Grace Fjeldsted Lowe’s memories of Peter John and Bertha Marie Fjeldsted and their family March 30, 1952
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Grace Fjeldsted Lowe’s memories
of her grandparents Peter John and Bertha Marie Fjeldsted and their family
March 30, 1952
I always consider myself a very lucky person that my Heavenly Father should bless me with such wonderful people as my grandparents, Peter John and Bertha Marie Fjeldsted.
Our first little log home that I remember was only a mile due north from where Grandma and Grandpa Fjeldsted lived. These people were my second parents. I loved them with my life and I knew that the love in return was just as great for their oldest blood related grandchild. I was referred to always by them as “Little Grace” and how I would love to hear my grandma call me by that name. It always gave me a feeling of belonging to her. That was my one desire-the love of this great woman and her husband.
It was she who truly taught me the difference between truth and error. It was through her influence that I became interested in genealogical and record work, which I took up in my later life after her death. It was through her that I was taught the importance of temple marriage. In fact, of all people in my life she was the one most responsible for my happy marriage and the blessings that I have derived from it.
Grandmother had a perfect testimony of the Gospel. She lived the law of God in all things great and small and taught it to all who lived in her small world. She never separated her spiritual values from any part of form of her temporal activities. It was her implicit faith and her nearness to God in all things that influence those about her. The Holy Ghost would lead, guide and direct her and warn her of danger. It would show her things to come by dreams and would guard her from danger and direct her in raising her family and loved ones. This was the mystery that most affected me as a child.
As a little girl of nearly seven, from my babyhood, I had been brought up in various mining camps far from the influence of any religious training. In fact, that part of my life was neglected until our return to the Thomas Ward that had recently been organized and it was during this period that a ward hall was in the process of being built so that the various organizations of the church could function and the youth taught the principles of the Mormon faith. Before this time Blackfoot was the hub of anti-Mormon propaganda and persecutions.
Grandmother’s family was our closest neighbors. Her youngest daughter, Edith, who was nearly six years older than me was my dearest friend. She would watch over me as if I were her own little sister and all through my young life into young womanhood and on into later life it was the same. She has been a true sister to me always.
Through Aunt Edith I would spend much of my time at Grandma’s house and we two girls would love to listen to stories told by this good woman. No one in the world could explain things more beautifully and give color to her description better than she could. I can well remember how she would teach us girls the truth through her everyday living. It became common place in my young life to depend on Grandma as our family prophet and seer, and some of the things she would predict would make my little mind wonder and marvel at her ability to tell of things to come. As Grandmother told us of her many experiences in life and various spiritual experiences, her beautiful face would light up and glow with the Spirit of the Lord in her countenance. I remember many times thinking to myself as she talked to us, “You are the most wonderful person in the world, how lucky I am that you are my Grandma dear.”
Edith was inclined to be quick tempered as a little girl growing up and so often she would speak up quick. Grandma in her quiet way would say, “Now my girl, you’ve got that Fjeldsted temper. You must quiet down.” Never did I hear her scold or say more.
It was the delight of my soul to prove to myself that Grandma loved me better than she did Edith. I liked her to prove it by causing conditions to arise between Edith and myself to put Grandmother on the spot. It was so arranged by me that she would never see my part. When conditions got so bad that she would correct Edith I would get off feeling fine. As Grandma never thought of “Little Grace” committing a wrong act.
During the year of 1909 the family of my grandparents consisted of Edith, their youngest child. At that time she was about 14 years of age. Uncle Edwin at that time was near twenty but he was away working. I believe he was in Spokane. Ada was the oldest child at home. She was near 23 years of age. She lived and worked in Blackfoot as a clerk in the Golden Rule Store. But on most of the week ends she would arrange to come back to her parent’s home. Aunt Ada was a beautiful dress maker and she took a keen delight in helping Grandma with the family sewing. She would make most of Edith’s and her own clothing and her finished products were indeed lovely.
It was during the winter of 1908-9 that I first recall anything pertaining to this family. My Aunt Bertha Kurtz let her oldest son, Oliver (Ollie), make the trip from Dillon, Montana, where his parents owned and operated a farm to spend his first winter at school in Thomas making his home with my grandparents. This competition for my grandmother’s love was one of the hardest things I had to overcome. Before this time, from the time my parents had left the mining camps and returned to Thomas, I had been the baby of the family and all my aunts and uncles in both my mother’s family and also my father’s family had made it a point that “Little Grace” was indeed a privileged character around both their homes.
I was in my glory thinking to myself, “I have so many loved ones that make my little life a bed of roses. Now that Ollie had arrived from Dillion things began to change. I could see my little empire falling apart and it was from this time on I had to learn to give and take.
I recall very distinctly memories of my own family at this time. There had been many changes take place since we arrived back to the farm. The first thing my father and mother did was to build a new house to replace the little log cabin that was on the farm before we left. My father worked hard at this project and by the fall of 1908 they had moved into their lovely rock home.
At this time my mother was ill. A new baby was expected in our family and on the 13th of October of that year a lovely baby boy arrived to complete our happiness. Mother was never quite well for the next few years after my first brother come. She would get quinsy at the first little cold spell that would come. Usually it would set in after she had a cold or etc. With each attack of quinsy Mother would be down in bed for a couple or three weeks. It was always my Grandmother Fjeldsted who came to her aid. She would help our little family in the home when Mother was down in bed and then take our family washing to her own home and see that they were done and returned them to our house.
Conveniences in those days were not even thought about. There was no electricity at that time in this new country. Also, there was no hot or cold water in the house. The hand well was the only means of culinary water and it was usually dug near enough to the barns so that the cattle and horses could get water from the well also.
This meant a long distance for the woman of the house to carry water for all her purposes. There were no furnaces in the homes and grandmother would gather sagebrush, build her fire and heat the washing water in a boiler. She did have a hand washer though and she and the girls, if Aunt Ada happened to be home, would take their turn at the washer, turning it by hand. She would time each batch for fifteen minutes. If all went well our family washings would take Grandmother and her two daughters all day long to finish up and hang out on the line. Grandmother would see to it that these clean clothes were delivered and most of the time they were ironed before they were delivered. She using a hand iron.
My oldest brother, Harold, was born on the 13th of October 1908. From then to September 22, 1913, not quite 5 year’s time, four little babies came to our home. We had two deaths and many long periods of sickness and trouble during that same five year period. It was always Grandma and Grandpa Fjeldsted who first came to our house in those times of trouble. How kind and loving they both were when two little babies were laid in a coffin and placed in the family burial ground at Thomas Cemetery.
Grandma never tired of helping our family and at no time can I remember her too busy when trouble struck to be the first on the scene to help and administer aid. Many are the times I’ve heard her say, “Mattie is as dear to me as any one of my children and I love her with all my heart as if she were my very own.”
Grandmother loved everybody and everybody loved my grandmother. I remember it was about this same period or a little later, while she was 1st counselor in the Thomas Ward Relief Society that she awoke one morning and was very worried. I was only a little girl, but I remember her saying, “I had such a queer dream last night. I am worried about it. I cannot understand it.” We were all concerned as usual when Grandmother had one of these dreams. We all knew it had a meaning so we asked her what it was. She said, “I saw myself taking 2 little wet shoes off from a lovely baby girl. I unlaced the little shoes and took her wet feet out of them. Then I placed the little shoes away for safe keeping. I could see myself crying, and other people were crying and grieving about the room.”
It was only a short time after this dream, on the 25th of August 1914, that Grandmother was doing the very thing she had seen herself doing in her dream. My Uncle Adrian, mother’s brother, and his wife lived only a short distance from Grandma. It was at the time my aunt was canning corn. She had gone to the corn patch to pick the ears. Her little baby girl, Adreanne, awakened from an afternoon nap and climbed out of her crib and started to hunt for her mother. She opened the front gate which had accidentally been left unlocked and started across the foot bridge. She must have slipped or fell into the deep irrigation ditch as her little body was swept down the stream.
Upon my aunt’s return from gathering corn she found her baby missing. Help was summoned at once from all the neighbors and a search started. After some time of searching several large canals which ran close to my aunt’s home, the little girl was found.
Grandmother arrived at Aunt Jessie’s just as the rescue party brought her body into the house. Grandmother took the drowned child. Undressed her and took off her wet and muddy clothing. She and her family knew then the meaning of the dream.
Marie Fjeldsted was first counselor to Mary A Williams in the Thomas Ward Relief Society from November 5, 1903 to March 4, 1904. She served as first counselor to Laura VanOrden from March 6, 1913 to July 1, 1915. On May 13, 1917, she was called to be Relief Society president of the East Thomas Ward Relief Society and served until April 23, 1922.
I was a very small child at the time Mother asked me to go to Grandma Fjeldsted’s house on some errand. I cannot at this time recall the nature of the errand, but I was asked by Mother to return at once as it was a matter of great importance that I do as she said. I started for Grandma’s house early in the morning and upon my arrival there I became interested in something else. Grandmother’s home was of great interest to me and I loved to go into her house and watch her at her work and listen to her tell about the beauties and blessings of the Gospel, in which Grandmother never tired of doing.
I believe she told us the story that day about the value of prayer in her life and of the many blessings that she received through sincere prayer. I remember it was so fascinating to my little mind that I sat spellbound for hours and listened to these many varied experiences that she told concerning herself and prayer. I thought to myself that morning as Grandmother talked, “I wonder if these things are really true, and will the Heavenly Father answer prayers as Grandma tells us in her stories?” All morning long I listened to Grandma, then dinner time came and I still forgot about my promise to Mother about returning home at once.
When I arrived Mother was very upset and she was crying. She had been ill all day and I was needed most urgently at home. Mother said, “Grace, I am going to punish you so severely that you will never forget this day as long as you live. I am first going to whip you myself and when your father returns I’m going to have him punish you also.” Mother meant what she said and she was prepared for me by having a number of small willows cut and at hand. After she had finished she sent me into a room by myself to await my father’s punishment.
Now a child as young as I was at that time and knowing my father as I did, I knew that this punishment by him meant a real whipping and thoughts of it were indeed terrifying and frightening to my child’s mind. I cried and cried with the thought of what Papa would do and say to me when he returned. It was then that I thought of the stories my precious grandma had told me that morning while I was at her home visiting.
I thought of what she said, “Our Heavenly Father always hears and answers prayers, if one was sincere when offering up these prayers.” I wondered if He would hear my prayers. I didn’t think He should because I had willfully disobeyed my mama, but I thought to myself I believe I will try. This is a good time to test the Lord. If He hears my prayers tonight then I will know for sure that Grandma’s stories of her prayers and other things she tells about the Lord and His goodness must be true.
