Dorius Waldermar (Walter) Ahrens and Betsey Sorensen
Colaborador: doclouie Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
This history was written by Spencer E. Hawkins in the summer of 1984 with the help of Rulon Ahrens.
The present day Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) has a narrow neck of land extending to the north which reaches up to touch and border with Denmark. The North Sea washes upon the western shores of this low flat land and the Baltic Sea lies to the east. Midway between these waters and 21 miles to the north of the large industrial city of Hamburg is the small farming and hot water bath resort town of Bad Bramstedt. Until the accession in 1867, all of the land north of Hamburg belonged to Denmark. After 1867, the lower part became part of Prussia and in 1871 it became part of Germany.
Claus Johann Ahrens was born here on 2 February 1835. Claus later wrote his name as Johann Claus Ahrens and finally became known as John C. Ahrens and was called just John Ahrens.
John grew up as a farmer and was particularly interested in the grain crops such as wheat. At home he learned to play the accordion, violin and the organ. His musical talents brought a lot of enjoyment to his family and his skills were later passed on to his son Walter.
John turned 21 in 1856 and he went north into Denmark to learn the grist milling trade. Here he met and fell in love with Dorthea Elizabeth Christensen, the daughter of Christen Christensen, the journeyman grist miller who was teaching him the trade. While in Denmark, they were married, had two daughters and joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
On 8 May 1863, the four members of the Ahrens family set sail for America. John and Dorthea thus became the Ahrens family emigrant ancestors when they arrived in New York harbor on 15 June 1863 aboard the B.S. Kimball sailing ship.
The family traveled by train from New York City to St. Joseph, Missouri, then up the Mississippi River by steam boat to Florence, Nebraska, and across the western plains by pioneer wagon train with the John R. Young company. They arrived in the great Salt Lake Valley in early September and were told of the need for a miller in the newly formed town of Smithfield, Cache Valley, in northern Utah. As they traveled north out of Salt Lake City, their two daughters weakened by the long wagon trip and suffering from an intestinal disease, died and were buried in Farmington, Utah.
In October 1863, John and Dorthea Ahrens finally reached their destination and settled in Smithfield. The young couple must have really thought that their faith was being tested for they had traveled half way around the world only to lose their two daughters and now they had to face a hard Rocky Mountain winter in a new community without a home or close friends.
Early in the next spring of 1864, John and Dorthea were given 20 acres of land by the government on the east side of town on the bank of Summit Creek. Here they built a cabin and planted crops.
YOUNG DORIUS WALDERMAR AHRENS
A son, John Lorenzo, was born on 29 March 1865, then a daughter Louise on 23 September 1867. A month later the 2 1/2 year old son, John, died of an illness.
Dorius Waldermar Ahrens (Walter) was born into the hard struggling pioneering Ahrens family as they continued to live in Smithfield on 19 June 1870. Two other sisters, Eleonora (20 January 1873) and Julia (22 September 1875) were also born here. Four of the total of seven children lived to grow up together. Louisa was the oldest, then Walter, Eleonora and Julia.
Walter was baptized on 3 July 1879 and finished his grade school in Smithfield. He was later ordained an Elder on 16 March 1908. Walter, like his father, changed his name around and became known as Walter "D" Ahrens or W.D. Ahrens. The branding iron he later used on animals on his farm was a large "W" with the center part of the W crossed in the middle to form an "A".
Walter's father worked as the first miller in the James Mack grist mill in Smithfield until Walter's older sister, Louisa, was married to Nephi Pedersen on 14 September 1893. His youngest sister, Julia, had died the year before at the age of sixteen with diphtheria. The Smithfield home was then given to the newly married Louisa and Nephi. At this time, Walter and his sister, Eleonora, moved with their parents across the valley to a small community near Mendon called Petersboro. Here John and Dorthea homesteaded on 140 acres of land and built a small two room rock house.
Walter was almost full grown at this time and did most of the work on the farm. Dry farm grain and hay were the major crops raised. John never considered himself to be a real farmer and he preferred to work on a grist mill located about 6 1/2 miles to the south between Mendon and Wellsville, riding back and forth in a wagon each day.
A neighborn, Orson Kidman, later told the family that he knew John and would see him every day as he traveled past his farm on his way to the grist mill. John would walk behind his horse and wagon singing, whistling, and picking up the large rocks in the road that other travelers would go around or bump over.
In March 1896, Eleonora was married to George Hennen, but she sadly died six weeks later of scarlet fever. This left only Walter at home with his parents.
John loved music and spent many hours playing the organ, accordion and harmonica. He taught Walter to play each of them and together they played for dances and their friends. John and Walter were both particularly gifted with the accordion, they had fine voices and loved to make up little songs, each with a different story to sing to the family.
A grandson, Cliff, recalls one of the songs that everyone was especially fond of. It was written by John on his way to America as he was passing through England and experiencing the fun and adventure of riding on the elevated railroad as it passed by and sometimes over the crowded cities and towns. It was a snappy friendly tune and had an unlimited number of verses.
The Elevated Railroad
In one house we saw a little boy,
It was trying to bite the poodle's tail.
In another house we saw an old bachelor,
He was trying to sew his pants up with a nail.
Riding on the elevated railroad
Is pleasant and it just suits me.
Take it day or night,
You will say I am right.
Very funny sights you will see,
Riding on the elevated railroad.
The next year on 6 January 1897, Walter was married to Betsey Sorensen and the family farm and house in Petersboro was turned over to them. John and Dorthea returned to Smithfield to live in their former home. Here John became a sexton for the city cemetery.
Lars Christian Sorensen was born on 9 May 1816 in Tolne, near Hjorring, on the most northern tip of Denmark. On 6 August 1857, at the age of 41, he joined the LDS Church in Denmark and traveled with the early pioneers to northern Utah to settle in Smithfield. He was married at the time to Karen Marie Pedersen.
Boel (Matilda) Anderson was born on 25 May 1855 in Svedala, Sweden, just across the North Sea Strait from Copenhaven, Denmark. On 26 November 1863, when she was 8 years old, Matilda also joined the LDS Church in Sweden. In later years, when she was asked by her granddaughters to tell them of her early life, she would say, "I don't want a history written because my life wasn't very interesting."
It is known that she came to America in the summer of 1878 when she was 23 years old. She was pregnant with Bessie at this time. She said that she expected her boyfriend named Longquist to come at a later date but she never heard from him again.
In those days single girls were often obligated to work for, and sometimes marry, the man who sponsored or arranged to pay their passage and expenses to America. This was the case for Matilda and on 12 December 1878, just 2 1/2 months after Bessie was born, she became the second wife of Lars Christian Sorensen.
Lars already had a family of nine and was 62 years old, 39 years older than Matilda, when they were married. Matilda had become acquainted with Lars because she had a twin sister, Bertha, who had married Lars's son two years earlier. They probably made all the travel arrangements for Matilda as she followed the same route to America as Bertha.
YOUNG BESSIE SORENSEN
Betsy (Bessie) Sorensen was born on 1 October 1878 in Smithfield, Utah. She was the eldest of four children, all girls, in what must have been a difficult marriage arrangement between Matilda and Lars Sorensen. Bessie never knew her real father who stayed behind when Matilda came to America. Because of the extreme pressure put on the polygamist families by the legal system, Lars lived nearby with his first family and must have been more like a grandfather than a father to the four daughters. Bessie's sister, LaRinda, was born on 1 April 1881 and the twin sisters, ElVena and DeSena, were born on 7 August 1883. Matilda was 28 and Lars was 67 at this time.
Matilda and her family did not live in poverty but to sustain themselves they worked hard for all that they had. They lived in a log cabin at the time on the southwest corner of Second South and First East in Smithfield. The house had one large room that served as a kitchen, living room, and bedroom. Outside was a lean that served for storage.
Matilda worked very long hours in the fields in her early married life and was alone with her daughters most of the time. This was not a very happy marriage and the children of the two families were not the best of friends.
Bessie quit school after the third grade as she was the oldest child and was expected to work to help support the family. Her mother would take in children so Bessie could tend them and clothes for washing. Bessie told of having to stand on a box to reach the tub and scrubbing board. She especially liked helping in the homes where a mother was busy with a new baby. She took care of the children and did light house work, taking the money she earned home to her mother.
Bessie met Walter Ahrens while they were at a dance in Smithfield. They both liked to dance and later told of the fun times they had dancing in different places about the valley. She often told her girls about the time she got all fancied up so Walter could take her to Petersboro to meet his folks. They mush have been the almost ideal couple as they were both hard workers and loved the life of a farmer. Walter was 26 and Bessie was 18 when they were married on 6 January 1897 in the Cache County Courthouse in Logan, Utah. They moved to Petersboro about 10 miles west of Logan and lived with Walter's father and mother until spring when they arranged to buy the house and dry farm. John and Dorthea then moved back to Smithfield.
LIVING IN PETERSBORO
Petersboro was a small friendly community of about 25 scattered farms on the west side of Cache Valley. The area had gently rolling hills with a large mountain range running north and south directly behind it. It offered a spectacular view looking to the east of the entire beautiful valley and the city of Logan.
The homes in Petersboro were generally built quite far apart on tracts of land, ranging from 60 to several hundred acres. In some cases, good neighbors would build in adjacent corners of their property to be close to at least one neighbor and share the same well for water.
Nestled in these hills is where John and Dorthea had homesteaded on 140 acres of land and built their home. It was a small rectangular house built in a hollow a little closer to the mountains than everyone else. It had four thick rock walls for warmth in the winter and coolness in the summer. A large single room and front door were on the south and a kitchen and pantry with a single large window on the north side. Two small bedrooms were upstairs. Not far from the front door was a small creek called Three Mile Creek. Nearby was a small spring that was later officially named by the US Forest Service, the Walter Ahrens Spring, and is still shown on many of the maps of the area. They also had a well full of cold water. They put the milk, butter and other items in a bucket and let it down into the water to act as a refrigerator.
Four children were born while the family lived in Petersboro. Nora Bessie was born in her small grandmother Sorensen's home in Smithfield on 9 April 1899. It must have been rather crowded in the small Smithfield home where Nora was born. Matilda would have been 44 and the three teenage daughters LaRinda (18), ElVena (16), and DeSena (16) plus Bessie (20) and the new baby all in the small two room home. For this reason Bessie probably elected to have her next child born in Petersboro.
Mamie was born in Petersboro on 1 October 1900 but she died the same day. Bessie often said she thought Mamie would have lived if proper medical attention had of been available. For this reason Bessie went back to Smithfield when Julia Matilda was born on 28 September 1901 and when Cliff was born on 3 October 1903.
As they were growing up, the children remember having many dogs as pets. One of these was Carlo, a big short haired dog. One day when Nora was about 4 years old and Julia about 2, they were playing just outside the front door when Bessie heard Carlo frantically barking and making a lot of noise. She went outside to investigate and found a large rattle snake just a few feet from Nora in the tall grass. Everyone was glad to give Carlo an extra treat that evening at supper time.
