William Skrevelus Olson
Sarah Jane Tidwell - Olson
My first taste of genealogy came when I found this history in my grandparents' attic. Why it was there, I have no idea. The auto biography is of William Olson. Even though I have Olsen (Olson) ancestors, this is not one of them. However, for me it was exciting to find this history. I must have been only about 13 at the time and the bug for genealogy has never left me. Hopefully, someone out there will appreciate reading it. I remember sharing it with Maxi Olson Christiansen several years before she died. Whether anyone else has it, I do not know.
New Comment: I (Kathy Hafen) posted the history below a few months ago. Amongst the photos given to us recently by the Depot Committee was the photo above of William Skrevelus Olson and his wife, Sarah Jane Tidwell Olson. These photos were given to us this past month.
Could it be that a hand from the other side of the veil reached out and made it happen? Why would this picture be with the Depot photos? Is it just a coincidence? I don't think so. Because We are seeing it happen now more frequently. Someone will mention a name from the past that they are researching and within a few days a history or a picture will be submitted by someone else from that person's family.
My father, John Olson, and my mother, Sophia Maria Skrevelus, were both born in Jamjo Soken Bleking Lan, Sweden. Father was born October 27, 1818, and mother was born December 24, 1819.
In 1848 my father sold his farm in Sweden and moved over to Bornholm, a little island 16 by 20 miles square, in the Baltic Sea. He bought a farm there, consisting of thirty acres. He stayed there until 1866. My mother having joined the Mormon faith, was baptized in 1852, being one of the first to be baptized in Scandinavia. In 1866, my father sold his farm, horses, and cattle, and turned his money over to the Church to emigrate the people that were not able to help themselves. He kept enough to emigrate his own family which consisted of Kathryn, myself, and Andrew and Hannah Maria and James. I was born on Bornholm, the third day of June, 1853, and was baptized the tenth of April 1866. We sailed from Bornholm the twelfth of April as far as Kjobenhagen where we stayed ten days then we took a boat for Keil, Germany and from there by train for Hamburg, Germany. The next day, May 25, we went on board the sailing vessel "Kennelworth". Captain Brown. We were nine weeks crossing the Atlantic Ocean. Our food consisted of sailor hardtac, fat bacon, cabbage, and black coffee. The bugle would wake us up in the morning at seven o'clock. We had to be on deck for exercises for one hour then we had breakfast. When the weather was so that the ship didn't roll too much we would dance for a couple of hours. On Sundays we had religious services. Two returned missionaries, Samuel Sprague and Martin Lund from Ft. Green had charge of the company, 686. Thirty-six of the emigrants died and were buried at sea. They would sew them up in heavy canvas bags with about fifty pounds of rocks at the feet to sink them. They would place the corpse on a plank and at a signal from the Captain, they would tilt the plank up and the corpse would slide into the ocean.
The Captain and sailors treated us fine except the cook. He was the meanest man I ever saw. In the morning he would yell, "Come to breakfast, you Mormon S of Bs". Our ship caught fire from the kitchen but after a few hours of fire fighting it was put out after burning part of the kitchen. On the 17th of July we landed at Castlegarden, New York. That night we took a steam boat for New Haven. We were a moltley crowd traveling on foot carrying our luggage and carrying babies and some leading one or two. The road or street was not paved and the mud and slush came up to our shoetops, and a howling mob followed us and called us all the dirty names they could think of and pelted us with mud clods. From New Haven we took a train for Detroit, Chicago, Quincy, Ill., and Saint Joseph, Missouri, the terminal of the railroad. From there we sailed up the Missouri River on a river steamer as far as where Omaha stands now. There was but seven houses there then, and they were just small lumber houses. There they were moving the biggest house up the hill with three yolk of oxen. We started our journey across the plains the second of August. We traveled with sixty five wagons, five yolk of oxen on each wagon. Three hundred and twenty five oxen. Joseph L. Rawlings was captain of the real large train. He had one helper or vice captain, one teamster for each wagon and five night herders that took that herd of oxen out to feed and drove them into camp in the morning.
We had the bugler we had on the ship so that the bugle would call us at six o'clock in the morning. We had one hour to get breakfast and then the oxen would be driven in so we would be ready to start by eight o'clock.
