S: Bertha Johanna Sorensen Degn 1883-1953
FC: Bertha Johanna Carolina Marie Sorensen Degn | 1883-1953
1: Great Grandparents | Parents | Grandparents | Christen Christensen Skriver B: 1831 Snedsted, Thisted, Denmark M: 6 Jun 1847 Snedsted, Thisted, Denmark | Peder Benson Sorensen B: 1836 Odder, Aarhus, Denmark | Birth Larsdatter B: 1840 Odder, Aarhus, Denmark | Sophus Frands Sigfred Sorensen B: 8 May 1862 Odder, Denmark M: 25 Jun 1882 Thisted, Denmark D: 11 Apr 1929 Preston, Franklin, Idaho | Ane Johanne Nielsdatter B: 1835 Snedsted, Thisted, Denmark | Bertha Marie Christensen B: 1 Feb 1857 Snedsted, Thisted, Denmark D: 8 Jan 1887 | Bertha Johanna Caroline Marie Sorensen Degn B: 30 Jan 1883 Aarhus, Denmark M: 30 Dec 1902 Aarhus, Denmark D: 23 Jan 1953 Logan, Cache, Utah
2: We just had the announcement that we have become great-grandparents and, at once, the words of this song flashed in front of us, “It’s later than you think;” and I knew that five years had passed since Martha handed me this ledger and asked me to write about my childhood. Some of it, I had told her the night before while coming from Billings, where Martha had been house hunting all day. We got on the wrong road and knowing she was dead tired, and afraid she would fall asleep, I started to tell her about my very unhappy childhood. It was then she asked me to write it down. We didn’t reach Butte until the break of day and Walt was walking the floor like and expecting father in a maternity ward, not knowing what had become of us or what to do to find us. But Judith said, “Dad, we would have been home long before, only we got on the wrong street.” I beg you to overlook all the grammatical errors you are bound to find in this. Remember, I was a married woman when I came to this country with Walt eight months old, and for the next twenty years, the stork insisted on making a visit every other year. In order to help feed the growing brood, I took in borders; it didn’t leave me much time to study. | I was born in Aarhus, Denmark, January 30, 1883. I was the daughter of Sophus Frands Sigfred Sorensen and Marie Christensen. My mother was a daughter of well-to-do farmers. My father came there to work on the farm and they fell in love. Her parents would hear nothing of their getting married; they wanted her to have a man who had a home to bring her to. She has a high school education and she was twenty-three, my father only nineteen. So they ran away and married, my mother’s parents never forgave her and she was too proud to tell th | When I was born, it was time for my father to serve his compulsory military training, which he served at Copenhaven. He was stationed at the Castle Elsinore, famous in “Hamlet.” The Danish soldiers were very poorly paid and in order for them not to starve, their folks sent eats over to them. And there sat my poor mother with me, a few months old. In a letter she wrote to my father, she said that some Lodge he belonged to had gone together and bought a baby buggy so she could take me with, in case she could find some work. When I was four years old, she died. Neighbors to her told me after I grew up, that she died of a broken heart. They said she was the prettiest girl they had ever seen, but nothing but a shadow when she died. My father never told them at home she had died and when they found out they tried to get me, but my father would not let them have me. | For the next four years, I wandered from one place to another. If my father had work, he would hire a housekeeper. He worked as a longshoreman, but it didn’t give much work in the winter when the harbor froze over, so the ships couldn’t get in. For a while I would stay with my father’s mother, and part time with my father’s sister, who had a dozen children of her own. But when I was eight years old, my father met and married a twenty-nine year old widow with three children; Ed, six; Anna, four; and Freda, two years old. | Bertha Johanna Caroline Marie Sorensen Degn | To Our Children by: Bertha Johanna Sorensen Degn | Johanna started this memoir when Scott Anderson Larson was born. Here she is holding him. | Father as he left for military service | Elsinore Castle
3: LOVE | And now started six of the hardest years of my life. If it hadn’t been for my school, which I loved, I don’t think I could have stood it. I’ve always been so thankful that school was compulsory or I would have had very little schooling. But if, for any other reason than being sick, we missed school, our fathers were arrested. I had very little time to study and lucky for me, I didn’t need it. At six in the morning, I was called to get up, go to the bakery for hot rolls for my mother, and serve it and coffee in her bed; dress the children and give them breakfast. Of course, breakfast didn’t take long to make, some dark bread with margarine or lard and black coffee. (There were no oranges to get ready, we were lucky if we each got one for Christmas.) School started at eight, so I ran eating a sandwich and reading my lessons. In the evening, I cleaned house so there was nothing to do until I got back from school. My parents went out a lot at night to dances, and it didn’t let up at twelve, like here, not two, three, or four o’clock; and it was me to tend the baby. If it cried, she would call me to get out of bed and rock and sing it to sleep. Freda had gland trouble and couldn’t talk until she was over three. I tried my best to please my new mother, but I couldn’t . Night after night I cried myself asleep. After I grew up, my prayer after I got children always was that I might live to raise them so they wouldn’t get a stepmother, and that prayer, as with so many others, has been answered. | One of the greatest blessings to come to me in those six hard years, came when my parents moved to the north side of the city and I was transferred to another school. I had been there only a short time when I was transferred to the eighth grade. I was then eleven and one-half years old and I had to stay until I was fourteen. I couldn’t leave school until then. My teacher, Mr. Olsen, became the principal. To me he seemed very old, but I guess he wasn’t as old as his white hair made him look. I helped him out a lot by correcting papers or reading aloud to the class. I may not have been living today if it hadn’t been for him. He couldn’t help but see that I was undernourished, so every forenoon, he would send me to his home with a note to his wife and I can still remember how good those sandwiches tasted and the sweet milk, also. In the cold winter months, they served hot soup in school; not to be bought but to be given to children there who couldn’t bring a good lunch from home. It was a big school, so they only served the one set of children one day and the rest the next day. But Mr. Olsen saw to it that I got to eat every day. So no wonder I loved school and the dear Principal. | A few weeks after my graduation to the eighth grade, I got the biggest surprise of my life. I received a package which bore the seal and name of the King of Denmark, King Christian the Ninth. It contained some very fine cloth for a new dress (tan). At that time, you couldn’t buy finished dresses in the stores. A card stated that I was the youngest pupil ever to graduate to the eighth grade in that school. I got a big hand from the rest of the children. I bawled. I was so happy. However, there was much too much goods for a dress for me, also I had no shoes, and I couldn’t very well use wooden shoes for such a swell dress, so my mother had one made for her instead, and I suppose she needed it.
