GREAT GRANDMOTHER SMITH
Mette Marie Johannesdatter Smith
by JAY C. SMITH
I can not remember of any one calling her or referring to her by her first given name, Mette Marie Johannesen Smith. Depending on who was speaking, she was always addressed or referred to as Mother, Grandmother, or sometime as Great-grandmother.
She was always living alone in a little house that constructed of one moderately sized room with a lean to kitchen and a small screened porch on the back. The house was located on the east end of the lot that contained the home of the Lee Pierce family. Adelia Pierce was her grand-daughter. The front room had a pot-bellied stove for heating. A bed that was partitioned off by a sliding curtain; a few chairs, a small table. The kitchen had a wood burning range, cupboard for dishes and a table and chairs. The porch had a wood- box. For the purpose to hold a supply of firewood to be used in the stove and range. The home had been bought and moved therefor her use by the members of the family. The members of her family had worked out a schedule to see that all of her needs, grocery, wood for the stove were supplied. For a time my sister, Dreama and I were given the responsibility once every ten days or so to take our little red wagon and see to her needs. We would go right after school. Bring the wood from the wood pile to fill up the wood- box on the porch. Fill up an old bushel bucket with wood chips for kindling. See that all the water containers were full. There was no running water in the house. The worst part of the job was to empty the pot (the chamber pot was a large earthen crock pot) under the bed that was used for what a toilet is used for in a modern bathroom today. It was used in the winter and almost entirely as she grew older. Deama, Madge and I got to be experts at emptying it in the toilet and scrubbing it clean. The Most often she had other little jobs for us to do. Or errands to run.
She most often seemed cheerful and thankful; but she always showed quite a strong independence in many ways. She spoke of how glad and how good it was that she could live in her own home. The way she talks really interested and fascinated me. There was that Scandinavian accent. She wasn't backward in letting you know that she thought Danish was a better language than English
I don't know what the Word of Wisdom meant to her. At that time the word of wisdom didn't mean anything to me so I had no incentive to ask her what it meant to her. It was very evident that she drank coffee and liked it. She had a coffee mill on the table in the kitchen where she ground the original coffee beans into coffee grounds to be boiled in water in her coffee pot to make coffee for drinking. She said the coffee was much better from freshly ground beans. She let me help her a few times. Now what Deama and I liked about the coffee deal was she had sugar lumps she used in the coffee. They were about and inch cube of sugar that she would drop in the cup of coffee and she stirred it with a spoon until it dissolved in the coffee. Always when we got our chores done for her, she would give us a lump of sugar. She lived to a ripe old age, so I don't know whether the coffee habit got to her or not. If it did it took a long time. I liked to hear her talk. I liked the Danish accent, but also she had some interesting stories about her life and experiences. There became an enticing feeling to me to just drop in randomly and talk to her. Hear her tell experiences. And ask her questions. She taught me a few Danish words that I have mostly forgotten since. She taught me to count to ten in Danish. I can still count to ten in Danish. That is still with my memory.
Dorothy (Dollie) Mulford said, "I have many pleasant memories of that old house and Grandma when she lived there. After she died we also lived there, Wels was born there.
Grandpa (Charlie Mulford) used to buy his flour by the ton and freight it over the mountain by horse and wagon. He would always stop and give Grandma a couple of sacks of flour and her lump sugar. He was sure a wonderful man.
Mette's house was actually her grandson's (Eugene Smith's) first house. Jay said, "When Dad and Mom were married in October, 1914 he built a large one room building out of rough lumber, about 14 x 22 feet to live in while building their large five-roomed home. About a year later when the home was finished sufficiently to live in, Great Grandmother in her very independent and self sustaining way let her wishes be known about that now vacant building of ours. So, Dad, Jed Mott, Leo Holt and probably a few others moved it over to the Lee Pierce lot. They put wood lath on the walls and ceiling and Uncle Jim Chidester plastered them. They stretched a wire across the width of the house and hung a curtain on it making the effect of two rooms. The smaller room on the west was for her bed. There was a pot-bellied stove and chairs in the larger east room. They built a lean-too kitchen and screen porch ten or twelve feet wide for the full length of the building. The kitchen had a cook range, a cupboard, a table and chairs.
She always expressed great pleasure of having her own home, and that she could care for herself. But I want to emphasize that Aunt Rene Holt, Aunt Liz Mott, my Dad and others of the family were watching out for her needs and would never have neglected her for one minute in her needs. But I am sure they did respect her independent, do it yourself will as much as possible.