Family Group Sheet

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Another History of Anne Mathea (Matilda or 'Til)

      Anne Mathea's name was shown as Martha on the ship passenger list coming from Norway into New York. Once she arrived in Preston, Idaho she was known as Matilda and even 'Til to her friends. Both in Norway and in America she loved music and especially to sing. Below is a picture of the Preston, Idaho choir. She is the woman on the bottom right underlined in red.

Preston, Idaho Choir, circa 1900 Used by permission of M.G.

     Both M. G. and R. P. sent me 2 different life histories for Anne Mathea, written by two different women. I became really confused when I saw these two women had the same surname--Kendall--but they were not mother and daughter or sisters. How could this be?  I checked and Anne Mathea had six daughters--three of them married three brothers!
     Adea Matilda (1884-1918) married Joseph Bradford Kendall, Jr. (1873-1919); Ethel Julean (1890-1968) married William Edwin Kendall (1887-1958); and Lillia Irene (1892-1948) married David Earl Kendall (1889-1954).
     The history on this previous post was written by Anne Mathea's daughter, Ethel. The history below is written by her granddaughter, Lula Kendall Williams. Lula was the daughter of Adea and Joseph Kendall.  Adea and Joseph died a year apart, leaving three children to be raised by Anne Mathea.
  Lula also wrote the story of Anne Mathea's conversion to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I will post that soon. The following is posted just as I received it.

                                                             By Lula Kendall Williams

     Anne Mathea Olson Millard was born December 30, 1853 at Helgain Nes Sogn, Norway. She was the third child in a family of nine children. Her parents were among the sturdy peasant farmers who tilled the land rented to them by the Lutheran minister. Her early childhood was spent doing the same things as the normal child would do. She played some, worked much and learned all she could.

     When six years old the family moved to Nes Sogn Hedemarken where they resided until they joined the L.D.S. Church in 1866. It was here that she started to school when eight years of age under the tutorship of a Lutherian School Master. The lessons consisted of oral arithmetic, writing and Bible reading. She and her sisters and brothers walked to school which was four miles away. During the winter time they were able to ride most of the way on hand sleighs for the country was sloping but at night when they returned it was necessary for them to walk up the hill and pull the sleigh with them. Many a happy day was spent here but there were a few sad ones too. How Grandmother envied the minister’s daughter because she could bring lunch to school which consisted of milk and many other good things. Often, however, she was given rare treats by this pampered child for Grand-mother was her best girl friend. During recess and lunch hour the children played in row boats on the water for in Norway tiny children learn to swim and enjoy water sports. They use the waters as their chief playgrounds because of the abundance of beautiful clear, smooth fjords.

     Not all of Grandmothers childhood was as happy as this for when she was eleven it was necessary for her to take her mother’s place in the fields. At that time the wife as well as the husband must work in the land lord’s fields to help reap the crops. This work consisted of cutting the grain with a cycle and tying it into bundles with pieces of straw. Day after day Grandmother will toil away at this task but she was a very healthy child so this extra work only tended to make her more robust. Often during these times the children longed for more eatables but on many occasions food was scarce. It was not uncommon for Grandmother and her brothers to pick berries in the forest all day to give to the landlord in exchange for a soup bone or some other favorite food they seldom had.

     Christmas for the children was very different from ours. Many weeks ahead the girls made rag dolls while the boys made animals by carving them out of wood. These animals resembled real ones very much for they even added hair for the mane and tail. Christmas was one time when food was in abundance. Grandmother helped her mother as well as the other children, work for days ahead to prepare this feed. A fat pig was done on Christmas day. The table was spread the eve before in readiness. The largest feast was had Christmas Eve, and some pests for the birds to eat. Even the paths in the yards were decorated with pine bow and brisk to give the home a clean festive atmosphere.

     When Grandmother was twelve the entire future of her families life was changed by the Latter Day Saint Gospel for it was then they became converted to its teachings. Great-Grandmother was baptized first but she kept it a secret until a year later when her husband joined. It was at this time too when Grandmother was baptized. When the Lutherian Minister learned about them joining this new religion he bade them leave this Peterborg place they were renting. They had but a short time to dispose of the few personal belongings they could not take with them. It was a very sad parting for they had become so attached to the country and the lovely Peterborg place where they had lived so long. They left no friends for these people had turned bitterly against them. These former friends tormented and made moving as disagreeable as possible. The family had no place to go so they decided to move to Oslo for employment for the family could be found more easily there.

