Life of Mons Larson (1823-1890)
By his daughter Ellen Johanna
Larson Smith, combining all historical data and incidents of former sketches written by herself and others.
Mons Larson was born at Skegling Skarhult, Sweden, June 6, 1823. His parents were Lars
Olson and Beretta "John Hokanson's datter". Beretta was the second wife, the first wife, Ingar Christensen, died and left three boys and one
girl, and Mons was the eighth child of nine sons and two daughters, of his father. Mons was tall and large boned, famous in Southern Sweden
for his superior strength, his hair was dark brown and of fine texture, beard sandy and eyes blue.
As a boy, Mons was very industrious and became an expert carpenter, was so particular and neat with his work that he became one of
the King's cabinet makers, serving in that capacity for seven years; even made a work-box for the Queen.
Prior to his marriage, he lived in Halmsstad, it was in 1852 that he married Elna Malmstrom. She was born in the East-tower Lund,
Sweden, February 13, 1826, had brown hair, dark eyes, was short and rather heavy, her parents were Olf Malmstrom and Karna Per's datter.
Her father was a master mechanic and a wealthy blacksmith.
Mons and Elna were born and reared members of the Lutheran Church. At that time the laws of the country prescribed penalties for
any religious movement which the Lutheran Priests regarded inimical to the Lutheran creed, which was then and is still, the state religion
In 1850 John Erik Fosgren was the first Mormon Missionary sent to Sweden, he went directly to his old home in Gefle, near the
bay of Bothnia. Near the city he found his brother very ill with consumption and declared by the physician, past recovery. John Fosgren
explained the Gospel as revealed to Joseph Smith, to his brother, Peter A. Fosgren, after which Peter was healed through faith and the
anointing of oil and was baptized July 26, 1856, the first to join the Church in all Scandinavia. Soon others joined and a branch was
organized. These events spread through the country causing persecution, hatred, ridicule, and curiosity, to those who joined the new
Mons and Elna heard all sorts of stories about the Mormons so became anxious to see and hear them preach, expecting to get a deal
of fun from it, but the principles the Mormon Elders taught gave them many serious thoughts and they could find no fault with the doctrines
when they studied their Bible and made comparisons.
The records of the Swedish archives say that Mons and Elna were well educated, which signified that they were of the better or
upper class. The Bible had been their main textbook, so when the L.D.S. Elders came to them, they were easily converted. When the Lutheran
Priests tried to show them how deluded they were, it only caused them to investigate all the more.
They were evidently deeply impressed with the Book of Mormon for they named their first son for the Prophet Lehi.
Their first child was born September 17, 1853, at Wedley, Sweden and was named Beretta, afterwards called Betsey. Their second
child was Caroline, the English of Karna, born April 5, 1855. at Rorum, Sweden.
Mons was the only member of his father's family to accept the Gospel as taught by the Prophet Joseph Smith. He and Elna were
baptized into the church on June 6, 1856. In later years when his son, Lars Andrew, went on a mission to Sweden, some of the relatives
told him that one of their brothers turned crazy and went to America.
Like most of the early converts, the desire to gather with the saints in Zion came to them, so their energies were turned towards
preparation for the long and perilous journey. Elna's brother, Jacob Malmstrom, and wife, Sissi Person, were also ready to accompany them.
On Friday, April 1, 1859, a company of Scandinavian Saints, consisting of three hundred fifty-five souls, started from
Copenhagen Denmark, on the steamer "L.W. Hvidt", in charge of Elders Carl Widerberg and Niels Wilholm. While on this ship crossing the
North Sea, they encountered a severe storm and all on board became very sick. Mons and one other man were the only one that were able to
wait on the afflicted. Even the Captain thought they would be wrecked. He had not yet learned that ships with Mormon members on board
never went down.
The company reached Grimsby, England, April 6th, that same day they journeyed by rail to Liverpool, where on the 7th they went
on board the ship "William Tapscott". On Monday, April 11, 1859, the ship lifted anchor with its precious cargo of seven hundred twenty-six
souls. The Scandinavian Saints occupied one side of the vessel and the British and Swiss the other. The voyage lasted thirty-one days. the health of the passengers was exceptionally good, only one death occurred on board, and that was an old Swedish sister who had been afflicted before embarking. No less than nineteen marriages were solemnized on board, of these, five couples were English, one Swiss and thirteen Scandinavian.
