A History of Mary Ann Knopp Anderson

A Journey Into the Past With My Great Grandmother  

Mary Ann Knopp was the second child and the oldest daughter of Jens Englehardt Johansen Knopp and Anna Jacobsen, born 17 September, 1870 in Moroni, Utah.  There were three sons: James Englehardt, born at Salt Lake City, Utah on the 9th of November, 1867, John Henry, born 11th of March 1877, and Jens Jacobsen, born 11th of March, 1855.  All of the children except the oldest son, James Englehardt, were born in Moroni, Utah.  

Mary Ann's sisters were Dorthea Catherine, born 22 November, 1873; Charlotte Sophie, born 17 January 1875; Johanna Jacobeny, born 2 November 1879; and Serena Valdine, born 6 April, 1882.     Alma John Knapp, Mother's half brother, after much research and correspondence with cousins living in Denmark and in Germany has this to say about mother's father, "I don't know anything about the education of my parents, in fact, I know very little of their lives in Denmark.  My father, Jens Englehardt Johansen Knop was born in Oster Nykirke, Denmark and was a pioneer of 1866 to Utah." We have no information about mother's mother, Anna Jacobsen, as of the time of this writing.  Someday we hope to find something about her and grandfather Knopp.

As far as we know, mother received the regular grade school education that was available in Moroni in the 1870s and 80s.  She probably attended school in the first school building that was
built in Moroni.  This was a square building which was built in the year 1863.  This building still stands and is used as a family dwelling at the present time (1980), and is located at 90 Duck
Springs Drive, Moroni, Utah.

In 1883 a log school room was built in Moroni and was erected on the ground just north of where the present Lincoln Elementary School building is located.  Mother may have attended this
"Log School Room", since she would have been 13 years old the year it was erected.

Mother was married to Niels Heber Anderson in the Manti Temple at Manti, Utah on the 22nd of November 1888 by Daniel H. Wells who was the first president of the Manti Temple.  Mother had just turned 18 the 17th of September and her husband was 24 the 27th of September.

According to a family tradition, some older man approached mother's parents and proposed a polygamous marriage with their daughter, Mary Ann.  To this proposal grandmother Knopp firmly objected.  It would appear from this incident that Anna Jacobsen Knopp was not a staunch supporter of the practice of polygamy.    

Mother never had much opportunity to serve in church offices because of the many responsibilites resting upon her as wife and mother of a large family.  Apparently the only official position she ever held was that of Relief Society visiting teacher.  She and Maria J. Morley, a neighbor lady, were companions who very faithfully made monthly visits to the families assigned to them.Sister Morley, speaking in mother's funeral, said that they had a 100% record of visits and that mother always had a meaningful contribution to give during each lesson presentation in the homes.

Mother was always very busy with numerous responsibilities and work that naturally resulted from caring for a family of twelve children.  There really was little time to be spent outside of the home after present family needs were satisfied.  All of her children grew to be respected citizens of the communities in which they lived.  All have been successful in raising families of their own.  This is the greatest service one can give to mankind and is likewise the greatest tribute that can be given to another.

President Harold B. Lee said, "The most important of the Lord's work that you will do will be the work you do within the walls of your own home" (Strengthening the Home (pamphlet, 1973, p.7).

Mother learned from experience that if one intends to keep a secret one must tell no one, otherwise it is no longer a secret.  This bit of wisdom was reinforced one time when she happened to make a statement to one of her friends that another neighbor was  constantly borrowing a little flour, or sugar, or something else, and never or very seldom returned the borrowed item.  It was but a very short time after making this statement until the friend had informed the borrowing neighbor that Mary Anderson was unhappy because she never returned that which was borrowed.  It was a long time before this rift in a long standing friendship was healed. Mother was very sorry about the situation and this experience was one of the reasons why she told her children that "if you want to keep a secret, you tell no one, for when you tell another person, you no longer have a secret."

