Juanita Brooks was a Professor at Dixie College for many years and is a well-known author.

She is recognized, by scholarly consent, to be one of Utah’s and Mormondon’s most eminent historians.  Her total  honesty,  unwavering  courage,  and  perceptive interpretation of fact set her fellow historians more stringent   standards  of   scholarship   to   emulate. Dr. Obert  C.  and  Grace  Tanner  have  been  lifelong friends  of  Mrs.  Brooks  and  it  is  their  wish  to perpetuate her name through this series.  Dixie College and the Brooks  family express their thanks to the Tanners.

Copyright 1986 by Dixie College St. George, Utah  84770 All rights reserved





by William Mulder



The invitation to deliver the Juanita Brooks Lecture this year came as a genuine surprise.  I can think of others more deserving, but I am glad to be in such good company and  to have this opportunity to express my admiration for Juanita's life and work, an admiration— and affection—I tried to convey in a review of her memoir.  Quicksand  and  Cactus,1 when it appeared, a memoir which had lain in manuscript for forty years but speaks to us now of her girlhood and growing up in the clear tones and fresh colors of unclouded early memory. Dale Morgan, who saw chapters of these reminiscences in rough draft, called them "rich and heart-warming," and told  Bernard  DeVoto  that  no  one  could  read  them "without a renewed sense of the worth of human living." I find dignity and delight in equal measure in these remembrances  of  things  past  as  Juanita  moves  from innocence to knowledge, a knowledge of the larger world beyond  Bunkerville  and  Dixie.   In  one  episode  she encounters a stranger who comes to town and who is not, she discovers, one "sitting in darkness" but instead one who fires imagination with possibilities, a shock of recognition which proved crucial to her literary awakening.

Throughout Juanita’s memoir we catch glimpses of the curiosity that led to her historical researches:  the chagrin she felt at the chance she missed to record the story of a survivor of the Mountain Meadows massacre; her quickening pulse as she realized the worth of the John Pulsipher journals In her husband's family; her lucky rescue of the Myron Abbot journal about to be used to start fires in the owner's kitchen stove.

Plucky, curious, adventurous and even willful as a girl, courageous and resourceful as a young widow left, with a child, to earn her own living, Juanita emerges as a strong, tough-minded skeptic who has experienced enough of the miraculous to keep her faith in a provi­dence she would rather understand than rely on.  Hers was a skepticism already present in a young girl's clear-eyed assessment of "those in authority;" she was reluctant to accept official explanation for matters that left too many questions unanswered.  She "got mad" at  Brigham Young  early,  for  a number  of  reasons, reasons her later scholarship only strengthened.  Yet, a simple "Thank you. Lord," concludes every trial. Emerson's metaphor of knowledge as a straight line, wisdom as a square, and virtue as a cube suggests the dimensions of Juanita's life and work: the knowledge of Mormon ways in a frontier community, the wisdom born of independent observation of these ways, and the virtue of a strong central character who,  de-ipite doubts, performs her duty, participates loyally in the life of the community, and perseveres in her private vision.

My impressions of Juanita as a person and as a Student of Western history and literature were formed, of course, long before her memoir appeared.  One summer nearly thirty years ago was particularly memorable. Because no record of it appears anywhere else, I want to describe it briefly and, on this occasion, deposit this  slender  file  of  correspondence  in  the  Brooks family archives.2    The correspondence grew out of a request from Juanita, writing from St. George on August 2, 1956, at the suggestion of Harold Bentley, then Dean of Extension at the University of Utah, to do some directed reading on Western America for three credits the school board insisted she needed as part of her teaching re-certification if she were to teach English "C" legitimately.

You  can imagine my astonishment.   A fresh Ph.D. hardly dry behind the ears, I could only reply that recommending books on the West for her to read was like carrying coals to Newcastle.  She should, I told her, be my mentor.  But we pooled bibliographies and she sent  me  a  list  of  reading  she  had  already  done, "without  rhyme  or  reason,"  she  said—histories  by Bernard  DeVoto,  Dale  Morgan,  Wallace  Stagner,  Nels Anderson,  LeRoy  Hafen,  and  so  on,  and  fiction  by Jonreed  Lauritzen,  Virginia  Sorensen,  Sam  Taylor, Ardyth Kennelly, and Maurine Whipple.  She closed her preliminary  report  with  a  characteristic  bit  of information:   "Right  now,"  she  wrote,  "I've  been plowing  through diaries  and journals,  and am right excited by the promise today of a 2-volume, handwritten one by D. D. McArthur, which the family has kept hidden all these years.  You can easily see my blind spots," she said, "so start me on something before I come up to complete my registration."

It was easy to get Juanita started—with Henry Nash Smith's Virgin Land  and Walter Prescott Webb's  The Great Plains, and to keep her going with Willa Gather's My Antonia, A.  B.  Guthrie's The Big Sky,  and Andy Adams' Log of a Cowboy, among other titles.  By the end of November she had read and reported on an impressive range of "Reading Around in the West," as she described it.  Her evaluations were rooted in life as much as in literature,  filled  with  astute  if  unconventional commentaries which led my colleague Don Walker to say, "She has her own firm way (stubborn in the best sense), but that makes her comments all the more interesting." Juanita's  letters and reports  that  summer and  fall described  arduous  days,  work  interrupted  by  family duties  and  community  calls  and  by  visits  from government agencies and scholars from eastern campuses researching her files for both sides of what at the time was called "the Piute problem."  She reported that she read Smith's Virgin Land "with a pencil" and made an eight-page precis for her own files.  She did the same with Webb's The Great Plains.  Most valuable for her, she said, was the fresh outlook these books had given  her.   "No  neat  answers  tucked  away  in  a pigeonhole somewhere."  In one letter she explained the reason for a delayed report:  "The deer hunt is upon us."   (That hunt, by the way, was one Karl Brooks invited one of my sons to go on, a son who years later found himself flying helicopters in Vietnam and who remembered,   I  am  sure,  his  first   lessons  in responsibility in the field with Karl.)  In another letter Juanita confessed that she began reading The Big Sky with resentment, partly because "the print was so small as to be murderous to my eyes," she said, and partly because the first fifty pages were too full of improbabilities  measured  against  her  own  pioneer experience.   She  wanted  to  "argue  a  little"  with Guthrie about a corpse he kept around too many days before getting it buried.   But  she liked the book better as she got into it, and even stayed home from stake conference one Sunday to read all day long, in spite of the fact, she said, "that our visitors were Adam S. Bennion and J. Reuben dark.  I found myself so engrossed," she said, "that I came up out of it as though I had been on a cheap drunk.  Actually," she said, "it took until Monday night to finish it; what with teaching five classes that day I could put in only the short in-betweens."