The emigrants were landed in Castle Garden, New York, on Saturday, May 14, 1859. It was pronounced by Doctors and Government Officers, to be the best disciplined and most agreeable assemblage that ever arrived at that port. Just six weeks had now elapsed since Mons and Elna had left home. It took eleven days, traveling by boat and rail, to reach Florence, Nebraska.
On the last of June 1859, the Scandinavian immigrants were organized into three companies. The Church furnished most of the carts but Mons being a mechanic, decided to make his own cart, selling many of his nice clothes with which to buy materials and hoping to have the use of the cart when they got through the valley. On the 9th of June, together with the English Saints, they commenced their journey. The company consisted of two hundred thirty-five souls, sixty handcarts and eight wagons drawn by oxen to carry supplies, under the leadership of Captain George Rowley. For each handcart, there were four to six persons, with twenty pounds of baggage and some provisions for each. Those who were able took their turns pulling, invalids rode with the teams, where the bulk of the provisions were hauled. Elna pulled by the side of Mons and being short, in crossing the streams, often the water came up to her neck.
Mons and Elna had three children, Beretta (Betsy), not quite six years, Karna (Caroline) four, and Lehi two. The captain, who was very stern, said that little Betsey must walk, she was too big to ride. When the little thing got so tired she would lag behind or complain, her mother would encourage her with a crust of bread or other food which she carried in her pocket. Betsey has often said that she always remembered the good taste of that crust, nothing ever tasted better. Being forbidden to ever let their little girl ride was one of the greatest trials that Mons and Elna had to endure.
It was through the mismanagement of those in charge of the provisions that the company suffered for the want of food. Towards the latter end of the journey the company was put on rations, one pint of [missing word] per person a day.
Once when they were camped near a river, Mons went fishing, meantime Elna put the babies to sleep, then donned a large Swedish apron looking for buffalo chips, when a tree about a mile away attracted her attention, to which she was inspired to go. To her great surprise, there she found a pile of dry bread. Of course, some of it had molded but she gathered it all in her apron and was so overjoyed that she sat down and wept. Mons had caught a number of fish, so that night they had a full meal, the first for many days, thus preserving their lives until help reached them.
Once Lehi, their baby boy, took very ill, it looked like he would surely die. Elna made up her mind that if he did she would make a basket of rushes woven very tightly for a coffin, as lumber could not be had. The very thought of leaving him in the desert for wild animals to devour was the cause of considerable anxiety. However, he recovered and lived to be a great blessing to his parents all the rest of their lives and he became the father of a fine family and spent the last years of his life as an ordinance worker in the Mesa Temple. Betsey and Caroline also raised large fine families.
After a successful journey the company reached Salt Lake City Sunday, September 5, 1859. They all rejoiced and were very thankful to have reached their land, when their cherished handcart was gathered with those that the church had furnished. The leaders of the Church knew nothing about it being made by Mons and because he was unable to understand or speak the language, the mistake was never rectified and he calmly watched other people using the cart which he so badly needed.
After a short stay in the city, Mons and family went west and settled in Tooele. Here they built a mud hut with a small door and one small window which Elna covered with a bladder skin or some other fibrous membrane which kept out the cold but let a little light enter. It was impossible for Mons to get work as a carpenter so they went into the fields and gleaned wheat and used some of it to buy a shovel with which to dig potatoes for 1/4 the amount they dug. Meanwhile the three little children were alone at home, afraid to open the door for fear the Indians would come and take their bit of food which they had for their lunch. Past experience had taught them to be careful. Elna had to sell her gold wedding ring for a dutch oven in which to bake bread.
Alof, their third child, was born August 3, 1860, at Tooele. About the seventh day after, notice came to use the water on the grain. Mons happened to be away and Elna was afraid to let it pass thinking their grain would surely dry up, so she got of bed and watered the grain but afterward suffered for her unwise act as she had to go back to bed and remain there several weeks. She finally regained her health, procured a loom and took in weaving cloth on shares, which helped clothe them. With every little extra bit of comfort came a ray of sunshine and joy into their lives.
Jacob Malmstrom, Elna's brother had located in West Jordan, he thought a better place in which to get started and prevailed on Mons and Elna to move there where Mons could get carpenter work as well as farm and freight work and his wife plenty of weaving, so they began to feel quite thrifty again and as the children began to quickly pick up English words, which they taught to their parents, that difficulty was overcome.
