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."
Bertha Marie Jensen Fjelsted Written 1957 by Grace Fjeldsted Lowe
Contributor: dkrb Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
THE EARLY LIFE STORY OF BERTHA MARIE JENSEN FJELDSTED WRITTEN MAY 6, 1957 BY GRACE FJELDSTED LOWE Digitized by Merrill Smart
My grandmother, Bertha Marie Jensen, the only daughter and the third child of Jens Peter Jensen and Bodild Clausen, was born in the village of Gjynstrup, near Odense, on the Island of Fyen, Denmark, on the 30th of October 1857.
Peter Jensen, a miller by training, had been a soldier in the Danish-German War of 1848-50, during which time his wife, Bodild, and their first born son, Jens Peter Jensen (Uncle Jim), lived with her parents, Claus Hansen and Maren Jensen, who were prosperous farmers in Roerslev. After the war was over he obtained a life-lease on eighty acres of farm land in the neighboring village of Gjynstrup, to which place the little family moved and made it their home for a number of years.
At the birth of my grandmother the family consisted of three children, their oldest child Jens Peter Jensen born on the 8th of April 1847, Claus Christian Jensen, their second son, on the 1st or January 1851 and now Bertha Marie, their only daughter, on the 30th of October 1857.
In the spring of 1859 when my great grandmother, Bodild Clausen, was thirty-six years of age, she had a wonderful dream, it was one of these clear-cut meaningful dreams which occasionally bless and inspire human beings. This is the dream as she told it many times, "I dreamed I heard the most beautiful brass band music coming from the direction of the Bredstrup Mill (my husband's people's mill) and this beautiful music made me feel very happy.” It was only a few days later that her husband's two brothers came and told her about the new Gospel they had accepted. While they were explaining it to her she recognized the message as being the beautiful music in her dream. She was baptized on the 4th of April 1859 by an elder of the Church as her two brothers-in-law had left for Utah.
While her husband was friendly towards the new faith (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), he did not accept it with his wife's enthusiasm. In fact he never joined the Church although he was converted and was planning on being baptized and emigrating to Utah, however, fate stepped in and his plans were never realized. During the process of making arrangements with the owner of the land to sell his lease to someone else, Great Grandfather was taken ill with pneumonia and died May 14, 1861. Great Grandmother had fore-knowledge of this, as shortly before his death she dreamed her best horse had been killed by lightening. She told her husband of this dream and he said, "I am your best horse."
After her husband's death Great Grandmother was left with the care of three children. While she was a capable woman and had relied on herself to a great extent, her trouble was made heavier by the condemnation of her beloved parents who said, "Our daughter has disgraced us by joining the Mormons. We can go nowhere.” The widow and her three children left their home in Gjynstrup and for two or three months they lived with her husband’s sister', Maren Jensen Andersen and family at the village of Bredstrup. (See Andersen History).
As soon as possible the widow and her children made arrangements to immigrate to Utah. She first went to the city of Odense and later on to Hamburg where she took passage for America on the 4th of April 1862, the following year after her husband’s death. The ship on which the little family sailed was the sailing vessel "Hambolt" and the trip took forty-two days to reach New York City. There were fourteen deaths during the voyage, mainly elderly people and small children who were unable to endure the hardships of the voyage.
On arriving in New York they stayed two days at Castle Gardens for checking and inspection. They then took the train to Albany, hence westward to Quincy, Illinois where they crossed the Mississippi River and on to St. Joseph, Missouri. From there they went by boat, a two day trip, to Florence, Nebraska where they waited for several weeks for other expectant companies to arrive. While the family was waiting Great Grandmother purchased a wagon, two cows at fourteen and sixteen dollars apiece, two oxen, and a stove, a loom and many other needed things as well as food supplies to last for eleven weeks.
On leaving Florence, Apostle Amasa Lyman, Charles C. Rich and John Van Cott organized the emigrants into two companies, one of forty wagons with C. A. Madsen as captain and the other thirty-eight wagons with O. N. Liljenquest in charge. Great Grandmother and her family were placed in the Madsen Company. They left Florence about the middle of July of 1862, Great Grandmother had two cows in the company herd and her son, Chris, was required to help drive the cattle every third day. There were one hundred and fifty cows in the herd of the two companies and it required two men and four boys each day to herd them.
These two companies followed the Old Mormon Trail. Jim and his-brother Chris walked most of the way. However, Uncle Jim was forced to ride in the wagon for a time, as his feet became sore. When the weather was good and the roads in fair condition their little five year old sister Marie would often walk by the side of her brothers which would help lighten the load, for the poor beasts of burden.
They arrived in Salt Lake City September 23, 1862. While there the widow and her children stayed with her brother-in-law, Andrew Jensen, one or her husband's brothers who had been instrumental in bringing her the Gospel. The other brother, George, was living in Kaysville, Utah, he was Kaysville's first miller. The family rested several days' in Salt Lake City during which time the two boys herded the cows and oxen on the Church farm south of Salt Lake City.
The widow and her family had been counseled by those in authority to make Logan or Cache Valley their home, as it was the policy of the Church to settle the different nationalities together as much as possible. Great Grandmother and her children left Salt Lake City for Logan the afternoon of September 28th, making their first camp about two miles north of the City, and the next day going as far as Farmington. The third day they met with a very happy incident, as they were passing through Kaysville they accidentally ran on to the other Jensen brother, Jorgen (George) Jensen. They had dinner with him and his family and as they were leaving their brother-in-law gave them one hundred pounds of flour. The next day they were ferried across Weber River and passed through Plain City and camped at Hot Springs between Ogden and Willard. The following day they reached Mantua in Box Elder Canyon. The following evening they made camp at Wellsville and the next evening arriving in Logan about dusk October 4, 1862.
Upon her arrival in Logan Great Grandmother and her children went directly to the home of John Carolsen, a former acquaintance in Denmark, in whose home they stayed for about six weeks. During their stay with this family the widow's two sons were baptized and the mother rebaptized.
When Great Grandmother arrived in Logan, which is located in the southern end or Cache Valley, the little frontier settlement was only three years old. The people had constructed their first cabins in two rows facing each other along the present day Center Street, extending it westward about three blocks. Most of the houses were made of logs, which the men secured from Green Canyon, with dirt floors and dirt roofs, but by the fall of 1862 when the widow arrived, there were a few houses built on the north and the south of Center Street, this street is now known as Main Street.
The people of the little settlement, which numbered near two hundred souls, lived close together, their houses were built in "fort style" because of the menace of the Indians, also because of the difficulty of building canals and the desire to be compact so that they could worship together. This gave a unity to the town both spiritually as well as physically. Joys and sorrows were shared alike by everybody. Together the men went to the mountains to cut logs. Together as minute men they united to defend the women and children of' their community. Together they rode to distant settlements to defend their neighbors who were troubled by the Indians. They helped their neighbors plow their fields, in turn their neighbors helped them. The people gave part o£ their meager supplies to the Indians who came begging for food. They delayed work in their own fields to go with wagons to assist the emigrants to Utah, while their own harvest waited in the fields for their return.
When Great Grandmother arrived in Logan she had just turned forty years of age, and she was advised by those in authority to find some good man and marry him, not for the sake of love alone but for the reason of protection and support of herself and her children.
About the 20th of November the(widow and her children moved from the home of John Carolsen and went to live with Niels Hansen and family on South Main Street. On the 6th of December she was married to Niels Hansen as his plural wife in the Salt Lake Endowment House and they were married for time and eternity. As they came out of the building after their marriage a voice said to Great Grandmother, "What is going to become of' me?” She recognized it as the voice of her dead husband, Jens Peter Jensen, and she told Brother Hansen of this incident. He at once returned and asked those in charge to cancel their sealing. This he thought they had attended to, but years after, when I began working on this family line getting all records and Temple ordinances dates together in their true order, I found where this sealing of Brother Niels Hansen and Great Grandmother, Bodild Clausen, had never been corrected. I wondered what I might do to prove to those in charge of this work that this sealing was a terrible mistake. I went to the L.D.S. Genealogical Library in Salt Lake City and talked to Sister Olsen who has charge of the Danish records and I asked her to read the history of my great grandmother written by her niece, Estella Jensen Giesking. After reading the history and checking Great Grandmother’s family group record she could see at once that there had been an error. Sister Olsen changed the record at once and I was then able to have my Great Grandparents sealed together, with their three children. This was accomplished December 1, 1950 in the Logan Temple, myself acting as proxy for grandmother, Bertha Marie Jensen Fjeldsted.
The second husband of my great grandmother, Niels Hansen, was twelve years younger than she. He was a sincere honest man and he tried at all times to be fair and just with his family. He was born in Trostroup on the Island of Fyen, Denmark on the 11th of August 1832. He married his first wife, Karen Andersen, on the 12th of November 1855, the daughter of Jens Andersen and Maren. They immigrated to Utah shortly after their marriage, reaching Salt Lake City September 20, 1856. In 1860, after the trouble with Johnson’s Army, Niels Hansen was called to Brigham City to help promote the dairy industry. In the year 1861 he left Brigham City and came to Logan where he and his family were living when he married Great Grandmother as his plural wife in 1862.
The two families of Niels Hansen now consisted or nine people and all lived in a one room house fifteen feet square. There were two large beds in the room and the children’s beds were pushed underneath the larger beds during the day time. They lived this way for a period of about eighteen months and then Brother Hansen added two more rooms to his house. Great Grandmother and her family moved into one or these added rooms.
Karen Hansen, the first wife of Brother Hanson, was near thirteen years younger than my great grandmother and at this time she was in the process of having a large family. Great Grandmother would help her with the children and would do the weaving for the large family, as she was an excellent weaver.
The children of Brother Hansen and his first wife, Karen, were the following:
1- Mary Hansen, July 6, 1856.
2- Niels Hansen, February 1, 1858.
3- Sarah Hansen February 17 1860, md. Willard Fjeldsted.
4- Ezra Hansen, April 14, 1863.
5- Hyrum Hansen, September 12, 1866.
6- Katherine Amelia Hanson, December 6, 1868.
7- James Andrew Hansen, March 19, 1672.
8- Mary Ann Hansen, July 8, 1875.
The Temple index cards reveal the following marriages of Niels Hansen:
1- Karen Andersen, md. December 13, 1855, sealed.
2- Anna Catherine Jensen, December 13. 1857, sealed.
