Susannah Smuin Nielsen Autobiography
Contributor: jillpz Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
I was born on 28th of Sept. 1871 at Ogden, Utah, in what was then called. Lynne ward and is now called Five Points Our home at the time was a one roomed log house. I was the second child born to George and Eliza Gaisford Smuin. Father was a lover of beautiful things and so, as fast as possible the home was improved until it became what would be called a modern home in those days.
The family increased until there were 14 children, 9 girls and 5 boys. A cousin was also adopted which increased the family to 15, My brothers and sisters were born i n the following order; Ellen , b. 6 March 1870; George Joseph, b. 10 Oct. 1873; Rose, b. 17 Dec. 1875; Lillie, b, 8 Nov, 1877; Henry William, b. 26 May 1880; Ruth, b. 4 June 1882; Richard, b. 30 Aug. 1884; Pearl, b, 26 Sept, 1886; Ralph Dewey, b, 21 Dec. 1888; Myrtle Lavinia, b, 12 April l 1891; Mable Blanch, b, 10 April l 1893; Viola Lueretta b, 13 Nov, 1894; Horace Leland, b. 16 Nov. 1896. The cousin who was adopted was Ray Gaisford, b. about 1884.
Father operated a nursery raising all kinds of fruit trees, shrubs and flowers. He often experimented on different kinds of fruits and flowers. One time he had fifteen kinds of strawberries, he decided the Wm. Belt was tho best. He also budded peach trees until he got one that was an improvement over those in his possession at that time. This he named Smuin's Free. It was a largo white peach.
My sister Ellen and I helped with all of the outside work such as hauling hay, picking fruit etc. We also helped father with the budding of the fruit trees. My brother George liked to do this kind of work, as well as we did, and so between us we gave much assistance to father in gaining a lively-hood for the family.
We had a wonderful home, all working and enjoying life together. We know practically no trouble until my brother George was drowned July 4th 1892. The members of our ward choir had planned a party to be held up Ogden Canyon, Some of them were at our home freezing ice cream. As my father went by the group my brother George and one of his friends were turning the freezer. He stopped and said, "We read that two shall be grinding at the mill and one shall be taken and the other left. " At the party the two boys decided that they would go swimming. They didn't realize the danger of going into the stream, which had not subsided from the spring run-off. George, who was the first to enter the water, was almost immediately sucked under by a strong undercurrent. The other boy was helped by some of his companions and finally reached safety. Thus one was taken and the other left . This same year, Mable Burton, daughter of Wm. Burton of Ogden, was visiting with a friend, Hattie L. Hale, in Afton, Wyo, On July 24th they wore Picknicking up one of the canyons near there. As the two girls wore crossing a log over tho stream they both fell into the water and wore drowned. Mable and George had been classmates i n the Weber Stake Academy. After her death both father and Bro. Burton were impressed that the two should be sealed. So strong was the impression that father arose early one morning and started over to see Mable1s father, who lived about three miles away. On the way he met Brother Burton who had left his home with the same thought in mind. He had already been to Salt Lake to see Pres, Wilford Woodruff and had his permission to do the work, so arrangements were made and the work completed August 24, 1892. This has always been a great testimony to me. "God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform." While our home was saddened by the loss of our brother we were repaid by our Father in Heaven giving this wonderful blessing.
I often think back on my home life and the wonderful examples set by father and mother for us children. Father was Bishop of the Lynne ward for twenty years, so we naturally had a religious atmosphere in our home at all times. They both had a strong testimony of the gospel and tried to live according to all it's teachings. We also had the opportunity to become acquainted with many of the General Authorities of the Church. When conferences were hold in those days the visiting brethren from Salt Lake were entertained at the homes of the Bishops, each Bishop taking his turn. This gave us a chance to become well acquainted with most of the officers of tho church. There not being as much work for them to do in those days as there is now. They were sometimes with us for several days. I remember all the Presidents of the church from Wilford Woodruff down to the present time, President Heber J. Grant now presiding.
On Sunday, even though we had to entertain the visitors , we all attended church. Saturday was a busy day preparing food for Sunday dinner. Roasts, bread, pies, cakes, and other good things filled the pantry Sunday morning and we were all left free to attend to our sacred duties.