A man from Sanpete came by selling a load of wooden shoes at twenty-five cents a pair and each member of the family was supplied with one or more pairs. Betsey often told how delighted she was with hers. They were so new and white and warm and felt so good. Elna often remarked that poor people find so many more things to be happy over than the rich, because every common necessity acquired brings gratitude and joy.
On April 6, 1863 their daughter Emma was born at West Jordan, Salt Lake County. Here also their twins, James Moses and Parley, were born, December 24, 1865. Parley only lived one day. Betsey remembered that Father made the coffin and a neighbor woman came and dressed the baby, then Father came and carried it in his arms to the grave, only these three were present.
In 1866 an old friend named August Toitjen, a thrifty German farmer who had located in Santaquin, Utah County, offered to move Mons and family down there and give them employment and help them to secure a farm, which offer they accepted. As many useful things had to be given away or left, the change did not prove to be very wise. However, they soon acquired two town lots and land for a farm, so it was not long until they had a three room adobe house built, and there the eighth child, Ellen Johanna, was born, January 16, 1868.
Mons spent one year with team and scraper building grade for the first railroad through Utah County. He also helped do the carpenter work on the Provo woolen mills, taking stock for pay.
Soon after moving to Santaquin, Mons found that the Gospel had gathered dishonest as well as honest converts. He bought a plow and paid half down and agreed to pay the rest when he could get it later. Within an hour the fellow came back and demanded the balance "right then" or he would take it out of his hide. Mons said, "the sooner the better." All the children rushed around to see their father whip the rogue. When Mons got through with him he was glad to abide with the first agreement.
In 1875, July 24, Anders Eklund, his wife Hedvig Lorentina and daughter Olivea arrived from Gotland, Sweden and settled in Santaquin. They hadn't learned that the 24th was a state holiday and thought the firing of guns and band playing was a demonstration welcoming them.
Brother Eklund's legs were afflicted so he had to do all his work sitting down, but he was very industrious and a shoe-maker by trade. When they made the adobes for their house, he sat on the ground and mixed the mud into the molds so Sister Edlund could carry them out and empty them. He mended shoes to pay for the lumber used in their house. So with help of friends they soon built a comfortable little home.
To fence their plot of ground Brother Eklund would go along with Alof Larson and help chop posts while sitting down and he would dig holes and set posts while sitting, then they wove in willow and oak limbs as high as was necessary to keep the cattle out.
Elna Larson had urged her husband to take a second wife because she was fully converted to the principle of polygamy. He, however said that he had dreamed of the girl that he should marry, that she was coming though he didn't know where from and that he would wait for her. Olivea had been at her sister's home about a day when he saw her standing out on th porch as he passed by. When he got home he told his wife that his girl had come and that he had seen her.
Within a few days he called at her sister's home and engaged her to come and work for them. The Larsons were well pleased with her as she remained with them five months and she evidently was satisfied with them, for on January 23, 1976, she was married to Mons Larson in the Endowment House at Salt Lake City, Utah.
Olivea Lorentina Eklund was born at Vamlingbo Botland, Sweden, October 5, 1856. She was beautiful, had clear skin, blue eyes, light brown fine soft hair and was tall and graceful. The two women lived in the same house as congenial as any daughter and mother could. Olivea always called Elna "Mother," and she was called "unt" by Elna's children.
The following is a copy of a letter written by Mons Larson to Olivea's brother, Nicklas Eklund, who was still in Sweden.
Santaquin, Utah, March 26, 1876. "I take my pen in hand and for the first time to make myself acquainted with you, my good brother-in-law, Nicklas Eklund, live well. Olivea and I were married the 23 of January, Olivea went through the Endowment House in the forenoon, to be washed and anointed and to receive the great blessing pertaining to each faithful Latter-day Saint. In the afternoon we were married and sealed for time and eternity by the Lord's Priesthood that is on earth with full power to bind and to loose. Dear Brother and Sister, this is an important step to take but it is no more than what the Lord requires of us, it is to obey the Celestial Law, if we want part in the Celestial Kingdom. Therefore, if Olivea, together with me and my first wife Elna, are faithful in keeping the Covenants we have made with one another, and be obedient to the Lord's Priesthood, that is on the earth, then we are promised great blessing and riches in which the whole world cannot procure for us.
If you could procure some money to come over on, I have wealth but no money, I will have to sell my property and a part of cattle before I go to Arizona. If you could possibly get help, then I will help you repay them after you come here.
