I thought I might share a post by a Donaldson cousin. Mary Elizabeth Connell Donaldson is my 2nd Great Grand Aunt. She went by the name of Elizabeth. I have written previously about her father and mother-in-law. Some others are attempting to get some of her poems published. Here is one of them you can find on another blog.
Since Grandma would have been 90 today, I thought I would put together a couple of memories of her to commemorate her birthday. Not so much a biography, just more of my personal memories and a couple of pictures through the decades of her life. Gladys Maxine Donaldson was born 20 September 1921 in Ogden, Weber, Utah. I have written of her parents, David and Dena Donaldson, previously.
Grandma married Milo James Ross 4 April 1942 in Ogden. I have written some of their history at the following link: Ross-Donaldson Wedding. Milo and Gladys had three children; Milo in 1943 (my father), Judy in 1946, and Caroline in 1948.
I think the following photo was taken on the steps of Grandma’s parent’s home on Wall Avenue in Ogden. I believe this photograph was taken the day of Glady’s father’s funeral. The little girls are Caroline (left) and Judy (right).
Here is a picture of Grandpa and Grandma in front of their home (built by Grandpa in 1955). If you look closely, you can see the back of them in the window.
Here is a more formal photograph of Grandpa and Grandma. I do not know the occasion.
I think this is the first photo I have with my Grandma. I do not know exactly how old I am, but I am most likely under 2 years old. Since I grew up in Idaho, I only got to see my Grandparents once or twice a year. In this picture, I do not seem too sure of the lady on the bike!
I do not recall what the occasion was for this picture but we were dressed up for something. I do not recognize the building.
In 1992 when I received my Eagle Scout, my mom refused to step into an LDS church where the Court of Honor was held. Dad invited Grandma to stand in for my Mom. Mom arrived around the time of this photo in her thermal overalls and was royally upset and offended not only that my Grandparents were there, but that Grandma took her place. Either way, it was a great honour to my Grandparents, especially in light of the history between my Grandparents and Mom.
In 1997, I moved to Logan, Utah to attend Utah State University. Since I lived so much closer, I made an effort to visit my Grandparents at least once a month or so. Typically it was not hard as I could catch a ride with someone passing through to another location. Grandma was always very kind and would repeatedly remind me how much she loved me and that there was always a bed for me to sleep in if I wished to spend the night. As her mind started to slip after Aunt Judy’s death the next year, she would often repeat the same two phrases at least every 15 minutes. While they were the repetitions of an old lady, I still recognized that they came from the heart of my Grandmother who dearly loved me. She knew me, loved me, and only had two phrases in which to express that in her mental infirmity. I now feel her love over and over again with the phrases, although at the time they were sometimes annoyances.
I have to share a quick story at this point. I had just come home my mission in England in December 2000. I had not been home very long when I visited Utah again with my friend Dustin McClellan. I was given some gifts and homemade soap to drop off at Grandpa and Grandma’s in Plain City. Dustin and I stopped and we were visiting when Grandma left the room announcing she would cut up some fudge and bring it out. Grandma came into the room and I turned down the fudge (I try to avoid sweets). Grandpa took a piece and Dustin took a healthy portion. Dustin put most of it in his mouth and when Grandpa took a bite he exclaimed that the fudge was soap. Grandma had cut up the soap we brought as a gift thinking it was fudge! The look on Dustin’s face was clearly a man who had taken a mouth of fudge and was completely disgusted and deceived but did not want to let anyone know lest he offend my Grandma. Grandpa had to take the soap from Grandma who was about to eat a piece despite the warning. Dustin who was nearly foaming at the mouth from the soap excused himself to wash out his mouth. We still laugh about this episode now, 10 years on.
Another episode occurred in 2001, probably around September. I was driving through with a friend, Kevin Orton, for business and I convinced him to pay a stop on my Grandparents. It was a fairly routine visit and Grandpa invited Kevin and me to go out back to visit his large garden. Grandma walked with us and after a while we all retired to the back porch to sit a while. Grandma went in to the house after offering us all a drink. Grandpa went after her because she was so forgetful (to the point that he was concerned about her safety when cooking). She opened the door, walked in, and Grandpa caught the screen door as it was closing. Grandma turned and exclaimed, “Don’t touch my damn door!” Grandpa jumped back, let the door close, and Grandma closed the door behind. Right before she closed the door all the way though, she spoke softly, “I love you honey.” She then closed the door and we heard it lock! Kevin and I laughed and laughed about the whole scene. Even years later he will randomly reference this experience.