This correspondence,  I think you will agree,  is vintage Brooks, worth the rather long footnote to her personal history I have indulged in.  The footnote leads me to my topic because Juanita is not only a fine historian; she is also a born storyteller, and  Scandi­navians, despite their scarcity in Dixie, figure in several of the anecdotes she recounts in Quicksand and  Cactus.   One  of  them,  about  how  Chris  Lingo undertook to secure a second wife, has made the rounds for years, but in her girlhood recollection of it as she heard it we get setting, characterization, and a sense of an authentic source, not the quickly told hearsay joke that gets into the folklore collections.

"The  Big  Ditch  was  cleaned  once  a  year,"  she remembers.  "This was usually done in the late fall after most of the crops had been harvested, and each man worked out his assessments in proportion to the land he cultivated. . .Before work began each morning the Watermaster stepped off the stints and drove in a peg to mark the place of each man.  At eight o'clock each was in his place and did his stint, going ahead to do another at the head of the  line as soon as he finished. . .What discussions developed during the noon hour"—discussions  Juanita  would  overhear  when  she brought her father's lunch to be eaten in the shade at the top of Uncle Andy's field.  "Men who would shrink from speaking from the pulpit would wax eloquent over the shovel handles; men who turned to stone if asked to address  the meeting  could  entertain  the  crowd with ease.  Here the cloak of sanctity was torn off, tainted jokes were told, testimonies of the overzealous were repeated amid hilarity that was suppressed in church. Here, too, originated tall tales that became legend." Juanita  remembers  how Nephi  Hunt  told  about  Chris Lingo:   "His  name  ain't  really  Chris  Lingo,  but everybody calls him that because he talks so much.  He lives down in San Juan country now, I believe. .  .He came down to this part of the country one fall and stopped over by the cotton factory just at noon.  They had between fifty and sixty girls working there then. They brought their lunches and spread them out under the trees, and Chris thought this would be a good time to look the material over.  He was out in search of a second.  Well, he wanted to get acquainted, and didn't know a better way, so he went and stood on a big rock not far from their table and took off his hat.  You know he was tall and good-looking and had a fine head of curly hair.   'Give me your attention,' he called. 'I have just come from Sanpete County in search of a second wife.  Will you young ladies please look me over and if any of you think you would be interested, 1 would like to talk to you when you finish your dinner.' Well, the girls did look him over.  They joked among themselves  and  dared  each  other  to  talk  to  him. Finally, quite a crowd did, go.  He picked out Serenie, and later he married her!" 3

Chris  Christensen's  story  is  situation  comedy, wholly  indigenous  and,  although without benefit of dialect, is of the earth earthy, what I mean by a sense of humus.  It fertilizes the imagination and we find ourselves  laughing,  but  not  at  Lingo's  expense. Sometimes  the  humor  is  verbal,  but  rooted  in circumstance, the language inseparable from the scene, as in Juanita's reminiscence about the Scandinavian brother's marvelous barrel of molasses.  She remembers how he bore his testimony about it:  "We used from it all winter," he said, "and our married children used from it, and our neighbors used from it.  And I am sure that the Lord had his hand in it too."  "We knew," says Juanita, "that he didn't mean it/like it sounded, but we couldn't resist repeating it." 4

Humor is no respecter of persons or boundaries, and these  stories  were  echoed,  or  stories  like  them originated,  wherever  the  Scandinavians  settled  in Mormon   country.    Sanpete   and   Sevier   counties, especially,  as  centers  of  Scandinavian  settlement, yield  a  richer  harvest  than  Dixie.   St.  George and Scandinavia have a common bond in Erastus Snow, who founded the Scandinavian Mission in 1850 and colonized the  Cotton Mission  in  the  1860s,  but  few of  the converts followed him to Dixie.  By then, beginning with the first company of Saints who arrived in the Salt Lake Valley from Denmark in 1852, the Scandinavian immigrants had been directed north J;o Boxelder and south to Sanpete and Sevier counties,5 with Salt Lake City's Second Ward itself becoming a Little Denmark. Charles L. Walker, whom we associate with the Southern Mission and whose diaries tell us so much about the pioneering  generation,  resided  in  the  Second  Ward before his call to Dixie and had already started his daily entries.  On Sunday, October 23, 1859, he noted that he had "calculated to go to the Tabernacle but a Danish  Brother  came  for me  to  settle  a difficulty between him and a scotch man both parties were near to fighting point."  After "laboring with them for about 2 hours" Walker got them to shake hands and feel "pretty well toward each other."6 Such a dispute finds its echo, with a flourish of dialect, in the anecdote about a Welsh and a Danish brother in a congregation in Malad, Idaho, where the Scandinavians were in the minority.  As Sherrie Sorensen tells it, the bishop called the Danish brother into his office and asked what the problem was between him and Brother Jones.   Said the Danishman: "Vel, dat old Velshman called me a Danish s. of a b. Now, vouldn't dat make you upset vit him?"  The bishop replied:  "No, it wouldn't bother me at all; I'm not Danish."  Whereupon the Danish brother retorted:  "Vel den, vat .if he called you dat kind of a s. of a b. vat you are?" 7

As in Juanita's story about the molasses barrel, the humor  is  linguistic  but  arises  from  a  realistic situation.  A similar comic realism figures in Maurine Whipple's The Giant Joshua, in which Lars Hansen and his wife the Yeast Lady, the novel's token Scandinavians, enliven  the  story whenever  they  appear.   Lars made furniture and played the fiddle.  "He had decided to go heavily into the cradle business, he told Abijah; that was one market that never ran out in Zion."  And Sister Larson could clack her store teeth and drop her upper plate in "a ghastly misplaced grin" that on more than one occasion scared the Indians off when they were about to  steal  precious  bread.   They  believed  it  to  be "Mericat-medicine that could make a smile wander at will." 8

I find few references to Scandinavians in Walker's journal after he moved south.  Scandinavians, however, may not have made history in Dixie on the scale they did elsewhere in the state, but a second-generation Swede certainly wrote it, and in passing I want to acknowledge the debt we owe to the late Andrew Karl Larson for his histories and biographies— The Red Hills of November, I Was Called to Dixie, his life of Erastus  Snow—which  comprise  a  matchless  regional legacy.