They also remember the frequent visits from their Aunt Rinda and Sena. Once the Aunts were teasing the children and said, "Here come the Indians down the road!" Nora and Julia became so scared they ran to hide under the bed and in their haste spilled the 'china bowl' that was there ... they never did see the Indians.
Julia remembers asking her mother for some candy at Christmas time. Bessie told the children to sit on a bench facing a little stove that had its door open and facing them. They were to ask Santa out loud to bring them some candy which they did. Soon there appeared in the back of the stove several sticks of candy. Santa had climbed up on the roof with a spool of string and lowered some candy down the chimney for the children.
The work on the farm in Petersboro was very hard. They had few close neighbors and friends and seldom went to church because of the distance. When friends or family did come, Bessie would kill some chickens and make bread for a quick meal for the guests. Often they would come in the morning and spend the day. Then the men would leave to do the chores only to return to play cards or dance half the night. Sometimes the guests would stay for several days.
In the winter of 1904-1905, typhoid fever hit the family so hard that Aunt Rinda came to help because Bessie and Walter were both sick. Cliff was so sick he was sent to live with his grandma Ahrens in Smithfield and Julia went to stay with her grandma Sorensen. Cliff was about 1 1/2 years old at the time and when Bessie saw him a month later he was so thin and white he didn't cry and could just manage a moan. For a while he didn't even remember Bessie was his mother.
This sickness in the family worried Bessie. She was also concerned that the family was missing out on their church activities and the association with close friends. The eldest child, Nora, was 6 in the spring of 1905 and would need to be in the first grade in school that fall. Also, Bessie was going to have another child.
Bessie was an intelligent person in spite of her lack of a formal education and she was about to influence the family by making a decision with Walter to move from Petersboro. She had gained her knowledge by good hard learning experiences and she wanted the best for her family. They thought about moving to Smithfield but were told that there was plenty of land in Mendon and maybe they could continue to work on their Petersboro farm.
On 21 September 1905 after most of the summer work was done, the family moved to Mendon.
After the war in 1920, while Mel and Julia were dating, they went back to see the old rock house which Julia hadn't seen for 15 years. She said, "It looked so small and the large close mountains I remembered were only small rolling hills." Shortly after that the house fell apart and the rocks were carried off. In 1974 Rulon and Ila visited the farm and found only part of the one rock wall and a corner about 4 feet high left. In 1977 the house was completely gone and the land was plowed under for crops.
FIRST HOUSE IN MENDON
Three miles south of Petersboro was a little larger farming community called Mendon. It had about 800 residents made up mostly of farmers with large families and like Petersboro it was built on the beautiful rolling hills on the west side of Cache Valley.
The Ahrens family rented a house on 1st East and 1st North near the center of Mendon from Mr. Hughes and on 21 September 1905 they moved most of their belongings from the Petersboro home. The Mendon home was also built of rock and had two small rooms. Tacy Larinda was born here two months later on 8 November 1905 and that same year Nora started in school.
SECOND HOUSE IN MENDON
A good friend, Andrew Anderon, told Walter that some of the Mendon families would soon have land for sale and he recommended that they wait and watch for a bargain.
The Ahrens family liked the town of Mendon and the family made the decision together that they would stay but they needed a larger home. The following spring they found and rented a larger home for their family from two Whitney sisters. It was a wooden frame home two blocks to the west on the corner of 1st North and 1st West.
It had a dining room, a parlor, one bedroom and a kitchen. It was like the Petersboro home in that when the family took a bath, they used a tin tub and the littlest one got in first and then as each one finished Mother kept adding more hot water until everyone had a bath. Catalogs from the department stores were saved to be used in the three hole out door privy sometimes called the out house. The parlor was used for Sunday only and had the original paint, white trim with gold. The rooms had high ceilings and translucent windows above the doors that could be opened to let the air circulate. There were even closets in some of the rooms.
Two years later they sold the farm in Petersboro to William Yonk, bought the house they had been renting and bought 70 acres of land from Joseph H. Watkins and 22 acres of pasture and some choice irrigated land near Mendon for farming. At this time they added a porch and a shanty to the back of the house with a second bedroom over it.
Tacy Larinda died about the age of 2 on 21 September 1907. The next four children were all born in Mendon. Rhoda Louise (16 June 1908), Dorthea LaVon (18 July 1911), Helen Mae (6 October 1913), and Jessie (2 November 1916). While living here Bessie's father, Lars Sorensen, died in Smithfield on 21 July 1907 when he was 91 years old.
THE NEW HOUSE IN MENDON
In the fall of 1916, the Ahrens family now had six children. Nora was the oldest at age 17 and Mother Bessie was expecting another child (Jessie) in November. It was time for Walter and Bessie to consider building a new home. Their present house was sitting on a large corner lot so the plan was to build a new house on the same lot right next to the west side of the old house. The old house would then be sold and moved away and a new garage would be built on the foundation of the old house with the old basement used as a cellar.
The next two years were an exciting time for the family. Cliff remembers the long trips to Wellsville in the horse drawn wagon, hauling gravel for the foundation. They were enjoyable trips for the 14 year old boys and his father. Walter would sing clever songs and whistle all the way. It was on these trips that Cliff grew to love the songs that had been passed down from his grandfather Ahrens. The favorite was "The Elevated Railroad."
Meanwhile, the girls were busy making plans to decorate and furnish the new home. Bessie was the master planner. It had three large bedrooms upstairs, on the main floor were two more bedrooms, a dining room, parlor, a large kitchen, a bathroom, a hall and a front and back porch. It also had a full basement with a utility and fruit room. When Cliff later went on a 2 year mission, Walter had a central heating system installed in the basement. It had a large coal or wood furnace which replaced the old pot belly stove in the front room. The room with the built in bath tub, toilet and running water was the best room in the house and somewhat of a novelty as all the neighborhood friends had to leave their houses to go outside to a water hydrant for kitchen and bath water and to use the outdoor privy. Most of the houses at that time only had one or two coal stove heated rooms and of course they all had the tin tub in the kitchen for the weekly bath.
The Ahrens had worked very hard on the farm to earn enough money for the new home. Some came from the sale of the Petersboro farm and some was borrowed from the bank. Jessie later commented about the home. "I don't think our parents ever were arrogant or had an uppity manner over our nice conveniences. They were just family oriented and wanted the best for their children. They wanted each of us to get a good education and become useful citizens. I truly believed my parents earned their successes honestly for they were hard and steady workers."
Late in the summer of 1918 the family of nine moved into the new home. The old home was sold to a Mr. Lallis who had it raised up off the ground and large logs were put under it to act as rollers. The house was very heavy because the walls were adobe lined and it required many teams of the biggest and strongest horses around to move it. They were hitched up to the house and it was slowly moved two blocks to the south and one block further west. A new garage was built over the old foundation and a large barn was built in the back yard.
The house had a few problems however, the septic tank got full quicker than expected and Bessie and the girls had to carry the wash water outside for awhile. Also, the large roof worried Walter so much that after a heavy snow he would get on the roof and push the excess snow off. The large barn, when it was full of hay, was so dusty that Walter would often have to rest because of his coughing and choking.
The families next child named Rulon "D" was born in the new house the next spring on 12 June 1919. Bessie had the opportunity to go to the hospital but wanted to have the baby in her own home. Doctor McGee helped and Nora took vacation time off from her medical training to be with her mother as the nurse. Rulon had lots of hair and a good loud cry.
The last child born to Walter and Bessie was a still born boy born in the Logan Hospital on 23 March 1921, but no name was ever given to the child.
The building and moving into the new house in Mendon and the first few years following must have been some of the most rewarding and enjoyable of all the years for the Ahrens family. However, a few times in later years when the children were older, getting married and moving away, Walter and Bessie mentioned that the smaller older home may have been more comfortable.
Walter was now 48 years old and in the prime of his life. He was strong and healthy, had a new home and a good producing farm. Bessie was 40 years old and had eight healthy children. Nora was 20 years old and Rulon had just been born.
GRANDPA JOHN CLAUS AHRENS
On 4 October 1917 while Walter and Bessie were busy building their new home, Walter's mother, Dorthea, died in Smithfield at the age of 85. This left Grandpa John Ahrens all alone and 82 years old. The family made the decision at this time and changed the house plans and had one of the bedrooms in the new home especially designed for Grandpa to use. However, when the family moved into the home and Grandpa came to stay, even though he had his own room and was with his family, he never appeared to be really happy. Mendon seemed to be just a place to stay and he didn't enjoy it like they anticipated he would. It was sad but he seemed to be so lost without Grandma.
Grandma Dorthea Ahrens had been very much of an aristocratic type person and you could easily detect a fineness and culture about her. The way she looked and the way she would say things was very pleasing ... very neat and very refined. She was a small thin person and towards the end of her life she went almost totally blind. She must have depended a lot on Grandpa for help about the house. They truly loved each other.
Grandpa himself was getting quite thin. He had a beard, not too much hair, used a cane because he thought it looked sophisticated and was a little bent over. He did have a good appetite and could sure load a lot of food on his plate, especially potatoes with lots of butter. He liked the children and would give them a little money for spending at the local store. He liked to sing as Julia would play the piano and was always very careful to compliment the family for every little thing they did for him.
Grandpa John Ahrens was a very kind and sincere man and all his life he was willing to share all that he had. On one of his walks in Mendon, he met a man named Emil Stumps who had white hair and was about the same age as John. Soon they came home together holding hands and the stranger using Grandpa's cane. Bessie said, "Oh dear, here comes Grandfather and he has Emil Stumps with him. How did those two get together?"
When Grandpa came in, he told the family how he had met this nice old man and how he wanted to share his room with him. "I have been to his place and he lives alone with no one to care for him so I told him he could come and live in our nice home and share my room." Bessie offered to let him stay for supper but she said that Sister Wood, who was taking care of Emil, would be worried if he didn't come home by dark. Grandpa was always this kind and would share with anyone.
Early the next year on 20 February 1919, he died while living in Mendon with the family.
THE CRANNEY FARM
Walter had been buying the farm in Mendon slowly. He had some river land that later the Utah Power and Light Company bought back but continued to let Walter rent for a reasonable price. He also bought some property on 27 December 1907 to use as a feed lot. He had a third farm that was called the Cranney farm which was about 5 miles north of Mendon on the east and west sides of the road going to Cache Junction next to the Petersboro spur or railroad stop.
The Cranney Farm had a small abandoned one room shack that had a dirt roof and inside were several old bed springs, a bench and a big table. When it rained, it leaked but in the summer it was cool and comfortable. Some of the family would stay and camp there for a week at a time while the crops were taken in during the harvest but the rest of the year, it was empty except for the occasional trip to work in the fields. One fall Bessie and the girls rode the wagon to the farm and spent the entire day cleaning the shack and getting it ready for the family to use. That evening they returned to Mendon. Early the next morning the entire family returned with a wagon full of bedding, cooking utensils and plenty of food as extra workers were coming that day to help with the harvest and they had been promised a good breakfast. When Walter and Bessie opened the shack they found it full of railroad hobos asleep in the room. Everyone was surprised and after the unexpected visitors were chased off the room had to be cleaned again before breakfast could be prepared.