Father was always seeking ways to improve our home and farm. Some difficulty had been experienced in getting water on parts of our land. We also needed more water for the nursery and to water the shrubs and lawn around the house. So, when several men from Hyrum, Utah came to Ogden with equipment to dig flowing wells, father engaged them to dig two for us. One to be dug on a piece of pasture land and the other to be dug near the house. The latter one was piped into a "Summer Kitchen" which had been built near the house and was used in the summer time for a dinning room as well as a kitchen. This afforded us good clean water for culinary use (we had used a surface well and pump prior to this time) as well as to furnish water for the stock and land. Later a cooler was built in the summer house, utilizing the water from the well, in which we stored food. Also, what we called the milk house was built, housing the milk seperator and another cooler for the milk. A large pond was constructed which stored water for irrigating in the summer and in the winter furnished a nice crop of ice. We were the firs t ones in Ogden to build an ice-house and sell ice commercially. The wells were dug i n 1887 and i t was at this time that I met my future husband.
The men who comprised the well digging orew were; I. C, Thoresen, James Nielsen, Ezra Nielsen, James Allen, and Niels J. Nielsen. According to James Nielsen, who is still living, they would quite often miss Niel while they were at work, but they always knew where to find him. He would be in the orchard helping "Susie" pick fruit. I knew at that time that he was already married, but of course it was a time when polygamy was being practised and so we had no qualms about that. In 1891 he went on a mission to Nebraska and our paths were parted for some time. He was called home from his mission in 1893 because of the death of his wife, Nancy Anderson Nielsen, but I did not see him again until he called at our home the latter part of 1894, I didn't know whether I liked him or not. He was wearing a long beard, A few weeks later he called again. He had shaved off his beard and looked a lot better. At least he looked better to me and he would not take "No" for an answer, so, preperations were begun for our wedding.
We were married in the Logan Temple 9 Jan.1895. After the wedding we returned to his home in Hyrum which he had kept up as best he could after the death of his wife. His daughter Essie age three had been taken by his wife's mother to raise, but we kept his two boys, Joseph and James who were at that time 11 and 9 years of age. Our home was situated in the north west part of Hyrum, about one mile from town. We had about 40 acres of farm land and my experience with farming and the nursery stood me in good stead. We had a few cows and two horses at that time and latter we acquired chickens, ducks, geese, pigs, sheep etc. Life was not at all easy for the early settlers. Very few comforts were enjoyed in their homes. All of the house work and most of the farm work had to be done by hand. Tho life was not all a bed of roses we lived happily and by laboring early and late , we gradualy improved our surroundings and increased our holdings.
My first child was born 24 Nov, 1895. My sister Ellen came to our home, assisted us during my confinement and remained with us for two weeks. As was the custom in those days we also had a "Midwife", Christina Lawrence. I was very sick, so sick in fact that I don't recall getting much thrill out of my first child, a daughter. We took her to fast meeting 2 Jan. 1896 and she was blessed and named, Dora Eliza , by 0. H. Rose, Sixteen months latter my first son was born to me, 24 March 1897, He was blessed and named Norman Leslie, by John T. Wilson,
Although we were very poor when we were first married, by June,1898 we felt that Niel could go on a mission for the church, he had been called to serve in Montana. We had previously sold about 500 hundred head of sheep, and money from them helped to finance him while away. Latter when thinking and talking about his leaving, we decided that at about the time he was going through Cache Junction (about twenty-five miles from Hyrum) on his way to Montana, 16 June 1898, our son Dewey Harold was born. He had been down to Salt Lake to be set apart for his mission, leaving by train directly for Montana. Of course he knew nothing about our new son until sometime latter . Again my sister Ellen attended me during child birth as she had done with both my other children and as she did with all my children except the last two.
It was quite a struggle keeping things going while Niel was gone, but the Lord blessed us and instead of having to send money to him, he sent some to us. The people there were very good to him. Joseph and James proved to be a great help in taking care of the place, they being at that time 15 and 13 years respectfully. They were very good boys and I could not have expected more love and respect from them had they been my own children. They both adored the younger children and helped take care of them as well as to assist with all the chores and farm work.