And now I see humor in my own situation, standing here presuming to tell you what you already know so well.   Compared with Andrew Karl Larson,  I  am an imposter.  I was born in Holland.  I am Scandinavian only by adoption.  My only credential is that I am a card-carrying member of the Ola Nilsson Liljenquist Family Organization.  It came about this way;  In 1947, after  I  had  completed  a  master's  thesis  at  the University of Utah on "Utah's Nordic-Language Press," which I described as  "An Aspect and Instrument of Immigrant Culture" and in which I stretched my Dutch to acquire a reading acquaintance with Danish, Swedish, and Norwegian, I went off to Harvard carrying my thesis under  my  arm  the  way  Benjamin  Franklin  entered Philadelphia with his bread rolls, and signed up for a seminar on the history of immigration with Arthur M. Schlesinger, Sr.  He took a look at the thesis and said I ought to capitalize on my Mormon background and do a full-scale history of one of these immigrant convert groups.  I chose the Scandinavians because after half a century of proselyting, from 1850 to 1905, the Mormon migration from Scandinavia was as large as the Puritan migration to New England before Cromwell, a movement substantial  enough  for  any history.   A paper  from Schlesinger's seminar would be a start.

The American Civilization Program at Harvard  in those days required preparation in five areas, one of them   in   a   foreign   field   related   to   one's specialization.  With a visiting professor from the University of Uppsala at Harvard that year offering a course on Scandinavian history, I took Providence by the hand and met Sven Liljeblad, an ethnologist who, it turned out, had a special interest in the West because he was constructing a written language for the Bannock Indians of Idaho.  While he taught me about Scandinavia I filled him in on the Mormons.   One day he called my attention to a notice from the Swedish-American Line announcing an essay contest on Swedish influence in America to commemorate the Swedish Pioneer Centennial in 1948.  Professor Liljeblad said I should write an essay on one of my Mormons, and when I told him the sources were in Salt Lake and I was too broke to go home over the Christmas holidays to dig into them in time for the deadline, he reached into his wallet and pulled out the trainfare.  I could pay him back, if ever, at my own convenience.  "You must go," he said, and I went.   I remember stopping off at the Church Historian's Office on South Temple on my way home from the  Union  Pacific  Station,  impatient  to  look  up something on Ola Nilsson Liljenquist, Hyrum's Swedish bishop whom I had heard  about  and who had  led  in building the town "from the stump up" in the  1860s. Through  his  enterprise  as  mayor  the  town  became celebrated in local history as "the cooperative city." A polygamist with three wives, he knew something about cooperation.   At  the  Historian's  Office  I  learned about a surviving son, a respected math teacher in the city, who welcomed my inquiries and brought out his father's letters and a diary.

To  make  a  long  story  short,  I  went  back  to Cambridge after the holidays, essay in hand, showed it to Professor Liljeblad, sent it in to the contest and, back home for the summer, nearly fell out of a cherry tree in our orchard in Mill Creek when a long-distance call from New York in June asked me whether I could take a trip to Scandinavia that summer as one of the prizewinners.   The  trip was a godsend because, with letters . of  introduction  from Professor Liljeblad  to curators  and  librarians,  I  got  into  collections  of Amerikabreven,  or  letters  from  America,  and  many printed  accounts  about  the  Mormons  in  Scandinavia, material  that  ultimately  found  its  way  into  my dissertation, "Mormons from Scandinavia, the Story of a Religious Migration," which the University of Minnesota Press published in 1957 as Homeward to Zion: The Mormon Migration from Scandinavia, and which has found its way into many a footnote since.

The  point  of  all  this  is  that  the Liljenquist family, proud that their ancestor had made his way into a  collection widely distributed during  the  Swedish Pioneer Centennial, considered me a member of their clan and invited me to annual reunions in Hyrum.  Hyrum did not have Ephraim's  reputation  as  a  town  that laughed at itself, but during the reunions I heard stories  as  good  as  were  being  told  elsewhere. Scandinavians  there,  like  the  immigrant  convert  in nearby Mendon, could complain during the days of anti-polygamy raids when federal marshalls spied out the countryside:  "Haf de lies dey tells about us, isn't


At  one  of  these  reunions  I  met  Emma  Anderson Liljenquist,  Cache Valley's "Aunt Emma," who at 89 could look back on a long life of service as a pioneer midwife.  She remembered an epidemic of sore throat one time and the great many children who were sick.  A well-intentioned lady eager to aid went around swabbing the  throats.   "But  she  used  the  same  swab  for everyone," said Aunt Emma, "so I guess she spread the trouble instead of curing it."  Aunt Emma's father was Gustave Anderson, a master stonemason from Sweden who, with his Norwegian wife Maren, came to Utah in 1857, settling first in Salt Lake City's Second Ward and then,  in  1866,  in  Hyrum.   He  had  a  passion  for neatness. Aunt Emma told me.  He held great pride in his work and in his person.  In neither could he ever excuse any carelessness.  He was careful to make the well-tailored clothes brought from the Old Country last as long as possible.  As soon as he came home from meeting he would take off his Sunday best and required his  family to do the  same.  Whenever the children walked with him to church, they had to walk either well behind  or before him  lest  they kick dust  on his polished boots.  With walking cane, white shirt, and vest and gloves, he seemed the aristocrat.  He set a standard for the town.   He extended his desire  for neatness and order into a public duty and built a snow plow which he drove himself  to clear Hyrum's paths after a storm.   At church conference time he would lend the bishop his own best suit of broadcloth to be worn on the stand; he took pride in having his bishop as dignified as the visiting brethren.