4: It was one day on my way to school that I first saw the man who was, many years later, to become your Father. It still seems only yesterday. I heard an awful noise of horses on the cobblestone street. I couldn’t see what was coming until it was close by, as the streets were crooked. And what I saw was worth looking ata beautiful carriage drawn by four horses, fiery and shining. High above the seat of the carriage, sat the driver. I thought the King had come to town, the way the driver’s uniform looked. He had tan colored knee pants, long black patent leather boots, a navy blue coat with silver buttons. Over the coat he wore a cape, also blue, but the ends were pinned back so the red silk lining could be seen. I, like so many others, stood gazing when the carriage stopped and the coachman jumped down and opened the door and a small lady all dressed in black silk with a big Merry Widow hat with ostrich feathers on, came out. That day I was late for school, had to stay after and got a more than usual licking when I got home. | And so the days passed and came the time I was fourteen and had to say goodbye to my beloved school and teachers. It was a sad day for me. Shortly after I had left school, a lady came to Mr. Olsen to ask if he could tell her of a good girl to help with housework. One girl had worked for her for seven years and would be married in a year’s time and she wanted to five her some help so she could have time to sew her trousseau. He told her he knew only one who had already left school. “And I am very much afraid her stepmother won’t let her go out. But, I’ll write a letter to them.” He came personally down and told them to let me get out, even if they had to take what I earned to pay someone else to help them. And so they consented to let me take the job. The wage was five crowns a month. Today, they get eight crown for one dollar. You can well imagine my surprise when I stood face to face with the same lady I had seen several times on my way to school. Her first thought, she told me later, was to send me back home. “But the more I looked at you, the more I thought that you looked like a pale, ill-taken-care-of flower, that with good care, could unfold to something beautiful.” So the first thing she did was to take me to her own doctor. Of course, I suffered from malnutrition and had ulcers. But he said, “Under your care, she’ll soon perk up,” and I did. The family consisted of the lady, who was a widow, and her twelve year old son. There was also an adopted daughter “Lala.” She was a mulatto, so they said, but she looked darker than that to me. She had been adopted my Mrs Lausen’s husband before she married him. They lived in Buenos Aires and an uprising among a bunch of natives took place and a lot of children were left orphans. The townspeople were asked to adopt them, so Mr. Lausen went to the court house and picked up a little boy. When he started to bawl, he put him back and took the girl. She was married a month after I got there, to as tall and blond a Danishman as could ever be found. He was a banker by the name of Valdemar Esman. All the papers carried big headlines about the nigger girl’s wedding. And what a wedding it was! We had caterers and didn’t have to do anything but eat and drink. But in the five years I worked there, with a wince cellar stocked to the rafters with the finest imported wines, I never saw a guest drunk. They had different wines with the different courses and after, liqueurs with their coffee.
5: With this lady also lived her two old maid sisters. The oldest one was Baroness Willie von Dyring Rosenkrantz; the youngest Martha von Dyring, the snob of the family. She insisted that we call the Baroness, her Grace when we spoke to her, while the Baroness herself told us to call her Miss Dyring or Miss Willie. She was a darling. Miss Martha flitted between Paris and Denmark; she was studying to become an opera singer. When she came home, she would invite all their friends to sit outside in the garden and listen to her sing. One day during her concert, Dad came running out of the stable and said, “What’s wrong?” The lady looked at him and said, “What do you mean?” He said just as innocently, “I thought somebody hollered for help.” We had to cover the parrot or he would scream nearly as loud as she did. She never did amount to anything. When I came to work for the lady May 1st, 1897. I didn’t see Mr. Degn. They told me he had gone to Germany to study photography. The lady gave up driving four horsed as the City wanted such high taxes for it. It was her father’s idea anyway. One day a letter came to the lady from Mr. Neils Degn saying he would pay a visit to Denmark. Right away the other girls and two old ladies who helped with washing, started to figure out who would be the next to fall in love with him. Finally, the one old washer woman said, “You just see, he will fall in love with Johanna.” I said, “No thanks! I don’t eat bread the butter has been licked off.” Meaning that he had had so many girls. And then one fine day I ran right into him in the hall. I knew him right away from seeing him on my way to school, but how I hated him now. I asked his name and said I would announce him, but he passed right by and went in to meet the family. I thought “You smart Alec.” He stayed about a week and I never spoke to him. | The last day he was there was Sunday and my day off. As I left the place he followed me. He asked if he could walk me home. I told him that I didn’t take the road away, and that I wasn’t going home but to have my picture taken. He then asked if he could take me to the theater after. I told him that I had already seen the play, so he finally let me go if I would promise him to send one of the pictures I had taken, which I promised, but I never did. When (he) came back, a year and a half later, it was the first thing he reminded me of. However, shortly after his first visit, the girl I had come to help got married, and of course I was way too young to take over, and the lady only wanted to pay one girl besides the cook. The lady said she would be glad to have me back when I got older. It so happened my mother was sick and I was needed at home. Here for a year I had my own room with a good bed in. When I left home, we slept five in one bed, with some hard boards in the bottom and a little straw on top. And so I came back home. At first, she seemed very pleased for all of the work I did, but it didn’t take long until one fine day she started to beat me up again. That was the end of my staying home. I found the paper, looked for a job and found one at a dentist. I was to do housework. It was a hard job with lots to do and little to eat.