3- Bodild Clausen Jensen (widow) December 6, 1862, time.
4- Jensena Arvesen, November 17, 1866, time.
5- Anna Christine Aversen, November 29, 1867, time.
6- Eva Leotta Hockstrosser, March 14, 1886, sealed.
After the marriage of his fourth wife in 1866 all the plural wives of Brother Hansen had homes of their own. There is one thing here that should be mentioned and that is no children were born into this family except those by his first wife which were mentioned above, until the marriage of his last wife, Eva Leotta Hockstrosser, whom he married the 14th of March 1886, during the time of the Edmund’s Law. We as a family have always thought that these childless marriages were not marriages built out of love but only for security and protection. However, he treated each of his plural wives kindly and provided each with a home of her own. In turn each wife would help out with the support of the large family in her own way.
As the years rolled by the influx of new settlers strengthened the little settlement of Logan and also resulted in the formation of other settlements in the Valley. Although the Indians were a continual menace until the year 1870 the most dangerous times were over in 1864 when the survey of the towns were made. President Brigham Young visited Logan about this time and gave this timely advice to the settlers, "There are few trees here, raise orchards if only for the welfare of your children. Why not quarry rocks and build stone house and make stone fences. Have good gardens and make yourselves comfortable and happy serving God. “
One of the first crucial problems in the Valley was that of dividing the land. The Federal Government owned the land, but Congress failed to pass any legislation providing for private ownership until after the coming of the transcontinental railroad in 1869, in general, the distribution of property was under the jurisdiction of the Church authorities. Each man was allowed as much land as he could farm and no man was allowed to speculate. The water resources were owned by the people in Common and were regulated under the ruling of the Church. Farming lots were surveyed into lots of twenty acres or less and apportioned to the settlers by means or a special drawing. Logan with its great irrigation facilities and the advantage or being in a favorable location grew faster than all the other settlements in the Valley.
Although life was hard during the early years in Logan, the people of that community found time and energy for social activities. Dancing, singing, instrumental music, amateur theatricals, community socials and sports all made their contribution towards a more enjoyable life.
The "Old Hall”, one of the first frame buildings in the settlement, was erected in 1862 on the corner of the present First North and Main Street. It was known as the “Old Hall" and became the real community center. Here all the religious and public meetings and entertainments were held for years. The interior was furnished with hand-dressed pine native lumber, to the height of the windows, and the floor of the same material, made smoother by the feet of many dancers. The benches were also made of native lumber and removable, except a wall seat built along the sides of the room. High on the walls between the windows small shelves were built, upon which were placed oil lamps to give light at night. The north end was fitted with a broad, deep platform, which served at times as a pulpit, a rostrum and a stage. From this pulpit Apostle Ezra Tart Benson spoke to the people on the principles of the Gospel of Christ. Bishop Peter Maughan counseled and advised in temporal matters and how to meet life’s problems. From this rostrum, aspirants to public office discussed the burning questions of the day and political issues were aired by orators or that time. As a stage it was the means of furnishing very high class entertainment and the hearts of a sober, hard working people were made to rejoice and renew their hopes in the struggle of life. To the rear of this old building, a bowery was constructed under which large public meetings were held during the summer months.
One of the favorite forms of recreation among the early pioneers of Logan was dancing. The people danced in their cabins, they danced in the village streets and they danced in the little town's community building called the "Old Hall”. Music was furnished by a brass band, violins or accordions. The favorite forms of dancing included quadrilles, lively waltzes, minuets and polkas. Great Grandmother and her family liked to dance and the family became known as some of the best dancers in their community.
On Sunday August 22, 1863 a great event took place in Cache Valley. President Brigham Young with Apostle Wilford Woodruff and other Church leaders visited Logan. A meeting was held in the bowery, Apostle Ezra Taft Benson, who was presiding authority of Cache Stake, was present. After prayer, President Young called upon Wilford Woodruff to speak. These are his words: "As I am called upon this morning to address this assembly my mind leads me to speak to the young people who are before me. I wish to say to my young friends, last evening as we came into this town we met you parading in the street to pay proper respects to President Young and his party. You met to greet prophets, apostles and inspired men. This is a privilege which no other generation of young people have enjoyed for eighteen hundred years or until Joseph Smith the Prophet was raised up to lay the foundation of the Church and Kingdom of God on the earth; a privilege for which I would have felt amply repaid if I had to travel a thousand miles in the days of my boyhood on foot to have witnessed.
Now my young friends, I wish you to remember these scenes you are witnessing during the visit of President Young and his brethren. Yea, my young friends, treasure up the teachings and sayings of these prophets and apostles as precious treasures while they are living men, and do not wait until they are dead. A few days and President Young and his brethren, the prophets and apostles and Brother Benson and Brother Maughan, will be in the spirit world. You should never forget this visitation. You are to become men and women, fathers and mothers; yea, the day will come, after your fathers and these prophets and apostles are dead, and you will have the privilege of going into the towers of a glorious Temple built unto the name of the Most High, (pointing in the direction of the bench) east of us upon Logan bench; and while you stand in the towers of the Temple and your eyes survey this glorious valley filled with cities and villages occupied by tens of thousands of Latter-day Saints, you will then call to mind this visitation of President Young and his company. You will say: That was in the day when President Benson and Bishop Maughan presided over us; at that time you will remember the scenes of this day. Treasure them up, forget them not.”
At the close of this discourse President Young arose and said that Apostle Woodruff had spoken by revelation and that his words would soon be fulfilled.
It was a day of rejoicing for the Saints of Logan. If someday they were to have a Temple then they must also build a tabernacle to take the place of the bowery which had been built to do as a meeting place for large gatherings or until the people were financially able to build something better. The number of wards in Cache Stake had so increased that a tabernacle, of which the community might be proud, was needed for stake functions when all the wards participated. Plans began to formulate in the minds of the local Church leaders for the construction of the two buildings.
Work for the construction or the tabernacle commenced as early as the winter of 1865. The face of the mountains between Logan and Green Canyon was covered with a thick growth of good red pine and here the logs were cut end slid down the mountain side. Brother Niels Hansen and his step-son Jim Jensen were among the group of men who worked on this project of getting timber out of the mountains to begin the new building. However, the tabernacle building was not completed for a number of years as many unexpected events took place in Logan that detained this work for a number of years.
In the summer of 1868 Uncle Jim was engaged as a teamster in the Cache Valley Company that was sent to the Missouri River to meet the immigrants. He was one who could drive the mules as well as an ox team. When the company reached Green River in the early part of June they found the river very high. In being ferried across, the boat over turned and five men from Sanpete and one man from Millville, including a yoke o£ oxen, were drowned. Great Grandmother was ever grateful to providence that her son Jim was permitted to live and return back home to the family.
Uncle Jim was married to Mary Kirsten Larsen on the 24th of April 1869 in the Old Endowment House at Salt Lake City and was sealed to her by Daniel Wells. They made their home in Logan and he secured work with the Thatcher Milling Company, he continued to work for this same firm for a number of years after their marriage.
It was about this same period of time that the Jensen family had the good fortune to receive what in those days and to them was a little fortune in "good old American dollars.” Brother Niels Hansen had engaged William Clayton of Salt Lake City to procure the balance o£ his step-chl1dren's estate that had been left in trust in Denmark. Each o£ the Jensen children received $170.00. Jim took his inheritance as he was of age, Brother Hansen, with Great Grandmother's consent, used Uncle Chris' share to purchase a Walter Wood mowing machine and he also used Marie's (Grandma's) portion and bought a much needed mule team. Uncle Chris wrote in his notes which was later used for his history: “My step-father was honorable in these transactions and repaid each of us children in due time."
Great Grandmother's home was a little three roomed house which was located close to the Hansen family on South Main Street. She had a nice garden space on her lot which she and her daughter took care of, a little shanty stood close by the house and around it grew caraway and mint. Out of the caraway was made a cream soup which was later known as "lucerne soup". The mint was used as flavoring. She had a nice raspberry patch and from this much of their fruit was preserved for winter use. The following flowers grew in her front yard, lilacs, irises, lilies, etc.
Great Grandmother was an excellent weaver having learned the art when she was a child in her mother's home in Denmark, and much of her time was spent in weaving carpets, etc., both for family use and customer use. She also had a spinning wheel and would prepare the Wool and spin it into yarn. She taught her daughter this same art and both mother and daughter continued with this industry throughout the years. She also taught her daughter the art of knitting and countless many were the pairs or stockings, mittens, scarfs and headpieces that they donated to the Hansen family for their warmth and comfort.
Brother Hansen and my great grandmother were well mated and they were equally religious, both believed implicitly in the Gospel principles and both lived accordingly. He was very proud or my great grandmother's ability to dance and also her music ability and he would encourage her in these talents, he would also encourage her children (his step-children), as they also possessed these same talents. Uncle Chris had a fine tenor voice and he became one of the outstanding callers that accompanied the dance music in and around the little settlement.
Uncle Chris' work was to help his step-father with the families’ farming and gardening, doing all the odd jobs a willing boy is asked. He also had regular employment each spring and summer in the herding of the families' sheep and cattle. This task was not lacking in interest as in this particular period of time the Indians were still troublesome and gave the people much concern. It was about this same period of time when Uncle Chris was herding the families' sheep and cattle that some hungry and hostile Indians came to the home and demanded something to eat. Brother Hansen was forced to give the Indians a young beef in order to pacify them and keep peace.
As to Grandmother's schooling, I cannot give the exact amount that she received in her early youth, but I do know it amounted to very little. However, Grandmother's appreciation of music and good reading and her love for her religion developed her into a far greater character than many of her close friends and relatives who were given the advantage of a higher education.
After the transcontinental railroad had been completed in the spring of 1869, it brought to the people of Logan prosperity as they had never seen before. It greatly widened the market potential of the agricultural products and gave to the people a railroad station close enough to make it profitable to import agricultural and industrial machinery. It also offered the possibility of a railroad stretching northward from Ogden through Brigham City into Cache Valley, etc., and in two years time this possibility became a reality. The Utah Northern Railroad Company was organized with John W. Young as president and superintendent, and with seventeen leading Church and business men of northern Utah. They all agreed to go to work and build the railroad. William B. Preston and Hezekiah Thatcher representing Logan. The plan of construction called for the appointment of superintendents in each of the major areas of construction. Labor was to be recruited directly by these men or through local bishops. Each priesthood holder was expected to do a certain amount or work. The men working were to be paid principally in stock in the railroad.
