Saturday, December 27, 2014

games for kids from one to ninety-two

It's not that I love puzzles, but putting about ten pieces of a 1000-piece puzzle at Christmas--yelling BINGO each time one fits--is not something I want to go without. It is one of those traditions that I'm glad has remained in the family, despite most of us being (outwardly) less than enthusiastic about pulling out the card table and opening the puzzle box every year. My dad is the puzzle-meister, and I don't know if it's the BINGO that he likes the most or just making sure we have a low-stress excuse to sit together for a few minutes at Christmas, but he hasn't given up yet. And aren't we glad?

I think the puzzles started in American Fork; I was probably about 10. We even pasted "my" puzzle onto cardboard one year, framed it and hung it in my room for the next 8 years. (It was a sea turtle scene.) I'm pretty sure my dad intended each kid to get one pasted and framed, but the messy glue and the...moderate enthusiasm for puzzles assisted that part of the tradition to end. And that's ok. The puzzles have persevered and will continue to. Even Andy participated this year, even though he was home in Logan and the padres have moved to Las Cruces, by sending this scene of Provo, Utah. I think this gift sort of emphasizes the family support of the puzzles; we'd all like to be involved, and if it's from a distance, even better.
A looser tradition surrounds Tripoley in the Peterson clan. It's not technically a holiday tradition, but it is a game that it is tradition to play as a family once or twice (or thrice) a year--passed down through the generations. My first time playing was Thanksgiving 2008 with Nate's Peterson Grandpa. We can't play it every Sunday like Pictionary or Catch Phrase because it would lose its magic. It is a production of sorts; sorting and counting the chips, getting out the board, refreshing our knowledge of the hierarchy of poker hands, getting out the board. We have to play long enough to make it all worthwhile, and also there's the pretend gambling. These once- or twice-yearly games often occur near the holidays because we gather around the table after we eat, and playing Tripoley prevents us from staring dumbly at the ceiling or having to rely on intelligent conversation.
Some people call it Michigan Rummy, which I think is the name Grammy's mother (Grandma Christa) used for it. Grandma Christa was an earnest Tripoley player. She hand-painted a big wooden board (as opposed to the felt or plastic boards we usually use) with a big pretty cat in the "kitty" space. That is Nate's Clark/Christensen side, and his Peterson side also had a big player too, in Grandma Hazel. If you know me, you know those great-grandmotherly traditions are hard to resist so I bring up the game at every few family gatherings to make sure we all carry it on.

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Piano

We acquired the piano! The piano I wrote about here. I was sure I had written something about it; it's a family heirloom. I just forgot to mention that we Petersons have obtained the instrament and moved it into our cozy* house with us. It's been here for months, but it's just as well that I didn't post about it before since I just took that photo of Norah last week, and it would have been a shame to leave that picture out of a piano post if I had written it previous to the photo existing. Right? Right.

*Code word for tiny

Not only has this piano been across the plains to Nebraska and back with my family, but my Aunt Evelyn also took it to Denver with her when she moved as a young woman, and then it moved around with her until she gave it to us in the early 1990s. She was actually the one who picked the piano they were supposed to get--she just told me that today. She was upset that it wasn't the right one, that this one was "too red," but "Mother" just said, "Nevermind," because she didn't want to cause a fuss about it. (She told me it cost $1,000.)

As it turns out, this is a great piano and Evelyn loves it, but her 8-year-old self was not impressed with its ruddy color. She would probably have been glad to know that it has faded considerably over the last 60 years. She took lessons on it until she was 14, at which point she got too busy lambing and didn't have time to practice. She would go from school to the lambing shed and then stumble to bed at about 10pm, at which point my grandma would take over for a few hours until the hired man would wake up for his shift in the wee hours of the morning. When she told me that she said, "I'm probably making it sound worse than it was," at which point I just laughed because I am sure I have never worked that hard in my life. She sort of gave up piano in earnest at that point, but she can play hymns and I always remember her playing this piano in our house when I was younger.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Mayflower ancestry and what have you

Today I finally had a moment to satisfy the vague curiosity I had been feeling about my Mayflower ancestors in anticipation of Thanksgiving. My Pilgrim line and Nate's both come from the same child of Elizabeth Tilley and John Howland, but I couldn't remember exactly which child or how it came down to me. I knew the Howlands came from my mom's side, and I thought through the Eppersons, but there are still about 14 zillion possibilities of direction even within those parameters. It's times like those that this blog really earns its keep. Its keep is exactly zero dollars and minimal effort, so you should be pretty relieved that it's worth it. 

I clicked on the Mayflower label, my Mayflower post came up, and I refreshed my memory ever so slightly. That Mayflower post was worth exactly the zero dollars it earns; it was so sketchy about the directness of the line that it took me about twenty minutes of looking at my family tree to find the link. But I found it!
See that Ammi Chipman in the very bottom right? That is the brother of Nate's ancestor, and their dad was the Howlands' grand-something-son. It is because the daughters of that line are my ancestors that I couldn't find the line. They turn from Chipmans to Simmonses to Atkinsons so fast I missed them the first few times I looked. Eventually, as I mentioned in the Mayflower post, my great-grandma Irva Shurtleff Epperson was born. 

