History of Neils and Bertha Isaacson
Contributor: Jackielw Created: 6 months ago Updated: 6 months ago
PIONEER NAME Nils Isachsen (Neils Isaacson)
BIRTH DATE AND PLACE January 6, 1817,
Asker, Akershus, Norway
DEATH DATE AND PLACE December 27, 1909,
Richmond, Cache, Utah
PARENTS Isach Nilsen
MARRIED Berthe Catherine
(Bertha Cathrine) Aagesen
YEAR ARRIVED IN UTAH 1861
WHO WROTE THE HISTORY AND DATE Barbara Jo Thompson
WHO FILED THE HISTORY Barbara Jo Thompson
ADDRESS 940 Northern Hills Circle
Bountiful, Utah 84010
CAMP NAME AND COUNTY Orchard Heights CAMP
East Bountiful Davis COUNTY
SOURCE OF INFORMATION AND PAGE NUMBERS - 20
World Book Encyclopedia, History of Utah-- Bancroft 1540 to 1886,
DUP Museum Library, Genealogical Library, Davis County Library;
family histories, Sketch of the Life of Mary Ellen Isaacson -
Evelyn Stoddard, Alma Elizabeth Comes to America -- William G.
Hartley, The Felt Journal; family interviews, especially Evelyn
Webb Butler, personal revelation.
THE ISACHSEN (ISAACSON) FAMILY CHRONICLE
By Barbara Jo Thompson Thompson
Our story begins in Norway--The Land of the Midnight Sun, but more specifically in the region known as the Southeastern Lowlands. Characteristic of that area were the narrow lakes that were formed by glaciers and the much more gentle slopes than were found in most of Norway. Farming was more suitable there and the population was the heaviest. The capitol city of Norway, Christiania, which we now know as Oslo, was located in the Lowlands. Most of Norway's commerce, industry, and shipping took place in Christiania.
In an earlier period, the area was one of heavy Viking concentrations. The "safe harbor" of the Christiania Fjorden offered shelter from storms and protection from sudden attack. Located in what we now know as Vestfold County and not far from Oslo (Christiania) was Kaupang, Norway's only known trading town of the Viking Age.
On January 6, 1817 in Asker, Akershus, Norway (about six miles from Christiania) Nils Isachsen (Neils Isaacson) was born. He was the first child born to Isach Nilsen of Aanerud and Massi Evensen of Baasta or Royken, Buskerud, Norway. Isach and Massi had married February 29, 1816 when he was twenty-four and she was twenty-eight.
Nils' father, Isach Nilsen, was born in Asker on July 2, 1791. He was the son of Nils Larsen of Aanerud, and Petronelle Johansen of Waettre. His mother, Massi Evensen, born April 22, 1787, was the daughter of Even Madsen of Baasta and his wife, Ingeborg Thomasen.
Nils' younger brother, Even Isachsen, was born just after his third birthday on February 2, 1820. Had the child lived and not died as an infant or child, his children would have bore the name of Evensen, thereby perpetuating a name from his mother's side of the family. When Nils was nearly seven, his mother gave birth to twin girls, Kirsti and Petronelle. Kirsti lived only thirteen months.
His mother died at the age of thirty-eight when he was eight and his little sister, Petronelle, was not yet two. In those days it was not unusual to hire help to live in the home and care for motherless children. Inger Svendsen, a woman in her late twenties, may have done just that.
Although Isach Nilsen never married Inger Svendsen, she did, indeed, bear him a son on September 5, 1826 in Asker. The child, also named Nils Isachsen, died on February 10, 1829 at the age of two. Inger Svendsen and the child were sealed to him by proxy in the Logan Temple on October 8, 1952.
In the interium of the birth and death of Inger's child, Isach Nilsen married Anne Nilsen of Fusdal on January 5, 1827. She was a year older than he was. Her father was a Nils Larsen from Fusdal. Her mother, Marthe Iversen, was from Jossong.
Anne Nilsen gave birth to four children in Asker. Marthe Isachsen was born on November 7, 1827 when young Nils was nearly eleven. She lived only three days. When Nils was twelve, another Marthe was born on June 2, 1829. Sorine was added to her name. Karen was born on December 19, 1830 when he was not yet fourteen. When he was seventeen, Larine Isachsen was born on November 9, 1834. Little Larine did not live long. She passed away shortly after her first birthday on November 27, 1835.
Nils' father was fatally wounded when a cannon exploded while he was playing the violin at a May 17, Constitution Day, celebration. Young Nils, who was sitting by his father's side at the time of the accident, was accompanying him on the clarinet. Isach Nilsen died the following day.
Apparently, Isach Nilsen's death date is questionable. The Stoddard account states that Nils was twelve years of age at the time of the accident and that he was left with a sister, Petronelle; a step-mother; and two half-sisters, Marthe Sorine and Karen. In May of 1829, when Nils would have been twelve years old, he did not have a half-sister Marthe Sorine yet, much less a Karen or a Larine. Therefore, the Stoddard account must be in error. If the children of Anne Nilsen were, in fact, Isach Nilsen's children, then he couldn't possibly have been killed any earlier than 1834 when she was expecting Larine. Nils would have been seventeen then; however, his father could have been killed in 1836 after Larine's death in 1835 or even later. Nils was nineteen in May of 1836.