In the evening the music would start up, the young and old would dance for an hour. All the young folks had to walk, the old would ride most of the time. At nine o'clock in the evening the bugle would sound for prayer before going to bed. My father bought a cow in Iowa. He intended to lead that cow not only to Salt Lake but to Mt. Pleasant, a distance of twelve hundred miles. He would turn her with the oxen at night to feed. A good many oxen got alkalied and died, and I wished many times that our cow would get a drink of alkalie water but she came in every morning. But she got tender footed. There was plenty of shoes of the oxen but they were too large for the cow; so we had to tie pieces of gunnisac or anything we could find along the road around her feet so that she could travel. And I was in the same condition. We had been on journey so long that my shoes and clothes were worn out but I could pick up old clothes that other companies had thrown away. Sometimes I would have on two rights and sometimes two lefts.
Our food was sourdough bread, fat bacon, buffalo meat, coffee and sugar. We were not allowed to kill anymore buffalo than we could eat. We were not allowed to waste any of the meat.
The Indians were friendly whenever they came to our camp. Captain Rawlins would give them sugar and beads and small mirrors. It was orders from Brigham Young to always treat the Indians kindly. That is the reason we never had a train destroyed or a man killed during the twenty-three years we carried emigrants across the plains. We sent an average of twelve trains each year. There were many other trains destroyed and teamsters killed. We came to one train that had been burned and all hands killed. There was nothing left but the wagon tires. We stopped and buried the dead. The Indians had gone - there was nothing left but the smoking embers of the wagons. When we got up in the Rocky Mountains, we had several snowstorms and suffered for the want of shoes and clothes. We reached the Salt Lake Valley October 4th on a Sunday afternoon. People from Salt Lake met us about ten miles from Salt Lake with cake and sandwiches and apples. That was the happiest day of the whole journey. It was the first cake and apples I had tasted since we left our home in Sweden. Everybody in the country that had oxen and wagons in the train would come and get them in the spring. Brigham Young would call for a train from each county and then each bishop in each town would make a call for so many oxen and wagons. If a man had two yoke of oxen he would let one yoke go. If a man had two wagons he would let one go and the teamsters were called by the bishop and the captain by Brigham Young and all of them served without pay. All the provisions were furnished for the train by the tithing department. After staying in Salt Lake a week, we got a chance to go with a man to Mt. Pleasant so I took up the march with the cow again. We reached Mt. Pleasant October 18th. In the spring of 1867, I was drafted into the Utah State Militia and acted as homeguard and guarded travelers from one settlement to another as the Indians were on the warpath and killed a good many of our people and in the fall of 1867, I was called to go out to Sevier County and help the people to get away from them. I drove a yolk of oxen and wagon belonging to Peter Miller and I had two small families, nine persons all toll, and brought them to Mt. Pleasant. In the fall of 1869, I went out to Weber Canyon to work on the railroad, the first to come into the valley. I worked during the winter for Thomas Stewart from Logan and the next summer I worked for Bishop West from Ogden and in November, when his contract was done I walked home carrying my bedding on my back. I had just one hundred dollars that was the most money I had ever made and I was very proud of the fact that I could bring home that much money. That is the reason I walked home the one hundred and forty miles as my father and mother had no cow at this time. I bought a cow with fifty dollars and I bought five acres of land with the brush on for the other fifty dollars.
In the fall of 1970, I hired out to the Miller Cattle Company in the southern part of Utah as cowboy and worked for them two years for thirty dollars a month. In October 1873, I was called to go to St. George to work on the St. George Temple with twenty other boys. We left Mt. Pleasant on the 8th of November with four teams to haul our bedding and provisions for the winter. We had had bad weather most all the way. It snowed every day for sixteen days so that when we got to Beaver City we had three feet of snow. From there to Belvia the road was almost impassable. We had to break the road all the way for a hundred miles. All the low places in the road were drifted full so that when our teams got into a low place they would go in clear up to their sides, then we would tie a long rope to the end of the wagon tongue and all us boys would pull them out that way. And that would happen every mile or two. Then we fastened the rope to the end of the wagons and then we would take hold of the rope two and two and break the road for the teams and help to pull the load. When we camped we would dig four and sometimes five feet of snow away to get to the ground so we could make a fire to cook our food---baking our bread and frying our bacon and making some coffee. Wood was hard to get because it was covered with snow. At night we would crowd six of us into each wagon to keep warm. We had that way of traveling for five days. We reached Belvia that night at twelve o'clock. We had not stopped for dinner because we could find no wood to make a fire and it was cold and the wind blew so hard that we couldn't make a fire. It would blow away as fast as we could make it so we crawled into a man's barn and burrowed down in the hay without any dinner or supper and we had to divide our blankets with our horses to keep them from freezing to death. The next morning the wind was still blowing hard so that we were unable to make a fire; so we packed up and drove down five miles into Dixie where it was warm. We stopped at Grapevine Spring, had breakfast which we needed and enjoyed as we hadn't tasted food for more than twenty-four hours.
