Elvina Nellie Jenson Ranzenberger
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ELVINA NELLIE JENSON RANZENBERGER
Compiled and Written by Ramona R. Crane
Because of Keith's interest in writing stories of his experiences in life, we enrolled in a class offered by Idaho State University. The class, WRITING FAMILY AND LOCAL HISTORY, was held weekly at Burley High School during spring semester of 1998, and it was taught by a local, accredited historian, Kathleen Hedberg. The first class assignment was to choose a topic and identify sources. Because I was spending time in Smithfield with Mother, I didn't get to the first class and a few other sessions; but I decided that I could write Mother's story from what I remembered, or 1 could tell episodes as I heard them. This is not a LIFE STORY OF ELV1NA NELLIE .JENSON RANZENBERGER. Mother has filled several Books of Remembrances with pictures, memos, certificates, genealogy records, letters, family histories, sacred memories and activities. From the many books she has put together, a more complete life story could be compiled. This writing fulfilled an assignment for my class, and it may be of interest to younger members of the family who didn't know ELVINA.
What are the most important events in Mother's story? What made her do the things she did in the way she did them? How was she able to accomplish so many remarkable tasks? Where are the stories of her childhood, growing up years, adolescence, love and marriage, school teaching experiences, family accomplishments and disappointments?
Though Mother wrote histories and life stories of many of her ancestors, she didn't write her own story. She researched Dad's family history and traced his genealogy back several years in Germany. She wrote family histories of his parents and grandparents. She wrote histories of Relief Societies: the first one organized in the LDS Church with President Emma Smith, the ones in Smithfield from its settlement to her own Third Ward Relief Society Histories. She wrote many life stories, but she left her own story to be written by others. What can you add? Tell it. Record your memories. Write and share your impressions. I tried to accomplish this in writing about Mother.
Writing Family and Local History # 499 Ramona R. Crane May 16, 1998
Over ninety years ago, in St. Charles, Idaho, a baby girl was born to Charles Jenson and Nellie Marie Monson Jenson. She was the third child but the first daughter; so June 12, 1904 noted a special date for the Charles Jenson family. Elvina Nellie joined two brothers, Charles Merlin, born May 22,1898, and Milford Harold, born October 28, 1901. They were born, lived and grew up in the same community that their parents had been born into a generation earlier. Their grandparents , however, were immigrants from Sweden.
Grandfather Andrew Jenson was born at Roga Horsta, Asmundtorp, Malmohus, Sweden. He married Ingar Olsson when she was sixteen, and he was twenty six years old. They married in her home town, Annelov, Debon, in Sweden on December 20, 1860. Julius was born to them July 1, 1862; and he died a month later, August 4,1862.
Because Ingar's health was poor, Andrew invited Hannah Jonsson, a mutual friend who was anxious to earn extra money and also desirous of immigrating to America, to help them in their home. He promised to pay Hannah's transportation if she would help with the housework.
Andrew, his wife, Ingar, and Hannah left Sweden for Copenhagen, Denmark, then Hamburg, Germany, and finally Liverpool, England where they set sail for America. They landed in New York on June 1,1863. Their voyage lasted twenty nine days; and from New York harbor they journeyed on to Albany, New York that same Sunday afternoon.
They arrived in Florence, Nebraska on June 12, after a journey by train through some principal cities. At Florence, they outfitted themselves with ox teams , wagons, and other needs to start their long journey across the plains. They traveled with other newcomers in an organized group under the direction of Captain John F. Sanders.
Andrew, Ingar, and Hannah arrived in Salt Lake City on September 5, 1863. They continued on to Cache Valley Utah and stopped at Hyrum, a new settlement, where they were instructed to live in dugouts at first for their own protection against the elements and the Indians. The dugouts were built close together, and the men took turns guarding their families at night. It wasn't long until they started building houses that were more comfortable.
Andrew helped operate the first saw-mill in Hyrum. While living in Hyrum, Utah, he was advised to take a second wife; so Andrew, Ingar, and Hannah traveled back to Salt Lake City where Andrew was sealed to Ingar and married to Hannah on August 27,1864, in the Endowment House.
Ingar's second child, Andrew, was born on June 1, 1865. Seventeen days after Andrew's birth, Hannah gave birth to John Henry on June 18. These sons of Andrew were both born while they lived in a dugout in the hillside in Hyrum, but they moved on to Bear Lake County that fall and settled in the little town of St. Charles where Andrew built his family a real house and a place in the community. Children were born and died in the family. Ingar's second son died at six months, but with Hannah's strength and better health, the family grew. Ingar gave birth to two more children, Caroline and Charles. She died on August 25, 1869, at age twenty five.
Ingar’s youngest son, Charles Jenson, who would become Elvina's father, was born June 7, 1869, in the two room house that Andrew built for his family across the street from the Church in St. Charles, Idaho. Charles was two-and-a-half-months old when his mother passed away. His sister Caroline was two years older then he; and they both were cared for by Hannah who was the only mother they ever knew. Hannah's fourth child, Hyrum, and Charles were nursed together and grew up as twin brothers in Andrew's family, with other sisters and brothers added through the years.
By the fall of 1875, Hannah was busy caring for eight children under ten years of age; and she did all the housework, sewing, spinning, knitting and cooking for Andrew and his children.
Charles was a middle child in the family. He attended school near his home in St. Charles when he had no chores to keep him at the house. He often went barefoot because he had no shoes. At an early age, Charles and his sister, Caroline, left home to go to work in Paris, a distance of six miles. They received board and room as part of their pay. Caroline did house work, and Charles worked in the fields and with the cattle. Although he lacked formal schooling, Charles was learned and skilled enough to get along in his work place and become a respected citizen. He loved the out-of-doors, and he wanted to be sure that all livestock and property entrusted to him were given the best of care. Charles was a hard worker and eager to do extra tasks for his employers. His sister Caroline bragged, "Charley's greatest fault was that he worked too hard. He completed his jobs before others got started and ended up helping everybody."