The company began work on the 26th of August 1871 at Brigham City and after one year and a half of hard labor reached Logan January 31, 1873, a distance of thirty-seven miles. The railroad from Brigham City to Ogden, which established a connection with the transcontinental railroad, was completed February 5, 1873. Brother Niels Hansen was among the first men to leave Logan and with the help of his mule team he worked for the company the following eighteen months.
Brother Hansen had been associated with the dairy industry previously, before he came to Logan, and it was only a natural thing that he would continue on with this business when he moved to Logan. As soon as it was permissible he secured land on the bottoms of Bear River west of Logan and each summer he would graze a large herd of fine dairy cattle on this land. He built a small house to live in and made some cattle corrals close by. Each year he would send some member of his household to take care of these cows.
It was while Brother Hansen was away working on the Utah Northern Railroad during the summer of 1872 that this job with the dairy herd fell on Aunty, as she was called by the Hansen family, (my great grandmother). She and her daughter left their home in Logan in the early spring and went to the bottoms on Bear River to spend the summer months with the dairy herd. They milked and tended the cows and made butter and cheese which had a ready market at this particular time.
(Grandmother's story pertaining to this period, as she told it to her daughter
“When I was a young girl near fifteen years of age my mother and I went to the bottoms of Bear River west of Logan to take care of the Hansen family dairy herd. We milked the cows and turned them out of the corrals to graze along the river bottoms, where they would wander up and down the river through the trees and high willow brush. It was always my job in the evening to hunt the cows, bring them in and put them in the corrals for milking. I used to have a big fierce dog who was my close companion and wherever I went the dog was always by my side. One night when Mother and I had gone to bed , our dog started running around the outside of our house, barking and growling and making all kinds of confusion. All of a sudden he jumped right through the open window. The next morning when we got up we found fresh bear tracks close by our cabin.
This same summer when Mother and I were alone on the bottoms of Bear River we found ourselves without matches. We decided that I would have to walk to Logan and get some, the distance being about ten or eleven miles through high brush and the road being only a cow trail. I took my big dog along as a companion and my trip was successful."
It was during this same summer of 1872, while his mother and sister were away with the dairy herd, that Chris took over the running of the Hansen family farm. His share of the farm produce was two hundred bushels of wheat or two hundred dollars in
By an act of Congress on March 3, 1873 the Utah Northern Railroad Company was granted a right of way to build a road north to Montana and by the following September the construction gang had completed the grading or this road to Smithfield, six or seven miles due north of Logan.
It was during the early part of October that Karen Olsen Fjeldsted, first wife of Christian Daniel Fjeldsted, and her family of four children arrived in Logan to make the little settlement their permanent home. Her husband, having been appointed by the General Authorities of Salt Lake City to come to Logan and preside over the Scandinavian saints who lived in Cache Valley. Brother Fjeldsted had three families, two of whom had been living in Logan previous to this time. Karen Fjeldsted had twin sons whose names were Peter John and Willard Samuel, these two fine young men were at once accepted by the people in the community. (I will let my father tell the story in his own words as he told it to me in a letter written shortly before his death, February 7, 1952.)
“With regards to how my parents met, I would say that in a small place like Logan (just a few hundred people at that time) all young people were friends and there were no strangers. Father coming direct from Salt Lake City and a son of President Fjeldsted, he must have been sought after as a good prospective husband by both the fair young ladies and their parents. Father must have been a fine young man or Mother would never have been interested in him.
I have heard my parents say that shortly after my father and mother became engaged, Father was planning to go to Colorado to work in the mines, of which Grandfather Fjeldsted was very much opposed. So Grandfather Fjeldsted and step-father Hansen talked it over together and decided that long engagements were not good for anyone and that Mother and Father should get married at once.
Getting married at that period of time was no trifling matter; both young people were strong Latter-day Saints, like their parents before them, and getting married meant driving to Salt La.ke City (the railroad had not been completed from Ogden to Salt Lake City) to the Endowment House, which would take nearly a week to make the trip. My father took his sweetheart and her mother in a lumber wagon, but they did have the luxury of a spring seat to sit on and that was out of the ordinary. They were married on the 12th of October 1875.
After they returned to Logan they set up housekeeping in a little house on South Main Street on the east side of the road in the first block north of the Logan River bridge. I have heard Mother say that their first furniture consisted of a cupboard made from dry goods boxes, putting one box upon the other and using white curtains to cover the front. Their table and bed were homemade and Grandmother (Mother's mother), being a weaver, gave the young couple a homemade carpet.
My adopted brother Mathew, or Tease, as we called him, came to live with my parents soon after they were married. He was brought to Utah by a young Danish convert woman whose name was Nielsine (Senie) Dorthea Gyesen. When Tease arrived at my parents home he was a frail little undernourished boy of six years of age, being born at Odense, on the Island of Fyen, Denmark, the 11th of July 1870. His mother, Bodila Marie Christensen, had given birth to him out of wedlock and through her shame had placed him in the orphan’s home. After sometime at the orphan’s home he was placed in the care of a girl friend of his mother, with the idea that this friend would take him to Utah and later when she was married adopt him as her own child.
This young lady who brought Tease from Denmark was engaged to a man by the name of Spungar, they were both members of the Church and their intentions were to come to Utah and be married. Mr. Spungar was able to secure money enough to send his sweetheart and the little boy, but he could not get enough money for himself to make the trip along with them so he was forced to stay behind and wait a little longer. Senie, the young lady, had contacted tuberculosis at an earlier date in Denmark and after she arrived in Logan her condition grew steadily worse, and she found herself unable to care for the little boy. After careful thought and consideration this young lady went for help and advice to Grandfather Fjeldsted who had been called in this capacity, to help solve the problems of the Scandinavian people in Cache Valley, acting as an interpreter, teaching them the Gospel, and presiding over them. Grandfather told her that his son Peter John had been married only a short time and he thought if they talked to him and his wife they may accept the child and take care of him for awhile, or until Mr. Spungar's arrival in Utah. So together they went to the home of my parents to explain their problem.
Mother was alone when Grandfather and Senie arrived, Father being away for some reason at this particular time. Upon hearing the sad story, Mother consented to care for the little boy on the condition it would be satisfactory with her husband. When Father returned home he readily consented to keep Tease.
Tease was very happy in his new, home and Mother and Father did everything they could to make the little child feel like he belonged in the home. Their hearts were touched whenever they looked at his poor little thin body and they both did everything in their power to develop him both in mind and body.
When Tease first came to make his home with my parents he wore wooden shoes and as my parents were very poor themselves they let him continue to wear them until one day, accidentally on purpose, one fell into the Logan River and was lost. That w the end of the wooden shoes.
Father and his brother, Willard, were almost inseparable, yet when they were together they often quarreled and jangled, but if anyone else should interfere or take up the argument then this third person you would have to fight the two of them. My father was more or less of a reckless and roving nature, full of fun, pranks and what not, much more so than his twin brother, although Uncle Willard was not considered very meek.
A story goes like this:
One Friday night about the 15th of December 1876 at a dance held at the community building at Providence, Utah, Uncle Willard got into a scrap and the next day he was arrested, on the 18th of December, two days later, his trial took place at Providence. Mother was expecting the new arrival of her first born child on this particular day, but Father could not resist going to Providence to attend the trial and try to help his brother. When Father returned to the little house on South Main Street in Logan he found a son had arrived during his absence. I was the issue.
After Senie left Tease with Mother and Father, she found her condition did not improve, but as time went on she steadily grew weaker and weaker. In about two years time on the 21th of July 1818 she passed away and was buried in the Logan Cemetery.
My earliest recollection I suppose was when I was about two and a half years of age or about that, Mother had taught me a poem of Simple Simon and usually as all mothers are, she thought it very wonderful. At four years of age I remember speaking a piece with thirteen verses called “The Heroes of The Plains”. Mother had taught me that and it was to be given in a Sunday School union meeting to be held at the Tabernacle. They stood me on the speaker’s table because I was too small to be seen above the railing. I remember how proud Mother was of me when the people clapped.
On May 1, 1879 Mother gave birth to a girl and they named her Mary Amelia.
Tease had made his home with my parents about three years when Mr. Spungar came to Logan to claim him. As Senie had died by this time, he did not know exactly what to do with the boy. There was a family that he knew who had seven girls and no boys, but they were not members of the Church and they were moving to Australia. Mr. Spungar had thought about giving Tease to this family so he came to the home of my parents and told Mother to get him ready by the following day as he would come for him then. Tease cried all that night and in the morning Father assured him that he would never let him be taken away. When Mr. Spungar called the following day Father was there to present him with a bill for Tease's keep during his three years stay at 'their home. Father knew Mr. Spungar didn’t have the money and he, also knew if the bill was large enough Mr. Spungar wouldn't try to take Tease away. Father demanded $300.00 which was a great deal of money in those days. Mr. Spungar wasn't able to pay the bill so he said he would have to leave Tease with the family.
Father bought a lot and built a house on it, it was located on 1st West and 6th South, next to the Sixth Ward Meeting House. It was there that Bertha Marie was born the 28th of April 1882. We lived there for three or four years while Father worked at a saw mill getting out lumber for the Logan Temple.
(At this particular point I believe it would be a good idea to intercept my father’s story of his parent’s early life and give the reader a brief summary of what has been taking place in Logan, and add what I know concerning my grandmother, Bertha Marie Jensen Fjeldsted, and her family at this period.)
In the early years of Logan the Latter-day Saints held their religious gatherings in the “Old Hall" which was completed in 1862, meetings were hold there in the winter time and in the summer months religious services were held in the bowery. With the population growing rapidly in the Valley it became evident that a large central gathering house was needed and so the people of Cache Valley decided to build a Tabernacle.
Excavation for the basement and the beginning of the construction of a cobblestone foundation started during the spring or 1865. Progress was very slow because of several reasons. Most of the labor was voluntary. The heavy increase of population in Logan and other settlements in the Valley brought about the organization of wards. Each ward had the immediate responsibility of constructing its own ward meeting house. The building or these ward chapels absorbed most of the available voluntary labor and cash. Another reason was the untimely deaths of the most important Church leaders in Cache Valley, Apostle Ezra Taft Benson on September, 1869 and Bishop Peter Maughan April 24, 1871. Another reason was the absence of Bishop William B. Preston, who was called away to do missionary work.