We have very little information about Nils' youth. We know that he played the violin as well as the clarinet and must have devoted a good deal of time to his music, possibly under his father's stewardship until his untimely death. We also know that Nils had a trade and would have had to spend many years working as an apprentice before becoming a tailor. As he did not marry until he was thirty-three years of age, one wonders if he might possibly have had to help support the family during some of those years. His youngest sister, Karen, was nineteen at the time of his marriage.
Nils married Berthe Catherine (Bertha Cathrine) Aagesen on September 18, 1850. She was born in Lier, Buskerud, Norway on April 6, 1826, the daughter of Aage Johnsen and Helle Andersen. Berthe's father, born in Wahl or Lier, was the son of John Helgesen and another Berthe Catherine Aagesen. Berthe was probably named after her paternal grandmother.
Berthe's mother, Helle Andersen, was born February 6, 1804 in Hennron or Lier and was the daughter of Anders Pedersen and Kari Helgesen, Berthe lost her mother when she was thirteen years old, probably from what we would today call a birth related death. Her baby sister, who was born February 2, l840, was given the name of Maren Aagesen.
As the record is void of children's death dates, we have no way of knowing if Berthe's older brother and her younger sisters died young or lived to marry and raise families. Her brother, Johan Aagesen, born February 26, 1824, would have had children by the name of Johansen. Berthe was three when Karen was born on July 11, 1829. Ann was born December 11, 1832 when she was six. When she was nearly ten, her sister Gunild Aagesen was born on March 11 1836.
After her mother's death, Berthe went to live with her auntie who was quite well to do. Because of her auntie's means, Berthe may have been raised under very favorable circumstances.
It was not long before Nils and Berthe started their own family of eight children. Their first born, a daughter, was born in Aanerud on November 21, 1851. Maren Helena Nilsen (Mary Ellen Isaacsen) was baptized into the Evangelical Lutheran Church (the nation's official church) when she was only eight days old. Maren Helena was probably named after her Aunt Maren Aagesen, the child her maternal grandmother gave birth to prior to her death.
As was the custom in those days, Norwegian children assumed the given name of the father and then added sen, meaning son. It is not done that way here and that is why Maren Helena Nilsen later assumed the name of Isaacsen. Because of the way the surname was changed every generation, it is difficult today to trace genealogy back more than a couple of generations. Mary Ellen was the American equivalent of Maren Helena.
The Isachsens lived in Aanerud, for approximately seven years. During that time they lived in a small two-roomed farm house with a fireplace. A portion of the home was shared with an elderly couple described as loving.
The family owned a few cows and a small herd of sheep. Berthe was responsible for most of the work around the place as Nils was away working his trade much of the time. Petra Annetta, their second daughter, was born in Aanerud on October 21, 1854.
Along Norway's rugged coast were many long inlets of the sea known as fjords. The Isachsen's lived in the vicinity of the Oslo Fjord. Nils owned a fishing vessel and when he wasn't tailoring, he was frequently fishing for the Capelin, Cod, Herring and Mackeral that were native there. The family undoubtedly ate fish frequently.
Norwegian people were accustomed to eating four or five meals each day. For breakfast cereal and open-faced sandwiches with either cheese, jam, or marmalade were eaten. Sandwiches were served again for lunch and at the late evening meal. Dinner was the only hot meal of the day and included meat or fish, potatoes, vegetables and dessert. Farm families usually had dinner at midday. Those in the city had their dinner in the evening. Nuts and berries were also available to the Isachsens.
The family gave serious consideration to the possibility of going to America two years before joining the church, selling their home at that time. As Berthe was expecting their third child, they went to one of the countryside locations near the city of Drammen where Berthe had family. Ingeborg Maria was born at Lier on March 5, 1857. They stayed there for a year or longer. They were also in Rustin which was located in the vicinity of Asker.
It was in Rustin where Nils and Berthe first heard the gospel. He was the first to accept it. Berthe was much more reluctant, but once she did receive a testimony of its truthfulness, she was very strong in the faith and most anxious for baptism. She went into the waters of baptism only five days before the birth of their fourth daughter. The baptisms took place at Jellom Lake on October 13, 1859 and were performed by a C. Hanson. The baby, Lorentse (Lorenzo) Isachsen was born on the eighteenth of October.
Once the Isachsens joined the church, Berthe was disinherited by her wealthy auntie. As she and Nils had been married for nine years, one might consider that of no real significance. Since Berthe had stood to inherit her auntie's fortune, their first sacrifice for their religion was a monetary one.
Once converted, the Isachsens opened their home to the Elders who were frequent visitors there. As members, they were probably quite anxious to join the main body of the church and would have begun anew to make the necessary sacrifices and preparations for the anticipated journey.
Finally, in the Spring of 1861, the family sold the remainder of their possessions at auction in order to pay for their fares to Omaha, Nebraska. The Perpetual Immigration Fund of the Church would pay the balance - an amount that Nils would have to repay at a later date.
The family left Liverpool, England embarking on The Monarch of the Sea - a sailing vessel that left much to be desired. Besides being old and rickety, it was entirely unseaworthy. The trip across the Atlantic Ocean took them five weeks in May and June of that year.