Here is a great picture of Grandma at her 60th wedding anniversary. She looked great but her memory was pretty much gone and I think she was lost half the time she was there.
Jennie Britzman, Grandma’s first cousin, came to visit and this picture was snapped. Grandpa was Grandma’s full-time caretaker by this point (Grandpa and Grandma were both about 82) and they rarely strayed far from home.
I believe this is the last photograph I have taken of Grandma before she passed away. Grandpa looks younger and Grandma looks happy.
Grandma died 25 August 2004 in the new McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden. Her funeral and burial took place in Plain City on 25 August 2004. Happy Birthday Grandma, I look forward to seeing you again.
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. The story goes that George saw some men running down the street with people chasing them. Concerned for their safety, he pulled them into his home. He learned they were Elders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The missionaries taught the Van Leeuwen the gospel and helped them convert leading to their baptism.
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.
A sponsor from Ogden,was to meet the family at the train depot in Ogden. But no one was there when they arrived. A man by the name of Mr. Dalbout, saw their plight, and he invited the family to go home with him. There was no place to stay for a long period, so they converted a chicken coop into living quarters. This is where the family waited until George could join them. She took in laundry from other families to support themselves until he arrived.
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. Epilepsy had a stigma of illness that the family had to deal with, everything from wickedness to a contagious disease. This way, only he could potentially be turned away from entering the county. The plan was that with the family already in Utah, he would be permitted to join them in Utah. 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.
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.
“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.
I thought I would share this 4 generation photograph taken about 1950 or so in Ogden, Weber, Utah. The older lady is Mary Elizabeth Williams Donaldson (7 April 1869 – 29 Mar 1951). David Delos Donaldson (26 March 1894 – 24 September 1953), her son, stands to her right. The other lady, Dora Mary Donaldson Birch (28 May 1920 – 30 July 2001), is the daughter of David. The boy, Jan Claire Birch (3 August 1945 – 14 April 2004) is the son of Dora.
I have written previously about Mary (Donaldson-Williams Wedding) Donaldson and how stern and mean she apparently was in her outward demeanor. This photograph is a complete and polar opposite portrayal of the lady so many have given to me. There must surely have been some joy and happiness in there as this photo seems to indicate (if it is in fact Mary, some are not so convinced).
David (who went by Dave in life) I have also written of previously (Donaldson-Van Leeuwen Wedding) and mentioned his overall characteristics. I wanted to take this opportunity to share another story I just heard recently.
I mentioned in the post about David that he was known for being a tight wad. Well, apparently after he passed away, Dena had a dream about him coming to her during an afternoon nap. He told her that she needed to go to the pantry. She could not figure out why in the world she would need to go to the pantry but did so anyway. She walked into the pantry, downstairs, and turned on the light and started to look around. She noticed what appeared to be a loose brick and went over to investigate. The bricks came away and in a little lockbox behind she found a quit-claim deed to the home made to her and about $1,500. That was quite a bit of money in 1953, but it was just enough to pay off all David’s doctor and funeral bills. There was even enough left for some nice things for Dena.
Dora and Jan Birch I really do not have stories for at this time, maybe some day.
The photos that appear in family albums, especially old photos, are always fascinating. With the costs and time restraints of photography in those days, one could not just photograph whatever they wished. It was with interest that this photo is contained in the album of my Great Grandfather, David Delos Donaldson. This photo was taken in the summer of 1919.
The El Capitan was a ferryboat (982 tons) commissioned by the San Francisco & Oakland Railroad in 1868 and built in Oakland. This ship was still in service as of 1919, which seems pretty impressive for the longevity of a ship. SF&O was later absorbed into the Southern Pacific Railroad. While El Capitan had served the San Francisco to Oakland route for many, many years, by 1919 she was serving Vallejo Junction to Vallejo. I could not find out when she quit service.
