This biography was printed in July 1977 by the William Halls Family Organization in its family periodical, Through the Halls of History, Kristine Halls Smith, editor.
© 1977 William Halls Family Organization
Johannah Susannah (Anna) Halls (1865-1918) was the first child and daughter of William Halls (1834-1920) and Johanne Marie Frandsen (1855-1913)
JOHANNAH SUSANNAH (ANNA) HALLS SMITH
Edited by Kristine Halls Smith
Johannah Susannah Halls Smith is remembered fondly by various family members whose recollections of her are recorded here.
Her sister‑in‑law, Nina Mae Carroll Halls, remembers her this way:
“Johannah Susannah Halls was born at Huntsville, Utah on January 29, 1873, the eldest of twelve children born to William Halls and his wife, Johanne Marie Frandsen Halls. She moved with her parents and their seven children in 1885, first to a place near Bluff, Utah, then settling In Mancos, Colorado. I never knew her by any other name than Anna and so that is the name I shall call her. She married John L. Smith August 13, 1902 in the Salt Lake Temple and to this union were born four children, Louie, John, Helen and Gerda. Anna was one of the early teachers in the Webber School in the Mormon community where the family settled.
“I have been blessed with precious sisters‑in‑law and Anna was one of my favorites. She helped me over many a rough spot when I was so new to wifehood and motherhood. She was so pleased when she learned that her brother Bert and I were going to be married.
“She was not one to ever dwell on her successes nor her heartaches and never once did she mention to me the tragic death of her husband, John, a few months before Gerda was born. He was killed in a logging accident when his horses became frightened and ran away upsetting the load of logs. I heard from others how successful she was as a school teacher, but she was too modest to mention this.
“Anna was an expert seamstress and often shopped at the dry goods store where I was employed. She reminded me of the song, “...little bit of business here, little bit of business there...” as she would be in and out of the store several times on her trips to town with her brother Dave. We would put her purchases to one side, never totaling the total bill until she would rush in at the last minute to get her goods. She was choice and we never minded.
“She was clever in many ways and would never knowingly hurt a person's feelings, but would find something good to say. I remember the second Christmas of my marriage when I cooked my first turkey and made my first plum pudding from her recipe. I had risen early to start dinner preparations, but my baby did not cooperate and this situation with all the other work delayed the start of the pudding so that at 1 p.m. the pudding was not done. When Anna sampled the pudding to give it her approval she told me it was not done but added, “My but it has a nice flavor.” I could have kissed her. We ate it later in the day and then she remarked how much nicer it was to eat the rich dessert later in the day. I have used her plum pudding recipe for more than 54 years and always think of Anna with love in my heart whenever I make it.
“Anna's eyes sparkled with the Halls' dry wit, but we all took heed of her counsel which was generally given in an off hand manner. She attended me with my first two babies and one would have thought she was the proud grandmother the way she talked. Over and over again, however, she would remark, “If only Mother could see Bert's babies.”
“She managed exchange deals with us. She would do my laundry and sewing when I was ill in exchange for homemade butter and fruit from our two large orchards. She would have been welcome to both products as I always had more than the family could use, but Anna made us feel that we were doing her a great favor. It was an excellent arrangement and when my own mother came to look after me, Anna was very considerate of her and I doubly appreciated this.
“I remember how happy Anna was each spring when the word came that her son John was coming home for the summer from the school for the blind which he attended. We all shared her happiness as John was a great favorite of all his relatives and we looked forward to hearing him play the classics on the piano. John is a marvelous man, one who stands tall above men and we all still adore him.
“I don't know how Dave could have raised his large family without the help of Anna. As far back as I can remember she always assisted the doctor at the birth of his babies and stayed to help out as long as needed. It seemed there was nothing left undone when Anna was in charge.
“During the time of the Homestead Act, Anna filed on some land above Dave's place and she and her children lived in a three room home there for as long as the law required, then she moved back into the parental family home and we who loved her so much rejoiced to have her back in the lovely comfortable home. She never complained, which only attested to her greatness.
“She raised a fine family, ambitious for the right things. Louie has an RN degree and nursed for years. This is standing her in good stead even now as for years she has taken care of a sick husband. Gerda earned a teaching degree and taught school for years. She has been a widow for many years and only recently retired from work. John is still a piano technician and a good one. He works on a limited basis now, but keeps busy with his acreage on the west side of Salt Lake City. Helen, sweet Helen, died far too young.
