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.