Wednesday, July 13, 2011


by her grandson,
written November 1, 1979
Mary & Martina Halvorsen
Mary Halverson Peterson was the mother of my mother.  She was born in Denmark and came to the United States when she was eight.  I can remember her when I was very small telling me about her trip.  She said that she left Denmark and went to Liverpool, England, then went on a ship from Liverpool to the United States.  She came over after 1869, so she got to come west on the train.  Now prior to her coming, her two oldest brothers, one of which was James, went to New Zealand where they both lived until they died.  They have a posterity in New Zealand and none of them are members of the Mormon Church and are not interested in listening to any other religion. 

One of the sons of these immigrants wrote a book about the impact that the Nordic people had on the settling and development of  New Zealand.  None of my immediate family has visited any of those people, even thought Scott, my son, was on a mission in New Zealand.  He wasn't in the Auckland area and we never sent him any names to contact.  My Grandmother used to write to these two boys from time to time and used to hear from them.

Anna Mary Halvorsen Peterson
After the two boys went to New Zealand the missionaries from the church contacted the rest of the family and converted them to Mormonism.  It was at that time that the eldest son living in Denmark decided to come to the United States.  His name was Tom Helverson, and he came and settled in Spanish Fork and worked until he got enough money to send for the rest of the family.  There was Mary, Andrew, and Tina along with their parents, that were still in Denmark and they all came over after Tom.  Tom became a very successful farmer in the Spanish Fork area, and owned a home on main street and also one in the west fields.  He had a rather large family and was married to Emma Ottesen.  One of their sons became Mission President in New Zealand twice and filled a mission there also.  Most recently he was President of the Ogden Temple.  I reiterate this to give a background of the family.

LeRoy  Elda  Mary & James Peterson
Andrew Helverson settled in Mapleton and married Mary Peterson and Mary Helverson married James Peterson, so there was a brother sister marriage.  My Grandmother (Mary Helverson) married James C. Peterson and had two children.  The eldest is Elda Peterson who was born on December 5, 1895 and she was my mother.  Her brother LeRoy was born two years later on December 14.  My mother grew up in Mapleton under very poor circumstances.  After they had two children, my Grandfather was poisoned and got Tuberculosis of the bone.  He had his leg amputated three times, and in addition to that had a great stomach disorder.  After getting infection from water in a sheep herding camp, he had to be castrated.  He had poor health all of his life.  My mother tells that the ward in Mapleton fasted and prayed and he was administered to by the elders and he was healed instantly of his stomach problems.  And this gave my mother a strong faith in the elders and in this ordination.  My grandfather was a very devout man and he was absolute in his payment of tithing, even though he was meagerly employed.  He lived next door to his father, Peter Boel, in Mapleton, and I presume Peter game him the three acres of ground.  Whether he helped him build his home or not, I don't know.  They had a little frame house that they owned, and it was paid for before he died at the age of 52.

I remember these two people quite vividly, and I remember James Peterson when I was young because he used to take me with him on his white horse up to do his work at the church and at the school.  And he would always let me go up to the store and buy soda pop as a treat.  I always loved to go with him, and since I was his only grandchild and I was very pampered.  My grandmother pampered me the same way, and they bought lots of clothes for me when I was very young. 

James (Jens) Peterson
When I'd go over to grandmother's house, I would go through every drawer in her house looking for candy or something.  I never did mess things up, I just looked.  In her cupboard drawer, there was usually a piece of hard dried cheese, and I liked to find this dry cheese so I could eat it.  And even to this day when I can get a hold of a piece of dry cheese, I relish it.  I suppose most people wouldn't like cheese that way, but this was before the days of refrigeration and they didn't have an ice box or water piped into the houses.

As a matter of fact they had a well about ten or fifteen feet from the corner of the house.  It seems to me they had a bucket hooked up to a pulley so they could draw the water to the top.  In the back of the house they had a barn and they kept a cow, pigs, and some chickens.  They would butcher the animals and they would store the meat.  They didn't eat a lot of beef; they usually ate pork. 

They used to cure the pork by putting it in a brine barrel or dry porking it, which was just covering the meat with dry salt and this made it possible to store the meat all winter.  Grandmother used to make what we called head cheese from the head of the pig.  It was kind of like a pressed meatloaf.  She also cleaned the entrails of the pig and filled them with sausage.  She really knew how to flavor those things and she was an excellent cook.  She made all kinds of pastries and everyone thought she was a master in the kitchen.