Bessie was a good cook and knew how to plan, pack the dishes, and store the food for all the workers who came to help with the harvest. One group of men would cut and stack the grain. Then another group came with a thrashing machine to separate the wheat from the stocks and finally the grain had to be sold and hauled to the railroad cars. The meals were important as they offered a good time for all to sit down for a few moments together and visit and make new friendships. Walter loved his neighbors and was always willing to loan his machinery and help those in need.
One fall while Walter was doing a lot of work on this farm and the Petersboro farm before it was sold. Nora, Julia and Cliff attended school in Petersboro for awhile. Peter Larsen from Mendon was teaching all eight grades in a single room and the girls walked about 1 mile each day to the school. On the farm they had some pigs that the children used to herd and ride about after school. Walter didn't like the kids riding them so they would wait until he was at the far side of the fields then they would ride them ... not realizing just how dangerous pigs can be.
WAGON TRIPS TO THE FARM
Helen remembers ... " I loved to go to the north dry farm where we had a small garden spot. This farm was considered a large farm in those days. There wasn't any water for the crops except for a little spot of ground near a small spring. Here we could get a cool drink and water a small garden. We raised mostly potatoes because it was hard to get out there very often and they required very little care. When we did go we would spend the whole day there. Mother would pack us a good lunch and at noon we would walk to a grove of poplar trees near the garden and eat our lunch. Then we would lay down in the shade for a rest. Dad would take a short nap but the children could only rest for a few minutes before we would slip away to play or take a good limb from the trees to make a stick horse. This was the same tree that Dad used to make good whistles from. We played cowboys and Indians until Dad woke up and got us back to work."
"We liked to go to the river land too. We would go in the wagon pulled by the team of horses - Pat and Nel. The children would sit at the very back of the wagon with our legs hanging out. There would be some slew water to go through and we liked to see if we could get our fee wet in the water as we crossed. Sometimes we would see a beaver swimming in the river and we could always throw a stick in for our dog Jip to swim after."
"Dad taught us to work hard and to enjoy the simple things of life that are found on a farm. At the time it seemed to be hot dusty work but it was still fun to be with him in the fields."
WALTER LOVED HORSES
Walter was exceptionally good with his horses. He loved them, had nice harness for them and was very kind to his animals. His speciality was matching up a team. It was very important to get them to look, act and drive alike and to accomplish this was a much sought after skill. He raised some and often traded to get a good matched team. Then he liked to sell them to a horse buyer.
Cliff liked to watch the horse buyers at work. When they wanted to know what a team would do, they had a set procedure they would go through. One time Walter was in the wagon with the horse buyer and was asked to drive the horses and make them go faster. When they were in a good fast trot, the buyer said to put them in a lope, "get em going, whip them ... then he said to stop them." The horse buyer then jumped off and went to the horses to listen to them breath and see if they were short winded.
When Walter sold a horse to a buyer he knew he had sold to people how knew what horses were for and what quality horses were. He knew he would get a good price for them and the buyer would know the horses would do what Walter Ahrens said they would do. They always measured up! During World War I, men came to buy horses for the Army, but Walter didn't sell as he wanted to know who was using his horses. He wanted them to be good to them.
The family used the horses for everything, plowing, harrowing, and going to town. Horses were very important for both riding and doing the work. In the winter the horses were fed wild hay and would nibble on the straw. In the summer the horses needed more energy and were fed alfalfa and grain, but you had to be careful how much they ate and the third crop wasn't especially good for them.
Sometimes things didn't always go like they were supposed to. Walter had on team he didn't especially like because they would look for every little thing, even a scrap of paper being blown by the wind, to run from. When ever these horses would come running into the yard without the wagon, Bessie would get frightened until she was sure things were alright. It was this team that ran away one day and as they pulled between two trees, the wagon got caught. The sudden stop threw Walter from the wagon and he broke his leg. Kate and Mike were the runaways and Nel and Pat tried to keep the others in check by rubbing against their heads as though they were telling them to go easy but it was too late.
One fall after the harvest had been brought in, Walter went to the mountains for firewood for the winter use. He had been gone a long time and Bessie was getting quite worried about him. As it was starting to get dark they saw the team returning. The horses were pulling a big load of logs and Walter was up on top with his beard and mustache all frozen and icicles hanging from them. Bessie rushed out to greet him and she could see that he was sitting so still and almost frozen. She had the older children put the horses away and with the help of all the family they carried Walter into the house. Here she washed him with cold water and rubbed his feet and hands. He was safe because of her quick action and horses knowing their way home.
Rulon tells about these same trips, only when the weather was a little more comfortable ... "I remember that Dad was extra good with his horses and had them well trained. It was fun for me as Mom always packed us a nice lunch and we would be gone all day. We took just the wheel part of the wagon and several heavy chains. The country was very rough and steep. Once into the area we left the wheels on the trail made over the years from the dragging of logs and then we each grabbed a horse by the tail and had them pull us up the steeper part of the hill side. This is where having the well trained horses came in handy as they would stop and start with a voice command. We cut Maple and Quaking Aspen, making two large drags of wood - one for each horse. Dad would lead the first horse out and the second one would follow. It was beautiful mountain country and Dad and I enjoyed the time together very much."
"Then the logs were put on the wheels to be hauled out. We had many scary experiences coming down out of the hills with the heavy loads. After the logs were hauled to the house we had an outfit come and cut it into stove lengths. I don't remember what they charged, but it wasn't very much."
Helen liked to watch the horses come in from the fields with their harnesses on. They would stretch their necks out and when the leather had been removed, they would drop to their knees and roll in the dirt. Helen, like Walter, seemed to have a natural liking for the animals and the animals seemed to like them both.
Christmas was the best remembered and the most fun time of the year for the Ahrens family. Christmas included worship in the church where two tall trees were decorated on the stand in the chapel. Hanging from the branches were toys for the younger children with first choice going to those that had the best attendance in their meetings. It also included big meals, winter sports, Santa and best of all, winter vacations from school.
When the snow came, Walter would get out the bob sleigh, put bells on it and polish up the harnesses. Bricks and large rocks were heated in the house by the fire and then put in the sleigh to keep the feet warm. The family then drove all over Mendon on the beautiful clear crisp winter days and nights to the delight of the children. The horses were always handy to pull a sleigh or wagon with bales of hay or straw and a load of Christmas carolers and the younger children about town late in the evenings on their sleighs.
The Christmas holidays meant trips on the UIC train to Petersboro to visit with Uncle Fred, Aunt Renda and all the cousins. From the train windows, deer were usually seen running in the fields and jumping the fences. The children would have a good time on the old player piano and the adults played a game of cards. The return trip to Mendon was made after dark. Uncle Fred flagged down the train with his lantern and the children would usually fall asleep during the ride home.
Christmas Eve was quite a traditional time with the family. As far back as each of the children can remember, even when Helen and Jessie were young enough to stand behind Bessie's apron and long dress, Walter would play Santa Claus. The children didn't ask for a lot but the few things that were so important to them seemed to always be there. The presents would arrive on Christmas Eve because there was so much dairy work to be done in the mornings and Mendon had a traditional program at the church on Christmas day.
Bessie would make a treat in the kitchen, sometimes donuts, and as the family was all gathered around the stove, they could hear bells and a whistle as Santa finished putting out the presents. Everyone then rushed into the parlor to see the gifts. The children made a dash to look at the toys and then ran to the front door to get a glimpse of Santa and his sleigh but he was gone. As they grew older they would discover that Walter crawled in a front window into an empty room. About this time he would appear in the house and chuckle at the children's comments about how fast Santa could disappear.
One year a neighbor played Santa in a full costume and as he left he said he had been all over Mendon and he thought we had the happiest family and the best Christmas of all. When Walter became a grandfather, he often played Santa for some of the grandchildren.
For the Christmas of 1928, the children gave Walter a new accordion. He loved to play the harmonica, organ and piano, but the younger children had never heard him play the accordion and the older ones thought he had forgotten how. He took it from the package and in a few moments, with tears of joy in his eyes, he was playing like he had never stopped. What a thrill it was to hear him play the accordion for the first time.
A SPECIAL STORY
Jessie remembers ... "When the home teachers came to our home and Daddy stood up behind his chair and bore his testimony, he told how he and mother were married in the court house in Logan and how eleven years later they were able to go to the Logan Temple to bring solace to their hearts. The reason they did it this way was because they had procrastinated the way people do until they had a little girl named Tacy. One day they were eating corn on the cob and there was some left on the plates and Tacy, being only age 2, was eating it. This was on a Saturday and by Sunday evening she had passed away. She died from into convulsions and an intestinal problem which they blamed on the corn ... but they never really knew for sure."
"They felt so hurt over the death of this little girl that Mother, expecting at that time another child, Rhoda, wanted her to be born by parents who had been married in the temple. Walter became an Elder in the church in March 1908 so they took the family with them to be sealed in the temple. They must have wanted to go to the temple for some time."
"Dad had started smoking when he was 15 and he would get so terribly sick when he would try to quit. One time he was so sick that the doctor told Mother to give him back his tobacco and cigarettes until he got better as he was having such a hard time with his illness and later he was able to quit."
MUSIC AND DANCES
Walter had a good ear for music and learned to play by listening to interesting tunes. When he went to the circus or other places with the family, he would hear a catchy tune that appealed to him and when he got back home he could figure out how to play it back on his accordion and sing the words.
Walter and Bessie liked square dancing and the polka. Walter was the more aggressive dancer as Bessie was a little bashful and shy on the dance floor. They went to Petersboro quite often to dance in the old school house where Walter played the accordion at some of the events but was rather modest and had to be coaxed a little. At times he would even leave his accordion at home only to find out later that Bessie had slipped it into the wagon to be brought out when it was time for him to play.
Walter also liked to play the piano, organ and harmonica, but the accordion was the favorite of the family. For a long time he had a very nice accordion and played to entertain the family and the children in the neighborhood. He also played for many years on church programs, at private parties and school dances. He never accepted money for his services and often said he was well rewarded by watching the happy faces of those who listened to his music.
A favorite song or tune on the organ was about some Indians coming to a house on a ranch. A little girl in the confusion of everyone being afraid of the Indians, ran away and hid in the brush and all the family was killed. Later someone came and found her hiding. It was always associated with a 23rd of July celebration in Smithfield when some Indians attacked a farm there. It was supposed to be a true story and as Walter would play it on the organ, the children would sit on each side of the bench and listen to the sad words. He was famous for the little tunes he made up.
Later he got tired of playing at so many events but he still couldn't turn anyone down. He finally let the kids play on his accordion until it became worn out. Years later he got a new one for Christmas and his music was heard again but this time only for the family to hear.
Cliff and Julia were the only ones to play instruments outside of the family. Cliff played the clarinet in the Mendon Brass Band and the saxophone while Julia played the piano in the Mendon Jazz Orchestra.
