Alma Neil Beckstrand 1881-1965

Alma Neil

Alma Neil Beckstrand was born in Meadow, Millard, Utah, on 4 June 1881. He was one of eleven children born to Elias August and Henrietta Cecilia Ahlquist Beckstrand. Alma attended school in Meadow and worked on the farm during the summer with the other boys. He attended the Murdock Academy in Beaver and while there the school was quarantined with an epidemic of Smallpox. He contracted the disease but recovered under the able nursing care of some of the other students. He also attended BYU at Provo for a time.

After recovering from a severe illness, he received a call to serve a mission in the British Isles. He accepted and arrived in Liverpool, England, in June 1906. He was assigned by President Grant to the London Conference where President Jones reassigned him to go to Reading, England, to assist Elder Stevens in opening a branch in that city. One of the doors they knocked on happened to be the home of Mrs. Pettit, a widow who had recently returned to Reading from Winnipeg, Canada. Mrs. Pettit had moved her family of two girls and three boys back to England to be closer to her family. Alma and Elder Stevens left a tract with her to read. She became interested and, after careful investigation, was baptized (in London), much to the horror of her family. A little later one of the boys, Arthur, was baptized. At this time they were the only members of the church in their family.

Sister Pettit decided to move back to Canada because her relatives were giving her such a bad time. Alma and Elder Benson helped them pack and saw them off at the depot in Reading the night they left. Alma and Sister Pettit corresponded after Alma returned from his mission and in 1908 she wrote asking about the advisability of her moving to Utah which he strongly encouraged. His parents gave a cordial invitation for the Pettit family to visit in Meadow. Of course, Sister Pettit didn't know at the time, but her daughter, Kathleen, had been in Alma's heart from the time he met her and he had told his companion that Kathleen was going to be his future wife.

Kathleen had not joined the church at the time and only accompanied her mother because she needed the help. She told her mother that if things didn't work out, she would return to Canada. They had a very memorable trip to Meadow and loved the mountains and beautiful scenery which was so different from that to which they were accustomed. They had a good visit with the Beckstrand Family even though Alma's father was a very sick man at the time. Alma did everything he could to make a good impression, especially on Kathleen.

Alma returned to Salt Lake City in the fall and registered at the University of Utah, determined to get his degree and become a teacher. He stayed with his brother, Hyrum, and his wife, Agnes. In April 1910, Kathleen was baptized by Alma. Alma left for Meadow where he was principal of the Meadow school for the year 1910-1911. As his father had passed away in February 1910, his mother was now alone in the old homestead. Nephi had gone on a mission to England and Arnold was in Salt Lake City going to school. His mother was glad to have him with her. That Christmas, Alma went to Salt Lake City to visit Kathleen. He gave her a diamond ring and they planned their wedding for the following August. They were married in the Salt Lake Temple on 30 August 1911. They spent the following year in Meadow where Alma was teaching school. When school was out in the spring, they returned to Salt Lake City so Alma could attend summer school.

Alma had a very heavy course in school but managed to get his certificate to teach in the Jordan District. They were blessed with a cute little daughter, Erma, on 11 February 1913, and one year later a son, Harold, was born 27 February 1914. Alma continued with his school in the summers and finally graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Utah. In the fall of 1918, he accepted a contract with the Granite School District as Head of the Chemistry and Physics Department at Granite High School where he remained until he retired from teaching in 1944. He served twenty-six years as head of the department. All together, he had thirty-two years teaching school in Utah.

On 26 May 1921, Faye was born and Dorothy arrived on 6 December 1925, making a family of three girls and one boy. Alma and Kathleen had a good and happy life together. They lived to celebrate their fifieth wedding anniversary.

One of Alma's dreams was to have a big Beckstrand family reunion. Through his efforts and the help of many people, this dream was realized. On 2 July 1965, Dorothy, Gary, Alma and Kathleen arrived in Fillmore and spent the night as Alma's health was very poor at this time. They got up early the next morning and continued on to Meadow. The reunion was held on 3 July 1965. It was a huge success with a talent show, a picnic, and sports to commemorate the Beckstrands who settled in Meadow. Everyone was tired but happy, especially Alma who saw his dream come true--the big Beckstrand Reunion.

Alma passed away in his sleep twenty days later on 23 July 1965, in Salt Lake City. He will always be remembered as a very remarkable man who set high goals and usually attained them. Everyone respected and loved him. So far he has had three grandsons and one granddaughter go on missions--one grandson to England in the same territory where he served, and the others to Scotland, Japan, and Oakland, California. Alma Beckstrand left behind a great heritage for his children and grandchildren and others who follow to inherit. He was truly a very wonderful man.

Histories Compiled and Edited by Sue Anne Beckstrand Thompson
Our Beckstrand Heritage: Christina Beckstrand Pehrsson, Karl Johan Beckstrand, Elias August Beckstrand and their families
(Logan, Ut., self published, 2003)