Nellie Marie Monson, Elvina's mother, was born February 10, 1877 in a little log home on the outskirts of St. Charles, Idaho. She was the daughter of Jeppa Monson and Nellie Matson Monson, a pioneer couple who left their native land of Sweden to come to Zion and be with the Latter Day Saints.
Nellie was the third child and only daughter in her family. Her two older brothers were Edmund and James, (Jim); and her two younger brothers were Henry and Nephi. Nephi died soon after birth; so the family group consisted of four children who lived, loved, and worked together with their parents. They were taught thrift and industry in the home, but they remembered mostly the fun they had. Nellie retold her experiences of Christmas Eves when they had the traditional rice mush with an almond or money in only one bowl. Who would be the lucky recipient of the prize and be married within the next year?
Winter evenings were spent around the lamps studying. Jeppa read and Nellie helped her Mother knit stockings for the family for the next winter. She also learned to card wool, piece quilt tops, crochet and sew.
Nellie started school at the age of eight. She loved her school and her teachers, but a favorite teacher was Mr. Foster who presented Nellie with a fan for out spelling her classmates. She graduated from the eighth grade in St. Charles and attended one year of high school in Paris, Idaho.
Nellie spent her entire girlhood in St. Charles where she participated in the activities of the Church and small community. She loved to go to the dancing parties at the community hall. She traveled by horse and buggy or sleigh. She had home-made root- beer and doughnuts for refreshments at social functions.
Charles Jenson and Nellie Marie Monson were raised in the same small community, attended the same church, and participated with their families in many social gatherings. Charles, (Charley) and Nellie Marie were life time friends; and that friendship developed into a lasting romance when Charles was twenty seven years old and Nellie was nineteen. After a long wagon ride through Logan Canyon, they were married October 14, 1896, in the Logan Temple.
They returned to St. Charles where Charley continued farming, and he began getting logs from the canyons nearby to build their own home. While waiting for their own home to be built, Charles and Nellie lived with his father, Andrew Jenson, who was widowed due to the death of Hannah.
The new house was built on lot number ten, centrally located, in St. Charles. The lot had been purchased by Nellie's father, Jeppa Monson, for three hundred dollars. On March 27, 1897, this land was deeded to Charles and Nellie Jenson, and they preceded to build their house and make a home for their family there. Into this four room house, built and furnished by her father, Elvina spent her early childhood with her older, wiser brothers, Merlin and Milford. On August 21, 1907, Orvil Monson joined the family in their home in St. Charles. About three years later a second daughter was welcomed into that house.
Ludella was born on June 4, 1910, to Charley and Nellie. Five children tell of the early days of their lives spent in St. Charles, Idaho with parents, grandparents, relatives and friends that loved and lived and worked together for a happy existence.
Elvina's first home was the original house built by her father, Charles Jensen, relatives and friends, for his bride, Nellie Marie. It was started shortly after they married and consisted of four rooms and a pantry. It became a real home for Charley Jenson and Nellie and five children.
The kitchen was the social gathering place for the entire family. Nellie took pride in cooking meals fit for a king, or Charlie; and the children quickly learned to see their papa as one who was royal and earned their love and respect. They spent many hours around the kitchen table doing activities. It was there that studies were done and creative projects made. Problems were solved. Events of the day and plans were set forth. Games were played and preparations made for coming events.
A low, black stove held a prominent place in Nellie's kitchen. It was the heat source for the house as well as being the means for cooking all the food that the family wanted. On Saturday nights, the stove furnished hot water and was the heater so each child could have a bath in the wash tub that was brought in for the weekly cleansing.
One of Nellie's favorite chores was baking bread. Elvina recalls that her Mother often remarked about how good the baking bread smelled. That smell couldn't be captured and preserved, but the bread baking went on almost daily. On one particular day when Nellie was kneading and adding flour to her usual, big batch of sticky dough, Merlin and Milford were arguing and tussling on either side of their Mother. Without a word, or sidewards glance, Nellie's sticky bread hands shot out and caught each boy squarely in the mouth. Elvina recalls that she didn't hear any bickering from her brothers when their mother had her hands in the bread dough thereafter.
The pantry was well stocked with food in the Jenson home. Charley planted a garden each year so the children could learn to love to work in the soil and see seeds and plants grow and develop and produce quality food. The family took many trips into the nearby mountains to gather choke cherries, huckleberries, wild gooseberries and currants. Some were used for pies, cookies, and desserts in season; but the surplus was preserved and made into juices and jellies to be used in the cold, winter months.
Elvina particularly enjoyed the summers. Papa often took the children down to the lake for a walk, a swim, a picnic or just a change in the work day routine. Picnics and outings on the lake shore were frequent events enjoyed by the family and neighborhood groups.
The parlor in their St. Charles home was reserved for special occasions, but it seemed to Elvina that there were always more special days than ordinary days. The parlor rug was hand- woven, with new, clean straw under it to give it warmth and softness. Each spring, the carpet was taken outside to shake, and the floor was scrubbed and dried before a new layer of straw was put down. A stove, Heaterola, kept the room comfortable in the cold, winter months. Nellie's organ, given to her on her tenth birthday by her Father, had a prominent place in the Jenson parlor; and Elvina tells of her Mother playing the favorite hymns in their St. Charles house as well as in the Smithfield house in later years. Nellie crocheted doilies for the rocking chairs and the table in the special visiting room. Crisp curtains hung at the windows where geraniums bloomed in the summer. Over the doorway in the parlor hung an embroidered picture which stated: THERE IS NO PLACE LIKE HOME. This prized possession is still with Elvina's keepsakes. It revives memories of her mother, Nellie, and the home she created for Charley and his children.
