Apostolic Brush

Ruby and David Haight, Paul Ross, Rose and John Byrom

Ruby and David Haight, Paul Ross, Rosie and John Byrom

I stumbled upon this picture the other day and thought maybe it was time to share it.  This picture has an interesting story behind it.

On the far right are John and Rosie Byrom.  Rosie is mostly in the shadow so it is difficult to make her out.  I served in the Runcord Ward from around December 1999 to around August 2000.  John served as Ward Mission Leader and Rosie as a Ward Missionary.  (The Byroms have since separated and divorced).  I served in the ward for a long time and they remained in their callings for the entire time, so we built a friendship which, I feign to believe, still exists to this day.

I returned home from my mission in December 2000.  It was not long into 2001 that I learned the Byroms were planning on visiting Utah.  Of course, I invited them to spend some time in Idaho.

During the majority of time I served in Runcorn I had a companion by the name of Brad Hales.  Also in our district was a senior sister companionship of Meriel Peterson and Patricia Kleinkopf.  We were all native Idahoans and were in close proximity of each other.  It was natural that the Byroms also wanted to visit each of them while they were in Idaho.

This particular day we drove to Oakley, Idaho to visit Sister Peterson.  We had an enjoyable breakfast and conversation.  Sister Peterson decided she wanted to give us the tour of Oakley because there were some architectural gems that she thought the Byroms would enjoy.  I grew up near Oakley so I was familiar with many of these local landmarks.

We all piled into my little Camry and away we drove.  We had not made it very far driving down some of the streets of Oakley when Sister Peterson announced, “Wait, David is home, he will want to meet you!”  She had me turn around and we pulled into a little home in Oakley.

I had no clue who David was and I was not familiar with the home we were now pulling into the driveway.  We all exited the car.  In the yard there was a man trimming his hedges with a large straw hat and a large set of sunglasses that you only see old people wear.

Since Sister Peterson indicated that David would want to meet the Byroms because they were from England, I remained at the front of my car in the driveway and leaned back against it in the hot, summer, morning sun.

I have to give a little bit of background on the month prior.  We are in the latter half of July 2001 at the point of this picture (I recollect it was the 21st, but may be wrong).  I had just spent considerable time in Hawaii with family at the beginning of the month.  During that time I picked myself up a shirt and a shell necklace among other items.  As you can see in the picture, I am wearing my red shirt (not the blatant Hawaiian design you regularly see).  For years I thought I was in a pair of board shorts too, but this picture corrects my memory on that tidbit.  But I had continuously wore my new puka shell necklace since the trip to Hawaii.

Back to the story, I am leaning on the front of my car watching the Byroms enter the back yard through the hedge and approach this old man in a large straw hat and holding an electric hedge trimmer.  The man stopped trimming and turned to greet his trespassers.  Curiously, after what was a short couple of moments, probably no more than 20 seconds of conversation, this man leaves the Byroms and Sister Peterson and headed my direction.

My first reaction was that I was doing something wrong so I looked around to see my misstep.  Alas, not seeing I had done anything wrong I approached the man and met him near his hedge.  He had set down his trimmer before arriving to me and he pulled his hand out of his glove to shake my hand.  I shook hands with him and he with his free hand reached up and took of his hat and glasses and asked me my name.

My first thought was something along these lines, “Boy, this David fellow sure looks familiar.”  He asked my name and I gave it.  He asked about my Ross name and whether or not it was Scottish.  I informed him it was my name but not the name of which my ancestors carried.  He then informed me that Ross was a common name in Scotland where he had served as a Mission President.

He then grew quiet and he sidled up closer to me and put the hand with the hat and glasses in the small of my back while still holding my other hand in a handshake.  He was now close enough that his face was in my shadow (and he was considerably shorter than me).  He then broke the handshake and with that hand reached up and touched my puka shell necklace.

“What is this?”

“My necklace?”

“I am disappointed that you have fallen from the principles of the gospel that we teach as missionaries.  We teach than men and women have separate and distinct roles and this is confusing the two.”

My first impression was, “How did you know I served a mission?”

This man then turned to walk away back to the Byroms and Sister Peterson.  As he walked away, the thought occurred, “You have just been rebuked by an Apostle.”

Then it dawned.  David was David B Haight, one of the twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  This was an individual I recognized as a Priesthood Leader and on my first meeting with him, I had been rebuked.

I stood there reeling from what had just happened.  It stung.  David went to the back door of his house and summoned his wife Ruby.  Ruby appeared and they all stood 25 feet away from me chit chatting about England, Scotland, and whatever else they were talking about.

