Relic Home and Blacksmith Shop

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Eleanor Augusta Dehlin Erickson,

Eleanor Augusta Dehlin Erickson, 1862-1940

"I was born in Salt Lake City, "somewhere on State Street" on 6 Aug.1862. My parents were Paul Paulsson Dehlin and Elna Waldemar Dehlin who immigrated to Utah from Malmohus, Sweden sometime during the 1850s. I remember nothing of the house there. The family moved to Mount Pleasant, Utah, and this is my first recollection. Before I was old enough to go to school I used to go to the neighbor's house and sing for them by the hour. I sat in their big armchair in front of a large fireplace. In the evening one of the boys, Willie Rowe, would carry me home --- so you see I was just small. I must have started school before I was six years old, because I don't ever remember not being able to read. My teacher was "Auntie Hyde". The schoolhouse was a small log building with rough slabs for the benches, no backs, and no tables except a long ledge built along one side of the room. When I was about 11 years old, a certain Mr. Rowley, who was blind, came from Provo to teach someone to play the organ for the choir. They chose Tina Morrison, Celia Jensen and myself to learn. He wrote out the manuscript and told me to watch the notes as he played the melody. Of course, I had a good ear for music and I learned the pieces by ear very quickly. Gradually the other two stopped taking the lessons and the full burden was left to me. I wasn't satisfied to play by ear alone, so any time I could get books on the rudiments of music, I would study them. I put this knowledge and what I could learn by myself together and in that way I figured out what I know today. I never really had any formal lessons or training in learning to play the piano. I have put in over 50 years of Church playing during my life: choir, Sunday School, Mutual, and Relief Society. In the choir work I sometimes did both the conducting and the accompanying at the same time. My closest friends when I was young were Hulda Neilsen and Louise Neilsen. They were not related although they were both my cousins --- one on my mother's side of the family, and one on my father's. My mother died when I was only seven years old. Two years after she died my father went on a mission to Sweden. Edith and I stayed with Aunt Olive Neilsen while he was away. He was back from his mission only two years when he took sick and died. I was only 13 at the time. He had married again, but we girls never lived with him and his new wife. We had a house of our own across the lot from them. Sometimes he lived with us before he died. After his death, Hilda taught school and supported us. Little girls should never mind doing dishes today with plenty of soap and water and good dishtowels. Cloth was so scarce in those days. We would rinse the dishcloth real good and wipe the dishes on that, instead of a towel. Aunt Olive raised one of her babies with only three diapers. Mr. MacMillan, a Presbyterian minister, had a school near his church there in Mt. Pleasant. Hilda taught for him sometime, and then, on the advice of the Church Authorities, she took the position in the Mormon Church school. There was such a crowd of children that the school couldn't accommodate them all, so I took the overflow class when I was just 14 years of age. There were thirty or forty odd pupils in the class which I taught. The Church rented a room close to the school for the overflow class. Mr. MacMillan offered to send me to college and give me a musical education provided I would spend five years teaching for the Presbyterian school. I felt I could remain true to my own belief and still work in another church, but my sisters and guardians were strongly opposed to it, so I reluctantly gave up the offer. Mr. MacMillan seemed to understand, however, and was always most kind to me. Knowing how I loved reading, he made an effort to direct my reading. All my life I have held him in high esteem. In 1879, at seventeen years of age, I attended the University of Deseret in Salt Lake City, where I took the regular course. My father's two sisters, Aunt Olive and Aunt Tildy, saw that I received this training. When I returned home, I taught the school that was in the Social Hall where I had between fifty and sixty pupils. At that time, I was eighteen years of age." (The story of Augusta's life thus far was as she personally told it to her granddaughter, Margaret Erickson Young, daughter of Alif Dehlin Erickson (Lief), eldest son of Augusta. when Margaret lived with Grandma and Grandpa Erickson in Raymond to take her 12th grade of schooling in 1933 - 34. The outline was found upon her death in one of her drawers, and compiled by Augusta's eldest daughter, Elna Erickson Bennett, and her daughter, Catherine B. Masters.) The story continues in Elna's words: "Augusta and Alif Erickson ("Ma and Pa") were married 5 Jan.1882. They met in Mt. Pleasant. They drove in a wagon to the Endowment House in Salt Lake City (about 100 miles) for their marriage so they could be married for Time and all Eternity. The Salt Lake Temple was not finished at that time. They lived in Mt. Pleasant. Their first child, a daughter, named Elna Augusta was born 6 Nov. 1883 and their second daughter, Ina Mae came to join them on 19 Dec. 1885. Alif was called to serve on a mission in Norway on April 9, 1889. Elna was five and Ina three when he left. He sold a team of horses and a wagon to help finance himself. While he was gone, "Ma "taught at the Seminary, gave music lessons and played in a dance orchestra to help support us and him. Ina and I stayed alone at night and tended ourselves."Ma" would just tell us where she was going, turn out the light and go ---we were not afraid. "Pa" was gone for two and a half years, and when he returned, the family got to go to meet him at the train at the Thistle station about thirty miles north of Mt. Pleasant. When "Pa" left for his mission, "Ma" wouldn't go to Moroni to see him off. She wanted to say goodbye at home. So Uncle Ed took a two-wheeled cart, horse drawn, and took me along. Just the two of us took "Pa" to Moroni. While he was on his mission, the railroad was put in. The railroad company wished to buy part of our farmland as a right of way for the railroad. "Ma" sold it to them. She had to forge "Pa's" name to do it, and the railroad company appreciated it, so in return for this kindness they gave the family a pass to go to Thistle to meet "Pa". I always had this over Ina. I was the last one to see him go, and the first to recognize him when he returned. He was wearing a black Van Dyke beard and Ina didn't know him. "I can see him! --I can see him, "Ma!"-----"Oh, you can't either. You won't know him." ----But I did! "Pa" was a farmer when he and "Ma" were married. When he returned from Norway, he and Uncle Henry started "The Erickson Meat and Grocery Store" in Mt. Pleasant. It was called a Green Grocery because it was the only store which sold fresh fruits (bananas and oranges) and vegetables. "Pa" was always interested in cattle. He would have to go out and get meat for the store. He would be up at five and work until dark. He was seldom able to attend Church."Ma' became very tired of the Sunday work, and when the Church advertised for settlers for Canada (Southern Alberta), "Pa" went up to see the country. He made the trip with Moroni Seeley and August Nelson. They went on the train and were gone two weeks. He was impressed with the straw stacks. He was asked why he went up there in the wintertime. His answer was, "I am sure I can stand the summers if I can take the winters."
Alif Erickson family portrait
By now there were five children in the family: myself, Ina, Lief, Daisy and Allan. Ina and I remained in Mt. Pleasant for the time being. Allie and I had married and we had our first baby, Norma, who was only about seven months old. Allie went with "Pa" and the other families. A train was chartered and five families went. They took their furniture, cattle, and everything they owned. There was one coach for the people. They settled in Stirling."Ma" and :Pa" left behind a beautiful new home. It was built of white pressed brick in 1900. There was a new bath, new range, rugs, piano ---everything so lovely ---it was one of the nicest in the town, and was the first to have a bathroom. There were four bedrooms with a beautiful winding stairway. A big watertank pumped water in from the well, and we had a cesspool and a kitchen sink. There was no furnace but "Pa" had planned to put one in. "Pa" said if "Ma" wanted to stay, he would go to Canada alone but she said 'No, she wanted to be with him' so the lovely home was sold. In 1955 I got to go through the home again. It had the same bathroom fixtures and pantry. Allie and I were in Mt. Pleasant visiting and as we were driving by, Allie stopped the car and said he just wanted to look. He went up and rang the doorbell and told the lady, "I was married in that front room." The lady invited us in and took us through the whole house.It was a very happy experience for both of us. The home made quite an impression on the people of the town. Daisy was only about ten when she asked,"Ma" ---"Ma" --are we rich?" ----"NO, NO, we aren't." "All the girls in school think we are." -----"Well, we aren't".