Why take a picture of this ferryboat? Did he ride it while he was in the army before heading off to France? Did Dena, his wife, find it interesting because it was the first ferry she ever saw? Unfortunately, we will never know in this life.
George Henry and Minnie Van Leeuwen are pleased to announce the marriage of their daughter Dena to David Delos Donaldson, son of Mary Elizabeth Donaldson and the late William Scott Donaldson. David and Dena were married in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah on 16 July 1919.
David is currently an independent plumber in Ogden, Weber, Utah.
The couple will return to make their home at 2310 Grant Avenue in Ogden, Utah.
David Delos Donaldson (he went by Dave, his son also went by Dave or Davie, so to keep them clear, I will refer to father as David and son as Dave) was born 26 March 1894 in Evanston, Uinta, Wyoming. He was the second of seven children born to William Scott Donaldson and Mary Elizabeth Williams. I have previously written of David’s parents at this link: Donaldson-Williams. David grew up in Evanston, Uinta, Wyoming and Park City, Summit, Utah before moving to 2270 Moffits Avenue, now 2270 Ogden Avenue, in Ogden, by the time he was six. He lived at this address until he moved to Twin Falls, Twin Falls, Idaho to work for Ballantyne Plumbing Company as a Sham Filler. When he registered for the World War I draft on 5 June 1917, he was living on Shoshone Street North in Twin Falls and listed that his mother and two siblings were dependent on him. He may have listed this in hopes of not being drafted.
Ballantyne Plumbing & Heating Company was newly incorporated (about 1916) by Varsell Ballantyne who had just moved from Ogden. Varsell had been one of the incorporators of The Ogden Plumbing, Gas & Steam Fitting Company in 1904 or 05. He had worked in the same spheres as David’s father and probably felt some desire to help the Donaldson family and invited David to Twin Falls. He may also have been the master to which David was an apprentice, or another plumber worked with in the Ogden PG&S Company. While David worked for Ballantyne Plumbing Company, it was located at 145 Second Avenue East in Twin Falls. David lived on Shoshone Street North, probably not far from his employment.
The draft card indicates that he had gray eyes, black hair, and stood tall and stout. David served in the U.S. Army during World War I. When he was finally drafted, he went to Utah to report with his two brothers who were also drafted (another brother would also serve in World War I). Unfortunately, the government cannot find his service paperwork and very little is known of his time served. His obituary indicates he served in the 91st Division of the Army. We do not know his dates, but this division fought in the Battle of Saint-Mihiel in 1918 and went on to fight in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive through the rest of the year. It was in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive that David would receive his life lasting injuries to his lungs from the dreaded gasses of World War I. One lung collapsed and never worked again, the other lost a large percentage of its capacity. He would receive weekly treatment for the rest of his life (over 30 years) for these injuries at the Veterans Hospital in Salt Lake. He became a member of the Disabled American Veterans, Ogden Chapter 4.
Berendena Van Leeuwen, who went by Dena, was born 28 December 1898 in Ogden. She was the 10th of 12 children born to Gerhardus Hendrik and Hermina Janzen Van Leeuwen. I have written of George and Minnie’s marriage here: Van Leeuwen – Janzen Wedding.
Nine of these children would live to adulthood and marry. Both parents joined the LDS church in 1887 and immediately sought to immigrate to Zion. The family immigrated to Utah in 1888. Gerhardus waited until the next year to immigrate. Gerhardus had fallen from a ladder at work giving him head injuries that lead to epileptic seizures and bouts of insanity. These considerations were perceived as mental illness at the time and could have kept the family from being admitted had they all come together. The Van Leeuwen’s immigrated from Arnhem, Gelderland, Netherlands. In the United States, Dena’s parents were known as George Henry and Minnie Van Leeuwen. The Van Leeuwen family lived at various places in Ogden, mostly near Wall Avenue and 33rd Street. Her father worked as a carpenter, more on the finishing side, for employment. George may have even known of the Donaldson family. Dena was baptized in the LDS church 7 November 1907 in Ogden. The family was extremely tight knit and was known for their large and very tasty family meals. If company came over, a meal was put on.