Charles Jenson enjoyed sweets, especially hard candies. He carried a small supply in his shirt pocket and made them available and shared them whenever possible. Elvina remembers that Papa always brought home candy whenever he went to Montpelier or to Paris on any kind of errand. Nuts and cookies were other treats brought home to share, and they were always divided equally for everyone in the family whether they were at home at the time or not.
Family night was every night for Elvina , her two older brothers, Merlin and Milford, and the younger children, Orvil and Ludella when they lived in St. Charles. Their activities centered around their home. They spent leisure time playing "dominoes," making "shadow picture movies," playing "who has the slipper?" " hide the thimble," and many other well known games.
Social life in a small community one hundred years ago was much different than it is today. Most of the activities began within the walls of the family house, and it was limited and more isolated than it is at the present time. The social group consisted of a family, parents and children, the extended family, consisting of grandparents, great grandparents, uncles, aunts, and numerous cousins, and friends from Church or acquaintances from business or travel experiences.
Neighbors working together created many social gatherings. When men went to the canyons to gather wood for fuel or building purposes, the women gathered to prepare food to feed the hungry workers when they returned. Quilting bees and wood sawings were projects that initiated a nice day for visiting and getting to know people better.
At harvest time, the farmers threshed their grain together. Threshing was a special outing for the men. They came for an early breakfast, enjoyed a big dinner, and stayed for supper. For the women in the house, it turned out to be more work than many hands could possibly get done easily. The meals had to be special because of the reputations these wives had earned. They felt obligated to make their traditional favorites. They had to cook for days to get ready for the occasion.
The young children looked forward to threshing day like a holiday because they were out of school, and there would be lots of men and excitement around the barnyard and the farm. When the men came into the house for the meals, the children became quiet, watchful bystanders. They ate after the workers had finished and gone out doors again. On one occasion, Nellie had put her special cream pies on the table for dessert. Elvina was busy clearing away the main course dishes. Orvil was watching those cream pies and hoping that some would be left for him. Elvina reminded the younger children that Mama had always promised them that no one would ever take the last piece of pie on the plate because it was bad manners. Orvil watched anxiously as the pieces went one by one. Soon there were only two pieces left and then only one piece. As the last piece of pie was slid off the serving tin, Orvil blurted out for all to hear, "Look, Mama, there goes manners and all!"
On March 20, 1915, Charley Jenson moved his wife Nellie and their five children to Smithfield, Utah. They purchased a home from George G. Merrill on fourth South and second East. Together the family worked to beautify their new home and Charley acquired land to farm. Their new home proved to be all they had anticipated, plus an added bonus in the birth of their sixth and last child. Verda Marie was born on November 20, 1916. The family members fit well into the Church and the community.
In Smithfield, Elvina continued her schooling and graduated from ninth grade. Then it was on to High School at Richmond, Utah where she graduated in May 1921. The following year, she attended the Brigham Young College at Logan and earned a teaching certificate. (Only one year of college was required at that time to begin a teaching career.) She taught school for the Cache County School District in College Ward, Young Ward and River Heights. These were small communities outside Logan City limits. Living at home, Elvina walked a block and a half to catch the street-car at fourth south in Smithfield each morning. She rode the "Bamburger" to the stop in Logan nearest her school and walked the remaining distance to attend her classes. After a day in the classroom, the travel route was reversed, and Elvina returned home. During the school year, she lived with families near her teaching assignments so she could be at school as much as she desired. Weekends were spent with the family in Smithfield.
As the years passed, Charley suffered more and more from rheumatism. In May of 1923, he became a victim of pernicious anemia, which at that time was incurable. The doctors didn't believe that he would recover. It was, however, Charley's desire to live to see his oldest son Merlin return from the Northern States where he was completing his mission. Because of this strong determination and the blessings of the priesthood, he lived to see and enjoy a few months with Merlin back in the family unit. He was well enough to attend church and hear Merlin report on his missionary experiences one time.
When time came to round up the cattle that fall, Charley's neighbors tried to persuade him to stay home; but after they left, he announced, "I think a person ought to die doing what he likes to do." So Charley went with the group that year, but he went by car rather than by his usual team and wagon.
On Tuesday, December 11, 1923, he passed away at the age of 53. He left his wife Nellie and six children to carry out the dreams and goals they had worked and planned for. An article which appeared in the Herald Journal obituary stated, "No one could have received higher tribute as a true and faithful Latter Day Saint, a loving and devoted husband ,father, friend and neighbor than was paid Brother Jenson by the speakers."
Elvina was nineteen and became very knowledgeable and close to her papa. in his last year of life. He confided in her and spoke of accomplishments he had not realized; but he had hopes his sons and daughters would achieve: missions, higher education, service to church, community and fellowmen. They shared spiritual experiences before his death, and Papa still holds a powerful influence in Elvina's life. She cared for his body while it lay in the parlor before the funeral and burial. She was not frightened, only compassionate and loving in her service. She cherished that experience with her father; and service remained important to Elvina throughout her life.
Nellie was left with the responsibility of caring for the family. It was her determination that the goals and ideals which she and Charley had planned would be realized. Through her kindly leadership and the strong unity and support of her six children, those goals were reached. Merlin, Milford and Elvina were responsible adults still living at home when their father died. Orvil and Ludella were teenagers and well trained. Verda was six and child like and innocent enough to be a source of joy to family members.
With college training and some teaching experience, Elvina found time for socializing and friend-shipping with classmates and neighbors around Cache Valley. Dating the local boys was convenient and desirable because not every eligible male partner had access to a car. Merlin wasn't eager to drive Elvina and her girl friends to socials; but Milford could be teased into taking his younger sister and her girl friends places in exchange for a favor or chore that he wasn't fond of doing himself.