(Note: It was at this particular time that Christian Daniel Fjeldsted (Great Grandfather) was called to come to Logan and preside over the Scandinavian Saints.)
President Brigham Young visited Logan on the 28th of June 1873 and while he was there he advised the Saints to build their Tabernacle, construct and complete the railroad to Franklin, and that he wanted to see a Temple built at Logan.
During the winter of 1873 a large amount of' rock was hauled and the following spring the old cobblestone foundation was taken up and enlarged from the former size to 65 feet wide by 130 feet long. By the following July 1874 the work of the Tabernacle was progressing readily.
On January 26, 1877, the first conference was held in the lower part of the Tabernacle and it was at this meeting that Apostle Franklin D. Richards dedicated this part of the building.
It was during the construction of the roof of the Tabernacle, during the winter before 1876, that the project of bui1ding the Logan Temple got under way. The construction of the Temple slowed down the finishing work of the Tabernacle as some of the men who had been working was taken off to work on the Temple.
Note: I will add the exact words here that Uncle Chris has in his notes that were used in his history.)
"In the month of May 1876, I began working on the new Tabernacle, dressed most of the large pillars in the basement. On August 3lst, I married Caroline Fjeldsted, daughter of Christian Daniel Fjeldsted and his wife Johanne Marie Christensen. Continued work on the Tabernacle for the remaining part of the year. In 1876, I continued working on the Tabernacle until the following Christmas."
On August 3, 1878 the upper story of the Tabernacle was opened for quarterly conference. By this time the building was rapidly nearing completion, but the work on the entrance and tower lingered on until 1891, on the 1st of November of that year. President Wilford Woodruff dedicated the completed Tabernacle.
The building of the Temple in Logan, a project that was to require seven years of hard labor, began on May 17, 1877, when President Young and a number or the General Authorities came to Logan to choose the Temple site. This was followed by the dedication and ground breaking ceremonies.
The raw material for the construction of the Temple was obtained from the natural resources or the Valley and its adjoining canyons. During the summer of 1877, a sawmill was established in Logan Canyon and a lime kiln in the mouth of the canyon. The main stone quarry was developed in Green Canyon, directly east of North Logan, another in Hyde Park Canyon. These quarries supplied the stone needed for the walls. Another quarry was established east or Franklin, Idaho to supply the sandstone for the window ledges, caps, etc.
Most or the labor necessary to supply these raw materials, as well as the actual construction of the Temple, was furnished by volunteer workers. Certain skilled men were hired by the superintendent. As the work progressed the tendency was to increase the number of hired men.
The Church leaders decided to set the date for the dedication of the Temple on the seventh anniversary of the ground breaking ceremonies. Since the Cache Valley Stake Conference was scheduled for the early part of May, it was decided to hold this conference in conjunction with the dedication ceremonies. The General Authorities arrived May 13, 1884 to inspect the building prior to its dedication.
On the morning of Saturday, May 17, 1884, the dedication services commenced. Tickets had been issued to about 1,500 people. After the singing o£ the first song President Taylor gave the dedicatory prayer. This was followed by several speeches. The following day, Sunday, the dedication ceremonies were repeated and 1,500 new tickets were issued. Again on the third day approximately 1,800 people crowded into the assembly room of the Temple to witness the ceremony. After the service was completed on the third day it was announced by the Authorities that Temple ordinance work would commence on the following Wednesday.
(Grandmother's own story about a spiritual experience she had the morning of the dedication of the Logan Temple, May 17, 1884.)
"The day before the dedication of the Logan Temple I cleaned my house and did a lot of baking so that I could be free to go to the dedication of the Temple the following morning. The next morning as I lay awake waiting for it to come daylight so that I could get up and get breakfast, three persons appeared in the room, a young woman and her father and mother. The young woman came up to my bed and said, "Will you do the Work in the Temple for me?" I said, "Yes, but what is your name? " She replied, "Patrine Thorup." I again said, "If you come to me in the name of the Lord, raise your right hand." They all three raised their right hand. I told them I would do their work, they smiled and disappeared.
When I told my mother who was with me that morning and described to her how they all looked, the father was a broad shouldered fellow dressed in peculiar clothes like an old school master, the mother was dark complexioned and a plump lady and their daughter was tall and dark complexioned, my mother said, "I know them, they are cousins and also the father was an old school teacher of mine. Their daughter, Patrine, died of a cancer when she was thirty years old and it ate off her nose before she passed away."
No doubt this spiritual experience that Grandmother was permitted to receive strengthened her testimony or the Gospel, and no doubt it gave her a greater knowledge of the importance of temple work as the temple records prove that the Jensen family were all very active during the following years after the dedication doing ordinance work for their dead relatives.
(Note: I will let my father, Peter Christian Felsted, continue on with his story.)
"My father homesteaded a piece of land, about forty acres, known as "the hollow" Its location was in the mouth of Logan Canyon on the banks of the beautiful Logan River. Our home consisted of two rooms and we were surrounded by willows and tall trees. There were many wild animals that used to follow the river down from the mountains which was only a short distance east from our house.
Father (Peter John Fjelsted) would leave the family for a week at the time and go up into the canyon to work. He and his twin brother Willard had a contract to cut timber for the Nibley Milling Company. It was during this time that my sister Martha Caroline was born on the 4th of September 1884. Father was up the canyon working and mother (Bertha Marie Jensen Fjelsted) and her family were alone. Tease and I were sleeping on a little bed next to the stove in the kitchen when Mother came in and awakened us, telling us we would have to go for help and go get Uncle Jim and Aunt Mary. Tease was always very frightened of the dark and the thought of going out alone was very terrifying to him. Tease began to cry and Mother said, "Tease, are you afraid?" He said, "Yes," for the evening before a big black bear had sauntered across the clearing just a short distance from our house. The road leading to Uncle Jim's house was just wide enough for a wagon, which cut through the dense willows for a quarter of a mile. I remember speaking up, "Mother, I am not afraid, I will go," and I can see the look In her eyes to this day as she said, "Tease son, will you go with him?" Tease was still frightened and turned his head toward the wall. I said to Mother, "I will take Curley," which was our big black dog that would fight a buzz saw, "And we will go together," Which we did. I remember when we left the clearing and entered the willows how I took hold of the collar on Curley's neck and started singing at the top of my voice, trying to bolster my courage because the night was as dark as pitch and I know my hair was standing on ends. After reaching Crocketts Avenue I had to go another block to Uncle Jim's house. He heard me comlng and he came to the door, asking if my mother was sick. I said, yes," and he said, “Mary and I will go back with you."
When Tease was fifteen years of age, Uncle Jim (Mother's brother) helped him get a job at the Central Mill where he worked for a number of years. After Tease got this job and began to make a little money he gave Mother $3.50 a week for his board and room. Tease was very thoughtful of my parents and I don't think he ever spoke an unkind word to them in all his life. He was very good to Mother and would help her with her work, including washings, ironings, meals and dishes, and he was always kind and courteous with the children. Speaking of myself, Grace, in my early childhood, Tease being six years older than I, he assumed the responsibility of looking after the family, this I resented in no uncertain terms. Our dispositions being the complete opposite, and it was no pleasant thing for our mother to bear, seeing us quarrel. Her trials and troubles were many, but in all fairness to a Christian soul, she lived up to the role o£ a foster mother in a high minded manner.
Ada Bodella, a little girl, was born to my parents the 25th of May 1887.
The year I was twelve years old, in the summer of 1888, I worked with my father in the canyon and towards the middle of the summer Father rigged me up with a team and wagon and started me hauling lumber out of Logan Canyon. He and Uncle Willard (Father’s twin brother) contracted to cut 250,000 feet of logs for the Nibley Lumber Company and I hauled lumber from that mill. It would take me a full day from Logan to reach the mill with the empty wagon. Father was there and would help me load up and get me ready, the next morning I would leave the mill and it would take me a day and a half on the way back. I would camp at Wood Camp (as it was called) which was fourteen miles from Logan. On every occasion except one I found a crowd of lumber men either going or coming and camping at Wood Camp, for that was quite an industrial center, but one night I pulled in alone; the thing is as clear in my mind today after sixty-one years as the day it happened. I unhooked my horses, fed them their grain, took them across the high bridge over Logan River and turned them loose in an enclosure penned in by high rocks. I tore up some planks in the bridge so the horses would not come back and by this time it was getting dark. I didn't build a fire, I just ate a small lunch out of my grub box (which was cold) and made my bed down by the wagon and Curley, the dog, and I went to bed. He slept beside me like a man would. I would judge it was about two or three o'clock in the morning when the dog raised up and started sniffing and made a bolt for some willows beside the river, but he stopped as suddenly as though he had had four wheel brakes and came back to me on the dead run, looking back with his tail between his legs. This frightened me as badly as it was possible for a boy of twelve to be frightened. I made a break for the wagon, I climbed upon it as the load was short and high and when the dog followed me he tried to climb upon the tongue and I reached down and helped him up by the collar. It was a brilliant moonlit night, almost as light as day, and there laid my ax under the chain that I always carried for an emergency. I had seen how the dog had to climb up the wagon by putting his front paws on the load and I realized that any animal would have to do the same, so with my ax in my hand I figured that if it came to such I would cut the animal's paws off before it could reach me, but as yet I hadn't seen any animal. However, that fearless dog was trembling and cringing behind me and I knew something was lurking in those willows fifty or a hundred feet away and there I stood in all that uncertainty, how long, it seemed ages to me, but I guess it was only a few moments when out or the bushes came a huge bald face grizzly bear, and as it left the shadows of the willows its head seemed two feet across. I shook with fear until I shook the whole wagon (that's how I felt). The bear came within about fifty feet of the wagon and there raised itself upon its hind haunches and looked around. It looked to me like it was taller than a man. I still kept concentrating on what I would do with the ax in the event it tried to climb upon the wagon. It was too high to make it with one bound and I knew it would have to climb and I could do a lot of chopping while it was climbing, so there we stood, looking at each other in the moonlight, fourteen miles from anyone. How long it remained in that first position I can't remember, but it changed positions several times, going from one place to another and sitting up looking at me, but I should say the nearest it came to the wagon was about forty feet and there it remained for the rest of the night. When daylight carne and it began to get light it didn't remain so long in one place, then all of a sudden, just as suddenly as it came, it left, dropping down on all four feet and starting off up the canyon.