Aunt Emma's reminiscences,  a  genteel  humor  of situation,  do  not  fit  the  familiar  cycle  of more robust stories the Scandinavians love to tell on and among themselves.  Apostle John A. Widtsoe, himself of Scandinavian stock, once told me, with a twinkle in his eye, a story on Bishop Liljenquist himself, one closer  to  the  kind  of humor we  expect  the minute somebody lapses into dialect:   the good bishop,  the story  goes,  was  once  discovered  behind  the  barn enjoying a cigar, but he was equal to the occasion: "It's yust too bad," he said, "to leef all da goot tings to da yentiles."  I took that to be a great original line until I discovered it to be a staple of Scandinavian humor, a hardy perennial in a cycle of stories centering on the Word of Wisdom.  The Word of Wisdom cycle,  and the cycles centering on polygamy, Indians,   natural   calamities,   testimony   meetings, irrigation, domestic matters, and church authorities, are  cycles  within  the  large  distinctive  cycle  of Scandinavian humor  seen  as  part  of  the history of Mormon   immigrant   literature.    These   have   been collected  for pure  enjoyment  in  such retellings  as Grace  Johnson's  Brodders  and  Sisters  and  Woodruff Thomson's unpublished "Ephraim Stories:  The Tellers and the Telling," or for critical analysis by professional folklorists like Hector Lee in his and Royal Madsen's "Ephraim's Nicknames" in the Western Humanities Review in 1949, Thomas Cheney in an article on "Scandinavian Immigrant Stories" in Western Folklore ten years later, and William A. Wilson in several articles in the 70s and 80s, such as his "Folklore of Utah's Little Scandinavia" in the Utah Historical Quarterly  in 1979.  Inevitably students and storytellers alike are drawn like flies to the  molasses  barrel  of  Ephraim's   stories   and storytellers, and within our cycles within cycles, as prominent  and  well-defined  as  the  Wakefield  and Coventry cycles of England's medieval mystery plays, is the Ephraim Cycle of Scandinavian humor.  In a recent issue of Sunstone devoted to "The Seriousness of Mormon Humor" and "The Humor of Mormon Seriousness," Richard H. Cracroft of Brigham Young University, Mormondom's unofficial court jester, says that "Our Mormon jokes collect  about  those  points  on which we  feel  the greatest strain—the Word of Wisdom,  the amount of money we are required to give to the building of the kingdom, the time spent by each of us and especially our lay leaders, in directing the work of the kingdom, and the austere and self-sacri- ficing life of the Mormon missionary." 10   Cracroft's collection points may be the centers of what I have called cycles.

Richard C. Poulsen, also at BYU and a student of material  folk  culture,   laments  what  he  calls "vernacular regression" in the Scandinavian artifacts left  in  the  Sanpete-Sevier  region.   Pressures  on settlers of foreign birth to adopt the manners and customs of the American people are responsible, he believes, for the loss.  "The symbolic repetition of forms," he says, can structure and b&come a "liberating force in the lives of the people." 11   Fortunately, in Scandinavian immigrant humor we seem to have a hardier strain than in folk art and architecture.  Old World ways  and  attitudes  persist,  and,  to  argue  from Poulsen's principle of repetition, the repeated cycles of  storytelling  create  a  community bond.   In  that sense,  the storytellers form a guild and guarantee

continuity. 12

I was lucky enough to get down to Ephraim nearly forty years  ago,  before  the  generation of  classic anecdotalists and raconteurs like P.C. "Petee Bishop" Peterson had died off.  I was working on that master's thesis I mentioned earlier,  and I had been reading correspondence from Ephraim that appeared in Bikuben (The Beehive), the Danish-Norwegian weekly published in Salt  Lake  City.   One  correspondent  in  1876  was disturbed  about  "the  opinions  that  many  of  our foremost  towns  have  concerning  us  poor  'Sanpeters' that the cats and pigs keep the milk pans clean, and the hens lay their eggs in bed, while the milk pans standing on the shelves above them receive the rising dust from the ground, afterward to be mixed with the butter."   Signing  himself  "Arbeidsbi"  (Worker  Bee), the correspondent wished to turn loose Bikuben's whole swarm on such ignorant impressions.   To be sure, he said, "since about two thirds of the total population in Sanpete is Danish, Swedish, or Norwegian, it naturally follows that many of our national peculiarities survive here—some good, others less good."  But things were improving:  "Even our social enjoyments are undergoing a thorough  reform."   Cardplaying,   drinking,   riotous feasting, fighting, and using tobacco were now rarities. Ephraim had built a little theater and the last winter had seen several dramatic productions and concerts "of an instructive character." 13

And it was in Bikuben that I learned about Carl Christian Anton Christensen,  painter  and poet whose Danish verse was bringing Ephraim and Sanpete as much fame as its good butter.  In Bikuben or Skandinavins Stjerne (the Scandinavian Mission's Star) I read his rhymed  letters  and  humorous  sketches  and  got  a foretaste of the comic spirit that animated the whole community.   "There  are  guests  in  the  parlor,  but what's in the pot?" asks a dismayed housewife in one of his  sketches.   "Man kalder mig Digter,  jeg er kun Maler/Og Dansk er det  Sprog,  jeg  daglig  taler...." "They call me a poet," he recited at a Scandinavian festival in Logan in 1892, "hut I'm only a painter, and Danish is ay dally speech." 14   However slightingly he may have regarded his avocation as a writer of familiar  verse  as  compared  with  his  professional interest in brush and canvas (his work, rediscovered, is now on permanent display in the Church Museum of History and Art across from Temple Square in Salt Lake City), whatever his devaluation of his verse, his ear served him as well as his eye and he recorded the characteristics of his people in authentic accents.  To the familiar, the cherished, the sentimental, and the comical in their lives, he gave dignified or witty or gently satirical expression as the occasion demanded. Sometimes  the  expression was  felicitous  enough  to become memorable and part of the oral tradition of Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish Saints alike, for all read him.   "Den sode Lotte" was  often sung to an old-world tune, "Den lille Ole:"


I know a maid and she is fair,

But she is hard to please, I swear;

When her caprices rule her mind

She's still becoming, but less kind....

She passes lightly in the dance

And easily from Ole to Hans

Who must confess like Samson old

That men are weak and women bold.


(You will have to forgive my inadequate translation.) "Jo, Jo," heads would nod:  "Yes, yes, C.C.A. has said it."  A long comic poem describing a Christmas party at the home of Bans the tilemaker and his good wife Martha appeared on the front page of a December issue of the Utah Posten in 1874, too long, I'm afraid, to recite here, but it would demonstrate that the Scandinavians had as much trouble with the warning in the Doctrine and Covenants that "much laughter is sin" as with observing the Word of Wisdom.

