Sunday, July 6, 2014

Preserving the Faces of our Past

                      Andrew and Emma Anderson Family, 1937 
                          Back left:  LeGrand, LaRell, Vione, R.D.  
                                    Front left:  Emma, Andrew
I have been collecting and writing the histories of my ancestors since I was 14 years old. This has been very rewarding to me.

In those early years, I had to ask family members for copies of their histories and those they had acquired. These relatives often gave me the names and addresses of others I could contact for more information on my long deceased ancestors. I spent a lot of time writing letters to these people asking [or begging] for whatever information they could share with me. 

I remember my excitement when I received their letters back. Usually the envelopes contained something meticulously typewritten about the persons I had requested. All of this information was very appreciated and as a teenager, I probably did not give them the thanks I should have for their efforts. But even though I was grateful, the stories were sometimes just stories until I could attach a photograph to them.

My Grandma Harward was always a good resource for family history. On one visit with her, after some discussion about family history, she brought out a Polaroid camera and took pictures of the faces of her ancestors she had collected and gave me the results. 

In the 1970s a Polaroid camera seemed so magical!  After a push of a button, a small thin packet shot out from the front of the camera. Then after what seemed like forever but really only about a minute or so, one could peel off a thin sheet of paper from the packet and the real magic appeared--a photograph. 

This began my collection and love of family photographs.Today I have many thousands of photographs of family members which have captured them formally and in various activities. When I use my own digital camera to take photo shots of family members and then download them to my computer, it really doesn't take me much longer to get a tangible image than it did with Grandma's Polaroid.

This past winter, I received some amazing pictures of my Grandpa LeGrand with his parents and siblings. The photographs were very dark, and I tried to lighten them using Photoshop. But I was unable to lighten them and keep all of the other elements intact. I needed someone who could restore them professionally. 

Michael from helped me out with the restoration of my treasured photo as you can see at the top of the blog. I am very pleased with the results. Through July 2014 he can offer anyone who finds him through my site a 20% discount on one restoration or colorization using the promo code:  eppich.

Old family photos are so precious. I believe we should preserve them the best we can. I am so grateful others in my family have preserved and shared their photographs with me. I am also thankful for those who earn their living helping us restore them to their original beauty.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Finding My Ancestors As Extroverts and Introverts

I love to research and write about my ancestors? It is always an adventure to find out about them. Some of my ancestors have been easy to learn about, while many others have been elusive and difficult. Sure, I can almost always discover their names on census records with their approximate age, gender and what their occupation was on a particular date. But these type of records don't answer all of my questions. Like . . .

  • Did they enjoy their jobs?
  • Were they healthy?
  • What were their hobbies?
  • Did they have any goals?
  • Did they find life fulfilling?
  • Did they believe in God?
  • Did they love their family?  The list goes on and on!

The reason why some of my ancestors were easy to get to know is because detailed histories with pictures have been passed down from generation to generation. But then there are those who are just a name in my database.

I have asked myself, "Why is this so?" How come, for example, my great grandfather on my mother's side is elusive, but information about my grandfather on Dad's has been so easy to find--after all they lived in the same county.

It has taken me a while, but I think I have finally figured it out! Some of my ancestors were introverts and others were extroverts. 

Extroverts are inclined to enjoy interaction with others and be enthusiastic, talkative, and assertive. They are motivated and thrive being around other people. They take pleasure in activities that involve large social gatherings, such as parties, community activities, public demonstrations, and business or political groups. An extroverted person is likely to find less reward in time spent alone.

This explanation helped me understand why information about an extrovert can be more easily found. Newspapers, especially those in years past, reported on social gatherings and activities around the communities. These activities often produced pictures and stories. These sections of the newspaper were sometimes called the "gossip section."  Those involved in politics always took the spotlight and their names and pictures were printed in local, state, and country history books. Many church authorities are extroverts, and records from churches can also generate material of historical value.

An introverted person, on the other hand, tends to be more reserved and less outspoken in groups. They often take pleasure in solitary activities such as reading, writing, hiking and fishing.  Artists, writers, sculptors, engineers, composers and inventors are all highly introverted. An introvert is likely to enjoy time spent alone and find less reward in time spent with large groups of people, though he or she may enjoy interactions with close friends.

Both of these types of people have great value and play a part in any community--just in different ways. But in the case of most introverts, no one seems to be around to take pictures of them in their chosen activities. 

A introverted grandmother, for example, was usually never photographed doing her handwork, reading her scriptures, sewing all of the family's clothing or weeding in the furthest part of her garden. Grandma probably thought her life was boring and took no thought to write about her hopes and dreams. 