Funnily and strangely, as coincidences are, I found a John Carver in my line during my search who was born in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1661. (Cue the laugh track.) It's funny because John Howland, my Pilgrim man, came on the Mayflower to Plymouth as a servant to the Governor named John Carver--the guy who wrote the Mayflower Compact. They came (as you will remember or Wikipedia will remind you) in 1620, so this John Carver I'm related to is clearly not the same John Carver, and it's really not remarkable since both those names were fairly common in England just then (and now, and always, I assume). But it is a fun coincidence and it gave me a couple minutes' research to do.

The moral of this story is, what's the point of all this? I know, that's not even a moral! I can't remember who came from where and when, and I mix up their stories, and I forget which pioneers came from which pilgrims, and I get confused when Swedish ancestors move to Copenhagen, Denmark before the emigrate (that one sent me on a convoluted tangent today), and to make matters worse, it all comes out a little confusedly and boring when I write it up here. I think I should take a writing lesson from Bill Bryson on how to relay lots and lots frankly useless facts in a way that makes them sound amusing and even potentially worthwhile. Now, now, don't worry; the actual reason I do any research into my family history is just for my personal edification. I like doing it, and to be honest I am a little embarrassed to even say it's "research," because I don't uncover anything new. It's interesting to me, even if there is no visible point to it. It's better than building ships in bottles or giant lego cities, right? (Correction--building ships in bottles is awesome and now I can't stop thinking about how much I want a ship in a bottle. Maybe a mini Mayflower, for the Howlands sake!)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Some lesser-talked about family Vets

-Since Nate and I both have Mayflower ancestors, we probably have some Revolutionary War soldiers in our families, but neither of us know about that. One more thing to look into!
-My Grandpa Stricklan's grandpa William and his brother fought on opposite sides of the Civil War. William was in Indiana by then, so he fought for the Union.
-My Grandpa Stricklan's uncle Frank was in the Air Force in WWI.
-My Grandpa Paul Stricklan was requested to stay in Idaho and keep his sheep and milk route during WWII to help with the food shortage.
-Nate's grandpa fought in WWII and Korea. His brother Gene also fought in WWII.
-My mom was born on Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma but I can't be sure why. (For someone interested in family history I sure know next to nothing, right?)
-Nate's cousin Ryan was a Marine in the early 2000's. He served at least two tours in the Middle East.

And here are some rather random soldier photos that my Grandma Stricklan kept in her family albums:
Paul's cousin Lester Miller born 1918

Virginia and Bill Palmer

Monday, November 10, 2014

RT's story as he wrote it: "I'LL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS...JUST YOU WAIT AND SEE!"

"I'll Be Home For Christmas...if only in my dreams" was the song playing through the speakers at the "Ship Store" on Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay.

I was 17 when I joined the Navy, and upon high school graduation was immediately sent to the San Diego Naval Training Center for Boot Camp. Upon completion of "Boots" and a short leave  home, I was given the opportunity to attend a basic engineering school and upon graduation was sent to Treasure Island for assignment to a ship and overseas duty.

The Christmas holidays were coming fast, and I was becoming a bit lonely, thinking of home in Smithfield. Plus I saw many sailors packing their bags for Christmas leaves, but thought I wouldn't be eligible because of the previous leave. But why not? So I submitted a request and, to my surprise, it was granted as of December 23. I hurriedly packed a small bag, put on my winter uniform, caught a train to the Oakland Train Depot, bought a ticket and was on my way that night.

It was a long trip with many stops, arriving in Ogden Christmas Eve. I hurried up 25th Street to the Greyhound Depot, but was told, "Sorry, no buses until 11:00 am tomorrow." Christmas Day!

I walked back to the train depot feeling discouraged, sat down and asked for Heavenly Father's help. I stepped out onto Wall Street and stuck out my thumb. I was mighty cold, but I did get a ride.

I was dropped in Brigham City about 11:00 pm on the Tabernacle corner, but had no luck getting another ride. Things in Brigham were pretty much closed, but I saw a lighted sign about 2 blocks north and found it to be a small hotel. The manager invited me in to warm up. there was very little traffic, but about my fourth trip back to the corner I could see two headlights, and I offered a silent prayer. Maybe it was a loud one! The car turned east. (That was the road going into Sardine Canyon and over the mountain into Cache Valley.) They saw me and stopped.

The car was warm and comfortable. What a blessing. They asked who I was and where I was going. The wife said the were the Bowmans from Lewiston and had just left their son, a new Navy pilot, at the train depot so he could return to his station in California and duty in the Pacific.

