The Nielson Story
Compiled from many sources by Fern McIntosh Jacobs 1969
Retyped by Belva Jones McIntosh June 2000
Some parenthetical comments and highlighting done by Beverly McIntosh Brown
This is written as an epitaph to the lives of great, strong, wonderful people who worked very hard that we might enjoy the fruits of their labors. Many people came to America from their homes in the “Old Country” for the sake of religion. May the grandchildren, and great-grandchildren honor the names of these, their progenitors and keep their stories ever alive and vital in their lives that we may appreciate their sacrifices and appreciate what we have. Let us pattern our lives with the ideals and standards of honesty and labor that the world will be a better place for us having lived.
The summers in this far off land are very beautiful, with many fertile green fields as well as numerous wooded sections of equal beauty. There are no mountains as here in Utah, but more level country with green rolling hills. The fruits and crops of Sweden are much the same as here.
Valby Kyrkheddinge was the birthplace of both Nils and Karna. Nils was born the 14 day of May 1826. His father was Nils Nilsson, born October 12,1786 in Skivarr, Sweden and his mother was Elsbeth Nilsdatter, born in 1801 in Evelov, Sweden.
Nils and Elsbeth’s family consisted of Peter, who died at the age of seven, Nils, and two older daughters, Ann and Marna (or Karna). They passed away in their twenties within two weeks of their mothers passing, leaving the father, Nils and Nils Junior alone. We do not know the cause of these three sudden deaths, but it seems very tragic.
Nils and Karna were married the 15th of February 1856 in Valby Kyrkheddinge. Karna was born the 28th day of December 1833 and was the daughter of Hans and Kjerstine Larsson Akesson. Hans was said to be the strongest man in that part of Sweden. In this family were two brothers and one sister, Andrew, Ingra, (lovingly called “muster”, which in Swedish means Aunt) and Hans. They were all born in Vallby. Three of them were given the name of Hansson while the youngest, Hans, born soon after his fathers death, was given his fathers name of Hans Akesson. The children all came to America, but the mother stayed in Sweden and remarried and had another family, some of these coming to America later.
While in Sweden, Karna learned the art of weaving fine fabrics. She wove all types of material – linen, wool, linsey, flannel, and heavy wool for suits and coats. Karna was a very nice looking girl in her younger years, being strong, healthy with a wealth of beautiful hair. Her hair was very long, thick and medium brown that she braided into two large thick braids.
At this time there were Latter Day Saint Missionaries coming into Sweden. They found the door of the Nilsson family and they embraced the gospel while in their fatherland.
Nils II and Karna had two children, Hans and Anne, born to them before Grandpa Nils, at the age of 71 years, passed away. He had been called “Rich Nils” and had much land and livestock in Sweden. Nils II was given all the holdings of the family as he was the only surviving member and also, in Sweden it is the custom for the oldest male member to inherit all the inheritance.
Twin girls were born to them in 1860, and were named Benta and Chasta or Kjerstie. They decided to come to America and Utah to join the Saints. There were many converts who wanted to come here too, but many lacked the finances with which to make the journey. Nils wanted to bring his money to America, but this being impossible, he converted all his lands and livestock into cash and loaned it to the converts so that they could come here too. When in America they were to repay the loans. In this he hoped to get his money here with him. The idea was good but it didn’t work. People had no idea how hard it would be to make money here, no matter how hard they worked. So, as a result, Nils did not get the return of his finances to help him get started in the New World, and he and his family had to work very hard to make a living. Karna used to tell the grandchildren that she married Grandpa Nils for his money, as he was rich in Sweden. She had been engaged to be married to another boy in Sweden, but Nils had won her hand. It was her little joke, as has been said, he lost all by coming to Utah. Even in Mt. Pleasant where they settled, he was called “Rich Nils”. He always had an extra team of oxen more than the “regular run” of pioneers of the early days. Karna loved her husband and family and was perfectly happy here in America because all her children were here and soon prospering, even though they all had to work very hard.