I knelt down by the side of a chair and started telling the Lord in my child’s way just how I felt. I told Him I hadn’t really meant to be bad, but I had become so interested in Grandma’s stories that I had forgotten. If there was a Heavenly Father like Grandma tells us there is, please would He help me to be better and to mind my mama dear and papa dear.
When my father returned from his work that he would understand and not punish me too harshly. I never knew until years later that my father and mother had stood by the side of the partly opened door and listened to my childish prayer. I did wonder to myself though just why my mother and father never mentioned this affair again and Papa forgot about the punishment.
It was this experience that made me see and understand the answer of a sincere prayer. God did listen and that was the way He answered me. From then on my grandmother’s stories and her implicit faith in God took on a definite meaning and was a stepping stone on my way through life’s journey to see and understand the better things of life.
My Aunt Edith and I were both mischievous in our girlhood and growing up days, although we were not really bad kids. We were both pretty much alike in some respects, both lonely and longing for friends and association. Under these circumstances we were drawn together closer than any one of my other aunts or uncles.
In those days we would amuse ourselves when we were together with games and pranks, riding horses, playing with the cats and dogs and sometimes we would wade in the creek that ran slowly down through the fields after it passed through our property. Up this little creek a short distance it left an old slough. This old slough, as we used to call it, wound itself down the country and passed close by my grandmother’s home.
In the winter time Aunt Edith and I use to skate, we would follow the creek and the old slough and hunt each other up. Then we would take to the ice and spend hours on our skates. It was Edith who first taught me the art of skating and how much joy and pleasure we used to find in this sport together.
In the summer time we would take to the creek early in the spring, hunting polliwogs and frogs. A little later we would take our fishing poles and go fishing for minnows and small fish. Many are the messes that we carried home after a long day of activity along the old slough and creek that passed through both our parents’ property. In the summer time it was our greatest delight to take our swimming dresses and go to our favorite swimming hole on the old slough, a place very near where the creek left it. This was a nice place to swim as it was a little deeper than most of the holes and also it was near both of our homes.
Before my Aunt Edith taught me the art of swimming, we both had a very narrow escape from death by drowning. As I think back on this experience I thank my Heavenly Father that He watched over us and protected us and brought us both through this experience without loss of life.
My parents had left me alone and had gone away for the afternoon. They had told me to stay near the house and not leave it under any circumstances. My aunt came up to visit me while my parents were away and it was then that we decided to go swimming. It was early in the season and this was the first time we had thought about it.
So we took our swimming dresses and started up the creek to where we had been in the habit of swimming other years. We arrived at the place where the creek entered a dam at the outlet of the creek. The place where they had taken the dirt to make this dam had filled up with water and formed a nice pond.
There had been some boards nailed together and made into a raft and this raft was floating near the edge of the pond. My aunt and I decided we would go for a raft ride. She stood on one side of the raft and I stood on the other side and we pushed ourselves out into the deep water. We started towards the side my aunt was standing on.
It was then that we both saw my mistake and down we went into the deep water. The raft slipped away from us and we were helpless. I grabbed my aunt who was much larger than I and started climbing up her body. I finally reached her shoulders, but I could not reach the top of the water even by standing on her shoulders. I tried desperately to get my head out so I could get air but all I could do was to fight for air. I could see the sun shining up in the sky but try as hard as I could, I was unable to reach the top. Things were beginning to pass through my mind and it was then I thought about my promise to Mamma and Papa. I had disobeyed my parents and this was the way the Lord was going to punish me.
I was sure that I was going to die. I thought of everything I had done that was wrong. If anyone was ever frightened it was me. I began to pray. I prayed with all my heart and soul that God would help us and bring us out of this water to safety. My lungs were almost bursting. I could feel myself getting weaker as if I might be going to faint and it seemed like we were in the water an eternity. All at once I realized my head was coming hear the surface of the water and then I was standing on my aunt’s shoulders and she being old enough to realize our danger knew our only chance to live was to start walking with me on her back and work herself towards the edge of the pond. As she came up the steep side of the pond I jumped from her back and crawled out of the pond and she did likewise. We both fell over on the bank and lay there for some time.
We never mention this incident when we are together unless we offer a silent prayer in thankfulness that our lives were protected.
It was about the latter part of August in the year 1911 that Grandpa Fjeldsted asked me if I had been baptized. I told him, “No, Mamma and Papa have been too busy thinking about other things.” Grandfather said, “Grace, you and I are going to take care of this important ordinance next Fast Sunday. Bring your little dress that you want to be baptized in and you and I will go down behind the barn in the old slough and I will baptize you.”
Grandfather Fjeldsted baptized me on the morning of the 3rd of September 1911. That same day he called for me at my home in a little one horse buggy and drove me to Sacrament Meeting to our Ward Hall, a distance of one mile and three quarters. There he confirmed me a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. We returned home together and on our return he explained this great ordinance to me. He told me when the Lord sees fit and I was ready I would then know what he meant when he said, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost.”
It must have been about the year of 1911 that Uncle Edwin returned from Spokane, Washington, where he had been working on the railroad. The first thing I can recall about him after his return was that I though he was the most handsome man in the world. He wore a pair of white or cream colored sport trousers and a very stylish
Uncle Edwin was very kind, much like my grandmother in disposition. He would always take the time to talk to me and pay attention to those about him. Through this kindness he won my heart at once and from then on I always thought a great deal of him. I would love to spend my evenings at my grandmother’s house listening to Uncle Edwin tell about the wonders of the big cities and of the great theaters and the artists who played in them. This was before the time of moving picture shows. Our only entertainment was traveling troupes and home talent. My little heart would beat with excitement at the thrill I got from the description of the various plays and the actors that Uncle Edwin described to beautifully.
Grandma owned an organ, she had had it in the home for many years and the children had taken lessons on it when they had lived in Preston. The four younger children of my grandparents loved to sing and play. Each of them could play the organ a little and follow the notes as long as they were not too difficult. They could play the popular songs of the day and the hymns in the church song books and they would all get together and sing in the evenings by the old organ.
It was Uncle Edwin who decided the family needed a piano. Through a company who was advertising pianos he won a certain prize which entitled him to a large payment on one. The family thought this was one of the loveliest things that ever came their way; to be able to own a beautiful new mahogany piano. The new piano was indeed the center of the family’s recreation and they would play and sing by the hour. I would sit and listen and wonder at such talent.
After Uncle Edwin had been home a short time the family decided to build a new house. The little log house where my grandparents lived had been the family refuge for many years and was now out of date badly. With the help of their two young sons Grandpa decided that it was time to make a change. I well remember Aunt Edith and me climbing over the lumber and watching the men at work. As the house went up, the modern idea was used to make the house attractive. We thought it the most beautiful home in the world.
Grandfather had worked very hard in his life and he was beginning to show his age. He had been put in as water overseer and he would follow the big canal and distribute water to the various farmers along his water route. I never think of Grandfather unless I think of the shovel he used to carry on his shoulder. Wherever I saw him he had it on his back. As he grew older he developed a round back or round shoulders and Edith and I would think it was because he did so much shoveling along his water route.
My mother had been ill for a long time, almost continually for the past five years. We were forced to secure help from an outside source. Grandmother would come and help us but it had been such a long siege of illness that we were not able to get along and Grandma was needed at home. My parents secured one hired girl after another to help with the burdens of the home through the long spells of sickness my mother was forced to endure.
Aunt Ana Parsons, my mother’s sister, was living with us about the year of 1913. She was helping us before our last baby was born. It was while Aunt Ana lived at our home that Uncle Edwin fell in love with her. They did their courting at our house and I always thrilled when Uncle Edwin came calling.
Many times I hid myself behind some piece of furniture so that I could take in the sights. I remember the many mischievous things I would do to tease this young couple. I well remember a short time before they were married of hiding myself in the bottom of the wardrobe that stood in our dining room. It was in this room where my aunt and uncle spent their evenings together after my parents had gone to bed. I sat in a cramped position for hours it seemed to me, listening to all that was said. In these close quarters with little air I could stand it no longer. I had to give myself up. From then on Uncle Edwin and Aunt Ana would see to it that I was in bed. They were married in the Logan Temple, December 24, 1913, and soon after purchased a farm only a short distance from where we lived.
It was about the year 1913, that my grandmother’s mother, Bodil Jensen Hansen, came to Thomas to spend her remaining years at her daughter’s home. She was near ninety years of age at that time. She had lived in Logan, Utah since coming to America in the year of 1862. My great grandmother was given the nicest room in the house. It was near the kitchen where Grandma could be near her while at work. This little room was kept spotless and I can still recall Grandma shaking the feather tick and fluffing the downy pillows on her bed so it would be more pleasant for the dear little lady to rest on.
I seems a long time ago as I think back now, but I can still remember the dear little lady and just how she looked at that time. She was very small, slightly stooped and had a definite Danish appearance. When she went out in public places, such as Relief Society Meeting, Sacrament Meeting or public entertainments, she always wore a little old fashioned black poke bonnet. I can remember but one dress and that was a black silk poplin dress gathered around the waist. When Grandma talked to her it was usually in the Danish language although she could speak broken English, it was hard for her. The family never worried her with it.
Great Grandmother made her home with my grandparents for three years, then passed away on the 17th of April 1916 from complications arising from a broken hip suffered the previous February. She had slipped and fallen to the ground from the icy back step which the Fjeldsted family had never completed when the house was erected. During the three month that this little lady was down, no person could do more to ease her pain and suffering that her loving daughter. They buried her in my own parent’s burial lot in the Thomas Riverside Cemetery by the side of Mother’s two dead babies.
My grandmother’s oldest brother, James Peter Jensen (Uncle Jim) had been living in Logan, Cache County, Utah with his son, Alma, and his family at the time of his mother, Bodil Jensen Hansen’s, death. He had been ill a long time and required a great deal of attention by those who took care of him. He made the trip to Thomas, Idaho to attend his Mother’s funeral and while there he made up his mind that my grandparent’s home would be a nice place to spend the rest of his life. He had always loved his only sister and her husband and no one could change his mind about leaving my grandparent’s home. Grandmother was beginning to get older now and her strength was not as it used to be, but when her brother made his wishes know to her she readily consented and gave him the little room his mother had occupied before her death.
Uncle Jim was a kind and gentle little man. I never heard him utter an unkind word nor did he hold feelings towards any person. When I used to sit and talk to him I used to wonder at his past life and why he seemed so very lonely. He owned a little black record book. At no time that I recall was the little book long out of his sight. I used to think to myself, “What is in that little black book that makes Uncle Jim so anxious about it at all times?” If by any chance it was lost or misplaced Uncle Jim and Grandma would leave everything they were doing and start hunting for it. They would continue to hunt until it was found. It was 32 years later before I was able to understand Uncle Jim and his relationship towards this little book.