George’s head and mental injuries continued to worsen as the years passed. The family either had to keep him safe or calm him down before. By the time 1911 rolled around, his fits were becoming uncontrollable. 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 when Dena was 13. 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. “Momma Minnie,” as she was known to friends, died in 1921 in Ogden. George died in 1932 in Provo.
Dena as one of the youngest children of the family was known among siblings as telling slight variations of stories to other siblings such that it would cause some contention within the ranks. While the siblings were never distant from each other, a feud of one sort or another was always brewing or being fought. It would always pass, but Dena often started many of the feuds and received a bit of flak for it.
David returned from the war and met Dena Van Leeuwen. We do not know about the courtship or how they met. We do not know why they chose to be married in Salt Lake. David and Dena took a honeymoon to California.
David resumed work as a plumber in the 1920’s in the Ogden area. Between 1920 and 1928, 5 children were born to David and Dena, all in Ogden. Twins named Dena Dorothy and Dora Mary were born 28 May 1920.
Gladys Maxine arrived 20 September 1921. Here is a picture of the three kids with Gladys against the wheel of the car.
Maxine appeared 3 August 1924. Lastly a boy, David William came 25 November 1928.
A shot of all 5 children on the front porch of the home that David built at 629 8th Street in Ogden.
Here is a picture of the home from the side. You can see from this point that the home is probably older than 1920’s and that Dave probably added the addition onto the back rather than building the entire home.
In 1930, the family lived at 753 Browning Avenue in Salt Lake. We do not know how long they were there, but they moved back pretty quickly to Ogden living on 8th Street. Times were hard during the 1930’s so David went to Boulder City, Clark, Nevada to work on the building of the new Boulder Dam (later named Hoover). He also headed to Napa, Napa, California to work in the shipyards as a pipe fitter, primarily on submarines. Jennie Bremer, a niece to David and Dena, told of a funny story when David was replacing the plumbing in their home after a serious earthquake in Los Angeles. David was deathly afraid of earthquakes and while he was working in the basement or under a cupboard if an aftershock hit he would rise up and run from the house. He told Jennie at one point that he did not want to be caught in the basement if the house should fall. Well, being little kids, they played with this some. They would sneak to the window of the room he was working in and shake the screen and windows in a way that sounded like an earthquake. She said it was funny to see a man as big as “Uncle Dave” to hop up and run out of a room like that. They would laugh and laugh over it. They made sure not to do it too often so he would not suspect anything and she does not believe he ever knew of the joke they would pull on him at least once every time he visited. She did comment it was a bit sad to see him winded for a while after he hopped and ran, but the guilt from it would only come later in life as she realized what she had done to him.
David would often visit family to help with their homes or other needs. He also come home to Ogden fairly regularly on the weekends to visit the family. He finally found employment in Ogden at the Ogden Depot in 1937 as Supervisor of Maintenance. In 1939, the family returned to visit the area David had worked, Donaldson extended family in the bay area, and the 1939 San Francisco World Fair.
After World War II, the family moved to 639 Wall Avenue.
Life in the 1940’s treated the Donaldson family much better, even despite the war. David still had his penny-pinching ways. Dave would refer to David as the “King of the Tight Wads.” Dave started working about 12 years old as a shoe polisher at a barber shop on Washington Ave. David had told Dave that now he was 12, he was expected to be a man and take care of himself, that the Donaldson household would no longer be carrying him. When he brought his paycheck home, David would take half of it for the family. This incensed Dave over the years and he quit reporting his full pay to his father, who took half of it. David even went on to require Dave to pay rent for his space upstairs in the Wall Ave home. Sometime between 1942 and 1945, David’s mother’s husband had passed away and she wanted to move in with the Donaldson family. David tried to get Dave to move his bed to the back porch so his mother could take the upstairs. Dave made it very clear he would move his bed, but it would be out of the house and he would never come back. David’s mother did not move in and Dave kept his “apartment” even after he married.
David insisted that Dena only needed two dresses and no more. The family would often buy her dresses, shoes, or other things for her birthday and Christmas, so she did not ultimately go without. But he refused to buy for himself or for her. Dave and Betty Donaldson got a pretty serious scolding one time for buying Dena a crystal berry bowl indicating that it was going to spoil Dena and the family.