About 1:30 or 2:00 am they let me out at 160 South Main in Smithfield just in front of my home. I was elated and rushed up the driveway to the side back door. I knocked lightly a few times, saw the hall light come on, the door window curtains pulled back a little, and I saw my Mom's eye. What a surprise! They didn't know I was coming. The door opened, and I was greeted with hugs and kisses from Dad and Mom.

After the shock and some conversation, they suggested not waking my 7-year-old sister Helen, and that I could be one of her Christmas presents. What a joyful time when she came into my bedroom and saw me, even before she had gone down stairs to the tree.

What a great "I'll Be Home For Christmas" that was..."Just you wait and see!"
Christmas 1943 (the previous year) Helen, Myrle, Ralph

Some Clark Veterans

There are many veterans of the US armed forces in Nate's and my families. Since Veteran's Day is on Tuesday, here are a few of them.

Nate's grandpa, Ralph Clark, grew up in a white house on Main Street in Smithfield. His older brother Gene joined the Army during WWII while Ralph was still in high school. Ralph joined the Navy at age 17, and served as a petty officer on the USS Rowan in the Pacific. Nate can remember Grampsie talking about watching the ocean from the ship. He even has a soldier coming home Christmas story! For the family's 2005 Christmas card, Grampsie wrote the story of his 1944 Christmas homecoming, which is transcribed HERE.
"Our Sailor Boy Ralph Age 18 years"

For a few years before Ralph was old enough to join up, Gene had been in the Army. According to the memory of two great-nephews (Nate and his brother Justin), Gene served in Italy, and "something about tanks." There is a poster in the Smithfield History Museum of all of the town's WWII soldiers which shows both Ralph and Gene's pictures. Both Clark boys were fortunate to come home safely when the war ended.
Ralph, dad Carl Clark, Gene
After the war Ralph was in the ROTC at USU and in 1951 went to Korea as a forward observer. He became a first lieutenant in combat. He spent a few years there, and he has recorded a Story Corps broadcast for Utah Public Radio about one of his more life-threatening experiences. He was awarded the Silver Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross, and the Air Medal with two bronze oak leaf clusters.
1952 1st Lt. RT in Korea

1951 Lt. RT Clark, pilot Lt. Downer
I know Nate is really proud of his grandpa and his time spent serving his country.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

lately: a friend, some Scottish music and the end of the Stricklan line

I haven't been doing or thinking very much about family history lately, but within the last day a couple of things have brought it back to the front of my mind. (In order from understandable association to abstract absurdity.)

1. A friend of mine (Hi Coppelia!) told me that her grandma has recently passed away and she is now very busy going through the house her grandma lived in for the last 60+ years. She is coming across a lot of cool old things and stories and histories that are changing the way she has thought of her grandparents her whole life.

2. I bought an old mirror and hung it across from our weird little portrait of a lady. They're both old, like my ancestors.

3. I have been listening to Kate Rusby while I clean the kitchen this morning, particularly this song, which for some really unaccountable reason makes me cry every time I hear it. It also makes me try to remember which, if any, of my actual ancestors are from Scotland. If they are so far back, anyway, why do I feel such a connection with them and that rainy, sheepy country? I loved it so much while I was there, just as much as I thought I would. Jocelyn, of course, always talked about the British Isles with a lot of love, but more particularly Ireland than Scotland. So I wonder what it is. Why do I love you, Scotland?

These three things brought me to look at my family tree again, but then I got distracted from Scotland by Stricklans (oops, sorry, Scotland!). I don't see why these Stricklan lines peter out so early. My brothers Jesse and Tim have looked up the surname "Stricklan," and it comes from Northern England (pretty close to Scotland!), and several notable Strickland emigrants came to North America during the 17th and 18th centuries. Since our Abel was from Virginia, I am going to assume for now that he came from one of those early immigrants. But how do I find out for sure, and which one? I need to find a professional genealogist to help me. (And come to think of it, if I had known it was an option I would have become a professional genealogist myself. Then I could have me help me.)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween from the old times! I've got some costume ideas for the kids. Crazy scary masks? Guns? Yes!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

"When you read a book as a child, it becomes part of your identity in a way that no other reading does."

Kathleen Kelly from the movie You've Got Mail has about twenty boatloads of one-liners, and that one about reading is one of her truest. I don't presume that Toby and Sue will grow to have enormous significance in my kids' lives, but these books are some of Calvin's favorites lately. I am grateful to have them, and to know that Calvin's great-grandma Patti read them and probably laughed at Sue's funny lopsided dress hems and the children's idea that their mother would rather have wild baby bunnies for her birthday than a bouquet of flowers.

I have tried to collect several of the really significant books from my early childhood and youth, such as Hop on Pop (a classic!), Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day, and The Witch of Blackbird Pond. I don't yet have any Babysitters Club, but I've got about a truckload of Nancy Drew, and by the time my dad's done gathering them, I'm sure we'll have them all. This is not to say that my kids will be interested in reading any of these obviously superior books, however; I know of my mom's distinct appreciation for the "girl and her horse" genre, absolutely zero of which ever interested me. (That seems a shame to me now, because it is such a charming genre, but at the time they would have been age-appropriate for me I couldn't be persuaded to even go near them.)

