Relic Home and Blacksmith Shop

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Lee R. Christensen's WW II Journal continued ......

By Way of Explanation

     I started my diary 8th December 1941.  Not because that is the day after Pearl Harbor, but because that was the day the 2nd Battalion 222 Field Artillery Regiment was scheduled to leave for the Oakland (California) Port of Embarkation and the Philippines Islands, code name “Plum.”

     The attack on Pearl Harbor 7th December drastically altered the schedule but it was 3 days before new orders were issued.  In the meantime, we left Camp San Luis Obispo on schedule, motored to San Francisco, crossed the Bay Bridge and spent 4 days at the Oakland Army Base waiting for new orders, unloading our equipment and moving out to a new assignment.

     When this diary starts, I’m a gun Sgt in Btry “D”, 2nd Bn 222 FA Reg. 40th Division.  When the army modernized the Infantry Division in early 1942 Btry “D” became Btry “A” 204 FA Bn-a separate FA battalion.

     Btry “D” (which became Btry “A”) was a Utah National Guard unit federalized 3rd March 1941 and from Mt. Pleasant, Utah.  It was still 65% men from in and around Mt. Pleasant on 8th December.

     I don’t know how good an Army unit had to be to be sent to the Philippines fall of 1941.  But I’ve always thought being selected to go 6 months after going on active duty was commendable recognition.  However, after passing the GHQ tests and being selected, all our over age-in-grade officers were reassigned, one of whom was my father, Major Lee R. Christensen.  We lost the officers’ who made us good.
    The officers we lost went on to lead service units overseas.  The Battalion, at the 204th, regrouped, lost many men to other services, OCS, Air Force, and Cadres but earned 5 battle stars in the ETO.  (European Theatre of Operation.) By then they had modern equipment; radios, jeeps, machine guns and a 155 howitzer that was not a rusting relic of WWl.

Monday, May 11, 1942
They’ve gone and done it.  The worse has come.  We now inspect the trucks be the numbers.  They’re (Duffin) is working on a method of removing dust from the howitzers by the numbers.  God be good to those that cannot count.
The 2nd BN 204 F.A. found this dust haven in the hills today.  After they reach a toughened state we’ll both go to Tennessee.

Sunday, May 17, 1942
Tuesday was to be a “gold bricks” holiday.   Yes, I was going to relax and loaf cause it was moving day.  I didn’t rush my bed to the new area and then., sweet dreams.  That’s what I thought.  It’s true I hurried my bed roll to the new dust bowl and just as soon lost it till late at night.  The second section was assigned to constructing the fire pit and soakage sump. (where the men threw wet garbage and then threw dirt on it) The day was back breaking and hand callousing.   Hell, the digging was tough.
Still in a digging mood we dug fox holes many and deep Wednesday.  Leo Truscott sunk one into the ground four feet deep and five feet long.  It would have taken a direct hit to neutralize him.
Thursday the week begins.  I was called to appear before another Officers Candidate board.  Waved my dusty hand at Camp Dust and was toward Naches pass by 10 am.  Was calling Ft. Lewis home at 3 pm.  “My Favorite Blonde” kept me entertained during the evening.
Some chain smoked.  A few paced the floor.  I chewed gum.  All wondered.  A couple crammed.  Most thought it too late.  Everyone hoped.  That was the lobby scene of the exam room.  It was our day.  Opportunity was at our door.
“Sgt. Christensen A Btry 204 F.A. sir.”
“Be seated Sgt. and make yourself comfortable.”
For the next 15 minutes’ questions on gunnery, ballistics, history and current events were shot my way.  Some I answered, some I didn’t.  I think I got an average score.  Average isn’t good enough.
Chris Madsen and I did the thumbing, Loyd Adams the talking. Result-- Seattle and the Ice Follies.  The Follies are skaters ahead of anything I’ve seen in the entertainment field.  Handball court No 2 Y.M.C.A. listened to my snores.  *(we slept at the Y.M.C.A.)
McCord Field was visited by the three A Btry thumbers Saturday.  Purpose was to investigate why Chris hadn’t been called to the air corps. Found nothing.
It was “thumb up” again to Yakima via Seattle, Washington Lake Bridge and Ellensburg.
Lloyd and I accepted Vernal Christensen’s hospitality and bedded down in Rex Hafen’s hotel room in Yakima.  Early Sunday morning we were rolled out and made to sleep on the floor.
Now its home again.  Home again for a long stay.