6: The lady didn’t think I should marry him. For one thing, the big difference in our ages. She spoke from experience, she married the same way. “But worst of all, he is a Mormon.” She told me a story about her husband being over here and seeing one man with three wives and they all worked, but father. But then she said, “Not that he isn’t better than most men. He doesn’t drink nor smoke, but the name alone makes me shiver.’ But what she said set me to thinking. “By their fruits ye shall know them.” If he was so much better than the drunkards she had had to work, why shouldn’t his religion be better? My family also was on my neck about Mormons. So when he came back from Germany with the intention of getting married, I told him I was afraid it wouldn’t work out. “If we had children, the fight would start right away. I being a Lutheran would want them baptized, as we called it when a priest sprinkled a little water on top of their heads, when they were a few weeks old. You, on the other hand didn’t want that, you would have them wait until they were eight years old.” He said, “If that’s all there is between us, we needn’t part on that account. IF you think a few sprinkles of water will help them, I don’t think it will hurt them. But after they grow up, we will let them decide for themselves. Four months after we were married, we were both baptized in Aarhus harbor May 30th, 1903. We decided to start a studio and get married when a chance presented itself to buy two studios from a photographer who had to retire on account of sickness. The one studio was in the middle of town, the other in the suburb of the city of 5,200 population. The Lady right away offered to advance the money needed for the transaction. So we were married December 30th 1902 in Aarhus, Denmark. | n Denmark, when you work out like that you get a book to be signed by the police when you change jobs. It is called a “Character Book” and if you hire yourself for six months and the people make it so miserable for you that you can’t stand I, they won’t sign your book and you can’t get a another job. My mother was so happy when she found out what a terrible place it was that a decent girl couldn’t stay there and be in peace for the men, and also they starved her. But I decided then and there I would stay no matter how hard it would be. And I stayed a year until the lady told me to come back, the girl she got couldn’t take care of the work. I was then sixteen and one half year old. One year later, Mr. Degn again came to visit us. He was just out of the hospital after a serious kidney ailment. It so happened that the lady had just fired her driver. He was a heavy drinker and one night he had brought her to the Opera and was ready to take her home but he was so drunk that the fellows in the hotel stable, where the horses were always kept, tied him to the seat with heavy ropes so he wouldn’t fall down. They figured that the horses would find their way home. The horses went from one side to the street to the other nearly scaring the lady to death. When they finally stopped outside the door, she got hold of the gardener who took care of the horses. It was her last ride with that driver. She didn’t want just anybody in the driver’s seat, he had to look good in a uniform, be polite and quick on his feet. So she finally asked Mr. Degn if he would drive until she found the right man and he consented, and I was disgusted. I don’t think she looked very hard;. At least it took her a while before she found one. I don’t know how it happened, but when Mr. Degn left for Germany again, we were engaged, and I couldn’t understand how I could have hated him so.
7: The Lady that they worked for arranged for them to be married in this Cathedral.
8: We assume while she waited for Neils to return from Germany or maybe as she grew up and dreamed of "Prince Charming," Johanna created these lovely pieces to be used in the making of her wedding dress. These are the remnants of the dress. It was a gorgeous dress with a gored skirt. Her Mother's friend died right before the wedding and they took Johanna's dress to bury her friend in! Johanna was married in a black dress.
9: Today and always, beyond tomorrow, I need you beside me, always as my best friend, lover and forever soul mate.
10: Your friendship, love and well wishes will be remembered always. | I | . Four months after we were married, we were both baptized in Aarhus harbor May 30th, 1903. | We had no honeymoon but we had a nice apartment all furnished and made ready before our wedding. On January 1st arrived five people, the two to work in the studio and the other three to learn retouching. They all stayed at our place so I started out by cooking for six people. I had never cooked before, but I had my eyes open while I worked with the best cook to be has, so it went fine. But I soon decided to take over the job as receptionist and have a girl in the house, and I enjoyed it very much. We lived right by the studio so it made it very handy and we had a good business. About that time the church decided to buy a lodge building. Until then they had held their meeting in an old attic. When we went to the meeing the boys would toss rocks at us and holler, “There go the Mormons.” The Lodge building was in the rear of where we had meetings and of course the boys couldn’t see the difference between Lodge members and Mormons (as we were still hornless) sit get threw rocks at them too. The Lodge offered the church the building at a very reasonable price, and the church didn’t think twice before accepting the offer. However, they had to have some stand good with them and we were one of the first they came to and we accepted it at once. Our business was growing and the Lady had said we could have all the time we needed. | Then came the bombshell. The newspaper, of course, carried the big news about the Mormons buying this building and also the names of the guarantors. At that time the lady was on a trip around the world with her son. They left a few days before Walt was born, and we promised to send a telegram to Rome, where they intended to stay a while. We did and received congratulations from Rome again. A few days after the church was in the papers we received a letter from the lady’s brother-in-law, who was looking after her interests. He gave us six months to pay up our load. We didn’t know where to read the lady at that time, so all we could do was to offer the studios for sale and see if we could salvage enough to get over here, which we did.