What seemed like an eternity was likely only a minute or so, if that.  I remember reaching up and taking the puka shell necklace off and holding it in my hand.  I dwelt on what was really an unintended and probably unwanted visit that was a bother to me and this old man.  Sister Peterson just commented he was home and a few lines of dialogue just ended up potentially effected my eternities.  According to him I was already on the path, so I guess it did not matter what he said except to correct my backsliding ways.

Next thing I knew, the distant conversation between the Haights and Byroms had stopped and this Apostle was returning to me.  He again held out his hand as if to invite another handshake. I held out my hand with the necklace in it and he cupped his hand to receive whatever I was offering.  I dropped the necklace into his hand and once he realized what it was he let it drop to the ground.

He held out his hand again inviting mine in a handshake and I clasped his.  He sidled up close to me again, put his other hand in the small of my back, and was close enough to be in my shadow and that I could smell the salt in his old man sweat, and he continued…

“Where did you serve your mission?”  (I remember thinking that was an ironic question since the Byroms were from England, Sister Peterson served in England, and he asked where the fourth member of the party served his mission?)

“England Manchester Mission”

“How long have you been home?”

(After a quick mental tally) “Nine months”

“Elder, you hold the Priesthood.  You have a duty to uphold that Priesthood.  You should have been married by now.”

He released my hand, pulled his hand from the small of my back, turned, and walked away.  Maybe 4 steps later he turned around and said, “When it happens, I want to know about it.”

He returned to a conversation with Ruby, Sister Peterson, and the Byroms.

I stood there while they chatted for a few more minutes.  I do not recall hearing anything of the conversation between them, even if I was close enough to have heard.

Rosie had a picture taken of the occasion.  Sister Peterson sacrificed herself in the moment to take the photo that now memorializes this occasion.

I shook hands again with Elder David Haight and Sister Ruby Haight and we headed on down the road to see some other homes.  I ended up driving many more hours that day to Boise, Idaho City, Stanley, and elsewhere chauffeuring the Byroms through some of the sights of Idaho.  Rosie Byrom teased me about the moment the rest of the time I was with them.  After all, it is not every day that you get rebuked by an Apostle.  I cannot recall if they overheard the conversation or if I told them about it.  I cannot imagine that they overheard the conversation due to the close proximity in which David and I spoke that day.

Oddly enough, it weighed on me for a long time.  It became the butt of jokes as time went on, especially as David continued to age.  He was already over 95 at the time of my meeting him.  Roommates and friends would indicate that I better hurry or else I would not fulfill the rest of my duty to let David know when it happened.  I will not lie, it became a great story to tell people.  People loved to hear about my rebuke by an Apostle.

I regularly tell the story to individuals I am close to and that wear a necklace.  Missionaries I worked with I regularly told the story, especially if they wore a necklace.  I admit, I never wore a necklace or bracelet of any type since that date.  I know a number of missionaries who have “fallen from the principles we teach as missionaries” and forsaken their evil ways.  Honestly, I do not know that the story is one that should be heeded by others.  But for the deep effect it had upon me at the time and the power in which he spoke to me, I recognize it was for me.  Others should be careful about applying revelation of others to themselves.  But I do believe there is a principle here that we can learn, I just don’t know that I can very clearly articulate it.  I know the principle clearly for me, but don’t know how narrow or general to make it in application to others.

I remember Rosie reminding me that if I properly repent, I would be married within another 9 months.  Boy if that did not apply a little pressure!

As a side, I did pick up my little puka shell necklace and ended up giving it to a friend when I returned to Missouri later in August.  I don’t believe she has any clue what that little necklace meant to me.

There is more to the story.

On the following Monday, I believe 23 July 2001, I was in Salt Lake City with the Byroms.  After an endowment session, Rosie announced we were to go to the Church Administration Building.  She did not tell us why and I thought she just wanted to see the sights from the Church Office Building.  We walked in the Church Office Building and after Rosie talked to the man at the desk, she said we were in the wrong building and we needed to go to the Church Administration Building.  I informed her that the Church Administration Building was not really open to the public.  Rosie announced that we had an appointment.

In light of my experience a few days before, I was not really thrilled about our appointment in the Church Administration Building.  We walked around to the front door of the Church Administration Building and walked in.  As we approached the man at the security desk he asked,

“Are you the Byroms?”

Rosie responded, “Yes.”

“We have been waiting for you.”  (Never a very heartwarming phrase, whether the morgue, jail, CIA, bank, or Church Administration Building)

The man then responded, “You will need to leave your bags here, take the elevator to the fourth floor, take a right, and it is the last door on the left.  I will let them know you are coming up.”