Monday, May 18, 1942
The first BN. 204th F.A. got extra duty tonight.  Each and every one of us was marched over to our old camp site and made to police it up.  The band played jolly airs while we crawled along looking for trash.  Kennedy did a hot jitterbug number that kept us from breaking into tears.  Duffin is sort of tough on us.

Wednesday, May 27, 1942
Sunlight minutes crawled hurriedly into Past canyon.  The black hours follow closely.  Time fly’s to my liking.

Rattlesnakes have supplanted apple blossoms in Yakima valley.  It’s a disappointing day if we don’t get five of the buzzing terrifiers.  Nearly everyone can tell if a close strike, fortunately none have yet been better.  The rattlers are not very large here and don’t give much warning.  The rattles are retained and worn on the hat of the exterminator.

The second section was slightly reorganized Monday.  Cpt. John Seely was shifted to the Signal detail while Cpl. Willis Madsen was assigned to the second gun crew.

Del Ray Sorensen has gone home on emergency furlough.  Ralph Hill is pushing Prime Mover over hill and dale.
I seem to have Roy Smitier fixed.  We bet on the Nova-Savold fight with my choice winning.   This makes about the fourth time I’ve collected money from him on bets.
The rains have been present lately.  They keep the dust settled adding a smile to the day.
I’m lonesome tonight—couldn’t get a newspaper.

Sunday, May 31, 1942
I was painting the worn places on Helens dress when the hint was first dropped.  Captain Hatch strolled by and said, “Do a good job your going to be here only twenty more days.”  I didn’t know what he meant tell later Friday evening.
The order read “Sgt. Lee R. Christensen Jr. has been accepted as a candidate for Officers School and he will report to Fort Sill, Oklahoma on or before June 23, 1942.”  I had made one bar now to earn the other one.  Work, fight, work, you will not fail.
The Japs continue to scare someone.  Yesterday being a holiday no passes were issued.  It seems that the Japs are going to attack only on holidays.

Tuesday, June 2, 1942
“Payday! Payday!  What ya gona do with a drunken soldier “payday! Payday!”  That was yesterday.
“What ya gonna to do with a killing headache day after!  Day after!”  That’s today.
Went into town last tonight to get John’s quart.  Saw a show and helped Tiger back to camp.
Went into town today “goldbricking.” (goofing off) Bought me some dark glasses.
Sunset time found me on hands and knees talking to the “bones.”  I must have been convincing as I won fifteen dollars.
Friday, June 5, 1942
Just finished a tour of guard duty.  Nothing got out of the rut.  Mother’s package reached me in non-com meeting.  Nothing to do but open it and pass it around.  The men surely liked the cookies.  Second section has eaten all the rice balls.

(soldier ready for guard duty)

Spirits get lower and lower as the days hotter and hotter.  No one gives a good hoot in hell for anything.  Everyone is trying to get transferred.  Duffin the man breaker.  To hell with Duffin.

Monday, June 8, 1942

“Order Arms.”  Shovels and picks were dropped to order arms in a very military manner.  At that moment Co. Ward ordered Newel Nelson back to the Bty straight for his shovel.  For once a noncom had soldiered too well with his men.  Newel spent Sunday digging ditches.

Our fat covered muscles are being pounded into shape by the obstacle course.  We run around it at a good lope four times a day.  Look out 4 minute mile.

The O.C.S. men are starting to brush up on our work.  A good thing.  Just as well know all we can.

The sweet refrain of cowboy ballads is filling my wigwam.   Tonight the mandolin and guitar players of the BTRY. are here playing.   I prefer this music to any symphony outfit.

