Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Alif Erickson

Alif Erickson

by Margaret Young, a granddaughter

Erickson Meat and Grocery

"Alif Erickson, of the Erickson Meat and Grocery Company, was the son of Henry and Ingeborg. He was born in Spanish Fork, Utah, on July 14, 1858, being the seventh child of eight children born to Henrik Erickson and Ingeborg Gunderson. They were converted to the LDS Church in Norway, and later, immigrated to America. In 1860, when he was just two years old, the family moved to Mt. Pleasant where he was raised as a farmer."
I have no information at all on his childhood years, but I do know that his father,Henrik Eriksen was born in Asmundhavn, Senlov, Norway on 4 October,1818, that he married Ingeborg Gunderson in Risor, Norway on 17 December, 1840, that they had three children who died in infancy in Norway, and that they brought two children, a boy (Erick Bertle) and a girl (Torberg Elizabeth) with them when they came to America. I know they crossed the plains in the middle 1850s because I have found a record of that crossing on microfilm. His brother, Henry, was born in Lehi in 1856 and he was born two years later at Spanish Fork and his younger brother, Edward, was born in 1860 at Mt. Pleasant, Sanpete Co., Utah, according to the family group sheets I have from my father, Alif Dehlin Erickson. From this, I must assume that Henrik brought his wife and two young children - a boy and a girl, came across the plains about 1855 or 1856, in time for Henry to be born at Lehi on 28 July 1856. From there, they must have journeyed southward to Spanish Fork where my grandfather, Alif, was born on 14 July, 1858. Four years later, in 1862, the last child, Edward Allen, was born in Mount Pleasant; they, having lived there for about two years. In 1864, Alif's father died suddenly from diphtheria, leaving Ingeborg with 4 boys and a girl to support, so we may well imagine that these children learned early how to work and assume responsibility and to help manage the affairs around the family home. Again, according to the information I have, Erick would have been nearly 14, and Torberg Elizabeth nearly 11 when they came across the plains in 1855, so they were both substantially older than Alif, who was only 2 when they moved to Mount Pleasant; in which case , these two older children would be well into their teen years before their father passed away and old enough to be good help to their mother when she was widowed.
Eleanor Augusta Dehlin