We entered the elevator and headed to the fourth floor.  Rosie then turned and commented to me, “John helped provide security and drive for Elder Ballard while he (Elder Ballard) was in England for the Preston Temple Dedication.  He told us that if we were ever in Utah to stop and pay him a visit.”

Suddenly the realization came to me that I was going to visit with my second Apostle in less than a week.  I am a fairly laid back guy but felt some apprehension after the experience just days before.  We turned the corner and there stood M Russell Ballard in the doorway.  He invited us in to his office, introduced us to his secretary, and then ushered us into his office.  Across from his desk, I think, there were two nice wing-backed chairs.  Another chair was already there for me, or we pulled up a chair.  Elder Ballard left the office for a moment and then reappeared pushing a little chair toward me.  We were already all seated and he asked,

“Where is your wife?”

“I am not married.”

“Oh, that is something you will have to fix.”

He turned to push the little chair back out the door.  I heard Rosie chuckle and comment, “In the mouth of two or three witnesses…”

Elder Ballard returned and took his seat and we had a nice conversation that probably did not take more than 15 minutes.  Once again, Rosie had a picture taken.

Paul Ross, Rosie and John Byrom, Elder Ballard

Paul Ross, Rosie and John Byrom, M Russell Ballard

That was the extent of the interaction and I felt some sting from the second witness of my duty to uphold the Priesthood.  But it was a pleasant experience.  Rosie reminded me often after that, “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.”

Well, time passed and eventually Elder David B Haight did pass from this veil of tears at the end of July 2004, three years after our encounter.  Fortunately, Elder Haight and I did have an opportunity to talk again regarding our first interaction that lessened the blow of the occasion.  Nevertheless, roommates and many friends called after Elder Haight’s passing to let me know how dire my situation was now that the revelator had passed and I had not fulfilled my duty.

Rosie commented to me that I could fulfill my duty by reporting my marriage to Elder Ballard when the time came.

Well, forward a few more years and I became enamored with a little red-headed girl from Kaysville, Utah.  She came to enjoy her time with me and after a while we would end our walks with a little dancing on the porch of the Alumni House at Utah State University.  It became a regular thing to end our walks and evenings out with a dance and closing conversation on the porch of the Alumni House.  I dare say we danced on the porch of that building more than 60 times.  It was on the porch of this little Alumni House that I made an unofficial proposal to Ms. Hemsley.  It just seemed like the right place.

Months later, Amanda and I returned to Logan under the guise of visiting some friends.  While on the campus I took her to that little porch of the Alumni House and there after midnight, now on 4 July 2005, I fell to my knee and proposed to her.  Of course she said yes and we danced and kissed there on the porch of the Alumni House.  Interestingly, before we left that night, I caught sight of a huge portrait hanging inside the doors that open to the porch that had become an important part of our courtship.  As I looked closer, I could see the familiar sight of a man whose face I knew.  As I got a little closer to see in the dark the portrait lit only by fire escape signs it dawned on me it was a portrait of David B Haight.

If that was not a little coincidental, and perhaps a little creepy, I do not know what is.  Elder Haight’s portrait had actually witnessed some of the most personal moments of my courtship.  The building I had only known as the Alumni House is properly named the David B Haight Alumni Center.  Somehow it seemed the whole experience had just came full circle.

We sent a wedding invitation to Elder M Russell Ballard with a short note explaining that due to Elder Haight’s passing I was sending the note and invitation to him to fulfill my duty.  He responded with a card thanking me for my note and invitation and suggested I consider my duty fulfilled.  He also apologized for not being able to attend our reception (which I am glad about, surely some further duty might have been laid upon me if he had!)

There is my story for the above photo with the Haights and Byroms.  Maybe some day I can tell my story about Elder Hales (the Apostle, not my missionary companion)…

Glacus Merrill’s Class

Back(l-r): Ira Hillyard, Unknown, Bob Johnson, Junior Petterborg, Irwin Jonas, Unknown, Unknown.  2nd from Back: Unknown, Ruth Rich, Kaye Funk, Anna Lawrence, Joyce Larsen, Ruth Hutchinson, Nadine Johnson, Darrel Smith.  Middle Row: Unknown, Unknown, Eva Kershaw, Lyle Wilding, Unknown, Afton Sorensen, Dorothy Nielson, Unknown, Norwood Jonas.  2nd from Front: Alvin Spackman, Bernice Frandsen, Unknown, Glacus Merrill, Joy Erickson, Unknown, Allen Spackman.  Front: Garr Christensen, Oral Ballam Jr, LaMar Carlson, Unknown, Gail Spackman, Ivan Anderson, Warren Hamp.