I would really love to know the significant books in my predecessors' lives, the further distant the more so. What were yours?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

It's Jocelyn's birthday

And I couldn't post a less-relevent picture of her, really. She wasn't, like, way into cats, and the picture was obviously taken nowhere near her birthday, because even in Arco, Idaho there isn't usually a foot of snow on September 24. Plus, I'm mad at Cats In General today, after finding about a dozen rude brown lumps in our yard yesterday. However, there's something about this picture that keeps pulling me back to look. Maybe is the surprise at seeing Jocelyn with a cat, or her cute little nose. Corregated tin? Snow? But probably just that Jocelyn is in it.

Nevertheless, today is her birthday. I sometimes ponder on how she'd be as a 32-year-old. What would she like now? What wouldn't she like? Where would she live? Would she have moved to Ireland? Become a crazy cat lady? It's impossible to say, since she is forever half that age and obsessed with glitter.

Happy Birthday full of glitter and cats, Joss!  

Friday, September 19, 2014

Thedford, Nebraska home where Dave and Juli Stricklan live. April 1989. Andy Stricklan 1 yr. Juel Aikele and Melissa Stricklan, 4 yrs.

Caption is the title of this post, written by my grandma Ada on the back of the photo.

Here are my brother Andy and I at the same ages my kids are now. Four and one. True, I was a closer to five than four since this is labeled "April," but I am surprised at how much I remember about that place. And that dress, which I loved to shreds and have thought about trying to duplicate hundreds of times.

Jocelyn and I lived in that upstairs room you can see with the gabled window. We thought it was really awesome because the ceiling was sloped and there was a little cubby closet area. (I still think those things are cool.)

Once I was running through our room and I caught my knee on my dresser handle and it gouged me straight in. I remember the yellow stuff my mom put on the wound. I also remember getting my kindergarten shots while we lived here, and they tuckered me out "sick" for the day. I lay on the couch, and felt very coddled.

My mom tried really hard to rid me of my finger-sucking habit in this house. Mittens, foul-tasting concoctions brushed on my fingernails. It must have worked eventually because I don't suck them now. Jocelyn learned to ride a bike and tie her shoes here, but I didn't. I actually don't remember learning those things at all.

I remember the upstairs landing. It was in the middle of the top storey, and our room was to the left and the bathroom straight ahead. Downstairs, the kitchen had a built-in bench seat, I think, around the table.

Jocelyn and I started our scavenger hunts while living here. My dad would make a list of things to find, and off we'd go on a walk to find them. White car, maple tree, lime green house with upstairs gable. I remember Andy's big Easter meltdown when he won a huge Easter basket at the local market, but that was probably the following Easter after this photo was taken. He cried and cried even though he won, and they took our family picture for the paper or something I believe. It is funny what you can't call to mind, however, and I don't know if he was howling in the picture or if he wasn't in it at all. Let's all read the comments to see what my mom has to say on the subject.

Things I don't remember: it being crowded, though it must have been with six Stricklans living there; it being hot, though it must have been because I doubt there was air conditioning; lots of dishwashing, though my parents must have done because I doubt there was a dishwasher. Those are my main housing concerns these days, by the way, until I remember they really don't matter an extreme amount in the long run if even I and my elephant of a memory can't remember anything about them.

My Calvin boy has the craziest memory I've ever witnessed. I hope he will stay that way and come across pictures of our little house and say that he remembers the crazy blue shag carpet before we ripped it up, and the day we got our new toilet because he kicked the lid off the old one, which ricocheted off the wall and smashed the bowl.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

hard times

On February 26, 1922, Hannah wrote in her book, "Oh yes I must not forget Ostlin came in early Friday morning to tell us a boy come to their house. All getting along fine. That is our 13th grand child good luck to him." Sadly, all were not fine after all, and the mother, Mary Marinda Johnson Hanson, died on March 4th, just a week later from complications (probably blood poisoning, guessed Hannah).

Hannah said, "We are all broke up," and took into her house Ostlin and the three girls: Ada, my grandma, age 5; Connie, age 4; Leona, age 2. The baby boy went to live with the maternal grandparents. Hannah doesn't even mention his name, come to think of it, but she says that the girls went to visit him often on Sundays. (His name is Kenneth, by the way.) About a month later, Leona came home from Grandma Johnson's with this cut-out baby head and said it was baby brother. Hannah thought it was sweet and pasted it in her book. I am home from church with a sick baby today who looks an awful lot like that, too.

Throughout her entries in 1921 and '22, Hannah lists the prices of potatoes, hay, butter and eggs. Eggs go from $.40/dozen down to $.16 the day of the baby head picture, and then back up to $.30 later that year, and by selling that and butter they get along, but just barely, since I think potatoes were their main crop, but there were too many potatoes and no one to buy them. She says they have enough to eat and "ware," but no money. "Taxes & interest are killing us," she scribbles in the margin at the end of an entry. " Her sons are off working elsewhere, too. "We will all have to leave the farm to work for wages, for anything is better then farming but I don't think it can stay that way for people will have to eat," she foresees, being both pessimistic and optimistic as I guess you had to be as a farmer.