C.C.A.'s verse commentaries on the times and his description of the local scene and the characters he knew provided perennial entertainment.  The formula in his "Rimbrev," or letter in rhyme, varied little, but the  observations  and  witticisms  were  timely.   He described life in Ephralm during one cold February:  to keep warm in the evenings the young people waltzed to the  music  of  a  rather  imposing  assemblage  of instruments:  three violins, two flutes and a dulcimer, a bass viol,  a clarinet, guitar, mandolin, and five harmonicas "which the boys can play."  There were also a silver cornet, a trumpet, bassoon, harp, organ, and piano.   The  town was  currently  doing  well  with  a homemade remedy for sick folk that sold at a very high price "because what is expensive is considered good," and people bought it up at a great rate.  The fact, said C.C.A., that the concoction contained a generous quantity of brandy may have had something to do with its success.  To be sure, one had to have a doctor's prescription, but it was easy to develop symptoms which miraculously disappeared on purchasing the "medicine." So the "Apotheket," where the jars bore Latin titles "to hide from common folk what was in them," was doing a thriving business;  it was the drugstore where all kinds  of  goods were  sold—brushes,  coffee,  tobacco, oil, and where, moreover, in one corner, was found the post office, on Fridays the rendezvous for people from all around as they awaited the arrival of Bikuben; Then Danish speech falls on the ear, The sweetest sound a soul can hear.

C.C.A.  loved  "det  Danske  Sprog"  and  took  every opportunity to make the immigrant feel proud of it.  He had only scorn for those who hid all old-world books and bric-a-brac and tried to conceal their foreignness. He was willing to hope the Adamic tongue had been a form of Scandinavian, and in several allegorical poems in  which  the  scene  is  laid  in  the  hereafter,  he peoples the spirit world with his "soskende," has them speak  their  own Danish,  Norwegian,  or  Swedish,  and organizes the Mormons among them into a Scandinavian Stake!  Once at a Scandinavian entertainment in Manti, C.C.A. was asked for a speech:  in rhyme, as usual, he summed  up  the  panaceas  of  gold  and  silver  and anti-trust laws and tariffs, and then presented  his economic dream for Sanpete, guaranteed to give every family a new carriage, an organ in the parlor, perhaps even a "Klaver" or pianoforte, and new clothes for the womenfolk from head to toe.  His plan, he said, was simpler than any  that had been proposed:   let  the chickens lay twice a day; see that eggs sell for a dollar a dozen, wheat for three dollars a bushel; let the cows give milk in rivers that never run dry, and the churns always yield premium butter; and when it rains, let it rain cabbages and potatoes.

C.C.A. was fond of "homespun"—it stood for quality: he might have welcomed the word as a judgment of his verse.  In the poem "For og Nu" ("Then and Now") read at an Old Folks'  gathering in Ephraim in  1909, he satirized the attitude of the younger "enlightened" generation in their belittling of everything associated with  the past.   Grandfather's  shirt,  he  said,  was always white; it was made of the best linen spun at home by grandmother's devout hands.  It was paid for with an honest kiss, and lasted many a year.  C.C.A. was old-fashioned in things he thought counted.  He could praise the Lord or poke fun at his people's foibles.   He knew  their nearness  to  sentiment  and tears, but he also knew their capacity for laughter. He was a salutary influence then, as he is a delightful memory now.

C.C.A.'s humorous verse, available to whoever can take the trouble to translate it, is the less familiar part of Ephraim's legacy, though it prepared me for the part that is more familiar, what I would call the congregational   humor   that   seems   to   be   every Ephraimite's  birthright,   stories   in  Scandinavian English that have survived the years like hand-me-downs but today, I am afraid, somewhat the worse for wear as the  retellings  by  the  likes  of  Petee  Bishop  and Dr. H. Z. Lund, long since gone to their reward, lost their accent.  In 1949, Lucille Johnson Butler, Grace Johnson's sister, descendants of first settlers, aided and  abetted  by  the  Ephraim  Enterprise,  made  a determined effort to collect authentic versions while the  veterans  were  still  alive.   Speechless  before professional  folklorists  and collectors  from outside who  had  tried  to  record  their  lore,  the  local storytellers  came  alive  in  a  series  of  dinner gatherings in Ephraim and Salt Lake, where Mrs. Butler recorded  their  favorite  stories  onto disc  and wire recorders,  transcribed them, and submitted them with commentary as a master's thesis at the University of Utah  in  1950,  a  thesis unaccountably neglected and seldom  cited.   Mrs.  Butler,  more  entrepreneur  than scholar, nevertheless salvaged a considerable body of townlore  in the nick of  time and gave  it  a rough classification.   Just an M.A. myself at the time, I was only unofficially on her committee, but by then I had  my  Scandinavian  card,  had  sampled  Ephraim's wonderful  variety  of  nicknames  in  person,  and  had heard and seen Petee Bishop and Dr. Lund "in living color."  Whatever re-told, half-told, twice-told tales I know about what the Salt Lake Tribune once called "the funniest  town  in  Utah," 15   I  owe  to  my  brief  but delightful  association  with  Mrs.  Butler  and  her project.  Mrs. Butler classifies the 140 anecdotes in her collection into eight divisions:  Nicknames, Farm Life  and  Industry,  Town Life,  In Church,  Polygamy, Domestic  Life,  The  Coarse  Grain,  and  a  concluding anecdote about the storytelling itself which she calls "The Last Word."  In it Christian Hall is doubled over in Fred Nielson's butcher shop laughing uncontrollably over Fred's stories and crying, "Fred, qvit now, qvit now, I cannot any more, I cannot any more, I cannot any more."

We have a Golden Legend, the stories that cluster about J. Golden Kimball kept alive through impersona­tion; we may some day have a one-man or -woman revival of the Ephraim cycle.  Some of Mrs. Butler's collec­tions, after twenty years, did find its way into her sister Grace Johnson's booklet Brodders and Sisters in 1973.16  Many of these anecdotes, I am sure, are familiar because they have circulated like old coins minted from true metal.

