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History Of Maria Lofdahl Andelin

From personal recollections and from her autobiography

By Ruby P. Valentine


From personal recollections and from her autobiography

By Ruby P. Valentine


            My Grandmother meant to me everything that the name implies.  I loved her devotedly.  From my birth until I was seven, I lived with her together with my three older sisters.  My Mother was away in Salt Lake City working so she might have money to provide for her family.  My father had another wife and large family to care for.

            My Grandmother played with me, lulled me to sleep with Swedish songs, taught me Swedish poems and who to count.  I can still recall her tenderness and love even after all these years.

            Later, in Provo, when we were all together with Mother and my Father when he could be with us, the larder often was empty and miraculously it seemed, a big box always came for us from Grandma in Richfield.  In it would be her Swedish cardmom buns, her delicious sugar cookies, two fat hens, a dozen or two of eggs, pounds of butter.  She was our fairy godmother as well as Grandmother.

            She had many troubles connected with polygamy.  Not that she disbelieved the principle, rather the second wife did not accept it graciously.  As a little girl, I often soothed her nervous headaches by stroking her forehead and neck.  She said I always brought relief to her and drove her pain away.

            She was a kindly woman; large boned but not heavy.  She had hazel eyes and brown hair.  Her nose had a characteristic large knob at the end which many of her children and grandchildren fell heir to, sometimes in a slightly modified form.

            She was born Oct. 2, 1841 in Malmo, Sweden.  Her parents were Olaf and Caroline Malmsten Lofdahl.  She had three brothers, Carl Peter, Olaf August and Jons Wilhelm.  Her father was a carpenter, also a fine violinist.  They were a musical family.  Her three brothers sang in a song union.  Also they were a religious family, being reared in the Lutheran faith.  My Grandmother was confirmed when she was fifteen and at that time received her first Sacrament.  She was seventeen when she began working in a cotton factory.  While there she lost the end of her little finger in a mill accident.  She met some Mormon girls at the mill and talked to them about their religion.  Soon she began going with them to their meetings, much against her father’s wishes.  It wasn’t long until she was converted to the Gospel and was baptized Sept. 30, 1861.

            Her Mother had died in 1856.  Her Father and brothers never joined the Church and wanted nothing to do with it.  It grieved them that their only sister and daughter would not give it up.

            She became engaged to a local missionary, but the engagement was broken when she decided to go to Gottenburg, Sweden.  One of the missionaries was sent there to preside over that Conference and she wanted to go there to help in the Mission home.

            Now came the time that she must say goodbye to her Father and brothers.  She said the Lord must have made her hard-hearted so that she could not feel for them.  When she started to say goodbye to her Father she saw tears in his eyes.  She knew she would never see him again, for she felt she would emigrate from Gottenburg.  So she left them forever, for they never joined the Church.  Some of the Saints accompanied her to the boat to see her off.  Presently the bell rang, and the gang plank was lifted and the ship started out to sea.  The handkerchiefs the girls waved looked to her like little white doves.  Soon they were out of sight.

            Now the full realization of the separation came to her.  She shed tears and thought, “How cruel I am!  How could I, their only daughter and sister, leave them?  No one to care for them.  I could see them in my mind standing there outside the house.  Oh, how my heart yearned for them, why didn’t I stay?  I might have converted them to the Gospel.”  She shed many bitter tears but she had gone.  She had embraced the Gospel, the spirit of gathering was in her heart and nothing could have kept her in the old world.  It was the command of God to gather to Zion to help build up the waste places.

            After three days on the ocean, she arrived at Gottenburg.  This was the Spring of 1864.  The President of the Conference was at the dock to meet her and take her to the office.  There was another girl and some boys there, all busy.  Some taking care of the office, some doing tailoring work.  They loved to hear her talk as her dialect was so different from theirs.  She kept the assembly hall clean, did some housekeeping, washing for the Missionaries and making gloves.  She was there a year, then prepared to emigrate in the Spring of 1865.  April 14, she with the other Saints there left Gottenburg at night, to cross the channel to Copenhagen, Denmark.  They were to pick up other immigrants there.  The North Sea was extremely rough that night, a hard wind was blowing and the waves were high.  Often the ship would stand on end, then dip way over on the other side.  The passengers were tied on with thick ropes so they wouldn’t be washed out to sea.  Grandma was under water several times.  All were soaking wet when they landed but couldn’t get into dry clothing until they reached the hall where they were gathering.

