Sunday, November 16, 2014

A Long Line of Finnish Vicars

Nagu church in Nagu, Finland
built in the 13th century

Sometimes as I look at the faces and life histories of my ancestors, I wonder if I am anything like them. Do my physical features resemble them in any way? I question whether any had similar thoughts, strong feelings or desires as I do.

My great grandfather, Parley Anderson was born in Ephraim, Utah in 1876. He was the son of Andrew Ole Anderson and Johanna Henrietta Stormfeldt both of whom were born in Sweden. Parley's early life was heavily influenced by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While he was probably a very good man, Parley did not seem to have a need for religion in his life. 

Looking at him as an outsider, I think Parley's forebears were different from him. His mother Johanna's ancestral line began with the births of her parents both in Sweden and continued back a few more generations there. Johanna's great grandfather, Axel Fredrick Salonius was born in Abo, Turku-Pori, Finland and his ancestry extended in Finland for many generations. 

In Sweden, Axel chose to work as a captain of small fishing vessels. Axel's father Erich Gustafsson Salonius was a tax assesor in Turku-Pori, Finland. But from Erich on back many generations, this paternal line chose to be vicars and priests in the Lutheran church of Finland. 

Erich's father Gustaf Ericksson Salonius was ordained as a priest of the Turku diocese on May 26, 1693. At that time, Finland was part of the Swedish empire and was at war with Russia and Poland. In 1713 Gustaf and other priests fled to Sweden after Russia won the war and took control of Finland. Gustaf was able to return to Finland and his ministry in 1722 and served as a priest until his death in 1737. I could go back further on the Salonius line but won't at this writing.

Martin Luther

Axel's mother, Hedvig Magdalena Wittfooth, is a direct descendant of Martin Luther, the sixteenth-century German religious leader who had been a priest of the Roman Catholic Church. He later became the founder of Protestantism and began the Reformation by posting his Ninety-five Theses, which attacked the Catholic church for allowing the sale of indulgences.

I am amazed at the courage and faith of so many in my family line, and while my physical body may not resemble those of my Finnish or German ancestors, I too need religion in my life. I have faith in my Heavenly Father and his Son, Jesus Christ and this gives me the hope that after the last chapter of my earthly book is closed, I can meet all of the wonderful people who are the reason I live today.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Our Dust

I am so lucky during this phase of my life to be to able to spend time looking at the lives of my ancestors and gathering information about them. 

Earlier in my life I was really busy with my five children, a job, some church obligations, my husband and his job and church responsibilities--the list could go on. 

Each and every day there were always those tedious chores at home which had to be accomplished like vacuuming, dusting and sweeping. Often as I worked at these mundane chores, I would daydream I was vacuuming up the the happenings of the previous day. Then of course I put the dust in the garbage can. Now I wonder if I should have saved some of that dust so that it could be a part of my family's history. 

That dust could be an essay assignment given to a student to write about a grandma. A school custodian once gave one of these she found in the trash to my mother. It was an essay written by my daughter about her grandma--my mother, then tossed away after she had received her grade.

The dust could also be a note written by a great grandmother at the birth of a new great grand child.

Dust may also include a pocket knife given by a grandpa to his grandson as he enrolled in the Cub Scouts. Or even a picture taken of family members at a special event such as a graduation, birthday, reunion or holiday.

I have recollections of vases and cups holding dandelions so thoughtfully given by my five year old daughter. I was happy at the time to throw away that dust, but maybe I should have recorded something in my journal about the look on my daughter's face as she presented the yellow flowers to me.

Today I search for the dust so-to-speak preserved from the lives of my ancestors. Luckily some family members thought it might be valuable to a future generation.

In my repentant state, I try to teach my children and grandchildren about the importance of their own families and those who have gone before them. Sometimes dust is just dust, but then again it might not be. It could be a puzzle piece some in our posterity will need to complete the family puzzle.

Look carefully at your dust before you throw it away!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Emma's EarthlyTreasure

For some, antique objects collected and loved are a real value, especially those which hold provenance. Once in a while I wonder what earthy things my ancestors would have considered a treasure

My family has a few items which belonged to my mother's paternal grandmother Emma Martinsen Anderson. Those items include a beautiful, ornate mirror, a claw-footed table, one of her nicer hair pins, two pieces of costume jewelry, a fancy, store-bought, blue dress [which would have been much too small for her to wear in her later years] and a few family photos--some taken in 1937 just a year before her death.

I believe if Emma could answer my question about what her treasure might be, she would preface her answer by explaining her life. No doubt she would remind me that her parents and older siblings joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Norway and traveled a great distance by sea and land to live among the LDS saints in Utah.

She might express to me her sadness and fear as both her parents died within a few weeks of each other when she was only 11 years old. She probably would try to help me understand the weight of responsibility she had for her 5 year old brother when her older siblings went out to find work to support the family.