One summer evening, Elvina and her date were visiting and lingering over their goodbyes, under her brothers' bedroom window; and their conversation was rudely interrupted by a bucket full of cold water from the upstairs window. They said good night hastily, and Elvina went inside and found her brothers pretending to be asleep. They certainly would never think of playing such a trick on their sister and her boy friend at such an early hour of the morning when all good people should be home asleep in their own beds. She was surely mistaken if she thought that she heard them giggling under the covers when she rushed upstairs to dry herself off.
Lavon Watson lived in the neighborhood and was dating a young man, Bill Wheatly from Providence. Elvina was visiting Lavon when Bill came courting and brought with him a close friend, Jack Ranzenberger, who owned a car. After some double dates, with Bill and Lavon, Jack continued to drive to Smithfield to date Elvina; and he brought other young men to be dance partners for young, unmarried females. Jack took up dancing to gain favor with Elvina and her friends and found that the dance hall was a good place to meet and mingle and have a good time.
After seven years, Jack and Elvina became engaged on January 7, 1927. They attended dances on Saturday night, often at the Dansante, a public dance hall in Logan. On Wednesday nights, they attended the vaudeville shows at the Capitol Theater. There were church activities for the young adults, and they held many group parties and informal get togethers. Jack furnished the car filled with gas, to take a group wherever they wanted to go; and he frequently paid for the food when they went out to eat.
Jack's Mother passed away one month after Jack and Elvina had decided to marry. His Providence home was not the same without a mother. No one seemed to be in charge or interested in keeping the family together. Except for Jack, the older children had gone out on their own at an early age and made living arrangements for themselves. Five children were still living at home when their mother died, but they were young adults and not expected or trained to take over their Mother's role. Elvina was an outsider in the home and she was interfering with the time, money, and attention they had been receiving from Jack.
Establishing a home of their own seemed the best choice for Elvina and Jack; so they made preparations for a June marriage. Elvina tried to friendship Jack's young sisters at home and invited Ann to go dancing with them on Saturday nights, but she rarely stayed until the dancing was over and Jack was ready to take his girls home.
It wasn't until Jack and Elvina went to get their marriage license that Elvina learned that Jack's given name was John Martin. She had only known him as Jack, and that's the name she continued to call him by.
For her wedding attire, Elvina bought a white nurse uniform and new undies. She made herself a gown and robe, and a new summer outfit. She bought a small suitcase and packed some clothes for her honeymoon.
On the morning of their marriage day, Jack drove his Ford Coupe from his house in Providence to Elvina's house in Smithfield, a distance of ten miles; and they went to Logan to be married and to begin their life together.
They were married on June 29, 1927, in the Logan Temple. After the temple ceremony, Elvina and Jack were honored with a dinner prepared by Nellie and Elvina's two younger sisters, Ludella and Verda at their house in Smithfield. After the wedding feast, Elvina left with Jack for their honeymoon trip to Yellowstone Park. He had his car all packed with food, clothing, bedding, and camping equipment for the duration of their trip.
Elvina spent the first night of married life at a camping area just outside of Pocatello, Idaho. The trees grew thick along the Portneuf River that meandered through the Blackrock camp. There were a few cabins to rent for those who chose not to sleep under the stars or in their own tents. Accommodations there were rustic, but Elvina appreciated the privacy of the campground before going into Pocatello to stay with Jack's relatives. The second day of the trip, Elvina and Jack visited the Pocatello relatives, Uncle George Kutterer's family and Uncle Charles Kutterer's family. They drove on to spend the night at Island Park, Idaho. The third day's traveling brought them into Yellowstone Park where they stayed for two or three days before they traveled back to Providence to set up housekeeping as newlyweds.
They planned to live in Providence where Jack was well known for his work skills and had been employed by farmers, lumbermen, factories, quarries and business men who recognized a responsible laborer who owned horses and wagons and worked hard. His father owned the farm that the family lived on. He had given Dave, Jack's younger brother, the corner lot where he built a house for his wife Fay and their family. Dave had married and started his family much younger than Jack; so he needed the first lot given from the farm. Jack expected to get his choice for a building spot because he had always worked with his father on their farm, and he had helped support the family before he went to work anywhere else. While waiting for their own property to be acquired and a house built, Jack and Elvina arranged to rent a little homestead house next to Chugg's fine house. It was a few blocks west of the Ranzenberger property and convenient for Jack to work his father's farm.
Jack was thirty two years old and had been camping and caring for himself and his needs for several years; so he felt confident that he could care for his bride and her needs and comforts without any problems. He was the oldest of ten children in his father's home and had been helping them financially from the time he started earning wages working for his neighbors in Providence.
During that first year of married life, Elvina had a lot of new experiences and responsibilities. Jack went to work in his usual way and encouraged Elvina to do whatever she wanted to do around the house to make it more homey and comfortable. She could visit the neighbors close by or the relatives down the road. She could go to Theurer's store and get anything she wanted for cooking, or sewing, or amusing herself because Jack had a charge account there. At the end of each month, Jack would go in and pay the bill for food and groceries. What a surprise Elvina received when she went with Jack to pay her first month's bill. She knew that she hadn't charged that many items or run up the account. She realized then that Jack had allowed the members of his father's family who were still living at home to get their wants and needs at his expense. Jack would not be able to support two households on his earnings; so new arrangements had to be made. Elvina was the only one who would charge to Jack Ranzenberger. His father and brothers and sisters were no longer allowed to charge their purchases to him.
Elvina made some life time acquaintances in Providence during that first year of marriage. She had time to visit neighbors and enjoy the young and the old. She did handwork and used skills that she had learned as a young girl with her own mother. One day, a small girl was spending time with Elvina and went home to ask her own mother, "Why is Sister Asterberg making so many soft, fuzzy, warm dish towels?"
That announcement soon alerted the neighborhood that a baby was on the way. Elvina cut, stretched and hemmed yards of flannel for diapers. She made receiving blankets and crocheted fancy edges on each one. She made flannel gowns and embroidered them with dainty pink or blue designs. She crocheted booties, shawls, sweaters, and dresses.