One challenge that soon comes to the attention of young, new parents is the matter of disciplining children.  Mother raised twelve children, and therefore, she was looked upon as an authority on the subject of disciplining children by her married daughters. Mother never gave them a pattern for disciplining children nor a set of rules one might apply to a given situation.  All she would ever say was that in administering discipline one must be firm  If you make a promise you must keep it.  By this she meant that an offense today brings punishment today, and not at a later day or on another occasion.  Unacceptable behavior must always be considered as unacceptable and dealt with in the same firm manner each time it occurs.  Her philosophy was that if you make a promise of certain behavior as being unacceptable and would result in certain consequences that you must keep your word.  This is a basic principle and if applied consistently produces beneficial results.    

Mother was never one to use the rod or to lecture long and loud when one of her children misbehaved.  Proper instruction was given at the appropriate time and the desired behavior carefully explained so that there was no possibility of the child not understanding what was expected of him.  If, after this instruction had been given, there was a continuation of the unacceptable behavior, mother had a way of taking one by the arm and pinching the bicep muscle in such a manner as to cause one to walk "turkey" for a short distance.  Any of her children can bear testimony that her method was effective and produced good results.

"Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares." (Hebrews 13:2)  I do not know if mother ever fed an angel, but I do know that a hungry person was never turned unfed from her door.  Every spring and sometimes in the fall, hobos would pass through our area.  Their stopping  place was an old sugar beet dump which was located just a short distance south of our home.  There were often hungry and always in need of water.  Almost all of them came to our home for water and often asked for a little something to eat.  Mother always gave them food to satisfy their needs.  I remember one time when she had invited one of them into the house where he was fed at the kitchen table and how she scrubbed the chair after he was gone.  They were certainly not the cleanest of persons and mother was right in carefully washing everything involved in the meal.  Their wants and needs were always willingly supplied in as much as mother could supply them.

It always hurt mother to see food wasted.  Perhaps this annual exposure to hunger and want, and abject poverty kept the importance of food uppermost in her consciousness.  She has been heard to say many times "waste not, want not."  This is a principle people today might well accept and apply in their own lives and within the family.

One of her neighbors often times was next to destitute of the common necessities of life and knew that a little flour or sugar could be obtained from mother.  No matter who the person in need might be, mother was always willing to supply that need if it was within her power to do so.  Never was a person ever turned away hungry from her door.

"Follow the Brethren" is not just an idle slogan or just a catchy bit of rhetoric, but a very basic principle of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Mother learned of it early in life and
made its observance a part of her guiding philosophy of life.  A number of happenings bear this out.

At the age of 29, mother undertook the operation of the little family farm to support her husband on a two year mission for the Church with the help of six little children, the oldest three being girls of 10, 8 and 6 years of age.  Heber, the only boy, was four years old.  In addition to these four children there were twin girls who were just under one year of age, having been born the 13th of June 1899.  How she accomplished this herculean task is hard for us to understand.  Faith we are told moves mountains, and mother certainly had a tremendous mountain to move.  As we look back upon it now, we sense, perhaps vaguely, the magnitude of the undertaking and experience a flood of respect and admiration for our mother and grandmother whose heroic faith in support of the priesthood in the family during this two year period at the beginning of the twentieth century fills our hearts with pride and thanksgiving.

Father later acquired a small flock of sheep, the care of which for a number of years required him to spend some time during the winter months on the west desert.  Whenever father was away on this occasions, mother presided over the family and conducted the morning and evening devotionals regularly.  In the absence of father, mother always conducted the morning and evening prayer service and saw to it that some member of the family expressed thanks for their food and offered a blessing upon it before each meal.

Honesty was a natural ingredient of mother's personality. This great principle was taught to all of her children, not only by precept, but by example.  Jim often told of the time when his older brothers and their friends had carefully laid plans to enjoy some peas from a neighbor's pea patch but would not allow him to go along because he was too little and too young.  He told mother of their plans and as a result just as the boys were about to embark upon their excursion to the neighbor's pea patch, mother appeared upon the scene and took her sons home.  This experience was an excellent opportunity to teach the principle of honesty.  Mother seemed to recognize teaching moments in the life of her children and quietly and effectively used each one to teach or to emphasize some principle of the gospel.