It is easy for me to romanticize the past; it is what I do, it is why there is even this blog. Of course, though, I know it was not an easy life. I know our 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom, air conditioned house would seem like a luxurious vacation to Hannah. But here I am, and I wonder why we can't seem to acquire funds for a house with a better layout, where the table doesn't have to be in the living room and with a dishwasher that doesn't roll. I wonder why Nate's parents could buy their first home for $40,000 and sell it for twice that just a few years later, when our house would probably not sell for a dollar more than we paid for it four years ago. I think our times have got to be just about the worst. Insurance prices are ridiculous and it doesn't even cover doctor visits anymore; after four years we have barely made a dent in our principal balance for our mortgage because of interest; our kids will wake each other up all night long because of sharing a room. And of course, in the most cliche way, reading the old journal brings some good old-fashioned perspective right back to me.

However, I must honestly tell you that even with this refreshed perspective, I am not 100% convinced that it is better to live in this absurdly comfortable era. I have half an idea that if I could, I would jump into the pages of Hannah's book, roll up my sleeves, and help her put up 500 quarts of berries.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Mink Creek

 In Mink Creek, Idaho there is a tiny settlement and a tiny cemetery. Nate's forefathers Rasmus Christian Petersons Sr. and Jr. were some of the founding settlers of that picturesque spot between Preston and Bear Lake. We stopped to say hi on our way to the lake on Labor Day.
Finally we have a cool headstone in the family! (Uh, well, since 1916) RC Peterson, you have a nice view.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Park - two families

Yet another post inspired by Hannah's book: in 1921 the Anderson family went to "The Park." I realized after I read a couple of paragraphs that Hannah meant Yellowstone National Park, which was of course the first National Park in the US. The Park I personally love and visit the most is Zion in Southern Utah, which itself opened in the spring of 1920. When we go, I look at the old photos there and I get a really heavy chest pain-slash-good feeling; I just want to have been there back then so badly! And here my family was in the other Park, right around that time.
Photo (and two images below) by noted Yellowstone photographer F. Jay Haynes. More can be seen here.

The park had fairly recently allowed cars to begin driving through, so the Andersons packed up a car (I wish I knew what kind) and drove from Shelley to Rexburg to pick up "Melvin" and his family. (Melvin is one of Hannah's sons.) Hannah said they had been talking about making the trip for a long time, but they never seemed to have the time or money. Sounds familiar? So they just decided to go anyway in July of 1921.

Their car needed repair in Rexburg, and in 1921 I don't suppose there were many car mechanics to choose from, but they got one and left the next morning. They drove the 58 miles to Mack's Inn in Island Park where they stopped and rested and ate lunch, loving the beautiful scenery of Island Park (which is initially the Park I thought Hannah was referring to anyway). Melvin brought a camera and stopped to take some "snaps shots" at the stop and throughout the park, but I don't have those photos.

The family camped and fished and had a wonderful time. They saw the Paint Pots, the geysers, bears and buffalo herds. Hannah raves about the Old Faithful Inn and sadly mentions some out-of-business hotels that were suddenly unnecessary when cars began driving through the park. I was struck how even then, nearly a hundred years ago and at the peak time of my nostalgia, they had nostalgia for the simpler, un-automoblied past.

On their way home they came through Harriman State Park in Island Park (Idaho), which is a place we stayed as a (Stricklan) family a couple of years ago. I loved it there. Here is one of the 2012 Harriman Sunsets.

TEN YEARS AFTER the Andersons, the Clarks went to Yellowstone.

Nate's grandpa Ralph Clark would have been 5 or 6 when his family went to Yellowstone in 1931. Whereas we don't have my family's photos, we don't have stories from Grampsie. He may remember the trip (he is 88 now, I think), but it isn't likely that he can recall the details. He might, however remember that BEAR! (Since his stroke five years ago, he has had a hard time recounting the stories he does wish to tell anyway, which is really unfortunate for us. I will write more of his stories in the future, of course, with Nate's help.)

Nate and I haven't yet been to "The Park" with our kids. This makes me want to go now!

Thursday, August 28, 2014


On December 15, 1919, Hannah Hanson wrote in her ledger journal,

"The weather is still very cold, the 17th is when the world is coming to an end. I think it will be an end to some folks if they haint got a good warm house & plenty of coal." 

On the 18th she wrote,

"Well today is the day after the world come to an end but we are still here the coldest weather we have ever felt. We are all well."

Apparently an astrologer named Albert Porta claimed that there would be six planets in alignment that day, which would cause too much magnetic energy and cause the world to explode. Obviously Hannah wasn't too into astrology or astrologers that Wikipedia doesn't even have on file.

