Sunday, November 8, 2009

Jacob Hafen - Pioneer of the Month - November 2009

Jacob Hafen was born February 16, 1836 in Canter Thurgau, Northeast Switzerland.  Because of old and absolute laws the people in this fertile and productive country suffered much.  The poor people were so limited in their opportunity to make a living, and their schooling was limeted accordingly.  However their working hours were not limited as they are today.  Jacob learned the trade of shoemaking but he had no money to pay for his learning.  After his apprenticeship, he was required to work at the shoemaking bench a year or more without compensation.  From 6 a.m. until 8 p.m., summer and winter Jacob sat at his bench tapping and trimming.  Thrilled with the thought he could soon be master of a trade and then could assist his good parents in the maintaining their humble home.

 Thurgau, his birthplace was known for its fine fruits, therefore the place was nicknamed Ciderindia.  The plentiful production and use of cider gave rise to this name.  The custom was to serve the workmen in the fields a piece of bread and a cup of cider.  The work would then continue til dusk.  Then the evening bell "Angelus" would call the tired workers home to evening chores and supper.   At mid-day the town clock located in the belfry of the village church would announce with twelve strokes the hour of dinner.  Recreations were few indeed for these humble farm folk.  A dance usually started in the afternoon and a recess was called for chores and supper; then back to the dance until midnight, this procedure was really a rare occasion.

Their main recreation was singing.  There were many small singing organizations who would hold joint festivals much like the Welch Eistefodds.  God had given Jacob a wonderful singing voice.  When he sang we heard not only his voice but his heart sang as well.  Jacob was a jocular, good natured fellow.  He made friends easily and held them all through life.  Thus the Mormon Missionaries found our twenty-four year old Jacob in Thurgau.  He and his two sisters accepted the gospel.  The rest of the family couldn't understand the "Spirit of Gathering" that was calling these three away from their family and friends.

Western America was an almost unknown country to these humble swiss farm folk.  In 1861 they embarked on a sailing boat with other immigrants and Mormon converts.  They were tossed to and fro on the ocean for many weeks.  For Jacob, this long journey was an eventful one.  On the boat was a very attractive young woman named Annie Catherine Naef.  She, too had a wonderful singing voice.  So through the gift of song they soon became sweethearts.  The weeks on the ocean were almost too short for these two young adventurers, whose hearts were bursting with songs of love.

How happy they were to put their feet on this, our American soil.  But America was just in the beginning of the Civil War;; hence, new dangers threatened these lovers.  But Jacob had been schooled in hardships and he had fiath that God who led them safely across the ocean would lead them across the mountains and plains to their destination in the valley of the Great Salt Lake.  They arrived in Salt Lake City in the Captain Jones Company in the year 1861.  From there they went to Payson where they were married and lived for three years.  Their next move was to Fort Hambleton which was then a new settlement in Sanpete.  They there took up a homestead and started anew.  Their stay at Hambleton was short. They were called to Richfield.  All went well for two years, then the Black Hawk War forced them to return to Hambleton, now called Mt. Pleasant.  It was here where Jacob and Annie Catherine established the Hafen home.

The boots and shoes Jacob made were of the best workmanship.  Many of the old  people of our community today (early 1900s) remember the happiness that came to them as children when they received a pair of brass tipped shoes made by Hafen, the shoemaker.

He never became wealthy in earthly goods, but every day brought a wealth of joy to the humble shoemaker.  His sense of humor, his charitable nature, his honesty, his faith in God and his righteous living was an inspiration to all who knew him.  Many nights when this tired tradesman would take an inventory of his days work the charity work he did far out balanced the paid jobs.

Because of the Indian trouble there was a militia battalion organized under the leadership of Major James Jorgensen who had served in the Danish Army. Jacob Hafen took part in this and at one time when Jacob was on duty when the drums were calling the men to be ready to fight, he was obliged to lock his wife, Annie Catherine and the baby, Hermina, in their dugout home, lest the prowling redskins would molest them.  She would hide in the corner where she could watch every shadow that came within the range of the one small window that lighted that cellar room.  Suddenly, the window was darkened and as she stared, she saw the face of an Indian pressed close to the window pane.  She didn't know how long he stayed there.  Minutes seemed like hours and an hour seemed an eternity before Jacob returned and found his wife on her knees praying, asking God to keep baby Hermina from awakening and crying.

John Hasler organized a brass band and Jacob played the bass horn.  The village wanted permancy of this organization so ten acres was given to each member.  Jacob received his ten acres along with others and it was known ever after as the Brass Band Field.

There is, however, another episode in Jacob Hafen's life that must be recorded.  With the consent of Annie Catherine, he married and brought across the threshold another wife, Lizetta Ott.  Six children were born to this union.  Three girls and three boys.  She had recently arrived from her native land, in company with her widowed mother, Elizabeth Winkler Ott.  This marriage like the previous one was happy, though troubled by the persecutions of the so called Edmunds Tucker Act.  Consequently, this good man whose family life was exemplary, who was innocent of breaking any criminal law.  Because at this time there was no law in Utah against plural marriage. 