I hope she would express happiness at her marriage to my great grandfather Andrew Anderson. I assume her heart grew a little bigger when she gave birth two years later to their first child, a daughter. What loneliness she must have felt just six weeks after the birth as she bid goodbye to Andrew as he left to serve a mission for the LDS Church and was gone for over two years.

She probably would have told of how anxious she was when she learned Andrew had contracted typhoid fever on his mission and might die. I picture her with pure joy when the Lord sent Andrew home safely to her. I would expect to see despair when just 11 months later her newborn son died. 

I suppose she would express to me the security she felt when Andrew's business became quite profitable, and they were able to move into a big, beautiful home. She likely would have been delighted to tell me about the births of three more sons and another daughter.

Emma might not have been able to express the grief she felt when her oldest daughter passed away at the young age of 15. She herself likely wondered why she could no longer go to back into her beautiful home because of the death. Her eyes might reflect the look of uncertainty she saw on her husband and children as they left their home to help her escape her grief only to camp in the out-of-doors under a bowery.

Grandma Emma might remind me that after this, she was never well, and life was very difficult for her in the years leading to her death.

So what would Grandma have saved as a treasure--something she valued highly? Probably not the blue dress. Likely she would not have said it was her costume jewelry. Pictures are nice but never take the place of the people they portray.

I think if I were to guess, Grandma would say the beautiful mirror was her treasure. Emma might explain to me how the mirror reflected her life including her daily choices and actions both good and bad. The mirror also displayed her emotions, her happiness and sorrow, as well as the faces of those she loved so much. The mirror reflected her, and I hope she knew her life was a treasure.

Today as I look into my great grandmother's mirror, I can't see Grandma or any of the events of her life. I only see my own reflection and my life is a treasure--I think she might remind me of that too.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Polly's Perfect Place

About a year and a half ago, I was searching through some of my family history files and came across a recorded interview I did with my mother several years back. In a part of the interview, Mom speaks of a small reservoir or pond which was on her family's property in Koosharem, Utah a part of what the locals call Grass Valley.

As she spoke, I could tell the reservoir of her childhood seemed almost magical, and she loved it almost as much as anything in her life.

Mom talked of following her father as he went to his little shack by the pond to fertilize fish eggs. Her father, LeGrand Anderson, wasn't a man who enjoyed fishing, but he seemed to love the science of them, and he kept their reservoir well-stocked for those in the family who wanted to fish like my mother did.

Mom mentioned getting in a boat and looking over the edge watching the fish swimming around in the clear water. With her childish imagination, she pretended the fish lived in little fish villages. Sometimes, she watched the fish for quite a while dreaming many interesting stories. 

In 2013, my sister and I took Mom back to the reservoir she loved. It is now owned by her cousins, and they still keep fish in it.

Pauline Anderson Harward
reminiscing by her family's reservoir
in Koosharem, Utah 2013

Fish still jump in the reservoir

Before our visit, I made Mom a little book about her reservoir story. Now I have the pages in video form. I think it brings back good memories for her. Everyone deserves GOOD childhood memories!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

My Grandma Dear

After doing a lot of research on my great grandmother Hattie Rozella Charlotta Jane Tuttle Anderson, I felt inclined to write a short poem about her. I do not profess to be a poet, but these were some of my feelings about her. 

                              My Grandma Dear
                 I was thumbing through old photos
                     From a box beneath my bed
                   Some were torn and others bent
                         Faces of kin long dead.

                   My passing glance soon focused
                        On a long-forgotten face.
                       I found myself transported
                     To a past and pleasant place.

                I strode a short, but well-worn lane
                        Toward the house of stone.
                   Its wooden porch was beckoning,
                     “Come stay, you’re not alone.”

                     The aroma of the kitchen air
                       Put memories in my mind.
                  Of bacon, bread and coffee cake
                      Which so many of us dined.

                     The creator of this lovely fest
                     Worked steadily at her chore.
                   She greeted me with loving gaze.
                  And said, “Come in, there’s more.”

                She used her apron clean and white
                          To grasp a sizzling pot.
                    Then once again she took it up 
                          To soothe her crying tot.

                         Some say a woman’s work
                          Is never quite complete.
                     Not even with the dishes done
                      There’s always rugs to beat.

                   I honor you, my grandma dear
                      For all your stalwart acts.
               You kept your family fed and cheered
                    And clothes upon their backs.

                  Things are all so different now 
                         But yet, that is not so.
                     We worry, fuss and bother too
                        Until our time to go.                         

                                         ~Cindy Eppich

Hattie Tuttle Anderson with son Dean
cir. 1925

Sunday, September 14, 2014

My Grandpa LeGrand, His Small Speck in America's History

LeGrand M. Anderson

World War II was aptly named as sadly it affected everyone in the world in some way. For my Grandfather LeGrand Anderson, who began his family during the Depression era, the war was certainly another monetary stumbling block. Without a doubt, he was not alone in this trial!

In 1941 the Idaho meat packing plant which he had been employed for several years closed. He felt he had to return with his family to his father's farm in Koosharem, Sevier County, Utah to make some sort of living. 