We are 200 families here that are called to go on a mission to Arizona, it is 600 miles from Salt Lake City, it is a country that belongs to the Indians, we have to teach them to cultivate the land and at the same time preach to them. I have sent my son Lehi Larson, I and my family will go as soon as we can get ready, but it may not be until fall. I would be glad if you could come here before we go. You are very welcome to us, I will now close my letter. You are cordially greeted from us all.
We sign ourselves your friend and brother in the Gospel. Mons Larson
Elof Eklund, son of Nicklas, made note that he translated it verbatim and that his father came here in 1877. The above letter was written in Swedish and translated by Elof, a son of Olivea's brother Nicklas.
Mons had considered material on hand with which to build a new house when in forepart of March 1877 he and August Teitjeon were called on a mission of colonization to Arizona by President Brigham Young, who said they wanted faithful, industrious, thrifty men with their families to go as soon as they could arrange their affairs or send a grown son, then they would follow later with their families. Together they equipped an outfit and sent their sons Lehi and Charles, who helped build the Sunset and Brigham City Forts on the Little Colorado River (it was about where the city of Winslow now is). Lehi was a member of Ballengers camp. He stayed seven months during that time and made several trips into Southern Utah for supplies. Once when crossing the Little Colorado River he narrowly escaped being drowned.
On account of Mons not getting a buyer for his property the move was postponed.
On January 22, 1977, to Olivea was born a son, whom they named Moroni Mons.
Mons was turning his energies toward disposing of their home and farm, getting everything in readiness for another trek through a stretch of desert country of seven hundred miles. His property was disposed of, except the house and lots, with considerable sacrifice, yet the thought of not honoring the call had never entered their minds. His two wives worked unitedly with him in preparing for the journey.
The Toitjen family felt that the sacrifice was too great so never moved. He died a cripple and the wife of a stroke after a prolonged illness. In after years one of the Toitjen boys made the statement that they made a great mistake in not filling the mission.
On account of Olivea's delicate condition it was decided that she remain in the old home until they could get settled in their new location, so in the latter part of October, 1878, Mons with his first family was ready to start to Arizona. The town honored the family with a grand farewell banquet and dance.
Their outfit consisted of two wagons trailed, drawn by four horses, a heavy supply wagon drawn by two yoke of oxen and a yoke of cows, the loose stock was one bull and seven cows. And old Swedish friend said "Larson, with such an outfit you could settle on a rock and prosper."
The two oldest daughters were married, Betsey had three daughters and Caroline two, so the family comprised the following: Lehi, Alof, Emma, James and Ellen.
They traveled by themselves until they came to Circle Valley, where they overtook Niels Mortensen and wife and son Willard and son James and family; Mary their daughter and her husband Niels Petersen, also Albert Pease, his wife and two sons, Homer and Willie. They were stopped over because Mary had just given birth to a baby girl. Sister Pease was the Doctor or midwife, Mary also had a son who was two years of age.
____ 20 August 08
They all had good teams and wagons, also a goodly number of loose cattle and horses, so were glad to furnish a pony for James to ride. Thus far he had driven his father's loose cattle on foot, although not quite thirteen years of age. They were glad to join the Larsons and none of them had been over the road before.
On account of the loose stock the company had to travel slowly, seldom making more than fifteen or twenty miles a day, the weather was ideal and no accidents occurred. Elna said, "This is like a pleasure trip compared to the one we had with the handcart."
At Navajo Springs, one half days drive from Lee's Ferry, they over took William J. Flake and company, who told of having purchased a tract of land from James Stinson, where Apostle Erastus Snow had assisted in laying out a town and it was called Snowflake. Brother Flake invited them to locate there, so the Larsons decided to look it over. It was December 30th, 1878, when they reached Snowflake, then in Yavapai County, Arizona. The next day they made arrangements for two town lots and twenty acres of farming land. Immediately they began cutting and hauling cedar pickets for building fences and the yards. The family lived in a tent and slept in wagons until they could get the logs and build a house.
The nearest store was 300 miles away, but they were fairly well supplied with food and clothing and other necessities. Mr. Flake would kill a wild bull or steer about every week and divide the meat among the people free.
For $8.00 they bought one hundred pound of wool which the mother and girls worked up into yarn, getting $1.00 a pound for all they could spin.
By the first of April, Mons and the boys had a large log room ready to live in, the land plowed and wheat planted, so he was now ready to return to Santaquin for his other family and Lehi also went back to get married.
Lars Andrew, Olivea's second child was born December 21, 1878, at Santaquin.