Dena grew up LDS and David did not. Dena saw that all her children were raised LDS with little difficulty from David. Apparently smoking is what kept him from being baptized. When the time would come for Gladys to marry, the Bishop determined that he was not going to allow them to be married in the temple without David being a member. David had made it known he did not want any of his girls to marry a poor boy and would not submit. All four of the girls married in the next two years, and then Dave in 1953. Interestingly, David never joined the LDS church, but the family put it into the obituary that he was a member. Gladys ended up being married in the Donaldson home on 8th Street, but David refused to allow the Donaldson Bishop to do the honors, so the Plain City Bishop of Glady’s husband, Milo Ross, performed the wedding.
Gladys married Milo James Ross 4 April 1942.
Dena married Chauncey De Orr Michaelson 7 December 1943.
Maxine married Sterlin Delaino Telford 24 December 1943.
Dora married Malcolm Claire Birch 11 September 1943.
Dave married Betty May Oram 12 April 1953.
David retired in 1949 from the Ogden Defense Depot due to his physical condition and inability to breathe. About this time, the family took a trek to visit family and friends throughout the west and to see some national and church historical sites. Included was Hoover Dam, St. George Utah Temple, Mesa Arizona Temple, Cove Fort, Lake Mead, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.
The family, not caring about the thoughts of others, loaded the car and set off. Dena, who loved and raised canaries, insisted they come with her. So the canaries rode in cages that were wired to the outside of the car (and the canaries lived through the entire trek). Dave joked that driving around they looked like the Beverly Hillbillies in their early 40’s sedan with bird cages wired to the back of the car.
David would claim that the only relief he could receive for his lungs was through smoking cigarettes which would calm his breathing and ease the pain. Remembering also, this was also a slogan for some cigarette companies! He picked up smoking while still in the military, but he would become a chain smoker very early on. The smoking would later aid in his death from emphysema. It was not uncommon at all for David to light one cigarette from the one he was finishing. He was also known as a dirty smoker among the family in that he would allow the ashes to fall anywhere and would even throw his butts on the floor in the house, in the toilet, or even leave them in the drain of the bathtub after he finished bathing.
David’s lung issues would come back to haunt him more and more as the years passed. The cigarettes were no longer delaying the pain or inevitable loss. His emphysema would come in fits to such a degree that he would be confined to bed and the family would have to place newspaper on the floor around the bed to catch the black phlegm (sometimes bloody) he would cough up. His emphysema would become more and more restraining on his life in the last 5 years of his life. It was the reason he had to take such an early retirement. In the end, he had a couple of days where he was coughing and could not breathe and went to the Veteran’s Hospital in Salt Lake City. After a two day stay, the chronic lung disease caused a cor pulmonale that took his life on 24 September 1953. Four days later, he was buried in Ogden City Cemetery.
Dena moved on with her life and kept busy visiting and spending time with family. Dave, who had recently married and was living in an apartment upstairs, decided it was time for a major cleaning of the house. They completely and thoroughly cleaned the home, wall-papered and replaced wall-paper, and replaced the carpets and furniture to remove all the cigarette smoke grease and filth.
Betty told me that as long as she knew the family that she really loved Dena. She said everyone loved Dena. She said that when she remembers the home in Ogden on Wall, that every time she drove into the driveway that the curtains would part and a Dena’s curly white hair, bright blue eyes, and big smile poke through with a little wave. Apparently she had an infectious laugh which was both giddy and happy.
Four of her siblings were still alive and she had 11 grandchildren by the time 1955 rolled around. Then one day she was visiting at the home of Jane (Jantjen in the Dutch) Bremer, her sister. Dena needed to hurry off and Jane warned her that she should not go. Jane was known in the family for having the gift of foretelling the future. Jane told Dena that if she left at that time she would be in a terrible accident. Dena gave no heed and left to go on her way. Dena was known by all to speed, and she was doing so this day. Sure enough, as she drove north on Wall Avenue in Ogden and at reaching 2nd street, a truck made a left hand turn from the right lane and hit the rear passenger side of the 1955 Oldsmobile. Her vehicle was sent careening and slammed broadside into a telephone pole on the north east corner of the intersection (133 feet from the point of impact). The initial hit threw her into the passenger side of the front seat with the passenger door open, her leg partially out of the opened door. Then the impact collapsed the dashboard in on her and slammed the open passenger door on her leg. She broke her hip, leg, and back with a number of other injuries. The door had closed and latched on her leg and had to be cut open. She was taken to the hospital where the family did not expect her to live. She underwent a pretty major hip and back operation.
