Monday, September 7, 2009

Augustus and Ann Catherine (Porter) Nelson

Augustus Gustave, known to his friends as A.G. was born 21 October, 1851 in Norrvidinge, Malmus Sweden. The son of Hans Nilsson and Olive Poulson (Dehlin). This Swedish father was an excellent farmer and made a good living for his family of six children in Sweden.

When Augustus was ten years old, the Mormon Missionaries converted the family to the Latter-Day Saint religion. They were naturally religious and soon found the principles of the new church suited their beliefs and gave them new freedom of worship. Mormons were not popular so they found themselves without friends and the urge to go to Zion became very strong. The decision to go was made and they sold their home and farm and booked passage for America. They left behind all that had been dear to them.

The trip across the ocean was a long tragic one. Three months of rough seas and many storms. The lack of good drinking water, poor food, and impure air impaired their health. When about half-way across the ocean, measles broke out among the passengers. The children suffered most as there was no room to quarantine the sick. Their low vitality caused the disease to be extremely hard. The Nelson children were all sick at the same time, giving the parents no time for special care or rest. Three of the children died and one was lefft almost blind. It is hard to visualize the depth of their sorrow as the bereaved parents watched while their fifteen-year old son, Anders, almost a man, was tied in a blanket and slid down the plank into the rough black water. Most of the burials were done at night to save the passengers the terrible ordeal of watching a loved one swallowed up in the cold uncaring sea. A few days later his sister, Anna, a young woman of thirteen years followed Anders into the awful watery grave. Mary survived the disease but her eyes were affected by the high fever and the tragedy of blindness seemed imminent. The darling baby Henrik seemed to be recovering when a sudden change snatched him away. All their efforts were in vain. No words can express the anguish of these loving parents. Now all their attention was given to Mary. Her life was spared but she could no longer see and needed to be guided where ever she went. Out of the six children, Anders, Anna, and Henric died. August, Mary and Nels came to Mt. Pleasant, Utah.

Their trek over the plains was much the same as others. Ox teams carried them to Utah and in due time, they arrived in the Salt Lake Valley. Mary's eye sight was beginning to come back, but she was partially blind the rest of her life. The family found their way to Mt. Pleasant in 1863, where they became farmers using their knowledge and experience from Sweden.

On the nineteenth of April, 1876, Augustus married a lovely young lady, Ann Catherine Porter. They traveled to Salt Lake in a wagon, taking two days to make the trip, to be married in the Endowment House. Ann told the story of how she carried on her lap a basket of dried apples and plums to Eliza R. Snow. She was thrilled to be of service to her.

Augustus took up a quarter section of land three miles west of town with Christian Peel. Each man took half. Each built a log house and a log grainery. The logs were hauled by ox team from the mountains east of town, and each man helped the other. They had to carry water from a spring at the foot of the hill up to their homes until a pipe was driven into the ground to make a flowing well of delicious cold water. This well produced enough water for home and garden use as well. To keep milk, butter, and eggs cool,m a box was placed over the water with a burlap sack which absorbed water and allowed fresh air to cool and circulate. This "cool box" as it was called was used for many years.

Cattle did well on the large meadows. Pigs and chickens helped to supply food along with the garden produce. Grain was raised on the rich fertile fields.

Twelve children were born to this humble home. One died in infancy, eleven reached maturity. The log home became too small. so a four rooms of red brick were added to the log home.

The children were educated in a one room school house two miles west of their home. As education was emphasized in their home, the older girls, Olivia, Ada and Mae, as they reached college age were allowed to go to the BYU Academy in Provo. They stayed in homes and worked their way. Here they learned to sew and along with their mothers help they became expert dressmakers. Ada also became a school teacher.

Augustus saw a good opportunity for his growing boys to go into the sheep business. He went into partnership with Andrew Larsen. As the business grew the Nelson brothers purchased more ground and went into the sheep business of their own. This became their life's work.

About 1900, Augustus was stricken with arthritis or rheumatism as it was called. He became confined to his rocking chair, used in place of a wheel chair, for the rest of his life. This interrupted the schooling of the boys as now they were required to do all the farm work. They could get about five months of schooling in the winter as fall and spring were busy times on the farm.