Niel was called home this time because of the death of his sister, Emma,who passed away 29 Nov.1899. He had been out only18 months but he was given an honorable release, and we were very glad to have him back with us.
Our next child , Carl George, was born 8 Jan. 1901 then came Ellen Rose who was born 7 Sept. 1902 and Grant Smuin, born 10 April l 1904.
On 13 June 1905 we had a very sad experience. My oldest son Norman died from an injury receive the day before when he was kicked by a horse. He had worked with his father cultivating beets etc. for several days. On the afternoon of the 12th the work being done, he was playing with some of his friends in one of the pastures. In fun he ran up behind a colt and grabbed it's tail . Although the colt was considered very gentle, it was so frightened it kicked, striking Norman in the pit of the stomach. He immediately came home and we sent for the doctor but he died the next day. His gall bladder having been broken.
Our next four children were boys, Norris, born 21 Nov. 1905; Wesley, born 26 Novo 1907; Emery, born 2 Jon. 1910 and Blaine Lloyd born 15 Jan, 1911, Our last child was a daughter, Wanda, born 17 June 1913.
During the winter of 1909-10 an epidemic of Scarlet-fever struck our community and we were called on to suffer with many others who were stricken with the disease. Most of our children were very sick before it was over and finally Wesley was called home. He died on the 21 Dec. 1909. The after effects of the disease were terrible in those days. Norris who was four years old was so sick and weak from the disease we had to carry him around on a pillow for months afterwards. Some of the children almost lost their finger nails.
On the second of January while we were still quarantined I was confined and our son Emery was born. He lived only twelve hours, dying 3 Jan. 1910. Death did not strike our family again until 1916. This time Dora, who had not enjoyed good health for some years, died. She had missed having Scarlet-fever by some miracle but she had not been very strong since birth . She passed away 13 Feb. 1916.
In my youth there was little opportunity for a formal education. We had the district schools, which I attended but every year we went over the same things again and again and not much headway was made. We met in a one room school house located a little over a mile north and west of our home. I was very thankful for. the chance to attend the Weber Stake Academy for one year. Karl G. Measer was my teacher and I enjoyed him very much.
Though my formal education was rather neglected I did receive many opportunities to work in the church and was thus trained to do many things that have given me much joy and satisfaction since. My training in our home was also of great value to me in taking care of my family and providing the necessities of life.
Before I was sixteen years old I had been a teacher for three years and recording secretary for two years in the Lynne ward Sunday School. Also a counselor in the Young Ladies Mutual Improvement Assn. I remained at this work until I left Ogden.
After I moved to Hyrum I was rather tied down with family duties for some time and held no church office until I was called to be the President of the Y. L. M. I. A. in 1907. I held this office for two years. After my release I did not hold another office until August 10, 1913 when I was again chosen President of the Y. L. M. I. A. My baby girl, Wanda was then only 8 weeks old. I took her with me to meeting most of the time though we lived a mile from the meeting house and I had to carry her both ways. This time I was president for six years.
After my release from the Young Ladies organization I was called as assistant teacher in the parents class in Sunday School. I asked the Bishop how he expected me to work with Professor Lee, who was the teacher, when I had so little formal education. His answer was "We want you to look after the spiritual part of it."
Later I was called into the Relief Society work. I worked for two years as Treasurer of the Stake Relief Society. Then I was called as a Counselor to Louvisa Allen, who was the president of the Stake Relief Society, and when she was released five years latter I was appointed as the president. I served in this capacity until 14 July 1929. After the new presidency were installed they gave a party for the retiring officers and presented each of us with a Book of Mormon. In September, after my release, I was asked to give the Teachers Topic in our ward Relief Society and did so until Feb. 18, 1934.
At one time I was president of the Synthia Bensen Camp of tho Daughters of the Utah Pioneers and held that office for four years. I was also Chaplin for two years.
