Sunday, January 8, 2012

Anna Borkersson Andersson Thurston

Anna Borkersson Andersson Thurston

Ann Borkersson was born in Roinge, Stoby, Kristianstads, Sweden on 27 December 1809. She was the second child of six born to Borker Andersson and Johanna Pettersson Dubath, both Swedish born. 

Anna married Ola Andersson on 20 February 1839 in Slimminge, Malmohus, Sweden. Anna was 29 years of age and Ola was age 30.

Ola and Anna made their living as tenant farmers in Slimmage. Life was understandably difficult for the couple as children were quickly born into their family and they worked to provide a living for them. All five of their children were born in Sweden:  Johanna [1839], Karna [1841], Anders [1843], and twins Nils and Maria [1845].

In the early 1850s missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints came into the Malmo area. They found that many people wanted religious freedom. The Lutheran Church was strong in Sweden at this time and the government had strict control of it. 

The missionary efforts brought about much persecution especially by the Lutheran ministers who had the law on their side. After a time, the missionaries were banished from Sweden and went into Denmark. Some Swedish saints moved to Copenhagen, Denmark for religious freedom. The Church was also persecuted in Denmark, but the work seemed to move along creeping again into Sweden. 

Previously, Anna had received a vision in a dream where she saw the Mormon missionaries. When they came, she recognized them. Ola and Anna happily received the missionaries and accepted the gospel. They were baptized 2 April 1853. 

As soon as the people in Scandinavia were baptized, they desired to immigrate to the United States and then go on to Zion in Utah--Ola and Anna felt the same. They paid passage to New Orleans in full for their family and also purchased beforehand the cattle and a wagon to take them to the Salt Lake valley. 

The family began their journey by traveling a short distance by water from Sweden to Copenhagen then by steamship to Kiel, Germany. A train then took them to Hull, England. They then went to Liverpool where they boarded the ship Charles Buck on 17 January 1855.

Their journey was often unpleasant and sometimes unsanitary. The men and women were asked each day to clean their living areas. Food became very scarce because what had been provided for them by their Church leaders was withheld.  

But many went about their duties uncomplaining. The women happily busied themselves sewing tents which would be used on their journey across the plains.

The Charles Buck reached New Orleans on 14 March 1855. The saints continued by traveling up the Mississippi River by boat and reached St. Louis on 27 March 1855. The Anderson family left St. Louis for Atchison, Kansas arriving on 22 May 1855. Many died of Cholera during this part of their journey. Here in Atchison or Mormon Grove they grouped again to cross the plains by wagon beginning on the 13 June 1855. After tremendous physical trial, they arrived in the Salt Lake Valley 7 September 1855. 

It seems quite insufficient to simply record their arrival date. There are no written records from the Anderson family to note the difficulty and sacrifice which was experienced by them on this long journey from their beloved homeland in Sweden. But their trials would not end there.

Brigham Young sent the Anderson family to Fort Ephraim, Sanpete County, Utah to help build up the area there. They built their home inside the fort. They stayed in the fort until 1860. Most of the families in Sanpete Valley were of Scandinavian descent. The winters in Sanpete were hard and the Indians were continually being dealt with. But the Scandinavians were hardy and adjusted well.

In 1857 Ola became ill. Fearing the worst, he asked a friend, Tore or Tora Thurston, a native of Norway, if he would marry Anna after he died. Ola died on 25 January 1857 and Tore kept his promise marrying Anna on 28 September 1858. Ola and Anna's children soon left her despite their young ages, for other homes and places to help make their own living. 

Tore Thurston Family
Anna Borkersson Andersson Thurston on bottom right

Tora provided a home and support for Anna for thirty-seven years. For her part, Anna certainly contributed greatly to the physical, spiritual and emotional well-being of the Thurston household of which she became an integral part. 

Tore’s second wife, Margaret Ann, treated Anna like a mother. Margaret Ann was from Denmark and twenty-seven years younger than Anna [about the same age as Anna's oldest daughter. She and Anna were able to converse and understand one another easily.

Anna's daughter Mary lived with the Peter Madsen family in Provo for three years, then she returned to Ephraim where she worked for various families. Niels lived with the Jens Anderson family for one year and then the Rasmus Larsen family for seven years. Fifteen-year-old Andrew lived with the Thurstons for a short time, and his late teens, Andrew became a rider for the newly-organized Pony Express.

Tore Thurston was a huge strength for the Church in Ephraim and was called to leave Ephraim in 1864 to help settle Circleville in Piute County. After many hardships, the families returned to Ephraim in 1866 where they lived until 1874. After seven years they were again asked to move for a short time to Glenwood, Sevier, Utah and then in 1874 to Annabella, Sevier, Utah. 

During the time many polygamists were being imprisoned for unlawful cohabitation or polygamy. Tore was able to escape arrest and imprisonment. After the Church declared the Manifesto in 1890, Tore lived exclusively with his first wife Lodisa. Margaret Ann and Anna were somewhat on their own and worked very hard to sustain their lives.

While in Annabella Tore built homes for his wives. He and his first wife lived in a rock home and  Margaret Ann and Anna lived in wood frame home.

Annabella home of Margaret Ann and Anna Andersson Thurston

A letter written by Margaret Ann as scribe for "Aunt" Anna Anderson, to Anna's daughter, Caroline (Karna) Anderson Allred. Anna was concerned that temple work be done by her children. At age 82 Anna claimed she was in splendid health. After finishing the transcription of Anna's message, Margaret Ann added a few words of her own, including the following:  February 26,1892.  I can say that I am well, and we get along as best we can. I get what I can by weaving and your Mother does some knitting and [we] get some for that and in the summer we raise a good garden and that helps us a good deal.

Below is an example of spinning wool into yarn. Anna spent many hours in this activity to help the family and to earn money for other items for the family. [Anna, of course, would have been wearing a long, full skirt when she spun wool.] 

Tore died on 14 November 1895 in Annabella. Anna lived 3 1/2 years more dying on 8 May 1899 in Annabella. Throughout all of Anna's trials, she maintained her cheerful disposition. Her passing was mourned by hundreds of people, including her own children and grandchildren, Tora's children and grandchildren, and all of her many friends. She was buried in the Annabella cemetery as was Tore and his other two wives.

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