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Unraveling the John Boles Mystery – Conclusion

BOLES, John Thompson & Christina, headstone

John Thompson Boles & Christina Montgomery Boles headstone, Stellawood Cemetery, Durban, Kwazulu-Natal.  Photograph by Maureen Kruger for the Gravestones in South Africa project on the eGGSA website.

John Boles is my 3rd great granduncle.  The disappearance of his entire family from Scotland in 1890 has been a mystery to me for several years.  With the discovery of the existence of his possible estate file, and the microfilm containing that file, I ordered the film from BYU and looked forward to learning new details that might finally answer my two big questions:

When did John Boles leave Scotland for South Africa?

and

Why did John Boles move his entire family of 9 to South Africa?

 

After ordering the microfilm containing his possible estate file, life got busy and I didn’t make it over to BYU to view the file before RootsTech.  So, I decided to look up the file while in Salt Lake City at the FHL.

To my utter delight, I found both John’s 27 page file and Christina’s 2 page file very quickly and made several discoveries.  The important first discovery was that they contained information that confirmed these estate files were about my John and Christina Boles.

MONTGOMERY, Christina, 1927 Estate File

Christina Montgomery Boles’ death notice.

The biggest discovery was that John and Christina had two children after they settled in South Africa – Alice and John.  They are listed as children numbered 10 and 11 on Christina’s death notice.  Child number 12, Isabella Miller, belongs in position 3.

I also learned that John owned land, several pieces of very nice land.

durban-bay-map

1930 map of Durban Harbour, from the collection of Allan Jackson.  Used with permission.

At the time of his death in 1935, John owned land that was part of the Farm Sea View.  This development is found west of Durban Bay just north of the sizable Clairmont Estate.

In addition to the land, John owned shares in several different mines.

He also had quite a list of movable property, nice furnishings, a piano, and many other possessions acquired during the years he lived in South Africa.

John and Christina’s estate files did not enlighten me on when they came to South Africa, but they did open my eyes as to why they came.

In Scotland, John was a coal miner.  This was not a life that afforded opportunity.  He would never own land.  His daily existence was hard and his earnings were meager.  His children would work from a young age and live a similar life.

In studying the estate files of John, Christina, and their children, I discovered that the entire family experienced a much better life, financially, in South Africa than they ever would have experienced in Scotland.  They helped manage mines and stores.  They owned land and homes and movable property of value, as well as shares in several mines.

This knowledge is bittersweet for me.  They went from being the poor workers to managing the poor workers.  My understanding of South African history and apartheid is limited, but it’s broad enough to know that my Boles family benefited from this cruel system.  I am happy that they were able to experience more comfort and safety in their new life but I am also saddened to know that it came at the expense of others.  History is complicated.

When they came is still a bit of a mystery.  I reviewed the documents I currently hold for this family and have this timeline:

  • 4 July 1889, Agnes Smellie Boles is born in Holytown, Lanark, Scotland and her father John is the informant.
  • 18 February 1890, John Boles dies in Holytown, Lanark, Scotland.  The informant is not his father John Boles, but his uncle Alexander Boles.  It is possible that John has already left Scotland for South Africa at this point.
  • 5 November 1890, the 7 living Boles children travel to Natal, South Africa aboard the Methven Castle, traveling with Chas M Boles.  A recently found record indicates that their father John Boles, residing in Dundee, was the surety name for the children.

John left Scotland sometime after 4 July 1889 and before 5 November 1890.  While I haven’t found an immigration record for John or his wife Christina, I know that neither of them traveled to South Africa with the children.  Did they come together?

My original goal in learning more about John Boles was to hopefully learn more about his parents, my 4th great grandparents.  Unfortunately, learning the end of John Boles’ life did not add new information about his parents.  I did learn more about John, Christina, and their children.  I do feel a sense of closure for their family, but as is the case with most research, I now have more questions than when I started.  Fortunately the questions are not essential to my research so I will be able to put them away and move on to other members of the Boles family.

It was a fitting end to find an image of John and Christina’s headstone pictured at the top of this post.

This research journey from Scotland to South Africa that John and Christina took me on deserves two follow-up posts – one about FamilySearch records and one about South African records found in various places online.

Happy Thursday, I hope you make a fantastic genealogy discovery today!

 


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Tell Me a Story – First Refrigerator

Tell Me a Story

Tell Me a Story Challenge :

Choose a person.  Then do any or all of the following:

  • Make a list of the top ten stories about this person, a word or phrase will do.
  • Choose one story and tell a compelling, short version that will interest your family members in one minute or less.
  • Tell a more detailed version of that story including photos if you have them.

Note:  You can read about my inspiration behind this challenge here.  I’ve decided to reverse the order in my post.  If you are reading this, you like stories so I’ll start with the full story, then the bite-sized story to hook my family members, then the list of ten stories.

