Anna Judith Beckstrand 1862-1939

Anna Judith

Anna Judith Beckstrand was born 21 November 1862, in Salt Lake City, Utah, a daughter of Elias August and Anna Sophia Heggland Beckstrand. She was the first of six children born to this family, two of whom died in infancy. Her parents had emigrated from Sweden to Salt Lake City. The family moved to and lived for a time at Deseret, Millard County, where her brother and sister, John August and Albertina, were born. They then moved to Meadow (also in Millard County) where they were some of the early settlers. Her father, Elias, married a second wife in 1869, and so Anna Judith grew up in a polygamist family. Being the oldest in the family, she had plenty of dishes to wash and babies to tend. She also helped with the other chores on the farm. She learned to work and make the most of her time.

The family spoke the Swedish language in their home, but when the children started to attend school, Elias announced that they would now have to change and speak only the English language. Her father had a little difficulty mastering English and couldn't say "Judith" and so he called her "Udith". This was shortened to "Udy" and that name she kept throughout her life. She was called "Aunt Udy" by practically everyone in Meadow.

On 7 May 1879, at the age of seventeen, she married James Duncan in the St. George Temple. James and Anna Judith moved into a small three-room house in Meadow. They were the parents of eight children: Anna Jennette (1880), James Elias (1882--died at birth), Elmer (1884), James Alonzo (1886), Flora (1891), Lois Emma (1894), Leah (1898), and Naomi (1901).

When the first three children were very small, James was called to serve a two-year mission in Georgia leaving Udy with the full care of the family. She raised a good garden and canned and dried fruits and vegetables. She also raised chickens, a few pigs, and had several cows to milk which helped with the food for the family. She sold eggs for ten to twelve cents a dozen and sent milk to the creamery which brought a small check each month.

After his mission, James and several other men from Meadow pursued the occupation of freighting through southern Utah and Nevada. These trips would take five to six weeks. On one of the trips to Nevada, a great tragedy occurred. James was kicked by a horse at Caliente, Nevada. His brother-in-law, Joe Beckstrand, began the journey home with him. They got as far as Clear Lake where James died (11 July 1905) at the age of forty-five. Seventeen year-old Alonzo was on the trip with his father. He was driving an extra wagon and didn't arrive home in Meadow until two weeks after his father had been buried. Alonzo had seen his father and the funeral services in a dream and had told his freighting companions about it a week before they arrived home. Udy was left with six children to raise, ranging in age from nineteen years to four years. (Her oldest daughter, Anna, was married and had two children of her own.)

The task of playing the role of both father and mother was not an easy one, but Udy did not shirk her responsibilities. She was an organizer. Her sons, Elmer and Alonzo, took over the chores of the farm with some help from the other children. Udy assumed the duties of providing for her children in the home.

A few years later, another sorrow came to Udy and her family. Her daughter, Anna passed away (22 March 1916) at the age of thirty-five. Now, in addition to caring for her family, Udy helped to raise her two grandsons, Herman and James Lynn.

Anna Judith was an active member of the church. She served as an officer in most of the auxiliary organizations. She was a teacher in Sunday School, Primary as was president of the Young Women's Mutual Improvement Association for fifteen years. She also served in the Relief Society presidency and was a member of the Stake Sunday School Board.

For many years she helped with preparing the dead for burial. She also worked on the sewing committee, helping to make the burial clothes. She was a very good seamstress and took in sewing to help the family expenses.

Udy was always an ambitious lady and when she was about sixty years of age, she was still doing chores and milking cows. One day, "Old Bossy" kicked her off her milking stool for the last time. She got up and said, "I'm never going to milk another cow." This may have been the incident that put Udy and "Aunt Teen" (Albertina, her younger sister) out of the ice cream business. Because of the abundance of milk and cream, they had decided to have an ice cream parlor. For several summers the two had made ice cream and sold it for the holidays and on Sunday afternoons.

Udy raised her family strong in the L.D.S. faith. Her seven living children were all married in the temple. She sent her son, Alonzo, on a mission to England. She tried to teach her children to be thrifty, especially with their time. She knew the true meaning of work. She wanted her children to appreciate the blessings they would receive when they learned to give of themselves to others. Anna Judith was an exceptionally good mother and grandmother. She was strict but kind.

During the last years of her life, she spent a great deal of her time doing temple work, primarily in the Manti Temple. She died on her seventy-seventh birthday, 21 November 1939, in Meadow, Utah.

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)