THE CIRCUS, FAIRS, AND MAY DAY
Work was hard in the fields so as a reward the family went to Logan at the end of each summer to see the circus under the big tent. The parents seemed to enjoy watching the children's enthusiasm and the expressions of their eyes and faces more than the acts of the circus performers. Rhoda's husband, Gil Muir, used to say that it was more fun to look at Walter than to watch the children.
"On special occasions, we would dress up real nice and take the horse and buggy to Logan to the Cherry Blossom or Jensen's Ice Cream Parlor for a dish of ice cream. Daddy's favorite was an ice cream sundae called American Girl. The tables had marble tops and small iron legs and fancy iron chairs. Very often after the ice cream was eaten, we were taken to the Capitol Theater to see live on stage performances by traveling groups. Jessie's father-in-law, William Spicker, sometimes led the live orchestra for these groups. Rulon especially loved the music and he liked to keep time so Dad would let him go down on the front row and there we could see Rulon leading the music with Professor Spicker. The family got quite a kick out of seeing his little head bobbing to the time of the music."
The Mendon May Day celebration originated some time between the years of 1885 and 1890 when Frank Williams organized the Marshall Band and introduced the May Pole Dance to the town. The event was loved and attended by everyone. It was usually held on the first Saturday in May, after all the snow had melted and disappeared except for the north slopes on the nearby mountain range. The early flowers were just coming out, the apple blossoms were in bloom and the air was filled with sweet fragrances. Walter, Bessie, and the entire family were always there to help crown the May Queen, help with the dancing or singing in the choir. This was the big Mendon celebration of the year and lasted all day long with the dancing, programs, games and competitive activities for all ages. There was a special children's dance in the dance hall in the early afternoon, after the dance at the May Pole. In the evening, the grown ups had a dance with music furnished by the Mendon Jazz Band.
A BUGGY AND A NEW CAR
In 1912, Julia remembered the new light family buggy that was bought so Walter and Bessie could go to Logan. It was black, had a single seat for Mom and Dad and a place right in front of them where the children could kneel down and there was room for some hay for the horses at the very back. On Sunday Walter would take the kids and their friends for a ride. He shined up the buggy and the brushed the horses before they would go prancing around the town.
Jessie remembers when her father went to Logan to buy a new Model T Ford but he came home with a 1923 Buick. They were all so anxious as they didn't know just what he was going to bring back and here he came in this beautiful new car.
The only glass the Buick had was in the windshield and the headlights. Instead of a metal top it had a cloth fabric attached to a metal frame that would fold back out of the way. When it got cold the top was pulled forward and locked into place and the cloth curtains with a little plastic (isin glass) windows were snapped onto the side. The cars in those days were not used when it got really cold and when there was snow on the ground. The spare tire was bolted to the back of the car and when you went on a trip, you took a tire patching kit as the tires went flat very often. There was no trunk and there were what was called running boards attached a long both sides just below the doors. It wasn't unusual to see young people out driving with a car full of friends and several of them standing on the running boards and hanging on to the side of the car. One of the family pet dogs liked to ride on these platforms next to where the driver could hold him on.
Some of the first trips in the new car were to the Logan Hospital to visit sister Nora where she worked. They remember her coming out to see it in her white uniform and cap. They also took trips to Garland when she was in charge of the nurses there.
Cliff remembers the first car he ever saw ... "It was an old Studebaker one of the Peterson boys had. When we rode in it, it was like riding in a wagon, not very smooth at all. But the driver was so proud as he put on his gloves to help hold on to the wheel. It was my first ride in an automobile. Soon after that I left on a two year mission for the Church on 5 December 1923. When I returned, the folks were very considerate in letting me use the new Buick until I got married. They next car we got was a 1929 Pontiac."
Bessie used to tell Ila that when Rulon started courting her, Walter said it was time for a different car. If Rulon was to go to Newton to see that little Larsen girl he would need a new car. Soon after that they bought a new 1936 Chevrolet. It was the first car they had with a trunk.
OUR DAD WALTER
"Dad was tall and slender. When he was in his prime he was a strong man with large wrists. He could easily fix the barb wire fences - often twisting the wire by hand as he seldom wore gloves."
"Mother had some clothes lines fastened to some strong two by four boards on the back porch to be used to dry clothes when the weather was bad. When I was younger, I used to chin myself on these supports. I got pretty good at it and one day I showed Dad how many of these I could do. After I finished he said let me show you something. He grasped the board with his strong hands and instead of chinning himself, he held his legs stiff and drew himself up over the wooden supports so he was resting on top facing down. I tried and tried but I never could do this trick. I quickly became convinced it took a lot of effort and skill to do it. Dad was in his 50s when he did this."
"I remember when we participated in church or school programs. Father was always there to see us and to comment later on our success. He was wonderful this way. Dad had a very sweet way about him that was never forceful. He definitely had a firmness in his eyes so that if he didn't agree with what you were doing he could look at you and look into your eyes and you knew how he felt. With me there was no further argument."
"Dad always carried a small sack of white peppermints in his coat pocket, especially when he was dressed up. On Sundays and on trips to Logan he would share them with the children. He was great to have a special place for things like his tools. I remember he had a favorite pocket knife that he would carry in a special pocket. It used to irritate me as a small boy when I would ask to borrow it and he would only look in this one pocket. If it wasn't there he would say, 'I guess it is in my other pants' without looking any further. He had several pockets and I couldn't understand for a long ti me how he could be so sure he didn't have it just by looking in his special pocket."
"Dad was a neat dresser but he thought a man only needed one suit and hat to be used for church. He liked Mother to have many dresses. When Dad started to lose his hair, he started to wear a hat a lot. Dad was not really very big in size - just about average if not a little smaller. Dad didn't like people to over eat. He said he always left the table feeling he could eat just a little more. He resented people saying they had eaten too much."
"I understand Dad was a pretty good baseball pitcher and a good all around player. He really liked to play on the Petersboro team. The farm work kept the men busy but they always found time for the big baseball game. They would travel all over the valley for the big games and Dad was known for his playing. The team had players of all sizes and they came from a lot of scattered farms but they could beat any other team in the valley."
"My mother had a narrow cot on the east end of the screen porch. As far back as I can remember, this was a favorite resting spot for Dad. He always took the time to rest there before going back to work in the hot sun. I liked to comb up and lay by him crowding up to him real close. I remember that his clothes were usually wet with perspiration but I didn't mind as this was my dad. I am sure that being crowded on the narrow cot didn't help his rest but he made me feel welcome by putting his big arm around me to keep me from falling off."
"When Father was living in Petersboro before he was married he attended the BYU College in Logan. He studied several subjects but history and geography were two of his favorites. He saved a geography book which he later took great pride in showing to his children. He often talked geography and history around the table at supper time as we ate a leisurely meal. Sometimes the family would sit around the table for two or three hours talking about the things that Daddy had learned in college. Sometimes he would end by telling of his father and their experiences with the Indians in Smithfield. Daddy loved to read the paper and would comment on world events as Mother prepared the meal. He would explain to us all the happenings of the day. It was the Logan paper and this Indian fellow from Wasakie near Garland wrote a piece in the paper that Daddy would read out loud as he got a kick out of the way he worded things. He really enjoyed this series. He also loved to read Will Rogers short comments. He said that Will Rogers could tell more in just a paragraph than others could tell in may pages."
"Diseases were a very real problem for the people of this time period as no shots were available to be given by the doctors. When someone in the family got a serious disease, a quarantine flag was required to be displayed outside the house and no one could enter or leave until everyone inside was better. Daddy and Mother would get very excited when there was a strange sickness in the community and as soon as Dad thought one of the children was getting sick, eh would grab some bedding and extra food and go to the barn. He would stay there until the quarantine flag came down. He did this so he wouldn't get trapped in the house and be unable to work the farm or provide for the family. Whooping Cough, mumps, small pox and measles were especially dangerous."
OUR MOTHER BESSIE
"Mother had dark black hair that fell below her waist and was often braided. Sometimes she let her girls brush and braid it for her. Once when she was a girl, some Indians came around asking for food and saw Mother with her long black Indian like hair. The Indians were given several loaves of fresh bread and they left but they soon returned asking if she wanted to go with them. She was very scared as the Indians were known for stealing young girls. Later as she got older she finally decided to get it cut but when she went to the beauty shop they didn't want to cut it because they thought it was so pretty. She said she wanted it shorter because she often got head aches and she didn't like the weight of the heavy hair. After she felt somewhat better."
"Mother had blue eyes with a fair complexion and did not sunburn very easily. She weighed about 115 pounds when she was married. She was deprived of book learning but she gained great wisdom at an early age through experiences. Mother was really a very intelligent person. You couldn't - so to speak - pull the wool over her eyes because she knew what was going on. She had great faith which she learned through a sickness of a little boy that had a brain tumor and was not expected to live according to the medical doctors. But a man of great faith came in and healed the child who then grew up to be healthy and strong."
"When Helen and Jessie were born the older girls thought the family was getting too big. When Rulon was born, Cliff and Nora said the family was already large enough. There were times when even the younger children noticed the size of the family and dreamed of more space for themselves. At times there was competition for space when Nora brought in her nursing friends, Julia her singing group, Cliff his jazz band and the younger members had their friends over all at the same time that Rulon was crying for attention. But the family continued to be the best of friends. Mother loved each of the children as they came along and she loved us all just the same. She sewed and made most of the clothes we wore. She made wonderful home made butter and sold some of it to the Henry Newbold Grocery general mercantile in Logan. With her profits she surprised Father with a gold watch she bought in Logan."
"Mother was a good cook and she kept the children clean and fed right. Dad always had a good hot breakfast waiting when he came in from doing the early morning chores. I remember the old copper bottom boilers she put on the stove full of clothes and boiling water to get them clean. She used home made soap and lye. I remember her taking the clothes out with a long stick like the end of a broom handle. We were well fed and clothed."
"Mother was a good seamstress and made dresses for all the girls. She often made dresses for us out of Nora's old ones because Nora bought such beautiful and expensive clothes while she was a nurse."
"Because of Mother's fixing up our friends always envied us for our nice clothes. Clifford Stauffer once told LaVon that we were the best dressed girls in Mendon. When one of the older girls would get a new coat she would wear it until it was too little. Then the next sister would wear it. When the coat got too shabby to pass on, Mother would take out the stitches, turn the material over and sew the coat back together. If it had holes it would be made into a smaller coat by cutting out the holes. Sometimes Mother would go to Logan to look at the girls clothes in the stores. Then she would come home and cut patterns out of old newspapers to be used to make new dresses for the girls. Sometimes she had to try several times to make them fit but the final product looked nice and made the girls feel good. Mother was a smart lady and we were always proud of her."
"Mother was a very good cook. Sausage was homemade in a large pan then put on the back porch where it froze. We sliced it off as it was used. It was sure good. Homemade bread, biscuits and all kinds of pie and cake were always available. We didn't have a refrigerator so milk and cream were put in a glass jar then lowered into a well or put in the ditch in front of the house under the foot bridge. The basement was used to store some food items too."