Jane Zina Petrina Folkman

Jane Zina Petrina Folkman

Jane Zina Petrina Folkman is my 2nd great grandmother.  She is my great grandmother Naomi Skeen’s mother.  She died long before I was born so I have no memories of my own to share of her, but I interviewed her granddaughter years ago and she shared a story about Grandma Skeen that I love!  Here is that story in the words of my great Aunt Marilyn:

“Grandma Skeen raised chickens.  She gathered the eggs, cleaned them, candled them for blood spots and sold them to a grocery store in Ogden.  She bought her first refrigerator with her egg money.  When they delivered it Grandpa told them to take it back but Grandma said, “Now Joe they are going to bring it right in here.”  She was a feisty little (5 foot) lady.”

Because this fun story is so short I don’t need a shorter version to tell my family.  I did not make a story list for Grandma Skeen since I am not working from memory trying to list stories I don’t want to forget.

I think this sweet little story does serve as a great reminder that we need to interview our oldest living relatives before we can’t.  We need to interview them and preserve that interview on paper, or as a video or audio recording.  I treasure the family gems like this one that are in the interview with my great Aunt Marilyn.


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Uncle Darrell – Part XII, Final Thoughts

PETERSON, Darrell Skeen, chin in hand

My great uncle, Darrell Skeen Peterson

I never knew Darrell, or Naomi, and I have very few memories of Rulon.  I can’t add any facts, memories or insights into Darrell’s life or the circumstances surrounding his death.  I do, however, want to end his story with a few of my thoughts and what I plan to do next.

I lost a child once too.  Under very different, horribly traumatic, take-your-breath-away painful circumstances.  A baby that was not mine by birth but that lived with us from the time he was 10 months old until he was 20 months old.  A baby that we were told we could adopt.  Until the shocking day when he was taken away, moved to another home, and adopted by someone else.

In the horrible aftermath of the storm, when I was the saddest I have ever been, I remember thinking often about my great grandmother Naomi.  I knew a little bit about her loss.  I knew the bare bones version of the story of Darrell’s death.  I had the funeral transcript, Rulon’s personal history, and the histories written by her daughters.  I had read them.  I knew that she had been heartbroken and that her health never recovered.

What I really wanted were her words.  I wanted to hear her own complete heartbreak and know that I wasn’t going crazy.  I wanted to know that it was possible to be in the depths of sorrow and still have hope, still know that God loved me.  And I wanted to know that not from myself but from seeing it in my great grandmother’s own writing.  I wanted to feel her sense of life moving forward and joy coming in the morning – whenever my morning would be.

I didn’t know that there were any records that existed that were written by her.  I didn’t know if she kept a journal or had written letters.  But in that time of sorrow so deep, loss so overwhelming, when the love and support of my family and friends could barely register let alone reach my aching soul in a meaningful way, it was my great grandmother’s comfort I wanted.  And I didn’t get it.  Not for a very long time and not until well past the need had subsided to a dull ache.

I hope that this collection about Darrell – his life, his tragic death, his family member’s reactions to it all – will someday help one of Naomi’s other descendants.  Because child loss is not new, and unfortunately it happens with cruel regularity.

I hope her honest reactions will be a comfort to someone in their darkest hour.  A lifeline from the past reminding them that they will get through it no matter how painful the way.  An example of enduring faith, hope, and love for God and his promises.  And sadly, an acknowledgement that weathering the storm changes the boat.

I am so thankful for Naomi.  I’m thankful that I have been able to collect so many pieces of her story and Darrell’s. She is one of my heroes.  I want to make sure her story – particularly this part of it – is available to all of her posterity.

Which brings me to what I plan to do next.

First, I have been adding each item to both FamilySearch and my Ancestry Tree.  I am also compiling all of the information, photos, newspaper articles, excerpts from other works, etc into a book.  Once I have a rough draft I will share a copy with Darrell’s three living siblings so they can review it, add any thoughts or insights, photos etc.

I’m going to take a class in May on Publishing Family Histories.  I know the teacher well and know that he shares several different publishing options in the class.  I know he has identified several publishers that allow you to create a nice hardbound book that is printed one at a time for a reasonable price.  This way family members can order what they want without me dealing with collecting money, writing a big check, shipping books and all of that.  When I make my decision on who I will use to publish, I will share it here.

I also need to go through my Grandma’s boxes again to see if there is anything else in them that belongs in this collection.  I know there are letters from my Grandpa’s mission in there.  I need to organize them and see if any letters mention this part of his story.  I hope to be finished and ready to publish before our Rulon and Naomi Peterson family reunion in early August.

And last, thank you to my readers for your kind, thoughtful comments as I’ve shared Darrell’s story.  I know I don’t usually devote extended periods of time to a specific family member, but his was a story I wanted to tell.  Your support made the journey even richer.  Thank you.


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Uncle Darrell – Part XI, Family Reflections

Rulon Peterson History

This is the cover page of my great grandfather’s personal history.