I also know that Alif was married to Eleanor Augusta Dehlin in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City on 5 January, 1882. Augusta was the third daughter of Paul Paulson Dehlin and Elna Waldemar Dehlin who had immigrated from Sweden to America shortly after the gospel was preached in Sweden in the early 1850s. Augusta was born "somewhere on State Street" in Salt Lake City on 6 August, 1862 according to her words. They also went to settle in Mount Pleasant when she was a very small child, so they would have to have met during their growing up years in Mount Pleasant. When Alif began to work for himself, he purchased a farm, a nice 80 acre tract. He was a member of the city council for three years and served with C.W. Peterson. In the Wrentham History book, my Uncle Allan states that he was Sheriff of Sanpete County for a time. He opened the Erickson Meat and Grocery Co. in partnership with his brother, Henry. Ferdinand Ericksen had a law office upstairs in the same building. ("Uncle Ferd", as we always heard him referred to in our family, was no relation, he being a Dane, but his family has always held close ties with ours, since his wife's sister (Aunt 'Mina) was married to Uncle Henry.) It was a fine brick building, and they had a good stock of fresh and canned meats, groceries and provisions. Alif's responsibility was to do the buying and slaughtering of the animals, so he always had many cattle and horses around his place. He was a stockholder in the Electric Light Company and Mt. Pleasant Roller Mills, of which he was a director; which, in my mind qualifies him as a public-spirited individual who was willing to give of his time to the community in which he lived. They had five children: Elna Augusta (Nell Bennett) born 6 November,1883; Ina Mae (Olsen) born 19 December, 1885; Daisy Genevieve (Carlson) born 2 February, 1892; Alif Dehlin Erickson, born 25 November, 1893; Oscar Allan Erickson, born 7 December, 1895. On 9 April, 1889, Alif was called on a mission to Norway, the home of his parents. He sold a fine team of horses and a wagon to help finance his mission. His wife, Augusta, who was talented in music, went to work teaching school, giving music lessons, and playing in a dance orchestra to take care of her needs and those of her two little girls. He was away for two and one half years, and when he returned, his oldest daughter was almost old enough to be baptized. They had lived in an adobe house up to this point, but by 1899 or 1900, Alif had a fine new modern brick home built beside the old one and reputed to be the first home in town with an indoor bathroom. Then he bought his wife the best piano he could find in the country, according to his son, Alif Dehlin (Lief, my father). Around the turn of the century there was much talk of the opportunities available to settlers in Canada. So, in the winter of 1902, Alif came up to explore the prospects of bettering himself financially. He travelled by train, stayed two weeks, and said he needed to see the country in the winter because he knew he could stand the summers. He was favorably impressed, so after settling his affairs at home, he set out on a mixed train with five other families and all their earthly possessions for a destination in Canada. We can only imagine his wife's consternation when he decided to leave that fine, new house and start all over again in a strange new land. They loaded all their possessions onto a mixed train consisting of approximately twenty boxcars for the livestock, machinery and household effects, a passenger coach and a baggage car for the convenience of the people on the train. The people rode in the one passenger car, while the men rode with the animals, machinery and all the household effects, arriving at the Stirling Siding station in Northwest Territories, Canada on April 23, 1903, in company with the families of Moroni Seely, Oscar Barton, Peter Meiling, Nels Eliason, James Bradley, and Edward Erickson, a younger brother. Uncle Allan specifies 52 people coming on that train. My dad remembers how hard the wind was blowing the next morning after they arrived, compared to what he was used to in Utah. Alberta was not in their address yet, but was formed from a part of the Northwest Territories just two years later, in 1905. Alif had intended to settle in the Magrath area when he had seen it the year previous, but they had to unload everything from the train at Stirling because the railroad was not finished any farther, so he bought a small two roomed house on the west side of the village, which the family shared with the former owners for several weeks. They slept in a tent for most of the summer. They weathered the famous "May Snow Storm" of May 15th when they endured drifts 6-8 feet high with 3 feet on the level. The snow cover was so deep that it didn't even freeze the blossoms on the currant bushes and on the gardens. Many cattle and sheep were lost in the storm, but we were fortunate to have shelter in a barn for our animals so we didn't lose any. Two men of the Wrentham district lost their lives in that storm as they were herding their father's sheep. Many were the hardships which were common in those days! His first farm was a 40 acre parcel two miles south of the village, which he broke up with a walking plow and four mules. Later, he acquired another 40 acres adjoining it, and broke it up the same way. Much of his time was spent doing teamwork on the irrigation canal and breaking sod for others in order to get money to expand his own operations. By 1908, he had acquired a homestead near Wrentham (which his son, Allan, later owned), a quarter section west of Stirling (which his elder son, Lief, later bought and farmed until his eight children were grown), and later, two parcels of 80 acres each two miles farther west on which they raised hay. (They called it "The Hay Farm.") At the homestead, they began raising horses because there was almost unlimited free pasture on the prairies. He became prominent in the area for his good stock. He loved his animals and gave them the best of care. He had learned to be a shrewd business man and a hard worker. By being energetic and thrifty, he was gradually able to acquire enough of this world's goods to make his family comfortable. In 1910, he moved to Raymond to live because two of the girls were working there, and one was married there and they could all be together. Also, the Knight Academy was just completed and he had two boys old enough to take advantage of the education it offered them. But he continued his farming operations in the Stirling and Wrentham areas with the help of his two sons, using Raymond as his home base. Since, as was stated before, his wife, Augusta, was talented in music, she was very much involved with the people in the community as a church organist and choir director, a piano player in orchestras and programs, and also as a piano teacher. She was never too busy to give of her time to practise for the enjoyment of others. She instilled in many of her posterity, a real love for music of all types. Alif loved music and had a fine tenor voice. The two of them sang together to her accompaniments on the piano, and were invited to perform often in the three communities. They lived together in their home in Raymond until 1940, when Alif passed away following a stroke on January 24th at 81 years of age, and Augusta on October 10th in the same year at the age of 78. Grandpa Erickson was past 60 years old when I knew him, but I was impressed that he was a tireless worker. He always had a big vegetable garden and kept it carefully. He was generous in sharing his produce with others who needed it. Harvest time was always exciting for him, and he was always on hand to see that everything went on as it should and to help at whatever he was able to do. Since his experience was as a butcher in his younger years, he helped with the butchering on the farm until he had taught my dad what he knew, and he also taught him the fine points of curing of hams and bacon. He was always alert to opportunities that would assist him in providing a better life for his family. I remember meeting an old Raymond native in Calgary in the early 1980s, who had known the Ericksons there. At once, the thought came to him of a wonderful stallion my grandfather had which, to use his very words, "threw the best colts in the country". I I remembered this big roan horse around their place when I was very small. Grandpa used to lead him to drink at the watering trough each day, and stand and wait patiently for him to finish, he often trotted him around the yard for exercise when I thought he was too old to put himself through that. He spent a lot of time brushing and curry-combing his coat, all of which I thought, in those tender years, was too much work for him and that he would do better to get a "pet" that was easier to care for in his old age. Oh, the innocence of childhood! Times were often tough even in my childhood, but nothing compared to the early days in this country. Land had to be broken under adverse conditions, rocks had to be picked from the farmland without benefit of any modern labor-saving machinery which we know today, and life depended on the brute strength and determination one had to survive in a new country. My father and grandfather endured the scorching heat of summer, the chilling blasts of the Canadian winters, the incessant west wind, and often the raging prairie fires which swept through the country in the dry years. Life became better when they graduated to the use of horses in their farming operations, but nothing like the mechanized farm life we know today. How grateful we are for the folks who came early and stayed on to make it the wonderful place it is today! I join my dad as he said in the Wrentham History book-"Homestead Country, Wrentham, Alberta" "Dad, through his energy and thrift, gradually acquired the means to give us, as a family, some of the things that make life bearable and a little more meaningful, and I honor him for the good example he set for us."