Bedding and padding for the baby were made from salvaged materials no longer big enough or strong enough to be used for adults. Elvina was happy to be married and expecting her first child. She was anxious to learn new homemaking skills. She was talented and creative with sewing. By making her baby's layette, Elvina discovered that she could make about any thing she wanted. Whenever she saw something that she liked that might be useful, she cut a pattern and sewed materials together to make the item she wanted.
Elvina and Jack's first child was born May 19, 1928, and she was given the name Ramona because she had a lot of black hair and resembled an Indian baby more than a blonde, Swedish baby. Helen Hunt Jackson had written about an Indian girl. She titled her book "Ramona" and it was the name of a popular song being sung at the time The name seemed appropriate enough for the couple's child.
Soon after Ramona's birth in Providence, Elvina and Jack had a chance to buy a house in Logan which was owned by Elvina's Aunt Eliza and her husband Ray Humphries. It seemed that it was a good opportunity to get their own home and acquire property. While living there, Jack worked at any job that was available to him; but work was not always easy to get. Logging up Logan Canyon was what Jack liked to do best; but it was depression times, and there was little building going on.
Elvina turned her sewing skills into a time consuming home business. She advertised in the local newspaper. She was interested in doing fancywork in her home. She started out doing all the stitching by hand, but that took so much time; and she had so many requests to fill that she had to have faster ways to sew fabrics together and decorate them. She expected to make scarfs, doilies, pillowcases, aprons, dish towels, and trousseau items; but her customers came bringing her bigger dress making projects like blouses, suits, dresses, gowns, clothes needing alterations, new fashions and men's suits to be remodeled into clothing for smaller bodies. Jack purchased a used sewing machine for her and a hemstitching monstrosity that was big and awkward looking, but it put a finishing edge on fabrics. It was popular and used in 1929 when Elvina started taking in sewing in Logan. She sewed dresses for ladies who wanted the new styles but their bodies didn't fit into the ready made selections available. Dress making became a major activity each day. Some ladies brought yards of new fabric and a pattern of a dress they wanted made. Others brought clothes to be remodeled and fitted. Elvina was challenged by the requests from her paying customers, but she experienced satisfaction as she tackled each new creation. She did a lot of pinning, measuring, cutting, stitching and fitting to achieve the finished product. The sewing machine and hemstitcher were in constant use when Elvina wasn't taking care of her family and the usual cooking, cleaning and baking.
When Ramona was three years old, Elvina gave birth to a second child, another girl whom they named Marie. She was a pretty baby and had her own layette and fancy clothes.
She was a welcome addition to the family, and Ramona exhibited possessive behavior toward the new baby. She helped care for her baby sister and comfort her as a three year old child might. After a particularly quiet time, Ramona sidled up to Elvina to announce, "Marie, really loves me lots. She does love me."
When Elvina went to check on the sleeping baby in the next room, she discovered that Marie was trying to rid herself of a fat, black raisin with her tiny tongue. Ramona had climbed up into the cupboard and got her favorite treat to share with Marie. No harm was done, but Ramona had to learn other ways to show affection.
Elvina continued to sew for customers who depended on her for their sewing needs. Though her day time hours were busy with the girls, she could find some spare moments to work on her projects; and in the evenings when Jack was home, she could do the fittings and more technical sewing.
When customers came, Ramona frequently put in an appearance. Elvina saw that she was properly introduced and recognized before she was invited to go help Dad take care of Marie. Before Marie was on the scene, Ramona got all the attention. Her first words together in a sentence were spoken to Elvina's customer, "Oh, pretty! Is it silk?"
When Ramona ran and got her bank every time someone came to the door, Elvina was embarrassed. That behavior had to stop. Sewing helped supplement the family income, but they weren't destitute enough to beg for money. The bank was put out of sight and out of mind for some months.
Elvina taught a class of young mutual girls while she was living in the sixth ward in Logan. She really enjoyed that evening out each week, and many times the girls would come to the house to work on special projects and make their books. The young girls gave Ramona and Marie special attention, and Elvina was pleased to be teaching in a church position.
Jack could easily take care of the girls. In good weather, they could walk over to the neighbors to buy a bucket of milk when it was needed. There were discoveries to be made outside with the girls. The neighborhood was explored and the boys next door were harmless when Jack was in charge. When Ramona and Marie were asleep in their own beds, baby sitting was a cinch in Logan.
Steady employment around the area was not easy for Jack to get because of the depression and the nature of work that he usually did. It was quite seasonal, farming, logging and road building; so when Elvina's younger brother Orvil got a mission call to go to Sweden for a three year period, the Ranzenberger family moved into the Jenson house with Nellie and her two unmarried daughters, Ludella and Verda. Though it was only a temporary living arrangement, Elvina adjusted nicely to being back in Smithfield and bringing Jack and her two girls into the family home. They had their private sleeping quarters in the big bedroom upstairs, but they ate all their meals downstairs in the big kitchen and shared in all the chores around the house and yard. Jack found plenty of work to do on the Jenson farm. He took full responsibility for the herd of cows and all the farm work. In the evenings, he encouraged Ramona and Marie to help him milk the cows. It gave Elvina, her sisters, Ludella and Verda, and their Mother Nellie, a chance to work without any interference from the little girls. They developed a close relationship that lasted through their lives.
Nellie's father, Jeppa Monson, lived across the street in his own home. He was past ninety and alone; so Nellie cared for him by taking in meals and doing laundry and cleaning. Ludella and Verda took turns spending nights at Grandpa Monson's house. Elvina and her daughters were frequent visitors at the home. Grandpa Monson often sent home some treat in the little bucket used to carry the food in. Blue plums, raspberries, apples and garden grown vegetables often filled the bucket.