Over the years, various members of the Rulon and Naomi Peterson family have recorded histories of themselves or other family members.  Many of those histories mention Darrell and his accident.  I also recently reached out to the three remaining family members and asked for some insight and memories.  Below are a collection of those thoughts.

  • Rulon Powell Peterson is Darrell’s father.
  • Janice Peterson Child is Darrell’s oldest sister, 2nd child in the family.
  • Marilyn Peterson Ellis is Darrell’s older sister, 3rd child in the family.
  • Lowell Skeen Peterson is Darrell’s younger brother, 5th child in the family.
  • Wayne Skeen Peterson is Darrell’s youngest brother, 6th child in the family.

 

From “Personal History: Rulon Powell Peterson” (pg 52-53):

“Then in 1947 tragedy came to our home and family.  Darrell had been working with me as I was trying to put a hair brand on some old bulls I had just brought in from Stone, Idaho.  Marilyn came running and asked him to take her to the Bamberger so she could ride to Ogden and get her music lesson.  It seems the Bamberger was late so he took her to catch the street car at 35th and Washington Avenue.  On his return home there was a Bamberger freight train on the track.  It passed by on the west track going south just as Darrell approached the crossing.  Not seeing the late Bamberger passenger train coming from the south, Darrell attempted to cross and was on the track when the train crashed into him.  I have often been thankful that he didn’t suffer for I believe his death was instant.  I blame the driver of the train for he said, “I could see he wasn’t going to stop,” and I asked “Why, then, didn’t you stop?”  Passengers in the train said he slowed the train for an instant and then darted forward.  What extreme sorrow was ours.  It was the first break in our family or even my father’s family.  Naomi was away at the hairdressers.  I gathered my children together and we kneeled down and asked the Lord to help us as we broke the news to Naomi.  Her sorrow was almost more than I could stand.  Mine was intensified by seeing her great grief.  I felt like I just wanted to get out from under the burden of grief.

“President Beus came and suggested the General Authorities should be notified.  It was shortly after I had become President of the Stake and President Beus suggested that inasmuch as Elder Spencer W. Kimball was the visitor who had been in our Stake and set us apart that he should call him and ask him to speak.  When we had assembled in the Riverdale Chapel and Elder Kimball and others were on the stand, in walked President David O. McKay.  With President McKay were Sister McKay and two of his sisters, Sister Morrell and Sister Ricks.  Elder Kimball, recognizing that we would want to hear from President McKay, had cut his remarks short but it still was a long service.  With a chapel full and a score of Darrell’s schoolmates standing in the aisles, President McKay reminisced about his boyhood associations in my grandparents home and referred to them as Aunt Ann and Uncle Peter.  His remarks, as well as those of others were very comforting.  Darrell was a very good student.  His school principal spoke and said, “Darrell was a straight A student except for one subject, music.”  When he approached Darrell about upgrading his music he said, “Oh, I enjoy hearing the others sing.”

“The grief seemed more than we could bear.  Naomi blamed herself for allowing Darrell to drive.  Darrell was a very good driver.  He had driven trucks around the feed yards driving for the men when they were feeding cattle.  This he had done since he was nine or ten years old.  In those days they were not so demanding of driver’s license for youthful drivers.  Continued worry and grief were in large measure responsible for Naomi’s premature heart affliction.  When Dr. Brown gave her digitalis to regulate her heart he didn’t tell her it was to be for the rest of her life.  She improved and was quite good as long as her medication lasted but a while after she ceased taking it she became ill once more.  This time it was much more severe and Dr. Brown warned me of her condition and said, “It may be ten days, two years, or ten years,” and ten years it was.  During this time it was a constant worry and many a night when I couldn’t hear her breathing I would reach over and touch her and she would respond, “Don’t worry, I’m all right.”  She had never been told what Dr. Brown had told me but I’m sure she knew and realized her condition.  How choice she was and what a blessing she had been to me!  When President Clark spoke at her service he said Naomi was an angel and truly she was.”

 

From “Naomi Skeen Peterson” by Janice Peterson Child (pg 2, last two paragraphs):

“In 1947 our brother, Darrell, was killed in a car-Bamberger train accident.  It was not far from our home.  She was getting her hair done at the time.  Darrell had taken Marilyn to a piano lesson in Ogden.  Marilyn had thought she had missed the Bamberger and so Darrell had taken her so she would not be late.  He was just returning when apparently he saw a freight train go by and assumed the lights which were still on were for the freight train.  The sun was shining in his eyes enough that we guessed, he did not see the train coming on the other track.  He was hit by the Bamberger that Marilyn was to catch.  Darrell was only 14 years old.  He had a bad heart also and couldn’t do physical work.  Therefore, he was taught to drive the trucks to help the ranch men.  Mother blamed herself for breaking the law.  She always thought it was her fault that Darrell drove that day.