In the spring of 1948 I took over the Jensen genealogical records of the dead and also the living. I studied this family and did research on them. In hunting genealogical data and gathering historical dates for personal histories I was presented with the same little black book that Uncle Jim loved so dearly. It was then I could understand the reason why he loved it as he did. It contained the records of his dead relatives who were left in the old country when his widowed mother and her family came to America. It also contained his Patriarchal Blessing and it was this blessing that he would read every day. It gave him knowledge through the gift of the Holy Ghost that his Patriarchal Blessing would be fulfilled. Perhaps not in this life but in the life to come. He would again reign among his loved ones and they with him could then understand---the sorrows of this life.
Grandfather wanted to give his family every advantage of the day. The few new conveniences that were beginning to come into our little community were the telephone and gas lights. He also wanted to give his two younger children the advantage of higher schooling.
Aunt Edith attended high school at Blackfoot for some time after she graduated from district school. She got rooms from a family who lived there and she and Aunt Ada, who was working in Blackfoot, lived together and did their own cooking. It was Uncle Norman, my grandparent’s youngest son, who longed for school that gave him the position that he holds today, Professor of Chemistry at Beverly Hills High School in California.
Grandfather in his effort to help his children mortgaged his home for the sum it took to buy a threshing machine and a large steam engine to pull and run it. He thought it would give his two sons employment. His married son, Edwin could use the extra money to help him get started in life and Norman could go on to school. Work was plentiful to begin with and for two or three years both young men were employed steady during the threshing run. It netted them a little extra money and with it they could realize the hope of their young dreams. Norman began school at Rexburg and was soon making a name for himself.
Aunt Edith had grown up to be a beautiful young lady. After her schooling she returned home to Thomas where she married a fine young Mormon boy. His parents were good substantial people of our community and very active in the Church. Art VanOrden and Aunt Edith were married on the 28th of July 1915 and they were sealed for time and eternity in the temple the following year. They made their home in Thomas living near Art’s parents. Through hard work and thrift they are considered today the most well-to-do family in that same little community. They have raised a wonderful family of children, seven girls and one son. They are honored and respected by all who know them.
In the spring of 1916, I graduated from the little two roomed red brick school house at Thomas, where the Wilson School now stands. My teacher, an elderly man by the name of Mr. Keller, had been teaching at our school for two years, making his home at my grandparent’s house. This little extra money coming in from Mr. Keller for his room and board was of great help to my grandparents.
The summer of 1916, is the one summer that stands out most in my memory. After my graduation from district school, mother and I planned a trip south to visit at the home of my father’s adopted brother, Uncle Tease and his wife, Bertha. Mother loved Aunt Bertha and she looked forward to this visit at her home. All spring long Mother prepared for this trip south. She made several nice outfits for herself to wear on this occasion. One dress in particular, I shall never forget. It was a beautiful black lace dress. Daddy had given Mother the lovely material for a present earlier in the years. She had also prepared many lovely dresses for me to wear. For instance, I recall a dainty white sheer dress trimmed in fine lace. I believe it was my graduation dress which Mother had spent so many long hours in the making.
Mother and her three children boarded the train in mid-July and we started on our trip which we had planned together for such a long time. I was a girl of fifteen years, Harold, my oldest brother, was nearly eight and LaNey, the baby, was but four. We went directly to Brigham City and then changed trains and caught the branch line up to Garland, Utah, where my uncle lived.
My uncle and his family were expecting us and what a happy time we had. The many children of this family showed me, in no little way, the happiest holiday I had ever known. Ione was Uncle Tease’s daughter. She was a few years older than me but one would never have known it. She made me feel like we were of the same age. Then the boys, Spencer, Art and John Howard and Aunt Bertha’s son, Leland, by a previous marriage did everything within their power to show me a good time. I thought they were the only cousins in the world, Mother and I stayed for a few days and on our return trip home we went by way of Franklin where her mother’s people lived. It was on this thrilling trip, after we reached Franklin, that I first became acquainted with Lester. From then on we wrote to one another until our marriage in the year of 1918.
It was during the month of August, after our return from our wonderful trip to Garland that Grandmother was surprised by the arrival of some of her married daughters and their husbands. Aunt Amelia and Uncle Jack Rogers were living in Washington at the time. They came to Thomas to spend their vacation with Grandmother. At the same time Aunt Martha and Uncle Will Thomas from St. Marie, Idaho arrived. This was a family get together that will never be forgotten. What a happy time we all had. I remember Aunt Amelia because of her beauty. She was always considered Grandmother’s most beautiful daughter. Uncle Will Thomas had considered me the match maker of his marriage as when I was a child in the mining camps I used to tell him about my lovely Aunt Martha. We lived at the same mining camp for some time and he was one of the miners who boarded at our cabin. Mother cooked for him.
It was at this time in Mother’s life that her health and improved and it was her joy and delight to prepare lovely dinners for the different families, her people and my father’s people. I well remember the big dinner she gave at this time for the Fjeldsteds. All of my father’s family came, including Grandmother’s brother, Uncle Jim, all the married children who lived close enough to be there and also the single children and grandchildren.
After the big dinner was over Uncle Will Thomas took pictures of those who were there and these pictures are still in my keeping. The one picture I treasure most of all is the one that was taken of my grandparents and their three sons-in-law, Uncle Jack, Uncle Will and Uncle Art. Edith and Art had just gotten married. I took my copy of this picture to one of our local photographers and had then rephotograph the old picture, cutting out the sons-in-law and enlarging my grandparents. The picture was so natural and life like that I had a number of them finished up and colored. I sent one each to Aunt Martha and Aunt Bertha for Mother’s Day in the year 1946. I also sent my father one on his birthday of that same year and kept one for myself. I have it among my treasures at this time.
In the fall of 1916, I left for Blackfoot to attend high school. I lived with an elderly couple by the name of West. This old couple was very good to me and my own parents could never have been kinder. They were interested in everything I did. I remember one day Mrs. West surprised me with a new housecoat. In those days we called them kimonos.
At Christmas time I returned to Thomas, my parents had sold our farm and were living for the time at Grandma Fjelddsted’s house. They were expecting to go to their homestead at Pingree seven miles away as soon as the Christmas holidays were over. I went to my grandparent’s home and stayed there with my parents. Uncle Norman arrived home also for the holidays. He had been attending school at the Ricks academy. We attended the Christmas dance together held at Moreland, a little community three miles north of Thomas. We had a wonderful evening together and I can remember the new tune that everybody was singing. “It’s A Long Way to Tiperary.” The next morning when I awoke I was sick with the red measles. When I think of that Christmas and how we imposed on my grandparents I could cry with shame.
Uncle Jim was living with the family and he required much of Grandma’s time and attention. It was at this time that I learned to think a lot of Uncle Jim. I was a very sick girl for ten days all during, the Christmas holidays. When I began to recover my two little brothers came down with them and were equally as sick as I had been. I remember Grandmother made a bed out on her davenport in the living room and that is where the sick children stayed.
Uncle Norman persuaded my parents to let me go back to Rexburg with him after the holidays and go to school at the Ricks Academy. I was well enough when he was ready to leave and we both went back together. My father also accompanied us. He went along to make arrangements for my board and room and to help me get registered at the school. In the spring after school was out, we both came home. Uncle Norman going to my grandparent’s home and I to Pingree where my parents were living at that time.
May 2, 1955
Between the years of 1914 and 1918 there was fought a terrible war. So many nations took part that it was called the World War. Now it is referred to as World War I. On one side were the Central Powers, as they were called, consisting of the Austrian and German empires, Turkey and Bulgaria. Britain, Belgium and twenty other nations allied themselves together. The United States entered the war in 1917 and the colonies of all the powers engaged also joined.
It was truly a world war. In some countries almost the whole male population was called to arms. The exact number is not known but the best estimates we have is that about sixty five million men participated. All earlier wars seemed small beside this great conflict. Around ten million persons lost their lives from wounds, disease or hardships.
When the war began few thought the United States would be involved, but as time went on neutrality became more and more difficult. Germany agreed to sink no ships from the United States without warning sufficient to allow the crew and passenger to escape. However, early in 1917 it was announced by the Germans, “Any ship approaching Allied ports will be sunk without warning.” On April 6, 1917, we declared war after one of our largest liners afloat had been sent to the bottom of the ocean with a great loss of lives.
The majority of the people in the United States wanted war as war clouds had hung low for some time. People had the war fever and I shall never forget some of the popular songs that all the young people were singing, “Goodbye Broadway, Hello France”, “I Didn’t Raise My boy To Be a Soldier”, “Rose of No Man’s Land”, “Dardenella” and many others.
Our president was a very noble man and he was determined at all costs to keep us out of war, but many of the people thought this was a sign of weakness on his part. After war was declared the young men of our land joined up with the armed forces by the thousands. Those who waited to be drafted were considered “slackers” and even ridiculed by neighbors and friends. Draft board were set up in every county and the boys who didn’t volunteer soon were taken in by the draft.
Each county had to furnish a certain number of men and if enough enlistments were made there were no drafts. Tom Willams and Leo Fackrell, two prominent young men in the Thomas Ward, decided to enlist. They went to Idaho Falls and talked to the recruiting officer there. Upon returning Lewis Fackrell, Harry Issen, Edd LaRacque, Laurence Eames and Charley chandler decided to enlist also.
There being so many young men leaving for the military service in the November call, the people of Thomas Ward decided to honor the boys with a farewell dance. It was at this dance that Uncle Norman decided to enlist himself and join the boys who were all his close boyhood friends.
The boys left Blackfoot on the seven o’clock train on the morning of the 12th of November 1917. Grandmother and grandfather Fjeldsted were among the group of parents who were at the depot to see their sons off. “Grandmother’s last words to her beloved son Norman were, “I hope, my boy, you are as good a soldier as your brother Pete.”
The recruiting officer made this statement to one of the boy’s parents who had accompanied them to Pocatello where they all eight enlisted in the Motor Transportation Corps, “There has never been a squad of men enter the army any finer than these eight young men you have here.”
From Pocatello the group was transferred to Fort Douglas in Salt Lake City where they were detained for about three weeks. It was while they were waiting in Fort Douglas that they took all vaccinations, inoculations, etc. During this particular period Norman had the opportunity to visit a lovely girl he had met previously, Otilie Bingie, whose home was in Salt Lake City. No doubt it was at this period that Norman really discovered how much Otilie meant to him.
