LIFE STORY OF FERDINAND FRIIS HINTZE
Ferdinand Friis Hintze was born in Roskilde, Denmark, May 13, 1854. His parents names were Anders Hintze and Karen Sophia Swenson Nielson. When he was a mere child, his parents heard the Gospel message and accepted it gladly.
Before he was eight years old, he desired to be baptized, but had to wait until he was of baptismal age. In the year 1864, he emigrated to Zion (Utah) with his parents. They located in what was then called Big Cottonwood, now Holladay, Utah.
Ferdinand was not an ordinary boy, wherefore also he was not an ordinary man. He did not always follow the suggestion of other boys, but had a mind and will of his own. This trait was so pronounced in him that it was very difficult for him not to wish to go counter to the suggestions of his associates, even his parents, and later in life his superiors, whose right it was to direct him in the daily duties of life; and yet because of his exceptional religious tendencies, he was ever alert to the reception of the divine will of the Lord. To illustrate, while he was yet young and mingled with other boys, he had in some way come in possession of a deck of cards. He was eager to learn to play cards and insisted that he be taught. One of the boys strenuously objected because he was convinced, since joining the Church, that the practice was wrong. Ferdinand insisted that it could only be an innocent pastime. One Sunday, as was their practice, they were on their way to the meeting house for Sacrament service and Brother E. Stevenson drove up, having an appointment to preach that evening. Ferdinand said he was going to ask Brother Stevenson if it was wrong to play cards. The response to his question was, “No, I don’t think there is much harm in playing cards – not if you have read the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and other useful books so that you are well versed in the contents thereof – then I don’t think there would be much harm in playing cards.” Ferdinand realized he had been wrong and was crestfallen and resolved never to play cards again. When convinced of being wrong or when overtaken in a fault, he possessed the commendable faculty of regretting and repenting most sincerely, even to the point of shedding bitter tears. This keenness of regret made his resolve not to make the same mistake again all the stronger and thus gradually established for him a standard code of honor.
His mother guarded and guided her only son so that he willingly attended his Church duties, his highest ideal of being service to the Lord. He soon received recognition and opportunity was given for much Church service. In his ward, he was among the first chosen to labor in Mutual Improvement work, and was the first president of the Elder’s Quorum.
When he was seventeen years of age he went with some older men to get some timber to improve his father’s farm. He was always prone to look for the best, and as a result went higher in the mountains. In doing so he apparently set off an avalanche of snow while felling a tree. When the avalanche came to rest at the bottom of the canyon, Ferdinand was nowhere to be seen. While searching for him one of the men found a blue woolen rag. He stooped down to pick it up and discovered that it was the corner of Ferdinand’s blue soldiers blouse. It took considerable effort to uncover him. He appeared not to be breathing and was badly bruised. When they got him dislodged from the sticks and rocks and snow, they pounded on his chest and he began to breathe with much difficulty. After a few minutes he was breathing normally. It was several hours before he realized what had happened to him.
In January 1876, he married Rasmina Madsen who was just sixteen. In the early spring of 1877 he was called to fill a mission to what was then the Northwestern States mission, with headquarters in Omaha. Requested to be ready to leave in five days, he borrowed money for mission expenses from a neighbor at 18% interest. During a little more than a year’s stay in and around Omaha and Council Bluffs, he baptized over forty persons, organized several branches and one conference.
After about six months at home he was asked to return to the same field of labor, this time going as far east as Michigan and Illinois. He returned the following year with more than thirty baptisms to his credit. His labors had been largely among apostates and “Reorganites.” To meet this class of people required much fasting and prayer, also study of Church works and Church history. When he was released, the mission president prophesied that he would be on a furlough home for only two and one-half years.
These were the days that President Brigham Young and others preached the so called “United Order.” Ferdinand and his father, with many others, covenanted to put all worldy goods into the “Order” and be willing to share everything in common with other brothers and sisters.
His next call was to Denmark in 1882, but by that time having married other wives he was arrested by a deputy U.S. marshal. The heat of the campaign against plural marriage had not been fully developed so he was soon released from custody. In the spring of 1884 he arrived in Copenhagen and was assigned to labor in the Aarhus conference where he presided for one year. Warned in a dream that something unpleasant would happen, on June 14th he was banished from Denmark. President A. H. Lund assigned him to labor in Norway for the remainder of his term. He returned home in the summer of 1886, finding the crusade against plural marriages in full swing. The authorities then asked him to go to Turkey to help open that mission.
