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.


  1. (side note: every time I try to comment here, the first attempt goes away to . . . I don't know where)
    What a fabulous surprise! I did not know this. Evelyn may know it, but I did not. Information like this just goes to show that it is as I believe--that you were meant to go to Logan and find Nate (or so he could find you).

  2. (side not: it happened to me too mom)
    Speaking of Evelyn, Jessica and I want to go visit her and basically make sure all her knowledge gets from wherever it is onto the new internet things or whatnot. Maybe you would like to join us Mo, we are going sometime in September (when we are back in the USofA)