The boys left Fort Douglas on the 4th of December and were located at Camp Johnson in Jacksonville, Florida by the 10th of December. All eight boys were still together, but divided into different companies. Norman and two of the boys in the group drew a motorcycle company, while four of the boys were assigned to a motor truck company. One of the boys, Tom Williams was detained in a provisional company. The two groups were assigned to barracks just across the street from one another.
The young man who had been detained in the provisional company happened to be one of Uncle Norman’s very best friends. They both wanted to be kept together and they knew if things didn’t change very soon they would be separated. About this time the army made the announcement that they were in need of professional motorcycle riders and their commanding officer made the remark, “If there are any boys in this category, please step forward.” At this particular time while the order above was given Tom Williams was standing by his friend Norman. Norman nudged Tom and said, “Let’s step up.” Tom turned to Norman and whispered, “Norman, I can’t ride a motorcycle. I’ve never been on one in my life.” Norman laughed and gave Tom a wink and his answer was about like this, “I don’t know much about riding a motorcycle either, but that officer doesn’t know it.” Tom was afraid to step forward, but Norman did and that is how he made the professional motorcycle corps. Poor Tom was left behind.
It was only a short time after Norman had made the professional motorcycle corps that one of the men assigned to that same corps came down with the mumps. This caused the sick man to be disqualified. Norman told the company commander that he knew a professional rider who could take this fellow’s place. The commander replied, “Bring him on the drill field tomorrow and we shall see.” That same afternoon or evening Norman sneaked the motorcycle that he had used on the field and took it and Tom out to a clearing in the woods. Norman gave Tom his first lesson on how to ride a motorcycle.
In order to ease poor Tom’s fears, Norman explained to him that his own experience on a motorcycles before the army accepted him as a professional rider was limited to less than Tom’s. As the only thing he knew about motorcycles was a couple of short rides he took on Dick Fisher’s machine. Dick Fisher was a boy friend of mine and he used to drive his motorcycle out from Blackfoot to visit me. While Dick was busy with me Norman had a chance to take a couple of short rides on his machine.
The next morning when Tom appeared at the drill field the officer said to him, “Are you a professional rider?” Tom shaking like a leaf replied, “Yes Sir.’” The officer then told Tom to get on his machine and show him what he could do. Tom started his motor, his nervous had took hold of the gas feed and supplied speed enough to the engine that the motorcycle started out and just accidentally threw Tom gracefully upon the seat. He managed to keep it in balance. How he did he doesn’t know to this day, but it must have pleased the officer as after a short time he was motioned to come in. Tom remember what Norman had told him the night before and turned off the gas, threw out the clutch and gracefully coasted in to the officer. This is how Norman and his best friend, Tom Williams, got into the same company.
At the end of eight weeks of intensive motorcycle schooling an examination was given. Each person answered the question, using a very ordinary piece of paper and pencil. Norman completed his and then asked for permission to recopy it in ink. This he did and his paper and penmanship were most excellent, drawing the attention of his commanding officer to the extent that his paper was placed on the bulletin board as an example to other. This gave Norman an excellent rating among his superior officers. When the company left Camp Johnson, Florida for Hoboken, New Jersey, the embarkation point, the commanding officer in charge come to Norman and asked him to take charge of all company effects in transit. Norman chose his friend, Tom Williams, to assist him.
After all equipment was loaded on the truck, Norman and Tom rode with it while the other boys walked and carried their packs. This continued throughout the trip to France. They left Camp Merritt of Hoboken, New Jersey on the 15th of March 1918 and were assigned to the Acqutania, the largest luxury liner at that time afloat. However after it was transferred into a troop ship it lost all its luxury in the crowding of hundreds of soldiers going to France.
The ship was overloaded by the time Company 304 was ready to go aboard so they were transferred to a small English mail steamer, the Arduna. Those traveling on this ship were very lucky to draw first and second class rooms.
Three days out of England while in the submarine infested zone, the Arduna was given orders that everybody was to stay on deck continually, fully dressed with a life saver and a canteen of water. All on board were very frightened and keeping them on the deck was no trouble. About midnight the first night Uncle Norman suggested to his friend Tom that they slip away from the crowd and go down to the stateroom to bed. Late that night when the guard was making his rounds he came upon these two boys asleep. He flashed his light and seeing them so peacefully sleeping, gave them a gentle shake and said in a startled voice, “My God boys, don’t you know that this ship is apt to go to the bottom of the ocean at any moment?” Norman answered, “If it does, there isn’t a thing I can do about it.” The guard was so startled he pulled up the covers, shaking his head he quietly left the room closing the door after him.
Thursday, March 29th, the fourteen vessel convoy reached Liverpool, England. Windeldow at Winchester, England was their next stop where they stayed for ten days before crossing the English Channel to France. They left South Hampton, England April 5th in an old cattle boat and reached LaHarve, France at 6:00 am April 6, 1918. The company took a five mile hike through the city up to the top of the hill to camp where food was prepared for the boys. Then they went to bed at 2:30 pm as they had not slept for several nights. At 6:00 pm they were awakened and told to pack up and get ready to leave. The boys were herded on to the train and were surprised when they landed in Paris.
The Motorcycle Company 304 was assigned dispatch duty in Paris. They were assigned to Hotel St. Ann, a German hotel that had been taken over by the French and given to the Americans as a barracks. This was right in the heart of Paris just a few blocks from the opera, the Louvre, an art museum, and many other noted places in Paris.
This dispatch company delivered official mail and telegrams containing information largely of transportation of troops and supplies. There were thirty-two boys in the professional motorcycle company and each was given an assignment. Uncle Norman and Tom worked together at a telegraph office for some time, however, Norman was assigned to deliver dispatches from Paris to the division headquarters.
It was during the summer, June or July, the morning of the drive of Chateau Therrie in the Arogon Forest when Uncle Norman was returning from Chateau Therrie that a front tire on the motorcycle blew out. He was traveling about 60 miles per hour. After the crash he slid along the cobble stone road taking off part of his flesh where it came in contact with the rough road. After the crash the motorcycle was still running, the hind wheel grabbing the cobble stones while laying on its side. It kept jumping around at random and finally it was near enough to Norman where he was lying so that he was able to turn off the motor.
It was some time before a French officer who was traveling the same road picked him up and took him to a French hospital where he received first aid. He was then transferred to an American hospital. Uncle Norman’s leg was in a serious condition, having dragged along the cobble stone road under the heavy motorcycle. His knee cap was badly dislocated and the joint of the knee severely injured. The doctors who examined him first said they thought it would be impossible for him to ever use his knee again. There was some talk of amputation. However the seriousness of this leg injury, Uncle Norman made a rapid recovery surprising everybody.
Sometime after Norman was released from the hospital and back on duty again, he and Tom took a ride together around the city of Paris. Norman was driving the machine and Tom was sitting in the side car. They had just about completed their ride when they entered the avenue called Champs Elessie Avenue, one of the finest and busiest streets in the city of Paris. It was about six lanes wide with a parkway down the center. Entering from a little side street the boys headed straight for the YMCA. Norman took the short cut and turned directly down the left hand side of the street, lifting the side car up into the air and carrying it this way for some time. Then setting it down with a hard thump in front of the building with a sudden halt.
Just at this particular moment a new transportation officer came out of the YMCA building and saw the whole incident. The officer walked up to the two soldiers, flipped out their dog tags, took their names and numbers, then looking them over very carefully told the boys he was going to make an example out of them. He said there had been a great deal of complaints because the Americans were so careless in obeying the French rules. Many needless accidents had occurred because of this and now was a good time to bring this trouble to a close. After this short lecture the officer turned and started on his way leaving the two boys feeling pretty cheap. When the officer had gone only a short distance he looked back to take a better look for future identification. When he looked back this time the officer saw both boys still standing and looking at him with the most uncertain silly grin upon their faces. This scene really made him mad and the officer quickly turned his head, threw out his chest and stamped off down the street.
Monday morning when the boys went to check out their motorcycle this same officer was waiting for them in the office. As they walked in he said, “Hey big boys, come over here.” The boys walked to the window where he was sitting behind a desk. The officer said, “What was the idea of that big smile on your faces yesterday when I walked away?” Norman answered him about like this, “I haven’t seen anything yet in this army I couldn’t take with a smile.” The officer climbed upon his desk with his knees, stretched out his hand through the window and said in a loud and excited voice, “Put her here, Bud, I’m for you.” He then reached down and picked up the court martial papers he had previously prepared for the boys and tore them up in little pieces and threw them in the waste paper basket.
While a very small boy Uncle Norman formed the habit of prayer and this habit he practiced while in the army. The boys in the service would be laughing and talking, playing cards, etc., but Norman as if he were alone in his own room at home did what he was used to doing. At first there were a few jeers, a pillow or two thrown from across the room, but this ceased as the boys soon learned to respect anyone who prayed to their God. Norman soon gained this respect. One time while he was overseas one of the boys who was feeling very low came to Norman and asked him if he would pray for him. Norman told him that he would, but he did not think it would do any good. He thought it would be better if the young man prayed for himself. The young man then told Norman he had never prayed in his life. Norman said, “Don’t worry about praying, I will help you.” Norman did and satisfactory results were received from the prayer.
Norman and Tom were in Paris when the war ended November 11, 1918. Being in Paris on Armistice Day was a sight never to be forgotten, a war ridden city, the prize target of the enemy for four long years. Its homes deprived of all able bodied men between fifteen and 50 and its women folks tired and hungry. Its streets and windows blacked out at night because of fear, and now all at once to come to a sudden halt.
The truce was signed at 11:00 am. By twelve noon many of the officers in the city were aware of it and the news spread like wildfire. By 3:00 pm most of the city were aware of it and people began to swarm into the streets. They left their homes, their offices, their factories, their stores and shops. It made no difference what they were doing. They left it and came into the streets by the thousands. They cheered, they sang, they danced, they laughed, they cried, each heart gave vent to its feelings the way that seemed most easy. By evening the streets were a solid mass of humanity. Like a surging tide it took whatever got in its way. The dispatchers were about off duty when the crowd became so dense it was impossible to move. Norman and Tom were literally lifted from their machines and carried along with the crowd. It was not until the next day that Tom recovered his motorcycle that had been shoved off into a little side alley. This surging mass of humanity continued to throng the streets of Paris until 9 or 10 o’clock the following morning. There were no distinctions as to class or color, age or nationality. Just a big family throwing one big party. This day they had looked forward to for so long at last had come. The end of the war had arrived.