Elvina's oldest brother, Merlin, had married and built a house across the street from the Charles Jenson family home and farm. He was a farmer and had a herd of cows, too. He was a milk hauler and picked up his neighbor's ten gallon milk cans on the street and took them to Wellsville each day. The cans were emptied and returned to the owner and used for the evening milking. Being a milk hauler took several hours of Merlin's work day, but he was still involved with work on the family farm left to his mother.
Orvil's mission was nearing completion when Elvina gave birth to twins, Jay and Janice, on July 3, 1935. She was taken to the Logan hospital for the event, and she stayed there for ten days in bed. Changes were coming too fast with two more children and no home of her own. She had enjoyed being back with her family and the extended family; but Jack ought to have his own family. Nellie moved out of her downstairs bedroom during Elvina's final weeks of pregnancy. Climbing stairs became a problem because of the extra weight and swollen feet. After the twins were born, it was more convenient to be down¬stairs.
Orvil moved back into the boys room at the top of the stairs when he returned from Sweden. The twins grew strong and developed normally. Elvina's strength returned and her capacity to accomplish tasks increased. It was time for the Ranzenbergers to move out of the Jenson home. Jack rented a house just two blocks away, and Elvina and their four children became an independent family unit living in less convenient surroundings. There were two big rooms finished on the first floor, but there was no running water inside or any toilet facilities. Water had to be pumped from the outside and carried inside in buckets for everything, drinking, cooking, washing and cleaning. Waste was disposed of by the same route. The path to the pump and outhouse were used and worn smooth.
The fall and winter of 1935 must have been a challenge to Elvina, but it was not insurmountable. Though her housing was adverse and inconvenient, she counted her blessings. She had two healthy babies, two growing daughters, a husband that loved and supported her and the extended family nearby to share their joys and accomplishments.
Jack continued to run the Nellie Jenson farm in Smithfield even after the family moved from the house. He rented extra land near-by and became a full time farmer. He worked hard and acquired cows of his own. He kept looking around for property to buy. He found a small farm listed for sale in Weston, Idaho. He liked the layout of the land and there was a farm house on the property. He took Eivina to see what he hoped would turn out to be their own home and farm in the small community. Elvina did not see the beauties and possibilities of the chosen place. She was anxious to move into a better house in the spring of 1936; but her mother pointed out to Elvina, "You will never, ever be content out on a farm all alone with your children. What could you do without any neighbors or family members within a mile or two to visit and do things with? You are much too social to isolate yourself by making such a change."
While Elvina was struggling with housekeeping chores in a small house without water or indoor plumbing and two new babies, she heard a rumor that the house that Alf Rasmussen had built for his family might be for sale. It was conveniently located across the road.. The Rasmussen's owned the ground to the east and were ready to build another house. Jack visited with Alf and after a few weeks, final arrangements were complete. The Rasmussens moved out of their new house and back into the little homestead house on the corner. Elvina was happy to move to 245 East 300 South to a modern house with running water and an indoor bathroom. It was so convenient and close to her family and friends in Smithfield. Jack's dream farm in Weston never materialized, and Elvina's nightmare about being stuck out in a foreign country without any family or friends soon vanished, too.
Buying a home was important to Elvina and Jack, and they worked and budgeted carefully to make the payments on the property. They hated losing the house in Logan that they started to buy from Elvina's Aunt Eliza before the depression of 1930. They were pleased to get the house in Smithfield because of its location, price, and convenience. It became the permanent residence for the John Martin Ranzenberger family. Changes were made within the house as the family grew and needs were met. The barnyard had horses, cows, and chickens. An orchard produced favorite apples. A large garden was planted each spring, watered and hoed each week, and the produce was harvested at its peak to be eaten, canned, given away or fed to the animals. Berry patches were set out periodically. Raspberries grew the best, but blackcaps and black raspberries were tried, too. Rhubarb was plentiful every year.
When the twins were less than a year old, Elvina had a visit from the Third Ward Bishop. He asked about her circumstances and about the growing family before he announced his real purpose for the visit. He invited her to be the Relief Society President. She should prayerfully chose two counselors and a secretary. Elvina accepted the call thankfully. To say "NO" to any church assignment was unthinkable. Being the Relief Society President and working so closely with her sisters in the organization brought much satisfaction to Elvina. She discovered ways to serve that she didn't know existed when she was busy being just a wife and mother at home. The responsibilities at home got taken care of, and the family chores and projects seemed easier as the Relief Society work progressed.
On March 26, 1942, a fifth child was born to Elvina and Jack. He was named Lyle Martin. He was welcomed by the twins, Jay and Janice, who were in the first grade at the Summit School in Smithfield. His older sisters, Marie and Ramona, were eleven and fourteen. Lyle had in-house baby sitters as soon as Elvina brought him home from the Logan Hospital.
Two years later, on July 17, 1944, Charlene was born. This birth gave Elvina and Jack six children, four girls and two boys.
Jack continued to farm, raise chickens, and milk cows. He accepted seasonal work around Cache Valley to supplement his income from farming.. He worked shift work at Delmonte during the pea campaign and was a night watchman there in the off season. He worked in Ogden and Clearfield, Utah for the government when paying jobs were scarce in Smithfield. He went to work for the Cache County Commissioners on road work in 1941. That began a steady employment that lasted sixteen years.
Church work was a must for Elvina while she was raising her family; but she worked outside the home to earn extra money for the family, too. She was employed by Squires in Logan; she did their dress-making, alterations, mending and other sewing projects ordered by their customers. Her work was all done at their place of business under "sweat-shop" conditions. She hired neighbors to tend the children at home and do light house work and start the evening meal.
Delmonte provided four-to-six weeks of work for women in the area each summer when they were harvesting peas. Elvina fit that campaign into her schedule for several years. Picking pole beans was another diversion that could earn the eager, conscientious worker small amounts of spending money. Elvina excelled at that job, too.