In these stories even calamity begets humor.  It is a humor like Lincoln's, the Lincoln who could say of a sentry who had fallen asleep at his post and was marked for execution, "Well, I don't believe shooting will do him any good."  With Mark Twain, these Scandinavian settlers say "Facts are awful, but you can be honest if you laugh."  When the bishop thanks the Lord for last night's storm, he qualifies, "Dat iss, if it hasn't done more damages than good."  When he prays for rain he reminds the Lord there will be less tithing if the harvest is poor.  When a luckless Dane loses a finger to a buzz saw and his companion chides him, "Why, you fool you.  You put your finger right into the saw," he says, "I dit not; I yust vent like dat—oops, der goes de udder vun."  When the alarm goes out that Indians are raiding the hayfields and Niels Thompson sees his companions who are working on the fort wall fall on their knees and begin to pray he turns to swearing, "Get the hell off your knees!  Get the hell on your horses!  Get the hell out in the field!"  He is "stuck off the kirk" (excommunicated) for his profanity, but one of the church authorities comes down to hear the case and reinstates him, saying, "There is a time to pray and a time to swear.  And when the Indians are killing your people, there is no time to pray."  When her neighbor commiserates with her over the loss of her husband, a widow says, "That was the first experience I had with that, but then I could have stood that, but . less than ten days after, our Jersey cow died."  When Lars  Larsen  is  accused  of  stealing  water  and  is confronted with one witness who says he was just fifty yards away when he saw Lars take the water, and another who was sixty yards away "and he seen you, "Lars tells the justice, "Dey are both liars.  Dey vas more dan two hunnert yards avay ven I steal dat vater."  "Then you did steal the water?"  "Dat," says Lars, "remains for de yury."

In these stories Brother Thompson wonders why the town needs a fence around the cemetery:  "Those inside ean't get out and those outside don't want to come in." In these stories Sarah Ann Peterson's Danish dumpling soup wins a war when Black Hawk eats his fill and, with swollen belly, leaves satisfied and peaceful.  In these stories Brother Yergensen, appraising material for his wife's burial clothes, says, "It look all right, but vill it vear?"  (In some versions the deceased is his mother-in-law.)  In these stories funerals and weddings lose their solemnity in unexpected turns of phrase, as when Brother Peterson laments the death of a member of the congregation:  "It vas only yesterday he vas in our midst; now all that lies before us is the old carcass." And when  the bishop  joins  Yon  Jacob  Jorgensen and Helena Sophia Torkelsen in marriage he does so "vit all de authority I has under my vest" and pronounces them "vater and mutter."

In these  stories an irate first wife throws pig slops  on her husband  and  the  younger,  more  comely second wife in bed.  In these stories the bishop warns the young people not to play "run, sheep, run" after dark because he doesn't "vant a lot of little lambs running  around  in de  spring."   In these  stories  a father warns his son that a girl he has been seeing in Salina has been "monkeyin' vit efry poy in dat town" and the son answers, "Hell, Dad.  Salina ain't such a big town."  In these stories the "biscop" interrupts a dance at the meeting-house:  "Shtop de music shtop de music, dey is drummers in our midst."  But the bishop emerges  smiling  after  a  hurried  conference  with strangers:  "Iss awright, iss awrlght; dey is drummers from de ZCMI."

In these stories Brother Petersen is asked to close the meeting with  prayer,  and half  the men  in  the congregation come forward.   "I mean Peter Peterson,". and half of those sit down.  In these stories nicknames are necssary to make distinctions:  Cooper Pete, Baler Pete, Big Pete, Little Pete, Pete Bishop, Petee Bishop. All are Peter Petersens or Petersons.  In these stories Brother Yohanesen drinks too freely of his elderberry wine, and Brother Justensen sneaks his cop of coffee. But he exonerates himself:  "It vas no sin.  It don't boil."  In these stories some Scandinavian Saints are so devout they abstain from drinking coffee on Sunday, and everyone is sure the Lord approves of Danish barley beer.

In these stories, finally, while the Saints struggle with nature and human nature, with sin and syntax, the Indians, it is said, learn to speak English with a Scandinavian accent.

Reduced  to  the  mere  point  of  the  story,  Mrs. Butler's   collection   can   induce   indigestion   or eventually jade the palate.  We miss the tellers of the tales, their voice and nuances.  It is better when the lore gets into the storytelling, as we have seen in Juanita   Brooks'   reminiscences,   or   in   Virginia Sorensen's fiction, or in the regional dramas of Wanda Clayton  Thomas,  the  way  the  oral  literature  of England's Wessex, say, gets into Thomas Hardy, or of the Mississippi into Mark Twain.

In the title story of Virginia Sorensen's collection Where Nothing  Is  Long Ago:   Memories  of  a Mormon Childhood,  Brother  Tolsen  kills  a  neighbor  caught stealing  water,  one  of  those  shovel  murders  not uncommon in irrigation country.  Brother Tolsen turns himself in to Bishop Peterson and is acquitted by a jury to whom "stealing water is stealing life itself." When, years later. Brother Tolsen dies, Virginia as narrator,  a young girl at the time of the murder, thinks, "Well, another one is gone; soon there won't be a real Danish accent left in the whole valley."  Amid the details of irrigation, the ritual of Water Turns, the importance of the Water Master, we get a child's reminiscence:  "I loved to hear Bishop Petersen tell about Denmark, from which he had come as a young man. I asked him all sorts of questions to keep him talking, for his odd accent and laughter pleased me.  .  .The water was to him,  next  to the Gospel  itself,  the unmistakable sign of the Kingdom."  One other memory lingers:   after  the  trials,  the  young  Virginia  is driving along with her family and sees Brother Tolsen out irrigating:  "Dad and Mother waved and called to him.  He lifted an arm to answer, and I saw that he held a shovel in the other hand.   'I wonder if he bought a new shovel,' I said suddenly.  For a minute, the air seemed to have gone dead about us,  in the peculiar way it sometimes can, which is so puzzling to a child.  Then Mother turned to me angrily.  'Don't you ever let me hear you say a thing like that again! ' she said.  'Brother Tolsen is a good, kind man!'  So until this very hour I never have." 17  We have moved from the crude humor of "Dey vas more dan two hunnert yards avay ven I steal dat vater" to the unintended irony of a young girl's "I wonder if he bought a new shovel."