“From this period of time Mother’s rheumatic heart condition started giving her problems.  Dr. Brown, her physician, had told her she had a heart murmur when she was younger from rheumatic fever.  That did not stop her from doing the hard work she did.  The stress of Darrell’s death was too much for her heart.  She had small strokes and ill health.  The heart specialist told Dad with her type of heart condition she could drop over sometime and that is exactly what happened.”

Janice goes on in her account to tell the story of Naomi’s death.  It’s wonderfully detailed and deserves its own post.

 

From “Memories of Naomi Skeen Peterson” by Marilyn Peterson Ellis (pg 3, last paragraph):

“Mother suffered terribly after Darrell was killed by a train at the age of fourteen.  Those were dark days in our home.  Then, I believe, as a result of the stress of Darrell’s death her heart fribulated and her health deteriorated from that time on.  She died 10 years later at the age of 52.  What a loss!!  Our family was never quite the same again.”

 

From a Family History Interview of Marilyn Peterson Ellis (conducted in about 2005):

“Darrell and I chased each other some times but he had a sweet nature and used to sit and visit with me while I cleaned the kitchen floor on my hands and knees.  He told me about movies he had seen.  It left a terrible void in my life when he was killed.  He was 14 – I was 16.”

 

From an email from Lowell Skeen Peterson, 22 March 2016:

Darrell was very popular in school, as he was elected student body secretary and many of the students came to the funeral.  He had a bad heart so he was not able to play on the school team.  He would watch practice, and as I recall, he commented that he was content to do that.  He had reddish hair and freckles.

 

From an email from Wayne Skeen Peterson, 22 March 2016:

Here are a few insights about Darrell and the accident.

Darrell was athletically inclined though his heart condition kept him from full participation.  However, he could shoot the basketball, in a shot from the corner, with great accuracy as his friends would feed him the ball.

The accident with the train happened at the crossing just below our property about two blocks from our home.  Alan Zaugg, the foreman on the ranch, was the first to hear and know of the accident and immediately contacted Dad who may also have heard the crash.  I was sweeping the driveway of our home when Dad pulled up in his pickup truck and told me that Darrell had been in an accident.  He then proceeded in the house to tell mother.  Not knowing that he had died in the accident, I went upstairs to my room and prayed that he would be alright.  I now know that indeed he was alright as his spirit lived on and remained close by and was felt in our home where we had the casket for a time.  I was nine years old when the accident happened but remember that day and experiences as if it was yesterday.

Darrell had a very kind, loving, and gentle disposition.  He did all that he could do in the way of work on the ranch.  He milked our cow slowly as he was able.  I always accompanied him with that chore and carried the bucket of full milk home as we walked together.

I loved Darrell and felt closer to him in my formative years than to any of my brothers or sisters.

Thanks for remembering him.

 

to be continued…(one more post)

 


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Uncle Darrell -Part X, A Mother’s Grief

One week after the joint letter was written to my Grandpa by his parents, his mother wrote her first letter.  It is heartbreaking, very real, full of details, and so tender.  Grab a tissue.

 

page 1 –

Dec. 4, 1947.

Dear Son Ronald,

Everyone has been so wonderful to us that it is impossible to express how we appreciate such kindness.  If you could only have been here too.  Mrs. Fox suggested we could call you and then we realized we couldn’t talk to you if we did our sorrow was so great.  Since we received a letter from President George Albert Smith stating just how the cablegram had been worded – a train collision – I have worried because I knew you’d be puzzled.  Your Dad called Murdock Saturday night.  We tho’t he’d know best how to send it.

This week, now the family are back in school and your Dad is about his work I feel like my heart will break or my mind crack.  I can think of every cross word I spoke to him.  [Ronald, do you remember when you were home if I picked on him any more than the others?]

I was just as nagging and mean with you but you have lived and I hope I am forgiven.  I worry so if in his quiet way he was unhappy.  I shouldn’t burden you with my regrets.  Forgive me.

page 2 –

Your Dad is taking it very hard and it don’t get any better.

Maybe I shouldn’t bother with details but I remember what I read of your Dad’s letter didn’t tell where Darrell had been.

He has been driving more since you left and for a while took the back streets.  One time when I was to Mother’s Janice had him go in town to get her at night.  I told her not do it again.  Conditions have come up several times when he has been asked to drive in town.  One night your Dad had him take the girls in to practice at the Tabernacle.  Each time I’d worry till he got back.  I was so afraid he’d have Marilyn Wiberg, Berrett girl and others with him and have an accident.  He drove the truck over to the church-farm several times to help clean-up.  The tractor to haul corn from Marriott.  He was a little annoyed when I insisted I go with him twice when we had to take Janice up to Weber towards evening.  He could drive better than I but I felt safer going along.  He took the car with other boys, Robert Steck seemed to be one of his

page 3 –

best pals, to the Halloween dance and they took girls.  We could get him to blush when mentioned Ann Donaldson from Burch Creek.  She is Vice-President of the school; a nice little girl and she really liked Darrell.  I worried every time he took the car went and cautioned him to be careful as he went out the door.  It seemed so unneces. to him.  He took the Pontiac over to the Coliseum where they had their steers there and it wasn’t working right either.  The low and high hear weren’t work most of the time.