By the way, unrelated except I noticed how thick the ink was during that entry, her book is handwritten with ink. In some places it's pretty faded and looks like pencil, but it's an ink pen. Here is her handwriting:

Monday, August 18, 2014


Last week I took out Hannah's Ledger Book and decided to start at the very beginning (a very good place to start). First is an entry written in Logan, Utah from October 1932 which she went back and wrote on a blank page many years after the "first" journal entry, which was in 1921. The second sentence says, "Today I went to Smithfield it is about 7 miles from here."

It just so happens that I live in Smithfield, 7 miles from there! I was more than a little surprised, I say. I reread the sentence and then kept on going for more surprises. "My Aunt Betsy lives there, Mother's only sister she ever had, and she is 90 years." I didn't know Aunt Betsy lived in my town in 1932! I really had no clue there was even an Aunt Anything who lived Anywhere in 1932, although I'm not sure why I was so surprised to find there was. That's actually one of my favorite things about the family history learning I've been doing lately: all the genuine surprise I get out of it. It's not often that I'm really surprised by anything. But family history surprises are generally like finding a dollar in your pocket-- very welcome, maybe even more so because you weren't just sitting around hoping they would happen.

Anyway, I read the rest of the entry which tells about how Betsy and the sisters' parents came to be in Smithfield.
Here she is, good old Betsy, still in Smithfield. Calvin posing with binoculars next to her.
Hannah had asked Aunt Betsy about her life and had written it down straight away, which was very decent of her to do. The summary I will give of the summary Hannah gave begins in Sweden, in the girls' youth. The Mormon missionaries came to their town, and Cecelia listened and believed. It just so happens that Betsy did too, and although their parents weren't 100% behind the decision they allowed the girls to be baptized, but they had it done at night to keep it a secret since there was a lot of persecution of converts to the church in Sweden at the time.

Both girls went to work in Copenhagen, ostensibly to earn money to come to Utah but also, it seems, to escape their father's wrath. He wasn't particularly kind-hearted. As Hannah notes,  in the old country "they thot if they did not whip their children the children would not be good, so I am sorry to write what Betsy and my mother have told me, how cruel their Father was." She then tells about how he whipped Cecelia nearly to death for defying one of his superstitions about a cow exiting the barn a certain way (which I didn't completely understand), and how he made their half-brother sit outside with a wet sheet around him regardless of the weather if he wet the bed. So. Not exactly a Hallmark card kind of guy. 

Cecelia had enough money to go first, and after she wrote and said it was safe, Betsy, Lars and Magnel (Father & Mother) came, too in April 1864 and were at sea 9 weeks. They walked across the plains with a cow they had bought. When they first saw the Salt Lake Valley, the Teamsters said to Betsy, "Well here is Zion," to which she replied, "Well here is nothing but sage brush." Too true, I'm afraid, but the Teamsters gave her a Sunday School answer that she couldn't argue with: "Zion is just what you make it.

And so the Teamsters told the family to go wherever they had friends or family, and they went to Smithfield, though what family they already had here I have yet to discover. Years later, Betsy and Cecelia's brother Swen came down from Smithfield to visit Cecelia, Hakan and their family. He convinced the Anderson family to come up to Cache Valley with him where they lived in Hyrum for over six years before they moved up to the Snake River Valley in Idaho to get ahold of more land for all the boys (Hannah says).
My little family and I went to the cemetery when I discovered that Ma & Pa Swenson never left Smithfield, and Betsy (her name was actually Bengta) did in fact live here until she died, and was also buried here. Nate thought it was cool that my family has roots here, too. In fact they go back even further than his, which I was (you guessed it) VERY SURPRISED to find out.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

More August birthdays / a book

The first thing we did on Norah Jocelyn Peterson's first birthday is go to the Rexburg, Idaho cemetery with my dad, whom she calls Papa. (Or at least presumably she will, once she speaks.)
Happy birthday, baby! 
Calvin, Papa, Norah

Calv, me, Norah

We went to see the headstones of Hogan (or was it Hakan?? the headstone said Hogan) and Cecilia Anderson because I never have and they were right there under my nose the whole time my parents lived in Rexburg. They are moving this month, so I wanted to go while I could. It was rainy and cool, which is of course the best kind of cemetery weather there is.

My dad added to my story about those pioneer ancestors (from here) with a little bit more detail. Hogan/Hakan went to Manti after he arrived in Utah with his cousin when they were lads. They had both been sent from Sweden by their families who couldn't afford to come or take care of them. It is also interesting that Cecelia's friend, who Hakan married first but she died, was named Hannah, and then the couple named their first child Hannah.

And so, here is an old book that belonged to Hannah that is so lovely that I almost can't stand it. It's slightly less than 100 years old, but that pattern on the front is so pretty and to tell you the truth trendy right now that I just like to stare at it.