I worked all winter blasting and quarrying rock for the temple. The foundation was made of black lava rock and the other part is red sandstone. In the spring of 1874, we were all released and returned home. In November, of that year I went out to Pioche, Nevada and worked in the mines one year and left for home the first of January 1975,
The 10th of April in 1876, I married Sarah Jane Tidwell in the Endowment House at Salt Lake City by Daniel H Wells. My wife was the daughter of James Harvey Tidwell and Elizabeth Harvey, native of West Virginia. Her Great-grandfather, John Tidwell, was one of George Wahington's old soldiers who fought all through the Revolutionary War. The Tidwells were natives of Indiana. Both the Tidwells and Harveys were pioneers of Utah and the Tidwells were Pioneers of Mt. Pleasant, Utah.
As a result of that marriage we had six children born. William Aurthur, born first of April 1877, Jonathan Harvey, born July 30, 1879, Berkley, born July 31, 1881. Guy Randolph, born 9th of October 1883. Theodore, born the 3rd of November 1885. Mary Estella, born the 8th of November 1892.
When I married, I had a yolk of oxen and a wagon and fifteen acres of land and a lot with a little one room log house with a dirt roof and a lumber floor, one door and a little window. I had one door and window opening in the north side and the south opening dobied up. Our furniture, all homemade, consisted of one bedstead, one table and two chairs and a little cookstove made of cast iron, that I paid thirty dollars for in Salt Lake, and I also had one cow. That was a small beginning but it was our own. We didn't owe anybody a cent and we didn't have to pay house rent. We lived in that house two years and it was the two happiest years of our lives. We think of it as our "lovenest". In 1878 I bought sixteen acres of land. I had then 31 acres --- considered in those times to be a nice little farm. My wife was a very saving woman so that we managed to save up a few hundred dollars every year. In 1884, I bought two thousand head of Jonas Ericksen's sheep. I paid two dollars and fifty cents a head. I mortgaged my farm to the Nephi bank to pay for them and I was ten years paying that mortgage. Grover Cleveland was elected President and the democrats were in power so that they removed the tarrif on wool so that for years I had to sell my wool for five cents a pound. In 1896, I was elected councilman for two years; and in 1898, I was called to go on a mission to Sweden. I left home on the fourth of November and went by rail to New York and on the 13th of November sailed on the steamship Penland, Captain Neilson from Philadelphia. We landed at Liverpool on the 25th of November. From there we continued by rail the next day for Grimsby. The next day we went on board the steamship Northenden, Captain Marsden and set sail for Hamburg 400 miles away. From there to Kil by railroad and from Kil to Kopenhagen by steamer. We landed there December fourth, 1899. I was set apart to go to Sweden, the birthplace of my ancestors. I traveled over the country from east to west and from north to south. I found many of my relatives, both on my father's side and my mother's side; and they were all fine, intelligent people. They were farmers, builders, contractors, shoemakers, blacksmiths, carpenters, and a good many of them were pilolts. Some were pilots over in England.
Sweden is a most beautiful country in the summertime, especially Stockholm built on five islands. I enjoyed my work among the people there very much because they were very kind and hospitable. I had good health all the time I was there. I traveled all over Denmark and Germany. I stayed in the mission field just two years and a half. Then I was released the 6th of April 1902. I left Sweden the 8th by way of Kopenhagen, Esberg, Denmark; and by steamer from there to Liverpool, England. I left Liverpool on the 13th and went on board the beautiful steamer, Commonwealth for Boston. We had five days of stormy weather, but it was fine as I nor any of the Olson family get seasick. I got home on the 28th of April and found my family all well. My wife had done well at home. I had sold my sheep and the boys had tended the farm. Before I left home I had sold my sheep as my boys were too young to take care of them; however, when I reached home, I borrowed some more money and bought 1500 head of fine ewes. My son, Guy, took care of them until I sold them in 1927. I gave two dollars and fifty cents per head and I sold them for $26.00 in 1927.