He came after us down to Roy Friday night.  Marilyn, Wayne, Lowell and I went to the Bazaar and your Dad was coming later and we were going to the Judkins home.  But he was busy getting ready to leave for Idaho in the morning so he sent Darrell down.  The Chrysler had be taken to the garage earlier that night and the Pontiac failed when we stopped at Lyle’s confectionary ice cream after we came from Judkins so came home in the truck.  I had to have a car Saturday to go get my hair done and they were to bring one of the cars to me Saturday morning.  I fussed when it hadn’t come at 12:30 and called Anderson.  He had expected us to come after it I suppose.  He said they were both ready and he’d bring the Chrysler at 12:45 so I told Darrell he could bring go up back with us and bring the Pontiac back as we would need it Sunday.  It was our Ward Conference.  They got out to cross the high way so I wouldn’t get in that noon traffic.  I was upset because Anderson was late and which made me late so I just drove off without saying a word, be careful or even looking back.

Marilyn Wiberg and Marilyn most always

page 4 –

catch the 2:30 Bamberger to town on Saturday to take their piano lessons but Marilyn Wiberg wasn’t taking hers Saturday so Marilyn persuaded Lowell to go with her.  I have told she and Janice both when they can take the Bamberger not to ask Darrell to take them in.  Darrell had weighed the truck your Dad brought back and was helping there at the yards when your Dad realized it was cold told him to take the car to the house.  Marilyn and Lowell met him outside and Marilyn coaxed him to take them in.  He said no he would only take them to the Bamberger but Darrell liked to drive so he took them on in town.  He was coming back alone when it happened.  The motorman on the Bamberger said he saw Darrell wasn’t going to stop and he slowed down a little.  We shouldn’t condemn but they usually have to stop there any way so he could have stopped when he saw Darrell didn’t see the Bamberger.

He and Marilyn had had so much fun that morning.  They found some hard-tack candy Janice had hid for Xmas and were fooling around.  They were so happy and joking on the way in.  Marilyn said it was the first time she had told him goodbye when she left.

We were in my bedroom, Marilyn, Darrell and I that morning and he said “I didn’t think I’d ever have to stoop to look in this mirror.”  He had to sit down for me to part his hair.

Your Dad’s prayer with Janice and Wayne gave me strength to bear the shock I know.  I had the oddest feeling on the way home as I came in the door.  Everything was so quiet.  I felt rather numb.

page 5 –

I passed Parley in the truck up about by Naylor’s but didn’t see your Dad with him or that they followed me home.  I learned after your Dad dashed in the front door and came in the kitchen just as I came in.  He said there had been a serious accident but I didn’t think of Darrell.  Then I wanted to know if he was in the hospital.  “They have taken him away”.  I was stunned and couldn’t believe it was true but one of the first things I tho’t of “I knew it would happen he shouldn’t have been driving” and I felt so condemned I couldn’t throw it off.  I am so thankful no one else was with him or the friends that usually ride with him.  Allen and Vera went and brought Marilyn home.  She had just reached Miss Whittier’s for her lesson.  When your Dad called and said Allen would pick her up but didn’t tell told Miss Whittier not to tell her.  Allen had that hard task of course she blamed herself for asking him to take her in.

Avon and David drove in the yards and told your Dad.  He rode back with them and hadn’t sensed it was too late to do anything so he jumped out and run towards the car.  He fell on the track and has had a bad knee.  It is still bothering him.  He should have had hot packs on but wouldn’t let me.

That Bamberger blows it’s whistle so long it pierce’s through me every time.  Even the men and especially the Mexicans notice it.  They felt so badly they just cried when they came to the house.  They were to the services too.  They liked Darrell so much.  Darrell was a careful driver, more so than your Dad.

We picked a beautiful brown metal casket with a beige tan velvet lining.  He and your Dad had bought him a new suit about two months (ago) we buried him in that.

page 6 –

Near the same color as his other suit but a prettier tweed.  Clyde Lindquist was so kind he bought his shirt and house slippers etc.  We were grateful he looked as good as he did or that he could be viewed.  He was hit on the left side of his head and it didn’t look like him.  I tried to fix his hair after they had combed it, it did help some but Lindquist said don’t touch below the hair-line and don’t touch his face till I was so unnerved I didn’t do much with it.  He was so particular about his hair too.  (Up the left column of this paragraph are the words “was fixed nice”.)

I intended to take Darrell to Dr. Olsen for a complete check on his heart and would report to you then but I don’t think his heart condition was any better because he has grown so much.  Your Dad reported I believe that Dr. Brown said he would never have been well and would possibly have been an invalid later in life.  That is some consolation because he did like sports.  He was showing us the other night how he could throw the ball in the basket with one hand from way back.

