Excerpts from Eliza Winter Halls and various other sources
Edited and compiled by Kristine Halls Smith
Jens Niels Christensen Winter was born on August 15, 1865 in Trige, Arhus, Denmark to Jens Peter Christensen and Ane Petersen Winter. When he was three years old, his parents joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and emigrated to Utah, traveling on one of the first trains to carry passengers to Utah after the completion of the railroad. They settled in Huntsville, Utah.
Mary Margaret Petersen’s parents had come from Denmark to Huntsville, Utah before she was born. She was born on February 14, 1867 to Lars Petersen and Anne Larsen Jensen Petersen.
Jens and Mary were married on October 23, 1890 in the Logan Temple. To them were born four children, Margaret on August 14, 1891, Anna Eliza on October 31, 1893, Dora on January 25, 1896, and Elmer on December 21, 1899.
They established a home on the south side of Huntsville in an area that became known as “Winter’s Grove.” Jens built a saw and grist mill and used the mill pond to cut ice for winter use.
When Elmer was just a year old, Mary was stricken with diphtheria and died on January 11, 1901. The four children were taken to their Winter Grandparents for their care. Grandma Winter, Ane Petersen Winter, died two years later, but still the children stayed with their grandfather and were cared for by their Aunt Anna Winter.
Four years after Mary’s death, Jens married again to Emma (Mamie) Tribe and the children returned to their home.
Mamie died on August 14, 1929. After Mamie’s death, Jens was married to Ellen B. Stark, then after Ellen’s death in 1939, Jens married Mattie Galloway who died in 1951. Jens lived to be ninety years old and died on July 20, 1956.
More details of their lives appear in the writings of others. Their daughter, Eliza Winter Halls, wrote a story of her life that, of course, included information about her parents. The book “Remember my Valley”, a history of Huntsville contains information about them. An article published in the Utah Fish and Game Bulletin was about Jens Winter, and even a plaque located at a Huntsville campground tells about them.
[At the time of my birth,] Mother and Father were living in Grandfather Winter’s house which Dad had helped to build at the age of ten. They built it by mixing the adobes by hand. The adobes were made of red sand and lime mixed together and dried in the summer sun. The house was built on the top of a hill at the south edge of Huntsville.
Somewhere between 1893 and 1898 we moved down the road to the house that Dad built. He had cleared the ground of willows and built a two-room adobe house. Dad and Mother planted trees, and until the advent of the Pine View Dam, it was known as Winter’s Grove.
On January 25, 1896, Dora Estelle was born with red, curly hair. She was the third child and I was the second. Our older sister, Margaret Rozina was born on August 14, 1891 and had blond hair. I do not remember moving, but I do remember the building addition of the kitchen and pantry. Mary and Pete, Grandpa’s children, and Margaret used to play on the floor joists. I was afraid of falling through. We were living in this house when Elmer Jens, my only brother and last child of my mother, was born December, 21, 1899. I was just six years old. I remember Mrs. Hislop, the midwife, coming and going, telling me to keep Dora, age three, busy and not let her in the other room. Margaret was nowhere around. This baby boy I fetched and cared for, and I also cared for Mother.
We were a happy family. Some evenings when Dad came home he would pretend to make a big issue of Margaret and me helping to pull off his boots. At times we would get on his knees and he would jiggle and sing to us while waiting for supper. In the summer we played on the river’s edge which ran a short distance from the house and was never very deep. I do not remember ever falling in, but I have a faint memory of being pulled out of a ditch of water by the pond and of backing up into a bucket of water that had been carried by Dad for washing clothes, etc. On wash days he would carry the water from the river and fill all the buckets, tubs, and boilers before going to work. He bought one of the first washers out. It operated with two curved washboards (like boards) that ran opposite directions, the top one inside the other, the clothes in between.
In the fall when school days came, to put shoes and stockings on was pure torture. We walked to school in good weather. We would go to Grandpa Winter’s and wait for Mary, and walk together from there three blocks, a distance of one mile in all.
In the autumn of 1899, Uncle Laurits 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.