They drank coffee at breakfast, at 10:00 a.m., at 2:00 p.m. and in the evening.  They were heavy coffee drinkers, which comes from their Danish heritage.  I used to sit up to their table when I was three years old and dunk sugar cookies into coffee and then eat them.  They were great people and I remember them from an early age, particularly to the time I was seven years old when I moved to Springville.  We only lived a couple of blocks from them in Mapleton.  As I got older they didn't pamper me as much, and when Earl was born they just didn't have the money to spoil two grandchildren.  And so the gifts weren't as lavish when there were two of us to buy for. 
Anna Mary Halvorsen Peterson

My Grandmother Peterson was around 50 when grandfather died, and after his death she dated other men.  Two or three years later she married a man by the name of John Beckstrom, who lived in Spanish Fork.  I remember he had a six-cylinder Buick touring car.  It was an open-air car, and quite fancy for those days.  Grandmother never had very much in the way of worldly goods and this was an opportunity for her to live in a big house in Spanish Fork and to be able to ride around in a car.  John Beckstrom was about 20 years older than she.  One of the things he was famous for was that he went to every funeral around, whether he knew that person or not.  They didn't live together very long as they didn't get along very well; and according to her, he was cruel to her. 

But his children asked her to stay with him until he died, which she did.  His children were very good to grandmother and they thought a lot of her.  Apparently they realized their father was hard to get along with.  There was some kind of settlement after his death.  I don't remember just what she got, but they settled with her on a very favorable basis as far as they were concerned and as far as she was concerned.  It seems to me she got about $1,500.  She never married again.  She moved back to Mapleton and lived with Roy and Goldie.

Chris     James   Pierre   Peter
Mary   Elsine   Maren Peterson (Little Grndma) Family
Her brother Tom Helverson married Emma Ottesen and Emma had a brother named Rast Ottesen whose wife had died.  And he was living alone in Palmyra, so Rast Ottesen, with the approval of the rest of the family, hired my Grandmother Petersen to go live with him and cook his meals and care for the house.  Now Rast and my grandmother were never married and I don't think they ever lived together as man and wife; they were just companions.  Rast was very good to her and he paid her about $20.00 a month plus room and board.  She bought all her own clothes but he was especially good to take her to church and bring her to visit us and to visit Roy.  He had a 1934 Pontiac coupe that he drove around in those days.  he was the father of Dr. Ottesen who was a dentist in Springville.  She lived with him and took care of him until he died sometime after World War II.  When he died, she moved back with Roy. 

He fixed up a room for her and she lived with him until she became ill with cancer.  By this time I was out of the war so it was around 1948 when she died.  She died of cancer and there was nothing we could do for her.  She never did complain and I visited her in the Payson Hospital and at Roy's several times.  She always called me the "Professor".  I'm not sure why she chose that name for me but she called me that from the time I was a young boy.  As I said before, she was an excellent cook and I can remember her eating beef steak and telling me that the fat was the best part.  She ate a lot of food and she got quite heavy and flabby before she died.  I suppose she weighed well over 200 pounds and was about 5' 4" tall.

Peterson House
She always wanted me to write my history, particularly the history of my war experiences because she was trying to put together some genealogy.  But I can't remember that I every gave it to her. 

She was about 68 years old when she died.  She passed away in the Payson hospital and was buried in the Springville Cemetery.  Bishop Oscar Whiting was the Bishop at that time and he officiated at the funeral.

Now there were some other highlights on her life.  In 1943 my mother passed away and Mr. Ottesen was still living at that time, and he brought her (my grandmother) up on Sundays and she cooked dinners for my father and Oran.  I remember my father saying how much he appreciated what she did for him. 

Andrew  Mary   Mariah  Martina  Thomas
Peder  Niels   Johanne   Halvorsen  Family
She never did much in the way of worldly goods and yet she was very generous.  She always had a dollar to give to the grandchildren even though she only made $20.00 a month.  She was always thinking of what she could do for other people, not what they could do for her.  She was always cheerful and I just loved to go visit her when I was a teenager and as a young man.  It was always a delight and I always came away feeling great.  When I think of the conditions under which she lived: the loneliness and the adversity of her second marriage, the lack of sex for the most part of her first marriage, and all of the things that most people enjoy and because of conditions she couldn't enjoy these things.  And yet she was always cheerful and she never complained. 

I was old enough to remember the interaction between her and her husband and I can never recollect anything but joy and happiness in that home.  I can never remember any bickering whatsoever.  So it is with fond memories of my Grandmother, Mary Helverson Peterson, that I often think back. So I give tribute to her for her goodness and for the kind of life that she lived. 

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