He hadn’t received his check for his half on the steers because it had been missent to Route 4 and he had been to the mail box that day, Janice said he was so excited about getting a big check.  One 32¢, 33¢, 29¢.  $928.76.

I have intended to tell you in each letter.  Darrell bought your baseball cap for you.  I knew he’d know more about them and he was thrilled to do it.

Janice takes a fine attitude toward Darrell’s passing.  She says it was to be and if I’d just look at it that way I’d feel better.  She went to Earl’s for Thanksgiving.  Did I tell you he don’t leave ’till the first of May and goes to the Eastern States?

page 7 –

Your Dad said this morning that Marilyn is old for her age.  She lectures to me and it does help a lot.

Wayne and Lowell don’t sense it very much but one of the first things Wayne asked, “Do thy have Christmas in heaven.”  Lowell says Darrell wasn’t mean to him and they do feel badly.

Clyde Lindquist was wonderful and when we were there on Sunday he said told how much told yo Bro. Peterson there isn’t a man living that I think more of than I do you.

So many have spoken of their love for your Dad.  Lynne Johnston wrote from Las Animas Colo. mentioning what a wonderful influence your Dad had on his life and other boys as well.  He said, “I sincerely hope and know that Ronald is enjoying his work and doing a good job.  He really has ability that is exceptional.  He sent a copy of a wonderful poem.  I’ll try and send a copy.

Bishop LeGrande Richards praised him very highly for his work with boys before quite a group after an important meeting at the Fourth Ward last night where President David O. McKay spoke.

We have had so many wonderful letters.  One from President George Albert Smith, Bishop LeGrande Richards, telegram from President McKay, phone call from Bishop Wirthlin.  Letter from Dilworth Young.

This morning your Dad mentioned cutting down his business, the show at Los Angeles wasn’t so good, (Louis Allen and Parley went down.) and devoting more time to church work.  Something I hoped and prayed he’d do for a long time.

It was touching to know those students of the ninth grade and others stood during that long service and barely moved the entire time.

Darrell was loved by every one.  They dedicated an assembly to him and their school paper.  The teacher sent flowers besides a spray from the school and one from his friends, Jim Lloyd, Robert Steck, Ernest De Bore.

page 8 –

Received your wonderful letter today and you’d never know how much it was appreciated tho’ it brought sobs and tears from those of us that have read it.  I am truly grateful to Our Father in Heaven for the attitude you have taken and I know he has and will bless you.  I do pray that my letter won’t upset you and I realize I have taken too much space and not condensed happenings enough and some were unnecessary.

Your Dad didn’t want me to send a picture of the car but I know I would want all the story and when you know he wasn’t injured too badly just that blow on his head that we are thankful for because he didn’t know what happened.

We feel badly that we didn’t have a good picture.  He had had one taken at school we hope is good and then that one in the Tribune we will have enlarged and can send you one.

I asked you Dad today and he said Darrell was still sitting at the wheel when he saw him.

God bless you and Comfort You

My Prayers and Love are with you.

Mother

 

to be continued…

 


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Uncle Darrell – Part IX, A Letter

rulon letter to ronaldrulon letter to ronald - 2

After Darrell’s funeral a long letter was written to my Grandpa by his father with a short letter at the end written by his mother (seen above).  The letter was postmarked 27 November 1947, two days after the funeral.

This letter is kept by my Grandpa’s sister Janice.  I learned of it’s existence at a family reunion a few years ago.  Prior to that I had never known there was a letter.  A pdf was sent to me by Aunt Janice’s daughter and can be found here.

This letter is a great treasure to me.  I transcribed it below:

(This was postmarked Nov. 27, 1947 – Janice)

My Dear Son:

How I wish I could be with you tonight that I might help to sustain you in what certainly is a heart breaking trial.  Only our Faith in our Heavenly Father’s promises gives us the strength to carry on.  Upon learning of this great tragedy my greatest concern together with my own deep sorrow was to break the news to your loving mother and to you.  Mother was at the hair dressers.  Marilyn & Lowell were in Ogden.  When I returned home Janice, Wayne and I knelt in prayer to our Heavenly Father asking him to help and sustain Mother.

Our prayers were truly answered for you could have truly been proud of your Mother for her faith and her understanding heart.  Surely we are stricken with grief but we have the devout faith that Darrell’s passing and separation from us is only temporary.

Death came to our boy at the Bamberger tracks east of home.  He was apparently watching a freight train going south as he was proceeding westward and up the hill toward home.  He could see that the end of the train

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would be passed the crossing before he got to it so he did not slow his car up and as he attempted to cross as the freight train passed he dashed in the path of a North bound passenger train.  The car was carried 168 ft and I question that he knew but for a very brief moment what had struck him.  He received a terrific blow at his left temple and was not permitted to suffer.  Inasmuch as it happened or had to happened we are thankful that death came quickly and without long suffering.