When the sun began to come up, from my position on the wagon I couId see my horses feeding about a quarter of a mile away, but I was too frightened to go after them. Sometime later, I would say between eight and nine o'clock, I saw a cloud of dust coming up the road. I remained on the wagon until it got pretty close and then I could see four men riding in a rig. I got down off the wagon and went to the side of the road and stopped them and told them that I had been held up on the wagon by a bear most of the night. I could see the men were all amused by what I had told them and one of the men, grinning, made this remark, "Kid, I believe you've seen a porcupine " After this smart remark I took the men to where we could see the bear tracks, they followed its trail around to where it had sat up and looked at me. Then one of the men said, “Young man, it's a wonder your hair isn't white," (as its tracks measured fourteen inches in length). After seeing the tracks the men tried to calm my fears, they secured my horses, harnessed them up and got me ready to start on my way. They then started out to look for the bear, following the trail the bear had taken. The trail followed the wagon road up the canyon for a distance of a mile or so, then it took off to the right up a steep gulch in the mountains and as the men were going hunting and had two dogs with them, they put the dogs on the bear's trail. It wasn't long before the barking of the dogs told the men that the bear had been found. They followed the barking and found the bear cornered on a rock cliff, standing on its haunches, warding off the attack of the dogs. The hunters killed the bear and they estimated its weight to be near 800 pounds. After my parents heard the story of me and the bear they never let me go up the canyon again after lumber.
As to Amelia's baptism, Grace, I have a faint recollection or Mother taking her to the Logan Temple to be baptized, but that is the only thing I can remember. I talked to Amelia about this four years ago and she could not remember anything about it either, but you can rest assured it was performed and I am sure it was performed in the Logan Temple.
Our homestead was located in the Seventh Ward and we lived there until the fall of 1888 when Father sold it and we moved to Preston, Idaho.”
(Note: Again I (Grace) will interrupt my father's story of his parent's early life and add what I know at this period of time.)
When my grandparents (John and Bertha Marie Fjeldsted) arrived in Preston they moved into a little two roomed house that Grandfather had built during the early fall, however, he had not completed the house as the plastering was done after the family arrived. The farm contained forty acres and was located about one and a half miles northeast of the center of Preston, near the Preston Cemetery. Uncle Willard, Grandfather's twin brother, and his family lived on a farm that joined Grandfather's farm.
Preston, Oneida County, now Franklin County, is located about twenty-five miles northwest of Logan, in the extreme northern part of Cache Valley. At the time my grandparents moved to the farm it contained but one ward. I will let Andrew Jensen, the Church historian, describe what it was like in the year 1890, two years after my grandparents arrived. These are his words:
“Preston, Idaho contains one hundred and six families. Most people live in a scattered condition on their farms and ranches within a scoop of country about four miles square. The town site is built on the Utah Northern railway. It contains sixteen, ten acre blocks and is perhaps as beautiful a town site as can be found in southern Idaho. Preston is being built up quite fast and fine shade trees are planted along the sidewalks of the principal streets. A Stake Academy is also in the course of erection. The soil within the limits of Preston is rich and productive, and farm lands are irrigated from Worm Creek which cuts through the settlement from the northeast to the southwest, and to convey the waters from Cub River a canal was constructed a few years ago at a cost of $30,000.00. The water supply being still inadequate to meet the demands of the people, a new canal is now in the course of construction to convey the waters of Mink Creek to Preston, when this is completed there will be plenty or water to irrigate all farming lands in and around Preston. Elder William C. Parkinson presides as bishop or the Preston Ward and Brother Mathias F. Cowley, one of the Stake Presidency, also resides there.”
Uncle Willard Fjeldsted had married Grandmother's step sister, Sarah Hansen, on the 24th of October 1878, and after their marriage the ties of the two brothers were even stronger now that they were married to haIf sisters, however, many times they jangled and argued, Grandfather being a strong Republican and Uncle Willard an equally strong Democrat.
Things were not easy for my grandparents after they moved to Preston on the farm, they soon learned that to be a farmer they had to have machinery, plows, harrows , binders, etc., which all cost a great amount or money, which the family did not have. However, the children had many advantages, the family owned an organ and that within itself was quite a luxury. Grandmother had seen to it that as many of her children who were interested had the opportunity to take music lessons
(Note: I will let my father continue on with his story of his parents at this time.)
“Father sold his old homestead in Logan after deeding Tease one acre and a half of land for a building site, then we moved to Preston where Uncle Willard had settled and Father bought part of his farm. After we arrived in Preston Tease continued to work for the Central Milling Company, but sometime after we moved to Preston the mill changed hands and they let Tease go. Tease moved to Preston and stayed there for a couple of years and lived with the folks. He attended school at the new Academy and also helped Father on the farm.
“It was about this time that we had our last fight. It happened one day while we were picking up potatoes, Tease, Amelia, Bertha, Martha, baby sister Ada and myself, Father was plowing. We were all at one end of the potato patch and Father had gotten to the lower end of the field. I picked up a potato and threw it playfully at my sister Bertha, Ada raised up and the potato hit her on the nose and made her nose bleed. Tease looked at Ada and thought I had done it purposely. He flew at me in a rage, at that time he was nearly twenty-two and I about sixteen years of age. I thought he was going to beat me up alive. I was blood from head to foot, but coming back mighty strong. We both landed some hard punches with the fire of a demon in both our souls. I was just beginning to drive Tease back, step by step with every punch, when Father saw the fight. He stopped the plow and tied his horses up and made a run for us. Without stopping for an explanation he commenced to use the horse whip on me. I turned to Father and said, "Hit me again and I will smash you,” but father didn't hit me. I left the field and went to the house, feeling like my parents were always against me and I couldn't understand why Dad would always give Tease the break. That night when the family were aIl asleep I took a little bundle of clothes and left the family home, I was never back home again to stay for any length of time.
“Tease was married the following spring, on the 4th of May 1892, to Caroline Jacobsen. Tease and Caroline bought them a home in Logan in the Seventh ward and he went back to work at the Central Milling Company.”
(Note: I will again interrupt my father, Peter’s, story to give the reader a little history and what I know concerning the Fjeldsted family about this time.)
About the period of time that Grandpa and Grandma (John and Bertha Marie) moved to Preston was one of the darkest periods in the history of the Mormon Church. This was the time that raiding parties, headed by United States marshals, were at work stamping out polygamy. Uncle Jim, Grandmother's oldest brother, had married as his plural wife Patrea Esterholdt on the 11th of February 1881, and to them were born four children. Three of those children were only babies when the polygamy drive was at its peak. Deputies from Utah and also Idaho were busy at all times, and with the help of local gentiles the life of a husband living in plural marriage was a nightmare.
Once when Uncle Tim and his son Alma were putting up hay, they were working in the barn, Alma pitching it in while Uncle Jim was stacking it in the hay loft, all at once they sighted the United States marshals coming up the road. Uncle Jim jumped from the hay loft on to the wagon and escaped into the meadows and down the creek. The two families never saw their father and husband for the next six months, however, the wives received short messages from him by letters, but he addressed them to the Bishop and In turn the Bishop gave the letters to Jim’s wives. At the end of six months Uncle Jim gave himself up. They held court at Ogden, Utah in which Mary, Uncle Jim’s first wife, was called to testify and Uncle Jim was sentenced to six months in the State Penitentiary with a fine of $200.00.
On his release from prison he returned home and it was a terrible thought for all concerned to know that Jim was supposed to desert his youngest family, who at that time were only babies. Uncle Jim was a very kind and gentle man and the very thought of having those little children cast aside must have been the greatest sorrow and heartbreak to one so kind by nature, but that was what he was supposed to do, desert his family of babies. Uncle Jim couldn't do this unkind act so in due time he was again arrested and sent back to prison, this time for a period or one year. How his little ones cried when the deputies took their father away and the poor wives how they must have suffered, for two whole years Jim was either hunted or hounded or in prison.
During the time Uncle Jim was serving out his first sentence in the penitentiary, Alma, his oldest son, hauled logs from Logan Canyon and helped support the two families, Mary took in washings and did some nursing.
On his return home to his families Uncle Jim decided to move one of them away, so he bought a farm in a little community called Glendale, about five miles northeast of Preston, Idaho. It was there that Mary and her family moved in the year 1890 and it was there that Mary lived while Uncle Jim was serving his last sentence of a year’s time at the State Penitentiary. She labored on the farm with the help of her children.
There was much suffering in the life of Mary and her children while Jim was away, and as Grandpa and Grandma Fjeldsted lived near them it was their duty to do all humanly possible to help her and her family. At this time Grandma had Della, Uncle Jim's daughter, take music lessons and Della would practice on the Fjeldsted family organ. Della has often told me how wonderful my grandparents were to her family at this time.
Mary was always considered a good nurse and it was while they were living on the farm at Glendale that my grandfather encouraged her to go to a nursing School because of this ability. So after careful thought and consideration Mary took two of her children and moved down to Great Grandmother's, Bodild Hansen’s in Logan where she stayed while completing her nursing course. Mary was very successful with her new venture and after she had completed her course she settled at Lewiston, Utah, and it wasn't long before she had a comfortable home for herself and her children.
After Jim returned home in 1891 he took Patrea and the family to Glendale where they lived on the farm for a number of years. They were still living in Glendale in the year 1908.
Uncle Jim was not the only member of the Jensen family who was hurt by the Edmunds Act, Great Grandmother herself had married Brother Niels Hansen in 1862. Although Brother Hansen had only one family of children, the deputies were always on his trail and several times he was called into court because of this, however, they could prove nothing so each time he was allowed to go free.
After Brother Hansen's marriage to his last wife Eva Leotta Hockstrosser on the 14th of March 1886 he decided that he would have to leave the United States, so taking his last wife, he and a company of other families left their home in Logan and went to Cardston, Alberta, Canada in 1888. He and his last wife had a large family, I will list their names and birthdays below:
1- Rudolph Oliver Hansen born 5 April 1889 at Cardston, Alberta, Canada.
2- Frederick George Hansen born 6 November 1890 at Cardston, Alberta, Canada.
3- Mary Leotta Hansen born 30 January 1892 at Actna Ward, Cardston, Alberta, Canada.
4- Margaret Eliza Hansen born 6 September 1893 at Actna Ward, Cardston, Alberta, Canada.