11: We left Denmark the ninth day of May 1905 and arrived in Logan May 26, 1905. We had exactly $100 with which to rent a place, buy furniture and live on until Dad could get a job. We couldn’t speak English. If anyone thinks it’s easy to pull stakes from a good business, give your things away, because when people find out you want to go America, they know you have to be ready when the boat leaves even if you have to leave it all, and they don’t want to pay you anything for it, it isn’t/ It’s a hard thing to do. Financially I think we would have been better off in Denmark, but I know our children would never have had the opportunity they’ve had here. If I had gone to school here I would have had a chance for higher education. Not so in Denmark, poor children had to work. We had been in Logan three weeks when Dad got a job at photographer Tergesen at the big salary of elven dollars a week. The first weeks salary went for a baby buggy for Walt. He was so heavy, I just couldn’t carry him. | One day a Mr. A.B.C. Jensen came down from Preston and said he would be building a knitting factory and would we be interested in him building a studio apartment on the top floor. We decided to start for ourselves. So in November 1905, we moved to Preston. It was the first time I cried and longed for Denmark. There were no sidewalks or electric lights. It rained and there was mud so deep you couldn’t pull your feet out. The plaster on this new building wasn’t dry yet and it started to freeze, so it shone like diamonds. There was an open well in the yard, and two dozen children throwing everything in it, we even hauled a dead cat up one day. I had never seen such dirty cows and I had to have milk for Walt. There was a coal shortage, too, but we had good neighbors where we went down to keep warm and seek our meals. We didn’t like it a little bit. Having been born and living for twenty-three years in a large beautiful city, I asked myself what we were doing sitting in that mud hole. On the ship on which we came we met a young couple from Germany, he was a photographer also. They had an eight month old son the same as we. Their names were Mr. and Mrs Hust. We had been living nearly two years in Preston when a letter came from Mr. Hust. He wanted Dad to come to Salt Lake and they would go in business together. He painted a glowing picture of all the business they would be able to do among the German and Danish converts to the church. As we didn’t like Preston very much, we decided to make the move. However, we had a little more the move than we brought up there. | Johanna about 1906 Pregnant with Cecilia Degn | S.S. Arabic Left Liverpool on 12th of May 1905 Arrived in Boston, MA on May 20, 1905 Neils had $120 and was listed as a photgrapher They were going to Theodore Skabeland in Logan, UT | S. S. Arabic in 1905
12: Cecilia was born there (Preston, ID) June 30th, 1906. When the Doctor weighed her with all her clothes on he said, “It’s a little less than five pounds and it’s hair, most of it! May I brink my wife out to see her for I’ve never seen anything like this before?” And he did bring his wife out. She had just had a baby also. When she saw Cecilia, she said to her husband, “You are the doctor. Why can’t we have a baby with hair like that instead of a head that looks like a peeled egg?” When he came out to see me after, he said he was sorry he ever brought her out. It was all he had heard since the day Cecilia was blessed. I didn’t think we would ever get home, they all had to see her. | Three Generations Johanna,CeCe, Grandpa Sorensen, and Walt
13: And so we moved to Salt Lake. Neither we nor Mr. Hurst had any money so they went in debt to fix a nice studio up. It was on 2nd South close to Main Street. They got a pretty good business established, but Mr. Hust got most of the money. He had bought a home, and had monthly installments to meet. We rented an old house three blocks north on Center Street for sixteen dollars per month. His wife was sick, they had to have a hired girl. We had one boarder and another one who just got his dinner there for 25 cents a week. Mr. Hust ate up town and had to ride the streetcar home. Dad walked home to eat lunch and back. We also had Tante (Else Peirath) who didn’t have a penny to her name. She stayed with us one and a half years and did her temple work. When I talked to Dad about getting as much as Mr. Hurst, he just told me that ours was standing in the business and as far as I know, it is still there! Until Bennie came along, Aprill 11, 1909, I had scrubbed clothes for the boarders, Tante and the rest of us on a washboard. Now, I put my foot down and Dad finally went to a second hand store and bought an old rattle trap washer for eight dollars, but it was better than nothing, even if it had to be pulled by hand and made a terrible noise! | 1911 Neil Degn Family
14: We finally got tired of the Hust-Degn partnership and we decided to start a studio in Logan which we should have done in the first place! The last time I spoke to my father in Denmark, he told me that he would rather have had somebody tell him I had died than have me tell him that I had joined the Mormon Church. He was ready to leave for Canada where he had a brother living. He had to go ahead and earn money to send for the rest of the family. He was married but there was his wife, Anna, Freda, Mary and Christ. In the year it took (to earn the money), Mother, Anna, and Freda were baptized but never took any active part in it. When it dawned on my father that they had joined the Church, he said that if he had known of it, he never would have sent for them. | While we lived in Preston, he came to visit us. He had never seen Walt and Cecilia, so he came to spend Christmas with us. Tante was also there, so she said, “I’ll ask you to read aloud for me at night and your father can’t do anything but listen.” So I did read “The Life of the Prophet and other church readings. When it was time for meeting, I asked him if he would care to go. “No!” he said. “All you hear there is for you to pay your tithing and offerings. But I guess I may just as well go as sit here alone.” And lo and behold, the Bishop got up before the meeting started and gave the time for us to come and settle our tithing. And of course, my father said, “What did I tell you?” However, he couldn’t have peace after he went back to Canada. He came to Salt Lake and was baptized. Anna and Freda had married and moved to California. I don’t know what became between my father and his wife but she left him and went down to her children. Father sold the farm in Canada and came to Logan. He was in love with Preston, where he made so many friends while he visited us the first time, he wanted to build a home and a grocery store. If we could come with them, I could run the store. So Preston’s population increased again. We went away with two children in 1905 and came back in 1915 with five. But, my father ran out of money before he realized his store dream, and he never got it. Of course, we opened another studio, and I again got a couple of boarders. | 1918 Degn Family Christmas | Back Row: Gma Sorensen, Gpa Sophus Sorensen, Neils Mortensen Degn, Ruby Mae Degn, Bertha Johanna Sorensen Degn, and Waldemar "Walt" Sorensen Degn, Front Row: Julius (Boarder), Vera Johanna Degn, Sophus Henry Degn, Wilford Andrew "Bennie" Degn, Cecilia Marie Degn | Boarding House Three sisters in back: Cece, Ruby and Vera Frank D. is the boy on Johanna's lap