I was in the yard having returned only two hours before from Holbrook Idaho where I had gone early that morning with a load of bulls.  David and Avon came and told me to come quick that Darrell had met with an accident.  They had partly prepared me for the worst before I got there but Oh it was a hard jolt.  Darrell was still at the wheel of the car and we are thankful that his body was not ——- (bottom line cut off in the scan)

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Ronald I have never seen greater respect shown to anyone than was shown to your brother.  He surely had a lot of friends.  What with the ones registered and those estimated it is believed that more than 1,400 people called at our home and they are still coming.  Six hundred registered the night before the service and many went away without.  For quite some time there was a line way out on the lawn waiting their turn to come in.  Such a display of friendship I have never known before.  One Hundred Eighteen baskets, wreaths and sprays of flowers were brought.  Nearly fifty of them were baskets and many of them large ones too.  The Riverdale Student body sent a wreath about 4 1/2 feet in diameter made of large white Chrysanthemums and pink sweet peas.  Both sides of the living room and across the south end were banked with racks of flowers and they started putting them on the stairway as long as there was room.  The – – or twenty sprays were sent

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direct to the chapel.  The funeral was held Tuesday at 2 PM in the Riverdale Chapel.  The students from the Ninth Grade lined the stairway as we proceeded into the chapel and then as many as could crowd in stood in the aisles and along the back.  The stand and all available space had chairs place in it.  Chairs were carried in the North hall entrance and there were those in the North class room.  It was estimated that 700 attended the service.

We had arranged for the following to speak.  Bro. Sheffield, Miland Stephens, Brother Swenson and President Beus.  On Sunday night Pres Beus came to the house and insisted we call one of the authorities from Salt Lake.  He called Elder Spencer Kimball who as you will recall was at our home a very few months ago and spent the weekend with us.  It was arranged the Elder Kimball speak and that Pres Beus dedicate the grave.  On the day of the service just as it was ready to begin in walked President David O. McKay.

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Everyone was so thrilled and as someone said he almost looked Heavenly.  Marilyn & Margaret said they had never realized he was so tall & stately & handsome.  After the others had spoken Bishop Sheffield called on Pres McKay and his talk was just grand.  The whole program or service was recorded and we’ll send you a copy of it as soon as it is completed.  The talks were all just perfect and many have said it was one of the finest they have ever attended.  Dr. Henry Peterson from Logan said “That was a funeral of Funerals.  I’ve learned many things today.”  Aunt Hazel was here with him.  There were friends here from Tremonton Max Anderson, The Hyers from Blue Creek or Little Pocatello Valley.  The Lowe family from Grace Ida who are Clair Peterson’s Husband’s people.  You may recall I spoke at their sons funeral.  Thacherys & Re— from Morgan and nearly everybody from the Eight & 29th wards who were there when we lived there came and a large part of them sent flowers.  Whole streets were represented on baskets of flowers

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The music was as follows.  Sister Annie Brian sang My faith in Thee and she sang it part of the time with her eyes closed and it was just beautiful.  Bobby Jackson played Meditation a Violin solo and oh it was grand.  Ronald Jenkins son of Lawrence Jenkins sang “I am a Mormon boy” His voice is very pretty and everyone that I’ve talked to really thrilled at his singing.  One person said “He just threw his head back and sang “I might be envied by a King for I’m a Mormon Boy”.  You may recall that he is just a little younger than Darrell but he looked so manly and his voice has changed to a beautiful tenor.  Dale Bingham sang the closing number – “Abide with Me” and he sang it with great feeling.  Patriarch Garner offered prayer at the Home.  Pres Green gave the invocation and Bro Wiberg the dedication ——- (the last line is cut off in the scan).

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Mother and I have been up to the cemetery this morning as we did Yesterday.  We covered the flowers the first night with a large tarp and last night it didn’t freeze.  The flowers cover three graves and they are just banked and then some were put over on two other new graves one of which is Ella Mae Richards.  About twenty baskets were brought home and were given those friends some of whom had lost loved ones recently such as Sister Wiberg and Jacobses.  Sister Cook took some baskets to the Children’s ward at the Hospital.

We laid Darrell to rest in the New Washington Heights Memorial Park that is being created by the Linquist & Sons.  It is the Hillside that lies between Washington Blvd at extreme south and the ravine that angles golf course to a point east of the entrance to the old air port.  The place is high and dry and promises to ——— (this line cut off in the scan.)

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I am getting tired and my penmanship appears careless but I wanted you to know.

Margaret was with us at the service and rode with us in our car.  She then stayed overnight with us and we took her home Weds evening.

We all feel like we are in a daze and its just all hard to realize its a reality.

You know we’ve all hoped and prayed that Darrell would get well so he could fulfill his mission in life.  Dr. Brown said when he called the other night that there was little chance he could have ever been strong so there is consolation in the thought that he is now fulfilling His Mission.  May our Heavenly Father Bless you and abide with always.

