave, dye, and glean fields. She excelled in sewing and she worked as a seamstress for several years. After she raised her children, Lena kept busy with sewing costumes for character balls. She also donated generously to the building of the Sevier Stake Tabernacle. Polygamy, Indians, Mormon Pioneers