     Life in a big city goes well when one has plenty of money or a good job but when work cannot be had and money for the necessities of life is scarce, it brings a sad chill over one to be there. So it was with Grandmother and her family. The first winter in Oslo, was a dreadful one. Her father sprained his back and was “laid up” the entire winter. Her mother suffered illness too. Grandmother was sent to relatives to work for her board but it seemed like work was plentiful but food scarce. Can you imagine wealthy people baing so stingy as to deprive a growing child food necessary for body growth and development? Grandmother says it was here she really learned the pangs of hunger but she had no other place to go for her parents were even shorter of food than she. Grandmother says it was lack of food and worry that caused her mother to loose her baby prematurely that winter and to suffer the sickness she had. This good mother divided the last morsals of food in the house to her children and went without herself because there was not enough for both.

     Spring finally came. It was then that most of the family found employment in a brickyard. From the smallest to the largest were willing to work there to provide eatables for themselves although the salary were very small. Grandmother did her part at this job. Later in the year however she procured work in a cotton factory. She was fourteen years old when she started to work on the spinneries. She worked there until she was twenty-four. It was then that she migrated to America and Utah.

     Those years in the factory were some of the happiest and yet some of the hardest years of Grandmother’s life. They were hard because the boss was not always the kindest or the work which began at six in the morning and lasted until six at night was not always pleasant nor was the salary large enough to provide a young lady with the clothes she desired or the food she liked most. If a new dress was to be had the meals had to be more sparing. Happiness found its way to her during this time for she became a member of the L.D.S. Choir. This choir gained recognition from all religious choirs and many times participated in contests with them.On one occasion a double mixed quartet was chosen from this L.D.S. choir to compete with a group of Methodist singers. Before the appointed time arrived word was received there of the death of president Brigham Young. It was decided that Grandmother’s group dress in black with white accessories. Grandmother had been very ill and had been unable to work for sometime so was financially unable to buy her outfit. The members of the group each donated enough to buy here for her. Imagine their joy when the judge awarded them first place even though their hearts were grieved for their president. This choir won many contests and high honors. While a member of this choir Grandmother helped to sing many songs her mother had composed and set to music.

     Love found Grandmother for several suitors had she.One of them became more ordinary for their friendship budded into an ardent love, however fate played havoc with it later. She left this sweetheart in the old country but he later came here although he married someone else and lived in Salt Lake. She never saw him after their parting there.

     During these eight years the Olson family had been blessed with much work so along with their saving and scheming they finally accumulated enough money to take them to Utah. It was decided that father, mother and the youngest children come first then the older ones would come later. Grandmother remained in Oslo two years after her parents left before she could get enough money to come.

     In 1876, just one year before Grandmother came here she received the sad news that her mother had passed away. Her mother was unable to stand the added hardships which came to her with pioneering. She had been a sufferer of consumption for years. The news of her mother’s death (although she did not get the letter for a month after) was great shock to Grandmother for she had been so hopeful of meeting all her loved ones again when she came to Utah. However Great-grandmother left a song which she had composed which told about her life from the cradle to the grave which gave solace and inspiration to her children.The last verse was composed on her death-bed.

     In 1877 Grandmother was able to come here. She had enough money to pay her fare to Denmark by selling some of her handwork and her watch. Her father borrowed the money to bring her the rest of the way from Sister Lundegreen. This money was later paid back after she came here. When Grandmother came she still left two sisters and one brother there.(The oldest sister never did come here.) She traveled this long journey with friends. Her closest companion was Gundy Olsen. 