By fall Mons had his business affairs straightened out and everything ready to travel again. On the return trip to Arizona they were induced to join a company that was going by the way of a new road, most of the company was bound for San Juan County, Utah. Through the suggestion of Charles Hall, the company went by way of Escalante instead of Lees Ferry. Escalante was also known as Potato Valley.
The company consisted of eighty-three wagons and was led by Silas S. Smith, who had a call to lead this company as the result of the recommendations of his exploring party the previous year. He was not entirely satisfied with the route he had selected because it was such a long way about. He requested the Church to appoint scouts from Escalante. Accordingly Charles Hall and Bishop Scow and others were appointed. They reported the hole in the rock feasible. The route Silas Smith had selected would have required six weeks and it was therefore believed that the shorter route could be made in the same length of time. However, all were instructed to take plenty of provisions to last until a crop could be raised and harvested. According to Cumen Jones, those who joined this company intending to go on through to Arizona or elsewhere, were not so well prepared with provisions.
After the Larsons got to Escalante and learned the facts about the shortcut or hole in the rock, it was too late to turn back for the deep snow made the way impassable.
When the Larsons were in Greenriver country, one day they traveled until nine o'clock and then camped without water. In the morning they noticed a spring containing quicksand and into which one ox and one of their cows had sunk up to their heads and they had to shoot her. This was before they reached Escalante.
One and one-half miles from the Colorado River they encountered perpendicular walls a half mile straight down to the river bed. There was a side canyon which was the hole in the rock. A little more down this canyon they must build a road. They made camp at the top of the chasm and work was begun. A five hundred foot fill was necessary at the beginning of the roadway which sloped rather steeply toward the river, a half mile decent in less than a mile and a half is rather steep grades for wagons to go over. At the end of four months of continuous work the road was made passable. The suffered for the want of food during this time. Men hunted with little success so they shot horses, cows or any stray animal that could be used for food. All the water they had for cooking and for stock had to be melted from snow. For bread many had to grind their seed wheat on coffee mills.
Levi Edgar Young, in his "Founding of Utah" said that perhaps no pioneers in their road building projects ever suffered as these people did, yet not a single death occurred.
When the roadway had been completed the caravan began the downward trek. Olivea with a baby on each arm, walked down the steep incline.
The wheels of the wagons were locked with heavy chains and with twelve to fourteen men with ropes tied to the back of the wagon to hold it back, it yet seemed as though the wagon would push the teams into the depths below. All passed through safely except the outfit belonging to Z.B. Decker. The log chain broke on the hind wagon so his three teams and two wagons were piled in a heap in the sand at the waters edge. This tangle was soon straightened out without serious damage to the wagons and animals.
Now they discovered it was necessary to build a raft before they could cross the river, fortunately they had enough lumber, so in a few days they were crossing the river. When one load was over some of the cattle became frightened and backed off the raft pushing Mons and a boy into the river of floating ice. As Mons was a good swimmer, he rescued the boy, who was Al Barney, later of Thatcher, Arizona.
The canyon on the other side of the river required only fifteen days of work to get to the plateau above. The Larsons and two other parties had been left by the main group during the climb upward. Olivea had been walking a good deal of the day with Moroni and Andrew on each arm, it was so cold that the children's feet had become frostbitten and were purple. The father and mother sat up nearly all night doctoring their children. The wagons were strung all along the roadside, some had reached the top of the plateau above and some were still below the Larsons.
It was February 21, 1880, when the Larsons reached the top of the plateau, and a blizzard was raging and it was in this terrible snow storm, exposed to the desert winds, that Olivea gave birth to a boy. The boy was born while the mother was lying on a spring seat and her husband was trying to pitch a tent so the mother would be more comfortable. With the help of Sister Seraphine Smith Decker and Sister Jim Decker, she was placed in the tent and made as comfortable as circumstances would permit. The boy was named John Roe (since he was born near the San Juan River). He grew up to be a fine stalwart man and reared a fine family. The day after the baby came, a hard wind raised the tent upward, Olivea reached up and took hold of the pole and held it down.
Steven A. Smith tells of the incident of the baby's birth for he arrived upon the scene just before the mother had been put into the tent. He had been left with two wagons and only one team when his father Silas S. Smith had gone back to Salt Lake City from Escalante in order to secure an appropriation from the legislature for road building supplies, dynamite, picks and shovels. These were given to him to be sent to the company, but his legislative work had delayed him and the snow became so deep he couldn't get back to join them.