---"I'm sure glad they don't know we're as poor as we are." We all laughed about this. The Ericksons lived in Stirling from 1903 until 1910. Alif had been homesteading about 20 miles east in Wrentham but Allie and I had moved to Raymond, about 7 miles west of Stirling, and since Daisy and Ina were both working in Raymond, "Ma" and "Pa" decided to move to Raymond also. Ina and Daisy eventually moved back to Utah, marrying fellows from there. Lief was later settled on the Stirling farm and Allan on the Wrentham one. "Ma" and "Pa" bought a nice home right across the street from Allie and I, where they lived until they were taken in death."Ma", who had played for the choir since she was 12 years old, was organist for both the Ward and the Stake until she was 65 years old. Then Emma Dahl took over in the ward, and N. Lorenzo Mitchell became the stake organist. She was chorister in both ward and stake Relief Society for many years. There was always someone in her home to practise ---either a quartette, a duet, a solo--whatever. When I was a very small girl I made up my mind that when I got my own home, I would never leave dirty dishes for my children to do. All those years I was growing up, "Ma" was always busy giving music lessons or practising as an accompanist with a person or a group, and I think she liked playing the piano better than she liked doing the dishes because that was always my job. I remember staying up so late at night ---so tired, and longing to go to bed, but I had to wait for "Ma" to eat, but while she was at the piano I cleaned up the dishes although sometimes I was so tired I could scarcely keep my eyes open. Having not forgotten this, I have always done my dishes even though I might have to leave other housework for my children to do after school. (End of Elna's story. Continued by Elna's daughter, Catherine Bennett Masters): Grandma Erickson was a quiet, pleasant woman. She was about 5'4" tall and 'a little wide'. She had beautiful long dark hair, which she usually wore in a bun on the top of her head. I remember her brushing it ---she'd brush it forward over her face and it would nearly touch the floor. When she died at 78, she had more brown hair than grey. We used to love to go over to her home and listen to her play the piano, and accompany herself and Grandpa as they sang duets. She sang in a strong mellow alto voice and Grandpa had a beautiful tenor voice, both of them always right on key. They loved to sing together and were asked to perform often. I remember Grandma's Swedish pancakes ---how one of them completely filled her big iron skillet. Mom never made this kind of pancakes so they were a real treat to us. Two more of her specialties were her Christmas cakes and puddings. On a planned day in the fall she would walk across the street to our house, hair freshly done up in a bun, a clean apron covering her house dress, ready to put the holiday goodies together. Each one usually took the better part of one day. After she died, Mom continued on alone. It had become a family tradition. Those cakes and puddings were the very best in the world. I have never tasted any that were any better. We kids would often go over to her place to take milk or fresh butter, or freshly baked bread or the mail and she would often ask us to stay and eat with them. We were shy and would usually say 'No, we were not hungry', then Grandpa would grin and reply, "Any day I'd rather feed a man who admits he's hungry than one who says he isn't. The one who says he isn't hungry always eats the most." Grandma was an avid reader. She would read by the hour while Grandpa was working in the garden and the yard. He always arose about four or five each morning in the summer time, and then by seven at night, although it was still very light outside, he would be in bed. Grandma would sit up until late every night reading, doing some handwork and listening to the ten o'clock news, and then she'd sleep until ten the next morning. She had cataracts on both eyes, had surgery to have them removed and suffered a great deal from this. But the suffering didn't disturb her as much as the fact that she could no longer read with ease. For much of the time she had to be content with just listening to the news on the radio. Sometimes she struggled to read with a big round magnifying glass. Her beloved Etudes (music magazines) would sit stacked up in the front room on a chair or on top of her music cabinet and gather dust --- magazines she had spent so many hours pouring through when her sight was better. She had some sort of infection, probably sinus, that caused her severe headaches. She couldn't tolerate cold air and remained inside the house a good deal, especially in the winter time. This was in the last years of her life. It was very hard for Grandma when Grandpa had his stroke. It happened in July of 1939. He and Grandma had just finished entertaining their Johansen friends from Cardston area, and had sung several duets for them. The company had barely left when Grandpa began acting very strange and was forced to lie down on the living-room couch. The doctor was called and we were told he had suffered a stroke. Weeks later he got so he could walk over to our place but his left side never fully recovered. His leg dragged, his arm was unsteady, and his face, mostly his eye, was affected. Suddenly, after years of being waited on by her husband, Grandma