After the Armistice was signed President and Mrs. Wilson came to Paris pertaining to the peace settlement at the time of the establishment of the League of Nation. The President and his wife were given the privilege of living in a beautiful castle or chateau. This building was equipped with a private telegraph switch board and operators. Norman was one of the dispatchers assigned to President Wilson’s staff. When it came time to leave for home Mrs. Wilson issued an order that all personnel were to go home together on the liner, George Washington. Uncle Norman refused to accept his invitation because his buddy and friend was not included. After careful consideration Norman changed his mind and he said Tom, “I’ll go and I’ll take you with me.” Norman at once set out to get Tom assigned to the President’s personnel, which he did.
At this particular period of time the dispatch service was heavily loaded, handling some nineteen hundred telegrams a day besides official mail. Major White, the commanding officer at the telegraph office, declined to release Norman and Tom. He said, “We have only loaned these men to the President’s staff and it is impossible to spare them at this time.” The morning the President’s train left Paris, the two disappointed boys reported for work. The dispatcher in the President’s castle asked, “Aren’t you boys going home?” Norman answered him, “No, Major White refused to release us.” The dispatcher then said, “Does Mrs. Wilson know this?” Norman said, “She’s not in the habit on conferring with me.” The dispatcher made a hurried phone call and shortly President Wilson’s private secretary came down to the office and Norman told the secretary the situation. The secretary said to Norman, “Since when does a major’s orders succeed the orders of the First Lady of the Land? I shall inform Her Highness and see what can be done.” In a very few minutes Major White called and asked the two boys to report at his office. When entering the office of Major White he asked, “What would you do if you only had one minute to get ready to go home?” Norman spoke up at once, “I don’t know what I would do with the other 59 seconds.” At this time it was 10:00 am and the President’s train was to leave at 10:20. The Major said, “If you can make that train you can go home.” Major White then called the company clerk and asked him to prepare their service record. The clerk remarked, “Fjeldsted has already taken care of that.”
The two boys had accumulated a lot of lovely clothing, owing to certain connections in the salvage department, which consisted of about five first class suits, etc., but when they returned to pack up, all they could take home with them was an extra change of everything. They gathered their belongings and jumped on the motorcycle, Tom driving and Norman riding in the side car with the luggage. They broke all traffic rules and regulations getting to the depot in the nick of time. They train was all ready to pull out. President Wilson’s secretary was standing on the steps with his hand upraised calling, “Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!” They jumped off the motorcycle and climbed on the train just as the train began to move. Tom received a letter later from the company clerk that the engine on the motorcycle was still running when picked up by the company after the train left. They sailed from Brest, France on February 25, 1919.
Upon reaching New York City the two boys could not associate with the Americans until they had been de-cootieized, as they called it then. In this process all overseas veterans’ belongings were rolled up into a tight bundle and tied together securely, this included everything they brought back home and the clothes they were wearing. This bundle was then put into a large vat with steam pressure which contained chemicals. It stayed under pressure for several hours and in the meantime the boys went through a body cleaning process.
After the two boys received their clothing they went to camp where they ate and slept at their leisure. They then decided to take in the sights of New York City. All they had to wear was the wrinkled clothing which had just come out of the pressure vat. After Tom looked Norman over he wondered if they dared to start out, but after they reached the down town district the boys soon discovered that they were not the first ones to see New York City dressed like they were. It seemed to them that everybody knew they were returned veterans and were treated accordingly.
On reaching a swanky ice cream parlor on Broadway, Norman said to Tom, “This place looks good enough for me. Let’s have some ice cream.” Tom looking over his $2.69 hesitated for a minute and began to back away, but Norman insisted and in they went. The waiter came up in full dress and a towel over his arm and handed them a menu. It consisted of all fancy names that meant nothing to the boys and Norman said, “We want ice cream, good ice cream and lots of it.” The waiter answered, “I understand.” When he returned he brought in two large trays, each containing a scoop of every kind of the cream they had in flavor. Tom looked again at the $2.69 and again he hesitated, but the ice cream looked too good and both boys never tasted better ice cream before or after. When the boys asked for the bill, the waiter said, “That’s all right boys, that’s on the house.”
They were discharged March 11, 1919 at Camp Funston, Kansas, going directly to Salt Lake City and then on home to Thomas, arriving about the 1st of April.
March 16, 1957
During the early part of June 1918 I received a short letter from Lester Lowe who lived at Franklin, Located about one hundred miles south of Blackfoot. He stated in his letter that he had recently taken his physical examination for the army and that he expected to be called into the service by the draft the following month. He asked me if it would be possible for me to make the trip to Franklin and we could have a visit before he left. A number of Mother’s relatives lived in Franklin. He mentioned me arriving in Franklin in time to spend Idaho Day which was on the 15th June, a celebration in honor of the first settlement in the State of Idaho, as annual affair that had its beginning in the year 1910.
It was impossible for me to arrive in Franklin for the 15th, but I did manage to arrive a short time later. I spent two or three weeks in Franklin. When I was ready to return to my home in Blackfoot, Lester had persuaded me to marry him before he left for the service. He wanted me to accompany him to Camp Lewis in Washington so we could have a short time together before he left for overseas duty. We decided our wedding date would be Wednesday the 31st of July. If everything went as we expected, we would be able to return to Franklin after our marriage in time for him to leave for the service the following Saturday morning, the 3rd of August.
Lester accompanied me home and we told my parents of our intentions of getting married. This gave my mother very little time to prepare my things, as the date of our arrival in Blackfoot was the 10th of the month. One of the first things Lester and I did after our arrival in Blackfoot was to take a trip out to Thomas to my grandparent’s home and inform them of our future intentions and let my grandparents meet my future husband.
Grandmother Fjeldsted was very pleased with the idea and was even happier when we explained to her that we wanted to be married in the Temple. However, this was not to be, as by the 31st of July both temples were closed for a short period for summer cleaning and repair. Upon meeting Lester both Grandma Grandpa liked him at once. The thought of him going into the service immediately after our marriage didn’t seem to bother them. They both were well pleased and felt it was the right thing to do. However, my father was not so sure. When he tried to argue the point, my grandparents quickly took the opposite stand and sided in with Lester and me.
When the date of our wedding arrived it was held in our home at Blackfoot at 11:00 am and many of my relatives on both sides of my family were there. Grandma and Grandpa Fjeldsted were among the first to arrive. We had Bishop John H. Williams from the Thomas Ward perform the ceremony while Uncle Art VanOrden was the best man. After our marriage a number of pictures were taken of the group and also of the bride and groom. We had a wedding breakfast which was served on trays. Immediately after, Lester and I left by car for Franklin going directly to Lava Hot Springs where we spent our first night together. We then completed the trip to Franklin going by way of Bancroft and Grace through the Bear River narrows.
We arrived at Lester’s parent’s home Thursday evening about 5:00 pm August 1st. As soon as we arrived Lester inquired of his parents if the draft board had called him while he had been away. They told him there had been no word, and that they had expected them to call long before this. Lester was surprised at what they said as he had expected to be notified to leave on the following Saturday morning and this was late Thursday evening.
The telephone rang at the very moment we were discussing the problem and Lester answered it. It was the draft board calling. They said they wanted to get in contact with Heber D. Lowe and could he be located at once? Lester answered them about like this, “This is Lester D. Lowe, Heber’s brother, are you sure you are calling for Heber D Lowe instead of me?” They again repeated their message, adding that they were calling to notify Heber to be ready to leave for Camp Lewis by train Saturday morning, August 3rd. Lester told them he would locate his brother and have him call. When Lester hung up the receiver we were all shocked and surprised. We could hardly believe what we had heard. We discussed it a few moments together and then Lester went to look for Heber.
Heber, who was a young married man at this time, was living only a short distance from his parent’s home. When Lester arrived at his home Sarah, Heber’s wife, was there alone. Lester told her the draft board was calling and wanted to talk to Heber. Sarah looked at Lester and turning deathly white went into a faint.
When she began to come to, Sarah said to Lester, “ No Lester, they don’t want Heber they want you, it’s you they want. They have made a terrible mistake.” Lester answered her about like this, “Yes Sarah, I believe they have made a mistake and it is me they are calling, however, we must locate Heber and get this whole thing straightened out at once.”
When Heber contacted the draft board he received the same message that was delivered to Lester when they first called.
This was a terrible shock for poor Sarah and also a shock for Lester and me, as we were prepared to go and Heber was not. We could never understand why the draft board passed Lester up and took Heber. Lester was never taken into the service, as it was only three months from the time of our marriage until the Armistice was signed, November 11, 1918, ending the terrible conflict that had taken so many lives.
Soon after our marriage a tragic epidemic of influenza began to make itself felt. The disease first showed up in the army camps in the eastern part of the United States during the early part of September. It spread very rapidly throughout the whole nation, hitting the army camps and the big cities first and spreading throughout all the country. It came without warning, killed suddenly, spread explosively, and then just as quickly vanished. Medicine made little headway against this modern plague.
By the end of October alarm had changed to panic. At that time nobody knew what the disease was, where it came from, or how it was communicated. Allied armies were battering down the last German defenses and alarmists were busy hinting at a hideous new weapon called bacteriological warfare. They said “flu: germs had been brought to America by agents put ashore from German submarines. Now the era of this flu mask began. Public health authorities, convinced that the plague was spread by people coming together, endorsed the wearing of white cotton gauze masks. Citizens were told that if they must kiss to do so through handkerchiefs. However, these precautions had no effect on the death rate. Sarah our sister-in-law, Heber’s wife, died with it at Camp Lewis, Washington on October 18th. She was brought home by the Red Cross and buried a few days later in the Franklin Cemetery. Our brother-in-law, Dr. Preston Merrill, Millie’s husband, died with the flu on the 11th of October, leaving a wife and five little children. Nearly every home in the whole country was hit by this dreaded disease or the sad effects of this disease.
As the epidemic progressed, coal production fell off, while consumption of coal increased. This also added to the misery and suffering of the people.
One cruel aspect of this evil disease was that it was particularly dangerous to pregnant women. They were told they had little or no chance of surviving if they once contacted the flu. At this time I was pregnant with NaDean. As the stories of death and suffering were passed on to us, Lester and I became more frightened and cautious every day and tried to keep close to our home, avoiding all people as much as possible.
Coming back to my grandparents, this period of time prior and during the flu epidemic was indeed a trying time. Grandmother Fjeldsted received word from the War Department about the latter part of June or the first part of July that her son Norman had been wounded while serving in France. At this time she did not know just how serious his injuries were. It wasn’t until months later that she found out the full truth after Norman was able and well enough to write to his mother himself. In the year 1918, we didn’t have air mail service and it took nearly three weeks to receive a letter from France.
When the flu epidemic struck the community of Thomas, where my grandparents were living, Grandmother was about the only able bodied woman who could act as nurse and leave her home to help the suffering and the sick. I have been told that she worked almost continually during the entire flu scare and many sad stories were told by her of the suffering in her community.