It must have been especially frightening for them on bad days when the huge waves washed up over the top of the deck. On board, Mormon families had to travel in the steerage where it was normally very rough. During a storm, their chests slid from side to side across the old wooden floor. It was not uncommon then to see the women sitting on the chests with hands clasped together praying for their safe arrival. The captain's remarks during those times were, "We'll land in New York all right. We've got Mormons on board and we always get through when we have Mormons." Little did he realize just how correct his predictions were. That particular voyage, with the Isachsen Family aboard, was the last ever made by The Monarch of the Sea. On her return voyage, she did, indeed, sink to the bottom of the ocean. All of the cargo was lost and only the captain and crew were saved.
When the waters were calm, the old ship rocked gently from side to side, its large wooden beams creaking and groaning.
At night, the boat was dark inside except where a flickering oil lamp served as a night-light. Other passengers were barely visible to one another in the shadows as they slept in bunks that were located on the sides of the ship. In an effort to quiet them, mothers gently rocked their babies who, interestingly enough, all cried in the same familiar language. There were German, Swedish, Danish and Norwegian immigrants aboard.
The Norwegian Language was one of the Germanic forms that resembled Danish and Swedish. Those from all three countries usually understood one another as their vocabulary and spelling were the same. Only the pronunciation of their words differed. The Isachsens probably spoke the Nynorsk form of Norwegian, a dialect created during the mid-eighteen hundreds as a reaction against the Danish influence. It was based on the many local forms of speech that developed in the small villages during Norway's union with that country. During the voyage, older children made an effort to learn new English words knowing that they would be required to speak English in America.
Eventually, the children ventured up the stairs and out onto the spacious deck. It was fun for them to watch the massive canvas sails puff up full with the wind and observe the crew members as they climbed up and down the huge ropes. From the front of the vessel they were able to look far out to sea in a hopeless effort to see the America that never seemed to be there.
The older Isaacsen children, ages nine, six and four, made new friendships on board ship. Lorentse was but an infant then and she stayed with her mother, of course. Another little girl on the ship was Alma Elizabeth Mineer. She was about the same age as Annetta but was probably more the size of Mary Ellen who was small for her age. Alma Elizabeth was a little Swedish girl. Her father, Andrew Mineer, was a very fine violinist, one of the best who ever came to Utah. In Sweden he had been an orchestra director and a concert violinist.
It is reasonable to assume that Andrew Mineer would have recruited Nils Isachsen into his on board ship orchestra. Surely music, the universal language, would have brought the two men together. If the little girls had not met during play, their fathers would have introduced them. I am convinced that Andrew Mineer and Nils Isachsen not only knew each other very well but crossed the plains together, possibly sharing the same wagon.
We know the Isachsens witnessed a burial at sea. Alma Elizabeth's journal (later known as the Felt Journal) relates the following. A negro cook who did the cooking for the sailors and captain and had his kitchen on the upper desk was especially kindhearted and generous. On occasions he gave the children dried apples, raisins, cookies and sometimes even a small bowl of soup. In rare instances, he took soup down to the immigrants in the steerage because he felt so sorry for them. The captain caught him doing that and had him imprisoned on the top deck. When the children went to visit him, all they could see of him was his black fingers over the bars through the high opening in the door. He died one day--the captain had starved him to death. His body was brought back into the kitchen where he was sewn up in a sheet and placed on a long board. He was then carried to the side of the ship and slid into the ocean. The children and their parents mourned his death because he had been so good to them.
According to the Isachsens, there was also sickness aboard when the drinking water became foul.
The Monarch of the Sea eventually landed safely in New York and was docked in the harbor. Small boats took them from the vessel to shore. The immigrants stayed overnight in a giant hall known as Castle Gardens, located at the battery on the waterfront. It was directly across from the Statue of Liberty.
The floor of the hall was very greasy and dirty as the building was used as a temporary storage area for all incoming cargo from the vessels. Bedding was layed out on the greasy floor and families bedded down in rows although the place was crowded with immigrants.
From New York they traveled by boat up the Hudson River to Albany, New York. From there they went by rail as far as the Missouri River to Omaha, Nebraska--the outfitting place for the trip across the plains.
The Isachsens had an experience on the train that they would never forget. At one stop on the journey, Nils and Berthe left the children with Mary Ellen in charge and got off the train to check on or to get something else out of their baggage. Somehow, the train pulled out without them. It was a terrifying experience for all of them. Mary Ellen thought she would never see her parents again. She felt so alone in a strange land among strangers whom she could not understand. One passenger, John Larsen, helped her care for Lorentse and the little girls and assisted them in making a train change in the middle of the night. At a junction the following morning, Mary Ellen was overjoyed to see her mother and father alite from another train and run towards them.