5- Evelyn Hansen born 19 January 1895 at Actna Ward, Cardston, Alberta, Canada.
6- Loreen Hansen born 31 January 1896 at Actna Ward, Cardston, Alberta, Canada.
7- Marie Hansen born 8 February 1897 at Actna Ward, Cardston, Alberta, Canada.
8-Franklin Richard Hansen born 29 May 1898 at Actna Ward, Cardston, Alberta, Canada.
9- Louisa Hansen born 12 July 1899 at Actna Ward, Cardston, Alberta, Canada.
10- Milvina Hansen born 4 August 1901 at Actna Ward, Cardston, Alberta, Canada.
11- Nina Thora Hansen born 6 March 1903 at Actna Ward, Cardston, Alberta, Canada.
It was while my grandparents were living in Preston that two sons were born to them, Edwin Leroy on January 7, 1890 and Norman Samuel on the 11th of November 1893.
After my grandparents had been on the farm about four or five years they could see that it was useless to try to make the balance of the payments on their farm, first it was machinery to buy, then crop failures set in, then other disappointments until they could stand it no more. Grandfather let the farm go at a big sacrifice and moved his family into a four roomed house on North Main Street on the east side of the street. The family lived in this house for about a year or a little less then he moved them to the old William Head farm, located about three miles and a half northeast of Preston in a little community called Egypt (where the Preston City water works are now located).
Grandfather helped Mr. Head on the farm, as the farm was large and contained many head of livestock. Aunt Martha can still remember a hog pasture built around a large patch of willows which contained about two hundred head of pigs.
It was while the family was living on the William Head farm that Grandfather decided he wanted to leave Preston and take his family to the Snake River country west of Blackfoot. He had heard many stories concerning this new country that had recently opened up for homesteading and no amount of arguing on Grandmother's part could change Grandpa from going. Grandma often made this remark to her husband, "Father, if you take your family to this new country, some of the children will never marry in our Church." This to my grandmother was one of the greatest sorrows that could come to a family. No matter what Grandmother said or how she felt would change Grandpa's mind, so as soon as the roads were able to be traveled Grandfather in company with three of his children, Pete, Amelia and Bertha, left Preston by team and wagon and started for the Snake River country, west of the big bridge near Blackfoot, Idaho.
During the winter of 1894 and 1895 Grandmother had had considerable sickness in her home and at the time of her husband's departure to the Snake River country, Martha was just getting over the effects of a bad case of scarlet fever. After Martha was well enough to leave home, Uncle Willard came and helped Grandmother get ready to leave. He took her to his home to stay for a couple of days visit, then Grandma left Preston for Logan to spend a few days there before leaving for her new home on the Snake River. While Grandma was at her mother's home in Logan Martha became very ill, which the family decided was a back set from the bad attack of scarlet fever. They worked with her for almost a week before she began to recover, by that time Grandma had spent much of her money on medicines and there was none left for the railroad fare for the little nine year old girl. Grandmother had to take the chance of getting her there without a ticket. Each time the conductor came through the train to take tickets, etc., Martha would slide down in her seat and try and be as small as the little children. It just happened that no ticket was asked for and Aunt Martha never forgot this incident.
Upon arriving in Pocatello, where the little family changed trains, the train that they were to continue on with was many hours late, so it was arranged by the railroad men that Grandma and her children could ride the remaining distance on a caboose which was attached to the end of a freight train (no ticket was collected here either for Martha). When Grandma arrived in Blackfoot no one was there to meet her, so the little group sat in the depot and waited. The family had had no food and no money to buy food with, so the children were all hungry. There were many Indians that came into the depot and looked around, this gave the children an interest. Grandfather arrived at the depot about midnight with his team and wagon, and the family started for their new home in Riverside about four miles away. When the family crossed over the big Snake River Bridge, how thrilled the children were when Grandfather stopped his horses long enough for them to look out over the river, they thought the mighty river quite a sight.
Riverside, Bingham County, Idaho is located about one hundred and four miles due north of Preston, Idaho. The State of Idaho was the last region of the United States that was colonized by the white man. The history of Blackfoot and surrounding country falls into three separate periods, the era of discovery from 1805 to 1812 which includes exploration and fur trade, from 1812 to 1860 mining and commerce, and from 1860, when the first settlement was established at Franklin, to the present time.
The colonization of lower Snake River valley west of Blackfoot began when the town of Blackfoot was founded in 1880 with the coming of the railroad and the building of the big bridge that crossed the great river. The southeastern Idaho pioneers were generally people of very limited means. Most of them were young folks starting out to make a home for themselves and their families where land, water, timber and grazing conditions were favorable and the soil good. The country was rough, west of Blackfoot, and encumbered by, dry, prickly vegetation, the streams were swift and sometimes dangerous to cross. The daily activities of the people were met with many hazards because of nature's sway over all the country side. Almost everywhere rattle snakes were a constant menace, while flies and mosquitoes were a distressing annoyance in the summer time. Sometimes the frost killed the crops, other times high water flooded them out. It was cold in the winter and hot in the summer and a constant wind was blowing nearly all the time. Altogether it was an environment to try men's souls and weaken women's patience.
After a community was established in southern Idaho, wards were organized and put into motion, but not in Blackfoot and surrounding country. The Mormons here played a very small part in the beginning, as from the year 1885 to 1890 Blackfoot was the very center of Anti-Mormon activity. It was here at Blackfoot that Fred T. Duboise, a United States marshal, launched his determined drive to destroy Mormonism and wipe out plural marriages, however, at this particular period of time, when the Fjeldsted family arrived at Riverside in the spring of 1895, conditions were changing. Mormonism could not be held down and gradually it worked itself into the country surrounding Blackfoot, where Anti-Mormonism was still at a high peak in 1895. Mormon missionaries were beginning to come into the country west of the big bridge and by 1895 a small building located at Riverside was used as a gathering place for the people for miles around who were interested in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The little two roomed log house that my grandparents moved into was located about where the present Riverside school now stands. The barn and outbuildings belonging to the home were standing on the same land as the present Riverside store now stands on. The road that ran through Riverside to the west followed the Snake River in a southwesterly direction, at that time it was only a wagon trail which ran through large stretches of creek willows and sage brush.
After the Snake River Bridge had been completed in the year 1880 it opened up a large agriculture empire on the west side of the river. By the year 1885 homesteaders had begun to penetrate the country west of Riverside (Thomas district), about three or four miles west, by the year 1895 the country in and around Riverside and Thomas has been all taken up by homesteaders, under the Acts of 1862 and 1877.
The Homestead Act of 1862 enabled a homesteader to acquire 160 acres of land and all that was expected of him was to live on the land for five years and make some improvements. The Deseret Land Act of 1877 made it possible for each head or a family to secure 640 acres of arid land upon the initial payment of twenty-five cents an acre and final payment of one dollar per acre when the grant was proved upon in the United States Land Office.
Under these liberal terms the average settler west or the river carne into possession of from 160 acres to 640 acres of land before the turn of the century. After the homesteader took up his land the next step was to secure a water right to make the desert blossom, this came during the year 1895 when the irrigation district law was passed, granting landowners the right to organize themselves into irrigation districts and construct and acquire by purchase or otherwise the necessary facilities to irrigate their lands.
It was about the time my grandparents arrived in Riverside that plans were well under way towards constructing a large canal to take care or the people living west or the bridge. This canal was called the "People's Canal" and it was this same project that my grandfather secured his first work on, during the summer or 1895. The "People's Canal" was surveyed by a man by the name or Mr. Rhode, an engineer, and Grandpa helped him by driving stakes, each stake driven was to conform with the sixty foot ditch surveyed by Mr. Rhode , During the following winter Grandfather and his son Pete worked on this same , project, putting in a big fill west of Moreland.
On the 18th of March 1896 a lovely baby girl was born to my grandparents, they named her Edith Irene. It was during the late summer and early fall or 1896 that Grandmother could see that her son Pete had fallen in love with a little girl by the name or Martha (Mattie) Parsons (my mother), a daughter of Robert Nelson Parsons who owned a 320 acre homestead in the Thomas District about three miles to the southwest. The Parsons family were members or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and they attended the meetings that the elders presided over in Riverside. Mattie was about two years younger than Pete and one of the most beautiful girls in the country. Grandma loved Mattie from the very beginning and was very happy that her son had found such a fine young Mormon girl.
Work was still progressing on the People's Canal and Grandfather and his son Pete had work there for the following year and a half.
It was during the spring or 1891, after Pete had been going with Mattie for some time, that Robert Parsons, Mattie's father, told Pete that part of his homestead, the Deseret claim, was now ready to prove up on, but owing to the fact that he lacked the necessary money to do so, he was afraid he would have to relinquish his right on this land to someone else. Mr. Parsons also told Pete that Isaac H. Aldred, one of the Mormon elders who had been working in the Thomas Riverside district, had partly decided to take over the property, but as yet Mr. Aldred could not get the needed money to do so. When Grandfather heard about this land he was very interested, as he had used up his own homestead right while he was living in Logan, Utah, and this was his only way of securing some land of his own, (The Deseret Land Act went out of existence about this time.) So after making the necessary arrangements with Mr. Parsons, Grandfather took over the Robert Parsons Deseret homestead right, which contained one hundred and twenty acres of land, forty acres of this same Deseret land right was purchased by some other party.
During the summer months of 1897 Grandfather went to the neighboring
hills and secured timber to build a little two roomed log house,that was completed before fall, and moved his family to their new home in Thomas before the weather became unfit for traveling.
It was during the early spring of 1898 that Pete and Mattie had a quarrel, this continued on for some time. When Pete saw his sweetheart with some other young man, it made him very jealous and on the spur of the moment he joined the United States Army. We were then in war with Spain.
(Note: I will let my father tell the story of his army experience.)
I joined up with the army on the 3rd of May 1898 at Blackfoot, Bingham County, Idaho, going directly to Boise, Idaho for training for a period of two weeks and from there I was sent directly to San Francisco. On the 24th of June we went aboard the steamship, Morgan City, and embarked for the Philippine Islands, going by way of Hawaii. We stayed two weeks in Hawaii and set sail from there on the 14th of July, arriving at Manila Bay on the 31st or July. We remained on board ship for five days because of rough sea, then landed in the little town of Paranaca and immediately went into action against the Spaniards. On August 13th the enemy was defeated and surrendered.