"One thing we loved about working in the beets was coming home to a hot homemade pie ... especially Mother's good currant pie. She got the currants during this time of the year from a neighbor who grew them along a small stream of fresh water."
"Mother fixed good meals. We would kill a pig in the fall which lasted most of the winter. Some of the hams and sides were kept in brine to produce a real good flavor. It made good port gravy as it was lightly browned with milk ... sometimes called Mormon gravy. Mother made sausage to perfection. Sometimes it was put in skins, other times in patties. While it was cooking the grease was used to cook the eggs. This was served with biscuits and homemade bread. She made the best head cheese from chicken boiled off the bones and seasoned into a casserole and cooled in the 4 inch deep granite milk pans. It was a good treat for lunches. Her specialty was rice pudding, bread pudding or poor mans cake baked in a large pan and sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon then cut in squares."
"When Mother lived in Smithfield there was a lack of iodine in the diet and she developed a goiter which was quite prevalent among women at that time. This was a great hardship on Mother and it caused such pressure on her neck that her eyes actually protruded a little but she was a beautiful woman. I remember her going just 2 or 3 blocks to the store and coming back out of breath. Through her great faith, the administration by the Elders and a Logan doctor, D.C. Budge, the goiter was removed. It was his first goiter operation and he took the room next to Mother and he stayed there all night long. This was about August 1931. The operation was very serious and done locally with part of the growth taken from down deep in her chest. Mother remembered feeling the blood run down her neck and the pressure of the goiter as it was pulled out past her wind pipe. Mother felt very blessed because a good friend had chosen another method of goiter removal and the friend had lost her voice completely and later died."
"Mother had the job of taking all of us children to the dentist. This was done every year just before school started in the fall. Then we had to take a slip to the teacher saying we had been checked."
THE FAMILY - NORA
"I was named after my mother Bessie and Father's younger sister Eleanora who had died in 1896 just three years before I was born."
"Mom and Dad loved to go to the dances - especially those in Petersboro and Deweyville ... just over the hill. At times they would take us children along - leaving us on a bench all bundled up to sleep. This was a common thing to do and there were many children there. Dad would rather dance than play his accordion, so Mom would sneak it into the back of the wagon, buggy or sleigh, to have it available at just the right time. When they asked him to play he would say he had forgotten it. Then out it would come from it's hiding place. Dad couldn't read music but would play by ear the organ, piano, harmonica and accordion. He could play whatever the gang had. Mother had a pretty voice for singing."
"Mother saved the chicken eggs and the butter she made to trade for groceries at the H.G. Hazballs store on Center Street in Logan. On one trip she took a big suitcase to carry all the butter. As she went to lift it out of her buggy, a nice gentleman offered to lift it out for her. He tried to lift it and almost fell down. He said, 'Lady, what do you have in here, gold bricks?'"
"She had quality produce and some people would wait for her to come and trade. She liked to do her own shopping. At home she made special treats for the family. I remember her popcorn and the rice puddings. I loved the way she fixed chicken and made fresh ground sausage from the butchered pigs. She also made her own strong lye soap but was always careful to keep it out of the reach of the children while it was hot."
"Dad always had horses around. I didn't particularly like them but I would go out to help if Mother was going. In Mendon we had a place called the north feed lot where the horses and the cattle were kept."
One night when the family lived in Mendon in the old frame home, Nora was 12, Julia was 10, and Cliff was 8, they were all having a family argument. Nora became rather rough with Cliff and he ran into the pantry and shut the door to get away from her. Feeling rather secure behind the closed door and in the dark room, Cliff started to brag out loud saying, 'I'm not scared of you big sister.' Julia was near and came to see what all the fuss was about and Nora asked her to lean against the door for a moment and not let Cliff out. Suddenly Cliff started to scream and yell and tried to frantically get out of the room. This noise made Julia so scared she couldn't let go of the door handle and then Julia started to yell. Bessie came running in holding the new baby LaVon. She had a hard time calming Julia down and getting the door open. When she finally looked inside and rescued Cliff there was Nora standing outside the pantry window with a white sheet over her head. She was also so scared because of Cliff's yelling that she couldn't move and Mother had a hard time getting everyone settled down and stopped shaking.
Nora was a proud girl and always wanted things done right and in an organized way. She liked to make schedules and organized plans for the family to follow. In her late teens she was a Queen of the Mendon May Day Celebration.
"I was about 17 when Jessie was born and 20 when Rulon came along. I remember telling the family that I thought we were getting too many in the family but I loved them all. After our new house was built, I started to take nurses training and needed some money to go to California. I went to a bank in Logan and asked the manager there if I could borrow some money. He told me that if I could gt Walter Ahrens to sign with the loan as a reference, I could borrow any amount I needed. I had a wonderful father. The folks helped when they could as I got some college education and later I was the first nurse to complete a three year course at the Utah-Idaho Hospital. I continued post graduate study at Berkeley, California. After serving as superintendent of nurses at the Garland Hospital for two years, I met and married Lew W. Berntsen, an expert carpenter and cabinet maker on 26 August 1925 in the Salt Lake temple. We lived in Logan."
For a few years Nora worked at the Logan Budge Memorial Hospital where she eventually became the oldest living charter member. She was active with several vocal groups, LDS Church auxiliaries and Camp 49 of the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers. Nora died at the St. Benedicts Hospital in Ogden after staying in the Gardens Retirement Home in Ogden, on 28 August 1983 at the age of 83.
Helen writes of her older sister Nora ... She was a proud person but was sometimes unkind with her abrupt language. While she was nursing, she would give her younger sisters some money if they were doing well in school. She was always very kind to the family and always quick to assist any of them that needed financial help or nursing assistance.
THE FAMILY - JULIA
Julia was born in Grandma Sorensen's home in Smithfield so her middle name became Matilda. She was named Julia after her father's youngest sister who had died about 9 years earlier. Julia was a likable child with a pleasant personality. She later became very popular with all the age groups. As she grew up she was very good to her parents, especially her mother. When she was young she studied the piano and learned to play very well.
"Dad was a good farmer and raised wheat and a little barley on our dry farm. I remember we always sold the wheat to the wheat buyer that would come to the farm. I remember taking a grist of wheat over to Logan to be exchanged for flour, brand and shorts. Shorts were between the course brand and flour ... to be used as all kinds of feed when mixed with water for the chickens and pigs.
"Father worked hard doing all his machine work with horses. He loved his horses and took great pride in keeping them clean, neat and well fed. It was said he always fed his horses before he thought of food himself."
Julia remembers the first house the family rented when they moved to Mendon. She was about 5 years old at the time and had the job of going with her mother and taking a basket to pick up small pieces of coal along the railroad tracks that had fallen from the passing trains. he first hosue had no water in it and when you wanted to take a bath or wash clothes the water came from the ditch in front of the house. Part of it was heated on the stove to make it more comfortable. The cooking and drinking water were carried from a well across the street.
There were two small stores in town, the Richards and Andersons stores. Julia would take the eggs to the store in a bucket to exchange for groceries. At times she was given an egg to exchange for candy. Julia remembered going to the little red school house next to the city jail. At one time the school had a bell in the tower that rang each morning to start school. Mendon had a rock building that was used for church and later it was made into a movie and dramatic house. The Mendon Orchestra played between acts. They attended as a family, often one of the family was in the show.
"Mom and Dad were kind and generous parents and gave us all they could afford. They also gave of themselves for our pleasure which was worth more than money could buy. Our birthdays were celebrated and Christmas was a most wonderful time. Until my father's death, all the family returned home for Christmas Eve - the married children came bringing their children. There was always extra nickels on celebrations for the younger ones."
"In the winter Father took his family bob sleigh riding and at Christmas time bells were added to the well kept leather harness on the horses. In the summer fishing and picnics for the family were enjoyed."
"Once Father and Helen had their tonsils out together. Dad took advantage of the operation and had all his teeth taken out at the same time. At this time dad got real sick with pneumonia which seemed to make Dad so much older."
"Once I bought Dad a 5 cent candy bar and gave it to him as he was fixing his machinery. He stopped and thanked me saying ... 'How did you know I was hungry for a candy bar?' Dad didn't have wealth in money but he had a wealth in friends. He was kind to his family, friends and to his parents. Mom and Dad helped when possible and after high school I went to the Brigham Young College in Logan and got a teachers certificate."
"When the strawberries were ready for canning, I remember Mother putting dishes, spoons, cream, sugar, bread and butter in a pan to take to Providence on the east side of the valley so we could stop on the way home and have our first taste of berries."
"Mother was always home when her children came from school except I will never forget how empty the house was when she was ill and operated on for goiter in the Budge Hospital. Mother was good to let the children have their friends in to play, cook or just visit. She liked to have a cup of coffee and dry sugar cookies and was especially fond of them in her later years."
"I was dating Melvin Muir when Rulon was about 2 years old. Rulon liked me so much he called me Mama. This caused some concern as Melvin and I went courting in his car and I took Rulon along calling me Mama. About this time Mother had been in the hospital for a while and when Melvin and I went to get her, Rulon wouldn't go to her because he thought I was his mother and it about broke her heart. After we got home she set him on her knee and from then on he knew his real mother. I sure loved that little guy who had lots of hair by this time."
Mel tells of helping the family once during thrashing season as they cut the wheat and stacked it. It took about seven men and seven teams of horses as all the work was done by hand. First was the stacking or heading of the wheat and later a thrasher came along. All the help ate dinner at the farm they were working on. It required three header boxes, a header man, a derrick team of two and a stacker and they all loved to eat.
Julia married Melvin Muir on 14 December 1921 in the Logan LDS Temple and they they moved to Magna, Utah. She was the first of the children to get married. Melvin was a very successful farmer and a veteran of World War I.
Julia was an active member of the LDS Church all her life, as she continuously served in the Primary, Sunday School, MIA or the Relief Society. She also held leadership positions in the Farm Bureau Association, Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, American Legion Auxiliary, 4-H, Cache County Planning Board, Cache County Fair Board Committee and the Mormon Battalion. She had three daughters, nine grandchildren, and 16 great grandchildren. Julia died on 18 July 1983 at Sunshine Terrace in Logan at the age of 81.
Julia was a blessing to the family. She was always ready to help out where she could.
THE FAMILY - CLIFF
"My middle name came from my father. Dad's education seemed real good. I loved to hear him read from the newspaper when I was young and I loved to hear his opinion on politics. The way he explained things was so interesting. Mother's education was very limited and I think she got a lot of it from Dad. After they got married, they picked certain special times when they studied together with Dad teaching Mother the things he had learned in school. When he wrote Ahrens, Dad had a little curl in the 'R' and Mother soon picked it up as she thought that was the way 'R's were to be written. Dad always seemed to be good at figures and he kept good records. He had a small book he took with him always for notes like a diary. One of his entries makes mention of Cliff leaving on his mission, money being sent to me, the price of wheat, selling of cows, and the price of veal."