Saturday, June 13, 1942

I’m off.  It’s been a man eating week but I made it.  The airplane motors are humming, each turn of the prop taking me farther south.  The pines, swamps and lakes of Washington are stretched and hollow.  Rivers wind and twist still smiling in the otherwise black world.
I thumbed from Yakima Thursday a day ahead of the outlet.  Spent Friday meandering at the Fort trying to get things in order so as to leave.  Saturday, today.   I made it. 
Leaves BN  204th (great outfit) for OCS—class 30.

                                        BATTERY OF JUNE 1942

Richard Atkenson                                                ILL.
George Feck                                                          ILL.
Leonard Flavin                                                      ILL.
Joseph Deak                                                         ILL.
Creed McCormick                                                Tenn.
Charles Dunn                                                        Calf.
Ralph Hill                                                               Idaho
Arkly Bilby                                                             ILL.
Walter Goodwin                                                  Utah
Carlton Iverson                                                     Minn.
Samuel Jones                                                        Mo.
Walfred Juntunen                                                Mich.
Donald Kragskow                                                 Neb.
Tomas Kent                                                           Ohio
Estil Kittinger                                                        Mo.
Robert N. Kilgour                                                 Calf.
Lawrence Kime                                                     Calf.
Oliver Laubacher                                                  Ohio
Russ E. Lloyd                                                         Calf.
Melvin E. Link                                                       Missouri
Louis Seal                                                              Calf.
Marrion Modzeldwski                                         Mich.
John Morrison                                                      Calf.
John L. Milner                                                       Ga.
Wesley Mc Shan                                                  Texas
Roy B. Nieker                                                        Calif.
Ernest Noble                                                         Calif.
Thomas Schwenke                                               Mont.
Clyde Tucker                                                         Tenn.
Johnnie Thomas                                                   Tenn.
Vernon True                                                          Calf.
Mike J. Viola                                                         Calf.
Hugh Wiseman                                                    Tenn.
Garvice Williams                                                  Texas
Earl Williams                                                         Texas
William Vesselius                                                 Wash.
Sam H. Whitman                                                 N.C.
Bascum Westmoreland                                      Texas
Armond W. Cowles                                             Ill.
Charles D. Cahill                                                   Mont.
George E. Coles                                                    Or.
Lawrence A. Cooney                                            Calf.
Garner Jensen                                                      Utah
Heber Bagley                                                        Utah
Del Ray Sorenson                                                 Utah
Jim Cloward                                                          Utah
Hayes Draper                                                        Utah
Wilber Baxter                                                       Utah
Spencer Thompson                                             Utah
Vernan Christensen                                             Utah
Larmar Barney                                                      Utah

                                                MT. PLEASANT MEN
William Beck                                                        
Oscar Frandsen
D.H. Christensen
Carole Staker

Gordon Staker 

Dean Staker 

Floyd Syndergard
La Mar Syndergard
Willbur Rasmussen
Paul B. Seely
Boyd Seely
John R. Seely
Rex Hafen
Newel Nelson
Ned Stansfield
Boyd Stansfield
Ben Rasmussen
Mont Rasmussen
Perry Peel

 Lynn Poulsen

Micky Nelson

Leslie Nelson
Tom Pace
Eugene Rosenlof
Willis Rosenlof
Lauren Coats
Melvin Davidson
Delmar Beck
Shirley Madsen
Boyd Hansen
Veron Draper
Quantin Hansen
Mont Christensen
Frank Reusch
Willis Madsen
Earl Christensen
Vel Trascott

Parnell WilcoxDick Erickson 

Joe Matson, Charley Wright, Bennett Madsen, Burt Hafen, Bert Ruesch 

Wayne Brady                                                        Utah

Jay Larsen                                                              Utah

Kieth Kennedy                                                      Utah

Donald E. Snyder                                                 Calf.