In Omaha, wagon trains were made up of independent teams under the direction of a Captain Murdock. Eighty wagons were in the train with three ox teams pulling each. About three families were assigned to each wagon. Because the wagons were so loaded to the bows with provisions and equipment, it was necessary for them to walk all the way across the plains. Kettles and other utensils had to hang from behind. According to the Felt account, one woman had to ride with her baby who was very ill with what was referred to then as summer complaint--a dysentary form of illness. By the time they reached Florence Nebraska (the settlement which bloomed on the ashes of Winter Quarters, the baby died. That night, a little grave was dug by the wagon, a sheet was put around her thin little body and then she was laid in the shallow grave. They didn't even have a box to put her in. The mother cried as though her heart would break. It is my opinion that Bertha Cathrine Isaacson was the mother and that the child was little Lorenzo Isaacson, who passed away under surprisingly similar circumstances on July 6, 1861 when she was a year-and-a-half. Lorenzo's death was the first sacrifice of a tragic nature that the Isaacson Family had to make in behalf of their new-found religion. It most certainly would not be their last.
They would walk all day, then at night they would stop and have their supper. Once the tired oxen had eaten, the wagons were put in a round ring with the animals inside to protect them from the Indians. Sleeping accommodations were made underneath the wagons or on the outside of the circle of wagons.
It was customary for the women and children to start walking in the morning right after breakfast but before the wagons started out in order to avoid the heavy clouds of dust. One Swedish woman, named Hastmark, went on ahead of the rest of the group one morning saying that she wasn't afraid of the Indians. She was taken by them, though, and was never seen or heard of again. On another occasion, the Indians were so bad that they all had to walk throughout the night in order to escape them and get past their camps. The train normally traveled only ten or twelve miles a day.
For a long time, they followed the Platte River, crossing and then recrossing it. The Platte was a wide shallow river that wound like a snake. When the river was shallow, the oxen pulled the wagons across and they rode. When it was deeper, the oxen swam the stream and the wagons were floated with logs underneath in an improvised raft fashion.
Upon reaching the Green River it was necessary to be ferried across. First the oxen had to pull the heavy wagons onto the platform, then they were slowly ferried to the other side. The ferry was pulled by means of heavy ropes that were stretched from one bank to the other.
As they walked across the plains, older children made rag dolls for younger ones to play with. For the children, the trip was more of an adventure or pleasure jaunt that they would remember a lifetime and later relate to children and grandchildren. For the women, the journey was a difficult one. In addition to the problems and responsibilities that rested on their shoulders, they suffered considerably from the various elements. Even with sunbonnets to protect their heads, they suffered unbearably from the heat. Only occasionally did they have the opportunity to stop at the banks of streams where they could wash up, bathe, or perhaps even wash and dry clothing. Shoes tended to wear out along the way. Feet then had to be wrapped or continued on barefoot. On August 10, 1861, just a month after little Lorenzo's death, Bertha had need to mourn again. Petra Annetta Isaacson, Mary Ellen's little pal and confidente, died at Fort Laramie, Wyoming from Mountain Fever--an illness acquired from a tick bite she had received as she had walked along. Annetta was the second little girl the Isaacsons had to leave by the way side knowing that they might never be back that way again. Mary Ellen would miss her deeply. As for Neils, he was devastated at the loss of his little six-year-old daughter. In his anguish, he wondered if any religion was worth such a great sacrifice, and he wanted to turn back. Bertha, grieving herself, had to convince him that they had more reason than before to continue on.
Bertha was not destined to have an easy life. Her life would be filled to the brim with adversity and her faith would be tested to its utmost. From death's sting, she would grow tremendously as she would repeat over and over again the expression, "it's the Lord's will".
After three-and-one-half months of walking through buffalo grass and sagebrush and over rugged canyon terrain, they emerged out of Emigration Canyon on September 13, 1861. Ragged and footsore and looking very much like Indians, what a sight they must have been as they arrived in the Valley.
Salt Lake City in those days, though impressive in areas of industry and city planning, was somewhat deficient as far as the homes of the saints were concerned. Made of either wood or adobe, it was difficult to distinguish between the dwellings of the rich and the dwellings of the poor.
From Immigration canyon, the train went to the Eighth Ward Square where they camped in the wagons. The oxen were taken into the tithing yard at South Temple and Main Street, where they were cared for in preparation for leaving again to bring yet another group of immigrants to Zion.
Neils Isaacson was penniless at that point and it was necessary for him to work for about a month. He most likely went to work as a tailor. We know that Neils played in an orchestra and it is my opinion that he played in the Salt Lake Theater during that period. The theater was one of the finest in the West and had been dedicated only the year before. His friend, Andrew Mineer, was even asked to take over the leadership of that orchestra. As there was no pay for musicians in the theater in those days, the gifted musician refused the offer and he and his family moved on.
At that time, Brigham Young was encouraging newcomers to spread out upon their arrival in an effort to populate all parts of the state. Bishops from the outlying districts played an important part in persuading them to build up their assigned sections. The Isaacson Family decided to go to Hyde Park, Utah. Later they went on to Logan at the insistence of a Bishop C. H. Monson.
The demands on the family during their first year or so in Zion must have been tremendous as they had to practically start over. No details are available during that period except for the birth of their first born son, Isaac Isaacson, born in Logan on February 9, 1863. Had the family remained in Norway, his name would have been Isach Nilsen, perpetuating his paternal grandfather's name. The Isaacsons must have been very proud of him and obviously had plans for his future. Unfortunately, he did not live to make their dreams come true. He died on November 24, 1864 at nine months. Bertha had a third little grave to shed tears over. Isaac probably had a proper burial, however, and Bertha would have been able to return to that small grave. She was also with child again when she layed him down to rest.