Dena was put into a full body cast for the next six months that reached all the way up to her armpits. Dave created this bar with a rope/cloth over the bed by which she could lift herself up so they could place a bedpan under her to do her business. Betty would help her do the business, clean her up, and make sure her needs were tended. The cast was eventually removed but she could not properly walk or get around very well. She was pretty much confined to her home for the rest of her days. At times a little heat came into a relationship and she would go spend some time with one of her other children, but she came back. She had a terribly heavy hospital bed she used these last few years. Dave made it clear early on that once he moved that bed out of the house again, he was not ever moving it back in so her stays elsewhere were of short duration.
Dave and Betty would take Dena around to visit places and get out of the house. Betty joked that Dena loved to go fishing and that she could catch fish in the gutter if she tried. She had a gift for catching fish. Dave and Betty set up a little camp chair so she could fish on camping trips. They would leave her be for a while and she would giggle at the birds and once and a while one would fly to her. She giggled openly and happily at everything. Her grandson, Milo Ross, remembers her in the full body cast but yet she would smile and the whole world would smile with her. He thought she was a funny lady with tongue twisters, slight Dutch accent, and catchy little jingles.
Dena had problems with her body that come from inactivity, like regular kidney stones and other painful problems. But she always had a twinkle in her eye and a contagious laugh. She never, if ever, complained about the lot cast to her in life.
On the 5th of March, 1959, Betty Donaldson, Dena’s daughter-in-law had finished work and was headed to the theater to catch a matinee. She felt a distinct impression that she should go home. Dave was at work and she had the whole afternoon free, so she did not see the need to go home. As she waited in line at the theater, she knew she needed to go home so she caught the bus. She made it home and all was well. She changed her clothes and then Dena called up to her. Dena had this sinking feeling in her chest, was not feeling very well, and was asking Betty for help. Betty called the Dr. and for an ambulance. Dave, who never called home from work, had felt impressed to call home. Betty was just headed up to the hospital. Dave met her there. Dena had suffered kidney failure which lead to a heart attack and she passed away that evening around 10:30 PM. She was buried four days later next to David in the Ogden City Cemetery.
David and Gwenlliam Williams are pleased to announce the marriage of their daughter Mary Elizabeth to William Scott Donaldson, son of Joseph and Sarah Donaldson. They were married in her parent’s home in Slaterville, Utah on 2 Oct 1890.
William is currently employed with Union Pacific Railroad as a conductor in Ogden.
The couple will make their home in Ogden.
The farther you get back on some of these family lines, the less we know about the individuals and their lives. This really is unfortunate. If they had kept journals, or recorded some of their thoughts and at least given us some history, how much the richer we would be. Look at how much a few sentences written on the back of this old photograph tell us that we would not otherwise know!
The back of this photograph has the following written on it. “[illegible] master (??) held this photo for about 46 or 48 years then gave it back to me for a keep sake. when she left for California to make her home. she was 70. taken in 1891 we lived in Evanston Wyo. Donaldson was Union Pacific Conductor. Mary Elizabeth Williams Donaldson. Born apr 7th 1869 on Wall ave. between 24th and 25th street. Just South of the Brigham Hotel in the old home. Daddy sold the old home to Barnard White. William Scott Donaldson Born June 18 1865 Cape Vincent Jefferson county New York.”
I assume the writing is by Mary herself since there is a reference of the photo being given back (William died in 1913). But then why would she refer to her husband as “Donaldson” in reference to his work? The details given of the birth and its location with the references of “Daddy” selling the home makes me think it is safe to assume this is written by Mary herself and the language is probably a norm of the time.