Steven would keep up with the wagon train and when they would stop he would take his team back for the wagon which was left behind. It was when he was bringing in the second wagon that he saw these people camped off to the side of the road, as he says, "on the backbone between the Colorado and San Juan rivers."
"What are you stopping here for?" he asked, surprised that they should be where there was neither protection from weather, a tree or a spring. He was informed "that Sister Larson had a new son." This was the second baby born on the trip. The first being born to Mrs. Jim Decker while camped at Fifty Mile Spring, so named because it was fifty miles from the settlement of Escalante, where they camped for seven weeks.
The third day after the birth of the Larson baby, the Larsons and the Deckers moved on to join the company which had gone ahead. Mrs. Z.B. Decker wanted Mrs. Larson to ride with her because they had a stove in their wagon, but Mons wanted her to ride with him because he would not trust another driver. Because of Olivea's unusual vitality, she was able to be up from bed on the fourth day, packed her belongings and climbed into the wagon, traveling all day over rocky roads. She said the baby never had colic. If it wasn't snowing she could bathe him, otherwise, this wise young mother of 23, who now had 3 babies, rubbed him well with flannel.
A week was spent making a road over a slick rocky ridge called the Cox Comb, it was very narrow and there one of the Decker wagons tipped over, no harm done except spilling their precious seed wheat.
When they reached the San Juan River it was in full flood. After crossing, some of the company settled in a little valley now called Bluff. The Larsons left the company to go to the Colorado Mines because they had nothing to plant or to live on. Brother Decker decided to stay and raise a crop.
The following are incidents as related by Olivea to her granddaughter Violet Alt:
While on the trip to Colorado, we once paid $14.00 for fifty pounds of shorts. One time we were short on bread having had supplies for just five weeks, we borrowed fifty pounds of flour from a Danish fellow and when we left the company, Grandpa said, "When we get to Colorado we will send you the money." The man said, "Haven't you got something you can pay me with?" Your Grandpa had a new gun for which he had paid $16.00 and two boxes of cartridges which he gave him for the fifty pounds of flour, so we didn't have a gun the rest of the trip, which was about 250 miles along the blue mountain and the Indian Reservation.
We had stopped at a spring to water our stock and fill the water bags when suddenly we could see Indians coming down a round hill, riding like mad in single file. Of course we were frightened because we didn't know what they would do. Reo was then just 6 weeks old. They rushed down to our wagon and jabbered away so I handed them a piece of bread, which we could hardly spare. They looked at it as they passed it around then threw it in the wagon and laughed. They wanted the wagon cover but we didn't let them have it. They stayed around while your Grandpa watered the oxen and all at once they left without bothering anything. Although they acted queer they weren't hateful. Afterwards we learned from a cowboy that they owned the spring and charged twenty-five cents a head. The cowboy told us they likely wanted one of the children for pay and that we were the first he knew of to get through the reservation without paying for using water for the spring.
The watering places were generally thirty miles apart, making it pretty hard on the poor oxen or teams that had to draw the wagons, however, they had a cow that they sometimes hitched with the oxen. One day the team gave out and they could go no farther, your grandfather gave up all hopes, he said, "We might just as well lie down and die for there is no use to struggle any longer" to his wife, but that courageous soul with the strength and vigor of youth, encouraged him by saying they all would feel better after they had rested and would be able to go on. This brings to mind that favorite quotation of Apostle Richard R. Lyman, "Man may fail but women, never." Words fail in attempting to express tribute to such gallant souls as Olivea Larson.
One of their oxen died before noon that day, leaving them with just one ox and one cow and in the night it snowed. The next day a cowboy told them of Sheaks Ranch only twenty-five miles away, Grandpa started out on foot at daylight to find it. During the time he was gone the coyotes made constant trails around the wagon and Grandma had no gun or weapon to frighten them away. She sat there terrified with the tiny baby and two boys, one three years and one two, the other only sixteen months old. Grandpa returned that night having walked fifty miles, crossing three big washes.
The second day after the visit to the ranch, someone came with a wagon and mule team and took them to the ranch over an old trail. They remained at Sheaks ranch two or three weeks. At first Grandpa was practically unable to work as he was so weakened by the hardships of the trip, the long walk he had just undertaken to and from the ranch and the mental strain he had been under, so his wife insisted that he care for the children while she cooked, washed and ironed for ten men to pay for their board and provisions they would need to take with them when they left.