            On April 20 they left Copenhagen and went by boat to Hamburg, Germany.  There they boarded a big sailing ship, the S.S. Kimball, supposed to be the monarch of the sea.  Most of the trip was uneventful except for one season of bad weather.  All the sails were lowered, the ship tossed thither and hither, the waves were mountain high.  Sometimes the ship would be bourne backward for a couple of days.  Grandma sat on the captain’s door step clinging to a pole so she could observe the storm.  About fifty little children sickened and died and were buried at sea.  She felt such pity for their mothers, but they counted it as a trial sent to test them so they would acknowledge the hand of the Lord.

            After six weeks on the ocean, they landed June 15 in New York at the Castle Garden.  From there they traveled by rail and boat, crossing the Mississippi and sailing up the Missouri Rivers until they came to a small camp near Nebraska City, Neb.  Grandma couldn’t speak English then, so she was not able to tell just what cities and states she crossed.

            The immigrants stayed at this camp for five weeks.  An unknown disease made havoo among them.  It must have been cholera.  Anyone who had the disease would run out of his tent in his night clothes and holler like he was possessed; his teeth and mouth would turn black.  So many died that the camp was moved to higher ground.

            The Church did not bring the immigrants across the plains that year.  A Mr. Thomas Taylor contracted to take them across.  Grandma paid him $71.00 for her food.  Her fare across the ocean was $61.00.  The company was under the leadership of Capt. Attwood.

            The company were fourteen weeks crossing the plains.  (Grandma said eleven weeks would have been sufficient if it had been managed better.)  The provisions gave out and they had to eat the meat of the oxen that died of starvation and fatigue.  The meat was eaten without salt and without bread.  Some in the company had their own outfits and provisions but even they were short of food before reaching Salt Lake.  A telegram was sent to Brigham Young asking for help and provisions were sent out to them.

            They arrived at Ft. Laramie, Sept. 19.  They were snowed in there and some of their cattle were driven away –supposedly by the Indians.  Part of them were later found.  The soldiers at the Fort told them the Indians were mad and would kill them if they tried to go on.  They wanted them to stay at the Fort until spring.  Naturally, they would not listen for they knew the Lord would defend them as long as they were striving to do His will.

            Some time after leaving Ft. Laramie, they halted for noon at a place called Cottonwood Hollow.  A well armed band of about sixteen Indians sprang on them from ambush in the woods and tried to steal their cattle.  The brethren fired on the Indians and the frightened oxen ran back to camp.  The Indians, having failed in their attempt to get the oxen, were riding away when they kidnapped the wife of Christian Grundtvig.  She had fallen behind the train because of fatigue and hadn’t reached camp when the Indians saw her.  The men went in pursuit as fast as they could but couldn’t overtake the Indians.  They were al shot with many arrows.  Brother Grundtvig has an arrow shot in his hip and had to crawl back to camp.  He and all the other men recovered and walked into Salt Lake, but he was lame all his life.

            The poor lady’s fate was never known.  One rumor was that she was drowned in the Platte River, another that she was forced to marry the Chief but soon died.  My Grandmother knew Brother Grundtvig well.  Grandma walked all the way.  She wrote:


“With bleeding feet crossed desert woes

Through wind and rain and bitter snows.

Kneeling on the barren sands,

Asking Father’s blessing from his hands.

And on the ground lay down to sleep

Foot sore and tired and nothing to eat.

Only the heavens for my covering

My sleep was sweet, while Angels hovering.”


            She waded through rivers with the water often up to her arm pits.  She washed her clothes in the streams and dried them on the bushes.  Through it all, she never regretted leaving her native land nor did she shed a tear for what she left behind.  She sang with a happy heart, “Come, come, ye saints, no toil nor labor fear.”

            She reached Salt Lake Nov. 14, 1865, having been seven months on the way from Gottenberg.  The wagon train drove into the square that is now called Pioneer Park.  Her she was, a poor girl, a stranger and alone, no one to greet her or bid her welcome.  Many people came to greet others in the group and the girls began to go one by one with relatives and friends.  She felt like the post who said, “I have no home, where shall I go?”

            Finally, when the square was nearly empty, a Brother Swenson came and told her she could live with a Shipp family.  She was with them three months.

            In the meantime, a young man in Ogden, Olof Anderson Andelin, had read of her arrival in Salt Lake.  He had known her slightly in Sweden before he came to Utah.  He came to Salt Lake to see her and bid her welcome in this new land.  They went walking, hand in hand, along the sidewalks.  They were in their parlor.  They courted and planned their marriage during a walk in the moonlight.  Their whole life together, however, was one of deep love and respect for each other, and their home was always filled with happiness.  I never once heard my grandparents disagree on anything nor raise their voices in anger.  A spirit of peace was in their home.