In  "The  Vision  of  Uncle  Lars,"  in  the  same collection, Great-Aunt Anegrethe reminisces about how she and Lars, who .became her husband, knew they were meant for each other.  The tale is told over coffee to Virginia, who remembers the eipsode as a young girl. In the parlor, Great-Aunt Anegrethe begins with a story about  Virginia's  great-grandfather  who  crossed  the plains in the early days and who had an abiding love for  his  Danish  Johanna  and was  never  converted  to polygamy.   "When Brighm Young advised him to take a second wife (since he could afford it and she wanted him) he complied to the extent of a ceremony and giving her his good name.  But according to the family legend, he fitted out a small house for her, with Johanna's help, and never so much as spoke to her again.  Her maintenance was  attended  to  as  long  as  she  lived, arriving  promptly  every  month,  by  mail."   Aunt Anegrethe said, "Polygamy and the Word of Wisdom—we Danes didn't take to either one." 18

Then Virginia as narrator, and, as an Eggertsen and a Sorensen, a Scandinavian twice over, describes the coffee ritual;  "Coffee is the heart of breakfast, the true beginning of the day.  It is the soul of late afternoon  when  work  is  finished  and  friends  and relations can gather over a table laden with fine pastries  and  thick  cream  and  sugar,  all  set  out splendidly in Royal Copenhagen china on a white linen cloth with a bouquet of flowers in the center and, more often than not,  especially in wintertime when dark falls early, candles burning.  There is laughter and relaxed conversation.  Good bread is brought from the oven in the nick of time, its incomparable fragrance the natural twin of that aroma sweeter than any other, coffee just come to the boil.  It is made properly in an open pot, the grains held by egg beaten with its shell, so the coffee is settled and sparkling and clear….'Brother Joseph never meant that Word of Wisdom for Danes!'"  And Aunt Anegrethe  takes  delight  in pointing out a book to her young listener which says that the Prophet himself sold coffee in his store in Nauvoo and that Brigham Young had served it in fine silver in the Beehive House.  And once she triumphantly points out part of a journal by the wife of Colonel Thomas L. Kane about a dinner party given "right here in Provo," and how a long grace was said before meat. "I noticed," wrote Mrs. Kane, "that President Young's eye had wandered over the table, to see every cover lifted, even the glass top of the butter dish.  The stoppers were taken from the decanters of homemade wine.  1 once saw, at a Mormon dinner party in the city." Mrs. Kane continues, "the corks drawn from the champagne bottles which effervesced in accompaniment to the speaker."  And Aunt Anegrethe points delightedly to the end of the menu:  "And 'tea and coffee'!" 19  In  the  concluding  story,  "The  Secret  Summer,"  the narrator  remembers  a  24th  of  July  parade  with  a handcart float:  "one of the little carts carried a fluttering Danish flag." 20

In such literary re-creations of the Scandinavian Mormon past, the humor has undergone a sea change, to be sure, but the indigenous anecdote and the elegant reminiscence serve the same function:  they are the tie that binds, the descendant learning to cope and accommodate, through irony, as once the ancestor did through humor.

Let me conclude with a moment from Wanda Clayton Thomas'  dialect  play,  "Celestial Bliss,  or Heavenly Marriage," 21   which she describes as "A farce in one act" and dedicates to "those delightful Danishmen in central Utah, whose wonderful sense of humor made this possible."   The  play  is  about  a  polygamous  Danish family trying to outwit the federal marshalls who are confused by  the  plethora of  Ole  Olesons  and Peter Petersons   in   the   same   community.    Though   the characters are fictitious,  the episodes are inspired by  "what  actually  happened,"  the  story  of  these escapades coming from the mouths of their descendants.

As the curtain rises,  Steeny Peterson,  the first wife  of  Peter  Peterson  (otherwise  known  as  Peter Crumbs),  stands  in stern authority over young Peter Peterson  (otherwise  known  as  Peter  Woodenhead),  a 12-year-old, slow-witted boy.  Beany Pola, his mother, is the second wife:  Treeny the third.  There are two mothers-in-law,  Treeny's  deaf  mother  tearing  and sewing rag rugs, and Steeny's fat mother crocheting. Woodenhead is front and center, as Steeny, playing the part of a marshall, tries to teach him what to say should the feds really come:


STEENY:  Who...Iss...your...Papa?

PETER:   Huh?

STEENY:  Who Iss your Papa!!

PETER (stricken):  Huh?

STEENY:  Voodenhead!  Peter Voodenhead, who iss your Papa?

PETER (hesitantly):  He...he Is out in da grain'ry.

STEENY:  No!  Ach...fe'scrackly!  For fifty times, NO!  You are not to say he is in da grain'ry.  Vot you should say?

PETER (looking helpless):  I don' know.

STEENY:  Dot's jLt.  "I don' know!"  You don' know who is your Papa.  Ferstaya?  Now....Who is your Papa?

PETER (looking in terror at his mother who tries to mouth the message, "I don' know"):  I don' know.

STEENY:  Ach!  Dot's gut.  Ven da Marshalls is coming an' saying "Who is your Papa?" Dot's vot you say...."I don'    know."  You don' vant your Papa vit his head shaved off sitting in yail vit stripes around mit.  Ve try vonce more.  Sister Treeny!  Git out vit da duster on.  Da Marshall Clauson you is being!....


Peter Woodenhead, needless to say, fails to meet the test; he reveals his father's hideout and Papa goes to jail.  Were there time we could regale ourselves with a cycle of polygamy anecdotes.  In them, the Scandinavians are  hardly  the  depressed  and  apprehensive  figures portrayed in Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper for December 15, 1883, under the caption, "The Twin Relics of Barbarism—the Wolves and the Lambs," showing the "Arrival of Scandinavian Converts in Charge of Mormon Missionaries, at Castle Garden, en Route for Salt Lake City."22  If these women got to Ephraim, they cheered up considerably, I'm sure. Mark Twain was certain there was no humor in heaven, in which event the Scandinavian Mormons would hardly feel at home there.  Theirs was indeed a "sense of humus," a humor of the earth, earthy.  Ex-Ephraimites, I am told, want to be taken home to Ephraim when they die.  They would prefer, even in death, to be with a people who had the gift of laughter.




1.    The review, excerpted here,  appeared In Western American Literature, 19:2 (August 1984), 167-68.

2.    The file was handed over to Karl Brooks at the conclusion of the lecture.

3.   Juanita Brooks, Quicksand and Cactus:  A Memoir of the Southern Mormon Frontier (Salt Lake City:  Howe Brothers, 1982), pp. 107, 109.  After my lecture, I received a letter about Chris Lingo from Don Pipkin of Enoch, Utah, prompted by his reading an account of  it  in the  St.  George Spectrum for May 31. Mr. Pipkin reminisced:  "I remember him from when I was  a  small  child  growing  up  in  Monticello, San Juan County.  I remember well two of his sons and one daughter.  One son, by the same name as his father, was a respected farmer and San Juan County Sheriff for a number of years.  Another son by the name of Joseph married my grandmother's sister. Chris  Lingo  lived  for  some  time  at  a  small community six miles south of Monticello and his son Joseph used to be known by this handle:  'I am Dick Hootin McGrue, Chris Lingo's kid from South Verdure Creek.'  'Dick Hootin's' kids are my second cousins and the originators of the tourist attraction known as 'The Hole in the Rock' located about 12 miles south  of  Moab.    I  appreciated  your  Danish humus...."  It's nice to have the Chris Lingo story not only confirmed but enhanced.