Richfield, Utah July 4th Parade, cir. 1962
Kendrick Harward [in back] 

My father's father, Kendrick Harding Harward, for the most part, earned his living as a turkey farmer. Some might say, "That was probably pretty boring!" But the reality is, he was an extrovert. In high school, he participated in almost all the sport, drama and music activities offered. As a church member, he served from a very young age in many callings including a bishop in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the age of 29. He was also politically active, serving as a county commissioner, a Utah state senator, mayor and on the Utah State Board of Regents. 

My grandfather wrote his autobiography and always valued his associations with people. Was it hard for me to find information on him? All I had to do was hold out a bucket and let it pour in.

Parley Anderson

My mother's grandfather, Parley Anderson was also a farmer, a generation older than Kendrick. He didn't or couldn't attend much school. Our family has understood that Parley enjoyed hunting, fishing and spending many long, lonely days in the mountains with his sheep. His church attendance was pretty much nonexistent. Luckily our family has pictures of him taken by his [extrovert] wife but only a few newspaper articles and they dealt mostly with his motor vehicle accidents. Some accounts related that he enjoyed people, but we don't know who those people were specifically. We have nothing written by his hand and can only guess at who he really was. Perhaps he was an introvert.

While accounts about extroverts can be easily found in many places including city, county, state, church, newspaper and social club records, finding the information of introverts is much more difficult. Tidbits about their lives are often hidden in historical pieces written by family members, friends, neighbors and co-workers. But I am not discouraged!

Personally, I like the fact that the personalities of my ancestors are so varied. It makes my search for them and their records all the more fascinating. Since I want to learn everything I can about them, deciding whether they were extroverts or introverts helps me in my search for the stories about their lives.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Toline Christensen Martinsen

Toline Christensen Martinsen

I have looked at the face of my great, great grandmother Toline Christensen Martinsen many times--studying it intently trying to discover perhaps a little of who she was. 

The fact that she is quite a mystery should not be so much a question as I hardly know anything about her daughter, my great grandmother Emma Martinsen Anderson either.

Sometimes when my mother feels insecure, stubborn or particularly introverted, she blames these traits on her Norwegian bloodline coming from her Grandma Emma Martinsen. I have asked myself, "Could this really be true?"

I suppose each culture has their own character traits which come either through bloodlines or their environment. But the following traits seem particularly strong for those with Norwegian blood:
  • Norwegians often seem a bit shy, but this, in part, is because they do not like to meddle in another person’s life. Once they feel comfortable, you will get to know them better and strong ties of friendship will develop.
  • They place strong value in sincerity.
  • They are highly tolerant and accepting of other people--somewhat unlike their Danish and Swedish neighbors.
  • They appreciate modesty and types of low-key behavior.
  • Most Norwegians are informal in dress and manner.
  • Norwegians love the great out-of-doors.
  • Physically, a big part of the Norwegian population is tall, blonde and fair-skinned. In fact, 50-60% of all Norwegian adults have light brown hair being blonde as children.
After looking over these traits, maybe I can understand why I have so little information on my Norwegian line. It seems they did not want to be noticed or worried about. Their lives were low-key.

But this will not deter me. I will still continue to look for information which I hope will help me understand who my Norwegian ancestors were.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Cleanliness Takes Effort

Almost everything my ancestors needed to keep them and their families alive and well was produced by their own hands. For us today, soap is something we don't think about much. It is easy to obtain from local markets and the price can be minimal. But this was not the case in earlier years--they had to make their own.

The process of making soap has been around for thousands of years, and the ingredients were usually available to my early ancestors. But the making of soap took a great effort. 

A very important ingredient for soap was fat. Women saved fat scraps from the cows and pigs which were butchered. The scraps were put in very large pots, usually in the out of doors, where it was rendered or cooked down in water and a little salt. Then the rendering was strained to remove any impurities.This was time consuming and probably a very smelly process.

Lye is another ingredient essential to making soap. Lye is commonly known as sodium hydroxide and highly caustic. In earlier days our ancestors produced it from the ashes of hardwood trees and water. The ash water then had to be filtered. This was another highly labor intensive process.

To make soap, fat, lye and water were added together in a very large pot. The lye had to be put into the fat and water mixture at the right time and temperature and stirred to a perfect consistency. One wrong step and all would be for nothing. As the mixture was constantly stirred, it began to present folds. Then it could be poured into molds, wrapped in cloth or newspaper and put away in a cool, dark, and dry place to cure for at least four to six weeks. After that time the soap was cut into bars or grated.

Women in those early years took great pride in their soap. The soap had a neutral, clean smell, and the goal was to make the soap as white as possible. The browner the soap, the less respect others had for the soap and for the soap maker. A great deal of expertise went into soap making.

My family was no different from any other as far as their soap making. In fact my mother has a soap story of her own. She vividly remembers that her father was out one day plowing down some weeds around their out buildings. After a short time, he came into their home bringing a medium-sized, lidded, tin box he had inadvertently dug up. Her mother opened the tin and discovered a beautiful, white, uncut soap. 