15: Vera was born in 1915. Shortly after word I received a phone call one night. I about nearly fell off the chair when I heard my stepmother’s voice. She told me she was in Salt Lake cooking for some rich people, and she would send me the money if I would please come down and see her. I told her I couldn’t as I had a new baby. She said, “Remember Johanna it’s twelve years since we saw each other.” I told her to take a vacation and come up, and she did. It was kind of ticklish to invite her as father was there too. They had never been divorced. And so, it didn’t take long until they decided to try it together again. They stayed together for a couple of years then she went to California again. She died with her daughter Anna a couple of years later. | By that time, we had added three more to our family. So with eight children we moved back to Logan, I thought it would be easier for them if we leaved so near to college. I wanted them most of all to get the education I had been denied. But they didn’t have the hunger for school I had. So far however, they’ve been able to make a good living. My father married again and remained in Preston, where he died April 11th, 1929. He is buried at Glendale cemetery with his third wife and her first husband, Mads Petersen. I inherited a canary bird I had given my father as she didn’t want that to take care of. Chris got his watch and a brand new suit of clothes. She got the house which she sold to Hans Nelson as she had another home. We have lived in Logan for about twenty-nine years this time and our last resting place is ready and waiting for us. It won’t be long now. Wave had a lot of joy out of our children, we have also had sorrow. But all in all, the happy hours far out-count the others. We have been blessed with a healthy bunch of children. We never had use for a doctor while they were growing up, and when I took Otto to the clinic to have him examined before starting school, the doctor told me he was perfect and he said, “If all families had as healthy children as you, we wouldn’t be needing doctors here this morning.” Good food always came first with me. I’ve never spend a dime in a beauty parlor, I would rather spend it on food and I couldn’t afford both. | Degn Family Christmas
16: I want to thank you, our children, for always being as kind and considerate to us. God will bless you for it, and some day when your steps get feeble, your children will make it easier for you as you did for us. I know that you have profited from the sacrifices we made in order to get over here. God Bless You, Mother | Standing: Victor, Sophus, Vera, Cecilia, Bennie, Walt Sitting (L to R): Otto, Johanna, Niels, Ruby | Ruby's Wedding
17: Heirlooms | Heirlooms | This doily was crocheted by Bertha Johanna | This chair was used in the Degn photography studio. It has a leather seat and back. | Cecilia used to keep wheat in this pewter pitcher. It was used to fill Sacrament cups in the Tabernacle | Ruby's Wedding
18: Cecilia talked often of how well all the siblings got along, that they really loved each other, and there was no one Cecilia would rather dance with than her brothers, because they were good dancers. According to Cecilia, they never fought or bickered. Bertha Johanna was sometimes known as Bertha and sometimes as Johanna. She was the authoritarian in the home; Papa, Nils Mortensen Degn, was the kind and gentle parent. The most he ever corrected Cecilia was to gently slap her hand, sigh, and tell her she had disappointed him. According to Cecilia, he did that only once, when she had let the baby sit too long in his diaper while she was babysitting him. --Tracy McCormick Jackson (Great Grand Daughter), 2011 | Neils was always the gentlest of men. He would click his heels and kiss your hand upon greeting you. --Gaye Anderson Larson on the back of a picture | Cecilia acknowledges that it could not have been easy for Bertha Johanna to have all those children and a gentle artistic husband who couldn’t bring himself to dun clients for payment. That’s why she took in boarders, to make ends meet. But when you’re cooking for 20 or so people (family of 10, several boarders, plus Tante (the story goes that Tante was turned back at Ellis Island because she was blind when she tried to emigrate to Zion. People were asked who would take her in, because unless she had a sponsor, she’d be sent back to Denmark, and Nils and Bertha Johanna said they’d take her), plus the widower down the street (Bertha Johanna sent a plate down to him every night. One of the children would go down with that night’s plate of food and bring back the previous night’s empty dish.), all you can do is cook all day. That means somebody else has to do the cleaning and laundrythe eldest daughter, Cecilia. Grandma told me that one day the doctor saw the parsley and leeks growing in the yard (I’m assuming this wasn’t in Logan, but I don’t know where it was) and said that if everybody fed their families as healthily as Mrs. Degn did, he’d have little work to do. You’ll notice that Bertha Johanna said something similar in her autobiography, that she always fed her family well, and they were healthy because of it. --Tracy McCormick Jackson (Great Grand Daughter), 2011 | Logan, 1946 Annalie Nielsen and Johanna Degn
19: Opal Earrings | Heirlooms | One day, the sisters were visiting their mom, Bertha Johanna, playing cards and having lunch. Bertha Johanna had a pair of opal earrings, ovals with a lacy filigree frame. The girls asked who would get mother’s opal earrings. Bertha Johanna looked around and said, “Well, since none of you girls have pierced ears, I guess the first one to get her ears pierced can have them.” They finished the hand, and Cecilia said, “It’s so hot! Doesn’t a fresh lime (limeade) sound good? Why don’t I go down to the drug store and get us each a fresh lime?” “Oh, Sis, you’re so good to us! Yes, please, we’d love a fresh lime!” So Cecilia went down to the drugstore and ordered up four fresh limes. While she waited, she had her ears pierced. When she got back to the house with those fresh limes, she said, “Well, Mama, I guess those earrings are mine!” She got the opal earrings, which she passed down to her only daughter, Joan Larson. Joan Larson had three daughters who, of course, all wanted the opal earrings, but since only one of the daughters, Celia Michelle “Shelly” McCormick Zebrack, was born in October (opal is October’s birthstone), Celia Michelle got the opal earrings.