Hannah Anderson Johnsen was the grandma who raised my Grandma Ada Stricklan in Shelley, Idaho after her mom died. (There is also a picture of Hannah in that post about Hakan and Cecelia as pioneers.) My dad has kept Hannah's journal and ledger book, which has an entry as early as 1918. The journal part begins in 1921. She recounts her engagement and marriage, sporadically writes about her children and grandchildren's lives and prices of crops over the years, since they were farmers. The last entry is in 1940 and is hardly legible. I have read bits of it, but it's hard to read because it's written in Hannah's beautiful handwriting and the pages have faded and some are water damaged and also I get distracted really easily by the amazing pattern on the front cover and the terrifying recipe for soap in the back. I will share a lot of these things as I go, you can be sure.

Friday, August 1, 2014

August 1st Birthday Twin

My dad's older sister Sharon is old enough to be his mother. She is short, like me. She also happens to share my birthday.
Back said: Sharon Evon, age nine, these roses and I were in the 24th of July parade. And the desert shall bloom like a rose. Jameston Ward
I remember driving to Sharon and Ken's house with my dad for a Christmastime gathering when I was small. They were in their Fruit Heights house, and I thought it was absolutely lovely (I still do). They had a very pretty Christmas tree and lots of twinkle lights, as well as breakable ornaments and decorations, which I looked at and did not touch. Not only that, but the arrival to her house was a little bit magical and twinkly, because you could see all the heralding lights of the houses of her hillside neighborhood from the freeway.
Sharon with her nephew Michael, who is a year older than my dad.

Sharon gave me a peridot ring set on a gold band a few years ago, because we are birthday twins. She also gave me a beautiful buffet that she bought antique in Denver many years ago and carefully restored. She even used gold leaf in the grooves. I, on the other hand, didn't even send her a birthday card; I never do, I always forget at the right time. I think of it in March, at the beginning of July, and on our birthday, but by then it's a little late, isn't it?

Nevertheless, I wish her the very happiest day this year, like I do every year.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Speaking of which: Ada's words about Cecelia Andersen

"Speaking of which" is something we sometimes say when we weren't exactly, which is the way I use it here (and, incidentally, the way my 3-year-old uses it to amuse grandparents and anyone who will listen to him). I found in my Grandma (Ada) Stricklan's compilation of writing an essay where she talks about the same Cecelia I spoke of in the Hakan Andersen pioneer post. She spelled the name "Cecilia" instead of "Cecelia," which actually seems more natural to me, but the official records aren't in accord on the point of spelling, so I don't know which way is correct. Does anyone care? It probably doesn't matter.
Ada, in what is labeled as 1957, but I feel like it must be later than that. What do you think?

Before we get there, though, it just struck me that what I was reading was an Idaho Writer's League assignment in 1975. Who knew there was such a thing as an Idaho Writer's League, Arco Chapter? I had read Grandma's writing before, but didn't realize she was part of a League of extraordinary writers. It is funny and strange what people do, don't you think, to write what they think needs to be written?

But anyway, back to speaking of which, in an essay about grandmothers, my grandmother wrote about Cecilia:

There was once a girl named Cecilia. She lived in Sweden. When she heard the Gospel she knew it was true. After awhile she came to America. She wanted to live with the Saints. Her father told her, "If they do not kidnap you or murder you, you can write and tell us and we will all come."*  Cecilia walked to Salt Lake City Valley from St. Louis. Along the way she was weary and hungry. She met and married a good man. She had children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. She loved her family. She said, "I would like my children to remember their heritage and the hard-ships that their ancestors wen through to get to this country and become established...and remember the reason that brought them here in the first place, to remember these things and to be better men and women for it."

*I wonder if Cecelia's father had read the Sherlock Holmes story A Study in Scarlet, which portrays the Mormons as kidnapping, murdering types. Though I guess that's not possible, since it wasn't published until 1887, which was long after Cecelia came. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

O Pioneer: Shurtliff and Atkinson

As I mentioned, compiled a list of "my" "ancestral" "pioneers." But, well, I couldn't find all of them in my actual family tree. I'm working on that, but I did find that a certain Luman Shurtliff (on my mom's maternal side) crossed the plains with his family, including a son named Noah Luman Surtliff (who is next in the line to me) in 1851 with the Easton Kelsey Company. One lead to follow!


Make that two leads: Noah L Shurtliff, who I mentioned above, is my great-grandma Epperson's grandpa, and her other grandpa named William Atkinson* also crossed the plains with the Mormon pioneers. In fact, he led his own company in 1853, the William Atkinson Company. Good one, Will! Along the way, according to his memory, he met lots of friendly Indians and buffalo, or at least the Indians were friendly.

He also "traveled with the mail" from Salt Lake to San Bernadino and back in 1856 with the John McDonald Company. Just him and three buddies, hanging out with the mail? Probably not but I don't know the details. I, of all people, could understand this, considering how much I love mail, but I think there must be more to the story than that. He is also listed as traveling with two other wagon companies, and also the Rescue Companies who were sent to bring in the Martin and Willie Handcart companies in the fall of 1856, as well as two wagon companies at the same time. It isn't clear which company he was sent to help, but the story of the stranded companies breaks my heart every time I hear or think of it.

