thegenealogygirl


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Photograph Showcase: A Visit With Grandparents

PETERSON, Rulon, Janice, Ronald and Joseph Skeen

1931 – Back, l-r: Rulon Powell Peterson, Joseph Skeen; front l-r: Janice Peterson, Ronald Peterson.

PETERSON, Naomi, Marilyn, Janice, Petrina and Evan Skeen

1931 – Back, l-r: Naomi Skeen holding Marilyn Peterson, Jane Zina Petrina Folkman; Front: Janice Peterson; lying on the ground: Evan Folkman Skeen.

I found these two photos in my Grandmother’s collection.  Rulon and Naomi were the parents of Ronald, Janice, and Marilyn Peterson.  Joseph Skeen and Jane Zina Petrina Folkman were the parents of Naomi and Evan Folkman Skeen.

I am very curious about these groupings.  I wonder who came up with the combinations and what their reasons were?  Either way, I love seeing multi-generational photographs like these.  Such a treasure.

 


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Photograph Showcase: A Rare Moment

PETERSON, Ronald & Naomi, Janice in background - smaller for FT

Naomi Skeen with her son Ronald Skeen Peterson.  Janice Peterson in background.

When I found this photo amongst my Grandmother’s collection I gasped with delight.  It was the first photo I had found with Naomi and Ronald when Ronald was grown.  It made me realize that I don’t have many photos of myself with my children once they reached their teenage years.  They just don’t like the camera much anymore.  So this lovely, and rare, moment with my Grandpa and his mother feels extra special when I compare it with my own experience.

As an added bonus – I love the unintentional photo bombing of Ronald’s sister Janice.

 


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Photograph Showcase: Ronald & Melba

ronald and melba - smaller for FT

This darling photo was labeled simply, “Ronald & Melba”.  Ronald is my Grandpa.  His mother is Naomi Skeen.  Melba is Naomi’s sister, the sister just younger than her.  My Grandpa was the first grandchild in the Skeen family.  It would be 10 more years before Melba would marry and 22 more years before Melba would adopt her only child.  But in this moment shared between Melba, Ronald, and at least two others – the photographer and whomever Melba is smiling at – I just see a lot of joy and contentment.  I hope those feelings continued.  Waiting for children is difficult.  Especially when your sister has six of them before you are able to adopt one.


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Photograph Showcase: Naomi as a Young Mother

PETERSON, Naomi Skeen, Marilyn, and Ronald, spring 1929

Naomi Skeen Peterson with her oldest two children, Janice in her arms, and Ronald.  Handwriting of Mary Margaret Ellis Peterson.  Spring 1929

This photo comes from my Grandmother’s boxes.  Naomi was her mother-in-law and my great grandmother.  Ronald is my Grandpa.  Janice is his younger sister who was born in December of 1928.  Based on her age I think this photo was taken in the late Spring, but I’m confused by the leaves on the ground.  Maybe they had a short fall.  The kind where you haven’t gotten all of the leaves raked up before the snow falls.  This has happened to us here in Utah – and this photo was taken in Utah as well.

What do you think?  Spring?

 

PS – I had a surprise trip come up to hang out with my Dad.  I have so much to say about Rosey Hyde and the gang but I’m a bit out of commission for now.  We’ll see if I get some blogging time while I’m here.  And if not, well, I will happily enjoy my family time amongst the living.  🙂

 


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Photograph Showcase: Peterson Home

PETERSON, Rulon & Naomi's home

Rulon & Naomi Peterson family home

PETERSON, Rulon & Naomi's home with color edits

Rulon & Naomi Peterson family home with a few edits

This is the home the Rulon & Naomi Peterson family were living in at the time of Darrell’s death.  It is located in Roy, Weber, Utah.

In the history of Naomi that was compiled by her oldest daughter Janice, Janice captioned photos of this home with this statement, “A lot of good memories were made in this home.”

It looks like a happy, well cared for place.

I tried to bring the colors back to a truer version but this was a close as I could get.

When I come across photos of ancestral homes – even in the recent past – it makes me realize I don’t take photos of my home nearly often enough.

 

Have you photographed your home lately?


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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)