KAREN MARIE HALVERSON JENSEN
MY PATERNAL GRANDMOTHER
by MARIE JENSEN WEBSTER,
daughter of HANS JENSEN
My grandmother, Karen Marie Halverson, was the oldest daughter, and third child of Peter Halverson and Johanna Marie Larson. She was born January 9, 1860 in Sindal, Denmark. She was one of ten children. Her two oldest brothers had gone to New Zealand on a lumber ship to look for a new home for their family.
The Mormon missionaries brought the gospel to the rest of the family living in Denmark. The missionaries who converted the family offered to pay Grandmother's fare to America. The plans were to bring the rest of the family as soon as they were financially prepared.
My grandmother wouldn't leave unless her youngest brother, Nels, could go with her; so it was arranged.
When they arrived in Utah, the missionary who converted the family placed her brother with a Mormon family, and my grandmother was taken to their home. He had a wife and several children. Here she helped with the housework to repay the cost of her transportation to America. After a few months, he and his wife told my grandmother that they wanted her to become his polygamous second wife. She didn't want to comply; so, they asked her to leave at once. It was evening and the little town had few settlers. So, she gathered all her earthly possessions and tied them in her shawl. She had to wrap her worn shoes with the strips of cloth to keep them on her feet. In the distance, she could see a light. It led her to a family who needed help; so, she found a place to stay.
Eventually, the rest of her family came to America by boat. Then, in a cattle car by train to Utah. The family was together again.
The Halverson family count University professors, a Temple President, civic leaders, military officers, and many devout members of the Church of Jesus Christ among their progenitors.
My grandmother was a wonderful person She had a twinkle in her eye and an understanding heart. We all loved her. She made the best bread, churned her own butter, and had a basement filled with jams, jellies, smoked hams and bacon, which my grandfather prepared himself. In their orchard stood the smokehouse where he cured the meat he raised on his small acreage in Ucon, Idaho.
Grandmother had injured her hip in a fall, and she always walked with a limp That never kept her from feeding her chickens and picking and canning the berries and fruit they grew. She was a good cook. Her specialties were chicken and dumplings and wonderful big molasses cookies. She made a refreshing drink she called "beer." It was made from toasted barley, hops, sugar and yeast. She kept it cooled in her basement. It was a treat on hot summer days.
Grandmother was often called to help her family and others when they became ill. She had a special ability to nurse the sick. She had an abiding faith in prayer.
My grandparents had a big brick home, but it didn't have central heating. They kept all the doors to the house closed and warmed only the kitchen and their small bedroom. The rest of the house was opened and heated for family dinners. Grandma had a guest bedroom that had a feather bed with a feather comforter and big goosedown pillows. She also had a white China commode. Whenever we stayed overnight with her, she warmed bricks on the stove, wrapped them in towels, and put them at the foot of the bed. Elaine, Francis, and I would all crawl into bed with her. Two of us slept at the bottom, then put our feet on the warm bricks and snuggled under that feather comforter, preceded of course, by a visit to the China commode under the bed. Such luxury! I don't remember my grandmother ever being cross. When we visited her, she often gave us an egg we could take to the store in exchange for candy. She was a much loved Grandma.
My grandparents raised six sons. Grandma encouraged them to go on missions and pursue an education. She cared for my grandfather during his illness prior to his death. He died of stomach cancer. She lived alone for several years taking care of herself. My mother wanted her to stay with us during the cold winters, but she preferred to be independent.
She passed away at age 83, after a brief illness. Her sons and daughters-in-law took turns caring for her until her death. During her life, she had been very active in the Church, serving in various positions she was called to fill. She was buried in Ucon, Idaho, June ll, l940.