I'm so glad to know about Mr. Atkinson. My kids are for sure going to hear about this one.

*Also, just to make more connections, this William Atkinson had a son, Thomas, who married into my path to the Mayflower ancestors of Elizabeth Tilley and John Howland. His wife's name was Ruth Simmons. Ruth's mom was a Chipman, which is the line that connects to the common ancestor Nate and I have (Amos Chipman).

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

O Pioneer: Hakan Andersen

Next on the "easy" pioneer list is Hakan Andersen. Of course, as with Nancy Naomi, it was really a couple whose story I knew, but in this one he is the main character for some reason, just as NN was the main character in her story. I'm not sure why this is, but nevertheless it's how I think of them.

The bad news here is also my motivation to learn more about family history: I thought I knew the story but now I'm not so sure. The Hakan Andersen Book would set me straight, but it resides at my parents' house (so mom, you may have to set me straight). Here's what I think happened.

Hakan (or Hogan) (or Haakan) (or about ten variations) crossed the plains as a young-but-not-that-young convert to the Church. When he arrived in Salt Lake, as a strong healthy man, he was asked to go back and help others across the plains. There he met a girl and fell in love with her...however, she was sick or something and died. I think. But the good news is that this girl had a friend! And she was Cecelia. And Hakan and Cecelia got married and had a family and moved to Idaho.

This is the lineage: Hakan and Cecelia had a daughter named Hannah, whose son Hakan Ostlin went by Ostlin and was my paternal grandma Ada's father. So in reverse, Me/Dave/Ada/Ostlin/Hannah/Hakan & Cecelia.

Hakan & Cecelia's family

Hannah Andersen, presumably before she married John Alfred Hanson
But listen here, I am not the only one who thought I would celebrate Pioneer Day by exploring my pioneer ancestors. itself sort of stole my thunder by sending me a list of all of the pioneer ancestors I had, complete with company and any information they have on the person.  Holy smokes, that makes my aspiration to find out who my Pioneer ancestors are about 97% more likely to happen. Thanks, Familysearch. I don't know how I would have found out on my own; I really have a lot (or everything) to learn about family history.

So here is what taught me. Hakan crossed in 1859 with the George Rowley Company. Cecelia Swenson crossed in 1863 with an Unknown Company. They were both from Sweden (but I already knew that one).

You can find your own Pioneer Ancestors on too, I think. Do it! It's cool.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

O Pioneer: Nancy Naomi

In honor of Pioneer Day, I have been thinking about my Mormon Pioneer ancestors. I have several; a few that I know of off the top of my head and a few that I don't know anything about. If I write about the ones I'm familiar with this year, it will give me something to write about next year, and a whole year to learn about the ones I don't know.

First and easiest of all is one who isn't my ancestor, but Nate's. Nancy Naomi Alexander Tracy wrote an autobiography (here), which is kept with the LDS records, and so bits of her story are often told on church documents as an example of an early convert and pioneer. There was an article about her in the Ensign in 2012 (here).
Her life is exactly what you think of when you try to imagine a pioneer woman. Early hardship in life taught her what to expect, and how to deal with, future troubles. Her dad died young and she was sent to live with her grandparents. They were good to her and she got some education, and learned how to work hard. She married her husband Moses really young, had ten kids, and named them long scriptural names like Lachoneus Moroni and Moses Mosiah.  She and Moses were present at the Kirtland temple dedication, went to Far West, Missouri, fought the militia there, and were then forced to leave Missouri by the infamous Extermination Order and went to Nauvoo, Illinois. She was present when the Relief Society was formed in 1842 and got her endowment in the Nauvoo temple. At least three of her children died before reaching adulthood. She and her family crossed the plains with a wagon train and settled near Ogden, Utah. Pretty comprehensive pioneer stuff.

Her son Helon Henry had a son named Helon Henry, and he had a daughter named Myrtle. Myrtle married Carl Clark, and their son Ralph Clark is "Gramspie" to us. Nate and I have some tablecloths that belonged to Myrtle and Carl--one with Carl's name written on a corner in permanent marker. We also have some myrtle growing next to our porch which we got from Nate's mom, who got it originally from Myrtle's house.
Myrtle and Ralph Clark, 1926
Nate has known about his Pioneer heritage all his life, thanks to the ties to Nancy Naomi Alexander Tracy. Every Memorial Day, rain or shine, the Clarks make their pilgrimage to the Ogden cemetery to visit the family gravesites, not least of which are the Pioneer Tracys. Every year, they collect pinecones (I'll write about pinecones another time) on the graves, say a prayer, and take photos. The photos have looked basically the same for the last 50 years, but that's not going to stop us from taking them every year!

The Ralph and Marilyn Clark family plus Carl, 1970-something

The Ralph and Marilyn Clark family, 2011

Melissa and Nate, 2011 with Nancy Naomi and Moses Tracy's headstones in Ogden