After Norman returned home from the service it didn’t take long for him to see that his father was in a serious condition. Grandpa had all but lost the vision in one of his eyes and the other eye was also affected, only not quite so bad. Norman and Grandma talked grandpa into seeing an eye specialist.
The specialist advised Grandpa that he had cataracts and should be operated on if he wanted to have the use of his eyes.
It wasn’t until that fall, after all the summer work was over that grandpa made the trip to Salt Lake City for the operation. They decided to operate on one eye first, the one that had all but lost its vision and later if all went well they would operate on the other eye. At this period of time I was living with my parents in Preston. My husband was in the mission field. Grandpa called at my parent’s home for a short visit on his way to the hospital in Salt Lake City. The operation was performed, however, it was not successful. Grandpa lost the complete use of that eye and also lost the courage to let the doctor operate on the second eye. From that time on Grandpa was a great problem, his eyesight becoming worse as time passed by.
Uncle Jimmy, Grandma’s oldest brother, was still making his home with my grandparents and he had become almost helpless by this time. It would have been easier to have taken care of a small child as Uncle Jimmy had lost the use of his bowels and he had to be changed and taken care of like a baby.
Norman was married the 14th of January 1920 in Salt Lake City to Otilie Bingie, the girl he had written to while in the service. From that time on Norman, for a number of years, attended college in California.
Uncle Will Thomas, who had married my grandparent’s daughter, Martha, made the trip from St. Marie, which is located in the northern part of the state, and arrived in Thomas during the latter part of February 1920. Uncle Will was looking for some farm property to buy so that he could move his family from Northern Idaho and live near his wife’s people. He had recently sold a timber claim which he and Aunt Martha had taken up a number of years previous.
He secured the help of his brother-in-law, Uncle Art VanOrden, a man who knew the country and was one of the best farmers in the state. They began to look for the land that would satisfy Uncle Will. After considerable hunting and time he decided to buy a farm located on the Snake River bottoms about four miles southwest of my grandparent’s home in a little community called Rich. Uncle Will then rented this property for the summer to a man by the name of Bert Walters, with the idea of going back to his home in St Marie and prepare to make the long move back with his family during the coming summer, so as to be settled in their new home before school started the following fall.
All went as he expected and the family was settled in their new home long before winter set in. The Bert Walters who is mentioned above is the same Bert Walters who married Aunt Martha on January 28, 1947 as her second husband.
The following 7th of February 1921 Aunt Martha gave birth to twin boys, both babies dying at birth. In eleven months after the birth of these twins Aunt Martha had a beautiful baby girl born January 20. 1922. The following July on the 10th of the month Aunt Martha lost her young husband. This left her a widow with five children and a farm on her hands to take care of.
Note; I will let Marie Thomas tell her story pertaining to this period and to Uncle Jimmy’s death, she is Aunt Martha’s oldest daughter.
“When I was ten years old my father died. That winter we moved in with my grandparents, Peter John Fjeldsted and family, and lived there all winter. Uncle Jimmy Jensen, Grandmother’s brother, also lived there and Grandma took care of him as he was old and crippled and could only get around with a cane or crutches.
“The next spring when I was eleven, Mother and the family moved back to the farm and I stayed with Grandma and Grandpa until school was out. Along in April Uncle Jimmy became ill with a bad cold which Grandma said was a light case of pneumonia, however, he would not go to bed but insisted on sitting in his rocking chair in the kitchen.
“One evening Grandma was putting him to bed in his bedroom just off the kitchen and Grandpa and I were in the kitchen. Suddenly we heard someone talking outside. Grandpa went outside and stood on the porch. He could hear what sounded like two people talking together but he could see no one. Then he recognized Great Grandmother Hansen’s voice, Grandma Fjeldsted’s mother who had lived with them until she died.
“By this time I was at the door watching him. Grandpa was looking slightly upward toward the voices and he said, ‘What do you want Grandma?’ She answered, ‘I’ve come after Jimmy.’ Grandfather said, ‘You shall have him.’ Three days later Uncle Jimmy passed away, he was sitting in his chair and just went to sleep.” (Marie had cared for him about 6 years.)
Note: Daniel Thomas, Aunt Martha’s oldest son, story concerning this period of time.
Grandfather Fjeldsted was a second father to me from the time of my own father’s death when I was only twelve years old. We made our home with my grandparents during the winters for three years, as we were left practically penniless. During our stay there Mother’s income was about $20.00 a month which she received from some property my father had sold previous to his death. Our family at this time consisted of six members, Mother and her five children, me being the oldest child and the only son.
I was nearly fifteen years of age when we moved permanently from my grandparent’s home to our home which was four miles farther southwest. In the spring when farm work started I would harness the four head of horses which Mother would use to plow with during the day. I would take over after I got back from school and Mother would go to the house to prepare the evening meal for her family. We kept this up during my high school or until Grandfather’s death in 1926.”
Grandma and Grandpa had a few head of cow along with some chickens, how this big family of nine souls lived I don’t understand. It must have been a hard struggle.
Note: Daniel continues with his story.
“In order that I might finish high school I rode a horse back and forth nine miles each way making eighteen miles a day, but during the cold weather I stayed at my grandparent’s home which shortened the distance some.
“I was still living with my grandparents during the winter of 1926-27 and was attending high school at Moreland. The evening before Grandfather died, December 22, 1926, I had gone to a high school dance with a group of school boys. Grandfather had been well with the exception of a slight cold, so he had gone to bed early. I and the boys were late coming back and like boys we had a little drink. I didn’t get in until 2:30 in the morning.
“Grandfather was awake when I came in and he called me into his bedroom and said, ‘Dan, you’ve been walking on dangerous grounds tonight, and I want you to promise me you will never again get into this kind of company.’ He seemed very concerned with my welfare as we had become very close to one another. In fact he had been a father to me. I said, ‘I promise you I will never get into this environment again if I can help it.” He then told me to go to bed as it was late and we would talk more about it in the morning. The noise between us had awakened Grandmother and she was aware of what was said.
“The next morning, I got up early and milked the cows and did the other chores. When I came in to breakfast Grandmother was up as usual, and not wanting to awaken Grandfather, but let him sleep until everything was ready asked me to awaken him for breakfast.
When I entered the room he lay with his face toward the wall as if asleep. I called, ‘Get up Peter Boy, are you going to sleep all day?’ Grandfather always had a bright remark for me, but this time there was no reply. I walked over to his bed and shook his shoulders. He looked as if he were sound asleep. I turned him over on his back and then it hit me with a shock that he was dead, as the underside of his face which was on the pillow had turned blue.
“My first thought, of course, was what will I tell Grandma? I went to the kitchen and said, ‘Grandmother, I cannot awaken Grandfather.’ She took off her apron and looked at me queerly and then ran to the bedroom. I did not enter the room as I felt I had no place there at that time. I heard Grandmother give a cry, ‘Father, Father,’ then what she said to her Father in Heaven, I do not know, but I do know she fell on her knees in prayer. My world seemed to reel. I found myself running through the fields to the home of Brother Noack, long a close friend of the family. I said, ‘Brother Noack, come quick, come quick, Grandfather is dead.’”
When I received word of the death of my grandfather I prepared to leave for Thomas immediately. It was near Christmas time and the roads were very uncertain. I took the first train I could get, along with my two little girls, NaDean and Betty, who were then nine and four years of age and started the trip to Thomas. Lester could not accompany us because of his many chores, etc. We arrived at Blackfoot and were met at the train by some of the Fjeldsted family and taken at once to the home of my grandmother. There were many people at her home when we arrived. I remember Uncle Tease, Grandmother’s adopted son,
And how kind and gentle he was with all his relatives. My parents had arrived and a number of other members of the family who lived long distances away. The funeral was held the following day, Wednesday, 27 December 1926.
My grandparents had taken a mortgage on their farm a number of years before when their younger sons were in need of help. Conditions were such that this mortgage could never be paid off. After Grandpa’s death Grandma was in a worse condition financially than she had ever been before and as she could see no way to meet this obligation, she was forced to sell her home.
In the early spring of 1929, Grandma moved to the home of her daughter Martha and family, bringing with her all her worldly possessions including her four milk cows which proved a blessing and a means of support for both her and her daughter’s family.
Note: Daniel Thomas writes about Grandmother at this period of time.
“Wherever Grandmother was she was an inspiration, in reality she was a shoulder and a provider, not only physical but a moral support. Her great faith strengthened all those about her. I always considered it a great blessing to have had Grandmother in our home during these trying years.
Grandmother’s hands were never idle, she was the personification of industry. Her nimble fingers were applying to some household task by making rugs, patching clothes or darning for all the family. I never wore stockings with holes in them and many are the pairs of mittens she knit for the children.
Grandmother was a literary minded woman. She had a sense of beauty and a soul of a poet and often she would look out the back window at the beautiful view of the Snake River bottoms with the mountains in the distance and quote lines of poetry, many of which were of her own origin. She had a natural gift of expressing her thoughts in rhyme and poetry.
Grandmother was blind to all evil. She either could or would not speak evil of anyone or anything. With the noise and confusion of five growing children it would make one wonder how she could be so kind and patient and bear this load without a sign of irritation.
Mother worked in the fields all day, while Grandmother would start off with a prayer. I well remember her asking our Heavenly Father that all would be well during the day for this little family. Grandmother then prepared a fine breakfast for us while Mother and I went to the barn to milk the cows. Our home was a well-kept home and it was a happy home.”
In the early fall of 1929, one of the worst, if not the worst, economic depressions in history spread over the country. Prices of the farmer’s crops fell below the cost of producing them. Thousands of farms were lost to the mortgage companies and millions of people were thrown out of employment. Great numbers of people in all classes of industry lost their means of livelihood and practically every family in the whole country was hit in some way before the depression ended in 1932.
This was a sad time for these two widows, Aunt Martha could not get the money to even pay her water stock, let alone, taxes, interest, etc. In desperation she came to my father for help and asked him if he could tie her over. Daddy did everything he could do, along with other members of the family. At that time thousands of banks had closed their doors and money was almost impossible to secure. Aunt Amelia Rogers from California sent clothing for the children and from then on until they were grown she continued to do this generous act. Other members of the family also helped out.
It was during this period of time, soon after Grandma came to live with Aunt Martha, that the family noticed Grandmother had developed a peculiar habit. She would be talking or carrying on a conversation when all of a sudden she would stop talking and her eyes fixed staring on some object, but after a few seconds she would resume her conversation not knowing anything had happened. This condition of Grandma’s gradually grew worse until it showed a marked resemblance to epilepsy.