The Nilsson family said goodbye to all their friends and loves ones and started on their long trek to Utah. It is not known which boat brought them to America or in which company they crossed the plains. (Let’s find out more and add to this humble beginning of this story). As they progressed on their way, and after their long ocean voyage, they purchased a wagon, a yoke of oxen, a cow and a stove. They had the cow for many years that gave much rich milk for their journey and later too. They made these purchases in Omaha, Nebraska. They brought many copper kettles and pans from the old country.
The Nilsson family arrived in Mt. Pleasant, Sanpete County, Utah in 1863. They all lived in the old fort there for one year before building a house outside the walls. A few people were still living in the old fort when they arrived. It was remembered that the Madsen family were there at that time. They took the lot on Main Street and Second West on the Northwest corner of the intersection. They had property west of the tracks, one ten-acre field and one 20-acre farm near the H. P. Jensen (called the Pete Sherrif) place. At that time the Asa Coates family lived on “Uncle Hans” corner (across the street south). The family of Bent Hansen lived west of the Nilsson home.
Nils brought many tools with him from Sweden, so he made most of the furniture for their home. He had been a cabinetmaker. They first built a log home, but later it was torn down and an adobe house was built in its place. The one big room and a kitchen were built first and later three more rooms and a hall were added. There were heating stoves in the big room and in “Gustie's Room” as it was called.
They planted many lovely apple and plum trees on the lot in town. The delicious Sweet Bow and Red June trees were in the front yard while Pear, Red Astrican and Early Harvest trees were in the west part of the lot. Wheat, oats, barley, corn and peas were raised on the farms. Sheep were raised and Karna sheered them, washed the wool, carded it, spun and dyed it and wove it into fabric. She could weave it into plaids or stripes as well as plain colors.
They had not been in their new homeland long when Annette Elizabeth and Andrew, twins, were born to them on the 14th of October 1864. This made two sets of twins for them and their son Hans, which made up the family now, as little Annie had died a week before the last set of twins were born. Uncle Hans was so deeply moved when this happened that he prevailed upon the parents to name the little twins after her. Thus, Annette, which is supposed to mean “Anne-Too”, and the boy was christened Andrew, in remembrance of little Annie.
As Karna worked on her loom, she would have the twins play with the empty spools under the loom so she could tend them and do her important work at the same time. She would have certain definite hours to work on the loom and then hurry to do her other tasks and then come back to the weaving regularly so as to accomplish as much as possible in every day.
At one time Grandpa Nils Nielson (as the name was spelled in America) wanted to take a second wife in Polygamy, but Grandma Nielson said to go ahead, but if he did she wouldn’t be there when he brought her home, so he reconsidered.
In the very early days, when the Indians would be a threat to the small community, Grandpa Nielson owned a gun and would take his turn being the guard to watch over the town at night. Grandma would try to talk him into staying near their home instead of making his rounds, but he did his duty to the town.
The new kitchen was built onto the house about the time that Augusta was born on the 27th of August 1868. Niels was born May 11 1871.
The children and mother worked very hard and Nils, the father too, until he became ill and was never well after that. Karna sat at her weaving day after day and worked very hard at it. The children would help pick peas, rake hay with a hand rake, weed, pick potatoes and glean after the threshers.
Karna’s loom was set up in the kitchen in the southeast corner by the door into the big room and by the kitchen window so as to have light to work by. The homemade cupboard was in the southwest corner of the kitchen and in the northeast corner was the washstand with the wash dish. The big stove stood on the north side.
At first there was a pole fence around the lot with the big barrel in the southeast corner next to the street. This barrel was a very important part of life at that time as it contained the culinary water supply for the family. A big creek ran down Main Street in front of the house and stones were placed down into the creek bed to form steps to get down to dip the water out. This barrel was filled with water from the ditch every night and let settle and then the top was used in the house for all their needs. Of course a barrel was always placed under the rain pipe too, in order to catch all the run off rainwater from the roof, as it was softer water than from the ditch and was used for washing the hair etc.
Grandma Karna would always do the milking. She would go out with an apron over her long dress and a big hanky tied around her hair and soon would come back with the bucket full of milk. Later Uncle Andrew took over this task.