The Sheaks had an interest in a mine at Parrot City and when the snow was gone they would go up there to work. They helped the Larsons to the mines where Grandpa obtained work on a flume, there Grandma washed for six men and ironed kneeling by a chest. While there they sent word to his son Alof to come and help them get to Snowflake, Arizona.
Alof did not know the road across the Indian reservation nor the Indian language. Ernest Teitjen, the oldest son of their friend August Teitjen, who was called about 1875 to work among the Indians as missionary and interpreter, accompanied Alof to Parrot, Colorado, and remained with the party, as there were several others along, until they reached Fort Wingate, New Mexico. It was sometime in August 1880.
In September they arrived in Snowflake with a good wagon and s splendid yoke of oxen having been eleven months on the way from Santaquin. Through Elna's supervision, the boys Alof and James, had raised a fairly good crop of wheat, corn, squash, vegetables and sugar cane, also some hogs, so there was plenty of food for all. It was a time of rejoicing to Mons to have his families united again.
In 1881 Mons and his boys built a mile of grade for the Union Pacific Railroad along the Little Colorado River not far from Holbrook. Elna and daughter Ellen did the cooking for eight and ten men who were working on the grade.
In January 13, 1882, Ephriam, Olivea's fourth son was born at Snowflake. Elna suggested that the baby be named Ephriam because according to the patriarchs his father and mother are of the pure blood of Ephriam. The midwife was a blind woman named Abby Thayne, she was successful in her profession and as an herb doctor and she undertook botany.
In October 1881, Alof and Emma (Alof md May Louise Hunt the 26th, Emma md Jesse N. Smith the 28th) were among the first couples to make the trip by team and wagon to the St. George Temple to be married from Snowflake, Arizona.
Mons was a member of the first High Council in the then Eastern Arizona Stake, he helped build the first church, made the first family bench with a back to it for the church house. He also made the first coffin in Snowflake.
On account of his family of growing boys Mons felt that he needed more land, therefore, in October 1880 he took up a homestead near Pinedale, where their old friends the Mortensen families had located. It was fifteen miles south of Snowflake, not far from the Apache Indian Reservation. At that time those Indians became very troublesome, so he gave up the claim and decided to move to the Gila Valley in Graham County. It was in October 1882 that he moved Olivea and family down to Pima, the next fall Elna, her son James and daughter Ellen moved down.
In 1883, June 20th, a fifth son was born to Olivea, who they named Hyrum Isaac. Mons again felt the urge to get more land so he took up a homestead two miles west of town in the vicinity of Matthews Ward and when a number of other families located there, they called it Fairview, but the name was afterwards changed to Glenbar.
In 1883, March 30th, Olivea's sixth child and first daughter was born at Pima, who was truely given a royal reception, not only by her parents and brothers but by her half sister Ellen J. who dearly loved her. Olivea had promised Ellen J. she could name her first girl, so she chose the name Olive Lorntina because she thought it prettier than Olivea. Mons thought to call the new daughter Josephine but Olivea said, "The girl should have the promise kept."
In 1884 Congress had passed the Edmunds-Tucker Law, aimed against Mormon Polygamists and United States Officials were very active and vigorously enforced it all through the Mormon communities. Men were fined or imprisoned regardless of age, poverty or size of families, although they had married their wives in good faith, breaking no law at that time. Many of the men and plural wives went into hiding or "underground" to escape prosecutions. Therefore when the baby Olive was two weeks old, Mons and Olivea's family started for Old Mexico where the Church Authorities were negotiating for land to colonize. Their stay in Mexico was no picnic. Night guards were placed to keep the Mexicans from stealing their stock and other belongings.
While there the settlers were told they could milk the cows belongs to a wealthy New York man. The cows were herded into a log corral and they found it was necessary to tie their heads firmly and tie their hind legs together to milk them. When Mons felt the struggle was not worth the results, his wife Olivea would go out and milk them.
As the persecution abated against polygamy they returned to Pima after remaining in Old Mexico a year. Elna with the help of James had kept the home and farm up.
At that time open wells were used with the buckets hung on a rope over a pulley, when one bucket went down the other came up. The children were accustomed to drawing water for domestic use. One day when little Reo went to get water, somehow he got over-balanced and fell head first to the bottom of the thirty foot well. Little Ephriam was with him and ran and told his mother who rushed to the well and saw Reo clinging to the rocks, she called Isaac Carter, who was not far away, and he went down the well and rescued the boy.