Loran T. Willhite

John J. Walker

Alan E. Rhen

William Kuieyaboski

J.C. Honty                                                             Utah

Robert Gutierry                                                    Calf.

Joe L. Boutros

Fred Cook

Cliff Anderson                                                       Utah

David Candland                                                    Utah

Friday, February 17, 2017

Mount Pleasant's Very Own Music Man

Johannes Hasler - Mt. Pleasant's Very Own Music Man

· 26 January 2016 ·

This article was published in 1980 in Beehive History #6, by the Utah State Hisitorical Society, written by Marilyn Miller Smolka, a great granddaughter. 

Music Man -- Right Here in Mt. Pleasant City

 At the Liverpool dock, Louisa Hasler sat on the trunk containing her wedding trousseau and cried. The emigrant ship carrying the Mormon company to America had been overbooked and some of the luggage would have to be left. It wasn't fair, she wept, that the dozens of pillow cases, sheets, feather-bed covers, table linens, dresses, underclothes, and even shirts for the groom that she so carefully had sewn by hand (not to mention the raising and preparation of the flax and wool in the first place!) had to be left in preference to her husband's trunk of organ and band instrument parts, Preference for things musical, however, was an indication of things to come for the Haslers—newly converted to the Mormon church, newly married, newly departed from their native Switzerland, and about to set off for Utah. 

For John and Louisa Hasler the fourteen-day ocean voyage wasn't nearly as tedious as some of the earlier emigrant trips, and even the trek across the country from New York to Utah could be termed as almost enjoyable as they were among the first of the Mormon companies to travel on the newly completed transcontinental railroad. 

They arrived in the late summer or early fall of 1869 and were met by Louisa's sister and brother-in-law who drove them to Mt. Pleasant, which in itself was a four-day journey. 

The Haslers had been in Mt. Pleasant less than a week then they learned that there was to be a military drill for Governor Brigham Young held in the fields between Ephraim and Manti and that no less than a military band was needed to lead the procession. So John, who had literally taught himself to play the various band instruments in Switzerland, opened his trunk. In three weeks he was able to assemble the instruments, copy each of the musical parts by hand, round up a contingent of band members whom he rehearsed day and night, and put on a performance of rousing anthems to astound the local populace. 

His brass band continued to play and was always in demand for holiday celebrations, political meetings and theater performances. John eventually printed and bound an edition of band music, probably the first available in Sanpete County. But that was only the beginning. Shortly thereafter he was called to lead the choir in his ward* a position which he held for approximately seventeen years. 

At first the local bishop was dismayed to hear that John expected the ward meetinghouse to be lighted and heated the night of choir practice. Unheard of! Why, singing, like preaching, was supposed to be unrehearsed and only performed spontaneously according to the inspiration of the spirit! But John very politely put his foot down. Spirit or no spirit, his choir was going to rehearse, and rehearse they did. John also discovered that there was precious little musical talent available, so he set about instructing several ladies in the ward sufficiently that they could accompany the choir on the organ which he also kept in repair for all those long years. 

By 1882 the Haslers were firmly established in Sanpete County. After having lived five years in the two-room basement of their home, they had managed to finish constriction of their adobe home. John had survived a near-death bout with typhoid fever, pneumonia, and rheumatic fever which left him unable to walk without a cane for the rest of his life. He had served a mission for the church to Switzerland where he had organized a choir in every branch in the mission and also arranged the music and written a number of hymns for an LDS German hymnbook. He had taught music lessons in Sanpete County as his contribution to the United Order which the Haslers had joined in 1875, and seven of their nine children had been born to them (four of whom died in childhood). At this time John began a program of applied music which drew students from all over southern Utah. 

Three organs were installed in as many rooms in the Hasler house, and for $15 to $20, from four to six students would receive board and room for a six-week intensive music course, usually held during the summer months. John would teach group and individual lessons to students all day long, and each student was expected to practice what he had learned in each of his two or three daily lessons, which amounted to several hours of practicing as well. Mina Hasler Sorensen, the youngest daughter in the family, remembers vividly lessons beginning at six o clock in the morning and organ music coming from every room all day long, all summer long! Louisa for her part cooked, cooked, cooked! Besides her own family and the students, she often fed the families of the students who would come and stay for several days at the beginning and end of the sessions to deliver or reclaim their children, as well as numbers of other emigrant pioneers who always seemed to be a part of the Hasler household for various periods of time.