The family moved to Richmond, Utah on May 1, 1865. Their home was built two blocks east of town on the southeast corner. Later residents of Richmond would recall the location as the corner where the Ray Johnson home stood. The Isaacson home, that was built there first, was a most humble dwelling. It was a one-roomed log cabin with an additional room that was made out of lumber. In a portion of the log room, was a stairway that led to the attic. The ceiling of the cabin was covered with a white factory which had to be white washed.
Caroline's birth on May 14, 1865 would have been comforting to Bertha after little Isaac's death six months earlier. Mary Ellen was thirteen and Maria was eight when little Caroline was born.
All of Bertha's Richmond babies were born at home with the aid of experienced women. During birthings, it was an older daughter's responsibility to take younger ones away until after "the tea party" as the event was described, was over.
We know that Bertha did weaving for customers in Richmond. She probably learned to weave while she was living with her Auntie in Norway. In any event, she also taught Mary Ellen to weave. It was Mary Ellen's responsibility to deliver the finished, product.
When Caroline was two, Bertha gave birth to Martha Ann on July 27, 1867. She was to be a companion for little Caroline. With her birth they had two big girls and two little girls - but not for long. When Martha Ann was five months old, her sweet little spirit slipped away from her body as well. She died on January 19, 1868. Bertha had another infant grave to fill. The cold winter burial would have been especially difficult for her.
Five months later, on June 1, 1868, Mary Ellen became the young bride of William Thompson in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City. She was only sixteen years old when they were married. William, tall and good looking, was fourteen years her senior and was of Scotish descent. He had been an 1851 Pioneer in his youth and was one of Richmond's original settlers. He had lost his previous wife, Hannah Eliza Funk, in a sheep camp accident when she fell from a wagon during her confinement. It would have been their first child.
The outfits that William and Mary Ellen were wearing in their wedding picture - his suit and vest and her long-sleeved full dress - were made out of the same fabric. It is believed that Neils did the tailoring and Bertha may even have woven the fabric. Thirteen children were born to William and Mary Ellen: William Orville, November 24, 1869; Daniel Isaac, March 24, 1871; Walter George, February 6, 1873; Mary Florence, January 18, 1875; Francis Ira, February 22, 1877; Bertha Estella, June 6, 1879; Albert Henry, October 28, 1881; Neils Oliver, February 27, 1884; Nellie Maria, June 19, 1886; Melvin Edward, June 21, 1889; Raymond Junius, June 21, 1891; Inez Evelyn, March 30, 1894 and Ivan Cyril, June 9, 1896. Shortly after their marriage, Mary Ellen and William began housekeeping in a one-roomed log house just one-half block south of the Isaacson home. It was a blessing for the Isaacsons to have their daughter so close.
On April 4, 1870, nearly two years after Mary Ellen's marriage, Neils Henry Isaacson, the Isaacson's pride and joy, was born. Nils and Bertha must have been delighted. Things were going well for them that Spring and it appeared as though death had momentarily passed them by. They had also entered into life's second phase as they became grandparents. Their first grandson, William Orville Thompson, was only four months old then. Their Neils Henry, the child of their maturity, was born just two days short of Bertha's forty-fourth year. Bertha would have no more children.
Neils Henry undoubtedly brought much joy into their lives and continued to do so throughout his young life. He was born between Mary Ellen's William Orville and her Daniel Isaac. One can imagine the trouble the three of them must have gotten into as they were raised very much like brothers. Neils Henry would have kept the Isaacsons young. Those were happy days, days that were shared with children and grandchildren.
As the children grew up, Norwegian was spoken much less frequently in the home. Eventually, Grandpa Isaacson could talk to Grandma Isaacson in their native tongue when there was something he wanted to tell her and didn't want the children or grandchildren to hear.
Grandma Isaacson enjoyed working out-of-doors. It was her work of preference. She had one of the earliest flower gardens in Richmond. She enjoyed doing yard work and loved caring for her shrubs and trees. She was very knowledgeable about trees, doing her own budding or grafting. As a result, there was an abundance of delicious fruit in her orchard that wasn't available everywhere. Bertha also tended bees. Grandpa Isaacson worked his trade in Richmond. He played for the choir, was in the band, gave violin lessons and played for private weddings. Many times he walked from Richmond to Logan to play for the dances. The story is told that it was not unusual for him to walk to Logan just to get a new violin string.
Their daughter, Ingeborg Maria Isaacson, married Jens Christian Johnson on June 1, 1874 on Mary Ellen and William's sixth wedding anniversary. Maria's husband was of Danish descent and was eleven years older than she. Eleven children were born to them: Christian Lorenzo, January 19, 1875; Isaac, December 23, 1876; Alfred Henry, November 29, 1877; Amy Maria, November 7, 1879; Bertha Sophia, April 6, 1882; Nettie Luella, December 14, 1884; Alvin Ernest, April 6, 1887; Francis Leonard, January 5, 1890; Austin Orlo, November 22, 1891; Vesta Caroline, September 28, 1894; Mary Edith, August 25, 1897.
