In the autumn of 1900, Uncle Lauritz and Aunt Hannah from Provo came to visit us. He was my mother’s brother, a handsome man with black hair and short black whiskers on his face. He frightened me a little. He and his family had been sick and their oldest boy was left with a weak heart from rheumatic fever and died at the age of fifteen. As no one else was sick, I presume we got the germ from them. We all got sick, Dad and Mother first, then the rest of the family. Dad was the first to recover and nursed the rest of us. I remember I had a big pus bag under my left ear. I can remember the bed quilts raising and rolling from the foot of the bed to the head, also the walls from the top to the bottom, but I guess I was too sick to care. Dora and Elmer had festers around their fingernails and toenails. Dad would pick these pus bags with a needle to drain them. I guess the poison came to the outside of us and that is why we survived. Mother was sick in a different way. She was down for so long, but at last she was up and around once more. However, she had lost her voice.
Grandpa Petersen, her father, came to see us one day while we were sick and they talked for a long time. He sat in the kitchen and Mother stood in the bedroom door. As far as I remember, he was our only visitor. At one point, Dad had a doctor come from Ogden because there were no doctors in Huntsville. He gave Mother a bottle of medicine and told her to scrape her tongue. He pronounced it diphtheria.
On January 10, 1901, early in the morning, Dad said to us, “Don’t disturb your mother, she is sleeping.” I can see her now laying in bed. “And don’t let Elmer get in bed with her.” He was in the cradle. “I have to go see Grandma.” We slept on, as did Elmer. Mother had passed away in her sleep. The poison of the disease had gone inwards and too, she was five months pregnant according to Aunt Mary Petersen. The funeral was small. Very few came to the house as people were afraid. I stood by Mother’s casket and looked at her until someone pulled me away. We children did not go to the funeral. Grandma Winter stayed with us.
Uncle Joe Petersen said of my mother’s death, “My sister Mary died suddenly, supposedly of heart failure, January 11, 1901. At six o’clock in the morning, she raised up and asked her husband if the baby was covered, and, on lying down again, gave a couple of gasps and was gone. She died with a smile on her face, and looked very beautiful. The funeral was held the following Tuesday, January 15, in the Huntsville meeting house, but was poorly attended, probably because it was reported that she had been suffering from diphtheria. My cousin, Henry Petersen, gave the funeral sermon, a very excellent one. Brother David McKay dedicated the grave.”
When they thought we were safely well we moved, lock, stock, and barrel, along with beds and washer, to Grandpa Winter’s. I was only seven years old at this time, but I immediately adopted Elmer, age one. He was my little boy. Peter Winter told me in later years how I really took good care of that little boy. Poor Grandma [Ane Petersen Winter], then about 67 years old, now had a third family to care for. She was raising the children of Grandfather’s second wife, Mette, who died giving birth to Mary. Anne and Mary took the disease and were real sick for weeks.
In the morning when the milking and other chores were done and all were gathered for breakfast, we would have family prayer, always. We would place our chairs in a circle and all kneel for family prayer. Grandpa always said the prayer. It was said in Danish, of which I never understood a word, but I knew what it was all about.
Because one of Grandpa’s children was named Anne, the name I was called was changed to my middle name, Eliza, shortened to Liza or Lize. Grandma Petersen wanted to take two of us, but Dad would not separate the family. The adjustment must have been hard. Although they were not strangers to us, all was different.
Some weeks later, I had a strange dream which I remember very well. I saw the Devil standing in the bedroom door. He was dressed in black and red. He had two horns and a two-tined pitchfork. I must have seen his picture somewhere. I must have cried out in my sleep. Anne said I had had a bad dream, to go back to sleep. So I went to sleep, I guess, and then I saw Mother very plainly standing in the door. She was holding a baby in her arms. I saw these things just as plain as if I had been awake. Seeing Mother was very comforting. I guess a little girl was a bit lonesome.
Things were different, but gradually we got used to things. Mary would not give up her place by Grandma at the table. She would have been eleven years old. She could have been sort of spoiled and jealous of our intrusion. Gradually we all got used to the change. Dad, when he came to see us in the evening, would sometimes bring his violin with him and play for us. Grandma loved to hear him play her Danish songs. He played by ear. As time went on and we grew older, his visits came less often. We became sort of separated, and our relationship to him was never as it should have been.
Grandpa made all of his furniture. His table was a bit small with his son’s family there. He sat at the head of the table, Grandma at his right, Dora at his left on a bench next to Elmer, then Peter, Anne and I sat at the end. Margaret was next to Mary. I sat far enough away from Grandpa that I could get away with putting my crust of bread under my plate. I had always had trouble with bad teeth. I remember sitting by the stove with hot packs on my face. Grandma set a good table, but there was one thing Dora could not eat, the fat part of the meat. Grandpa thought she was just being fussy, I guess, wasting all that meat, and made her eat it. It didn’t stay down long. She didn’t even get away from the table. Margaret did not like kenmilk velling (soup made of rice cooked in buttermilk) that would be our noon lunch. Margaret would eat her bread and butter, but that was all.