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Genealogy plays large part in soiree for Fallbrook 1st Ward Relief Society


Last updated 8/15/2012 at Noon

FALLBROOK - The members of the Fallbrook 1st Ward of the Vista California Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are having a Summer Soiree on Aug. 23 at 6:30 p.m. The women have all been asked to submit a story about the first woman in their family to join the church or give their conversion story.

These stories will be put into a book for each woman. Many have had to go to their genealogy to discover the first woman who joined the Church. For many, they have discovered heartwarming stories of a woman who withstood great trials and giving up everything she owned sometimes in another country and coming across the oceans and plains to settle in Utah.

Nikole Tobler was asked to write about the first woman to join the Church in her family she enlisted the help of her mother, Robyn McClellan. The two of them went together and searched out the history of Nikole's great-great-great-grandmother, Matilda Lawrence Price, who was born in a small village called Bronsgrove, England in 1821. Matilda's mother died two years after she was born and her dad worked in a faraway city. She was left for her grandmother to raise. When Matilda was 15 years of age her grandmother died. Matilda then became an apprentice dressmaker. Matilda married Edward Price and her married life was tranquil and happy, though she had many trials including the loss of seven of her 15 children.

All of her life she had searched for a church that she felt was a true church. She had attended many but had never felt that any were right. In the summer of 1842, she had a strange dream. In the dream she heard a man preaching a strange doctrine. She went on to say she had a feeling of contentment when she woke up and throughout the following week but failed to tell her husband about her dream.

Then in the late summer, her aunt came to her and told her of a new preacher who was in town preaching a new gospel. She decided to go hear him and when she got there, it was just like her dream. She went back to hear the missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and each time she went to hear him, a voice would come into her ear that would say to her "repent and be baptized." In December of 1842, they broke the ice on a canal and she was baptized. Two months later she had the baby girl.

Matilda had always kept a room for the missionaries. One time when they got home from a meeting there was a "mob" outside of their home, so Matilda told her daughter to rush the missionaries out the back and she would handle the mob. She then went to the door and said, "Gentlemen, I am all alone, but two or three of you may come in and search my house if you do not believe me." Three of them came in and searched her house and found no one, so the mob began to disperse.

When they came to America and were crossing the plains, Matilda walked 800 miles over the desert. She could have ridden in a wagon, but she gave up her seat to someone who needed it more. One night when they got to camp they noticed that Sister Matilda Price was not in camp. Several of the men went back to look for her. They found her lying on the desert floor several miles back. Matilda was so exhausted from thirst and dust that she could not speak, it took several hours before the people in the wagon train could reduce the swelling in her tongue and she could talk again.

They arrived in Utah on Oct. 19, 1862. She would do service work and fine embroidery to help out with the large family. Matilda Price lived in Utah one and one-half years before she died on Jan. 21, 1864, three days after giving birth to her 15th child.

When Paige Hulan was ask to share her story she didn't know the first woman who was baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She knew that on her father's side he came from a long line of devoted Catholics. On her mother's side she had heritage running back to the early pioneer times. She went to her grandmother to get her information.

Her great-great-great-great grandmother Rebekka Hanson left Denmark for Germany on May 16, 1866 with her six children; the eldest was Peter, age 19; then Kristine, age 17; Lena, age 15; Niels, age 12; Annie, age 9, and Mary, age 7. They embarked on the ship Cavour from the seaport of Hamburg, Germany. The trip was a tragic one with many of the 280 passengers dying of cholera on the way. They buried many of the dead when they got to New York and at railroad stations along the way from Albany, N.Y. to Saint Joseph, Mo. There they caught a steamer to Wyoming, Nebr.

When they got to Nebraska, they joined the Lowry Wagon Train Company headed for Utah. It was then that her oldest son, Peter, died from cholera. Rebekka came down with the same dreaded disease eight days later and died. Her other children were distraught especially 17 year old Kristine.

As Rebekka lay there she opened her eyes and spoke to Kristine saying, "I have been permitted to return for a brief instant to you to beg you not to grieve for me and to tell you that you will be cared for. I have been taken to a beautiful place and had I known this I would not have mourned for my son Peter. Take care of your brother and sisters; be faithful to the Gospel as long as you live. This brief return is to be a testimony to you and your children and your children's children." With these words she departed once more. She and her son, Peter, were buried in a shallow grave on the plains.

Brigham Young sent a relief mule train out to meet the company 400 miles from Salt Lake City. The orphans were all loaded into a wagon, including my great-great-great-grandfather Niels Rassmussen and his four sisters. They reached Salt Lake City on Oct. 7, 1865.

Varna Elise Heesch wrote about her grandmother Elise Zbinden as the first woman to join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Elise said that two young LDS men were singing hymns in a tiny hamlet high in the Swiss Alps when her husband heard them and rushed home to tell her, "You must hear these boys sing. They sound like angels."

Varna's grandfather and grandmother joined the Church in the tiny hamlet of Guggesberg high in the Swiss Alps. They had a lovely chalet where her Elise and her siblings were born. And, they had a fine dairy herd.

The Zbinden's sold their chalet and dairy herd so they could come to America and bring their large family with them. They brought Rose, who was Varna's mother, and came by boat through Ellis Island. They came so they could live some place where they would be able to practice their religion freely.

As they crossed the plains on a train, many people would throw rocks and stones at them from roadways and railway crossings because they knew the train was going to Utah and had LDS people on it.

They settled in Logan, Utah, known as Little Switzerland where many other Swiss converts had settled because it was similar to their beautiful homeland. Here they started over and began farming to feed their family of 12 children. Elise worked hard and remained true to her faith and encouraged her children to do the same.

Varna said she carries her grandmother's name with great honor.

The Family History Center is located at 1310 Foothill Dr. and is where all of the Vista Stake Genealogy work is done. The Director of the Family History Center is Garry Excell. He said anyone from the community is welcome to come to the center and research their family history.

Excell also said that the Family History Centers throughout the Church have the highest number of non-church members that attend them on a regular basis. He said they have up to 20 commercial web sites, (including; there are personnel that will help you to find the information you are looking for and many classes are offered to the public and all are free.

The hours of operation are Tuesday & Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Thursday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Friday & Saturday 9 a.m. to noon. A new class will be held Thursday, Aug. 23, starting at 7 p.m. and another will be held on Thursday, Aug. 30, starting at 7 p.m. All are invited to attend these classes. Call (760) 945-6053 or e-mail [email protected] to express interest.


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