This is Glacus Merrill’s class from what I believe is 1936.  He taught class at Park School in Richmond, Cache, Utah.  Several individuals have assisted me to name the individuals I have so far.  There are too many unknowns that I hope to clarify in the future.  If anyone can help, I would certainly appreciate it.  My Grandfather, Norwood, and his brother, Irwin, are both in the photo.  Irwin died in World War II, and I assume some of the rest did as well.

I have listed all the individuals below with some limited information I could find on them.  At the very bottom is Glacus’ obituary.

Ira William Hillyard (1924-2009)

Unknown

Robert “Bob” Jay Johnson (1924-2009)

Junior “Pete” Lee Petterborg (1923-1990)

Irwin John Jonas (1921-1944)

Unknown

Unknown

Unknown

Ruth Rich

Norma Kaye Funk (1924-2002)

Anna May Lawrence (1924-1988)

Joyce Larsen

Ruth Hutchinson

Nadine Johnson (1924-2005)

Darrel Wilmot Smith (1924-2008)

Unknown

Unknown

Eva Kershaw

Lyle Wilding (1924-2002)

Unknown

Mary Afton Sorensen (1923-2008)

Dorothy Nielson

Unknown

Wilburn Norwood Jonas (1924-1975)

Alvin Chester Spackman (1923-1994)

Bernice Frandsen (1924-2002)

Unknown

Glacus Godfrey Merrill (1905-2002)

Joy Erickson (1924-2002)

Unknown

Allen Elijah Spackman (1923-1997)

Garr Dee Christensen (1923-2002)

Oral Ballam

Victor LaMar Carlson (1923-2008)

Unknown

Harold Gail Spackman (1924-1991)

Ivan Anderson

Warren Thomas Hamp (1924-2009)

Here is a copy of the obituary I found for Glacus.  Wow, I wish my school teachers had been this amazing.

LOGAN – Glacus G. Merrill, 96, died of causes incident to age in Logan, Utah on Saturday, February 9, 2002.  He was born May 27, 1905 in Richmond, Utah to Hyrum Willard and Bessie Cluff Merrill.  He is a grandson of Marriner W. Merrill, a pioneer prominent in the settling of Cache Valley, an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the first president of the Logan LDS Temple.  He married Constance B. Bernhisel in 1925, and they were later divorced.  He married Marie B. Bailey, March 24, 1945 in Washington D.C.  Their marriage was later solemnized in the Logan LDS Temple.

While attending school, he participated in track and football at North Cache and Brigham Young College, where he graduated in 1925.  Glacus graduated from Utah State University in 1935 and also attended the University of Utah and Chico State College in California.  He is a graduate of the REI Radio Engineering School in Sarasota, Florida.  He was the principal of the Richmond Park School for 11 years and served in the U.S. Navy for four years during World War II.  He served an LDS mission to California from 1954-1955.  While living in the East, he served as President of the West Virginia Farm Bureau and the State Black Angus Association.  He is an honorary Kentucky Colonel.  He also served as President and District Governor of Lions Clubs in Utah and West Virginia, and was a member of the Lions Club for 42 years.  Glacus was Vice President of the West Virginia Broadcasters Association, and is a member of the USU Old Main Society.  He established a Scholarship Fund in the Communications Department at USU.  The Montpelier, Idaho Jaycees presented him with their outstanding Citizen’s Award.  He was also a member of the Montpelier Rotary Club, Utah Farm Bureau, VFW and American Legion.  He is a member of the “Around the World Club” having traveled around the world with his son, Gregory.  He and his wife, Marie traveled extensively.  Merrill was a popular Rodeo announcer in his early days.  He authored the book “Up From the Hills” which was finished in 1988 and is available in area libraries.

Honored by the Utah Broadcasters as a pioneer in Radio Broadcasting, Merrill started his broadcasting career in 1938 as part owner and Program Director at KVNU Radio in Logan.  After serving four years in the Navy, he built his first radio station Clarksburg, West Virginia.  He owned and operated 11 other stations in West Virginia, Ohio, Maryland, Idaho and Utah, including stations in Montpelier, Idaho and Logan, Utah.  He was well known for his frank and outspoken editorials, news and comments on KBLW in Logan.  He has given over 7,000 newscasts and editorials always ending them with the saying, “Have Good Day Neighbor.”  In 56 years of radio broadcasting, he trained several young broadcasters who are now making good.

As a hobby, wherever he lived, he operated a cattle ranch and farm.  He served in many civic and church activities including counselor in the LDS Stake MIA, counselor in the East Central Stake Mission Presidency, 5 years as a Branch President and 11 years as District President in West Virginia.  He also served as Deputy Scout Commissioner in Idaho and for 12 years taught the High Priest Class in the Logan 3rd Ward and served for several years as the High Priest Group Leader.  He was an avid supporter of many missionaries in the area.