In their cellar hung sides of beef and pork on rails from the ceiling, as well as smoked hams and sausages. Bins of all sizes held apples, each kind in its department. There was plenty of food for all with milk, cheese and butter topped off with delicious home made bread. There were not quite so many vegetables but no one starved. Grandma made delicious “starch cake” made mainly of potato starch and eggs. There were no salads, but Thin Pancakes and Ebelskevers with jars of cream and homemade malt beer. Much of this was drunk in the early days because of the impure water.
Karna had an even temper and loved her children and grandchildren very much. Nils was not well the later years of his life and finally passed away April 3 1885.
Swedish was spoken in the home, but the children learned to speak English too. So the grandchildren could understand Swedish but not speak it.
When any of the grandchildren came to sleep with Grandma Karna, she would fry thick juicy slices of ham, boil potatoes and make milk gravy for breakfast. Then she would have the child take a basketful of eggs to Longsdorfs store and get groceries for them. In her later years Grandma Nielson enjoyed sitting by her little kitchen window in the dark and watching the people go up and down Main Street. She passed away the 23 of August in 1920 in Mt. Pleasant and was buried beside her husband in the town cemetery.
Their children all lived in Mt. Pleasant all their lives. Hans, whose birthday was the 14th of March 1857, married Amelia Simpson on the 13th of March 1890. He was 33 years old and she was 25 at the time. She was a lovely woman and a very good cook. They had three children – Frances, Pricilla Caroline, and Goldie Benta. The girls were beautiful but didn’t live long. Pricilla passed away at the age of 16 and Goldie died when she was 27 years of age. Frances married Miriam Thurman. They adopted one child, Stephen.
Benta married Niels S. Nielson and didn’t change her maiden name. He came to America with very little money but accumulated until they were considered some of the more well to do in the community. He and his brothers began the Sanpete Co-op Store and later the Commercial and Savings Bank. They had three daughters, Addie Victoria, who passed away at the age of two and one half of membranous croup, Irene, who lived to be 33 years old and Beatrice who lived to be 73 years of age. She married Ira Wickliffe and they lived in Long Beach all their lives. Their three children were Irene, who died at 16 years of age, Eunice and N.S. Eunice married Mr. German, but he passed away. N.S. married and has several sweet children.
Chastie married Oscar Anderson on 12 October 1878 and had six children but tragedy came to the family and three of them passed away within five weeks with diphtheria and the fourth boy, Gerald L., died at the age of 20. The first ones were Francis O., Archie J., and Lettie C., then Gerald came next, followed by Anna and Addie who lived to raise nice families and at this date (1969) Addie is living in Pasadena, California. Anna married Owen Niling and had two girls, Virginia and Irene. Addie married Howard Strang and they had Marilyn, Richard. Annette Elizabeth married Joseph Monsen on November 4, 1886 in Mt. Pleasant. They were blessed with three children, Florence Karna, Raymond Joseph and Venetta Dorothy. They all lived into mature age and all had families. Florence married Vance McIntosh and their children were Florence Fern, Edwin Joseph, Jean Annette, and Donald V., with one child dying of immaturity, Robert Vance. Ray’s children were Shirley Rae, Richard, and Joseph. Venetta had four nice children, Dorothy Edna, Phillip, Jack and Robert. She married Harold Jensen. Ray’s wife was Lucille Tilson.
Andrew and Niels never married. They lived in Mt. Pleasant all their lives with the exception of the later years when Niels resided in Long Beach. Andrew had a very exceptional characteristic of kindness to all. He was nicknamed Judge as he acted in this capacity in the community for many years. Niels was very frugal and they both accumulated quite a bit of money before they passed away.
Augusta married Albert Edwin Peterson on December 20 1896. They were the parents of three children, Albert (Bert), Helen and Stanley. Bert married twice. One wife was Viola Phillips. From this union was born a little girl, Bonnie. Later he married Josephine and they had a daughter also and named her DeeAnn. Bert died of a heart attack and Helen of complications of arthritis and diabetes. Helen’s husband was Bernard O’Neil and they resided in San Pedro, California. Stanley took Iris Rasmussen for his mate and they had two children, Andy and Sally.