I do not remember of mother publicly bearing her testimony, but every day of her life was a living testimony of her belief in Jesus Christ and in His gospel plan of life.  Contention is of the
devil, the scriptures tell us and mother would not allow quarreling or even friendly scuffling among her children.  There were no lectures or formal instruction the the matter, as I recall.  Each
of the children somehow instinctively knew that contention was displeasing to mother and out of love and respect for her feelings, such behavior was never indulged in by her children in her

She was a peacemaker in the neighborhood. One of her means of helping to create a peaceful spirit in the community was to listen attentively to the neighbor's complaints or hurts, real or otherwise, give consolation or comfort as needed, and then never breath a word of what she hear to another soul.  This method created perfect confidence and respect for her on the part of all the neighbors and friends.  They knew that they could confide in Mary Anderson in full confidence.
She was a lover of peace but fully recognized that sometimes and under some circumstances a person must stand firm and defend the right.  This was illustrated beautifully when she discovered that her son, Jim, had not learned that sometimes one must defend one's principles of right.  One of the older neighborhood boys was giving Jim a bad time at school and Jim was following mother's instructions about not fighting to the letter until one day mother discovered that Jim was being chased home by the neighborhood bully.  This was a teaching moment when her son should be taught the other side of the peacemaker coin.  She told Jim if he did not give the bully a beating she was going to beat him.  That was all the encouragement Jim needed. He was never chased home again by anyone at any time. 

Mother was not a one sided idealist, but was practical in the application of the great Christian principles in daily life. "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1)  This great principle when applied to mother helps to explain many things in her life.  She demonstrated an abundance of this power when she accepted the responsibility of providing food, clothing and health needs for six children all of them under 10 years of age for a two year period while her husband answered the call to fill a two year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. In addition to caring for the children, she accepted the responsibility of providing the financial needs of her husband for two years while on his mission in Missouri and Kansas.  The way she was to accomplish all of this was by operating a small farm, milking cows, tending pigs and chickens, etc.

Her faith was tested when sickness came to the children, when one of the twins became seriously ill while her husband was sharing the gospel with the people in Missouri in the early part of the year 1902.  Perhaps it was her faith and prayer that caused her husband to pour out his heart to the Lord to send someone bearing the priesthood to his home to rebuke the power of the evil one and bless his family.  The answer came in the person of George W. Jolley who arose from his bed and came to her home in the middle of the night, and by the power of the priesthood and in the name of Jesus Christ rebuked the disease and restored the health of the stricken child.

Perhaps it was mother's faith that preserved the health of her twelve children and protected them from accident and serious injury, and preserved their lives until they all arrived at
adulthood and became parents in their own right.

How many times was she inspired to teach a valuable lesson or to give a bit of important counsel, or to warn of possible danger at sundry times during the many years of raising her twelve children and five additional grandchildren.

Mother was an excellent homemaker.  The house was always clean and orderly.  The beds were always made, the rooms swept and dusted, and the dishes always washed and put in place in the cupboard.  Mother never sat idle, there was always some chore she could be doing as she sat for a while resting from the strenuous tasks of the day. One of these chores was to darn the holes in the menfolk's socks.  Mother extended the life and usefulness of many a pair of socks by skillfully mending the holes.  She could fill the hole with a darning cotton so perfectly that the mend never made the foot sore or even red.  So perfect was the mend that one never felt the darn.  It would be interesting to know how many pairs of stockings she saved by her ability to mend the holes.

Mother was a faultless laundress. A shirt must nave no wrinkles.  The collar, front, and cuffs must be flawlessly starched and pressed, and indeed they always were.  All of her sons on numerous occasions were complimented on the perfectly ironed shirt they were wearing.  This she achieved without the use of faultless starch and the light weight electric steam irons of today.  Until the last years of her life the flat irons she used were the ones with a detachable handle and heated on the top of a coal burning kitchen stove.  One wonders what she would have thought of the no iron permanent press fabrics of today.   

