They got married and worked hard, Samuel as a millworker and Verena as an expert seamstress who tried to help make ends meet. They had thirteen children, four of whom didn’t live past childhood. They met missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and through some pretty amazing circumstances were baptized as members in their early marriage.
In June 1888 they decided to take their then six children to make the journey to America to settle with other Mormons in Utah. My Great Grandmother Ida was one of those children. It was a long and difficult journey filled with severe seasickness and lice and trepidation, and I can imagine the emotion involved leaving their homeland forever and ever.
But they arrived in Staten Island and headed to Utah where they settled and struggled to make a new life for themselves. Two of their children died shortly after they arrived and I can only imagine how difficult it must have been to navigate a new country in a new language they did not understand. Eventually they moved to Star Valley, Wyoming where they had more land and could start to make ends meet.
That beautiful valley is where their daughter, my Great Grandmother Ida, grew up, married and had my Grandmother Hazel (my mom’s mom).
Why do I explain all this?
Because this year at Grammie Camp my mom held an “ancestor museum” where she assigned each grandkid (before they arrived) to study and “become” one of their ancestors. She did three different groups on three different days, each representing a different family of ancestors.
And as each group presented, I couldn’t help but think over and over again about my Grandma Hazel’s quote I talked about a while ago:
“But when you master the seemingly impossible, it does something for you that fits into your very character for a lifetime, and makes the next impossible thing seem that much easier.”
These people all did the “seemingly impossible” and became stronger and shone brighter because of it. And I’m so grateful!
ancestor museum GROUP 1
Claire was Verena and boy, we learned a lot as she prepared to tell the other kids about her life.
Each child stood up and explained a little about “themselves” (being the ancestors) and they all learned so much!
Claire was also Erwin, one of Verena’s sons who was instrumental in helping the family join the church…so she had a quick costume change for that 🙂
Her cousin Charlie was Samuel (Verena’s husband).
Here they are:
The moms were invited to Grammie Camp this year, so after the kids were done presenting we packed up and headed to Freedom, Wyoming to see where they used to live…
She showed us her journals and told us all kinds of stories from them. Check out this row of journals:
…and I thought I was a good journal keeper…
Then we went to the close-by cemetery to find the graves of those the kids talked about.
Stopped at the new Star Valley temple on our way home:
ancestor museum GROUP 2
The next day we were on repeat with the group of younger kids, except this time it was about Grandma Hazel’s family AND there was a “pet show” to kick it off. Ha! (Lucy and her cousin were so excited about their new-this-year pets and wanted to show them off a little.)
Cousin Lyla has a guinea pig so she showed us some of her tricks too 🙂
Very exciting stuff I tell you!
Lucy was SO excited about this whole ancestor ordeal. She took copious notes on her Great Grandma Hazel and was so excited to “be” her for the cousins.
My mom had her mission journal that was fun to look at, and some other cool pictures and certificates to show us.
Someone was my Grandpa Roy:
And then they got presented with stuffed animals who they named after each of those ancestors they had studied.
Seriously, my mom is amazing.
And these kids know it.
I didn’t get to go on the little adventure after the presentations since I had to get ready for reunion stuff (we were in charge this year), but here they are as they headed off…
…and luckily my sister got some pictures for me.
This side of the family was from Sweden.
Elle was my Grandma Ruthie.
They learned a ton and then headed to Logan where my dad grew up, stopping en route to check out this memorial made for my Grandma’s sister who became well-known for her poetry.
They visited the graves of those they studied as well.
And I could go on and on but I’m out of time, as I’m sure any reader who has made it this far is as well.
But my heart is so full of gratitude for my dear mother for spending so much time and energy to teach these children (as well as us mothers) about their roots. Roots of the people who did all kinds of hard things, “impossible” things, so that they can live the lives they live.
I adore this quote my mom shared with the oldest group: