Transcript of Inga Lisa Johannesson’s handwritten autobiographical sketch. Guy L. Black edited the text somewhat, but preserved most of the original grammar.
I was born in Rubblarp, Rydaholm, Jönköpings-Län, Sweden. When I was two years and nine months old, my father died and my mother was left with five children in poor circumstances. I was raised in the Lutheran faith, and I went with my mother to church every Sunday. I had very little school education because when I was nine years old I had to go out and earn my own living tending children, or little things like that, for my food. That’s all I got for my pay till I grew a little older. Then, when I was sixteen years old, my mother died. Then I immigrated to Denmark and I worked there as a hired girl four years.
When I was twenty years old I got acquainted with a young man, Jens Peter Jensen, and he became my husband and we got married in Copenhagen, Denmark, and we lived there eight years.
One day he said to me he wanted me to be a Mormon. I said, “I have heard so much about them.” So I didn’t feel that I would be a Mormon. He said, “All what you have heard about them is falsehood. Mormonism is true. Have you ever heard a Mormon Elder preach the true Gospel?” I said, “No.” I had not. Well he said, “When you all hear an Elder missionary preach you will receive the true Gospel with a glad heart. There is blood of Israel in you.” He said I’ll be a Mormon too. He had a testimony of its truth.
He said he had been baptized when he was eight years old but had not lived it right. His father and mother had died, and he didn’t do his duty in the Church, neither going to meeting. All his young years went by just alike any there was outside the Church.
Time went on. For a long time we didn’t talk about it. But I thought of going to meeting to hear them preach. So one Sunday I said to my husband, “Let us go to Mormon meeting and hear what they have to say.” And we went; and when I heard the Elder preach it sounded like our dear Savior himself spoke to me and it thrilled me through with joy; and tears rolled down my cheeks for joy, and I received a testimony of its truth the first time I heard the true Gospel being preached. And it didn’t take long until I desired to be baptized and join the Church.
So the Elders missionaries came to our home, and they said to my husband, “We hear your wife will be baptized. Have you anything against that?” He said, “No, I haven’t anything against it. I know the Gospel is true. I’ll be a Mormon too, but I can’t live it now, so I’ll wait a while.” They said to him, “If you have a testimony of its truth, we will advise you to go and be baptized together with your wife.” But he said, “No, not now; but I’ll come later.” So he stayed outside for four years.
I got baptized alone in the year 1887 in Copenhagen, Denmark. The adversary knew that he had a testimony the Gospel was true. So he led him as it were in a rope and got him to drink and play cards and he went to bars all the time. By the end of the four years, I went to the saloon and tried to get him to go home with me, but he said, “No.” So I went home alone; but it didn’t take long till he came home and he said, “That was the first time you got me from the saloon, and it shall be the last. I have gone too far. From now on I will repent from all drinking and smoking and prepare myself to go and be baptized and join the Church.”
And so he kept his word and got baptized. Then he worked in the Church faithfully, and he was ordained an Elder. He soon became President for the Elders’ Quorum for many years, which he held for about two years after he joined the Church. He immigrated to Utah in February, 1893. I had to stay a while later.
In May I also emigrated the same year, 1893. We settled in Mayfield. Stayed here 5 years, then we moved to Gunnison where my husband done some farming. We stayed there till the years 1916.
In the year 1898 we went to MantiTemple and got our endowments and sealing for time and all eternity, September 8, 1896; and got the first four of our children sealed to us, who was born before we went to the Temple.
Later, I and my husband went to the temple to do work for our dead and others, too; but not very often. My husband was busy working to support his family and pay for our emigration.
In the year 1916 we moved to Holden, Millard County, and took up some dry land and made little home of our own.
Then I went to Manti to work in the Temple for the dead, which I did for some years; and in 1930 there came a man from Mansata to work in the temple too, and we got acquainted. He was a good man and he held the priesthood of a high priest. His name, Peter M. Lundgreen. We were married in the MantiTemple for time, October 8, 1930. But he only lived nearly 3 years. He died of cancer.
I have also been a Relief Society teacher for many years, till I got my hip bone twisted and not walk so good.
LIFE STORY OF INGA LISA JOHANNESSON JENSEN LUNDGREEN
Written as though autobiographical, by her daughter, Lillie Ingaborg Jensen Memmott. Edited by Guy L. Black to correct locations and spellings, and improve grammar in some areas.
I, Inga Lisa Johannesson, was born 28 March 1865, at Rubblarp, Rydaholm, Jönköpings-Län, Sweden. I was the youngest of a family of five, Christene, Anna Lisa, Emma, Anders, and myself. Mother said when I was born there was a bright halo of light in the ceiling of the room. No one knew what that could mean until I was baptized into the LDSChurch. I knew then I was to be a representative of our family to bear and accept the gospel message, hence the light at my birth.
My father died when I was two years old. It was during a cold winter night with a lot of snow on the ground. Mother had to walk several miles in the cold to notify her neighbors of his death so they could wash and lay him out as they had no undertakers in that day. Mother told her children to stay in bed until she came back. I had been sleeping in the same bed with father and mother. My sisters were crying so hard they awakened me. I asked, “Why are you crying?” They told me father was dead. I turned and saw father and said “He is not dead, he is right here by me.” Then I kissed him. I remember this very well and I was only two years old. It impressed me deeply.
My mother had a hard life, especially after my father’s death. There was not much work to be found. Mother worked out as a hired man in the fields using a hoe, rake, and scythe. She would arise at 4:00 o’clock every morning during the summer months and walk several miles to work, work hard all day then walk back home. She was so tired when she got home she could hardly do anything more. The work was hard and Mother hardly had what she could eat. Neither did we children.
Mother was very active, a good worker coming from healthy Swedish ancestors. One day as she sat spinning I was playing on the floor very close by. I noticed her slip a hard crust of bread from under her dress and bite into it. Like a child I was by her side demanding why I couldn’t have a crust like she had. She had been working hard on almost nothing to eat, and at this time her nerves were shot, so instead of me getting the crust I got a sound whipping. She was at the end of her wits from hard work and hunger. She really must have suffered trying to raise five children on hardly any income. I was left alone so much when I was small as my three sisters were away working in Denmark and my brother was in the army. One day while alone I became very lonely. I walked one and a half miles to my nearest neighbors, an elderly couple whom mother had forbid me to bother on account of their feeble age, so when I got there I didn’t dare go to the house. I decided to climb a ladder out by the haystack that this neighbor owned. I got up on top of the high hay stack and looked all around me. I could view all the country around me and it was very beautiful. Twice the old man came out of the house and got water and carried it to the house. I felt real secure being on top of the high haystack. I could see people moving around which entertained me for hours.
As the day was hot, I became very tired sitting there so still. Soon I was fast asleep. I was awakened by the old man who came out to feed his cow. He took me by the hand and helped me down the ladder and took me to the house. The good lady had delicious dinner prepared and I was invited to eat with them. I was hungry so I accepted their invitation. It made me feel so much better with my stomach full. I visited until nearly dark, then started for home, but not without a friendly welcome to come back. I did go back many, many times and each time I was treated with kindness by both of these worthy dear souls. Later in life I had the privilege of doing the temple work for this lady. As I was sitting in the assembly room in the temple waiting for all the people to come in, a lady came and sat down by me. The first thing I noticed was her dress. It was so much whiter than mine or anyone else’s. Then I looked up at her and I noticed she was looking at me. She smiled and I knew it was my good neighbor of Sweden whom I was going through to do her work that day. I smiled back and had such a heavenly feeling come over me. Something else drew my attention and when I looked back she was gone. The seat was occupied by another woman. This was a testimony to me that she had been there to witness her work being done. Mother sent me one day to this neighbor’s place to buy some milk. The lady got the milk and poured it into Mother’s pretty pitcher. I placed it on the bench on which I was seated. I got up and like a child spread out my apron on the bench, then placed the pitcher of milk on the apron. I sat very relaxed talking to the lady. Soon after the lady bent over to tie her shoelace which had come untied. Like a flash I jumped up to cross the room so I could tie it for her. My precious milk lay spilt all over her clean floor and of course Mother’s beautiful glass pitcher lay broken before my eyes. I began to cry as I knew my mother would whip me which she did.
Christmas was a great day in Sweden. On this day the people could get all they wanted to eat. They saved and planned for a big celebration and many times went without things they really needed in order to have this feast at Christmas. Christmas morning we would go to church at 1 o’clock in the morning to hear a special Christmas program. We had to walk several miles, but we were all so excited over it that we didn’t mind.
My mother was having such a hard struggle to make a living for me and herself, that she remarried a man who proved to be real mean to both of us. One day Mother went visiting a neighbor. I was with her and I heard Mother tell the neighbor that my stepfather was driving nails in her casket every day. This worried me as I really didn’t know what she meant. As I grew older I knew. He was mean to her and this was shortening her life.
When I was very small I would have bad dreams. I would cry out and be very frightened. I begged to get in bed with my mother and stepfather. One night when I was so frightened, Mother came and took me in her arms and tried to comfort me. I begged to go in her bed and lay. She put me in bed with her and stepfather. He became very angry and grabbed the top quilt off the bed and went out on the lawn and slept the remainder of the night. He was very angry at me. My sisters and my one brother never came home to visit or stay because of him.
Each day of my childhood I had to walk several miles to school through a large forest. I always had to walk alone as I had no neighborhood school friends. In this forest was supposed to be wild animals. The trees were tall thick evergreens and not very much sunlight could come through. In this dark forest lived an old lady all by herself in a one room hut. Sometimes when I walked home from school the old lady would be outside her hut walking around her yard talking to herself. I hid behind a tree and thought it was fun to watch her and listen to her talk. To live in such a dark place would be enough to driver her out of her mind. In the winter the snow was very deep. I had to wade through it for miles up to my knees. The skin on my legs becomes so sore from this wet snow that it would peel off leaving a very raw surface. By the time I got to the warm school my legs and knees would really smart. I would just begin to feel good when it was time for school to let out. Again I would have to travel through all that deep snow. By the time I got home it was dark. I would again scream with pain as my legs got warm. This pain would keep on real bad for a half hour or more. Every day I went through this ordeal in order to get schooling. It was a tragedy instead of joy. One day when I was walking home through this forest I was knocked down by a Billy goat. I fell unconscious by the side of the path. When I came to the goat was standing off in the distance watching me, but didn’t bother me again.
When I was sixteen years old my mother died. Shortly before her death she had a large growth or lump growing on top of her head. No doctors were available, but there was a woman in Sweden who claimed she could remove the lump. After a great amount of suffering my mother allowed the woman to cut the lump off. She was never well a day after that. She endured great pain until she died, probably of cancer. She suffered great pain in her stomach also. I was alone with her when she died. Her feet became very cold before she died. She became very thirsty, so I ran outside to get her a cold drink. When I came in Mother was screaming in pain. Before she died she said to me, “Always be true to God.” These words were the last words she spoke. She was buried in a white blouse and a black skirt, which was all that was available.
After the funeral my stepfather began acting smart with me. He told me he was going to have me for his wife. I became frightened as I was alone in the house with him after having returned from the cemetery. It was growing dark when he made this remark. I ran out of the house several miles to my two unmarried aunt’s place. I fell inside their door all out of breath. I told my aunts’ that my stepfather was after me and he would soon be there. They hid me under their bed. Shortly after I was hid, he knocked hard on their door and yelled, “Let me in.” They opened the door. “I want Inga Lisa,” he said, “where is she?” Then he told them he was going to marry me and have me live at Mother’s home as his wife. This really frightened me. My aunt told him I wasn’t there and for him to be gone. They pushed him out of the door and locked it. He was very angry and we were very frightened. My aunts’ told me he would be back because he didn’t give up very easy. We talked for hours. It was finally decided that I should go to Denmark as my sisters all lived there. They hadn’t come home for the funeral and my aunts’ knew there would be no safety in Sweden for me with that man lurking around. So they put me on a boat that night. I had no luggage or clothing, only what I was dressed in. My aunts stayed on shore with me in Sweden before I sailed. They were making sure I got safely away from Sweden. We never saw each other again. In a short time I was sailing alone to a strange country. My feelings were all mixed up.
I arrived in Denmark the next morning. I had my oldest sister’s address so I asked a policeman where this place was. He led me to it. I was afraid to trust him, and I didn’t believe him. He asked me if I could read. He then pointed to the address on the door. A lady came to the door. It had been many years since I had seen my sister, so I had forgotten what she looked like. I asked her if she was Christine Petersen. She answered “No, she lives in the back of the house.” My sister was very glad to see me. After I told her of Mother’s death she felt so sad. Then I told her of my narrow escape from my step-father. She really was thankful I had got safely away from him.
In about three weeks my sister had found me a job. They started me out by milking fourteen cows at 4 a.m. and again in the evening at 4 p.m. right on schedule. This was very hard on me, as I hadn’t done much heavy work and I had never before milked a cow. My hands were swollen and stiff. The second day it was impossible for me to milk. The girl who worked along with me was filled with pity, so she helped my by milking eight of my fourteen allotted cows. She did this for a week. She would also pump cold water on my hands to limber them up. I would then work my hands back and forth to get them limber. This helped a lot. By doing this, I got my hands so I could milk fourteen cows as fast as my friend. I stayed on this farm for two years. The hired girls had to do the milking and the household duties. The men would feed the stock and work in the fields. The girls had to make sandwiches and coffee and had to take it out in the fields at 10:00 a.m. and at 3:00 p.m. One day when we were slicing cheese off a 30lb cheese, maggots came crawling from the cheese. The girls screamed and were trying to kill them when the landlady came in and said, “Never mind them. Just keep putting the cheese between the bread; the men will never notice them.” It was hard for me to do so but had to do as told or be fired. It was on this ranch I met my husband Jens Peter Jensen. He was one of the men who ate the wormy cheese. I married Jens while I worked here. After our marriage we moved to the city of Copenhagen, Denmark. We lived in an upstairs apartment. We had three children while we lived in Copenhagen. My second child Axel Hyrum died when he was 3 years old of membranous croup. I was not a member of the LDS church at that time. The Priest in the Lutheran church to which I belonged at that time gave me a bad time. He told me my child had gone to hell because we hadn’t had him baptized (meaning sprinkled) while an infant. He said, “There is no burial ground for the condemned.”
Finally my husband got a chance to bury him on top of a third grave. People in Denmark are buried one on top of another. I worried a lot about my little three year old boy. I wondered if what the Priest had said could be true. I didn’t get any relief from my great worry until I met the Mormon missionaries who gave me great consolation. They explained to me from the 8th chapter of Moroni in the Book of Mormon commencing with the 9th verse, that little children need no baptism. They are saved with Christ because of their innocence. It was a great relief to me to know my boy was saved and that he was in good care. This was just the opposite teaching from what the Priest had taught. I joined the church in 1887 in Copenhagen, Denmark. I read and believed every word of the Book of Mormon. When my third baby Hulda was one year old, I had the opportunity to come to Utah in America. My husband had gone on to America a few months previous. I stayed up all night the night before I sailed getting our clothes ready and packed. I sailed across the Atlantic with two small children. Three girls from Sweden came with me under my guardianship. On the journey I became very seasick. One of these girls was very kind and helpful to me. I told Ingaborg that when I got another daughter I would give her name to her because of her kindness to me. My next daughter Lillie was the daughter who received this name.
I traveled alone with my two children from SaltLake to Gunnison depot. I took a mail hack from there to Mayfield, Utah, where my husband was employed. Parley Kimball and John Henry were born in Mayfield. Parley Kimball was named after Parley P. Pratt and Heber C. Kimball. John Henry was named after John Henry Smith. We moved from Mayfield to Christianburg where two more children, Lillie Ingaborg and Charles Edwin, were born. We then moved from this place to Gunnison. We lived on a farm in Gunnison. I attended many Danish meetings. My husband and I sang many Danish songs together. We would have Danish speakers for those who could not understand or speak English. At this place two more sons were born, Arthur and Harold.
When Kimball was but a small child he fell off a load of wheat. The wagon wheel went over his stomach and he was dying when my husband brought him to the house. The foam stood in his mouth and he appeared dead. I put consecrated oil on his head and prayed over him in great faith. When I arose from prayer Kimball was smiling at me. He was soon better. This proves to me that miracles can be performed in this day if we exercise sufficient faith. It also teaches me a very important lesson. We should always say, “Thy will be done not mine.” In my prayers in bringing Kimball back I looked at it in a selfish way. I wanted only my way. I didn’t ask the Lord to let his will be done. Sometimes, yes, many times throughout my life I have thought that it might have been God’s will that Kimball should have died then because he grew up receiving the Holy Priesthood upon his head but did not honor that Priesthood as he should. By not honoring it, he has been led to do things that may bar him out of God’s Kingdom. So this lesson is very important to learn in life. Let us not be so selfish to get our own way to have favors granted, because God always knows best and he should be addressed in our prayers with these words always when we pray, “not my will but thine be done.” Then no matter how our prayers are answered, we will know it is God’s will and we should not go against His will. When we do it causes only sorrow, disappointment and grief.
One day when we lived in Centerfield, Utah, Edwin, Arthur, and Harold were playing with the axe at the woodpile. The older boys were chopping wood. Harold, being quite small ran under the axe as it came down. Instead of it going into the wood, it went into his head. He was knocked unconscious. I anointed his head with consecrated oil on the wound and dressed it, then I prayed over him and he got well. After a few weeks the sore had healed and all that is left now is a big scar.
While we lived in Centerfield I sang in the ward choir. Lillie and I would walk to singing practice 2 ½ miles every Thursday night. I was a Relief Society teacher for years and walked once a month around the district visiting doing my teaching. I also attended nearly every Sunday School and meeting walking a lot of the time. Sometimes we had no transportation, so the whole family had to walk wherever we went, but we didn’t mind that at all.
I sewed all my children’s clothing and kept them warm and clean. I was never idle. When I had a few minutes to spare, I would pick up my knitting. I knit all my children’s stocking. Also I knit wristlets. These were very popular in that day. They were bands which fit tight around the wrist, keeping out the cold. Most men wore them at that time. The also wore white stiff celluloid collars.
I read the Bible as much as I could to my children and explained the gospel to them. I also taught them to pray. My greatest desire was to see my children do right. I had great faith in my Heavenly Father. I felt lost without consecrated olive oil in my home. With the help of the Lord and consecrated oil on hand, I felt nothing was impossible with the Lord. I felt he was near and would help me, which he always did.
I felt I had many great trials to pass through during my life span. My Patriarchal Blessing said all these trials were for my salvation and exaltation. This made them easier to bear. These trials were to prove me to see if I would be worthy of entrance into the Celestial Glory which we are all striving for. Many miraculous healings have been witnessed by me and my family through faith. We always had family prayer morning and evening after joining the church, and each child took his turn praying.
We moved from Centerfield to Gunnison about 1914, and lived on a farm. While we lived here on this farm my son William passed away. He died 27 Nov 1914 the day after Thanksgiving of Sugar Diabetes. He went into a coma. I had cooked a Danish dish called Red Mush which he loved. I set it to cool so it would be ready for him to eat, but he never tasted it. He died one hour after I made it. The day he was buried, as we were leaving the house, a tramp came to my door asking for something to eat. Nearly everyday I fed a tramp or two. I told the man to go to the potato pit and get him some potatoes to roast as I didn’t have time to prepare him a meal. I also told him the door was open to the house and there was bread and fruit he could take what he needed. He thanked me and told me he really felt sorry about my losing a son. When I got home one loaf of bread was missing, so I knew he had done what I told him to do. I was glad to help any soul who was destitute and needed help. In my sorrow that day I felt good when I thought I had helped someone who needed food.
The Relief Society gave me a nice party before we moved to Holden, Utah. My husband homesteaded some land. This was a new experience to us. When we claimed land by homesteading it we had to live on the land to gain squatter’s rights. We bought two tents and pitched in a grove of cedars. This was late on a Sunday afternoon. We had traveled for two days from Gunnison to Holden by horse and wagon, with loads of furniture and belongings. It all looked so strange, but this was to be my home for several years so I as usual made the best of it.
The men grubbed sagebrush so there was a spot large enough to pitch the two tents which we used as bedrooms. By the side of the tents a place was cleared of brush. The furniture was unloaded and they drove a cedar post down in each corner of the cleared spot. They took the stove and placed it in one corner, then the cupboards, dressers, organ, etc., all around for the walls. They then took my carpet and tacked it down on all four posts which had been sawed smooth. This carpet was our roof and shelter from the sun. We then placed the table in the center of the room and it was very comfortable. We worried for fear the weather wouldn’t stay good while we had to live like this, but we had fine spring days.