"I helped Dad a lot on the farm even though we didn't always agree on the method of farming. In later years I didn't recognize the physical troubles and ailments he was having and I wish I could relive those last few years and have more time with him and try to be a little more understanding. As I look back, I remember seeing him doing heavy work that he had no business doing at his age and with his physical problems. This is where young Rulon came in handy as he could move with Dad at a slower pace and help him. Dad often had bad coughing spells. Once while hauling some wild hay, his face got almost purple from coughing but he had to be in read bad shape before he would complain at all."
"I called Mom Bessie and Dad - Dad. I had maybe too formal of a relationship with them. Rulon had a better relationship as he would joke more with them and that is the way they liked it. I didn't think Dad joked enough with me and was too serious minded about things we talked over. Jessie and the younger children remembered Mother and Dad as easy going like and the older sisters referred to them as more strict like. Dad didn't have a very good voice for singing but I did like to hear him sing the songs he would make up and the stories he could tell."
"When Mother wanted to discipline me, she would lock me in the closet. I once crawled up and looked out of the transom with as scared look as I could make. She said she could see that this was the wrong thing to do so she let me out only to immediately take me outside, tie a rope around my waist and then tie me to a tree. This was done right in the front yard where everyone could see me. I remember it so well because I could easily have untied the rope and gotten away but she had tied me and told me that was all the liberty I had so I knew I wasn't to untie it and could only go as far as the rope. This was her way with me."
"I tell this second story to explain what discipline is and I think it is very nice. It took place when we lived in our little house in Petersboro with the dirt roof on it. When you went to the table according to Dad, you washed your face and hands until clean. One day I was all sweaty and dirty and when Mother called us to the table ... I forgot to clean up so Dad said to me, 'Cliff don't let that happen again!' It was only two or three days later when I again came to the table dirty. Dad didn't say anything. He just came to the table, got me kind of by the nap of the neck and the seat of the pants and I hit about 3 or 4 steps between the table and the watering trough where we watered the horses. He didn't wash my face just a little bit but he used hands full of water like he was giving me a bath. There were not very many words said but there was a lot of authority attached to his actions. He never hurt me but I never went to the table again unless I had washed my face and hands. I loved it! I would say right now that I can still remember that feel as he half carried me out to the watering trough to wash my face and hands. He was big and powerful to me and I could feel it. That was the way my dad disciplined me and I still respect him to this day for it."
"It is worthy to mention that when anyone in the family got sick, Dad got very concerned about it and always checked with Mom before leaving for work. If the weather was ever too warm and the kids didn't feel up to working or wanted to take a break in the shade ... Dad was perfectly agreeable and Dad never questioned their motives. He just wouldn't push you when you were sick."
"In December 1923, at the age of 19, I left for a two year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I went to the Northern States Mission and the North Central Minnesota Mission. I was an active member of the Mendon Jazz Band that was becoming quite famous at this time and Nora was doing her nursing work and Julia had just gotten married. Rulon was the youngest and only 3 years old."
"Things were hard on the family as it cost $50 per month to keep me there. At times the money came a little late and I got a little hungry but never worried. The money always made it. Money was so scarce that Mother always kept $3 as insurance in the sugar bowl and the money for me in the bank. It was a time of hardships and an unselfish time for them. They were so proud to help me and when I came home it was such a wonderful feeling to be with them again. I loved them so much."
"I attended the Utah State Agricultural College in Logan when I returned and Nora and Lew let me stay in their home in Logan while I was at school."
Cliff later married Choleal Hardman on 4 October 1926 and they had three daughters. Cliff died in Ogden on 11 February 1981.
THE FAMILY - RHODA
Rhoda was born right into the middle of the Ahrens family. She was the first child born after Walter and Bessie had been to the Logan Temple and after the family had moved into their large new home in Mendon.
Rhoda was born with a heart problem which prevented her from being as physically active as the other children. However, she was a humble, kind and considerate person who was always read to help with the chores but seemed to remain rather quiet and in the background of the family activities.
The folks didn't always remember her health problem but she would never complain. One summer while Cliff was gone, Rhoda and Helen went to get a load of hay from the fields.
Helen tells the story ... "Dad was worried about the rain coming before we finished. He was on one side of the wagon pitching the hay as fast as he could and Rhoda was on the other side. Usually he would work it so the one helping could have less hay to pitch - but not this time as there was plenty of hay for each of them. I was given the job of tromping down the hay in the wagon and driving the horses. Rhoda kept up pretty good until the load started to get above her head. Then Dad would call to Rhoda and ask her to hurry faster. She didn't answer but I could see it was getting harder for her to get the hay up on top. I tried to reach down and help her when I could. She never did complain even though her face got red and she was completely worn out when the last of the hay was loaded. It was a welcomed ride home on the soft hay with a breeze to cool us off."
"The ride to the fields in the empty hay rack was often the hardest part. The big wooden wheels had steel rims for protection and they just bounced when traveling over the rough graveled roads. Rhoda and I would often double up with pain in our feet and legs. Dad would tell us where to stand and to stand on our toes but it didn't seem to help much after the pain started. Maybe holding on to the reins to drive the horses was the secret."
Rhoda liked to sing in singing groups and was very busy in Church activities. She was a talented teacher and loved to teach the younger children in Sunday School. Later she taught Primary for a long time and was such an outstanding teacher and was so well liked that if she couldn't make the trip to Church, the children would go to her home for the lessons.
She attended the Mendon District School and graduated from South Cache High School.
Jessie remembers ... "My first strong impression of my sister was when I observed her efforts to make an article good enough to display at the County Fair in Logan. She certainly put a lot of effort in to making it."
"I remember Rhoda's enthusiasm over Cliff's call for his LDS mission. Cliff was only about 5 years older than Rhoda and he seemed to be her ideal. I think she was the first to write him a letter in the mission field. She supported him with gifts and letters of encouragement during the two years he was away."
Ila remembers many good things about Rhoda ... "I highly respected and had a lot of love and appreciation for Rhoda. I got to know her quite well in the short 12 years I knew her. She was a very patient, pleasant and humble lady with a beautiful voice and pretty brown naturally wavy hair she wore cut short."
Rulon writes ... "Rhoda was a kind considerate sister. She was always understanding and she made you feel that she really cared. Even though her health was poor, she tried to always go forward and do her best. She was a good mother. I am sure she yearned to be stronger, that she might have done even more for her family."
Rhoda got married when she was 18 on 15 December 1926, just two months after Cliff was married. She married Gilbert Muir, the brother of Julia's husband, Melvin. Rhoda and Gil raised a family that were very close to each other. They had two boys - Don and Clark, two girls - Louise and Joyce. Rhoda later died very suddenly of a stroke on 26 September 1950 when she was only 42 years old.
THE FAMILY - LAVON (BONNIE)
Lavon was named Dorthea after her grandmother but she was always called Bonnie by the family.
"I had the best parents of anybody. They were so good to me. I could have a Church party at home or my dad would drive us in his car where we wanted to go. My parents made all of my friends feel welcome in our home. Dad was great to work for, maybe I should say 'with'. We were well paid with greater ways than money."
"I once had a boy friend who lived in Seattle, Washington. He sent me a letter and somehow Rulon got hold of it from the mailbox and read it. Then he was afraid to give it to me so he hid it outside under the granary. I never got the letter so I thought he had quit writing and never heard from him again. When I found out what Rulon had done, I got so mad I made him help me with my chores, especially hanging up the clothes."
"Mother and Dad were not too active in Church but they would never let anyone criticize the bishop, home teachers or any of the Church officials. Mother did at one time teach a religious class at the elementary school for students after school. Father played the accordion in Church on special occasions. Dad always saw the good in everyone and if he didn't like someone he kept it to himself."
"I remember once when Helen and I were locked in a little closet in the new house that was being built. It locked from the outside and we weren't found until that evening by our concerned parents."
"Father liked horses and they would mind him so well. Dad was often angry at me because I would rather walk than ride a work horse. I made it up by helping often on the farm in the beets but walk home while the others rode."
"Mother felt bad because she didn't have a full education. I remember Mother was more strict with the children than Dad but she was good to let us have our friends in."
"I like to play the piano and would practice for hours. Some of the family would always be around to sing a few songs especially Helen. Dad like to play the piano. One night Rhoda had friends in and they asked Dad to play for them. After awhile he got tired and played 'Good Night Ladies' and they got up and left much to the embarrassment of Rhoda."
"One of my special chores was to do all the family ironing and help Mother with the house work. I was baptized and confirmed a member of the LDS church in the Logan Temple when I was 8. I was crowned the Queen of the Mendon May Day Celebration when I was about 14 and I graduated from South Cache High School in 1930 when I was 18."
"Mom and Dad went everywhere together. Once when Dad was sick, Mother went to Church alone and everyone got more upset because Walter wasn't with her then the fact that he wasn't feeling good. I remember later when Dad was sick for just a short time before he died but he was very sick."
"Dad and Mother had always been good to teach me to love fine music at a very early age. I started by playing the piano by ear, later learning to read the music in my own way. Later I took some formal lessons."
"On 27 March 1939, I married William Martin Curtis who was the master candy maker for the Blue Bird Candy Company in Logan. We had two daughters, two sons, and fifteen grandchildren and one great grandson. Most of my life I have been active in the LDS Church serving as a counselor in the Relief Society and presently as the Relief Society Chorister. I went to the Temple on 5 March 1982 and enjoy the many happy hours I spend there. Like my father and grandfather, I enjoy going out for a walk. I try to walk at least 1-3 miles each day. I have good health and enjoy my friends and neighbors."
"When Mother stayed with Rulon and Ila, she asked me to come and get her on Saturdays. She wanted to let Rulon and Ila and their family be together. We went to lunch at the Blue Bird and then to a movie. I did love to be with her."
THE FAMILY - HELEN
"I loved my father and mother. I was truly blessed the day I was placed in their sweet and tender care. I often thought what wonderful parents I had. As I grew up I remember how close I was to my father. He had been hoping for a boy when I was born into the Ahrens family. Maybe that was why I was such an outdoor girl and tom boy as I wanted to make it up to Dad for being a girl. As I was growing up I worked hard with Dad raking hay, cultivating beets and taking the cows to pasture. A neighbor, Mr. Muir, who had a lot of sons said I was more help to Dad than his son Ralph and I could guide a horse down the rows better than any of his boys. At this time Dad really did appreciate me as he did need a helper because Nora was away at nursing school, Julia was married, Cliff was on a mission and Rulon was too young."
Rulon says he was jealous of Helen when he was young because when they were putting up river hay, he can remember that he had the dull job of riding the derick horse while Helen had the more exciting job of raking with the team. He admitted later he could see why they did it that way. The horses had to be on the trot behind the bull rake to gather up the loose hay and you really had to move the horses around fast. No one could do that better than Helen.
Jess said she never liked animals very much and only remembers having one cat of her own. Helen seemed to love all the animals. She even had a little red Rhode Island chicken that would come running out of the yard and jump right up into her arms.