This was in the 1950s and my mom had never seen anything like this before, but my grandmother certainly recognized it and was very delighted. Grandma grated the soap and used it in her laundry. Even in the 1950s women were very proud of nice, clean laundry drying on their clothes lines. [I suppose we women have been prideful since the beginning of time.]

My mom and her family were then living in the home and on the property which once belonged to her grandparents, and her mother knew the soap must have been made by her mother-in-law Emma Martinsen Anderson. Emma had died in 1938 long before the soap find. But the work of her hands had endured for decades.

Soap seems like such a small thing but very important for hygiene especially before indoor plumbing was invented. Personal cleanliness added to the good health of families, and just like us, we always want keep our families well and happy.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

My Family and Roosevelt's "New Deal"

My great grandfather, Andrew Anderson was a farmer and cattle rancher. He spent the majority of his life ranching in Koosharem, Utah, part of what is called Grass Valley. Some of his land was in Sevier County and other parts were in the neighboring Piute County.

His daughter Vione wrote of her father's young years, "My dad had started raising cattle by beginning with little dogey calves when he was just a kid." This early experience proved very valuable to Andrew.

My great grandfather survived year-to-year as most farmers being some good, some not so good and then were those years where he went clear broke.

The Ogden Standard Examiner newspaper of 16 October 1928 claimed my grandfather was paid a record price for his cattle, 10 cents/pound for steers, 9 cents for heifers and 8 cents for cows. I wondered how he and his family felt about their lives that year.

Not too much later, the Great Depression hit the Sevier valley. My Grandma Vera, Andrew's daughter-in-law, wrote, "One day we woke up and all of the banks were closed. A check was no good. The only money you had was what you had in your pocket. In a short time, the government came and killed the animals you had but maybe one." LeGrand [Vera's husband and my grandfather] came home one day with one half of a calf, one half of a cow, and one half of a pig which had been butchered. Vera said, "We had to preserve them the best we could as well as render the lard." For a cattle rancher like my Grandpa Andrew, what must he have been thinking? He had spent his life to that point raising cattle and now the government said, "No more!"

When I first read my grandmother's history, I did not understand why the government would be involved in killing farm animals. I questioned, "Why would the government come in and take away something so valuable to people in such hard times?"

I have done a little research recently and found that during those early years of the Depression, livestock and crop prices had dropped disastrously. Farmers no longer were able to make any profit when they sold their animals or crops. The government felt that the whole economy of the nation hinged on the success of its farmers. It was thought that when the farmer could make it again, maybe everyone else could too.

Officials with President Roosevelt's New Deal program believed prices were down because farmers were producing too many commodities. The Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933 was passed and was used to reduce the over supply. So, in the late spring of 1933, the federal government carried out "emergency livestock reduction." 

The U. S. government bought the animals from the farmers at very low rates--such as 3 cents per pound. Hogs and cattle were just killed. Thousands were shot and buried in deep pits. Farmers felt they had no choice. The federal buy-out saved many farmers from bankruptcy, and AAA payments became the chief source of income for many that year.

Farmers had worked hard to raise their livestock, and they absolutely hated to see them killed and the meat go to waste, but this was simple economics and the government's plan worked to some extent. The program may have helped farmers temporarily by causing prices to go up, but that was at the expense of millions in larger cities who could hardly afford to eat. Those living in rural areas could raise fruits and vegetables which helped them.
After several years, the Depression started to ease its way out of Utah and the rest of the country, but my grandfather Andrew Anderson never again saw the same prosperity he enjoyed in 1928. I am sure many lessons were learned during the Depression era--frugality and thrift among them

                                                                                               Andrew's hoist system

Some time before those hard years, Andrew had taught his three boys, LaRell, LeGrand and R.D. the trade of slaughtering and butchering animals and built on his ranch in Koosharem a manual hoist system which he used for slaughtering. This proved to be a valuable thing as all of Andrew's boys found employment during the Depression years butchering animals. In fact, LaRell owned and operated his own meat packing plant in Vernal, Utah for about 30 years. 

LaRell, LeGrand and R. D. Anderson
LaRell's Uintah Packing Company in Vernal, Utah

I suppose if history has taught us anything, it is that nothing in life is sure. My family fell pretty hard during the Depression years along with most of the nation. 

What I heard in the voices of my grandparents as they talked about living and surviving the years of the Great Depression reminded me of taking tests in school. No one liked taking a test, but if we passed, we felt really good. I suppose they hoped they never would have to take that same test again.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Home SWEET Home

Anderson Boarding House 2013
Koosharem, Utah

In 1907 my great grandparents Andrew and Emma Martinsen Anderson purchased a house in Koosharem, Sevier County, Utah from Andrew's half sister and brother-in-law, Albertina and Parley Anderson. The house was large for its time and place.