Every now and then whenever the need arose for a new quilt, a fleece of wool with fine, long fibers would be saved at shearing time and be brought home for processing into wool batts for a quilt.  Mother would wash the wool in a number two wash tub in the back yard.  This was a long, smelly, tedious process. She would wash and rinse and wash again and again until all of the natural oil of the wool and the dirt was washed away.  When this was completed she would card the wool into what was called wool batts. They were fluffy white light rolls of wool about two or three inches in diameter by about ten or twelve inches in length.  She would sit and card wool at times between the daily routine duties of the day or in the evening after the regular daily activities were completed until she had enough wool batts to make a quilt.

For years mother made all of the laundry soap used in the wash.  The fat from the butchered hogs was saved and during the summer month, mother would boil it in a black number two wash tub over an open fire in the back yard.  Lye had to be added and the grease or fat, water and lye had to be boiled until the liquid would float a small potato.  The mixture when properly cooked would be removed from the fire and allowed to cool in the tub.  After the soap cooled it would be cut into small squares and placed on boards to cure in the sun.  When cured the bars would be put into boxes or small sacks and stored for use during future wash days.

Father raised porkers for the family meat supply.  The butchering was done in the winter time and three or four hogs would be dressed out at one time.  Mother received the responsibility for
taking care of the meat.  Father would trim the shoulders and hams for smoking and salting, and when they were ready they were buried or stored in the wheat bins in the granary, thus a year's supply of bread stuff and meat was always on hand.

Mother's work in connection with the pork was to wash and clean the entrails for making casings for sausages.  When these were all filled, the excess sausage was made into patties, cooked and sealed in quart fruit jars for future use.  This was a big project but mother was very efficient in her work and never complained.  She seemed to be pleased with the food storage and the assurance that she could feed the family for another year.

Mother was an excellent cook.  She very seldom followed a recipe to the letter.  She would say the proof of the pudding was in the eating of it.  She baked six or eight loaves of bread every
day except Sundays for many years.  Her bread was always perfect. It is no wonder that none of her children really enjoy baker's bread to this day because it could never come a close second to her delicious home made loaves.  Many a time her grandchildren would line up to be given slices of her delicious bread covered with rich cream and sugar.     She made delicious cake and pie.  One of her favorite pies was sour cream.  Marie Callendar makes a good sour cream raisin pie but it cannot compare with the one mother made.  Sweet rolls and raisin filled cookies were other specialties she liked to make.  She loved to cook and bake and was a master at it.

Mother never liked guns.  She was not fanatical nor adamant regarding them, but she definitely preferred not to have them in the house.  There were probably two incidents in the life of the
family which contributed to her feelings towards guns.  One evening her first born son, Niels Heber Jr., was standing in the doorway between the kitchen and the front room, as it was referred to by members of the family.  He was toying with a .22 caliber small pistol in his overall pocket when the gun accidentally discharged. No one was injured but one of the children who was playing on the kitchen floor could have shot himself in the leg or foot.  Fortunately neither of these possibilities happened.

The other incident involved her husband who happened to be present along with Bill Brewer and Scott Bruno at the shooting of Sheriff James Burns on Reader's Ridge back of the Horse Shoe Mountain on the 26th of November 1894.  The lives of these three men who were the only witnesses to the murder were threatened by the murderers.  Father spent considerable time both in the wintertime and during the summer away from home with the sheep and carried a Six Shooter" for years after the murder and mother no doubt was concerned during the time of year when father was away with the sheep.  Whatever the cause, mother did not like to see a gun or have one in the house.  Mother died February 6, 1953 at her home after a short illness. We were most grateful that mother did not suffer but a very few days before she was called home to continue her labors on the other side of the veil.

Written by my cousin, George M. Anderson