20: Victor Degn, a son, has written this sketch:--My father and mother joined the church in Aarhus in 1903. They were active in the Aarhus branch and when it was decided to buy a meeting hall from a lodge they offered to sign on a note along with several others. When a newspaper broke the story about the Mormons growing in the area a list of the signers was published and as a result the banker, where my father had borrowed money, called in his note. This so disgusted him that they decided to move to Zion. Walt, however, was born in Aarhus in 1904. They arrived in Logan in May 1905 and father went to work for George Torgensen Studio. However, shortly thereafter A.B.C. Jensen came to Preston to open up his own studio on the second floor. Dad and mother talked it over and decided to do so. They moved to Preston in November of 1905. Mother wasn’t too happy with Preston as she had moved from a nice modern city in Denmark, and Preston had no paved roads, piped water, or electricity. She told of walking along the muddy street and having her shoe pulled off in the mud. The new building was damp and cold. The plaster was new and sweaty. She said that she had to bundle Walt up and take him over to her good neighbor once in a while to get warm. I assume she meant Mrs. Struve who was such a good friend and warm wonderful person. We moved around quite a bit in those days. Cecilia was born in Preston, 1906; Bennie in Salt Lake, 1909; Sophus in Logan, 1911; Victor in Logan, 1913; Vera in Preston, 1916; Ruby in Preston, 1918; Otto in Preston, 1921. Preston and environs had quite a Scandinavian community. All the other families almost seemed like cousins to us all. They weren’t called Mister by us. They were called by their trade name, such as: Photographer Degn, Blacksmith Jorgensen, Tailor Jensen, Shoemaker Godesen, etc. Many many parties were held and I have ever so many fond memories of the great times, and especially great food, served at these get togethers. My later fond memories though, are of joining the Persiana orchestra and playing with Mickey, Ray, Merlin, Joel, Snub and the gang. (Hart, Taylor, Palmer, Hart, and Bench). My mother’s father Sophus Sorensen, came to this country for a visit and decided to join the church and settle in Preston. He worked as a cement man, butcher, and storekeeper at various times. The first home he had that I remember was on south Main near Ray Taylor’s home. -Victor Degn
21: Denmark July 2000 | Votive Ship-- A model of the frigate "Unity" is part of an ancient custom from the Middle Ages to hang models in churches, especially in sea-faring nations. It was good fortune. This one was donated in 1720 to the cathedral and would have been hanging there on their wedding day! | Aarhus Domkirke was built about 1200 AD. When Grandma and Grandpa Degn were married, the Catholic Bishop of the diocese was the man in the largest frame found below. | Den Gamle By, Aarhus-- Open Air Historic Museum | Scott Anderson Larson (Johanna's Great Grandson) took his family to visit Scandinavia July 2000. | Scott, Jesse (son), Janece (wife) and Gaye Anderson Larson (Frank Degn Larson's wife) inside the church.
22: Red Cabbage: Grandma said this tasted just like her mother’s (Bertha Johanna)! 1 medium red cabbage, quartered, cored, and sliced very thinly 3 T butter (it’s Danish, use more!) 1 medium onion, finely chopped 2 medium cooking apples, peeled, cored and sliced 2 tsp caraway seeds Salt and freshly ground black pepper 4 T (or more) or any red jam or jelly (red currant is classic, but I usually use raspberry) 3 T water 3 T white wine vinegar | Melt the butter in a large pot, add the cabbage, stir well and fry over medium heat stirring nearly constantly. Add remaining ingredients (EXCEPT for jam), cover, and cook very gently until cabbage is quite soft (could take 1 - 2 hours). Stir from time to time and add a little more water if dish begins to dry out. Add the jam about 30 minutes before the end of cooking. Check seasoning, adding a little more jam or vinegar as necessary to reach a balanced sweet-sour flavor. This dish improves with reheating, so feel free to make it well ahead. -Submitted by Tracy McCormick Jackson | Family Recipes | Beef with Onion (I don’t have the right keys for the Danish word for “beef”, but it was pronounced “biff med loy”, lok being the Danish word for onions) This was one of my favorites from Grandma’s house. 1 lbs ground round or hamburger 2 medium onions, sliced into rings Flour Salt Pepper Beef stock or water Form the ground meat into patties and dip in seasoned flour. Try to get the flour pretty well into the surface of the patties. Brown well in hot fat and butter, lift from skillet and set aside. Brown the onions in the drippings. When well browned, add a heaping tablespoon of flour and cook that for a minute or two in the fat. Add enough stock to make a gravy, bring it to a simmer and add the browned patties very carefully. | Simmer for a few minutes till the patties are heated through. Serve with mashed potatoes. (Grandma’s mashed potatoes were always light, never had lumps, and were seasoned with WHITE pepper. That way, she said, there were no unsightly black flecks in the beautiful light potatoes.) | Johanna with Scott Anderson Larson (Her first great grandchild)
