Bodil Malene Mortensen was born in 1845 on the island ofMaribo, Denmark. The gospel of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would not be preached in Denmark until the adoption of a constitution in 1849, which guaranteed religious freedom. The first missionaries arrived on June 14, 1850. Bodil's oldest sister, Anne Margrette, was the first in the family to accept the gospel. This decision was met with disapproval from her parents, but in time they too would investigate and join the church.
The family had a great desire to gather with the Saints in the Salt Lake Valley, but they were too poor to emigrate together. In consequence Anne Margrette would emigrate in 1855; Bodil would emigrate in 1856 with family friends Jens and Elsie Nielson; and Bodil's parents Niels and Maren Kirstine, along with her brother Hans Peder and little sister Maren would emigrate in 1857. Although Jens and Elsie Nielson had money from the sale of their farm to travel by wagon, they decided to travel by handcart and share their proceeds to assist others without sufficient means. Thus, in 1856, Bodil would travel with Jens and Elsie Nielson and their son Niels to the Salt Lake Valley in the Willie handcart company. Many unforeseen events would occur along the way, which would delay this company and cause them to travel too late in the season.
On October 19 the company was over 280 miles from the Salt Lake Valley, the last of their flour provisions had been issued and as they passed Ice Springs the snow began to fall. That evening they met members of the advanced rescue party, who offered hope that assistance was a day's pull away. The rescuers would continue on in their search for the Martin company.
On October 20 the company awoke to four inches of snow on the ground and the last of the provisions purchased at Fort Laramie were rationed out to the starving saints. Because of the desperate conditions, Captain Willie and Joseph Elder left camp that morning to find the rescuers whom they miraculously found twenty-five miles away. Late in the evening of October 21 the rescue company arrived at the Willie camp with clothing, flour and onions. Words fail in describing the condition the saints were found in; sufficieth to say it was "enough to make the heavens weep."
On October 22 eight of the fourteen rescue wagons continued east to find the Martin Company. The Willie Company traveled until they reached the base of Rock Ridge where many slept that evening directly on the ground with only a blanket to protect them from the elements. At about nine 0'clock the following morning the company ascended Rocky Ridge. It was a severe and extremely cold day; snow fell, fierce winds blew furiously biting at the flesh of the poorly dressed saints. The climb up Rocky Ridge was treacherous; the rugged terrain was covered with snow and ice. In their starving and weakened condition many would not arrive in camp until dawn on October 24.
During this ordeal Jens Nielson's feet would become so frozen they became useless, he was unable to pull the cart any further. He pled with his wife Elsie to leave him on the trail and for her to go forward. Elsie could not leave him, she helped him into the handcart and with assistance from Bodil with Niels they made it into Rock Creek Hollow. Once in camp Bodil was asked to collect some firewood, she obediently set out I to fulfill her responsibility. Bodil never returned back to camp that night, she was found on the morning of the 24th leaning up against the wheel of a handcart, frozen to death, with the items she found for the fire clutched in her hands. She was buried along with little Niels and eleven others in a shallow grave in Rock I Creek Hollow. Jens later testified: 'No person can describe it, nor could it be comprehended or understood by any human living in this life, but those who were called to pass through it."
The thought of these little ones fighting their way up and over Rocky Ridge under these conditions are difficult to imagine. But nevertheless what a powerful example they are. "For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh asa child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father. " Mosiah 3:19