On January 11, 1877, Maria and Jens Johnson lost their second son, Isaac, when he was nineteen days old. To Bertha, his death represented yet another little grave. On that sad occasion, it was her role to comfort. She understood, of course, and helped her daughter understand as well.
Ten months later, Maria gave birth again. Alfred Henry Johnson was born on November 29, 1877. His birth helped to fill the void, until he was snatched out of her arms on September 22, 1878 when he was ten months old. Bertha knew what it was like to lose one child followed by another. She had been through that experience herself.
The Isaacson's daughter, Caroline (Cad or Caddie as she was fondly known), married a very fine man by the name of Justin Villenswill Shepard on April 3, 1884. They were married in Salt Lake in the Endowment House. The fact that all three of her daughters were married there would have pleased Bertha.
Bertha Maria Shepard, named after two grandmothers, was born in Richmond on January 4, 1885. Edna Caroline was born a year-and- a half later on August 26, 1886.
On August 23, 1888, Caroline's husband, Justin Shepard, died. Little Bertha Shepard was not yet four and Edna was three days short of her second birthday. It must have been a terrific shock for the Isaacsons knowing that Caroline was yet to deliver a third child. They had inherited a new responsibility - to look after Caroline and her young family during their time of need. Little Justie was born October 10, 1888, less than two months after her father's death.
Caroline went to school some and then to work at the store. She was a widow for about six years. The Isaacsons were very good to them during that period. Of their children, Caroline was the one that needed them the most then and they were there to help her however they could.
On April 11, 1890, Mary Ellen's tenth child, Melvin Edward, died of Meningitis at the age of ten months. The baby died before the doctor could arrive from Logan. Bertha would have been there to help Mary Ellen through the first of her life-death experiences.
Maria and Jens lost their infant son, Francis Leonard Johnson, nine months later on January 10, 1891. He had celebrated his first birthday only five days earlier. Mary Ellen and Maria were probably very close at that time.
On June 21, 1891, Mary Ellen gave birth to Raymond Junius, her eleventh child. He was a comfort child for her. Bertha knew that feeling well. She was very close to all three of her precious daughters and would have shared their joys as well as their sorrows. She would also have been on hand to help with the family as she had always done, staying for as long as she was needed.
On October 21, 1891, tragedy struck again. That was the day that the Isaacson's only surviving son, their beloved Neils Henry Isaac son, died, in Montana. As their sole support, he had left home that Spring to work in the Yellowstone Park area while the railroad was being put through there. He had died of mountain fever at the age of twenty-one. A newspaper clipping, that is available today, informed local residents of the body's arrival home to the bereaved family in Richmond.
His death was a family catastrophe for the Isaacsons. Had they not already endured every trial that they had been called upon to endure? Had they not tried to be good parents and grandparents? Had they not comforted their own in time of need? They knew that it was the Lord's will, but felt that he had already claimed more than enough from one family.
Neils Henry's death was the final crushing blow. Grandpa Isaacson's heart was broken. He was really hurt and he very nearly lost his faith over it. Not only had he lost his only son, but the family name had died as well.
A large white monument was erected on the Isaacson lot in Richmond, donated by his young friends (see related article). The following information was engraved on it:
Neils Henry Isaacson
Born Richmond, Utah
April 4, 1870
Died Java, Montana
October 21, 1891
He is not lost but gone before
Maria was with child at the time of Neils Henry's death. Austin Orlo was born a month and a day after the tragedy. His birth date is listed as November 22, 1891. How much help Bertha was to her at that time, we don't know. She and Mary Ellen both had babies then and were probably drawn to one another.
Maria was not happy for long, however. On March 19, 1892, Christian Lorenzo Johnson, their first born, died at the age of sixteen. Maria's tragedies were beginning to parallel some of Bertha's own experiences.
The Isaacson's oldest grandchild, William Orville Thompson, married Nancy Abi Laurence on December 7, 1892. During the early nineteen hundreds, other grandchildren married: Mary Florence, Francis Ira Thompson, Walter George Thompson, Daniel Isaac Thompson, Bertha Sophia Johnson and Amy Maria Johnson. As a result of those marriages, the Isaacsons experienced the joy of becoming great-grandparents.
Caroline Isaacson Shepard remarried on February 28, 1895. Samuel Allen Hendricks was sixteen years older than she was and had fathered a large family by a previous wife, Eliza Abigail Hendricks Hendricks. Six of those children were still at home-- two daughters and four sons, ages two to nineteen. Caroline's own daughters were then ten, eight and six.
Caroline and Sam had a son, Van Allen Hendricks, who was born March 11, 1896. He was an adorable child but died on October 5, 1897 at the age of eighteen months. Caroline missed the baby so much that it was thought that being away from home might help her to overcome her grief. Shortly thereafter, she left Bertha with the Shepards and Edna and Justie with the Isaacsons and went to California to be with her husband at his work on railroad construction.