In the spring of 1942 a request from the government came for strong men who could construct homes very quickly in the Delta, Utah area. Grandpa knew he was a capable carpenter, needed the income and logistically he lived just 100 miles or so from Delta. He answered the call and was hired.

This all came about because of the war. In fact, the more populated areas along the Pacific coast of the United States had protested against Japanese infiltration, So it was decided by Franklin D. Roosevelt's executive order on February 6, 1942 to relocate those of Japanese ancestry to ten residential facilities--one of those to be built in the Pahvant valley of Utah ten miles west of Delta called early on Little Tokyo.

Construction in Delta began in June of 1942. This building project quickly brought into Millard County large groups of carpenters, electricians and plumbers, and by September enough of the camp had been completed to begin moving in some of its Japanese-American residents. 

An artist's rendition of Topaz

I am sure this huge influx of workers heavily impacted the residents of Millard County. The local newspaper didn't seem sure what they could even report on.

Millard County Chronicle, 20 July 1942, p. 4

My Grandpa LeGrand helped build the 500 small 120 x 20 foot one-story barracks in what ended up being called Topaz. Although it took him away from his home, he probably was very grateful for the steady income for 3 months--a rare benefit because of the war.

One remaining barrack

I believe my grandmother and her three daughters [which included my mother] missed their husband and father very much. There was a song very popular during this time called Sleepy Lagoon. Some of the words are, "A sleepy lagoon and two hearts in tune . . ." My grandma changed the words when she sang it to her daughters expressing her loneliness, "A sleepy lagoon and two hearts in June."

My grandfather's tiny part in our American history was very brief, and while Grandpa and his family did struggle financially because of the war, he probably didn't dare complain about his situation after seeing where other American citizens were going to live their lives in Topaz during the war.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Our Love for Storytellers

I come from a line of wonderful women who have enjoyed sharing stories. I strongly believe that every family needs one or two storytellers. 

There have been storytellers among us since the beginning of time and as we know everyone has a story. Some storytellers have an undeniable urge to stretch the truth just a little into something somewhat fictional but incredibly interesting. 

For most of us, our own life stories seem average at best and probably somewhat predictable and uninteresting. I have heard the question asked, “Who would ever enjoy hearing a story about me or my family, we are boring?”

Newell Anderson

Recently members of my family have been reminded of their Uncle Newell Anderson who served in the Army Air Corp during World War II. He did his flight training in California and Washington state. At one point, he took a leave and went back to his home in Annabella, Sevier County, Utah. His siblings, nieces and nephews were enthralled by the stories he shared of a world they had never seen. 

For many years since, some have remembered Newell telling them he was engaged to be married to a beautiful, movie star of which he named.

Newell, a teaser by nature, was a very handsome man with multiple musical talents. It was purported [by family members of course] that these talents helped him become quite a lady’s man during the war. Newell's sisters claimed he used these talents to became acquainted with and eventually engaged to the star. 

In October of 1943, Newell and his squadron were ordered to Nuthampstead airbase in England. 

A year ago, I was able to obtain some letters Newell wrote to his brother Dean. One written April 2, 1944, spoke about his former girl friend and others he had written to. [Please excuse the cuss words.]

Nothing in Newell's letter to his brother was ever said about a movie star or an upcoming nuptial. One week later, on April 9,1944 Newell was killed in a firey airplane accident. 

Afterwards, many members of the family claimed to have seen a wedding band returned with Newell's effects. This only helped the movie star story grow. 

Curious as to the family tale, I looked into the possibility of its truth. With a little research, I noted that it was popular during the WW II era for the motion picture industry to produce life-like movies about the war. In fact, local Hollywood newspapers printed that Newell's supposed fiancé/movie star had had a couple of nervous breakdowns while filming war movies during the time. 

Amazingly enough, even after 70 years, this tidbit of new information was the perfect fuel to keep the family story burning--at least with my mother, her sister and anyone they could share it with. From then on, it was assumed that the movie star was bereaved and suffered terribly after learning about the death of her beloved serviceman/fiancé causing her breakdowns.

In more modern times, a family member was able to obtain a list of Newell's effects. To my surprise, a wedding-type band was on the list. 

It is unlikely the story about the movie star can ever be confirmed. But what if the story continues to be passed on and on and on? Perhaps by the time the story is shared with the fifth generation, it will not even closely resemble the original, and the original was pretty sketchy anyway. 
Nonetheless, I cannot imagine a world without stories. Storytellers are found in every culture. They can be a valuable means of entertainment and education as well as a way to preserve our moral values. Stories can enter our minds and thoughts forcing us to visualize how a character might look and act. They touch us and interact with our emotions in ways no other medium can.

Without a doubt every family has their stories. Maybe they are true and perhaps not. Hopefully the stories we are leaving behind for our posterity are worthwhile and a real value. And who knows maybe the next storyteller in the family will leave a wonderful story about us.