As I have mentioned before the early part of my married life was not easy. To begin with we didn't have many necessities and had to labor hard to sustain us and the children. As things grow easier, so far as want was concerned, we increased our holdings to such an extent that we still did not have much time for pleasure. At one time we shipped several car loads of apples each fall . We had three acres of strawberries and a lot of other small fruit . We also had from 1500 to 2000 chickens and it fell to my lot to take care of from 800 to 1000 baby chicks each year. Niel was in the bishopric fourteen years. He was called away working for the ward much of the time. The supervision of the farm, while he was away, naturally fell on my shoulders. So, it has just come natural to me to work at what is considered heavy work, especially for a woman, and now I somewhat miss having a job to occupy my time, I have enjoyed good health. I never took medicine of any kind until after I was over 70 years old, and now that I have High blood pressure it rather irks me to take medicine as well as to curb my activities.
Some may think that I have had a hard life but to me life has been sweet. I have enjoyed my family, my associations in the church. Yes, I have even enjoyed the hard toiling and my sorrows have given me much understanding. While I have not traveled far and wide, the little trips and excursions I have made have been a source of great satisfaction to me. I had the privilege of attending the dedication of the Salt Lake Temple, 10 April l 1893. The speakers were Pres. Wilford Woodruff, Geo. Q. Cannon and John H. Smith. While I was President of the Relief Society I attended Leadership meeting in Prove. Many wonderful talks were given there and I enjoyed them very much.
About 1920 I accompanied several of my children on a trip to Rupert, Idaho, to visit my sister Lillie, who was living there at that time. On our return trip we went on east through Lava Hot Springs and Montpelier, Idaho. Then we turned south, came down around Bear Lake and finally home through Blacksmith Fork Canyon.
An outstanding event in the minds of most of my children and a great satisfaction to me, as well , was our annual trip to Ogden while father and mother were still alive . Every summer, when circumstances permitted, we loaded our family into the Old Covered Wagon or into the Ludlow and drove to Ogden. We would start about four o'clock in the morning and it would sometimes take us until dark at night before we arrived. Now, when we get into a modern car we can go to Ogden in about an hour. Since the death of mother and father the old home has run down with poor care. What was once one of the show places in Ogden is now a sorry sight. This has grieved us all but none of us could take care of it so we just had to let i t go.
Thanksgiving Day 1932 I spent with my daughter Wanda and family at Boulder Dam, Nevada, where her husband was working. The dam was under construction and was wonderful to see. Sherwyn, their oldest son celebrated his second birthday anniversary 26 Nov. while I visited with them. I was with them for about ten days.
My daughter Ellen and her husband took me on two nice trips . One in 1939 and the other in 1941. On tho first trip we spent a week in Yellowstone Park. I shall never forget the miles and miles of pine trees, the beautiful mountains and the many lakes. We enjoyed all the trout we could eat and brought a lot home with us. During the summer of 1941 we went south to visit t the Southern Utah parks and Grand Canyon. We stayed at Cedar City the first night. From there we went to St. George and visited around the Temple grounds. Then back to Zion's and over the Mt. Carmel Highway and on down to Grand Canyon where we stayed the next night. After viewing the sights at Grand and becoming rather nervous walking out to the edge of that great hole, we left and went on back to Bryce's Canyon, stayed the night and then on home the next day. There were six of us in the car, George, Ellen. Jean Carol, and George Jr . and myself.
Another thing that has given me a lot of pleasure has been our habit of having our friends and neighbors to our home to eat with us. One of my nieces recently said, when she had just read the history of my husband, that we had forgotten a very important part of his life . The thing that she could remember best about Uncle Niel and Aunt Susie was the wonderful chicken and duck dinners at thèir place. Also the huge pop-corn balls, the watermelons and cantelopes, the strawberries, apples and other things they always had when they visited them. We were blessed with the bounties of life and we always shared them with those who came our way.
As I think back over my life I feel satisfied . The seven children whom we raised to maturity are all married and have good families. My oldest son, Dewey, married Jennie Brown and they have one daughter, Mary Susannah, b. 11 Mar. 1940, at Logan, Utah.