She stayed part of the time with him in camp but most of the time she boarded with a family in a nearby town. Caroline and Sam also went to San Francisco where they had an enjoyable time sightseeing. Apparently, Caroline was not well and Sam was continually seeking medical aid for her. During that period in their lives, they frequently wrote home to her girls telling them that if they needed anything to go to the store and get it and Sam would pay for it. He even wrote on one of the letters telling them the same thing. Those letters that are today in the possession of a Granddaughter, Gwen Raymond, were full of love and concern for them. Caroline's condition obviously worsened because she died on May 13, 1899--the day before her thirty-fourth birthday--leaving her three daughters orphaned. Caroline is buried beside her husband, Justin V. Shepard on the Shepard lot in the Richmond Cemetery. Samual Allen Hendricks died the following year.
Grandpa Isaacson was eighty-two years old at the time of Caroline's death and as he and Bertha had grown old, they were no longer physically or financially able to assume the responsibility for Caroline's children, no matter how willing. The little girls, fourteen, twelve, and ten, went to live with their other grandparents. Justin and Eliza Maria Allred Shepard were considerably younger than the Isaacsons and in a better situation to take care of them.
In their declining years, the Isaacsons enjoyed the various grandchildren as they were sent over to help them out. The Youngsters loved those special occasions because they were always treated "so fine" there. Grandma Isaacson was very kind and generous and always had a special treat for them. Birthdays were simply never forgotten. Grandpa Isaacson was known to have had his favorites among the grandchildren, or at least he very tactfully made each of them feel that they were "the one". The grandchildren described him as a very exact and loving man and a fine musician. From a physical standpoint, Neils Isaacson was a very small-framed man, most likely always on the trim side as he was so accustomed to walking. Bertha, on the other hand, was more average-sized in comparison.
On November 14, 1903, Mary Ellen's second son, Daniel Isaac Thompson, died of Pneumonia. He was thirty-two years of age and had married Lettie Hendricks. His death would have been Bertha's final earthly sorrow, if by then she had not finally become accustomed to death.
She spent her last days at the homes of Mary Ellen and Maria, her very special daughters whom she had maintained such a warm relationship with throughout the years. Bertha passed away on September 30, 1904 at the age of seventy-eight. One can hardly imagine her joy on the other side of the veil as she was reunited with loving parents, siblings, infants, children and grandchildren. Neils lived five years longer than she did.
Even in his old age, Grandpa Isaacson continued to pursue his love of fishing. He would walk all the day down to "the river" and back just to fish. It is interesting to note that he didn't keep the fish he caught but gave them all away.
Grandpa Isaacson lived to see three more of his grandchildren marry: Albert Henry Thompson, Nettie Luella Johnson and Neils Oliver Thompson.
As for his immediate family, Grandpa Isaacson's half-sister, Martha Sorine, had married a man by the name of Carl Sorensen on August 6, 1853. They also came to America and settled in the Bear Lake area. His half-sister, Karen Isachsen, stayed in Norway. What became of his full sister, Petronelle, who was born in Asker on December 7, 1823, we don't know. Grandpa Isaacson did have some close relatives back East whom he was not aware of during his lifetime, and they may have been from her line.
After Bertha's death, Grandpa Isaacson went to live with Mary Ellen. Neils Isaacson, emigrant pioneer from Norway, passed away on December 27, 1909 at the age of ninety-two. On December 4, 1909, just three weeks prior to his death, Mary Ellen's eleventh child, Raymond Junius, was killed in a run-away team accident in downtown Richmond. He was only eighteen years old. Electrical wire was being strung there then and the huge rolls spooked the team. Raymond died from massive head injuries. Mary Ellen had to bury them both that month.
Disaster in all of its various forms had not really broken the spirit of Neils and Bertha Cathrine Isaacson. They remained faithful throughout their lives and truly endured to the end. Today they have a very large posterity to revere and honor them but none that bear the respected name of Isaacson.
Our story ends with a brief history of the old violin, the instrument that played such an important part in the life of Neils Isaacson. "The violin", in its original wooden case, went where Grandpa Isaacson went. He had it with him in Norway, in Liverpool, and on The Monarch of the Sea. It was there in the New York Harbor, up the Hudson, and on the train to Omaha. It arrived with them in The Valley. Grandpa Isaacson took it to Hyde Park, to Logan, and then on to Richmond where it had a more permanent home. It was Grandpa Isaacson who made the decision as to who should have his violin and then he personally presented it to his granddaughter, Nellie Maria Thompson. She was a young girl at the time but she valued his gift highly knowing that he had given her his most prized possession.
At this writing, "the violin" is in the Clearfield, Utah home of her daughter, Evelyn Webb Butler where most of the time it is safely tucked away in fond remembrance. Evelyn's daughter, Ruth Ann Bell, who is also a very accomplished violinist, learned to play on Grandpa Isaacson's violin. Evelyn provided the following additional information concerning its history:
"I remember my mother, Nellie Maria Thompson Webb, telling me that Grandpa Isaacson gave her his violin before he died. As far as I have any knowledge or remembrance of the violin, it was always in the storage closet in our home until my sister, Veryl, became high school age. My father took the violin to Logan at that time and had some repair work done to get it in condition for her to use. She took private lessons from J. W. Pulsipher and played in the high school orchestra all four years. She played a violin solo at seminary graduation exercises. She never wanted to take it with her to Salt Lake when she went away to school and work so mother said my children could have the use of it. That is why Ruth Ann had the use of it and learned to play it well."