His wife, Marie preceded him in death on April 22, 1993, as well as six brothers and one sister.  He is survived by his two daughters, Darla D. (Mrs. Dennis Clark) of Logan; Madge (Mrs. Melvin Meyer) of Smithfield; one son, G. Gregory (Joan) Merrill of Logan; nine grandchildren, 22 great-grandchildren and 10 great-great-grandchildren.  Funeral services will be held at 12 Noon on Thursday, February 14, 2002, at the Logan 3rd Ward Chapel, 250 North 400 West, with Bishop Grant Carling conducting.  Friends and family may call Wednesday evening, February 13th, at the Nelson Funeral Home, 162 East 400 Norther, Logan from 6 to 8 p.m. and on Thursday at the church from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.  Interment will be in the Richmond City Cemetery.

Van Leeuwen – Janzen Wedding

Harmanus and Johanna Janzen are pleased to announce the marriage of their daughter Hermina to Gerhardus Hendrik Van Leeuwen, son of Gerrit and Elsebina Van Leeuwen. Gerhardus and Hermina were married in Arnhem, Gelderland, Netherlands on 31 March 1880.

Gerhardus is a carpenter and the family will make their home in Arnhem.

That might be somewhat how the wedding announcement might have been like for the couple, except in Dutch.  When referring to individuals in the United States, I have kept the English capitalization of Van and Der, while the Dutch individuals I have maintained the Dutch preference.

Gerhardus Hendrik Van Leeuwen (who went by George Henry in English) was born the fourth of nine children to Gerrit van Leeuwen and Elsebina Maria Catharina Weenig on 16 October 1856 in Oldenzaal, Overijssel, Netherlands.  I have written of them at this link: Van Leeuwen-Weenig Wedding.  He was a carpenter by trade, on the finishing side.  He would also tune and service organs.  After moving to the United States, he worked as a finishing carpenter.

We do not know anything about how they met, the courtship, or the marriage in 1880.

Hermina Janzen (who went by Minnie) was born the fourth of nine children to Harmanus Janzen and Johanna van der Meij on 19 August 1860 in Gorssel, Gelderland, Netherlands.

George and Minnie would eventually have 12 children born to their marriage (Here are some pictures of the children).  Nine of these would live to adulthood and marry.

Gerhardus Hermanus Van Leeuwen was born 22 February 1881 in Arnhem and died 19 November 1883 in Amsterdam, North Holland, Netherlands.

Shortly after Gerhardus’ birth, the family moved to Amsterdam.  The family moved around quite regularly, sometimes only living in one place for a couple of weeks.  This may show the family was struggling financially.

Elsebina Johanna Van Leeuwen was born 5 January 1883 in Amsterdam and died 18 Mar 1883 in Amsterdam.

Johanna Hermiena Van Leeuwen (known as Annie) was born 30 January 1884 in Amsterdam and died 20 July 1958 in Ogden, Weber, Utah.  She married Ibele Idsenga (known as Emil Edsinga) 3 February 1905 in Ogden.

It is assumed that around this time (1885-1886) is when George incurred a head injury.  My Great Grandmother, his daughter Dena, indicated he fell from a ladder.  Other siblings reported to descendants that he was struck in the head with a board.  This is believed to be the reason why the family moved back to Arnhem, that due to his inability to work, this may be the reason they returned to Arnhem to be near family and rely on them for help.

Elsebina Maria Catharina Van Leeuwen (known as Elsie) was born 7 March 1886 in Arnhem and died 2 March 1927 in Ogden.  She married Elmer Leroy Staker 2 May 1906 in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah in the LDS temple.

The family then moved back to Amsterdam perhaps in pursuit of employment again.  It was in Amsterdam that the Van Leeuwens met with missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  George and Minnie were both baptized 4 June 1887.

Gerhardus Hermanus Van Leeuwen (reuse of the older sibling’s name, known as George) was born 29 August 1887 in Amsterdam and died 21 January 1937 in Ogden.  He married Maria Timmers 17 September 1908 in Salt Lake City.

According to George’s 1932 death certificate, he suffered from epilepsy with psychosis for 45 years. That would predate his immigration to the United States. His mental health could have become an issue when immigrating, and it may have been easier if Minnie and the children had gone first and established their new home. That may have enabled George to follow the next spring without risk of having the family turned back. With family already in Utah, immigration officials would hopefully admit him into the country.  Epilepsy had a stigma of illness that the family had to deal with, everything from wickedness to a contagious disease.  This way, only he would be turned away, and hopefully with the family already there, the officials would admit him to the country.  George arrived 21 March 1889 in New York City, New York on the S.S. Veendam having left Rotterdam.