“Anna had pioneered all the way and so when things slowed down for her and she had access to Dave's conventional washer, lived next door to her beloved Church, and could go and come whenever Dave drove his car to town, she remarked to me that we didn't need any more inventions; we had enough right now. I often think of this as I do my washing in the automatic washer and use many other conveniences.
“In the ‘olden days,’ as my granddaughters refer to the time when I was younger, both men and women were called from the congregation to speak in Sacrament Meeting and I certainly had my turns. It was always a surprise to me to see the nappers wake up as I stood at the “Stand.” I mentioned this to Anna as she was one of the worst offenders and said that if I ever saw anyone napping while I was speaking I would take my seat. She looked at me sadly and answered that no one would ever nap while I was speaking. Then she explained to me that she lay awake at night, but as soon as she sat down in church everything was so peaceful that she went right to sleep. Although she spoke in the kindliest manner I felt rebuked and was really sorry that I had caused her even momentary pain. I have remembered this with regret ever since, especially when word came of her last illness. Anna was living in Salt Lake in the home of her daughter, Louie. It seems she looked as if she were napping when the services were over, but she could not be awakened. She was nursed tenderly by Louie, but succumbed from the stroke February 16, 1941. We all grieved, but I especially for she had not seen my new son. She had written sweet letters expressing her joy, but I felt an unusually empty feeling as I remembered her many goodnesses to me. There were many choice times when she came to my aid that I have not mentioned here. She was one of a kind.
“John and Louie accompanied the body to Mancos and Anna was brought to our home to await funeral services. For two days and two nights she lay in her casket in our dining room. I told my daughters that this was Aunt Anna come to visit us for the last time and they accepted this. She was buried in the Webber Cemetery where her parents and sisters who lived at Mancos are also buried. Her husband John and daughter Helen are also buried there.”
Anna's brother Frank recalled her place in their home when they were children with this brief statement:
“My mother raised a very large family and she guarded them very closely to keep them from committing any sin. When she was called to other duties she asked her oldest daughter Anna to take charge of the home affairs, and she did a very good job.”
Anna's oldest daughter, Louie Koho, added these recollections of her mother:
“Mother and Uncle Dave went to school in Provo ‑- I don't know for how long, nor when ‑- probably just long enough to be able to teach school.
“She did not confide any of her thoughts to us ‑- she seemed to have but a few intimate friends, but she was well‑liked. People, friends and relatives alike, visited in her home often in Salt Lake.
“We never went in ragged clothes, nor without buttons or hems. When she made us a dress, we would be sent to show it to Uncle Dave for approval She worked at the stake and ward levels in Mutual and Relief Society. To help provide for us, she did sewing, raised chickens and turkeys, and made rag rugs to sell. She picked raspberries, on shares, each summer, so we would have a treat on our birthdays and special occasions. My mother was a wise and practical person. She was always ready to adapt to new things that came along (how glad she was for bobbed hair, since we were all so tender‑headed). She was ready for new dress styles, hairdos, etc. long before her daughters.
“Realizing there was not much of a future in a small town, she saw to it that we moved to Salt Lake City to further our education. There she made a home for us. She read a lot, thus keeping up on world affairs. A good cook, she made plain food like smergoot, sweet soup, Yorkshire pudding, and special treats.”
Gerda's thoughts about her mother and living in Mancos are expressed this way:
“The things I remember best are how they related to me ‑- like going through the woods to Mutual and lighting the gasoline lamps, over the hills to the cemetery picking flowers on the way. Mother working in the honey at Smithsons and all of us picking raspberries there, moving to the granary after the scarlet fever. Having good books in the house (probably an accumulation of Grandfather's and whoever else lived in the yellow house) and magazines ‑- particularly the Saturday Evening Post. Mother telling the Scattergood Baines stories in Mutual. Knowing that our education wouldn't stop with graduation from high school ‑- it was just accepted that we would go on to something more. Owning games and playing them - ourselves or with Uncle Dave' kids.”
LaRue Lyman Reese was raised by Anna and by David and his family after her mother, Lucy Halls Lyman, died when LaRue was just five years old. Lucy was Anna's younger sister. LaRue adds these memories of Anna:
“After Mother died Aunt Anna was made my guardian so I was sent from Salt Lake to Mancos to live with her and her family. We lived in Grandfather's house. I don't really remember much physical or vocal contact with Aunt Anna but I was well taken care of. She made my dresses and I felt I was one of the best dressed girls in school. Aunt Anna had to earn the living for all of us by picking raspberries in season, and helping Mr. Smithson with his honey bees. She also cared for the vegetable garden for Uncle Dave's family and us. Since she was so busy most of my homemaking skills were taught to me by Gerda and she did a good job.