Today, "the violin" is stored in another case, one that can provide such a valuable artifact the protection it so justly deserves. It's original case, the one that Grandpa Isaacson so lovingly placed it in, is also in safe keeping but is not as well preserved as "the violin". Unfortunately, time and climatic conditions have caused the wood to dry out and crack.
Some day, "the violin" will be passed on again, perhaps to another daughter. In the meantime, it is a living remembrance of a time, of a place, of a man and of a name long past.
His Death of Mountain Fever is Lamented--A Fire.
The funeral of N.H. Isaacson, aged 21, the only son and support of his aged parents, Neils and Bertha Isaacson, was held today. He left here last May to work on the railroad at Java, Montana.
Everything went along smoothly until about a month ago, when he was taken down with that dreaded disease the mountain fever, which took him from this earth on the 21st, at 12:30 p.m.
Brother W. O. Thompson, a nephew of the deceased, accompanied the remains home. At the depot the remains were met by the young men and ladies and escorted home. The scene at home can be better imagined than written. His poor old father as he looked on the dead form of his loved son, wept until the tears flowed down his face. The words came between the sobs: "This ends the name of the Isaacson family."
The young men joined together and paid all the expenses of the funeral.
All Richmond turned out to pay their last respects to their young friend. Brother Isaacson was a sober and industrious young man and was loved by all who knew him. These words can better explain the feeling of his three remaining sisters:
Gone before us, our brother,
To the spirit land;
Vainly we are looking for another
In thy place we stand.
The funeral services were held at the residence of his parents where several hundred people had gathered to pay their last tribute of respect to their beloved brother and friend. Services were opened at 2 o'clock p.m. Bishop William L. Skidmore presiding. Comforting remarks were made by Elder L. C. Johnson, Joseph Monson and A. S. Schow who eulogized the career of the deceased and exhorted the young to follow in his footsteps and imitate every good deed that he had done that they might be prepared to meet the ordeal when the time comes to each of them. After which the following resolutions were read by H. Bullen, Jr:
RESOLUTIONS OF RESPECT.
Whereas, The Almighty, in His infinite wisdom, has deemed it proper to call from this mortal sphere of action our most esteemed friend and companion, Henry Isaacson, and Whereas, we his associates, feeling it a duty to show our unbounded grief over the loss of such an able and energetic worker, do take this opportunity to express our feelings of sorrow and regret over the demise of one whose actions in the past merit the reward that is in store for the righteous; and be it
Resolved, That his fellow associates hold the life of such a noble character in grateful remembrance; and be it
Resolved, That in his death his parents have lost a faithful and obedient son, and that the people of Richmond have lost one of their most promising members and brightest lights; and be it also
Resolved, That we share the heavy burden of sorrow which weighs upon the relatives, and that we extend to them our heartfelt sympathy for their lose, which only heaven knows how to repair; and be it further
Resolved, That a copy of these resolutions be sent to the press for publication, and that another copy be framed and presented to the parents.
Dated Richmond, Utah, October 25, 1891.
(Signed) S. H. Hendricks,
W. A. Skidmore,
H. Bullen, Jr.,
Committee on behalf of the young people of Richmond.
After services closed the remains were followed to the cemetery by about one hundred young men and ladies on foot who were followed by forty vehicles. The bereaved have the heartfelt sympathy of all the people of Richmond.
... live in memory as most worthy of emulation.
In the very budding of manhood, has he been called away, having barely reached the twenty-second turn in life's revolving wheel. We shall miss him at the fireside and in his old accustomed places, and as there yet remains a way to show our last respects to the departed brother, it is the intention of his young friends to erect a tombstone over his grave, which will be an everlasting tribute, commemorating our deeply beloved companion.
The following resolutions of respect were adopted by the young people of Richmond:
Whereas, The Almighty in His infinite wisdom, has deemed it proper to take from this sphere of action our most esteemed friend and companion, Henry Isaacson; and
Whereas, we his associates feeling it a duty and privilege to express our boundless grief at the loss of such an able and energetic worker, we take this opportunity to express our feelings of sorrow and regret at the demise of one whose actions in the past merit the reward that is in store for the righteous. Therefore be it
Resolved, That his fellow associates hold the life of such a noble character in grateful remembrance; and, be it
Resolved, That in his death, his parents have lost a faithful and obedient son; and that the young people of Richmond have lost one of their most promising members and brightest lights; and, be it
Resolved, That we share the heavy burden of sorrow which weighs upon his relatives; and that we extend to them our heartfelt sympathy in their loss, which heaven alone knows how to repair; and be it further
Resolved, That, a copy of these resolutions be sent to the press for publication and that another copy be framed and presented to the parents.
Dated Richmond, Utah, October 26, 1891.
H. Bullen, Jr.,
W. A. Skidmore,
S. W. Hendricks,
Committee on Resolutions.
In behalf of the young People of Richmond.
Source: My family got a copy of this history from an acquaintance or relative in 2002. There was an attached note that read, "Barbara Jo is married to Dr. Jim Dorigatti (PhD type Dr.) and she lives in North Salt Lake. The husband is grandson of the Jim Dorigatti in Preston. He was from Austria & painted houses with Adolph Hitler!!!".