Elvie Renshaw

"The greatest job of life is to love and be loved." — R.D. Clyde


Elizabeth Catherine Swaner Strong

In the little town of Hoskjor in the Providence of Jutland, Denmark, lived Jorden and Julia Ann Swaner and their six children. Elizabeth, the oldest child and later the wife of James T. Strong, was born March 3, 1842. When she was twelve years old, Elder Larsen, the first Mormon missionary ever heard of in that locality, came to their home. As this family had been trying for some time to find a religion which impressed them as the true one, they soon became exceedingly interested in this new religion, and in a short time were so firmly convinced of its truth and divinity that they accepted, were baptized, and left Denmark the same year, 1854, for America. Elizabeth and her brother Christian were baptized in Copenhagen.

Leaving all they possessed, and their relatives who disowned them, they started on their long and perilous journey across the Atlantic to America. They left in a sailboat to cross the North Sea, which should have taken them only twenty-four hours, but owing to a dreadful storm they were shipwrecked and were on this vessel eight days, suffering untold miseries, for they had no place to even sleep and no conveniences or supplies. Everyone sat up and prayed for their lives night after night, not knowing at what moment they might be dashed to pieces against the great cliffs among which they had been driven.

Stopping only a short time in England, they crossed the Atlantic in a sailboat ship–this journey taking them nine weeks. While on the ship, the dreadful cholera was bred, which with other diseases, caused the death of a great many, among whom was Elizabeth’s little sister, Julia, four years old, who was taken ashore and buried where St. Louis is. The family continued their journey, landing in Omaha where another sister, Marian, aged nine, died of the same disease. She had taken ill one week after the first child was buried. She was taken at night, wrapped in a short sheet and buried under a sunflower bed.

Despite everything that was done, the whole settlement which the emigrants entered had been exposed to cholera, and fully half of them died. The poor, sick, starved company of brave people were driven out into the prairie. So many more of the company died, it was feared none would survive. As many as nine died in one night. Their screams could be heard for a great distance.

When the president of the church, Brigham Young, heard of the terrible condition of this company, Elder Erastus Snow was sent over. He took them and rebuked the terrible disease, promising them not another one should die, and it was as he said.

They were three months crossing the plains, walking most of the time. At night all of the wagons were drawn into a circle and the tents pitched inside, as a means of protecting themselves against Indians who were very numerous. They suffered, along with the rest of those brave people, more hardships than we would think it possible to endure and still live.

They arrived in Salt Lake City in October 1855, eleven months after leaving their home in Denmark. When they reached Emigration Canyon, they halted and there in the creek washed and made ready to enter Salt Lake City. They could see nothing except sagebrush, the few houses being too small to be seen from where they were. It was not a very inviting prospect for those poor, sick, worn-out people who had left comfortable homes, and had traveled all that distance under such dreadful conditions.

The old Tenth Ward meeting house, was one of the largest buildings in the city at that time. Elizabeth’s parents at once bought a lime-colored, one-room adobe, dirt-roofed house on 9th East and 5th South, where they made themselves very happy. Elizabeth helped her folks by crocheting and making hair nets which her brother sold. Because they could buy no material for clothing, their mother made all of it, going through every process from shearing the wool from the sheep to the weaving and sewing.

They lived for the most part on greens, gathering every green thing that grew for that purpose. Wild leaks, which were found in abundance in City Creek, segos, and dandelions, were among the chief edibles. The little grain, which they got for flour, they obtained in exactly the same way as did Ruth in Biblical days. As the Artist Millet painted, mother, father, even the children, had to help out with gleaning. It was one continual battle to sustain life, but through it all, their trust and faith in their God never, never wavered.

In 1861, Elizabeth Swaner was married to James T. Strong. Eleven children were born to them, nine of that number growing to manhood and womanhood. James T. Strong died January 7, 1912, just nine months after celebrating their Golden Wedding. Elizabeth Swaner Strong died November 19, 1916.

Written by her daughter-in-law, Ida Rich Strong, as she had Elizabeth Swaner Strong relate it to her.

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