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Hi, My name is Vickie and to tell you a little bit about myself, I was born and raised in Kentucky and the majority of my ancestors have been in Kentucky since the 1790’s. I have always loved history, a good mystery and puzzles and that is what Family History Research is all about. As a child we would take day trips on Saturdays and head down some dirt road looking for old cemeteries. A lot of the time we weren't looking for anyone in particular, we just like to read the epitaphs. We would have a picnic lunch packed and have lunch at whatever cemetery we were at. If the weather was bad my Dad and I would go to a court house and dig through old records in musty old basements looking for our ancestors. So as you can see I have had an interest in Family History for quite some time.View my complete profile

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Elnora Mortenson

Time for another ancestor and this time I am not going very far back, and it is going to be about my mother-in-law, Elnora Mortenson.  She was the daughter of Joseph Mortenson, 1892-1979, and Mary Myrtle Kerby, 1892-1969, and she was born September 28, 1922 in Whitewater, Cochise County, Arizona but the town is now called Elfrida.  Her father, Joseph, was born in Bush Valley, Apache County, Arizona and her mother, Myrtle, was born in Pima, Graham County, Arizona.  Joseph’s parents had been born in Denmark and Sweden and Myrtle’s parents had been born on the Isle of Jersey and in Utah.  By 1881 the Mortenson’s had left Utah and by 1884 the Kerby’s had also left Utah and both families came to the Arizona Territory, but they did not know each other’s families until after coming to Arizona.  The following are pictures of Elnora when she was just a little girl in 1923 and 1925.



Elnora was one of the seven children that Joseph and Myrtle had together, they were all born in Arizona and their names were the following: Anna Isabel Mortenson, 1913-1987, married Alva Rich Porter; Joseph Owen Mortenson, 1916-1984, married Rosealee Lois Dees; Arthur F Mortenson, 1918-1930, he was what was called a blue baby and always had a bad heart; Roy Edmund Mortenson, 1926-1996, married Myrtle Lovelle Long; James Don Mortenson, 1929-2007, married Esther Mae McGinty and Walter Lee Mortenson, 1933-1984, married Glenna Marie Knotts.  I never met Arthur of course since he died in 1930 and I never met Walter either, but I knew all of the other siblings of Elnora.  Her sister Anna was a fantastic genealogists and she loved for me to ask her questions about the family.  After Aunt Anna passed away her husband, Rich gave me a lot of the boxes of family history that she had collected over the years.  The following pictures were taken in 1925 and 1947.  The first from left to right: Anna, Elnora, Owen, Myrtle, Joe and Arthur; the second from left to right: Anna, Joe, Myrtle & Elnora and Walter, Roy, Owen & Don.



From a life story that Elnora wrote, she relates the following about her childhood.  “The summer before I was two years old I had summer complaint, “dysentery”.   In August Dr. Causey came out from Douglas, a distance of 30 miles, to treat me and he told my parents they would have to take me to the hospital.  They carried me on a pillow and the doctor said, “Don’t stop the car motor when you get to the hospital or she will die.”  My parents were rather frightened so did as he asked.  My mother and I stayed in the hospital for 30 days at a cost of $5.00 a day.  She slept on a cot by my bed.  I finally got well enough to go home but was allowed to drink only rice water and take some pink medicine.  I remember crying for the food the family was eating and mother getting up from the table crying and not eating.  The summer before I was three I crawled under the grapevines in grandfather’s vineyard and all the family frantically looked for me as darkness came.  Finally the dog crawled out to see what the commotion was and they found me asleep there.   The Christmas I was seven, Anna and Arthur made me a doll bed, cupboard, and table out of wooden apple boxes and calcimined them pink.  Mother made new clothes for my old doll and bought me a little cook stove that was a replica of a real one.  It cost her $1.25 and this was my best childhood Christmas.  Arthur, who was never healthy, passed away less than 2 months later.  I started school when I was five, walking with my brother and sister two miles each way.  Sometimes if we ran fast the first half mile we would catch Mr. Schupach and get a ride on the back of his truck.  After school I sometimes caught a ride home with Charles Gardner in the back of his motor grader as he drove home from work.  It was slow but a lot better than walking.  I have few unhappy memories of my childhood and school.  Most were pleasant ones.  Anna the oldest and my only sister carried the lunch in a lard bucket and when lunch time came she spread a cloth on the ground under a large cottonwood tree and we sat around and ate lunch together.  We drank from a water bucket with a common dipper and didn’t have any more sickness than we do now.  The water was drawn from an open well with a windless and sometimes had wigglers in it but we just poured them out and drank it anyway.  I don’t remember my teachers names until I got to the sixth grade but they must have been good ones because I learned to read and spell well at a very early age and completed the second and third grade the same year.  This put me in Lavine’s (my future sister-in-law) class and we’ve been dear friends ever since.  We went through grammar and high school together except the seventh grade.  When I was in the seventh grade our family moved to Douglas, Arizona so dad could work on Uncle Tom Kerby’s dairy.  That year was a disaster for me, except for the fun I had playing with my cousins, Merle, Velma, Maniel, Nola, Martha and Neva.  Once we went up to Alpine where my Daddy was born, no beds for anyone to sleep on so we were all sleeping on the floor.  The next morning my brother, Roy opened the door and said “Oh, mama, look at all the gravy on the ground.”  It had snowed in the night and he had never seen snow before.  You can tell what kind of gravy we ate, we ate Mormon white gravy.”