Both Grandma and Aunt Martha were very concerned and with all their other troubles of the past, this last condition was the more frightening. In the past years, Grandma had been very active in the church, serving as president of the Relief Society during the trying years of the war when the women at home would try to help or do their share by knitting, making bandages, etc. The Relief Society took this project over and Grandma being the president at that time served faithfully in this capacity.
Now this hideous disease which had come upon her was a chronic nervous disorder. Not only was it a condition that humiliated her to the breaking point but at that time it was something to be ashamed of. The people thought if the disease made itself known in a family the children of this family were doomed to the same trouble. This in itself was as bad as having the disease, as it made Grandma conscious of what people would say and what it might do to her loved ones.
From that time on Grandma discontinued all public and Church activities, seldom did she leave the home fearing that one of these seizures might come upon her and the public would start talking.
Grandma did everything in her power to rid herself of this terrible affliction, but it seem at that time the doctors could do nothing. She begged her Father in Heaven for help and kept her name continually on the Temple prayer list, but to no avail. The disease did not improve but only made itself apparent in its worse form.
If Grandmother was standing on her feet when one of the spells came on, she would suddenly lose consciousness and fall to the floor without making any effort to save herself. Her muscles would become rigid, her jaws set and faced turn a deathly blue. After a few seconds of this, violent convulsions would occur. No person except those who are called to bear such an affliction can imagine the heartache and the deep humiliation that accompanies this disorder. However, Grandma continued to carry on in her most pleasing way and as Daniel said in his story, “Their home was a well-kept home and a happy home.”
It was during the early part of the year 1933 that Grandma left the home of Aunt Martha and went to live with her son, Edwin. Uncle Edwin had recently divorced his wife Ana and was living with his two adopted children on his farm at Thomas. Darrell the oldest child was age fifteen and the little girl, Oral, was nine. These children were too young to be left alone without the help of a woman, so it fell on Grandma to take over and help her son during this crucial period. Although the children were pretty well grown, the work on the farm was not easy. There were many things to be done including meals, caring for the home, watching out for the children, canning fruit and vegetables, etc., and Grandma was not very well herself at this time.
The economic condition of our country in the early spring of 1933 had reached a low mark, but it gradually improved after President Franklin D. Roosevelt took the oath of office. He took over the work as President when the people were beginning to question the very foundation of government.
To this unhappy scene President Roosevelt brought optimism and soon almost the whole nation was solidly on his side, working with him and determined with him to give a “New Deal” to America. By the spring of 1935, living conditions for the people in Thomas and surrounding country had approached or was nearing the normal standard of living. Uncle Edwin who still owned and operated his farm had branched out in the line of a carpenter and was now able to get some work as a contractor. This kept him away from home during the day, but at night he would arrange to be back early in the evening.
In the month of July 1935, Uncle Edwin married for the second time, a widow Catherine Tomlinson. She had a son, Mark Edmund, who was about the same age as Oral. Aunt Rene, as we call her, had been deserted by her first husband, Howard Longbrake, when her son was only a baby. After this trouble with her husband she moved back to the home of her father, her mother having passed away and kept house for him along with her two unmarried brothers.
Because of the condition and advanced age of her father, Aunt Rene could not leave his home immediately after she and Uncle Edwin were married, but by the following spring in 1936 she and her son were able to come and make Uncle Edwin’s home their own. Grandmother then felt free to leave, so she packed her things and again went to live at the home of her daughter Martha.
When Grandma arrived back to the home of her daughter Martha, during the spring of 1936, she found the family had made many changes. The two older children, Daniel and Marie, were both married and in homes of their own. The three younger children, Helen, Maxine and Eloise, had developed into beautiful young ladies. The youngest child, Eloise, had recently passed her fourteenth birthday.
Aunt Martha’s family were all conscious of what education would do to better one’s life and consequently the children were determined to get as much training in this line as humanly possible which later proved such a blessing for all concerned. Daniel, Aunt Martha’s only son, branched out in education and later became one of the outstanding Junior High School principals in Bingham County. Helen became a teacher of the grade school, while Maris and Maxine specialized in business. Both girls later held responsible positions at the Bingham County Court House in Blackfoot for a number of years.
Edith VanOrden, the youngest child of my grandparents, lived only a short distance from Aunt Martha. She had married Art VanOrden the 28th of July 1915, and they had made their home in lower Thomas. Art owned and operated a farm and was considered one of the most progressive farmers in the State. He prospered both materially and spiritually, giving his family many comforts of life, along with teaching them the Gospel.
Art was a member of the High Priest Quorum and served in the Thomas Ward Sunday School Superintendency. He was also active in the genealogical work of the ward. By the spring of 1936, Art and Edith were the proud parents of seven beautiful daughters. These girls were not only beautiful but very talented and they improved their talents by never letting them lay dormant. These girls were active in practically every organization of the Thomas Ward. The oldest daughter, Ada, was an outstanding singer both in college and in her Ward. She merited many outstanding honors and achievements.
It was during this period of time that Grandmother enjoyed her family so much. Art and Edith were ever mindful of their mother’s welfare and would see to it that Grandmother always had a way to travel in case of trouble or of sickness. Great was the joy and happiness that Grandma found in the association of her daughter, Edith, and family during these later years of her life.
The following February in 1937, Grandmother received word from Logan, Utah, that her brother Claus Christian Jensen had passed away on the 17th. The funeral of this man was to be held the following Saturday on the 20th in the 6th ward chapel in Logan, Utah. Upon hearing the sad news of her brother’s death Grandma and several members of her family, including Art and Edith, Martha and her son, Edwin and wife prepared at once to leave for Logan and attend the funeral.
At this particular period of time my parents were living at Logan. My father and mother, Peter and Mattie Fjeldsted, had moved from Preston, Idaho, in the fall of 1928 in order to put their two sons through the USAC and had bought themselves, a large beautiful home on the Boulevard. So When Grandma and her family arrived in Logan it was only a natural thing for them to go directly to her son’s home before attending the funeral of her brother.
My father, Peter Christian Fjeldsted, resident of Logan and nephew of the deceased, praised Uncle Chris through the local newspaper at the time of his passing:
The passing of Claus Christian Jensen reminds us of many incidents in the life of this gentle Christian man. From his early youth he was a dutiful son. In his manhood a wonderful husband, a noble father, and a citizen of the rarest type. Scrupulously honest, generous to a fault, firm as Gibraltar when right, ready when wrong to admit a fault, the life of this man reads more like fiction than like true events.
When he was a little boy with his brother James and sister Marie on his father’s farm in Denmark, his mother heard some humble Mormon Elders preach the gospel of life and salvation. The mother, the late Bodil Hansen, saw the light and embraced he faith.
Her husband, who had not yet been converted, promised her that he would accompany her and the children to America to the Great Salt Lake Valley. Before the preparation for the journey could be completed the husband was stricken with pneumonia and died. This grief did not discourage the heroic mother, selling her property and embarking upon a sailing vessel, they finally landed in New York City in 1862.
Journeying by train to Omaha, the widow purchased cattle and wagons, and various equipment such as brass kettles and a large hand loom and prepared for the journey across the plains in company with other Utah bound converts. It was then the fine qualities of the boy foretold the life of the man. The little boy of eleven years walked nearly every foot of the way from Omaha, Nebraska to Salt Lake City, Utah. He drove the cattle behind the wagon train and often when the weather permitted and roads were good he would take his four year old sister by the hand to save the energy of the oxen. They arrived in Salt Lake City during the month of September and after a few days rest they went on to Logan.
In his early youth and early days in Logan, he endured the hardships and enjoyed the simple pleasure of the pioneer. By his labors as a wheel-wright, carpenter and builder he has reared an honorable family of six children, one child dying in infancy. They are: George C. Jensen of Logan, Utah; Frank L. Jensen of Salt Lake City; Mrs. Estella Giesking of Denver, Colorado; Mrs. Clara M. Moore of Fresno, California; Mrs. Vera L. Wormell of San Francisco, California; and Miss Evelyn Jensen of Logan. He is also survived by his wife Caroline Fjeldsted Jensen and by his sister Mrs. Marie Fjeldsted. He leaves fourteen grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.
His life is a worthy example for anyone to follow and by the old timers of Logan who knew him well, he will be very much missed.
It was at the funeral of her brother Chris Jensen in November 1937, that Grandma first met her cousin’s wife, Eoline Sanders Andersen. Eoline had married Hans Andersen Jr. who was the son of her aunt and uncle, Maren Jensen Andersen and Hans Andersen Sr. Grandma’s aunt and uncle and accepted the gospel in Denmark and had emigrated to Utah in the year 1863-4, settling at Logan where members of this family were still living at the time of my story.
When Grandma first met Eoline Andersen, she was a young widow with a family, her husband having passed away. She was very spiritually minded and her thoughts were often on her dead loved ones. At this time she was serving Cache Stake as a genealogical missionary at the Logan library. This work consisted of teaching the people of Cache Stake, who were interested, genealogical research. Eoline was also active in Temple ordinance work and was an officiator at that time.
When Grandma was a young married woman living in Logan the time of the dedication of the Logan, May 17, 1884, she had a wonderful spiritual experience. Three of Grandma’s dead relatives appeared to her in a dream and asked her if she would do the temple ordinance work for them in the house of the Lord. She promised these dead people she would do as they asked, but as the years speedily passed by she was never able to secure the needed amount of money to start the search of hunting out their names and compiling them, which is necessary before temple ordinance work can be accomplished. This promise my grandmother had made so long ago had never been fulfilled and caused her a great amount of worry. When she told Eoline the story of these dead people wanting her to search out their names and complete their work, Eoline was very interested and promised Grandma she would do all she could to help with this work.
The story of Grandma Finding her records was written by me June 1, 1948 under the heading, “Bertha Marie Fjeldsted.” This short sketch of her life, which takes in letters written at the time, can do more to show the greatness of her character than I can by trying to describe it. I would advise any person interested in her life to read the sketch.
It was about the year 1915 that Grandma and Grandpa had their adopted son Mathew, Uncle Tease, sealed to them for time and eternity in the Logan Temple. But soon after the sealing took place Grandma began to worry and often she talked with her family concerning this matter. She felt that by having Uncle Tease sealed to her for eternity she had robbed his own mother. The idea of robbing the dead caused Grandma much mental torture.
Uncle Tease had been very active in his Church activities and when his children became of the required age he sent all who would accept into the mission field.
In the year of 1916 he sent his oldest daughter Eva, upon her return from the field of labor her sent his oldest son Spencer in 1919, upon Spencer’s return Uncle Tease sent Arthur, and upon Arthur’s return Uncle Tease sent John Howard to Demark, the land of his birth. John Howard left home in May 1925 and while he was in Demark he was able to find out who Uncle Tease’s mother was and secured her genealogy.