Carl married Vera Obray and the following are their children;Arthur Reed (who's father was Arthur Reed by a former marriage, but sealed to Carl and Vera) b. 19 April l 1923 at Paradise, Utah. d. 2 May 1938 at Weston, Idaho. Carl Dee b. 26 Feb. 1925, at Hyrum, Utah. Roy b. 2 Feb. 1927, at Hyrum, Utah. Betty Ann b. 12 May 1932 at Logan,Utah; Niels Joseph b. 8 June 1936, at Weston Idaho.
Ellen Rose, who married George B. Everton, had tho following children Ellen Jean b. 30 Oct. 1925; Carol Yvonne b. 20 June 1927,- George Baugh Junior b. 1 Jan. 1930. They were all born at Logan, Utah.
Grant, who married Gladys Lumberg, had six children, all born at Hyrum, Utah. Joyce b. 3 Feb. 1925; Verrel b.11 Feb. 1928, d. 29 Jan. 1929; Charlene b. 25 July 1931; Carolyn b. 7 May 1935; Cordell b. 28 April 1937; Garth b. 28 Feb. 1939.
Norris married Afton Hoskins and they were blessed with tho following: Norris LaVon b. 31 May 1928; William Doyle b. 24 Nov. 1930; Norman Lynn b. 9 Aug. 1932; Maurine b. 18 Sept. 1934; Marvalue b. 17 Jan. 1938. Al l of their children were born at Hyrum, Utah, except Norman who was born at Logan.
Blaine had five children and was married to Ruby Cooper. Their children, Dwayne b. May 1930 lived about four hours; Darwyn Blaine b. 26 Sept. 1932; Joseph Clyde b. 9 Sept. 1934; Valaree b. 24 Oct. 1936; Douglas Lee b. 3 July 1940 d. 10 July 1940 were all born at Hyrum, except Douglas Lee born at Logan, Utah.
My daughter, Wanda, married Hayden Long and the following are their children; LaFaye b. 18 June 1929 at Hyrum, Utah. Hayden Sherwyn b. 26 Nov, 1930 at Logan, Utah; Boyd b, 26 Feb. 1933 at Boulder Dam. Nevada ; Dennis Arthur b. 18 JuIy 1935 a t Logan, Utah; Larry b. 13 Oct. 1938 d. 13 Oct. 1938 at Logan, Utah; Flora Susannah b. 4 Jan. 1941 at Salt Lake City, Utah.
I am very proud of the fact that all of my children were married in the Temple of the Lord. My testimony is that the Lord has established this work and the marriage cerimony is an eternal covenant if it is performed by those who have the authority in the Temple. I am a firm believer in all of the Prophets of God, both ancient and modern. I beleive that the Lord inspired Joseph Smith to establish His work among the children of men and that each of the leaders of the church down to and including President Heber J. Grant were prophets of God, To show our faith we have not only sacrificed to send Niel on a mission but our son Dewey spent two years laboring i n the Eastern States Mission, June 1918 to July 1920, and our daughter Ellen worked as a missionary in the Logan Temple in the recorders office from January 1923 to June 1924.
In October 1932 I was at the home of my daughter Ellen who had had an operation when I was called home on account o f the i1l health of my husband. The doctor said that he could not live long. He was afflicted with harding of the arteries. He did, however, overcome the sickness to such an extent that he was soon up and around again but his health gradually failed him from then on. We were told by the doctors that the disease which he had prevented the free flow of blood through the brain and he gradually lost his memory. Every thing was done for him that possible could be done but his advanced age was against him and grew weaker and weaker until he died on 10 June 1936. My heart was saddened by his going but it releaved me of much care and worry as he had been a constant anxiety the last four years of his life . He was a good man, ever ready for any call that might come to him to help others. He was kind and generous with his family and above all he honored the priesthood which he held. There has been an empty spot in my life since his passing. I am looking forward to our reunion. I hope that our children will follow tho example set by their father, live the Gospel of Jesus Christ, seek to help their fellow men and in every way emulate His teachings.
Susannah Smuin Nielsen
8 December 1941
This autobiography can be found in Family History Books in FamilySearch under "Niels Joseph Nielsen".