the martin and josephine brixen family
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The Martin and Josephine Brixen Family

An excerpt from Martin's life story:

So June 30th, 1909, at the age of 17, Martin sailed away for his two-year sojourn in England.

Martin began his mission in New Castle Conference, a ship-building town. His first companion was Elder Adamson from Taylorsville, Utah who was nearly 65 years old.

After a few months he received a new companion, Elder George Cox, who was a very intelligent young man from Pocatello. Because neither of them had had much experience speaking in public, they devised a plan to develop this talent. Each day they went out into a large public park and spoke aloud to the trees to get used to the sound of their voices. They would choose a subject and then speak as long as they could on that one subject. They also tried to integrate illustrative stories because they knew these would hold people's interest.

After a year in the field, word had gotten around that Martin and his companion had become excellent public speakers. In fact, at their quarterly conference President Rutger Clawson called on Martin to speak extemporaneously.

Martin was then called to establish a branch in Shildon, a small coal-mining town, with cobblestone streets. The townsmen all wore wooden shoes with cleats. Each night at 5:00 they could be seen on their porches sitting in galvanized tubs with their wives scrubbing their backs.

Martin now had a new companion, Elder Merrill, also from Idaho. Their first problem in this town was getting room and board. No one would take them in because rumors had spread around the town they were enticing young women to go to Salt Lake with them and live in polygamy.

After many unsuccessful attempts, they came upon a 40-year old Atheist who owned a butcher shop. He agreed to let them stay. It just so happened that above his shop he had a small hall with benches and an organ. As they began baptizing people, they used this hall to hold their meetings.

Their first missionary experience in Shildon began when a year old, undernourished child came knocking at their door. She said her mother was very sick and had seen an angel who told her to get the Mormon missionaries. The girl brought the missionaries to her mother where they administered to her, and she did indeed recover. This woman had four full-grown daughters, and they became the nucleus of the Church in Shildon.

Martin and his companion were the first to teach the gospel in Shildon since Brigham Young had been there many years before. Their congregation began very small but gradually grew, mainly with women, until there were approximately 25 members.

By now the persecution had become intensely fierce. One Sunday a mob formed outside the chapel. The congregation left the hall arm in arm, but as they entered the street the mob began ripping their clothes off and slapping them around. An old hag jumped Elder Merrill and tried to choke him, but Martin came to his rescue and pulled the man away. Just then a pathway opened up through the crowd and both elders ran for their very lives. The mob continued the chase, throwing gravel at them as they tried to escape. Eventually the elders left the mob in the distance and fortunately escaped with only cuts and bruises.

Click here for the complete story,


We're gathering photos, stories and information about the family and ancestors of Josephine Henson and Martin Gutke Brixen. Please contact me if you have anything of interest you'd like to share.

Brixen Name

Our Brixen name comes from Thisted, Denmark located at the north end of the Danish penninsula. We've traced it back 6 generations beyond Martin Gutke Brixen to 1684. In the 4th generation it was actually the mother's last name, then her father's and then his father's.

The Valley House

The Valley House was a hotel run by Andrew and Julia Brixen. It was located where Abravanel Hall now stands in Salt Lake City. Originally, it was the home of Wilford Woodruff, 3rd President of the LDS church.


Josephine's mother, Sofia Elizabet Larsdotter, (who later went by Josephine) was born on the island of Gotland just off the coast of Sweden. All her ancestors as far as we've traced were also born on this island.