Helen was a shy youngster and would often turn her horse to go way around a group of boys standing near the road. The boys did like to come around and see her because when challenged, she would love to ride her horse Old Blue and race them up the dirt road. She could beat them every time as she felt right at home on a horse. This really irritated the boys and they always came back another day to try again.
Once after Helen and Jessie had taken the cows to the pasture and were returning down the dirt road, along came the OSL train and it whistled. The horse spooked and away they went, bucking and rearing. The girls could just hang on and Jessie was on back hanging on to Helen and all but tearing her clothes off. Jessie's feet were hitting the horses flanks which just made it go faster. They were running up the side of a barb wire fence and were very scared. When they got to the top of the lane the horse got tired and stopped. Wid Richards was there and he said, 'Boy, you had me worried, I thought you kids were going to get killed!' He said he had never seen that horse act so scared.
"In looking back I would say that my dad was the greatest. I am a better person because of him. He died when I was 24 years old. I was one of the youngest of the children and I am sorry that I wasn't around in his younger days."
"I remember hearing stories of his selling horses to the horse buyer when we were sick and he was trying to comfort us. He was always taking time to come to our room to cheer us up and see if he could do anything to make us feel better. He was nice to help everyone in every way he could. He taught us to be alert to the needs of others. When people came to our house he wanted us to treat them right and make them feel at home. That was hard to do sometimes as we had a neighbor that was hard to like. Dad was very honest in his dealing with others. He loved to see people happy."
"During the summer we raised beets and did the work by hand as we had no tractors or trucks. We must have complained quite a bit about the hard work because Dad would say that if we did a good job he would take us to the circus or some other special place he knew would please us and he always kept his word. It was fun gong to the circus in the old white top wagon and watching the parade along the main street with all the animals. Traveling was slow in those days so we would often fall asleep but we knew when we were in Logan because we would wake up to the sound of horses hooves on the pavement streets of Logan."
"I am glad I was a tom boy. It gave me more time to know my father better. He loved birds all his life and would tell us all about them. He was like his father in many ways as he liked to spend time in the hills and mountains. He knew Mother liked the beautiful blue bells that grew so pretty there. When he went to check on the cattle in the Mendon mountains, he would remember to bring home some of the blue flowers for her. His love for horses was apparent as he drove through the streets of Mendon. He kept them well fed, curried, brushed and well fitted out with good harness leather."
"I remember early in the spring when he had extra time he would fix things about the house. You could find him in the granary repairing and oiling the equipment. He had pride in the things he did. Mother was out helping too as Dad was so busy that she had to go to the fields to visit with him. In those days machinery wasn't used very much by the farmers. They put in most of their work with horses and would often walk instead of ride."
"My work started with him when he would go to cultivate beets. He had a small one horse cultivator that would do two rows at a time. It was hard to handle while riding the horse and guiding it down the rows. We would go to the field early in the morning and go up and down the rows until noon ... then home to dinner and back again until time to do the milking. I remember his was how I learned to ride a horse when I was only 7. About this time I also learned to milk so I could help Dad with this task. Sometimes in the summer the cows were milked in the pasture. I remember sitting on a milk stool late at night visiting with Dad. For light he used an old tin kerosene lamp that he would hang on a nail. He worried a lot about dropping it in the barn and causing a fire."
"I loved to help Dad because he would show so much appreciation for your efforts. I spent a lot of time raking hay, tromping hay and taking the cows to the pasture. One of the things we looked forward to when we took our longer trips to the further out fields was taking our lunch. One field had a spring of cool water on it that was so good to drink. Near the spring were trees and willows that Dad made into whistles. We also had some potatoes planted here. When we got home Dad was never too tired after the evening meal to tell us stories or play the organ with tunes that had stories we loved so much. He would often sing as he played."
"We had some river land where we would go fishing, often taking relatives with us when we weren't working to put the hay up for the winter. When it got colder we would keep some of the stock down there. Dad would go every few days to feed them hay and check on them. We always worried about him because he would go in the coldest part of the winter riding his horse. When he got home he looked frightening like Old Man Winter with his long eyebrows and mustache covered with icicles and frost."
"He was a proud man and liked to wear a hat because he lost some of his hair quite early. I had to laugh at him at times because he would powder his head so it wouldn't shine. When Rulon was small he used to kid Dad when he asked Mother to trim his hair because he didn't have very much to trim. At a fair they once asked Dad to put his head through a hole in a sheet so people could toss eggs at him and he got real insulted."
Helen married Newell Barnes, a farmer from Kaysville, Utah, on 11 November 1937. They have raised two boys and two girls.
THE FAMILY - JESSIE
"I was born in Mother and Daddy's more mature years. Dad was 46 years of age when I arrived and Mother 38. I remember Dad as being patient, sweet and mellow. I was the last daughter born to my parents and I liked being a girl. I have fond memories of the family."
"I walked to church with Dad when I was 3 or 4. He seemed so tall and strong as I was a little girl walking with him. People say he was about 5' 11" with sandy complexion. I was amused when he would come in from outside as he would not only wash his face but his whole neck. I also liked to watch him shave and sharpen his razor on his strap. He was always singing about riding on the elevated railroad which was a favorite song."
"I remember Daddy wore a heavy mustache and he had heavy eyebrows and his hair was a little thin on top. He once shaved his mustache but the family didn't like him without one so he let it grow back. He was well groomed and he liked to put on a little perfume that was nice smelling. In church I sat on his lap when I was younger. I remember when I was about 5 years old Daddy and I rode the UIC train to Logan. When we arrived at the station, we walked up to the Budge Hospital to visit Mama who had given birth to a still born boy. Daddy was on crutches at the time as he had been thrown from the wagon in an accident with the horses. When we arrived, Nora was there to greet us in her pretty white uniform."
"My father was definitely an active man. I knew of him attending town council meetings where he supported the proposals that he believed in, but I don't remember him running for office of any kind. My father had a talent for settling arguments among the children without offending us. He was very good about bringing us to justice on our terms and then getting more from us than if he had laid down the law with a more forceful manner."
"Daddy liked to see people happy and always took time to encourage us with words that were uplifting. I remember many times that people would mention nick names for people that had problems or were a little different in some way. Father would get a crushed hurt look on his face when he heard these names and he would say why do people want to say such things."
"Father liked to take us fishing and he liked to play little jokes on us. I remember Rulon wasn't having much success as he was setting on the river bank not having caught one fish. Daddy had just caught one and he directed Rulon to go get something. While he was gone he put a large fish Dad had caught on Rulon's line, then he called to Rulon and told him his pole was moving. Rulon came running so excited and happy. Daddy liked to see people succeed at what they were doing."
"I saw in Mother a loving desire to honor the Priesthood and to honor Father as the Patriarch of the family. She was also like Father, very family oriented. Her greatest desire was to raise a good family. She was very devoted to Father and was always at his side right up until he died. She was a good housekeeper and a good cook, baking from scratch. She was also a good gardener and raised most of our vegetables and fruits. She made most of our clothes, kept them all mended, and still found time in the summer and fall for canning food for the table in the winter. She was very religious and was a member of the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers and at one time captain of the local group."
"I didn't get very close to my Mother when I was younger because the older girls demanded so much of her time. Because I was smaller I was sent to play when the fun things were going on."
"After I graduated from South Cache High School, I worked in the Logan knitting mills and stayed with Nora and Lew until I could afford an apartment. They were very kind to all the family whenever we went to Logan."
"I married Winfred E. Spicker of Logan on 11 December 1936. We were later sealed in the Logan Temple to each other and our two boys - Bill and Terry - on 8 May 1953."
"While I was in the hospital with my first child, Bill, Daddy died. He was in the hospital at the same time. After he died, I spent the next 25 years trying to get to know Mother better. I went to Logan getting her from Rulon's and taking her for a drive or to visit other wards. I took her out to lunch too. It was during this time that Mother and I got a lot of genealogy work done. She was a wonderful sport to help."
"As I think back, she was in her 60s and 70s as we went on some of our trips to Salt Lake City. I remember on one occasion we went to Salt Lake for several days to celebrate the 24th of July. We got a room at Hotel Utah and went to the parade, then out to lunch, visited Temple Square and then that evening we walked up to the State Capitol to see the queen crowned for the fair. From there we caught a bus to the University of Utah stadium to watch an out door performance then a bus to the train station to catch a bus back to Clearfield to arrive at 2:00 in the morning. Mother was a great sport to do this at her age ... never complaining and always eager to go. It was during these years that I really got to know and appreciate all the wonderful and unselfish things she did for the family. Mother had a strong faith in prayer and taught this idea to her children.
THE FAMILY - RULON
"I was given a 'D' for a middle name. It stood for my father's first name Dorius who was named after a missionary that was in Denmark at the time his parents were converted to the Church."
"I grew up in a house full of girls with only one brother, Cliff. Because of our age difference, I don't remember anything about Cliff until he came home from his mission. Then he came rushing in to the house and got in a friendly scuffle with Dad. I was sure impressed with Cliff and Dad because Cliff was so husky and yet Dad could still get the best of him."
Rulon had muscular rheumatism when he was only 2 years old. Walter and Bessie were very worried over him. He wasn't able to walk for over a year and he took much of Bessie's time and faithful care until he recovered.
"I had a very good home life. My parents were always very considerate and understanding. I remember many pleasant experiences we had together. We would go as a family to the county fair and circus and at times to a movie in Logan. I remember the first time I went out to eat with them. I was very young and I ordered a large hamburger steak which covered my entire plate. We went fishing together and frequently during the summer we went on picnics. My parents were always good providers. I was always proud of the clothes they gave me ... always proper for the occasion."
"Mother and Dad each had a way of telling us what we had done wrong and disciplining us. One night I was very late in coming home with the cows. Dad was away and busy with other chores and Mother was getting worried. When I did get home she got a green willow and gave me a good spanking. It sure did sting. I knew I could out run her but I also knew I had it coming so I took it."
"I remember my Dad was especially gifted in music and could play the accordion. He was active and took part in public meetings quite a bit. I often wish my children could have known him as he was really a good mixer around people. Everybody seemed to like him. My parents encouraged me to go to church thus I was baptized at the age of 8 in the Logan Temple, ordained a Deacon at age 12 and advanced in the Priesthood at the other ages as I should have been. I really appreciate it now to know that they took the time and interest to help me the way they did."
Rulon was a child artist and he demonstrated his ability by writing his ABC's all around his father's prized geography book making most of the alphabet into people. Later he learned to draw characters from the funnies ... men with big mustaches like his dad and big muscles. This led to his being chosen as artist for the school paper when he was in high school. Rulon would call his dad Walt and his mother Bess. He was known as Pal.
"Dad was real good to let me take the car and once he said I could have it, he never went back on his word. One Valentine's Day I had a box of candy to take to Ila and Dad had promised to let me take the car for this important delivery. However that evening it snowed and we had a regular blizzard. The roads weren't clear and at best were just dirt and gravel anyway. I still wanted to go so Dad harnessed up the team and we pulled the car out onto the road. He was going to let me go even in that storm but he wanted it to be my decision. He was that kind of Dad ... good and dependable."