It was about 1886 that Mons and Olivea moved out on the homestead. They then belonged to the Matthews Ward. There their other daughter was born, Ellen Bertha, January 8, 1887. (On the 18th of February 1888, she died.) Mary Ann was born July 24th, 1888, she too died in infancy, October 12, 1889. Emma was born March 14, 1890, she grew to womanhood, married and raised a fine family.
Not withstanding disappointments, trials and hardships, Mons Larson lived an honorable, trusty life, worthy of the emulation of his many descendants. He was the father of seventeen children, nine sons and eight daughters, fourteen matured, married and raised large families.
Mons was called to Arizona because of his integrity, thrift and his testimony of the Gospel as taught by Joseph Smith. When the children asked if the Gospel was worth all the trials and hardships they had endured, the reply was "Yes, a hundred fold."
It was said of Mons that when he made a trade with anyone, he always looked or did it to the other man's interest. Once James said to his mother, Elna, that his father was too honest, for people took advantage of him. She replied, "My son, no man can be too honest." When I, Ellen, complained to her for leaving their good home in Utah where I might have received a good education and become a school teacher, mother said, "My daughter, you will not lose anything through your parents having obeyed counsel."
Olivea said, when speaking of ther trip to Snowflake, "All in the work that carried us through, was knowing that we were on a mission, we tried to fulfill it and the Lord cared for us and protected us, so I never worried." What a marvelous statement, and what wonderful faith those pioneers exercised.
When Andrew, Olivea's second son, was on a mission in Sweden, he was told that his father had the reputation of being the strongest man in Southern Sweden. In the days when physical ability was idolized even more than today, if possible, it was undoubtedly an enviable reputation. Andrew was also told that his father was a man who never swerved from a path once it was chosen.
Mons had a brother, who was once interested in Mormonism, who sold out everything preparatory to coming to America, but he couldn't stand the ridicule and consequently remained in the old country. Not so with Mons, he had the strength of character to follow the dictates of his own conscience, regardless of public opinion.
Olivea has said that he was a big powerful man, reminded one of Brigham Young. He likely had some of the same characteristics, because no weakling could conquer the desert, the Indians and wild animals and live and develop a new country. It took brave men and women who were unafraid of hard work and difficulties.
Mons was a builder in every community in which he lived. In every town to which they moved there was a meeting house being built and he always did his share of the work. He built two houses for his family in Snowflake and helped on the first meeting house built in Pima. He was always willing to do whatever he was called to do by the church. In that respect his example is worth following by all of his descendants.
It was while sitting around a campfire one night taking with four of his friends from Fort Grant, that he was chilled. Pneumonia or quick consumption evidently set in, to which he succumbed eleven weeks later. Olivea helped nurse him until four hours before her baby Emma was born and on the eighth day she was helping care for Mons and her family.
Elna nor Olivea ever married again. Olivea's struggle in raising her family cannot be appreciated fully by anyone but herself. She alone knows of the days of toil, the anxiety and times of sickness and the loneliness of the succeeding years. Yet she must have experienced a thrill of accomplishment when she thought of the type of men and women her children became. She said she hoped her children would grow up to be as good as was Elna's. We all have our faults and failing, some inherited and some acquired, therefore, we cannot say we are better than thou. We came here on earth to overcome evil and our forefathers set examples that will be worth our while to emulate.
Are we proud of our ancestors? We should say yes,
For the pure blood that courses through our veins,
We should our forebearers forever and ever bless.
Their characters made of fiber so strong
Sensuality was spurned with disgust
As worthless, degrading and wrong.
For a principle they could suffer or die,
For their children's welfare and good
They sacrificed much. In prayer they cry
That their descendants would hold to the right,
Have bodies so strong, diseases could fight,
And receptive minds for all truth and light.
Those wonderful Pioneer Mothers and Sires
Laid a strong and grand foundation
For a social structure for our nation.
Are we embellishing its walls and spires?
And raising it to a higher station?
To their descendants I hear them say,
We did our best while pioneering the way,
We stood the test though inflexive the day.
Now do not shirk thy[?] your best to finish
What we, in this country have started
To [God? us?] and this nation, forever be true
Those glorious plans must not be thwarted,
You must not shirk, try your best to do
What we in the temples have started.
There is plenty of work for each of you
For the redemption of the departed.
(I want to here commend Aunt Ellen and others, for this piece of work they have placed before us, of ancestors we knew not, and that we deeply appreciate it. May we all strive to do as our past loved ones have done.
1940 Elliot G. Larson, son of Lars Andrew)