In 1906 the family built a beautiful brick home at First North and Fifth West. Here the abundant life of the family was enjoyed. Memories remind us of marriages, graduations, birthday parties, Christmas celebrations and the homecoming of two sons, Hugh and George from World War I.

December 9, 1918, during the terrible flu epidemic, Augustus passed away. He left behind him a better place. He was proud of his large family of fine men and women. He left much improved farm land and good livestock.

During his illness, he guided his family from his big rocking chair. He kept track of appointments such as water turns, also sheepcamp supplies, and finances.

All his life he remembered, but talked little of the terrible tragedy when crossing the ocean. An impression on a ten year old boy, he never forgot.

Life Story of Ann Catherine Porter Nelson

Grandma Nelson sat by her radio. It did not matter that she was in her 90th year. God had blessed her with an alert mind and a remarkable memory. These modern stories provided her with interesting thoughts to make the otherwise long, dry day full of unusual events. They were typical of the lives of people who had come from all over the world into the great American melting pot, and all had become loyal Americans.

The new broadcasts brought her reminders of her grandchildren, now in the service of our country, and filled her with pride that they were on the side of righteousness, fighting in the air, on the sea and on the land to hasten the overthrow of evil forces in the earth. How grateful she was that she was that every day victory seemed more assured for the allies. Even though there was still a long hard fight ahead it was great to have the assurance that "Truth cruised the earth will rise again. The eternal years of God are Hers." And she still had much to live for - to see the great conflict come to an end, to witness her stalwart grandsons and her sweet granddaughters come marching home again - proud and happy and grateful that they had done their part cheerfully and well.

She loved the music of the Tabernacle and Blue Jacket Choirs on sunday morning and there were many soloists whos clear, beautiful and melodious voices brough pleasure to her throughout the week.

In all of these experiences came reminders of a day gone by - a day in which she was very actively doing her part to make the world a better place in which to live. How often it had been referred to as "pioneering" and she as "a pioneer," and always she had been proud to be called a pioneer.

As she snapped off the power which brought this march of time parading through her mind, she leaned her head back against the cushion on the easy rocking chair in which she sat. She closed her eyes and soon there came drifting out of the past a stream of events as interesting and definite as any story she had heard coming from the radio.

Her father was James Buchanan Porter, the son of James Porter and Elizabeth Buchanan, a sister of Jame Buchanan who was the President of the United States from 1857 to 1861.

James B. Porter was born May 4, 1805 at Buffalo, Cumberland county Pennsylvania. He was the eldest of six brothers including George, John, and Henry, and one sister, Rebecca. When grown to manhood, he left his childhood home and married Elizabeth Slaughter who had fallen heir to a good home because she had cared for an aunt and uncle until they died..

It was here that they together embraced Mormonism and began moving, with the Mormons, from one place to another until finally they located in Nauvoo where they were living at the time of the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother, the Patriarch, Hyrum Smith. With other Nauvoo Saints they experienced the trials of that period, being camped near Haun's Mill when the mob struck there. Elizabeth related many times how all night long she feared that they might be slain. She also related how they were present at the meeting when the mantle of Joseph Smith fell upon Brigham Young and they knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that if they followed his leadership they were doing God's will.

How true it is, thought grandmother Nelson, that "Obedience is better than sacrifice and to hearken than the fat of rams." Always her father had been ready to obey when the great prophet-leader, Brigham Young called. as a result of his obedience, her life had been enriched; blessings too numerous to count had entered her life. Oh, yes, she had felt the pangs of sorrow at the loss of dear ones. She knew the distraction which comes into the mind of one surrounded with troubles and the heartaches of defeat. Many times she had felt that muscle-aching weariness which comes from an overwhelmed body, but always there had been recompense - the satisfaction that she had done her best, and that always she had tried to meet the issue squarely and bravely, and God had "fit her back for the burden".

When the settlement of Mt. Pleasant was started in 1859, again her father responded to the call of his leader to build and operate a tannery and a shoe shop for that community. This was why, in the spring of that year, she had come with her father's first wife, Elizabeth and her family to this settlement in a company led by James Ivie.

In the fall, her mother with her family arrived, and all of them had lived in a three-roomed house in the fort until the tannery and a three roomed house of rock and tow roomed log house were all completed on the corner where the Presbyterian Church and Manse now stand. The shoe shop was a long room built on the east side of the log house where her mother lived.