Minnie’s membership records appear in Ogden 1st Ward and Wilson Ward of the LDS Church by October 1888.  The family settled in the area around Wall and 32nd in Ogden.  A number of other Dutch emigrants were also in the area.

Hermiena Van Leeuwen (known as Minnie) was born 26 January 1890 in Ogden and died 21 August 1971 in Ogden.  She married George Berglund 22 September 1915 in Ogden.

Jantjen Van Leeuwen (known as Jane and Jennie) was born 30 December 1891 in Ogden and died 27 July 1942 in Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California.  She married Frederick William Bremer 10 December 1913 in Salt Lake City at the LDS temple.

Maria Van Leeuwen (known as Mary) was born 15 November 1893 in Ogden and died 16 August 1977 in Ogden.  She married Andrew George Hewitt (known as Andy) 22 September 1915 in Salt Lake City at the LDS temple.

Hermanus Van Leeuwen (known as Herman) was born 10 July 1896 in Ogden and died 26 November 1973 in Ogden.  He married Cora Edna Biddulph (or Lowe) 21 July 1916 in Ogden.

Berendena Van Leeuwen (known as Dena) was born 28 December 1898 in Ogden and died 5 March 1959 in Ogden.  She married David Delos Donaldson (known as Dave) and I have written of their marriage at this link: Donaldson-Van Leeuwen Wedding.

Christiena Van Leeuwen was born 16 March 1901 in Ogden and died 20 March 1901.

Catharina Johanna Van Leeuwen (known as Kate) was born 2 December 1902 in Ogden and died 27 November 1975 in Ogden.  She married Richard Leslie Collins (known as Les) 17 March 1920 in Ogden.

All the individuals who knew the family mention first how close the family was.  The family was known that once a visitor was around, the food came out.  Apparently Minnie was a master cook and all loved her food.  She apparently made loaves and loaves of bread at a time.  The neighbors knew what days she made bread and would regularly buy loaves from her.  Friends of the children knew what day to come and eat some of Minnie’s bread.  After she passed, her daughters had all learned well and continued the tradition and into their own families after marrying.

The family was also known for the practical jokes they would play on one another and the constant play quarreling.  Even throughout life, some of the siblings would make up stories about other siblings that would make the sibling mad and things turned hot for a while and then the favor would return.  All throughout the rest of their lives, the siblings met together oft and enjoyed meals together.

Five children in back (l-r): Minnie, Annie, Elsie, George and Jane. Second row: George, Dena, Hermina. Front: Mary and Herman.

The above photo placements are as follows.  You can tell George and Minnie Van Leeuwen.  Dena is sitting on the stool between the parents.  The five children behind from left to right are Minnie, Annie, Elsie, George, and Jane.  The two in front of George are Mary and Herman.  Kate was not born yet when this picture was taken roughly in 1902.

George’s head and mental injuries continued to worsen as the years passed.  The family either had to keep him safe during a fit and keep him calm to keep from inducing a fit.  By the time 1911 rolled around, the family could no longer deal with his mental condition on their own.  Dena referred to her “Daddy” as tender and sweet and then at the switch he would become angry and threatening.  He had made enough threats and raised enough raucous that neighbors called the police.  George was committed to the Utah State Mental Hospital in Provo, Utah, Utah in 1911.  The family tried to get him out and succeeded.  Unfortunately, he lost control again and ended up spending the rest of his life in the mental hospital.  The family would drive down nearly every weekend to pick up “Daddy” and keep him for the weekend before taking him back.  By the mid 1920′s, they could not even take him home on the weekends his condition was that poor and uncontrollable.

Photo from George’s Utah State Hospital file

“Momma Minnie,” as she was known to friends, died 9 June 1921 in Ogden.  She was buried 3 days later in the Ogden City Cemetery.  When Hermina died in 1921 she left a will specifying $1 to Gerhardus who was in state care and otherwise her estate was divided among her surviving children.  Hermina died at Elsie’s home.  George died 5 January 1932 in Provo, Utah, Utah.  He was buried 3 days later beside his wife.

