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. 


Friday, August 1, 2014

The Great Out-of-Doors, A Family Tradition

LeGrand, Pauline and Vera Anderson
My mother Pauline Anderson Harward 
with her parents LeGrand and Vera
camping in Idaho, cir. 1939


For many people vacationing in the great out-of-doors during the summer months is a must, and it can often become a family tradition. Perhaps it was the same for my own ancestors.



My great grandmother, Hattie Anderson in front with pan
Cir. 1935



As a child growing up, my family never camped in a tent together and I remember we only owned one sleeping bag back then. But twice my parents rented a camper which Dad put in the back of his truck and off we went exploring the world. Now that was cozy! Much more often, we stayed in the cabins of friends and relatives. It didn't seem to matter how and where we stayed, the memories were still made and kept.



My Harward Family at Fish Lake, Utah in 1969





Me with my siblings and mother in 1970
Dad was always behind the camera!






Houseboating at Lake Powell, Utah  in 1975 with my Harward family






My parents and all of their children and grandchildren 
at my brother Paul's cabin in Fish Lake in 1999




After I married, my husband and I became tenters! Whenever we traveled during the summer months, we found places we could tent camp, because it was very economical, and we really enjoyed it. We went traveling with our tents almost every summer during the years we reared our children and saw much of our beautiful country and western Canada. On one trip one of my daughters exclaimed loudly after seeing all of the beauty she could stand, "When you've seen one tree, you've seen 'em all." But today she loves to camp--even in the trees.



My daughter Cassy and her husband
putting up their tent in 2002



Since tent camping has been such a strong tradition with our family, my husband and I, together with our children and grandchildren gather each summer to spend time camping--babies and all! The grandchildren love to make fires, swim in the creeks, catch water skippers, collect rocks, make crafts, sing Grandpa's silly boy scout songs and make and eat s'mores. It gets pretty crazy. 





Eppich family camping July 2014



This summer as I was sitting around our smokey campfire trying to breathe and clean the dirt out from under my fingernails at the same time, several grandchildren were leaping around me with hot, toasted marshmallows barely hanging from roasting sticks. When I looked at the left over s'mores smeared across their dirt-stained faces, I thought to myself, "Maybe I am getting too old for all of this and perhaps my children and grandchildren will never remember our camping times together anyway."



Lucy
 How could any grandmother not want to kiss a SWEET face like this one?


But after I got home, put all of the gear away, had a long shower and slept in my own bed, I decided I should probably hang in there a little longer. Who knows, maybe my grandchildren will share memorable experiences from our family camping trips with their children and grandchildren and continue on our tradition. Then it all will be worth it!


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
    
                                            [Restoration]
                      
                   
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 www.tophatphotorepair.com 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. 


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 in 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.

For instance:

  • 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 could go 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 paternal grandfather has been so easy to find--after all they lived in the same county.

t has taken me a while, but I think I have finally figured it out! Some of my ancestors were introverts while others 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 which 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 from years past reported on social gatherings and activities around the communities. These activities often produced pictures and stories and 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 county history books. Many church authorities are extroverts and records from churches can also generate material of historical value.

Just the opposite is true of an introverted person. He tends to be more reserved and less outspoken in groups. Introverts 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, although 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 a picture of them in their chosen activities.

An 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 activities, hopes or dreams.

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 s port, 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 of Richfield, Utah city and served on the Utah State Board of Regents.

Kendrick Harward [in back of car]
Sevier County Commissioner
Richfield, Utah July 4th Parade, 1962


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

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.


Parley Anderson


Luckily our family has pictures of him but only a few newspaper articles and they dealt mostly with his motor vehicle accidents. Some accounts related  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 is. Perhaps he is an introvert.

While accounts about extroverts can be easily found in many places including city, county, state, church, newspaper and social club records, find 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.  

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.