In 1946, Elvina was advised to go back into teaching and work toward a college degree so she would be in a better position to support the family if the need arose. Jack had been hospitalized, and he suffered from bleeding ulcers at the time. His condition was serious, and it was doubtful if he would ever return to his job.
Once again, Elvina was employed by the Cache County School District as an elementary school teacher. She taught first grade at Richmond, Smithfield Summit, and North Park Elementary in Hyde Park on a provisional teaching certificate. She took classes and extension courses from Utah State University and earned her Bachelor of Science in Education in 1953. Jack's life was spared, and he continued doing road work for Cache County and enjoyed it
One morning in the early spring of 1957, Jack woke as usual, milked his cows, and had breakfast. He started for work but made it no farther than the front lawn. He suffered a severe stroke. For days his family watched to see how much consciousness he would regain. He never was able to be gainfully employed again. However, being a man of strong will and determination, he regained much use of his body and mind. He struggled to relearn skills and overcome handicaps. He found many things which he could do with relative success.
He took a real interest in his garden. He tried to milk cows but soon had to settle on raising a few beef cattle. Retirement at age sixty-two was not his choice. Changes had to be made in the living arrangements in the Ranzenberger home.
When Elvina returned to her school teaching that fall, she hired a pleasant housekeeper to spend the day with her mother Nellie, who no longer could live alone and take care of herself, and Jack. Many choice ladies were hired to be caretakers in the home for Nellie and Jack while Elvina was teaching school.
After the nine month school year, she frequently signed up to teach a six week kindergarten program. She enjoyed teaching in the county schools. She retired as a teacher in 1969 after spending twenty-seven years in the classroom.
Being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was important in Elvina's life. She held many positions over the years and felt that she should never be without a church job. She was reluctant to give up being a visit teaching supervisor and personally going out to make the visit even when it became almost impossible for her to walk, to get in and out of cars, or to move her body without help. Her own written history states, "My first calling was as secretary in Primary and later I taught in primary. I taught in Junior Sunday School and then was on the Sunday School Board in the Benson Stake. I was the first coordinator of Junior Sunday School in the Smithfield Third Ward, and have taught different age groups at different times in Sunday School. I have worked as a theology teacher, a ward President, a visiting teacher and a stake leader in the Relief Society. In Young Ladies Mutual Improvement Association, I have had various age groups, have been a counselor in the Presidency on two different occasions and have served terms on the stake board of MIA twice."
Continuing, Elvina writes, "For all these calls of duty I am most grateful. I am sure I have gained much more than I have given. I have truly found that when two people work together one can never fail so long as one of those people is God. Through His guidance and love nothing is impossible."
Jack was active in the Latter Day Saint Church all of his life and attended his meetings regularly and always on time. He supported his family in their church activities, and took care of his callings and duties faithfully. He enjoyed assignments on the Church Welfare Farm and was reluctant to quit at the end of the day. He lived his religion by the example he set and the work he performed. He talked little and listened much.
Old age did not come gracefully to John Martin Ranzenberger. With progressive strokes, he became more handicapped; and he struggled harder to contribute. Elvina kept encouraging family get-to-gethers and special occasions to meet and welcome new family members into the group. Grandchildren got married, and great-grandchildren were born. . She stuck by her husband and continued to invite the family for a combination birthday and Christmas celebration each year.
She gave Jack the care he needed in their own home until she was no longer capable of providing that care. Then the family pointed out to her that Jack needed total nursing care, and he could receive it easier at Sunshine Terrace in Logan than at home. He did not resist the move.
They had been together for fifty six years, and Elvina found an empty house very lonely. Janice took her mother to visit Jack everyday at Sunshine Terrace. There were lots of people there that Elvina knew, but Jack lived in his own little space until he passed away March 7, 1985
Jack's immediate family all returned home for the burial and funeral. It was held Saturday March 9, 1985, in the Smithfield LDS Ward Chapel with Bishop Gerry Hodges conducting. Burial was in Smithfield City Cemetery.
Since Elvina had been handling the family finances forever, she was well aware of expenses and where the money came from and where it was spent. She was a widow, but she was not left destitute and homeless. Socially, she was no more alone than she had been for many years because Jack did not enjoy social gatherings. She now had free time each day because she had no husband to take care of and fuss over. Their children were all married and had families of their own. She could worry about them, but none of them needed her for help on a daily basis. Intentions to do volunteer work at Sunshine Terrace weren't followed through when she found it an emotional drain and taxing. She was able to do genealogy research and work on records and family histories started years before. She could go to the Logan Temple and enjoy the spirit there. She discovered ways to keep informed about family affairs and recognized ways of helping family members who wouldn't let their needs be known. She remembered birthdays and Christmas for her children and grandchildren and insisted on gifts for them long after their earning power was far greater than hers.
Elvina had a real talent for sewing. She could see a dress in a store window, or a picture in a catalog, and she could duplicate the style and fit the person perfectly. Her family benefited from her expertise most. New dresses for special occasions appeared regularly for her daughters and grand-daughters.
She made temple clothing for many couples that she taught in her school or church classes. She embroidered temple aprons and paid for the hemstitching around the edges when she no longer owned a machine of her own She made burial clothing. She made quilts and invited family and neighbors into her house to do the quilting by hand..
She knitted sweaters, blankets, and slippers in many styles, sizes, and colors throughout the years; but crocheting has remained the best loved talent of all. She crocheted table cloths, chair sets, edges on pillowslips, luncheon sets and napkins, and decorative edges for whatever was needed.
For the last few years, Elvina has limited her crocheting to afghans. She has made hundreds of these creations in as many different colors and sizes. They started out to be gifts for her children, then gifts for the grandchildren, and finally an afghan for each great- grandchild as soon as it is expected. In between the new descendants in the family, there have been the new neighbors, the home teacher or relief society visitor, or an unfortunate friend, or a caregiver, a child that smiled and acted unafraid: Always there has been someone that could use an afghan, and always Elvina has been able to finish one more.