In a month or so we moved in to a nice room. We boarded up the tents for bedrooms. There was a beautiful spring above the house which produced good drinking water. It was a nice place to live, right in the heart of cedar trees. We worked the ground and produced a good crop of grain. While we lived out in the open under the carpet, we had many wood ticks. The ground where the sagebrush had been was full of them. We also had a dog named Sport. He was a very good snake killer and as we had many snakes around that place it was very convenient for us.
1917 was a winter of alarm throughout Holden, Scipio, and other towns around. There were many rabid dogs and coyotes around and we lived right in the midst of the coyotes. We heard them howl every night, but we never saw one with the rabies. The people in surrounding towns asked us how we dared to live out in the cedars alone with those rabid coyotes around.
On April 12, 1923, my husband died after an illness of two weeks. This left it very hard for me was I didn’t have much support. My three younger sons were not yet grown, but they helped all they could. We managed to get by. Several years later I went to Arizona and California and lived with my son John Henry and his family. His wife died while I was there so I took his three children, Florence, Vernon, and Marguarite with me back to Holden, Utah on our dry farm. When John Henry got married again he came and got the children and I went to Oasis and lived with my daughter Lillie for six months. After her son Berdell was born I went and stayed with Arthur. As Arvilla was born then I went to Manti and rented a room and worked in the Temple for many years. While living in this apartment I met a fine man named Peter M. Lundgreen, whom I married. He bought me a nice little home in Manti and we lived there and continued to work in the Temple. His family by his first wife was living in Monroe, Utah. We went in our little one-seated car to visit them, and also to Millard County to visit my children. Three years after our marriage he died of cancer 10 July 1933. He was buried in Monroe, Utah. I lived alone in our home after his death and worked for years in the Temple. I have done work for over 2,000 dead.
My son Edwin and his wife had a divorce so he then came and lived in my home for several years. Six times in my life death of a loved one has come to me: my three year old son, Axel, my 33 year old son, William, my 61 year old daughter Hulda, my 8 year old grandson Howard who was electrocuted, and my two husbands. I was brave and patient through trials and have always believed that everything that happened was the Lord’s will, so I decided I must reconcile myself to His will. I always put my trust in the Lord and relied entirely upon Him. He lived close to me through faith.
About three month’s before I left Manti I was struck with severe pain in my stomach. My son Edwin and my neighbor Osmond Olson administered to me. The pain didn’t leave for several hours. I wondered about that, Edwin told me that the Lord was trying my faith to see how faithful I would be and when He had tested my faith, he would relieve the pain. After the trial comes the blessing. The pain did leave eventually and never came back. I was really thankful for that as it was the most terrible pain I had ever experienced.
On September 23, 1955, Inga Lisa Johannesson Jensen Lundgreen, a hard working Mother, passed away at her daughter’s home in Sugarville, Millard, Utah. She died after going into a coma after suffering a severe illness.[i]
[i] Vital Records, Cemetery, and Obituary Sources: Birth Record: Födelsebok, 1865, No Page No., Entry 31 (March 28, 1865), Rydaholm Parish, Jönköpings-Län, Sweden. Genline GID Number 100006.36.19100 <http://www.genline.com>. Marriage Record: Kirkebøger for Skt Matthæus parish, Sokkelund district, København county, Marriages 1884-1887, page170, entry 40b (3rd entry on the page). http://www.arkivalieronline.dk (Opslag 172) (Slide 172). Record indicates that the couple married on 5 February 1886 in St. Matthew’s parish, Sokkelund district, Copenhagen. Death Certificate: Inga Liza Johannason Jensen Lundgreen, Death Certificate, Registrar’s No. 20, State File No. 55 14 0040, Utah Department of Health, Office of Vital Records and Statistics, Salt Lake City, Utah. Also available from: Inga Liza Johannason Jensen Lundgreen, Death Certificate, Series 81448, Entry 25663, Utah State Archives Digital Collection,<http://historyresearch.utah.gov/indexes/index.html> accessed 23 August 2007. Electronic image in the possession of Guy L. Black. Grave Location and Cemetery Directions: Located in Holden Town Cemetery, Grave Location 127-2-4, which is at peak of hill on south side of cemetery. To get to cemetery in Holden, Utah: Upon entering town, go two blocks east on 100 North, turn right, and up the hill is the cemetery. Obituary: Millard County Chronicle, Delta, Utah, (Vol. 46, No. 13), Sept. 29, 1955, p. 1.