More of the same; Life

Time keeps ticking by too quickly sometimes.  I have so much to write but not as much time as I would like to do it in.  Such is the limitations in the probationary game.  There are plenty of achievements to report though in the past week or two.
This evening I spoke with Gerald Neuffer in Columbia, Missouri.  In a most random turn of events, I noticed that a Jenna Neuffer became friends with my friend, Kami Lowe on Facebook.  With a name as rare as Neuffer, I knew all odds were in my favor of having a near shared ancestry.  I sent Miss Neuffer a message and asked for her Grandfather’s name and phone number.  Which she supplied.  Come to find out, I even had Gerald already in my family history.  I just had his first name Myron (Gerald is his middle name but he goes by it.  Probably due to remove confusion with his father’s name being Myron).  He knew the Andra’s well and said he remembered Millie, who was just younger than him.  Funny how small a world it is.  He went to get his PhD and never left Columbia after moving there in 1947.  We conversed for a little while he dug for information verifying I was not this total stranger calling for his family history for some other sinister reason.  He sounds like a good guy.  He asked if I was doing genealogy.  I confirmed I was and that I was the family historian.  He then happily related he was basically that for the Neuffer/Nuffer family.  I was definitely glad to hear that.  What is the chances of the Andra historian running into the Nuffer historian in Columbia Missouri?  Very far removed from Preston, Idaho!
I received a phone call from Jacqui yesterday about the Phibbs/Ross/Beachell family.  I tried returning her call and spoke with her mother for a few minutes.  I am glad she finally returned my message.  I only left it in May!  That was before we moved!
In other news, there was an e-mail that found its way to me from Robert in Fresno, California.  A most interesting question.  He asked if I knew of any of the siblings of my Constance Jorgensen.  I always felt Constance most likely had siblings but was never able to find any.  Between her parents marriage and Constance’s birth, there is twelve years.  I was sure there were other siblings.  Olavus and Hanna Mathea Jorgensen immigrated with Constance and settled in Richmond, Utah.  Constance married Ole Christiansen and gave birth to my Great Great Grandmother Martha Christiansen who is the mother of my Lillian Coley.  Constance died in Portland, Oregon while visiting and was buried there.  In the whole episode, I knew some day I would have to do some research in Norway to find the rest of this family.  Well, Robert e-mailed me asking me if his grandmother, Amanda Jorgensen Swensen could be a child of Olavus and Hanna.  He produced a copy of a hand written copy pedigree she had produced in 1935.  Sure enough, everything lined up.  Well, Amanda was born another 12 years after my Constance (24 after the marriage of the parents).  She immigrated to Utah a good 10 years after her parents and sibling came over and settled in Logan, Utah.  By the time she arrived her parents were both deceased and her sister had married.  It seems that she never knew she was only 15 miles from her parent’s graves and her sister.  The exciting news is that Amanda gave us the names of her siblings, none of which made it to America to her knowledge.  We added the 5 siblings.  Don’t know their ages, but definitely gives some more to go from.  That will give us much more to go from when the time for the Norway research begins.
I am happy to report I completed the New Testament this evening.  I am one day late.  If I had read the one chapter a day, I would have finished yesterday.  Last weekend put me just off enough that I did not catch up in time.  I completed the Book of Mormon on schedule this year on August 27th.  Now I can go through some General Conference talks and some other reading for the year.  Next year is the Doctrine and Covenants which you can almost read three times in a year.  I think I will just do it twice though.
The ward continues to blossom when it comes to family history.  It seems like people are doing their homework, research, and compiling regularly.  I have e-mails at least once or twice a week for help on something.  That is an indication something is going on.  That is definitely something which is a good thing.
Online the family history work continues to reveal new and interesting things.  I received an e-mail from a Homer Mason.  He was inquiring concerning the Jonas family in Washington State.  Come to find out, Anna Jonas is his Grandmother.  Anna was the daughter of William Jonas who was the brother to my Joseph Jonas; father to my great grandfather Joseph Nelson Jonas.  He knows very little so it has been fun introducing him to the family.  I have especially enjoyed his research on a line of the family I have not been able to crack.  It has proved not to be an easy line for him, but with his living in Yakima, he is much closer and capable of doing the work than I can.  I really hope I am accepted to the University of Idaho for Law School.  Then I could work on the Jonas, Ross, and Sharp lines in Washington State.
Stepping back to the Andra family.  This past weekend Amanda and I took a trip to Washington DC for our monthly temple visit.  But a new aspect as emerged.  My Great Uncle and Aunt, Donald and Lolane Andra, are now serving a mission in the temple.  We went up Friday night and stayed with Amanda’s Uncle and Aunt in Springfield.  Saturday we picked up Don and Lolane and made our way to Mt. Vernon.  They thoroughly enjoyed themselves.  It was the 18th Century Fair so there were masses of people.  Don and Lolane are good and quick on their feet.  Despite being in their 60′s they move well.  Don reminds me so much of my Great Grandpa.  I get a kick out of both of them.  We were limited on time as they had to be to the temple to work later in the afternoon.  We did probably the fastest walking tour of Mt. Vernon I can imagine.  We zoomed all over the grounds, through the fair, and then back up to their apartment to change and attend the temple.
On a side note, as I went into the endowment room, I noticed the officiator’s name was John Whatcott.  I looked at him and asked if he was from Kanosh.  He looked a bit surprised at me and said he grew up there.  I told him of the Whatcott’s I knew.  After the session he asked me to remain in the celestial room so we could visit.  We had a great visit.  Come to find out he knows Don and Lolane from St. George.  Small world.  Don knew which session we were on and waited for us to leave the celestial room.  He walked us down to the next floor and we parted again.  I met Don’s Home Teaching companion, Elder Toronto, while picking up Amanda’s Aunt’s glasses from the temple lost and found.  Funny how interlinked the world is, at least in the church.
I have not made mention of it yet, but I am going from contractor status to full associate status at Bank of America.  Meaning, I will be an employee of Bank of America and not an at will person filling a seat.  Many companies now do the contractor business as they can then hire on employees after they have shown their worth.  I must have done well enough for them to offer me employment starting October 1.  I am excited.  Business has been picking up.  I don’t know if it is from the crunch in the market or what.  Bank of America definitely stands on higher ground than those feeling the squeeze or sinking under the housing market.  One thing is for sure, with this rate cut, we are expecting the next month to be hectic.
My birthday came and went just like every other day or the year.  I am back to being congratulated for it being my unbirthday.  I received all sorts of e-mails (which will take me a good week to respond to them all), many messages on Facebook, and a couple of cards and gifts.  Amanda and I enjoyed a nice big meal at Chili’s for dinner.  We joked about it being our triannual beef night.  It is birthdays or anniversary that I get to eat a steak.  Monday was a 12 oz Ribeye.  Mmmm, so good.  That is of course not mentioning the Idaho potatos.  Amanda got me a shirt, a jump drive, and something else which slips me at the moment.  I also received a journal, a few checks, and some other random memorabilia.  I honestly don’t feel any different now than I think I did when I was 19.  Except the fact my knee was reconstructed in 2004 and doesn’t give me the issues it did at 19.  So I guess I feel better than at 19.  I have filled out in stature, even added a little padding in the middle,  and perhaps a little wiser.  Life is good.
My blessings continue to flow despite my inept nature.  I continue to be given the little peaceable things of the kingdom from time to time.  They make the living and endurance all worth it.  Line upon line right?  Sometimes I wish it was more page upon page, but alas, I am not the one running the show.  Church goes well.  I feel spiritually well.  Not the muscular behemoth I would like to be spiritually, but I feel strong enough to do what needs to be done and any forseeable adventure.