Jacob returned to his native land on a mission in 1883-1885.  On the eve of his departure he sold their best cow to help pay his fare, and he left the wives and children in the hands of God and the community.  These wives and children were equal to the occasion.  The mothers had been schooled in the art of homemaking.  One wife was a fine baker of bread and cakes and the other was a good organizer as well as a good seamstress.  They were educated in the fine arts of lacemaking and embroidery.  They gathered the fruit from the straw stacks and braided it in five and seven strands and sewed the strands to make hats for the next summer trade.  Then all went gleaning over the wheat fields that they might have flour for bread.

The home of the Hafens hummed with activity.  Everything in and out of the house was cleaned and scoured.  The white pine floors and benches were scrubbed with sand and water.  The hand-made lace fillet curtains were taken down from the windows and laundered.  Every cup, plate, pot, and pan was scoured with ashes to give them an extra polish.  Why? Because Father Jacob was coming home! How happy this family of two wives and many children were.  Each doing the different tasks assigned them by their mothers.  There was work for the tiniest hands.  Tiny hands could scour the knives, forks and spoons with ashes.  Tiny hands could polish the shoes of the entire family by applying soot mixed with mutton tallow and brushed with a home made brush.  The brass kettle was made to look like gold scoured with salt and vinegar.  When the house was in order the wives decided to make an arch over the white picket gate for the joyous occasion.  The children were sent out to gather wild flowers to bind it with.  Each child was to bring an armful of flowers and their mothers deft fingers soon arranged them around the green willow arch that was later placed over the gate. "Put my sego lillies on top so Father will be sure to see them." said one little girl.  "No put my blue bells where he will see them." said another.  "He will like them best." said a third child.  Then the wise mothers said, "No, there are no favorite flowers with father and no favorite children or wives."  So the sego lillies, bluebells, indian paint brush, violets and daisies were all twined around the arch that Jacob walked under that never to be forgotten afternoon.  Over the door he entered he read "Welcome Home Father" printed with charcoal on a piece of white muslin tacked above the door.

Jacob had been in hiding for several months which was a hardship on the wives and children as well as himself.  Picture, if you can, two deputies riding up to the house, one went to the front door and one to the back door.  Forcing the door open and demanding to know where their father was.  These children who had been taught to always tell the truth knew that if they told the deputy the truth, their father would be caught so the only answer they could wring from them children was "He isn't here."  Jacob tired in a few months of evading the law and gave himself up.  He was tried with a group of "cohabs" as the prison officers called them and served three months in the Utah Penitentiary.  This was in 1889.  On June 21, Jacob returned to his family in Mt. Pleasant.,

Jacob was a member of John Hasler's Swiss Choir.  They practiced one night each week at different homes.  The object of the choir was to sing at the Swiss meetings, held in the Hague home on South State Street, and they all loved to sing.  This was a great advantage to the children of the Swiss families.  The children would stand around and drink in every note during the practice, and many times had memorized the songs before the older folks did.  Jacob could sing either bass or tenor.  Refreshments of crackers and cakes with cider or beer were served at these practices.

Jacob and his two wives would go serenading at night whenever the spirit of singing would move them.  Especially at Christmas time.  They would share their gift of song with all their neighbors and friends.  No medicine was ever used in the Hafen home except herbs and Hyrum Winters Pills.

Not only the family, but the entire community was happy when Jacob returned.  Many little feet needed shoes Jacob could make.  The Swiss Choir needed the encouragement he could give them.  Young and old needed the jovial salute he would give wherever you would meet him.  His sense of humor made him popular with all people.

One day a man who had "strayed from the straight and narrow" path many times knocked at the Hafen door.  "Brother Hafen", he said, "I know I am not a good man, but I am the father of a baby girl." "Would you come down and give her a name and a blessing?" "I know if any man's prayers reach heaven, yours will."  Needless to say, Jacob complied with the request.

The Hafen children were baptized on their eighth birthday regardless of the time of the year.  Many times the ice on Pleasant Creek had to be broken so baptism could be performed.  The Hafens were an ideal plural family.  In the morning and at the close of day the whole family would kneel in a circle for prayer.  Each child taking his or her turn to thank God for their many blessings.  Jacob was a man of great faith.  He was called out many times at night to administer to the sick. 

Jacob and Annie Catherine Hafen celebrated their golden wedding anniversary on September 21, 1911.

Jacob Hafen was called to the Great Beyond on March 22, 1919.  His wife, Annie Catherine following on the 4th of May 1923.  His wife, Lizetta on the 9th of March 1932.  They left behind a numerous posterity of faithful Latter Day Saints and the God-given gift of singing voices has been handed down to the succeeding generations.  Through the death of Jacob Hafen Jr. in France October 6, 1918, the honor of  Gold Star Mother was bestowed upon Lizetta.