23: Frikadeller: This is like meatloaf, in that every woman has her own variation, so that one could eat meatloaf in a dozen different households and each would taste different (just ask a missionary). The Danes are unique in the shaping of these meatballs: they should be oblong. 1 lb ground round lb ground pork 1 grated onion 3-4 slices white bread 1/8 tsp pepper 4 T flour tsp cloves 1 tsp salt 2 eggs Milk or cream | Be sure the meat has been ground 3 or 4 times. Add grated onion and the bread which has been softened in milk. Mix well. Add the remainder of the ingredients. Add the milk or cream a little at a time, stirring well after each addition. Fry the meat balls (or oblongs) in a hot pan. Use suet or good shortening (I would use olive oil and butter). The meat balls are placed on the pan with a spoon which has been dipped in the hat fat each time. (They may be too light to shape, thus the spoon method.) Fry the meat balls until light brown. Make a gravy to serve with the meat balls by adding more meat juice/broth to the pan in which the meat balls were fried, thickening the gravy with flour which has been stirred with stock or cream. -Submitted by Tracy McCormick Jackson | Red Fruit Pudding I’d always heard about this one. Grandma said Bertha Johanna would serve it with cinnamon sugar croutons (leftover bread cubes, fried in butter, and tossed with cinnamon sugar). It never sounded that great to me, but then I tasted it several years ago in Germany. Yum! lb red currants 1 C sugar 1 lb raspberries 1 packet Dr. Oetker’s original vanilla pudding (basically, vanilla flavored cornstarch) Cover currants with water, boil till currants split and give off juice; strain. (Or just use liter red currant juice). Remove C juice; let cool. (I add an ice cube or two to get it really cold.) Dissolve sugar in boiling juice. Dissolve pudding mix in cooled juice. (This is not Jello vanilla pudding! If you can’t find the packets of Oetker’s vanilla pudding, then just use cornstarch and vanilla.) Add raspberries to boiling juice, then stir in the pudding mixture. Be careful not to boil the texture out of the raspberries. You can use any soft red fruits for this, like strawberries, but I like raspberries best. And I top it with whipped cream. -Submitted by Tracy McCormick Jackson
24: Open Sandwiches Smorgas pronounced smurr-goez actually comes from the smear of goose grease on the bread, which is then topped with various tasty things. A smorgasbord = smear + goose + table (bord), which is a table of tasty sandwiches. All Scandinavians eat these, but the Danes have raised the bar. Soft or hard bread of any variety can be used, the topping so generous that no bread shows. The skill comes in selecting tasty ingredients that will complement or contrast with each other and then arranging them to make a visually satisfying snack. Butter keeps the bread from getting soggy (since you may not have goose grease around the house). These are eaten with a knife and fork. Shrimp Smorgas: On buttered white or sourdough bread, line up as many shrimps as possible all lined up in the same direction, as pretty as the scales on a fish. Garnish with lemon and dill. Smoked salmon smorgas: Slices of smoked salmon (the Norwegian kind from Costco is good) on buttered white or rye bread, seasoned with lemon and freshly ground pepper, and crossed with a diagonal line of lightly scrambled eggs garnished with fresh dill or asparagus tips. I like this also with red onion, tomato, capers, and dill. Roast Beef and Potato Salad: Slices of rare roast beef on buttered rye or white bread topped with potato salad garnished with fresh chives and maybe a slice of tomato. Egg, tomato and caviar: on buttered bread alternate slices of hard boiled eggs and tomatoes. Garnish with caviar (don’t panic: you can get this at Ikea in a tube like toothpaste. I still crave that stuff!) Potato and Salami: Use buttered rye bread. Add a layer of finely sliced boiled potato (new are best), then a layer of salami, pressing the ingredients down well. Garnish with chopped chives. (It seems strange, I know, but the best pizza I’ve ever had was in Florence and it was a potato pizza with salami.) ---Submitted by Tracy McCormick Jackson (Great Granddaughter of Johanna) | Cucumber Salad Grandma used to serve this with sour cream mixed in it. 1 cucumber (use the English kind) Salt 2-3 T sugar Freshly ground black pepper 7 T freshly squeezed lemon juice or white wine vinegar 7 T water 2 T freshly chopped parsley and/or dill Slice the cucumber very thinly, salt and leave to drain in a colander topped with a saucer plus a weight for 1-2 hours. Rinse off salt and squeeze the cucumber dry. Mix the lemon juice or vinegar, measure water, sugar to taste, pepper and a pinch of salt, stirring well to dissolve the sugar. Pour the dressing over the cucumber. --Submitted by Tracy McCormick Jackson (Great Granddaughter of Johanna)
25: Danish Liver Pate The Danes don’t call this “pate” like the French. It’s called “liver paste”, it’s eaten frequently for breakfast or snack on dark, buttered rye or pumpernickel style bread with bread and butter pickles. I can’t stand liver, but even I must admit this is delicious. 1 lb pork liver, minced 6 oz. back pork fat, minced 5 fillets Scandinavian or 7 fillets Portuguese anchovies 2 small onions, peeled and minced 2 tsp salt Freshly ground black pepper Pinch of sugar, allspice, ground cloves 10 T butter Scant 1 1/2 C flour 2 C milk 2 eggs, lightly beaten Blend the liver, fat, anchovies, and onion to s smooth mixture, removing lumps and strings. Season well. Meat butter in a pan, add flour and stir over gentle heat for a few minutes, than add the milk gradually to make a smooth sauce. Add liver mixture and eggs, blending well. Pour into two 5-cup loaf pans (or one larger pan, if you don’t have small), lined with a double thickness of buttered foil. Place both pans in a roasting pan, add hot water to half the depth of the paste and bake for about two hours at 325 degrees F until the paste is firm to the touch and an inserted skewer emerges clean. Turn out when cool. --Submitted by Tracy McCormick Jackson | Pytt i Panna (Put in the Pan) I love this hash. It bears absolutely no resemblance to canned corned beef hash and is a great way to use up leftover roast and potatoes. So good! 2 T butter 2 T oil 6 medium potatoes, boiled and cut into inch dice 2 medium onions, cut into inch dice 4-5 C cooked meat (lamb or beef, with some ham or uncooked bacon), cut into inch dice Salt and freshly ground pepper 1 T freshly chopped parsley 4-6 fried eggs (or 4-6 raw eggs yolks) Heat half the butter and oil and gently fry the potato dice until crisp and golden. Remove and keep warm. Heat the remaining butter and oil, add onion and cook until transparent but not brown. Add the diced meats, increase hat slightly and cook, stirring constantly, until beat is browned and all sides and thoroughly reheated. Add the cooked potatoes, stirring gently until completely mixed. Season to taste. Add parsley. Serve with the fried eggs, or eggs yolks in half an egg shell, on top. --Submitted by Tracy McCormick Jackson