now found the tables turned. It was now necessary for her to do the "waiting" on him. We always thought Grandma would be the first to go because she had had so many health problems over the years. By Christmas time he was completely bed-ridden and finally passed away on the 24th of January 1940. Grandma had been so involved in helping Mom take care of him she was heard to say at his passing,"I hope the Lord will take me fast when it is time for me to go. I don't want to linger and have to have loved ones wait on me day and night. I don't want to be a burden on anyone." She was given her wish. One afternoon that fall she went to her garden to gather potatoes for her dinner. She was carrying them in her apron. As she walked up her stairs to the back door, she suddenly fell forward. Gen, who lived in the other part of her house, and a neighbor, John Kimball, carried her into the house and she was pronounced dead by the doctor when he arrived shortly afterwards. In death she looked so beautiful and peaceful, just like she was sleeping. She had gone so suddenly and looked so natural. This was such a sharp contrast to the way Grandpa looked when he was laid away. He had been ill for so long and was so thin we could hardly believe it was him. As I look back, I am so proud of the manner in which Mother and Dad took care of Grandma and Grandpa Erickson in their later years. Each fall as Dad and the boys filled our coalhouse to ensure us a warm house all winter, they always brought another load or two for our grandparents across the street. As they grew too old to care for their cows and chickens on their own, eggs and fresh milk always found their way across the street to them. Each spring, when loads of manure was hauled from the farm onto our town garden, some of it was always taken to their garden. Many times Mom sent us girls over to to help Gram can her vegetables and fruit. One thing I remember especially was helping her with her pickled beets. As long as a beet was in her garden, we'd can beets! Each fall when sugar and flour and oatmeal and other staples were purchased in 100 lb. sacks for our winter supply, enough always went across the street. I remember Dad asking, "How much will "Ma' and "Pa" need?" when the buying was done or as pig or a beef was slaughtered. Seldom did we eat Sunday dinner without them, and Mother was often heard to say,"I wonder how "Ma" is fixed for bread." when she took her own out of the oven, or "fixed for butter" as she finished churning her cream into butter. Grandpa always loved the fresh, cold buttermilk --- the best drink in the world when he was all hot from mowing his lawn or working in his garden. For several years each Friday after school, I ran over and did the weekly cleaning for Grandma so I would be free to work on Mom's house on Saturday. Mother did their weekly wash for years ---until Gen married and moved into the other part of Gram's house. Then she took over the washing and ironing, much of the cooking and, of course, the cleaning. When Grandma and Grandpa were younger and had better health, they often spent their winters in Utah with Daisy and Ina. They would generally stay until spring, and come home in time for the Old Folks' Party near the end of March. At about this time each year, Mother would send Gen, Bernie and I over to clean up their house. It was quite an experience. There were stacks of old newspapers, paper sacks and empty boxes to burn. Gram was an avid stringsaver. She would wind any piece, no matter how long or how short, into a ball; and we would find string balls all over the house. We had the best fires in her kitchen range, getting rid of all the stuff that we were certain she would never use. If they hadn't gone to Utah every so often, there may not have been room for our grandparents in those rooms! We really cleaned everything out, but I don't think either of them missed the things we did away with. I like to remember Grandma when she was at her beautiful piano practising with someone or playing as she and Grandpa sang duets. They knew many. I particularly loved to hear Grandpa sing, "The other day I nearly found a quarter I've never been so near a thing before (can't remember this line) And with a string they hauled it back again." The other one I remember was one he sang in Norwegian. We had no idea what the song was about but it sounded like "Frog on manure, Fort Mindy adore". I wonder if any in the family but Grandpa knew what it meant. Then there was the cute little chuckle Gram had when she told a joke. She loved to tell the funny things her grandchildren did and said. Sometimes she would be so tickled that tears would run down her cheeks.


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"In all of us there is a hunger, marrow-deep, to know our heritage - to know who we are and where we have come from."



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