Janice and Jolene see that she has the necessary yarn so that she can relax and accomplish something worthwhile to share with someone.
During the last twenty years, Elvina has been honored by various groups. She has been interviewed, questioned, and written about. Young students use her stories to illustrate life a century ago. Educators look to her as an example to emulate. She was chosen as Outstanding Citizen of Smithfield in 1975 and presented with an award. On that occasion, Val Coleman, President of the Lion's Club, paid tribute to her as a teacher, mother, loving wife and an example of a life of service.
Through the ninety-four years of her life, Elvina has had many experiences and associations with hundreds of people in her family and extended family, in her teaching in school and church, in her neighborhood and community. She has always been interested in people and has sought out those she felt were less fortunate than she. She friendshipped the friendless and offered hope to the discouraged.
The Relief Society organizations of Smithfield have recognized her and noted her work within their group. Young Women groups have spent class periods with Elvina in her home. Care givers and home health workers and nurses continue to visit and encourage her. Children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren are the most frequent visitors that Elvina has in her room at Sunshine Terrace now; but Janice is the one that is expected every day. It is she that fills the needs and wants of Elvina. It is she that is depended on and knows Elvina best.
May 4, 1998
Ramona R. Crane
SOURCES HISTORY OF BEAR LAKE PIONEERS
Copyright 1968 by Daughters of Utah Pioneers Bear Lake County, Idaho. pp 309-311 & 465-467.
HISTORY OF ANDREW JENSON AND HIS FAMILIES
LIFE HISTORIES OF JEPPA AND NELLIE MARIE MONSON
LIFE HISTORIES OF CHARLES JENSON AND NELLIE MARIE MONSON JENSON
Compiled and written by Elvina J. Ranzenberger, Ludella J. Nilson, and
Verda J. Heggie from the diary of Andrew Jenson, ward records, temple records and personal written records of their ancestors.
LIFE SKETCH OF JOHN MARTIN RANZENBERGER
Written from recorded interviews and personal knowledge by Ramona R. Crane
PERSONAL MEMORIES OF MY OWN REVIVED AS I VISITED WITH FAMILY MEMBERS AND REVIEWED MOTHER'S LIFE.
May 9, 1998 Ramona R. Crane
ELVINA'S GRANDPARENTS AND THEIR CHILDREN
ANDREW JENSON FAMILY and HIS THREE WIVES
Andrew Jenson and Ingar Olsson
Julius 1862-1862(lived one month) Andrew 1865-1866 ( eight months)
Andrew and Hanna Schwartz Jonsson
Andrew Jenson and Elizabeth Ingham
FAMILY OF JEPPA AND NELLIE MARIE MATTSON MONSON
Nephi1882-1882 (lived three days)
ELVINA'S PARENTS AND THEIR CHILDREN
FAMILY OF CHARLES (CHARLEY) JENSON (1869-1923) AND NELLIE MARIE MONSON JENSON (1877-1962)
ELVINA'S OWN FAMILY
JOHN MARTIN RANZENBERGER (1895 - 1985) ELVINA NELLIE JENSON (1904-1999)
1935- Jay Martin (twin)
1935- Janice (twin)
GRANDCHILDREN OF JACK AND ELVINA
Bryan Val Maughan - January 8, 1951
Cheryl Marie Maughan - January 24, 1952
RoZann Crane - April 29, 1954
Lisa Crane - October 16, 1955
Tracy Crane - November 9, 1956
Jolene Dowd - August 29, 1958
Teresa Ranzenberger - January 23, 1960
Dane Keith Dowd - February 14, 1961
Ross "J" Ranzenberger - August 9, 1961
Gilbert Keith Crane - September 12, 1961
Laurie Ranzenberger - January 23, 1963
Bret Lyle Ranzenberger - August 11, 1965
Kelly Keith Crane - September 3, 1966
Sandra Biddulph - October 16, 1966
Shane Ranzenberger - June 21, 1969
Bobbette Biddulph - December 28, 1969
Shelli Dowd - January 31, 1970
Karen Ranzenberger - February 20, 1970
Ryan "C" Ranzenberger - June 2, 1977
GREAT GRANDCHILDREN OF ELVINA AND JACK RANZENBERGER
Cody Lowell Toolson - January 12, 1973
Rachell Toolson - January 25, 1978
Travis David Low - September 7, 1978
Jennifer Dowd - January 5, 1981
Sidney Sheldon Archibald - May 8, 1981
Megan Carrie Gene - May 21, 1981
Jason Charles Maughan - November 21, 1981
Bradley Mac Maughan - November 24, 1981
Damon Gene - February 17, 1983
Casey Lyle Archibald - June 14, 1983
Amanda Maughan - June 28, 1983
Holly Marie Archibald - October 16, 1984
Dylan Gene - February 21, 1985
Dana Dowd - April 28, 1985
Jami Ann Low - November 7, 1985
Austin Keith Gene - July 21, 1987
Dustin Wayne Maughan - May 13, 1988
Samantha Marie Crane - January 13, 1990
Jeremy James Archibald - April 22, 1990
Logan Ranzenberger - May 11, 1990
Chase Ranzenberger - August 27, 1990
Justin Dowd - September 1, 1990
Ethan Kade Maughan - May 12, 1991
Haylee Susan Crane - October 24, 1991
Jordan Bret Ranzenberger - November 18, 1991
Cassandra Ann Crane - December 26, 1991
Sienna Ranzenberger - April 29, 1992
Lacy Ranzenberger - August 10, 1993
Kendall Morgan Crane - January 19, 1994
Tori Ranzenberger - March 8, 1995
Alexis Ann Crane - April 5, 1995
Ryan Matthew Stampfli - November 4, 1995
Rebekah Maughan - February 22, 1996
Monica Stampfli - July 18, 1997
Mitchell Keith Crane - July 18, 1997