Saturday, August 27, 2011

More on Willard Fredrick Rasmussen

Janis Bigelow came over tonight to help me with the new group of pictures Brent Collett sent to me.  Being able to share pictures electronically is sure a blessing.  Brent sent 90 or so pictures, many of which had names on them but I didn't know which families they belonged with so I used and was able to group all but 33 into their respective families.   Janis was only able to help me with 2 pictures which leaves 31 pictures unidentified but I'm happy for any progress, plus we had a real good visit.

I'm including a picture that we didn't know the people.  The sad thing is there are probably people who have this same picture and hopefully, their copy is labeled.  But how do we connect with them?  I'm quite sure these women belong to the Jonathan Oldham Duke or William Harrison families.  All the other pictures that were in this group belong to one of those two families - both men are Inez Harrison's grandfathers.

I asked Janis to tell me a little bit about Grandpa Rasmussen.  She said that he was always kind but that he was a big tease and would make Janis and the other nieces giggle.  She remembers him standing tall and straight and always looking nice for church, with a jacket and tie - probably something he learned on his mission.  She felt like he had a very sharp, intelligent mind but she thinks he may have developed some dementia when he was older.

I've learned some things about Willard from some histories I've been reading.  His father, Mads Peter Rasmussen, died when Willard and his twin sister were only 3 years old.  Willard said, "I was too young to remember what father looked like."  The oldest son in the family was 12 and the youngest of the 7 children was only 6 mos.  Mads Peter left his two wives quite financially comfortable but a few people in the ward took advantage of their lack of knowledge of land laws and made some deals with the family that eventually left them very poor.  Even though Willard's mother, Mary, encouraged her children to do well in school, Willard was not able to enjoy the blessings of a good education.  He does say that when he was old enough to go to District School he had to stay with neighbors and he did chores for board and clothes.  When he wasn't able to finish school because there wasn't enough money, he began working with sheep so he could help his sisters with a means to go to school as well as help the family with food and other necessities. 

Willard's sister, Alice Bascom, tells in her life sketch that her older brothers had to work to provide what wasn't raised on the farm.  Work was hard to find, which made money very hard to get.  Most of the time people could only pay with produce.

Another sister, Elizabeth Nash, wrote a life sketch of their mother Anna Marie (Mary) Ahlgren Rasmussen.  In that sketch Elizabeth remembers when Willard was 11 years old he worked on a thrasher and earned their flo
1953 Scott, Inez, Brent, Arlene, Willard, Don; Mary in the back
Willard always herded on foot.  He had a long stride and a quick, easy gate.  His sheep boss told a man in Manilla that Willard could walk further in a day than a man could ride a horse in a day.  It was turned into a bet and lots of people got in on the wager.  On the longest day of the year Willard and the horseman  started out in Manilla at sunrise and when the sun set Willard was in Stienaker Draw and the horseman was still on the mountain.  Willard had walked over fifty miles (and probably not in Adidas, either!)   This picture of Willard at 70 years old gives you a very good idea of his long legs.

For their winter bread.  He hoed corn for John Kay and others making what little he could to help out.

Willard started working as a sheepherder when he was 14 years old.  He did other odd jobs for people when he could but most of his earnings came from tending sheep on the mountain.  It was a very solitary job and I imagine it could be quite lonely.  Janis told me that she had heard that some of the people he worked for (tending sheep) were not very good employers.  There were times when new provisions were not delivered and so Willard was left without food for days.  Another time a man came across Willard's camp on his way to town.  The buttons on Willard's shirt had fallen off and he had improvised by tying little pieces of wire through his buttonholes to close his shirt.


Movie Nut said...

This is probably the best single essay ever written on Gpa Willard, not that the competition is strong.
You have made a contribution to "Rasmussen historiography." We have to go over all this.

Movie Nut said...

As I think about other writings on Will-Inez and family, Garth's Work jumps to mind. He might have taken a page each to introduce his parents, critical as they were to his story, but did not.