It was on April 19, 1876 that she was married to A.G. Nelson - her home town beau. A span of mules that belonged to "the order", was hitched to a covered wagon with one spring seat. This was the carriage in which they traveled by way of Nephi to Salt Lake City to become man and wife.

One of the pleasant memories of this trip was a call she made at the Beehive House. Mrs. M.F.C. Morrison, president of the Relief Society in Mt. Pleasant, had asked her to deliver to Sister Eliza R. Snow, a basket of artificial flowers and a letter. The room was full of women, apparently a gathering of some kind was in session. As she was admitted and announced the purpose of her visit, Eliza R. Snow came quickly to her side and very kindly accepted the gift which was greatly admired by all present. "I will see you at the Endowment House tomorrow, my dear girl, and will be at your side to give you whatever assistance you need when you come there to be married." she said - a promise which she graciously kept.

For five years Ann lived with her mother-in-law, Grandma Olive Poulsen Nelson, in her home on the corner where she then lived.

About 1882 Gus went to Salt Lake City to bring home his mother and sister Mary, with her baby, Obedella - her husband having died very suddenly of pneumonia while she was still in child-bed.

At this time Gus and Ann and their three daughters moved to the farm where they lived in a one-roomed log hut until spring when Gus and his neighbor, Chris Peel, went to the mountains and got out logs for a new home. they moved in a year later.

"I suppose," thought Grandma, as she called to mind the many and varied experiences of her married life, "I can truly say that the happiest time of my life was the next twenty-seven years, most of which were spent on the farm in "The Bottoms."

Gus and his friend, Chris Peel, united in an effort to surround themselves with farm land, a real example of cooperative endeavor to this day. They built a log house on the land they desired to homestead. Here Chris Peel lived to homestead a quarter section of land while Gus went away to work for about six months in order to earn the money to pay the Government for the land, which they then divided equally. Chris settled on the south side of the road and Gus on the north. They helped each other to get out logs to build their homes and later other neighbors assisted them to get the materials and build the school house about a mile west of their homes in order that the education of the children might not be neglected.

Mary Johansen, who later married Ann's brother, James, was the first teacher. Later teachers were Jennie Jorgensen Rasmussen, W.D. Candland, Andrew Larsen, John N. Ericksen and Camilla Lund.

There were many neighbors in "The Bottoms" at that time, and they were a sociable group, meeting often with their families at the schoolhouse for picnics and entertainment. Some of the neighbors were Jos. Johansen, Chris Peel, Aaron Omen, Jens Jorgensen, Peter Madsen, James Larsen, Andrew Omen, Harvey Tidwell, Mons Monsen, August Anderson, Mart Behanan, Andrew and John Johansen, Will Omen, John and Will Tidwell.

When the schoolhouse was sadly in need of repair and teachers could no longer be secured to teach in "The Bottoms", it was necessary for the children to come to town to go to school. Sometimes they rode horseback, sometimes in the wagon. Some of the children stayed in town with their grandmother Nelson and three winters the family moved to town for the winter. When 21 years had been spent on the farm they came to town to live.

Yes, Grandmother recalled, that was pioneering, but it was a happy time full of interesting varied and worthwhile trials which had made life rich in memories and abundant in living.

Now her granddaughter turned on the radio and the room was again flooded with modern drama, music and news. This brought her suddenly back to the present when times are so different but when every day events are transpiring which will help shape the future destiny of the world.

"Pioneering," she said, "consists of taking the lead in shaping the affairs of the world for a better and more abundant living". "A pioneer is one who prepares the way, as a soldier in advance of the army. I was a pioneer of 1859. My grandchildren are the pioneers of 1945."

At the Annual Celebration of the Mt. Pleasant Pioneer Historical Assoication in March 1947, Mrs. Ann Catherine Porter Nelson was crowned Centennial Queen of the celebration - she being the only surviving member of the original group of settlers who came to Mt. Pleasant in 1859.

She was crowned by her granddaughter, Dolma Nelson. After her coronation, the entire cast of the pageant "Memories Through The Tears" passed in review for Mrs. Nelson.

On July 23, 1948, at the age of 92 years, she passed away in the home she and Gus had built where she had so fully lived, and often in memory relived a long life of noble experiences.

Written by Talula F. Nelson