More for Elnora’s life story when she is telling about her dating.  “George Bickle and Jess Martineau were working at the mine and they wouldn’t hardly ever take us to the show.  Sometimes they’d bring rolls, sodas, etc.  They knew we didn’t drink or tell dirty jokes.  We had already told them that.  So they’d take us out shooting and we’d shoot rabbits.  Up there on the slope by Gleeson in the middle of a dry wash we’d make a fire and cook the rabbits.  They were afraid we didn’t know how to clean them.  That was funny because Lavine was killing rabbits and taking them to market in Douglas.  She had tame rabbits and she killed them herself, cleaned them and then she’d take them to market to sell.   The boys would ask, “Are you sure you know how to clean them and cook them?”  We’d say “Oh, ya, we can do it.”  They were worried the whole time we wouldn’t clean the inside of them good enough.   One time we had a bucket of water to clean them off in.  Lavine dropped the rabbit in the sand.  We could hear George and Jess coming.  So she picked it up real fast, put it in the water and played like nothing ever happened.  I don’t know if they got any rocks in their mouths or not.  We used to cook them on the open fire.  We had hamburger buns to put them on also.  That was really a treat because we didn’t have hamburger buns at home.  We’d put salt on it for seasoning.   That was lots of fun.   Those boys had to be to work at a certain time at the mine.  We’d go to someone’s ranch that had fences on it and we’d practice shooting.  We started out with an orange on top of the post.   All we had was 22 pistols.   They’d bring out a whole case of ammunition.  It had about 12 boxes full of shells.  We’d load up those guns and practice shooting.  I could pop off that orange.  Then we went to a dime.  He’d stick that dime in the post and I could pop that thing off.  I was really good.   It was fun.   Once in a while we’d go to the show but George admitted one time that his manners weren’t very good so he didn’t like to go out to eat.  He was a real good guy.  We never went to a restaurant to eat.  So, we went shooting and hunting rabbits.”  I believe the following picture was probably taken during the time she was dating, before she married my father-in-law, Floyd Thompson.


Again from Elnora’s life story, this time her courtship and marriage. “I don’t remember when I first met Floyd.  I went to their home when I was very young, as Lavine, his little sister, was my best friend.  We would go to each other’s place on Sunday between meetings.  Theirs was the prettiest place in the valley.  The windmill pumped the water to irrigate the trees, bushes, grass, flowers and strawberries as well as the vegetable garden.  It was always cool and green until the water level dropped and the windmill was no longer usable.  They had a large storage tank which they then filled by piping the water through a pipe from the big pump.  When Floyd came back from his church mission, I had grown up.  He asked me to marry him in November.  I dated Floyd from August to December.  I had always known him and I had grown up with him.  I never had a crush on him when I was little.  He used to dance with me at the dances.  When he came back, I was grown up.  My daddy loved Floyd.  He wanted me to marry Floyd in a heartbeat.  He was tickled to death.  Floyd was a really good guy.  I loved him too.   When Floyd was in the Sunday School Presidency of the Stake, we would go around to different places to visit the wards. I went with him up to Bisbee and I remember on the way back, we were driving in a pick-up and we were talking and he said, “Well, how would you like to cook my pancakes for the rest of my life?”  We had eaten up there in Bisbee and he had a toothpick in his mouth.  I said, “That would be fine with me.” That was my proposal.  We were married December 19, 1941.  I was delighted!   Talk about fancy weddings.  I borrowed Lavine’s dress.  I could wear it!  My mom and his mom were the only ones that went with us when we married in the temple in Mesa.  That night we stayed in a hotel owned by Worth Phelps’s father.  We stayed upstairs.  It wasn’t very fancy.  The next morning we had pancakes at a little restaurant.  I thought, boy this is something eating pancakes away from home.  We picked up our moms at Uncle Tom’s and left for Tucson.  We went home so we could be there in time to milk the cows.  That was the Honeymoon.” The following pictures were taken on their wedding day and in the hotel room that evening.