We established barracks in the little village of Malatta, two miles south of Manila. Our work was garrison duty, consisting of guard duty, protecting government property, guarding Nationalists and holding down insurrections until the 4th of February 1899. There was no rest from this duty as we (Americans) had only eighteen thousand men fit for duty and it took three thousand men to police the city of Manila, the balance were used to hold the line seventeen miles long. There was a concrete block house every half mile around the city, extending from the bay, leaving our lines pretty thin. As our regiment, the 1st Idaho Volunteer Infantry, was held in reserve, we were rushed at frequent intervals, both day and night, to weak points to prevent a break through by the enemy. That condition prevailed all through our stay on the Islands. Often we made a twenty mile march with a sixty pound load on our shoulders in heat as high as 127 degrees in the shade and in rain where a hundred inches falls in a period of a few months (during their rainy season).
The day we landed in Manila Bay the island looked so beautiful from the boat, but when we got on the shore my ideas changed. The poverty of the natives was deploring. There were beggars everywhere dressed only in a loin cloth around their hips, leaving their upper bodies naked. These beggars met us as we got on shore, through motion of their hand to their mouth and their expressions they made us understand they were hungry. The city of Manila had been shut off from all water supply and the filth was unbearable. The prison doors were opened to all political prisoners, about six thousand in all, and these prisoners were employed by the American Government to clean up the filth of the city. This required several months time.
The seventeen miles of front line was attacked on the night of February the 4th. Each regiment knew the position they should occupy on the line. The position that our regiment held was in front of Santa Ana, in the horseshoe bend of the Pasag River. When daylight arrived we were ready for the frontal charge on the enemies. We drove them from their breastworks on the Santa Ana to the banks of the Pasag River. About a thousand surrendered and several thousand tried to escape by swimming the huge river, which was about 125 yards wide and from six to ten feet deep. Many of the enemy escaped, but hundreds were shot in this battle, approximately ten thousand men were killed, wounded, or taken prisoner. Our American losses were light because of our enemy's poor marksmanship. This battle included the south line, a distance of about seven or eight miles. A light battle was taking place on the north end of the Pasag River with a light number of enemy casualties. After two or three days of this heavy fighting in mass formation they broke up in small units and scattered. That is when the real trouble began, running down these small detachments in the dense jungle on the island. That condition continued to prevail until the 31st of September 1899, when we embarked for the United States.
In the month of May reinforcements had arrived in enough numbers to enable the army to send a detachment of seventeen hundred men to China, which included the 1st Volunteer Infantry, the 9th Infantry and the 2nd Company of the 14th Infantry, where we were sent to put down the Boxers rebellion. We stayed in Tin Sin, China most of the time and poverty and suffering met our eyes on all sides there, also.
We embarked for the United States on the 31st of September 1899.
(Note: I will let Aunt Martha tell the story about the Fjeldsted family during the time Pete was away to war.)
Because of illness Mother was in bed most of one year and as I was the oldest child at home I had the responsibility of the home. It was in the year of 1898, about the time that my brother Pete joined up with the army and had left the United States for foreign shores, that Mother became seriously ill. No person or doctor seemed to know or understand the case or what caused her illness, but Mother had faith she would recover. One day Patriarch Lillenquist came to visit us and while there he blessed Mother and promised her that she would recover to preach the Gospel to her children.
At that time we were living in a two roomed log cabin with a dirt roof and when it rained we were forced to put pans about Mother to keep the bedding dry. Edith was our baby at that time and she was near two years Old. She was not trained and it was my duty to care for her. I well remember this little child calling me mother as I was a real mother to her, sleeping with her and caring for her night and day. At this time I was but fourteen years of' age and was still attending school, but because of Mother's severe illness I stopped my schooling and took over the care of the home where Mother left off. I saw to it that my younger sister Ada and brother Edwin were always clean and neat and it was my responsibility to get these younger children off to school each morning, and it was also my duty to care for the two little ones, Norman, who was about five years old, and baby sister Edith. '
I used to grieve a great deal and think my lot was hard because I was called to leave my schooling at such an early age, but Mother in her humble way would call me to her side and say, "My dear girl, the Lord will bless you for your sacrifice." I used to go out into the tall sagebrush field and kneel down and pray to the Lord that my mother would recover.
Soon after Brother Lillenquist had been to our home and blessed Mother, she began to recover slowly. In a year’s time she was back on her feet and feeling her old self again. I always thought Mother's sickness was caused by over work, worry and hardships. Her poor body could not take the heavy load she was called to bear and consequently she had a physical and a nervous breakdown. Some of the family thought it was a complication of female trouble, as Mother at this time was at the age when most women are in the change of life.
At this time in our life we were very poor, having just settled on our homestead that Father had purchased through Robert N. Parsons. Father had sold our only cow to help build our little log house after going to the neighboring hills to secure the logs. I cannot understand how Mother fed her family at this time, but there was always food on our table and no child ever went hungry. At this time we had no garden as Father had not broken up any of his land and tall sagebrush grew everywhere. I well remember walking three miles every day to secure a bucket of skimmed milk that some kind neighbor gave us.
At this time in our lives it was impossible for Father to get work and when he did work during the summer his wages were one dollar a day. That didn't go very far to clothe and feed a big family, so Amelia and Bertha, the older girls, were forced to go to work and help support the family. Bertha worked for a family by the name of Bunting in Blackfoot, later she worked at P. C. Johnson's home. She received $2.50 a week with board and room in which she gave Mother half or more than half of this small wage. Amelia also worked out, first for a family by the name of Barnhart and later she worked as a waitress in the Idaho House Hotel run by Henry Simons. Her wages as I remember were $3.50 a week and she also divided her wages with Mother.
After Mother's health had improved sufficiently, I felt that I too could leave the family home and get employment to relieve my parents of the extra burden of caring for me. I found work with a family at Riverside at $1.50 a week, with board and room. I stayed there most of the summer of 1899 and then went to work where my sister Amelia was working at the Idaho House Hotel. My sister Bertha also came to the hotel and took over the laundry work, while I washed dishes. All three sisters were then living and working together at the same place.
(Note: I will let my father tell his story about his parents at this period of time.)
While I was away to war it was impossible for Father to get work and when he did work, during the summer time, wages were about one dollar a day and that didn't go very far to clothe and feed a large family, so Amelia and Bertha were forced to go to work and help support the family.
After Mother's illness, when she began to feel better, Father left the family home and went to Montana where he worked in the mines at Butte and Anaconda for a period of nearly three years. It was not until after I returned from the army and married your mother, Grace, that I went to Montana, and. just prior to the time you were born on the 24th of January 1901 Father and I returned home together.
After Father's return from the mines he began to improve his homestead and because of needed money he sold eighty acres of his land to a man by the name or Dan Omstead. This land contained property that was later purchased by Isaac H. Aldred.
Grace, your mother and I purchased a forty acre farm adjoining my parent's homestead on the north, which was originally part of the Robert Parsons land, soon after we were married. Robert Parsons, your mother's father, had sold this farm to a Mr. McMurdie and as Mr. McMurdie was unable to make his payments, he offered to sell this property to me, in which I paid him his equity and then later paid up the indebtedness to Robert Parsons, my father-in-law. In order to do this I went to the mines in Montana to work where my father was. When it was time for you to be born I returned back to our little log home in Thomas on the farm where your mother was living while I was away.
(Note: I will again interrupt my father's story to add what I know about my grandparents at this time.)
After Grandmother's two daughters, Amelia and Bertha, had been working at the Idaho House Hotel in Blackfoot for some time, both girls decided to go to Dillon, Montana to work. They secured employment at the Melton Hotel, one or the finest hotels in the country at that time, doing about the same kind of work they had done at the hotel at Blackfoot. It was while the two sisters were in Dillon working that they met and married their life companions. Amelia married a young engineer, who was working on the railroad, by the name of John Wesley Rogers on the 20th or November 1901, and Bertha married Oliver Berlin Kurtz on the 30th of April 1902, the following spring. Amelia and Jack made Dillon their home for some time, then moved to the State of Washington. Bertha and Oliver continued to make Dillon their home for the rest of their lives.
Both or Grandmother's daughters married men from the east who had recently come to Montana to find work and neither or the young men were members of the Mormon faith. This was one or the greatest disappointments in my grandparent's lives and it was then that Grandfather realized how true the words were that Grandmother had spoken, when she said to him before leaving Preston, "Father, if you take your family to this new country, some or our children will never marry in the Church."
Grandmother was very happy when a new little baby daughter (myself) was born to her son Pete and wife Mattie, and from the very beginning Grandmother showed a great love towards this first grandchild or hers, (blood related grandchild).
Pete and Mattie lived in a little two roomed log house, located about a quarter or a mile north or Grandmother's house, on a forty acre tract of land that was to be made into a fine farm after all the sagebrush was cleared, at this time only part of the land was clear or brush. But first there was the question of securing money to make the balance of the payments on the farm. So after careful thought and consideration Pete and Mattie left their home in Thomas soon after their first child was born and went to Butte, Montana to work in the mines, where money was plentiful and work easy to secure.
By the year 1902-3 my grandparents were beginning to get their homestead in pretty good order, land had been cleared, an orchard planted, and fine shade trees growing around their little modest home. Grandfather was a good workman and he tried hard to make his farm produce, however, as time passed by and the land was cleared of brush, Grandfather could see he had made a bad buy. This land he valued so much had at one time been a large river bottom, the river running down through the country. However, at this time the river had dwindled to only a slough, but through the past ages the river had carried gravel down during the high water and deposited it over the country side which happened to be located on much of my grandparent's land, so consequently the farm proved to be poor producing and Grandfather had to secure work on the side to make ends meet and provide a living for his family.
At this time in the history or southeastern Idaho many canals along the Snake River were now in operation, one of the canals was the People's Canal that took care of the country west of the Snake River bridge near Blackfoot, Idaho. The people who owned homesteads and farms in this locality also owned their own water right that supplied their irrigation and made the barren desert blossom as a rose, as southern Idaho today is one or the great agricultural centers in the United States. The various land owners along the route which the People's Canal followed were divided ort into many districts. Each district owned their own lateral ditch that brought the water from the main ditch (People's Canal) to the different farms and homesteads in that district and each farmer owned a water right in the lateral ditch, so consequently, all water had to be measured accurately according to how much each individual stockholder held. The man who looked after the water in each district was called water supervisor or water master and this work was given to Grandfather in the district where he lived, so with what money it netted him, along with what he received from the farm, Grandfather was able to make a fair living for his family.