26: Christmas Recipes | Christmas Goose Although I don’t have a family recipe for it, Grandma said that for Christmas every year, dinner was goose. On Christmas Eve, the “folks” would open the doors to the parlor, and there would be a decorated tree. The goose would be stuffed with apples and prunes and served with red cabbage and sweet browned potatoes. Here are the recipes for those. Sweet Browned Potatoes: Boil small, uniformly size potatoes, being careful they do not break. Drain well. Reheat in a skillet containing cup goose fat (which you should have a lot of if you cooked a goose) and 2 tablespoons brown or white sugar. Brown for a few minutes till the potatoes are crispy, golden brown and delicious. --Submitted by Tracy McCormick Jackson (Great Granddaughter of Johanna) | Christmas Rice Pudding Again, this was a dish I had frequently heard stories of, but never tasted it done right until I lived in Sweden. The amount this makes varies, depending on the size of your pot. I don’t know how to make it with a set recipe. This is not your average rice pudding! In a pot (like a sauce pot or stock pot), pour enough short grain white rice to cover the bottom by about to inch. Pour a couple of inches of water over the rice, add salt in the appropriate amount for the rice, and bring it to a covered boil. Let this boil for 10 minutes, adding water ir necessary, so the rice doesn’t burn. After 10 minutes, add whole milk (although 2% is okay, since you’ll be adding significant amounts of cream later) to within a few inches of the top of the pot. (You are basically making enough pudding to fill the pot. Make sure you have a bowl twice as big as your pot for later.) Bring this milk mixture to a simmer, then turn down the heat so that it s-l-o-w-l-y simmers. Add a vanilla bean if you have one (it tastes better, but they are expensive, and you can add vanilla extract later if you don’t have one). Cook a few hours, stirring occasionally, making very sure it doesn’t scorch. Cook until it’s thick and the rice has absorbed all the milk. Add enough sugar, stirring in, until the mixture is sweet enough. If you didn’t use a vanilla bean, now add vanilla extract for flavor. Let it cool. (I put it outside overnight, but it’s cold here in the winter.) Whip cream until it’s soft peaks. (Use about as much cream as rice. For example, if you have 2 quarts of rice, whip 1 quart cream. Yes, it’s a lot, but this is Danish food we’re making here!) Gently fold the whipped cream into the rice until it’s light in texture and well incorporated. Ta-dah! Traditional Scandinavian rice pudding! Again, Grandma said this is how it used to taste when she was a girl. --Submitted by Tracy McCormick Jackson (Great Granddaughter of Johanna)
27: Spritz Cookies Makes about 5 dozen cookies 1 cup unsalted butter (at room temperature) 3/4 cup granulated sugar 2 large eggs 1 tsp vanilla extract 1/2 tsp almond or lemon extract 2 1/4 cups all-purpose (plain) flour 1/4 tsp salt Food Coloring Granulated or colored sugar, sprinkles, red hots, or red or green glaceed cherries (optional) Cookie Press 2 Cookie Sheets Preheat oven to 375 and set out 2 ungreased cookie sheets. In a large bowl, suing an electric mixer on high speed, cream the butter until fluffy and pale yellow. Add the granulated sugar and continue beating until the mixture is no longer gritty when rubbed between your finger and thumb. Beat in the 2 egg yolks (reserving the egg whites), vanilla, and almond extracts on low speed just until blended. Sift the flour and salt together onto a sheet of waxed paper. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix on low speed or stir with a wooden spoon just until blended. | Divide the dough into batches for the cookie press. You can color each batch different colors or keep the dough natural in color. Roll the cookie dough batches inside a sheet of waxed paper into a log slightly smaller in size than the cylinder on the cookie press. Remove the paper, slip the dough into the cylinder, select the design plate you desire and screw it securely into place. Hold the press upright, tightly grasp the handle, and , applying even pressure, press out the dough to`form the cookies. Cookie presses work best with a fairly soft, pliable dough. If the dough is too firm, add a few drops of milk. If the dough is too warm or sticky, refrigerate it for a few minutes to firm it up. Make sure to press cookies into cool (never warm) baking sheets. Any piped dough that doesn't come out neatly may be scraped off and put through the press again. Lightly brush each cookie with the reserved egg whites, lightly beaten. Sprinkle them with sugar, sprinkles, red hots, or press a candied cherry in the center of each. Bake just until the edges are golden, 8-10 minutes. (If the shapes don't hold their definition after baking, refrigerate the dough for the next batch for 20 minutes to firm it up before pressing.) Let the cookies cool on the pan on wire racks for 1-2 minutes to set before transferring them to the wire racks to cool completely. --Submitted by Mandy Larson Heal (Great Great Granddaughter of Johanna)
28: Ceclia Larson Frank D. Joan | Walt Degn | Neils and Johanna Degn | Otto Degn | Ruby | Victor Degn | Vera | Sophus Degn | Bennie Degn
29: Cabin Pic | Standing: Victor, Sophus, Vera, Cecilia, Bennie, Walt Sitting (L to R): Otto, Johanna, Niels, Ruby
30: Cecelia Degn Larson Oldest Daughter of Johanna | 3 Generations Johanna, Sophus (Her Father), Cecilia, and Walt
31: Frank J. and Cecelia | Frank D. Scott Gwen Leanne Greg Jeff | Joan Tracy Kent Shelly Linda
32: Frank Degn Larson Grandson of Johanna
33: You make us laugh! | Frank and Gaye | Scott Katie Mandy Adam Holly Jesse | Gwen Nicole Aaron | Leanne Melissa Russell Andrea Cecilia Issac | Greg | Jeff Taylor Trevor Jacob Macy
34: Joan Larson McCormick Granddaughter of Johanna
35: Elder Frank Jones Larson 1922 | Mac and Joan McCormick | Tracy Suzanna Alden | Robert "Kent" Jordan Katie Chase | Michelle Jamey Zach Seth | Linda Cameron Michael Danielle