ancestor story

Uncle Darrell – Part VII, A Telegram

PETERSON, Ronald Skeen, 1947 Telegram notifying Darrells death
Original Telegram sent to my Grandpa notifying him of his brother Darrell’s death.

My Grandpa, Ronald Peterson, was serving an LDS mission in New Zealand at the time of his brother Darrell’s death.  Because of where he was living in New Zealand, a phone call was not possible.  A telegram was sent to notify Ronald of the accident.  The telegram was received at the mission home three days after Darrell’s death.

There are a few interesting things to note about this telegram.

First, it is signed by the First Presidency.  The first presidency is the Prophet or President of the LDS church and his two counselors.  At this time the Prophet was George Albert Smith.  His counselors were J. Reuben Clark and David O. McKay.

Second, the telegram was received by the mission home but my Grandpa was living far away from the mission home in a remote part of New Zealand.  At a family reunion a few years ago, my great uncle Lowell shared the story of how the telegram was delivered to my Grandpa.  I recently asked Uncle Lowell to tell me again.  He shared that the Mission President, A. Reed Halverson “hand delivered the telegram to Ronald, driving some distance to do so.  He wanted to be there to comfort Ronald.”

I do not have the telegram he sent to his family after hearing the news, but I know whatever he said was a comfort to his worried parents.

I can only imagine the sorrow that was felt by both my great grandparents and my Grandpa as they sent telegrams and later letters back and forth regarding this family tragedy.  In our overly connected modern world we have forgotten patience.  In the weeks following Darrell’s death, in a world of mail and telegrams, patience was needed as the communications were delayed.  Communications that helped both my grandfather and his parents feel assured of each others strength and hope in the face of painful loss.


to be continued…


12 thoughts on “Uncle Darrell – Part VII, A Telegram”

        1. I don’t know if I am or not – it’s just my limited experience with telegrams talking. I have a hard time imagining a telegram like that being anything but cold. Such a painful telegram to receive. Have a great weekend!

  1. What dreadful news to get when you are so far away. Even now with easy air travel my homeland of New Zealand feels a long way from everywhere. My parents were recipients of several such telegrams during my childhood, and it’s only as an adult I’ve begun to realise how terrible it was for them being so far away — unable to either comfort or be comforted.

      1. My mum was very homesick. She eventually moved back to the UK. My dad is still in NZ and very happy here. I think it was always harder for Mum as she has a much larger family to miss. My dad was an orphan before we left Scotland.

Leave a Reply