Andrew and Emma lived in the home and also ran it as a boarding house accommodating many as they traveled through the valley. Church leaders from the LDS Church and civil servants such as judges, etc. stayed with them. The Andersons worked very hard to keep the home in good order and usually hired others to help with cooking and cleaning. Some referred to it as the Anderson Hotel.

In 1910 the Richfield Reaper, the local newspaper of Richfield, Utah, reported a curious circumstance which may or may not have been a common occurrence in those days. Inside of a hotel wall a swarm of bees had made their home and were very busy doing what bees do--making beeswax, honey and reproducing.

Richfield Reaper 25 August 1910

With a little research I found it takes a hole of at least 5/16 of an inch for bees to be able to enter, build honeycombs, leave to retrieve more pollen and reenter reasonably.  A hive such as the one in the Anderson home would have been active for many years to have the network size discovered.

Finding the bees in the month of August and then trying to have them removed was probably very difficult since this is the time of year when bee activity is highest. Removing a honeybee hive is really a matter of personal safety, and much time and patience is required to do so. Seldom is it worth it monetarily for a professional to remove a hive for the honey. 

The newspaper article does not say whether the 300 lbs. of honey retrieved from the wall was given as payment to the beekeeper or if the Andersons shared in the wealth.

Approximately 300 lbs. of honey

Probably this incident in the lives of my ancestors would have been passed off as just another day, but someone thought it was of enough interest to put it in the newspaper. Then again one has to consider the town of Koosharem with its secluded location in a mountain valley and the small population. Perhaps the whole town gathered to watch the unveiling and removing of the beehive. The locals may have even brought their lawn chairs and picnic baskets for the afternoon. I can only imagine the possibilities. Grandpa may have even sold tickets--likely not since he was related to almost everyone in town!

As far as family history information, I only now know that this boarding house was part of the Anderson family's occupation in August of 1910 with or without the bees. 

Hopefully those planning to frequent the Anderson hotel were not discouraged to stay because of the pesky insects which remained. Likely Grandma Anderson served up their breakfasts with a nice cup of herbal tea, toast and lots of honey.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

In the Sweat of Thy Face

What God decreed to Adam and Eve in Genesis 3, is still true today, "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread." At least it has been so with my ancestors. All of them have had to work hard to be able to eat, provide clothing and have a place to live.

The list of work my ancestors did in order to live is long and varied from making hats to weaving wool. All of their jobs interest me, although I am sure their work was interesting to them. Census takers sometimes listed the occupation of my ancestors as odd jobs. When I consider the word odd, I think of peculiar, not regular or something different. For a split second my mind says, "Yep, that's my family."

I believe throughout time, many have wanted to work a little harder to provide more or have another job on the side to bump up their earnings. Nothing has changed throughout times, we also look for ways to make more money, enough be able to pay a bill long overdue or purchase a new shovel.

LeGrand Anderson, farmer

My maternal grandfather LeGrand Anderson and his brother R.D. worked together for several years farming and ranching in a small mountain town of Koosharem, Utah. Besides their chores of planting and harvesting crops, the two also raised turkeys, chickens and other farm animals. Earning a living as a farmer has always been unpredictable.

R.D. and LeGrand Anderson

One year, the two brothers conspired to make some extra money raising geese. Because after all, geese are easy to raise, they don't need much shelter and only eat grasses and weeds. The Anderson boys probably thought this venture was a sure thing

While going for the gold, they decided to do it in a big way--about 1,000 ways [or geese] which were penned on the family property. The geese did very well until their day of reckoning when LeGrand and R.D. arose one morning at 3:00, loaded them into crates and onto the back of R.D.s flatbed truck and headed toward Salt Lake City for the goose market.

LeGrand and R.D. made good time traveling on US Highway 91 until they ran out of gas in the town of Payson, Utah. It was still dark outside when LeGrand decided to leave R.D., the truck and the geese to try to find some gasoline.

R.D. waited in the truck patiently, listening to the rustle of the geese and a few occasional goose honks. Then it was as if a choral director raised his arms, brought the geese to attention, and led them in the loudest, most off-keyed ballad ever heard. R.D. was very alarmed when he noticed the houses on the street light up one after the other--their occupants awakened abruptly by the unruly choir. His goose was cooked so-to-speak! It is supposed the goose raising trial failed since it was not ventured again--at least not in those numbers. A decision probably for the best.

Since hearing this story, I have wondered about all of the different ways my ancestors may have worked to provide a living for themselves and their families. I suppose some of them had to swallow a little pride to raise acres of carrots in poor soil or sell sauerkraut door-to-door. I love and admire them for their labors. I am here today as proof of their efforts and I thank them.