            They were married Feb. 10, 1866, three months after she had arrived in Salt Lake.  The marriage was performed by Bishop Edwin Wooley of the 15th Ward, Salt Lake City.  They were sealed in the Endowment House June 11, 1868.

            They went to Ogden to live after they were married.  Here their first child, Olof Willhelm was born Jan. 18, 1867.  After they moved to Salt Lake, my Mother, Olive was born Sept. 6, 1868.

            At that time prices of food were very high, especially in the cities.  Coal was $40 a ton, wood $30 a cord, flour $8 and more for one hundred pounds, everything else in comparison.  People who could worked on the Union Pacific Railroad which was then being built for everyone needed money to meet these high prices.  My Grandparents thought they could do better by moving to the country.

            My Grandfather had a cousin in Santaquin, so they lived with this cousin until they built their own little house.  They planted an orchard and garden, had a cow, pig and chickens and were very comfortably situated.  While here three children were born to them: Herman August, Amanda Melvina and Mary Ann.

            About this time, the United Order was organized in Richfield.  My Grandparents, being very faithful Saints, wanted to live this order.  In 1875, they sold everything they had in Santaquin and put it all in the Order in Richfield.  They were in the Order for three years, when through dissatisfaction, greed, and fault finding, the Order was dissolved by Elder Erastus Snow.  My Grandparents were happy in the Order, they had all they needed and that was enough.  They were willing to consecrate everything to the Lord then and not at some future date.

            Two children were born while they lived in the Order; Ordena Henrietta and Cordelia.

            In the spring of 1879, Grandfather was called to work on the Manti Temple.  He was a stone cutter and mason.  He worked there for seven and one half years until the last stone was in place.  My Grandparents did not want to be separated, so Grandmother moved on a homestead in Dover which was near Manti.  The boys took care of the farm while father was away working on the Temple.

            In 1883 the last child came to bless this family, Willard Joseph.  He was born in Manti, where Grandma had gone for this big event.  While she was away her children took complete care of the farm and home.

            This youngest son grew up to be a beautiful singer who studied in England and Germany, who traveled with President Grant on his tours of the European Missions, who sang in the Royal Opera in Hamburg, Germany, and who sang with all the noted artists of that day.  He was banished from Germany because he was a Mormon so he came to the U.S. to sing and work.  He had a voice of surprising range and tone.  I have never heard a male voice in opera or concert that has thrilled me as my Uncle Willard has.

            My Grandparents moved back to Richfield and again became very comfortably located, having a nice home and several pieces of property.  Much of the property was sold to help finance my uncle in his studies.  Still the old home was left.  There were gardens and lawns, cows, chickens and pigs.  They were happy with their large family and grandchildren.  Two of their children died when quite young.

            My Grandmother lost her beloved husband in 1912 from an operation for stones in the bladder.  He died in Salt Lake.  She died in 1821 also in Salt Lake.  She was an ardent Temple worker and had been in the Temple the day before her death.  She had a heart attack and died without any pain or suffering.

            She had been a Relief Society worker for over forty-five years, part of the time as a Board member.  She was a Relief Society Visiting Teacher at the time of her death.  She had worked in all the auxiliaries of the Church.  She loved to do good, she enjoyed working in the church, she was thankful she was a Latter Day Saint and I know she was a good one.

            She had a fervent testimony of the Gospel, of the divinity of Jesus Christ and of the mission of Joseph Smith, to lay the foundation of the great work of the restoration of the Gospel.

            The Gospel had been her greatest education.  In it she lived and died.  She had very little formal education, she learned everything from studying the scriptures.  She did a great deal of genealogy and ordinance work for those whose names she gathered.

            She knew the hardships of pioneering; of sheering sheep, cleaning, carding and spinning wool, weaving and dyeing and making the cloth in to dresses and suits by hand.  She didn’t own a sewing machine until her youngest son was fifteen years old.  She gathered straw and braided hats for the boys.  She did everything and very capably.

            She was always so gay, so happy, so full of humor.  She would dance a jig sometimes for pure joy.

            I wish I could again sit by her table and enjoy boiled potato with real cream as a dressing and some smoked herring.  As I said before, my Grandmother was all that the word implies. 


Owner/SourceRuby Potter
Linked toOliva Maria Lofdahl

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