He arrived in Constantinople early in January 1887. He was met by Dr. J. M. Tanner, who had preceded him there and was assigned to learn the Turkish language in order to labor among the natives. He was soon able to bear testimony in that tongue of the restoration of the Gospel. In Constantinople he made many friends. Among those baptized was Misha Markow, who he ordained an Elder. Elder Markow then left for Hungaria and later was instrumental in establishing the Gospel in Hungaria, Romania, Transylvania, and Belgium. Not finding it profitable to remain in Constantinople, he journeyed into the interior of Asia Minor where he was often well received. He traveled from city to city bearing his testimony, baptizing and organizing branches. After visiting Palestine and Jerusalem, he returned home in the spring of 1890. It should be noted that his wives, faithful and industrious, had maintained themselves and their children and nobly assisted him while he was in the mission field.
Now followed a period of financial prosperity. He engaged in the dairy business and was quite successful. He was foremost in the community, notwithstanding that Ferdinand had frequent grievances to contend with among his neighbors and associates. In the complex conditions of community affairs it must be that personal interests frequently clash. Ferdinand could see his own interest, but not often that of the other fellow. Not because he was not honest, or did not wish to do the right thing, for above all he did want to be honorable before God and all men, but he could not well look at things except from the side where his interests were, and so he had few friends. His friends were not among his neighbors, but among people who saw him in public life, where he appeared to the best advantage. His best friend, A. J. Hansen who mingled with him more than any other man, said that he was a friend, true blue. When they had dealings Ferdinand expected and was freely granted the “lion’s share”. He was entitled to it, as Brother Hansen saw it, because it was worth it to him. The inspirations, promotions, and assistance which he received from and through Ferdinand, and the advantages which came to him through Ferdinand’s aggressive character fully justified any and all little concessions which he (Brother Hansen) made or ever could make to him.
In 1897, it was decided by the Authorities that an effort should be made to colonize the Armenian saints in Palestine. Apostle Anthon H. Lund was delegated to look into the feasibility of the undertaking and Ferdinand was again called to Turkey as his assistant. The delegation landed in Syria in the Spring of 1898. After some traveling and examinations of various properties, Elder Lund left for Zion with the report that it did not seem possible to colonize the saints safely at that time. Before Elder Lund left, the Turkish Mission records record that “on Sunday, May 8, 1898, the Elders (i.e., Lund and Hintze) visited the Mount of Olives and there united in a dedicatory prayer, Elder Hintze being mouth.” Therefore, Ferdinand was one of nine brethren who are known to have dedicated the Land of Palestine, Orson Hyde being the first to dedicate that land in November 1841.
Elder Lund appointed Ferdinand pastor of the mission, and instructed him to seek recognition from the Turkish government. Ferdinand continued to investigate the geography of the country at length and the possibilities of settling in Palestine. At Constantinople he succeeded in obtaining a degree of recognition. Permission was granted the saints to open schools, and also to print their own literature. He published 29,000 tracts, which he had translated into the Turkish language, and these were freely distributed. He returned to Utah in the spring of 1900. After this, in the following three years, he translated the Book of Mormon into the Turkish language, personally writing every word of the book using Armenian characters. In the winter of 1904-5 he went to Boston and published the book.
Those last missions, together with unsuccessful mining, educating and sending his children on missions, and other causes, broke him up in business. He gradually went under like so many others with large families. His children were educated and sent on missions, all of which finally developed into financial ruin. His later years were years of great anxiety, the family being large and the income small.
During all those years of Church service, he held many church positions and presided successively in all the quorums of the Melchizedek Priesthood and received all the blessings usually conferred upon the faithful. He was a close student of Church doctrine and sought constantly for the truth. When he heard or read Gospel interpretations that seemingly could not be maintained by the Scriptures, he searched the scriptures and prayed for more light and a better understanding. He was often at odds with some of the general authorities of the Church and in later years indulged in frequent criticism, which gave birth the idea of writing a book of his interpretations of the Gospel which he called “Higher Spiritual Thoughts,” a Treatise in Advanced Theology. The book was never published. In addition to the intended book, he kept many journals, most of which are currently deposited in the Church archives. They occupy about one and one-half linear feet of shelf space.
Ferdinand died March 19, 1928 and is buried in the Holladay Memorial Park cemetery.