“One day Gerda and I got into an argument, which was infrequent, and she threatened me with something or other. Aunt Anna was working in the garden so I ran down to her for protection. By the time we reached the garden we were both laughing and it was a good thing as she just ignored us.
“I found out about Santa Claus when I was in the second grade, but I didn't know how to let the family know. My opportunity came Christmas day. Under the tree was a two wheeled doll cart and on the handle was a card saying ‘to LaRue from Santa.’ I could tell Aunt Anna had written it so I said ‘Aunt Anna wrote this’ so then the family didn't need to try and fool me anymore.
“Aunt Anna always had me pay tithing on all my money even if it was just a dime. I am very grateful for this habit instilled in me by her. She also started me on paying my fast offering. She never made me wear the high‑top shoes and long‑legged underwear. Gerda and Helen objected slightly as they had had to wear them.
“One night an old man came to the door and asked for something, but he spoke in Danish. Aunt Anna answered him in Danish. We didn't know she could speak the language, and we could never get her to say anything else. According to Aunt Florence, she learned it from Great‑grandmother Frandsen. One summer Aunt Anna and I were home alone. As there were just the two of us she would bring the first of the new vegetables for us to eat. One of my favorite suppers was hot graham bread and milk with green onions.
“In 1927 Louie was graduating from the nursing school so Aunt Anna went to Salt Lake City to keep house for her. Gerda and I went to live with Uncle Dave and Aunt Lily. Always before, as I kissed Aunt Anna good night she would say “Good night, Pet.” I missed that relationship with her for a long time after going to live with Aunt Lily. Louie built a house on Thirteenth Street in Salt Lake City, and Aunt Anna lived with her. While I was in the nursing school and after I graduated I would stay overnight with Louie and again had contact with Aunt Anna.
“When Aunt Anna died I was very upset because the director of nurses would not let me go to Mancos with Louie to the funeral. I tried to explain to her that Aunt Anna had been my mother for nineteen years.”
Anna's youngest sister, Florence Gerdel, wrote this about her:
“In a large family such as ours it is sometimes difficult for the youngest one to remember when the oldest one lived at home, so my memory of Anna is very dim, but a pleasant one. Since she was the firstborn and a girl, my mother gave her many responsibilities of helping with the work and the management of raising the younger children. Anna was a second mother and took on many tasks which come with the rearing of a large family. If Father had any favorites, I am sure that Anna was one, although he took a keen interest and paid attention to all of us equally. Anna was a school teacher in her younger years and taught in a small school in Webber Canyon. With the money she made she bought some things for the house which we had not been able to afford. One was a lovely bed frame made of wood, and a sewing machine, and many other things which she left in the home when she married John Smith.
“In those days most Mormon couples went into Salt Lake on an excursion train and were married in the Temple. After being married she and John lived in several different houses. One which I remember well was in Webber Canyon on the Mancos River. One week Ruby Shelton and I went down there as Anna had no neighbors and she was lonely. We helped with the weeding of the garden and other small duties. Another house was the old home of Sam and Nora Hammond who had moved to Idaho. It was situated behind a small hill opposite the Webber Schoolhouse. One day sister Lucy and I went and helped paper the living room. The paper was a deep brown color which was supposed to show less evidence of soil than a lighter color. After three days, Anna called on us again and asked us if we would please come and paper the room again with a lighter, gayer color. She couldn't endure the brown paper any longer. So we went to work and put up the other paper which was satisfactory to her.
“They lived in our old log house for awhile and my memory takes me back to the night when John came to our house and told us that Anna had just given birth to a baby girl who later was named Louie. When the second baby, John William, was born, it was discovered later that he was blind. She brought him to our house after being assured by a doctor of this ailment I have never known of any person who took troubles so calmly and surmounted them without a murmur.”