 Luckily a bounteous garden was able to supply produce, and the Haslers also raised chickens and some pigs and cows. Mina also relates that by the end of the day, the students had more than enough energy stored up after sitting at their organs all day and that it was a real trick to invent meaningful activities to keep them out of trouble. This intensive group method, however, proved to be very effective and was used by a number of succeeding music educators within Utah and throughout the country. Among John Hasler's students were J. J. McClellan and Anthony D. Lund, who were associated with the Tabernacle Choir for many years. 

In 1890 as a salesman for the Crown Piano Company, John began travelling around an eight- or nine-county area with horse and buggy selling pianos and organs door-to-door. As part of the sales contract he would agree to teach one member of the family twelve tunes with the purchase of an organ, or twenty-four for a piano. The lessons were conducted on his regular monthly trips, and often he would be seen returning home with payment "in kind" — cans of molasses or honey, cheeses, or sometimes even a horse or cow tied behind his buggy. 

C. W. Reid, one of his pupils who became a music instructor at Brigham Young University, once said of him that no other man had made it possible for music to get into the homes of so many people and over so wide a territory as did John Hasler. He continued to sell musical instruments until he was about seventy years old, at which time he retired to his small farm in Mt. Pleasant. Even then he tried to organize a male chorus in his High Priest’s Quorum, an experience which was a test of his patience and musicianship because as he said, "Those old men had no ear for music!" 

John Hasler died on January 10, 1914, at the age of 75. Coincidentally the cuckoo clock which he had brought with him from Switzerland} like the grandfather clock in the song, stopped short the morning he died, and it seemed that no repairman could make it work again. 

He left a musical legacy in southern Utah that undoubtedly justified the trunk of musical instruments brought so many years before from Switzerland. — 

Marilyn M. Smolka References: Unpublished, undated personal histories written by Johannes (John) Hasler, Louisa Thalmann Hasler, Mina Hasler Sorensen, and Walter Thalmann Hasler in the possession of Marilyn M. Smolka and also deposited with the Utah Historical Society and the LDS Church Historical Department.


"Mt. Pleasant, March 21, 1910.-Yesterday was Pioneer Day in this City, but the Pioneers and their descendants held their celebration Saturday. A program was given at the North Ward Meeting House. An interesting feature of the day was a collection of Pioneer relics, displayed at the Opera House. There were old spinning wheels, wooden shoes, flint-lock guns of over a hundred years ago, Indian millstones, pewter ware brought across the plains in the handcart companies, and many other things. The day's festivities closed with a grand ball in the evening at the Madsen Opera House." p. 195

In 1913-14, the old "meeting house" was remodeled and new benches purchased. At this time, the gallery was taken out, and a vestibule was built on the west. The building was dedicated by President Anthon H. Lund, and then became known as the North Ward Chapel. p. 198

Later (John Hasler) took the leadership of the ward choir; George Farnsworth, the former leader had resigned. At that time, no printed
music was arranged to the Church Hymn books, he wrote all the notes and arranged them to the Latter-day Saints' Hymns, until the Psalmody was edited. No heated rooms were provided for their practices, a leader had to make his own fires, and bring his own coal oil for their lights. Later, when an organ was pro­vided for the meeting house, the leader had to teach the organists before the practices. Entertainments had to be arranged to en­courage the members as well as the public. In this capacity, Mr. Hastler labored for over twenty years. . . . He was greatly thankful to be able to enjoy his work. He was noted for his punctuality, he never was known to have been late to meet an ap­pointment where duty called.
He was an organizer in this line of work, not only in Mt. Pleasant, but in many other towns he organized choirs and bands. p. 243


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