Life moved on war was declared just a couple of weeks before their marriage, but because Floyd had a heart condition he did not have to serve, but stayed home and continued to work on their dairy.   Soon they started their family having six children, with my husband being the youngest.  The children all born in Douglas, Arizona are: Floyd Eldon Thompson 1942-2015, married Linda Bingham; Elaine Thompson, 1944-1948, she was accidentally electrocute; Marla Thompson, married Ron Nelson, Daniel Joseph Thompson, married Kathy Barney; Malene Thompson, married Russ Mendenhall; and my husband, Roy Edwin Thompson, married me, Vickie Beard.  They had sixteen grandchildren, and as of this date, November 22, 2015 there are 49 great-grandchildren if I counted correctly, but there are some grandchildren that are not quite finished having kids yet, so that number will probably increase in the next year or two.  There are also some great-grandchildren getting into the marriage age category, so soon there could even be great-great-grandchildren to add to their legacy.  From Elnora’s life story again we read: “All 6 of my kids were born in the same room, same hospital (Douglas Hospital), and same table.  I know it was the same table.  The first 4 were delivered by Dr. Collins.  The last two were delivered by Dr. Montgomery.  It was a good life.”  The following is a family picture taken in the early 1970’s, from left to right Roy, Malene, Marla, Eldon & Dan with Elnora & Floyd setting.   The other three pictures are of their daughter Elaine, by herself, with her mother, Elnora and with her big brother, Eldon.





Elnora and Floyd moved into her in-laws home in Elfrida and lived with them and then inherited the old home place and raised all of their children there.  Floyd’s health was never really good and it started to really decline in the early 60’s, and so when my husband, Roy, was in the 4th grade, Elnora went back to school, to get her teaching degree.  She finally was able to finish her schooling in 1974, when she graduated with her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from the University of Arizona.  She then started teaching second grade for the next 14 years at the elementary school in Elfrida until she retired in 1988.  For seven years previous to her graduation she was a substitute teacher in some of the schools around Cochise County.

Floyd’s health continue to go downhill and on Father’s Day, June 17, 1984 he passed away.  1984 was a bad year for Elnora, but she was strong through it all.  Her big brother, Owen had died in February of that year and her little brother, Walter had died just ten days before her husband Floyd. The following picture of Elnora and Floyd was taken in the late 1970’s I believe.


Elnora worked for four more years after Floyd’s passing and then she started serving missions for our church, 18 months at a time.  Elnora, her husband and children, her parents, grandparents and great-grandparents, were all members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  She would only be home for a little while before she was ready to go and serve again.  These missions were first, North Carolina Raleigh-Durham Mission; second, California Ventura Mission and third the New Zealand Auckland Mission.  She also served at the Mesa Family History Center and the Mesa Temple and as a Stake Missionary in her LDS Stake in Mesa, Arizona.  She loved her church very much and was always serving in some kind of a capacity.  She served as a Relief Society President and also served as a chorister in her home ward in Elfrida for over 20 years.  The following pictures she had taken while serving in some of her missions.  The first in the North Carolina Raleigh-Durham Mission in 1989, she loved flowers and she is holding a bouquet of dogwoods.  The next was in the California Ventura Mission in 1991 in the beautiful little Scandinavian town of Solvang.  She loved that there was a Mortensen Bakery, since that was her maiden name.



Elnora lived on for another 23 years after her husband, Floyd, passed away.  She was a wonderful woman and did not know the meaning of slowing down.  She was always doing something she never set idle.  She canned everything that grew and she was a wonderful cook.  One of my favorite dishes was her Chili Rellenos, I just loved them they were so good.  She also took up oil painting back in the 1970’s and was a wonderful artist and she painted a number of pictures over the years.  The following are just a couple of the pictures she painted, these two are probably my favorites.



After all of her missions she finally started to slow down just a touch, but not a lot.  She had moved into a snowbird park, owned by her son and daughter-in-law in Mesa, Arizona.  Her trailer was just behind their house so that they could keep an eye on her and she lived there up until her last few weeks.  She couldn’t stay completely idle so she volunteer for different humanitarian projects that she could do at home, mainly making stocking hats.  She had been having some mini strokes, probably for at least a year, but she had been blaming them on her shoes, saying she just tripped because the shoes didn’t fit correctly.  Even up to the last she was still knitting stocking caps for one of the humanitarian projects for our church.  That last couple of years before she passed, my husband, Roy had started going down to her home about every three months to visit and help her around her home.  We went down every year, but he knew she wouldn’t be around forever and he wanted to be able to visit with her as much as he could.  Roy’s other siblings all live in Arizona so they were there checking in on her all the time.  This picture was probably one of the last ones taken of her just a few months before her passing.


We got the call we had hoped we would not be receiving for at least a few more years on Sunday morning, August 12, 2007.  We packed up immediately and Roy and I drove straight through and arrived around three in the morning on Monday, August 13.  Roy’s siblings were already there, and just a couple of hours after our arrival she breathed her last.  I believe she was waiting until all of her children were there.  On Saturday, August 18, 2007 her funeral was held in Mesa and then her body was taken to the little town of Elfrida, where she had been born 85 years previously and was laid to rest beside her husband, Floyd and daughter, Elaine at the Whitewater Cemetery.  Her parents and grandparents and many other family members are buried there also.  She was a wonderful woman and was loved by all her knew her and she will always be missed by everyone, especially her family.

3 comments:

  1. Wow! Another great Lady. What a wonderful life she led. Loved the pictures of her and her family. She was a pretty lady. Precious pic of her holding her baby doll. She had so much talent. The pic she painted are very good.

    Thanks for sharing.

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  2. What a great story of a great lady. Thanks for sharing

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