“Helen was the next child born to them, and then Anna faced another tragedy in the sudden death of her husband John, who was entangled in a load of logs which rolled on him, killing him instantly. This happened on a hill east of Mancos. Now she was left a widow with three children and another to be born. The last child was named Gerda for a dear friend whose name was Gerda Hendricksen, for whom Anna had promised to name one of her children. After a few weeks Anna decided to live with Grandmother and Grandfather Halls. She hated to be alone, but this didn't last long for Grandma was quite ill and the children were too much for her. Little John would run around the dining room table, across a bench by the window and jump down. Around and around he would go and this annoyed his grandfather. Anna explained that it was the only safe exercise the child could do and it was a necessary daily routine.
“John William was sent to a blind school in Pueblo, Colorado where he was several years getting his education. He learned how to play the piano, tune and make parts, and repair musical instruments which enabled him to make his living. Our family were all very proud of him. The other children needed higher education, so Anna moved to Salt Lake and the children were educated there. Her home was home to many relatives. Many lived with her while they went to college.
“Sister Anna was a very efficient person, an excellent cook, seamstress, and gardener. She had taken care of her family and helped brother Dave and Lily with the duties of their family while in Mancos. She was an intellectual person and helped Father with his writings for the Improvement Era, a church magazine. She was always attentive to him and was never too busy to assist him any time.
“The brief time I remembered her would be from 1900 to 1914 when I left home to resume my education. I will always remember her with fond affection as one who was always ready to help me. She was a person of strong courage and she had faith in her ability to overcome any obstacle that would come her way. She raised an excellent family and one of which she was justly proud.”
In addition to the facts about her father that are already presented, Louie wrote this:
“John Lattmann Smith was born February 13, 1872 to Joseph Hodgetts and Elizabeth Lattmann Smith in Iron County, Utah. As a young lad, he moved to Mancos, Colorado. He was a self-educated man, completing only the fourth grade in formal schooling. He was strong, kind, and much loved. To supplement his income from the farm, he worked on the county roads He was especially concerned for John, carrying him around on his shoulders most of the time he was home. He left Mother with a house, some land, a cow or so, and a fine team of horses which were a help to Uncle Dave, on whom she relied after Father died.”
Here are some of Anna's recipes.
Scald 1 quart milk Melt 1/8 lb. butter and add to milk. Mix 1 cup cold milk with 1/2 cup flour and beat until smooth. Add a small amount of hot milk to the cold mixture and beat again. Add this mixture very slowly to the hot milk and cook until thick, stirring constantly. Add 1 teaspoon salt and stir. Pour out onto individual plates and sprinkle generously with sugar and cinnamon. Dot with butter. Serve after the family is seated at the table. Eat from edge.
Mix thoroughly l cup each sugar, flour, and finely ground bread crumbs; 1 heaping teaspoon each cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt; 1/2 teaspoon cloves; and 1 teaspoon soda. Add 1 cup finely ground suet (some people use 3/4 cup). Add 2 tablespoons molasses and 1 cup each raisins and currants. Add 1 cup buttermilk (a little more may be needed) and mix thoroughly. Fill greased molds 2/3 full and steam for 5 or 6 hours. Or you may find it easier and much quicker to use the pressure cooker. Follow cooker directions being sure to cut two rounds of wax paper to fit the can the pudding is cooked in and place it directly over the pudding. If recipe is doubled it can be cooked in a three pound coffee can or if smaller puddings are desired, the double amount will make three puddings cooked in one pound cans. It is a good freezer and can be made weeks ahead of time and put in the freezer after cooling thoroughly in the refrigerator overnight. Anna used a rich caramel sauce and I too used this for years, but some people prefer a lemon sauce.
4 lbs, brown sugar 1 qt. vinegar plus 1 qt. water (Test the vinegar strength) 1 tsp, each whole cloves, allspice, mustard seed 1 1/4 tsp. salt. Tie spices in a muslin square, add to pickling syrup and discard when ready to seal jars. Cook small beets, or slightly larger ones, quartered, until done. Bring pickling syrup to boiling point. Arrange beets in sterilized jars and pour pickling spice over them. Do not seal jars. Next morning pour off liquid, reheat it to boiling point, Pour over beets and seal.
Fruit Pickling Recipe for Apples, Pears, & Cling Peaches
Put one clove in each fruit. Boil stick cinnamon with 1 cup vinegar. 1 cup sugar, and 1 1/2 cups water. Add the fruit and cook until fruit is tender. Add a little of the stick cinnamon to each jar. Put in sterilized jars and seal. There is a special small pear for this. Also the apples and the small peach are a special kind. The transparent jelly crab apple can be used, but it is not nearly as good.