"Another time he let me take our 1929 Pontiac with four of my boy friends to a dance in Newton. During the dance, I let two of my friends borrow Dad's car. Later they came back and returned the keys. On the way home the bearings in the engine because to cause a lot of noise. The further we went the worse the noise became as we slowly limped home. I told Dad late that evening that I had ruined the engine. The next morning just after he had went out to look at the car and do his chores, he came right back in and said, "Pal, the car has been tipped over and the oil drained from the engine. That is why it broke down." Then he took me outside and in a very calm way showed me the dirt up under the wheel covers on one side of the car. He didn't get mad at me at all but said that as soon as he had the milking done, he was going to go over and call the sheriff. Then he left me alone. I hurried over to my friends and told them what he had discovered and who he was going to call. Before I could say anymore they said they had taken the car for a spin and turned it over on a sharp corner. They didn't see any damage and were afraid to tell me not knowing the oil had leaked out. They quickly came home with me and explained everything to Dad, to include the fact that I hadn't known of the accident. After the repair was made, Dad never asked them for the money as he said they would return it when they could. It wasn't until after he died that Mother went and collected it. Dad was too patient to make a big thing of it."
"I remember the electric train that would pass through town each morning, stopping long enough to pick up and let off the Mendon students that went to South Cache High School. The conductor seemed to delight in leaving on time and the last rush to get an extra nibble of food at the breakfast table could easily determine if you went to school that day. We could hear the train enter the outskirts of town and this was the signal to leave the house. One morning, I forgot my lunch and after I made the short trip back to get it I was rewarded by seeing the train depart just ahead of me and I watched as the conductor waved goodbye with a smile on his face."
"The night I was to graduate from high school was a sad occasion as this was the night that my father died. I certainly felt lost over losing my Dad. He was a rel pal to me even though I was the youngest and he was quite old when I was born - 51 years. He had poor health his last few years but seldom complained. He worked hard on the farm up until about two weeks before his death. He suffered a lot from asthma and handling the dry dusty hay in the barn bothered him tremendously. For this reason I tried to always come home right after school to help with the chores."
"I married Ila Larsen on 30 March 1938 in the Logan Temple. After I was married, Ila and I lived in the family home in Mendon with Mother and his sister Bonnie. Bonnie was married about a year later and moved. Mom continued to live with us."
"I needed a loan to help purchase the farm so I went to the 1st National Bank in Logan to see the bank president Alma Sony. When I told him my name he said, 'Are you related to Walter Ahrens?' I said that I was and Mr. Sony said that was good enough for him and I immediately got the loan."
"We operated the farm from the spring of 1937 until we moved to Logan in October of 1952. This was the same land that Dad had farmed. At one time he had owned the land near the river but when the Cutler Dam was built the back waters would flood part of it so he sold it to Utah Power and then leased it back from them. I continued with this lease program. It consisted of 80 acres of farming ground, 22 acres of pasture and 69 acres of wild hay and river land. We also owned several shares of pasture in the hills known as Three Mile Creek which ranged as far as Beaver Dam. My brother-in-law Melvin Muir farmed a portion that was dry farm for awhile then I bought 22 acres for pasture and 66 acres for farming in 1945."
"We continued to use a stove and furnace that could burn coal or wood. Dad taught me to have plenty on hand for the winter. I would gather it in the fall right after the beet harvest and before it got too cold. I went to the same places Dad had taken me when I was younger."
WALTER AHRENS - LATER YEARS
Walter died on 31 May 1937 while the family was living in Mendon. He was 66 years old and had been very sick for two weeks and was in the Logan Hospital when he passed away. At this time five of the children were married and had moved away. Helen got married that same year, Rulon the next year and LaVon two years later. Walter was an active High Priest in the Church at this time.
Alma Sony, then president of the First National Bank in Logan and later an LDS Church Apostle had these kind words to say about Walter at his funeral.
"It is a distinct honor for me to be asked to say a word before you this afternoon to those who are bereathed of a splendid leadership. I have known brother Walter D. Ahrens as a boy and in fact all of his life and recently I have known him intimately and became acquainted with him to my own profit and benefit."
"Walter D. Ahrens had certain distinctive qualities of fine character. I found in him a beautiful stimulation of modesty. I saw in him sublime humility. My relations with him revealed the utmost fairness and honesty. I also discovered in him a beautiful consideration for the rights of others and a wholesome respect for the other point of view. There in occurred to me that in his life he lived an example of the golden rule."
Walter was buried in the Smithfield cemetary on 3 June 1937.
BESSIE AHRENS - LATER YEARS
After Walter died, Bessie continued to live in the Mendon home with Bonnie, Helen and Rulon. That fall in November 1937, Helen was married and moved to Kaysville, Utah. The next spring in March 1938, Rulon was married and arrangements were made for him and Ila to live in the family home and continue to manage the family farm. Bonnie lived with them until one year later in March 1939 when she got married and moved to Logan. For the next 15 years Bessie continued to live with Rulon and Ila as they raised their family of three girls and two boys. Rulon ran the farm and worked for the Union Pacific Railroad.
Ila and Bessie got along very well together. They enjoyed sitting at the kitchen table and visiting for hours at a time as Bessie told family stories. Later in her years she would tell them over and over again - but she enjoyed it and Ila liked to hear them. While Rulon was out on the farm, the ladies would often go for walks along the railroad tracks and pick up pieces of coal and wood to carry home in their aprons just like the children had done earlier - laughing and talking all the time. Another favorite outing was the trips to go picking the currants and berries along the mountain streams to be made into jams and jellies. Bessie was in her late 60s and 70s at this time but she continued to have her good health and was as active as some of the younger girls.
In October of 1952, Rulon and Ila moved to Logan and the house and farm were sold. They fixed up a small apartment in Mendon for Bessie but she wasn't very happy there. They had her over to a New Years dinner and it snowed real deep so she asked to stay for a few days. It was nice and comfortable in Logan and they got along so well that Bessie stayed until the following May. Then she went back to her little apartment. When she was asked where she was going to spend the next winger she would say, "To Rulon and Ila's." They had her come back and they she stayed with them.
Rulon appreciated his mother's attitude towards Ila as they had a lot of respect for each others judgement. Bessie would ask her opinion on a dress and she liked Ila to fix her hair. Through the years as they lived together, they seldom had any serious problems. Sometimes there were little misunderstandings but they never lasted very long. The children really enjoyed being with their grandmother as she was always such a good sport. Even when she got older she enjoyed taking the family out for a treat and being with them. She liked being one of them. Janet used to tease her but it was the sort of thing that they enjoyed.
Bessie continued to like good music especially Lawrence Welk and his band and Arthur Godfrey.
Ila writes ... "Bessie stayed in Logan with us until October 1959 when she went to live with Julia and Mel in Mendon. When Mother left our home she was starting experience quite a bit of pain and discomfort. The combination of pain, lack of appetite and her advanced age made her weak and unable to do things on her own. Like so many elderly people that have so much to endure, this slowly continued to cause her to fail more and more in many ways. Even though she continued to smile and show she was glad to see her family when they came, life had become very dull and not too pleasant. She did hold on to her sweet spirit to the very last, as much as one could expect."
Bessie died at the home of her daughter Julia on 3 May 1962. At her funeral the speakers had only the kindest of words for her tender life. She died at the age of 83.
At the funeral the opening speaker mentioned the following about Bessie ...
"Bessie Ahrens was the mother of 11 children. Five daughters and two sons survive: Mrs. Lew (Nora) Bernsten, Mrs. William (LaVon) Curtis, and Rulon D. Ahrens, all of Logan; Mrs. Melvin (Julia) Muir, Mendon; Mrs. Newell (Helen) Barnes, Kaysville; Mrs. Fred (Jessie) Spicker, Clearfield; and Clifford W. Ahrens, Boise."
"Also surviving were 27 grandchildren and 34 great grandchildren. Bessie was a resident of Mendon and Logan for most of her life where she was active in Church auxiliaries, especially the Relief Society. She was a member of the Mendon camp of the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers and was respected for her faithful service to others."
Bishop W.A. Sorensen of Logan said ...
"I have appreciated my association and friendship with Sister Ahrens when she lived in our ward with Rulon and Ila. It was wonderful to see her come to church with them and their family and to take part in the activities of the ward. It is wonderful to have visited her in the home and to partake of her spirit and of her encouragement to others. I liked to hear her fine testimony of the gospel. I remember once that they had a program in church to do with the Primary. Rulon, Ila and Sister Ahrens were in this program and how proud she was to take part. She was always willing to do those things which were asked of her for those years she lived with us in our ward and I want to tell you how good Rulon and Ila were to her while she lived in their home. I am sure that Julie was the same, because I came over there once to help administer to her not too long ago and the care she got was always the best. I am sure that sometimes it may have been hard, but I know that the blessings you will receive from this will be well worth the time you spent with her."
"Sister Ahrens has taught her children by example. It will be well to follow her teachings and to take to heart the things which she has taught you, both by example and precept. I know she is one of God's very own. I know that she let her life so shine before men that her good works will glorify our Heavenly Father."
The next speaker was Joseph Larsen and he also had kind words to say about Bessie ...
"It has been my good fortune in life to be acquainted with four ladies that have had quite a bearing upon my life - that is my mother, the lady we all commonly know as Aunt Dearie, Sister Whitney and Sister Ahrens. It has been a great honor for me to be asked to speak at two of these ladies funerals and now to speak at Sister Ahrens."
"As I was thinking back over the lives of these good women, and Sister Ahrens in particular, I remember Brother Ahrens here on this church house stage playing his accordion. As I sat down in the audience as a young fellow in my teens it seemed to me that he was gazing at one person behind me. Maybe out of curiosity I turned and looked back into the audience and saw Sister Ahrens looking up at him. Love was an important part in that family. I think they were one family in town that we saw at every celebration."
"I also remember that Clifford used to drive those beautiful teams of horses. There was always happiness. They would sing as they were going home at noon and at night from the fields. I remember many times going to the home of Brother and Sister Ahrens and how welcome we were made. We would set around the piano an sing. It was wonderful memories to look back on. I remember how much my mother thought of Aunt Nan and Aunt Dearie. Maybe it was because Sister Whitney was Brother Sorenson's sister and Sister Ahrens lived across the street. I don't think there was ever a day that Sister Ahrens and Sister Whitney weren't seen together unless they were both sick."
"I think back to the time when Brother and Sister Ahrens were in the church house and their family was all there. Their knowledge was great and their faith was great, and they were enjoying the activities of the Church. For years there wasn't a program that the Ahrens family wasn't participating in."
"Sister Ahrens often said that she would be glad when she could go an join Walter. There was no doubt in her mind that she knew she was going to join her husband and her family. It gives us something to look forward to. It is a marvelous and wonderful thing."
Betsey Ahrens was buried in the Smithfield Cemetery next to her husband, Walter, on 7 May 1962.