Traveling to Virginia Day #4

The Sabbath has now passed.  So I thought I would share a little update before we get going on the road today.
We ended up staying for sure with Andy and Becky Hughes.  They have been more than kind to us.  Keeping us up, visiting with us, and providing some wonderful food.  Breakfast of waffles and such, with dinner of homemade lasagna.  All very good.

Went to church in the Branson 2nd Ward.  It was good to see so many old friends.  We ran into Gary & Kathy Freeman, Sheila Dutton, Marty & Cindy Hughes, Ryan & Carina Hughes, Gary & Lena Hughes, Adam & Vikki Hughes, Merrill Osmond, Jason & Mara Hughes, Steve Arvig, Doug Lowe, and many others.  It was great to be back in town.  The opening hymn was absolutely powerful.  All the hymns were sang in faith.  What a refresher.  The closing hymn was America the Beautiful, and most of the families have performed this show before so it came out in 6 part harmony in Sacrament Meeting.  It is amazing how music changing the power of a meeting.  It was Testimony Meeting, which was good, despite the usual missionary field-interesting ones.  All of church was great, especially to see so many old friends.

After church we came home and dressed more comfortably and chatted for a while.  We were scheduled for dinner with the Lowe family.  We went over and had a wonderful dinner.  The missionaries were there, one of which Amanda graduated from school with.  Anna Badger, Lee and Korinne Hamblin, and Kayli also had a friend.  Dinner was patriotic and tasteful.  I ate way too much.

After visiting with the family, Kami Lowe, and Anna Badger we headed to visit with Terry McCombs.  We ended up being there for several hours discussing physics, resonance, the build of the vocal instrument, and Zion.  It sure was good to visit with him again.

We returned to Andy and Becky’s, visited for a few hours, and then crashed for the night.

Today we head off to Lexington, Kentucky.  Hopefully all goes well.