Having Dinner With My 2nd Great Grandmother

The other night my family and I were able to have dinner with my 2nd great-grandmother Helene Maria Anderson Soelberg.  She was not here in person as she has been gone for 66 years. I never knew her, and yet yesterday she was here in spirit, smell and taste.  We caught a small glimpse of her for a moment.  The grandma who stopped the Indians from stealing her baby became even a little more real in my children’s eyes. With the smell of nutmeg in the air and a hint of in it the dumplings, we enjoyed the new taste of dumplings for dinner with our chicken soup and experienced a small taste of her Danish heritage.  For a few moments she was alive with us again.

Danish Dumplings

I have been looking for opportunities to help my children learn about their heritage. To connect more with the great people they descended from. The stories that make them real human beings with full lives, heartaches, emotions, triumphs and struggles. People that had difficult lives in comparison with ours.  It has been fun to see them get excited about participating in their family history in some aspect. They get excited about the people, the stories, and who they are.  Recipes and food are one way we can experience some of the similar things they did. The smells and tastes can take us back generations to various cultures, and give us a glimmer of who they are.

I was excited to find this recipe in a family history book, and wanted to share it with my children for dinner one night.  Some liked it, some weren’t sure what they thought of the dumplings. Beau who does not enjoy chicken noodle soup, loved the dumplings with a hint of nutmeg. It gave the soup a whole different taste.  Caitlyn declared that Dumplings were one of her 10 foods she never wants to try again.  But that seems to be her verdict for every food lately.

James C and Helena Maria Soelberg Wedding Picture 23 Oct 1891

Here is a copy of her wedding pictures with James.  What a great photo. I always love looking at these photos wondering what their personalities were like in real life. I love it when I can find a history, story or journal entry about them. The story of them meeting is recorded by her daughter and favorite of mine –

“Mother had grown up to be a very charming young lady. She was a good student in school and loved it. She never missed attending church and was a spiritual girl. She was small and petite, with big blue eyes, flaxen hair, a winning smile and was very soft-spoken.”

Now yeast was a very special meaning to me and my parents. Let me tell you why. James Christian Soelberg, a young convert from Denmark, had just arrived in Manutua, Utah in company with some returning missionaries. He was the guest in Brother Jensen’s home until he could get settled. One balmy summer evening they were eating a typical Danish supper of “bread and milk” when a gentle knock came at the door. When it was opened, there stood Mother, her big blue eyes twinkling, her flaxen hair shining and with a sweet smile asking for a “start of yeast”

While it was being prepared for her, introductions were made and then Brother Jensen jokingly said, “Lanie, I brought you a husband from Denmark.” She blushed nervously and said, “Thank you,” took her start of yeast and hurried home to make her bread.

It must have been “love at first sight” for father for after she left he stood spellbound for a bit and then said, “She is the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen. I’m going to marry that girl someday.”

Three months later, after a whirlwind courtship, Father and mother were married in the Logan L.O.S. temple 23 October 1891. They were both 21 years of age. Father was a handsome young man, six feet tall. Mother could stand under his outstretched arm and weighed only 98 pounds when they first married.”

Maria Soelberg

They had a special relationship and adored each other and when it came time to depart this life, they went together. Here is her daughter’s words –

“While on vacation in Idaho one summer we had planned to go to “Sun Valley Resort” and really begged my parents to go with us. Mother didn’t want to go. Dad put his arms around her and said, “Not this time but when we go on our long journey, we are going together.” I’ve often wondered if Father had a premonition about what would eventually happen to them.

It was a bright, sunny December afternoon a few days before Christmas, after stopping to mail my Christmas package, the folks decided to drive out see Renaldo’s family west of Idaho Falls. The snow had melted on the highway, but was deep along the sides. Father always carried round peppermint candies in his pocket. As he reached in his pocket to get one for Mother, he dropped it. He tried to pick it up while driving. As he bent down, he turned the steering wheel sharply. When he realized he was going off the road, in his confusion, he put his foot on the accelerator instead of the brake. The car shot across the road, down a deep borrow pit, directly into a telephone pole. Mother was thrown against the dashboard and was crushed like a china doll. She suffered so many broken bones the doctors made no attempt to set any of them. Father’s chest was crushed, his lungs punctured by the steering post, plus other internal injuries.

I went to Idaho immediately and stayed about ten days. doctors felt they were doing quite well so I returned home. Father passed away that same day 8 January 1948 on Kathleen’s 5th birthday. Just one week later 15 January 1948 Mother passed away the day before I got back to Idaho.

Mother and Father had adjoining rooms in the hospital. After Father’s passing Ruth and Zenobia worried so much about how they would break the news to Mother. The next morning when they came into Mother’s room she said, “Pa came to see me last night and said good-bye. He’s gone isn’t he?” I feel convinced that Father did visit Mother before his spirit departed. With a love like theirs it was a natural thing for him to do.

To lose both parents at one time was really hard on me, but had either one survived, they would have grieved their life away for the other one. I received great comfort in recalling Father’s words and their greatest wish, “When we go on our long journey, we are going together.”

I am grateful for stories that have been written down, and lives that have been shared. It makes me excited to learn about them, to draw closer to them. I remember in a regional conference we just had that Sister Nelson told us that she really felt the dead did not like to be called “dead” because they weren’t. They were alive. Just because their body and spirit are not united until the resurrection. Their spirits live on and I have felt those great spirits in the work of Family History and under the spirit of Elijah. I have been having a great time-sharing that love of my ancestors with my family and children.

If you have a desire to try some Danish dumplings yourself, here is her recipe written by daughter.

Helena Maria Anderson Soleberg’s Danish DumplingsMaria Helena Anderson

2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (approx.)
1/4 square butter
Salt and pepper to taste
6 eggs
1 cup flour (approx.) to make a stiff ball.

Season milk with salt, pepper, nutmeg and butter. Bring to boil in a heavy skillet. Stir dry sifted flour rapidly into milk. Stir vigorously until the mixture forms a ball and leaves the sides and bottom of the pan. Remove from heat. Cool slightly. Add whole eggs one at a time. Beat until absorbed and smooth. Continue until all eggs have been added. The consistency should be smooth. Drop by tablespoonful into hot boiling soup broth. Cover and cook until dumplings float to top. Serve at once.

In winter, coming home from school and smelling the aroma of a big pot of soup simmering on the back of the stove was such a delight. Add to this, fresh-baked bread, butter, milk and home canned fruit for dessert was a meal fit for a king I thought.  – Ilda M. Soelberg Anderson (daughter)

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One thought on “Having Dinner With My 2nd Great Grandmother

  1. Tiffany says:

    This was fantastic!! Thank so much. I have only heard bits of this story. I want to have dinner with her now. What is the story of her saving her baby from the Indians? Thanks again for sharing Shakae!!

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