With all Love and Sympathy,

Your Father

Ronald dear,

Your Dad has written the details of Darrell’s tragic death and funeral and I just can’t write now.  I know the Lord has and will sustain you at this time.  I have worried so much for you but your well worded cablegram so full of meaning came yesterday and I feel better.  I am so thankful you are with the Saints in Whangarei. ———- (last line cut off in the scan.)

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We also received one from the Saints and missionaries in New Zealand sent by President Halverson for which we wish you to express our deep appreciation.  May the Lord bless them always.

God bless you and comfort you

My Prayers and Love are with you.

Mother”

 

to be continued…

 


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Uncle Darrell – Part VIII, The Funeral

Darrell Skeen Peterson, image

Image from the title page of Darrell’s funeral transcript.

A funeral was held in memory of Darrell Skeen Peterson on 25 November 1947.  The Telegram sent to my Grandpa indicated the funeral would be on Wednesday the 26th but the funeral transcript is dated Tuesday the 25th.

The funeral drew a very large crowd.  Many of Darrell’s classmates attended as well as family, neighbors, and church friends.  There were a few notable guests.  David O. McKay attended and spoke as well as Spencer W. Kimball.  My LDS readers will be familiar with those names.  They were both prophets and Presidents of our church.  At the time of the funeral, David O. McKay was a member of the First Presidency of the church.  Spencer W. Kimball was an apostle.  President McKay attended because he is a family member.  President Kimball attended because he was sent to represent the leaders of the church.  He was chosen in particular because he had recently stayed in my great grandparents home while fulfilling one of his church assignments.

A transcript of the funeral was given to me by Naomi’s youngest brother Evan Skeen many years ago.  I have treasured it.  The entire transcript can be found here.  Click on details, then download original.

As I was reviewing it recently, an extended family story stood out to me.  This story comes from the talk of David O. McKay (pg 21-22).  The President Peterson he refers to is my great grandfather, he was the Stake President at the time of the funeral.

“Finally, we know that we may rest assured that God will overrule this tragic passing for the good of Darrell’s loved ones and Darrell’s eternal happiness and joy.  I am going to illustrate by the lesson given to me, President Peterson, when I was a boy by your great-grandfather’s sister.  It is the first lesson in my life on the fact that God’s over-ruling power may be depended upon.  I sat in the Rock House here in Ogden, a student attending the Weber Stake Academy.  Mang-du, Uncle Thomas’ sister was then an old woman.  Mother and Father were up in the Valley.  One evening as Man-du sat there in her rocking chair she told me the story of leaving Wales.  Man-du and Grandpa Evans – Dad-ku as we called him, were married and had several children, the eldest of whom was a boy in his teens.  But just before they left, Grandmother Evans gave birth to a little baby girl and as soon as Grandmother Evans was well enough they began to prepare for their journey across the ocean.  Just at that time, to their great sorrow and distress, their eldest son was taken by death.  I was but a boy in my teens, but I remember as distinctly now as when she described the bitterness in her heart because God, she said, had taken her boy from her.  She cried, “If you had to take any of my children, why didn’t you take this little helpless baby that will be a burden, and leave the boy who could help us on our journey?”  In that Rock House on 28th Street, as she sat in her little old rocking chair, she said: “But, David, God knew best, and I have asked Him to forgive me for feeling in my heart to condemn Him for taking that boy.  Now, after these many passing years when I am old and need help – who is it by me?” and she pointed to Aunt Lizzie and her two fine boys in whose home we were then living.  “I need this comfort”, she said, “far more than I needed the guidance and help of that teen-age boy.”  She recognized God’s over-ruling power.”

Near then end of his talk he said this, “Let us all unite in silent prayer that the Lord will bless Darrell’s missionary brother down in New Zealand.  It is hard for him.  The cable has gone announcing Darrell’s sudden passing.  We hope that the President of the Mission if he could, sat by Ronald’s side and conveyed the message of parting.  You will find that the Holy Spirit Gave him comfort also.  Peace – peace be with us – the peace that comes from Christ – the peace radiated by the Gospel of Jesus Christ – that peace which comes from an assurance that Death’s power ends when he silences the heartbeat.  The spirit is freed to return to the presence of God who gave it.  May that peace be in your hearts, and all, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.”

 

My Grandma saved a small collection of photos from the funeral:

PETERSON, Darrell Skeen, Funeral in casket

Darrell in his casket.  The photo propped up on the right is a photo of Darrell.

PETERSON, Darrell Skeen Funeral - Melvin Swenson

Brother Melvin Swenson.  The handwriting belongs to my Grandmother.

PETERSON, Darrell Skeen, Funeral - David O McKay

President David O. McKay.  Taking photos in the Chapel is no longer allowed.

PETERSON, Darrell Skeen, Funeral - Spencer W Kimball

 

to be continued…