After Uncle Tease received his genealogy from Denmark, Grandma could not stand the thought of her adopted son being separated from his own mother. When Uncle Tease visited Grandma, they often brought up the subject, which always ended by Uncle Tease telling Grandma he didn’t wish to have the present sealing broken. He said he was deserted when a baby by his own mother and now he had no desire to be reunited in her family circle. However, Grandma could not ease her conscience by what her son said to her. Knowing that she was not going to be on the earth long she decided to put this matter in writing. In case Tease had a change of heart, he could then take care of it after her passing. She had an affidavit made out and validated by an attorney. I shall enclose the contents of this affidavit:
July 30, 1937
I hereby, with pleasure, give my consent to you have your own mother, Bodila Marie Christensen, sealed to my husband, Peter John Fjeldsted, and that you also be sealed to them.
I think it was in the year of 1915 that you were sealed to Father and I in the Logan Temple. This sealing was with the understanding that if ever you found trace of your own mother this adoption could be cancelled. This you will also attend to.
You may use this letter as you see fit in this sealing and adoption.
Witness: Martha C Thomas Signed: Bertha Marie Fjeldsted
The following year on the 30th of September 1938 Uncle Tease passed away and at his passing Grandma lost her first child. Whether Uncle Tease used the affidavit, I cannot say for sure, but I have written several letters inquiring into this matter but to date I have not found any record where he was sealed to his biological mother. Uncle Tease was buried in the Logan Cemetery by the side of his dear ones who had passed on, and again Grandma and her family made the trip to Utah to attend another sad funeral.
It was at this funeral that Grandma decided to stay in Logan and visit her son Pete and family. She made her home with Mother and Dad for several weeks and during this wonderful visit Grandma was ever busy. I can remember the lovely braided rug she made for mother at this time and how proud Mother was of it. At the end of Grandma’s visit with my parents, Daddy made the trip to Thomas and took Grandma home. It was on this trip that she had her last visit with us.
Lester and I had recently built and furnished a beautiful new home on the outskirts of Franklin, and as Grandma was very near and dear to me she wanted Daddy to stop at Franklin and spend a little while with me at our home. Little did I think then that this was to be the last visit Grandma would make me. How sorry I am at this writing that I didn’t do more on that occasion to show her how much I loved her and what she meant to me.
Grandma received her genealogical records from Denmark about the 26th of October 1939. These were the records Eoline Andersen had been helping her with. It had taken them nearly two years to secure them, but Grandma knew when she looked the names over that they were the records she had waited for for so many years. I will enclose a letter to this effect:
Pingree, Idaho November 6, 1939
Mrs. Eoline S. Andersen
Dear Cousin and Family,
I thank you very much for the names you sent me, it was so kind of you to do it. It means so much to me. I am enclosing the names of my family and if you want the names of their families I will send them to you also. And when the other names come I will send the money to you and glad for the chance. You have done a great work in this line of Temple work. May Heaven bless you and yours, it would not have been done had you not done it or seen to it.
I am feeling pretty good for a woman of eighty-two. The cold winter is ahead of us, but I feel that all will be well.
The dream I told you about when I was down to my brother’s funeral, that girl asked me to do the work for her. She is there and the names of her parents, they are also there. Thorup is their name, so now I hope I can make that dream come true. It was in the record you sent me, so I am glad it can be done.
Our Church is great. It gives us so many opportunities to do good. I am thankful for it. May we all keep faithful, and all our loved ones, is my daily prayer. So dear cousin may the Lord bless you and all you loved ones. I am glad I met you, life has been more beautiful to me. So I will close with love to all.
From Your Cousin,
A tribute to Bertha Marie Fjelsted written May 1948
“I felt the power of the Lord and the great, spiritual and heavenly influence that radiated from her countenance----as she talked of her ancestors and her family it made me want to do something for her. And we both prayed that we could get the correct record and we both knew our prayers were answered as we obtained the very record of the family that appeared to her in her dream.”
Eoline S. Andersen
The following spring on Mother’s Day, May 12, 1940, Grandma writes to her loved ones at Logan, Utah. This letter is addressed to my brother and wife:
Pingree, Idaho Mother’s Day, May 12, 1940
Dear Laney and Marjory dear grandchildren,
I received your present for Mother’s Day, thanks very much. It was sure nice of you young folks to remember an old Grandmother on Mother’s Day.
I have been quite well all winter but at present I am not feeling quite so good but I hope I will soon be all right.
I hope you young folks can come around to see us and I hope and pray you may keep well and strong and happy and prosperous, for you have always been so good to me.
I got a letter from your mother today, she says she will soon get rid of her boarders then they will try and come around to see us.
I will close my letter hoping soon to see you all, Heaven bless you with love
Grandmother and Martha
It was only a few days later after Grandma had written the above letter, or on about the 17th of May 1940 that a very sad accident occurred. Grandmother was standing by the kitchen stove when she was stricken with an epileptic seizure. These seizures had been prevalent in her life for the last ten years and had caused her much pain and suffering.
While falling to the floor she struck her hands on the hot part of the heated range, then breaking her hip as she hit the floor with her full body weight. What a sad condition this great soul was called to bear. The hands that were burned so badly were very painful along with the broken hip that was in such bad condition it was impossible for her to move. Time went very slowly for all concerned. No one could have been more patient and tender and loving than her daughter Martha, who so carefully nursed and cared for her. The hot weather was made livable by the hands of this loving daughter who did everything possible within her power and with what means she had to make it so.
At the end of three months of suffering Aunt Martha could see that Grandma was beginning to improve, but this was not for long. For soon after a severe pain developed in Grandma’s stomach. Thinking it must be appendicitis or an intestinal kink they rushed her to the Beck’s Hospital in Blackfoot. Dr. Beck operated on her, but instead of finding what they thought it was they found her intestines had paralyzed and were fast deteriorating. There was nothing to be done then, only sew her up and wait for the end.
For four days after the operation Grandma suffered intense pain, most of the time she was out of her head or in a coma. All of grandma’s children, with the exception of Amelia her oldest daughter, were with her at the end.
All loved their mother a great deal and were so sad because of her intense suffering. Just before the end came, Pete, her oldest child, my father, was sitting by his mother’s bed side. She opened her eyes and at that moment her mind cleared and in a faint voice she whispered, Pete my son, you are the oldest living child, I am going to pass on now to my Father In Heaven and I am asking you to please keep our family together and see to it that they don’t forget their duty to their God,”
Grandmother died the 2th of August 1940 from the immediate cause of cardiac insufficiency as a result of an intestinal obstruction. Her funeral was held on the 26th of August in the Thomas Ward Meeting House. She was buried by the side of her beloved husband, Peter John Fjeldsted, in the Peter Christian Fjeldsted burial lot in the Thomas Riverside Cemetery located in Thomas Ward, Bingham County, Idaho.
After receiving the message of my grandmother’s death I prepared to leave at once for Thomas, and with my two daughters NaDean age twenty-one and Betty age sixteen, we traveled by car in company with my brother LaNey and wife. Lester was unable to leave home at this time as we had our son Bruce, age eleven, ill with rheumatic fever.
Bruce had come down with this deadly disease during the month of June and we had had a very sick little boy all during the summer. However, at this time in August he was improving, but still had to be kept very quiet. Lester insisted that he stay home with our two younger children. He would take care of Bruce and our baby girl, Diane, who was seven years old at that time.
We left Franklin early in the morning of the 26th and arrived at Thomas in plenty of time to see the family before the funeral. My parents, along with many other member of Grandma’s immediate family, had been there for several days, most of them coming before she died.
After the funeral was over my two daughters went to the home of Uncle Art and Aunt Edith as they had girls about the same age as my two daughters, while I spent the night at Uncle Edwin and Aunt Rene’s.
Ada Fjeldsted Bower, Grandmother’s daughter, from Bosie, Idaho, also stayed at Uncle Edwin’s and that night we shared the same bedroom. It was then I had the privilege of visiting with my Aunt Ada, whom I had not seen since before my marriage.
Aunt Ada reviewed her life story to me, telling me about her marriage in 1924 to Lorin Bower whom she met at Gooding, Idaho, where she was working as a clerk in the Golden Rule Store there.
They had never been able to have children of their own so when the opportunity came for them to adopt a fine baby boy they were both overwhelmed with joy. Ada and Lorin had worked for five years with the idea of opening up a business of their own in Boise, carrying men’s fine clothing. This dream had just been realized when the economic depression of 1929 began.
They did everything they could to save their life’s earnings, but like so many other people they finally lost everything. At the time of Grandma’s funeral, Lorin and Ada were again trying to make a comeback but it was hard for them as the great mental strain of going through the depression had caused them both to lose their health, Aunt Ada was still ill and the excitement of Grandma's death and funeral had upset her again.
I prepared to leave for home the following morning after Grandma’s funeral. Gathering up my two daughters and my brother, LaNey, and his wife we began our trip home. I shall never forget this trip. It seemed like it was one of the hardest trips I ever undertook. Everything seemed to be confused and mixed up. My two daughters were young and it was hard for them to understand how sad I was. I tried in my weak way to explain my feelings, but as they had never known my grandmother as I did, they could not understand.
It was after my brother and his wife had left our home and our dinner over that I could stand my heartache no longer. I locked myself in the bedroom and there alone with a broken heart I knelt in prayer. I realized that I had been blessed far more blessed than any one of my relatives. I also realized how little I appreciated my great blessings. I also realized how little my wonderful grandmother had in her life time of the things that I was permitted to enjoy. All these thoughts going through my mind made me very unhappy. I cried as I had never cried before. My family could not understand why I was crying. The children kept knocking at the door and asking what was wrong but I could not explain to them so all I could do was cry.
Then all of a sudden as I was trying to explain to my Father in Heaven how I felt I had the most wonderful experience, an experience I had never had before in all my life. A sensation of warmth or rather a bright warm glow entered my bosom which seemed to extend upwards and outwards reaching to the ends of my fingers and to the ends of my toes. At that moment a heavenly joy entered my heart and I felt the great sorrow literally lifted out of my body and in its place a feeling of calmness and peace and contentment.
At that moment I realized it was a spiritual experience given me by my Father in Heaven to ease my trouble mind. I arose to my feet and unlocked my bedroom door. I called my children together and told them of this wonderful spiritual experience I had just received.
To my great disappointment not one member of my family could understand what I was talking about. On the 5th of August 190, just nineteen days before Grandma’s death, I received a Patriarchal Blessing by Brother Leonidas A. Mecham and the words written below are included in this same blessing: “From this day forth you will be able to see more clearly (and) understand the goodness of the Lord to you and your."