4.    Brooks, p. 113.

5.    Scandinavian first settlers in Sanpete County were among the 309 heads of families recruited for the Cotton Mission in the fall of 1861.  See Andrew Karl Larson, I Was Called to Dixie (1961), p. 13. Larson cites James G. Bleak's manuscript Annals of the Southern Utah Mission and notes that Bleak does not list those who came from Sanpete.

6.   My notes derive from the three typescript volumes of Walker's diary I consulted years ago at the Utah  State  Historical  Society.   It  is  now available in two volumes edited by A. Karl Larson and Katharine Miles Larson (Logan:  Utah State University Press, 1980).

7.    Quoted in William A. Wilson, "Folklore of Utah's Little Scandinavia," Utah Historical Quarterly, 47:2 (Spring, 1979), 163.

8.    Maurine  Whipple,  The  Giant  Joshua  (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1941), pp. 276, 277, 288.

9.    See my article "Prisoners for Conscience' Sake" in Lore of Faith and Folly, ed. Thomas E. Cheney (Salt  Lake  City:   University  of  Utah  Press, 1970),  pp. 135-44,  and my  essay "Ola Nilsson Liljenquist and His Cooperative City" in The Will to  Succeed:___Stories  of   Swedish  Pioneers (Stockholm:Bonniers, 1948), pp.88-99.

10.    Richard  H.  Cracroft,  "The  Humor  of  Mormon Seriousness," Sunstone, 10:1 (1985), 15.

11.   Richard C. Poulsen, "Folk Material Culture of the Sanpete-Sevier Area:  The Problem of Vernacular Regression," Chapter 6 in The Pure Experience of Order:   Essays  of  the  Symbolic  in  the  Folk Material Culture of Western America (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1982), pp. 70-95.

12.  On how shared storytelling can create a bond, see William A. Wilson, On Being Human:  The Folklore of  Mormon  Missionaries  (Logan:   Utah  State University Press, 1981).  Wilson emphasizes what telling the stories means by way of affording an initiation, an identification, and in letting off steam, dealing with pressures.

13.    Letter to the Editor, n.d., Bibuken (Salt Lake City), October 1, 1876.

14.   See my article "'Man Kalder Mig Digter':  C.C.A. Christensen,  Poet of the Scandinavian Scene in Early Utah," Utah Humanities Review, 1:1 (January, 1947),                                       8-17, from which several of the passages that follow are adapted.

15.    Tom Mathews, "The Funniest Town In Utah," Salt Lake Tribune Magazine, January 8, 1950.

16.    Grace  Johnson,  Brodders  and  Sisters  (Manti: Messenger-Enterprise Printing Co., 1973, 56 pages).

17.    Virginia Sorensen, Where Nothing Is Long Ago; Memories of a Mormon Childhood (New York: Harcourt, Brace, and World, 1963), pp. 3-15.

18.    Sorensen,    pp. 161-62.

19.    Sorensen,    pp. 162-63.

20.    Sorensen,    p. 202.

21.   Wanda Clayton Thomas, Five Original Dramas, unpublished Ph.D thesis, University  of  Utah, The other plays are "They Shall Inherit the Earth" (also a Danish dialect play), "Vengeance is Mine," "Hans Clodhopper and the Princess," and "Peterle."

22.   Reproduced in Gary Bunker and Davis Bitton, The Mormon Graphic Image, 1834-1914 (Salt Lake City: University  of  Utah  Press,  1983),  Fig.  67  in Chapter 4, "Troublesome Bedfellows:  Mormons and Other Minorities," pp. 75-94.




               WILLIAM MULDER

        University of Utah, Salt Lake City


William Mulder was born June  24,  1915,  Haarlem, Holland, where his father was a printer.  The family came to the United States in 1920 as Mormon converts headed for Zion.  They lived in New Jersey for six years to repay immigration debts, finally reaching Salt Lake City in 1926, where they have made their home ever since.

Dr. William Mulder is Professor of English at the University of Utah, where he has taught since 1946.  The University gave him a Distinguished Teaching Award in 1977.  He has both his B.A. and M.A. in English from the University, and his PH.D. in the History of American Civilization from Harvard (1955).  He has been editor of The Western Humanities Review and was founding director

of both the Institute of American Studies and the Center for Intercultural Studies at the University of Utah.  He has taught summers at the University of Washington, Sonoma State College, Brigham Young University, and,the University of California at Berkeley, and for one year was visiting instructor at Duke.  In 1978, he received the Distinguished Service Award from the Utah Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Letters and presently is serving as its President-elect.  He was honored by the Academy with the Charles Redd Award in the Humanities.

Dr. Mulder served as a communications officer in the U.S. Naval Reserve during World War II and had a tour of duty on Okinawa.

Dr. Mulder has been to India six times on educational assignments on leave from his university:  in 1957-58, he was Fulbright lecturer in American literature at Osmania University in Hyderabad; in the summer of 1962, 3       he lectured throughout India as American Specialist for the State Department; from 1965 to 1968, he served as Director of the American Studies Research Centre in Hyderabad, a bi-national undertaking, and served there as Visiting Consultant during a sabbatical quarter in 1974;  in December-January,  1978-79,  he  lectured at Indian universities and participated in a seminar at the dedication of a new building for the center, and in July 1979, he returned to India with his family for another three-year term as director of the center.

Dr. Mulder has  served  on  the  national American Studies Advisory Committee for the Fulbright program (1969-72) and was Secretary-Treasurer of the American Literature Section of the Modern Language Association from 1974-77.

In the summer of 1977, Dr. Mulder visited Japan under  the  auspices  of  the  Japan-U.S.  Friendship Commission to evaluate American Studies .collections at seven universities.

In 1976, Indian scholars published a festschrift in his honor. Studies in American Literature, edited by Jagdish Chander and Narindar Pradhan (Oxford University Press, New Delhi).