During their early years in Thomas when the Fjeldsted family was struggling to get along, Tease, my grandparent's adopted son who was still living in Logan, Utah, was always kind and thoughtful. He and his good wife Caroline would often surprise their parents with a big box of food and clothing. There was never a Christmas that went by without a box from Tease and Caroline, which contained flour, cereal, clothing, etc., and both children and parents would open these presents with love and gratitude in their hearts.
Uncle Edwin often speaks of the time when Tease and Caroline sent him a beautiful little gray suit for Christmas. He said when he received this lovely present he was one of the happiest little boys in the world. He wore this little gray suit for many years and the last time he had it on in public, one of his sisters noticed he had outgrown it and laughingly made this remark, "Edwin, how comical you look with your cuffs nearly to your elbows and your legs too long for your britches ".
After Grandfather had been home from the mine's in Montana for some time, and things were beginning to get better financially for the Fjeldsted family, my grandparents decided that more room was needed to take care of their family, so again Grandpa made arrangements to that effect and secured the needed timber to add an additional two rooms to their family home.
The development or the Mormon Church organization in southeastern Idaho, an increase from one stake too many, corresponds in a general way with the expansion and consolidation of the Mormons. It has always been the policy of the Mormon Church to encourage its members to colonize new country, sometimes they were called on missions for that purpose. Whether called or not, the settlers were immediately organized into a branch or a ward of the Church. If the group was small, and in a struggling condition, it was organized into a branch, with a presiding officer and two assistants. The branch was then attached to the nearest established ward, whereupon the bishop, together with his counselors and the heads of several auxiliary organizations would assume the executive responsibility for the branch. When the new settlement grew sufficiently to carry the work along on its own initiative, a regular ward was organized.
The Thomas Ward was organized November 30, 1902 out of what was called the Thomas Branch of the Riverside Ward. John R. Williams was selected as the first bishop and he chose as his counselors, John H. Stander as first counselor, Julius E. Noack as second counselor and Isaac H. Aldred, ward clerk. The services were held in the one room log school house on the corner where the Wilson School now stands, however, soon after the ward was organized a new two roomed brick building replaced the little log school house and services were held there until the Thomas Hall was built on the Thomas townsite. The first log school house was moved one half mile north to be used as a home.
Among some of the early pioneers who helped to start and to build the Thomas ward included the following men; John R. Williams, John H. Stander, Julius Noack, Philip Dance, William Crawford, Dan Murdock, John I. Watson, Hans Peterson, James A. Cameron, Peter E. VanOrden, Peter John Fjeldsted and many others.
The Thomas Hall was constructed during the year 1905 at a cost of $600.00 that was donated by the General Church Office and the balance was secured by the people, the exact amount is not known. The building was constructed of lava rock secured on the grounds or nearby. It was forty feet by eighty feet, with a basement under the twenty foot stage. As there was no water on the town site at that time, water had to be hauled in barrels from the old slough, one and a half miles to the southeast, for use in making mortar and plaster. The mason work was done under the direction of James A. Cameron and the carpenter work was under Peter E. VanOrden and Hans Peterson. The construction was planned carefully and done well. The walls were true and straight without a crack in them.
These rugged pioneers who constructed this building had very little money and no credit and little equipment, but what they did have a lot of was strength, vigor, foresight and a burning testimony of the Gospel.
The first meeting was held in the Thomas Hall on January 1, 1906 and people came from far and near. What a building it was, where hundreds of people could be seated under one roof. It was the largest public building west of Idaho Falls. Stake conferences, stake socials, old folk’s parties and recreation of all kinds were held there, as it was the social center of all Bingham County for many years to come.
On September 27, 1945, forty years after the Old Hall was constructed, the Thomas Ward had grown to the extent that a new meeting house was needed. On the date mentioned above a ground breaking ceremony was held for a $183,100.00 building, with Edwin L. Fjeldsted chosen as the supervisor of the building project. The beautiful new edifice was dedicated June 12, 1949, after many delays because of the shortage of various materials. Uncle Edwin often related to his fellow workmen, while working on the new Church building, that when they constructed the Old Hall in the year 1905 he was one of the young men who helped lay the floor. (Edwin was about fifteen years of age at that time.)
It was during the summer of 1907 that Pete and Mattie (my parents) returned from the mines in southeastern Idaho (located in the Mackay district). They had been away from their farm in Thomas for about six years and now that they had returned they were financially able to improve their land, build a new house and be free of debt. Pete and Mattie both contributed to this goal by long sacrificing and effort, Pete worked in the lead mines at blasting and digging, while Mattie cooked for the miners. Their only child (myself) had been reared in various mining districts; far away from the refining influence of the Church and children's association, and as it was the year that she should enter school, Pete's and Mattie's return home coincided with the opening of the fall school term at the little two roomed brick school building at Thomas. And now that Pete and Mattie were back on their farm they were also near both their beloved parents, as the Robert Parsons property joined them on the north and the Peter John Fjeldsted property joined them on the south.
Martha Fjeldsted, my grandparent's oldest single daughter at that time, had been working at various places and homes since she was fifteen years of age. One of the homes she worked in, included the wealthy Walker family of Salt Lake City (founders of the Walker Banking Company), and by doing this kind of work she developed into a very good housekeeper and a very good cook.
It was just before Mattie, my mother, left the boarding house at the mines, that the miners became concerned about someone else to take her place. There was one young miner who boarded with my mother who was always good and kind to me and he would spend a few minutes every day talking with a lonely little girl. I would tell him, in my child's way, about all my different relatives in Thomas, and if he wanted to, he could marry my dear Aunt Martha, then he would have a good cook and wouldn't have to look for one. These little talks that we had together must have been effective, as this same young man decided, unbeknown to my parents, to make the trip to Thomas where he could contact Aunt Martha and try to persuade her to take my mother's place at the mines. It was a short time after this same young miner had left the mining camp in search of a new cook that my parents started on their trip back to Thomas by wagon. After we had been on the road but a short time, we met the stage going back to the mining camp and in the coach sat William Henry Thomas, the miner, and by his side, Aunt Martha.
Martha worked at the mining camp the following fall and early winter, doing all the cooking at the boarding house that took care of ten to twelve miners. On the 29th of January 1908 she was married to William Henry Thomas. Soon after their marriage they left the mines in southeastern Idaho and went to the northern part of the State where they lived for a number of years.
The first year after Pete and Mattie returned home, there was much work that had to be done on the farm. Some of their land had not been cleared of sagebrush, so the first thing that Pete did when he returned was to fence this part of his farm off into pasture. He planted a fine orchard north of the new house which they were preparing to build, this house was to be constructed of lava rock, like the community hall which was built in 1905. Pete worked hard all during the summer or 1908 and by fall the family was ready to move into their new three roomed rock house. That same fall, on the 13th of November 1908, a fine baby boy was born to Pete and Mattie and they named him Harold Ney. The following summer Pete enlarged their new house by adding a large kitchen and pantry at the back.
On the 10th of February 1909 my grandparents received word by telegram that their daughter-in-law, Caroline, (Tease's wife) had died in childbirth. The Deseret Evening News published her death, under Smithfield, Utah news, on the 11th of February: "Yesterday Mrs. Mathew Fjeldsted died after an illness of several weeks. She leaves a husband and eight small children, the youngest an infant of less than a day old. The funeral will be held here at 11 o'clock Sunday and her remains will be buried in the Logan Cemetery. The family have the sympathy of the entire community. "
At the time my grandparents received the sad message of their daughter-in-law’s death, they made arrangements to leave immediately for their son's home in Smithfield. Pete accompanied them on the trip, Mattie could not leave at this time because of sickness in the home.
(Note: I will let my father tell his story about Uncle Tease at this period.)
It was while Tease and Caroline were living at Logan, Utah that the following children were born to them, Eva Caroline, lone Meda, Spencer Mathew and Arthur Aaron. A short time after Arthur was born, Tease was transferred to the flour mill at Smithfield, Utah, and the following children were born there, John Howard, Lyman Herbert, Erma and Pauline. At the birth of their last child, Caroline died with albumen and Tease lost a wonderful wife and mother.
When my parents and I arrived at Tease's home after Caroline's death, I felt so sorry for my brother in his terrific plight that I wanted to take little Pauline back to Thomas with me and raise her as our own child along with Harold. I wrote Mattie concerning this matter and she readily consented. Many of Tease's other relatives including Mother and Father came to him and offered their services, they too wanted to take the little babe. Tease finally decided, after careful thought and consideration, to let Caroline's mother, Sister Jacobsen, take the little baby to her home in Logan.
A short time after Caroline's death, Tease met a young widow by the name of Bertha C. Wilcox, who had two little boys and had been deserted by her first husband. She had had many heartaches herself and when Tease asked her to marry him she readily consented. They were married in the Salt Lake Temple on the 10th of June 1910 for time and eternity. After their marriage they came back to Smithfield where they made their home for two or three years (if my memory is correct), then Tease was transferred to the mill at Garland, Utah, where he was made general manager. They moved into a comfortable home that was located near his work and it was here the large family lived for a number of years.
Written 1927 -- by Ana Parsons Fjeldsted
About Bertha Marie Jensen Fjeldsted
The day had been long and dreary, to the
mother that sat alone,
For her nine children had left her, gone, made
homes of their own ,
Her husband was out Ward teaching, yes, he
was a faithful lad,
He never shirked a duty that belonged to
God or man.
She had long taken care of her mother, her
brother came next in turn,
But they, too, now had left her, and she sat
alone and mourned.
Then the clouds were lifted slightly from that
dear mother's mind,
She thought, "I've done my duty, God lives and
all is mine."
The days went onward swiftly, to that good
Fasting and praying for her children, who were
scattered far and near.
Then there came a ragged cripple in a little
one horse shay,
His clothes were dirty, his body bent and his
hair was shaggy and gray.
He said, "Your Bishop sent me, he thought you
might give me a home,
And that is what I’m seeking, because I’m
"Yes Sir, come in," she answered, "I’ll do the
best I can,"
For wasn’t this part of her mission to help
her fellow man.
Her worries and cares are many, so her friends
and loved ones state;
With the blindness of her husband and her daughter
But she is happy in the labor, that God marked
out to do,
He loves her and rewards her, and will give her