     The long tiring trip took one month to complete due to slow means of travel. How well I remember her telling of the food box she took with her. (In second class and third board was not furnished.) What a hard task it would be to prepare food that would keep three weeks.Coffee was their main beverage and food along with the other non-perishable foods she could afford. Grandmother was never sick one day on the trip for when she felt nauseated she would go on deck where she could walk in the fresh air. The North Sea was rougher than it had been for years and as the waves beat the small steamship and tossed it to and fro Grandmother and Gundy sang all the L.D.S. hymns that had become so dear to them. During all their spare time they would administer to the wants of the sick and do their best to cheer them up. Her wonderful faith in the gospel made their cares change to joy.

     The trip from New York to Franklin was made by rail but fifty-five years ago accommodations were scarce. The seats were just wooden benches and the rate of speed was from fifteen to twenty miles an hour. How tiresome that ride became. Grandmother has often told me how dirty she got for she had no way of bathing since beginning the trip. Not only that but she got lice from some of her associates and they added to her discomforts until she could get rid of them. Her ticket called for Franklin but when her brother – Uncle Emil Peterborg – who was in Ogden after fruit in the lumber wagon, met her she decided to leave the train and ride with him from Ogden to Franklin.

     It was the first of October 1870, in one of the driest years the saints had seen since coming to the west when she arrived here. That area is now called Preston Fifth Ward, but then it was called Worm Creek. To her, who was used to Norway’s heavy rainfall and beautiful green vegetation, it really seemed as if she had come to a barren desert. Many times I have heard her tell of her lonesomeness for the water. The Grand River of Oslo had so many falls in it. These falls were used to run the many factories along its banks. As the river surged along its course the roaring sound could be heard all over the city. Grandmother often became so lonely that many times she would walk to Bear River to see and hear it, but even then she still felt that emptiness for Bear River is so quiet and still. Not until she visited the Yellowstone Park and later the Pacific Ocean did she finally find a comparison to her own country in the waterfalls and shrubbery. She often longed to return for a visit but when she was young and strong money was not available. Later years she hardly dared risk the long journey.

     During these trials Grandmother’s testimony never wavered. So great was her faith in the gospel that she was willing to deprive herself of much in order to enjoy its blessings. Each Sunday found her at Church and the first Thursday of each month she attended testimony meeting.Until she learned the English language she encountered many difficulties. I have heard her often say that when the Choir sang some song she had helped sing in Norway, that tears became uncontrolable.

     During the first year she was here she helped to shear the sheep, wash the wool and card it. Then she would borrow Mrs. Songberg’s (Thomas Songberg’s mother) spinning wheel so she could spin this wool into yarn.Then she went over to Mrs. Lund’s (Dagmar Jensen’s mother) and used her looms to weave it into cloth. From this cloth she made underwear for her father and herself. She also made dresses for herself. She learned to dye the wool too. All the soap they used she made. Grandmother was always an ambitious, thrifty person.

Here are a couple of facts I see a little differently--through the research I have been doing. Unless her mother was baptized twice and the first time was never recorded, I have her baptismal record showing that she was baptized almost 4 months after Ole. See the image below. I am sorry it is so small. If I make it larger it goes off the page! I can send a copy of the image to anyone who would like a copy. This was taken from LDS Church Record of Members 1850-1952, Oslo District; FHL film #123202, Item 5, no pages listed.

Ole, Marie and Anne Mathea's baptismal record

     Lula wrote that Anne found out in 1876 that her mother had passed away. She also says that it was a year before she came to America. Ole, Marie and two of their children actually emigrated to America in 1876 and Marie died in January 1879. Anne Mathea is listed on the passenger list arriving into New York on 16 Sept 1879.
     The two children who emigrated with Ole and Marie were Emil and Beate.
     The copy of the history I have has Oct 1870 as a very dry year in Idaho. I think this is a typo and should be 1880.
     Interesting side note: The woman, Mrs. Lundegren, who lent the money for Anne Mathea's passage, was her brother, Emil's, mother-in-law. Emil married Erika Bjorkman Lundegren in 1877 after her husband had been killed in an accident. The two ladies had the same married last name because they had both been sealed to Martin Lundegren on the same day (1 Aug 1868) in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City.
     I am grateful to Lula for taking the time to write this information down so that we could have a glimpse into the lives of our Petterborg ancestors and what they went through so that we could be here today!

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