The following Story is from Alice Peel Hafen 

In about 1885, Grandpa Ericksen (Henry Ericksen) and his brother Allif started a meat and grocery store in Mt. Pleasant. Grandpa managed the store while Alif ran the farm and livestock; buying, feeding and slaughtering for the store. They would notify the townspeople that on a certain day they were going to kill a beef in the evening and bring it to the store the next morning, so that people could get a "hunk" of meat.

There were steaks, roasts, boils, stews or hamburger - just a chunk of meat. They would start cutting just back of the ears and end at the hind shank. all the cuts sold for the same price per pound; whether it was the neck or the porter house. Then, to carry it home, the customer whittled a sharp stick, jabbed it in the piece of meat and went home to mama, to have it prepared for the family dinner. There was no paper, twine or plastic to wrap the piece of meat in.

In 1893, they built their store on Main Street and took in another partner; brother-in-law, Judge Ferdinand Ericksen. The store was incorporated as the Ericksen Meat and Grocery Co. Their store was in a two story brick building with a full basement. It was considered one of the finest institutions in the community.

Ferdinand Ericksen was a lawyer and occupied three rooms on the second floor for his law practice. The town doctor, Dr. W.W. Woodring, occupied the other two rooms on the second floor.
In 1920, Soren M. Nielson and Uncle Harry, Henry's son, bought the store. Then in 1925, Uncle Harry, bought Nielson's half interest and owned and managed the business alone. Uncle Harry put in about forty five years operating the store. They did their own slaughtering and feed their own livestock such as hogs, lambs and cattle. Before the meat packers came into the state, they shipped out daily loads of dressed meat to Salt Lake City, Bingham, Eureka and also Carbon County.

During those first twenty years of operation they started to make their own lunch meats, bologna, minced ham, corned beef, head cheese, hamburger and sausage. But when the big packers came into the state that phase of manufacturing was discontinued. Until 1925 they handled the livestock with a first class saddle horse. After that, motor trucks and trailers were used to move the livestock between range, feed lot and slaughter house.

Ice was used in the store coolers until 1915, when modern refrigeration was installed. Before that, ice blocks were stored in the ice house under sawdust, and used to refill the store's ice about once a week. With the advent of electric home refrigerators, the store discontinued using their own ice supply.

After Uncle Harry sold the store, there has been several companies using the Main Street building, including Al and Naomi Berti's Red and White store, Terrel's Red and White Store.
The Ericksen Meat and Grocery Co. had a lot of competitors come and go, but operated for over sixty two years. And since 1986 it has been the home of the Mt. Pleasant Pyramid, the local newspaper.

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