The reference to the Brigham Hotel (called the New Brigham Hotel on the National Registry) is interesting because that building is still there at 2402-2410 Wall Ave. No homes still exist in that block. We knew she was born in Ogden, but from that little note, we now know which block of Ogden. I have written about her parents at this link: Williams-Jordan Wedding.
The writer on the photograph indicates that the Donaldson family lived in Evanston, Wyoming in 1891. William George was born 23 Aug 1891 and David Delos 26 Mar 1894, both in Evanston. (Read more about David’s family at this link: David Donaldson Family) Mary may very well have been pregnant in the photo. The photo was taken in Ogden or Park City as the bottom of the photo tells us that is where Adams Bros (and ride an elevator!) was located. The family then moved to Park City, Utah where Joseph Ellis was born 28 Aug 1896 and Irvine Todd on 11 Jun 1898.
On 11 Jun 1900, the family lived at 2270 Moffatt’s Lane in Ogden. Moffatt’s Lane is no longer the name of the street, it was renamed between 1910 and 1920 as Ogden Avenue. William is still a conductor for the railroad. On 20 Apr 1910, the family lives at the same address and William indicates to the census taker he is now a plumber and owns a shop. William and David are both listed as apprentices, and I assume both are for their father. Somewhere in all this, he also had a confectionery store, of which we have one picture but no other information.
William Scott died 12 Sep 1913 of bladder cancer at Dee Hospital and was buried in the Ogden City Cemetery on the 14th. He was barely over 48 years old. The death certificate indicates William was the owner of a plumbing business.
William Scott was born 18 Jun 1865 in Joyceville, Frontenac, Ontario, Canada. His mother was born in Cape Vincent, Jefferson, New York. You can read more of his parents and siblings at this link: Donaldson-Todd Wedding. As far as we can tell, all the children were born in Joyceville. He did mention on both the 1900 and 1910 Censuses though that he was born in New York. Maybe this was to claim his privileges as an a U.S. citizen. Who knows. He is not found on the 1880 Census presumably because he is in Canada. Several of his siblings also finally show on the 1900 Census in New York and Ohio, but his father and mother lived their entire lives near Joyceville or Pittsburgh, Frontenac, Ontario, Canada. His venture west most likely came with his employment by the railroads. He did not join the LDS church until 1911. His son John Edmund joined in 1910, Joseph Ellis the same day as his father, and William George and Samuel Alvin within the next 4 years. The others did not join (although David Delos obituary says he did).
Mary probably grew up near where she said she was born. She was the oldest child (that lived) of 10 children. The census taker in 1880 described the home as on the railroad grounds in Ogden. The block where she said she was born is very near the Union Station and may have qualified as the railroad grounds. The original station which was built in 1869. No street or anything else, just on the railroad grounds. The 1870 census does not give any indication where the family lived other than in Ogden. The last two children were born in Slaterville (1881 and 1885). The marriage record indicates in 1890 that Mary was a resident of “Slateville”. The 1900 census records do not tell us where in Slaterville. Mary’s mother, Gwenlliam Jordan Williams died there in 1900. When David died in 1911, he was back in Ogden living at 3256 Wall Ave (this home is gone).
Mary remarried 11 Jul 1918 to Anthon Edward Peterson. The family still lived at 2270 Ogden Ave in the 1920 census. The four youngest still living at home. By the time the 1930 census arrived, Anthon and Mary were living at 541 Washington Ave, which house I believe is still standing. Anthon and Mary would remain together until he passed away in 1942.
All accounts of Mary is that she was stern and cold. Her grandson, David William Donaldson (Dave), indicated that she was snooty, high-minded, and a brat. Apparently she was very condescending and negative in every interaction. After Anthon Peterson passed away, she sought to move in with her son, David Delos Donaldson and family. The offer was apparently there to take her in for whatever years she had remaining. However, Dave was not having any of that and indicated that if she moved in, he moved out. This was between 1945 and 1948. She ended up not moving in because of Dave.
Mary remarried 20 Nov 1945 to Thomas William Stoker (a cousin of mine on a different line). They remained together until she passed away of old age 29 Mar 1951 in Ogden, just shy of 82. At the time, Thomas and her were living in Huntsville.