Friday, April 6, 2012

Serena Peterson Jensen


Serena was the oldest child of Anne Christina and Simon Petersen. She was born August 20, 1841 in Oslo, Norway. No records were kept on Serena’s life, so the facts given here are from pure memory of those who knew her. Those living who once knew Serena were very young at the time of her death. Nora Smart, Serena’s daughter, was only eleven when her mother died. Nora contributed most of the facts about her mother. Nora associated only such a very short time with her mother, and then it has been such a long time since Serena’s death that many details have been forgotten.
The writer is trying to picture Serena’s place as the oldest child in a large family in the early days of Norway. Anne’s having to divide her time between her own home and the master’s home would create responsibility for the children. Serena would naturally be given these duties. All the children had to be producers in those days. No information is available about Serena’s schooling.
Getting married young was a common tendency among the young folks of Norway. Serena married when she was eighteen.
Serena had blue eyes, and dark brown hair. She was about 5'6" tall, and weighed about 150 pounds. She was slender, never fat. Serena parted her hair in the middle, braided the hair on each side of the part in back and bobbed the braids on the back of her head. She always wore her hair this same way.
Serena was very quiet and very tender hearted. She was retiring, and would not push herself forward. Her feelings could be hurt easily, and often were. She never complained. She sometimes sulked. She never gossiped about other folks, but was frank to tell a person what she thought. She was afraid of David.
Serena was a very good woman. She was a most faithful and devoted mother. She was a stalwart, rugged citizen. She was a true blue character, who never varied from the truth or what was right. She followed day in and day out the same pattern of life. She possessed a true religious conviction, and lived by this conviction.
Serena’s home was orderly, quiet, and well managed. The children learned early in their lives to respect their mother. Serena’s home was a two-room log house. One room was used for the kitchen and living room. The other room was used for a bedroom. The kitchen had a table, cupboard, chairs, a small cook stove without a warming oven, rocking chair, wood box, lumber floor, a wooden stand for a wash basin, and a water bucket. The water was heated in kettles on the stove. Candles were used for lighting the homes. Each home made its own candles. Later coal oil lamps were used in place of the candles. The bedroom contained three beds, clothes cupboard with a curtain in front, and a small monkey stove. Beds were made on the floor in the kitchen, especially during sickness.
Serena was a good cook. She taught her two daughters to be fine cooks. Serena did not prepare many varieties of food. She always had plenty of meat, potatoes, vegetables and white flour. Serena was not a hand for pickles. The only fruit available was currants, gooseberries, plums, etc. Fruit was not used too much. White bread, milk, cheese and butter were always on hand.
The morning meal would be meat, potatoes, gravy and sometimes flapjacks. Hot biscuits were eaten at noon. The noon dessert would be mainly rice pudding. At night they had mush made from white flour. Cream was not served on the pudding or mush, just skimmed milk. The cream was made into butter. The writer has eaten this same type of food at Sarah Alder’s place many times. Pies were rare. Cane molasses was common.
Serena often cooked up a meal and would invite the ladies to come to her home for dinner. The visiting was done during the day in those days. The ladies would bring their children and handy work.
David wanted to make a trip to Salt Lake late in the fall. Serena thought starting a trip at that time of the year was most unwise. David was determined to go. Serena prayed that he would be delayed or change his mind. The morning he was to go, all kinds of confusion prevailed. The team just could not be harnessed. After several hours of fussing, David decided not to go. Serena felt her prayer was answered.
Cold storage or refrigeration was unthought of at that time. The settlers did not keep ice in sawdust pits for summer use. Meat, butter and cheese were kept in the haystack during the summer. Meat could not be kept too long by this method.
E.R. Lawrence was the presiding elder of the Worm Creek branch at the time it was set apart from the Franklin Ward. He spent much time talking about the devil. This annoyed Serena to no end. One fast meeting Serena said, “It was not necessary for Brother Lawrence to talk about the devil al the time.” She was sure there were better subjects that could be discussed. She also said, it was her desire to live long enough to see Preston Ward get a good bishop.
William Parkinson was made bishop of the Preston Ward just before Serena died. His first call after being made bishop was to see Serena. She was very happy to know that he had been made bishop.
Dr. Ormsby was the only doctor in the valley. He was called to see Serena on his return from Gentile valley. As Dr. Ormsby stepped inside the room he said, “I’m too late. Why did you not call me sooner?” Serena died soon after Ormsby’s visit.
On August 26, 1884 Serena was relieved of her earthly cares. She died from the effects of dropsy. In those days, a casket was made out of pine boards. The outside was covered with black cashmere and the inside was white cashmere. Handles were fastened on the outside. They always sat up with the dead in those days. Clothes were moistened in a salt solution and kept on Serena’s face after she died. The funeral was held at the homestead.
William Parkinson took charge of her funeral. This was his first meeting to preside over after being made bishop. Eighty-four wagons went to the old cemetery after the funeral. Serena is now buried in the Preston Cemetery.

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