Sunday, July 19, 2009

Hilda Madsen Longsdorf

Hilda Electa Madsen was born at Mt. Pleasant, Utah, on November 28, 1877, to Johanna E. Anderson and Andrew Madsen. The youngest of ten children. She attended Mt. Pleasant public schools and received the fullest education offered. She then clerked in the family-owned store, A. Madsen and Sons, at Mt. Pleasant. Later she worked in a new store operated by the family at Scofield, Utah. Residing at the home of her brother, Neil Madsen, she also worked as a telephone operator while in Scofield. Being an accomplished horsewoman, she often rode on horseback from Scofield to Mt. Pleasant, a distance of thirty-five miles, to visit friends and relatives.

She belonged to the L.D.S. Church and served for years in the presidency of the M.I.A. she was also active in the Mt. Pleasant Pioneer Historical Association. When the Association was organized in 1909, she became its first secretary and held this position for thirty-seven years until her death in 1946. A special assignment she looked forward to for many years was the planning of the Pioneer Association's annual meeting. Soon after Christmas she called a committee to her home to complete arrangements for the March Celebration. On the morning, afternoon, and evening before Pioneer Day, Hilda's home was alive with people, bustling in and out, making sandwiches and Danish beer. Hardly was the occasion over, when Hilda called the committee together again to begin plans for the next year's event.

She was interested in the preservation of pioneer relics and worked energetically to keep Mt. Pleasant historical relics in Mt. Pleasant. By carefully studying her father's early history of Mt. Pleasant and his own journal, and by doing extensive research on the subject, Hilda was able to complete the writing of the book, Mt. Pleasant, published under the direction of the Mt. Pleasant Historical Association in 1939. Of the one thousand books printed, all copies have been sold. (the third edition is now on sale) Historians have found Hilda's Mt. Pleasant an important source book for the study of early Mt. Pleasant and Sanpete County.

She was a member of several civic and social clubs. Among them were the O.N.O. (Our Night Out) Club, and the Daughters of Utah Pioneers. She served as president of each of these clubs on different occasions.

Hilda loved parties and holidays and prepared well in advance for them. She had costumes and decorations ready for every occasion, neatly labeled in her store room. but of all holidays, she liked Christmas best. Ever mindful of Santa's long journey,she always left him a bowl of candy with a stimulating drink. When the children of her brother Andrew were young, they often stayed at Hilda's house on Christmas Eve. When they awakened early on Christmas morning, they found knots in the legs of their underwear, the sleeves and legs of their outer clothing were mysteriously sewn together. This had been doneto give their mother extra time to light the candles on the tree.

After her own nieces and nephews were no longer Santa believers, she helped Santa in other ways. She made a Mrs. Santa Claus suit and on Christmas Eve or early on Christmas morning, she with her husband, Showman and brother Andrew and his wife Abbie, would ride all over town in a cutter, (later a car). They would gaily ring sleigh bells and undoubtedly bolster the faith of all small children in Santa Claus. Whenever they saw a light, they would stop, ring the sleigh bells, and Hilda with a Merry "Ho! Ho! Ho!" would go in, leave the toy or bag of candy, fruit or nuts. This surpirse would leave the youngsters spellbound and the parents wondering who had visited them.

Hilda loved to entertain and the parties she gave were second to none. A great deal of planning went into these parties. Preparations started with a thorough housecleaning and she and the family worked for weeks. Then the house would be decorated outside as well as inside. A festive atmosphere prevailed everywhere, as mountains of food filled the kitchen. For days afterwards, the family and close friends ate party fare. Her gay humor and instinctive ablity to create rhyming jingles made her parties something special. Everyone who received an invitation was sure to come.

She was a practical joker and her friends never knew just what to expect from her, but it was always fun. One afternoon when Hilda was entertaining the members of a club to which she belonged, each guest was surprised and relieved to find at her place one of her own silver spoons. Many of them had been hunting for that "lost" spoon for months. To this day no one knows how Hilda managed to obtain those spoons, undetected.

She also loved patriotic holidays. On these special days flags would be flying, her home would be decked with red, white and blue bunting, and at least one decorated float would be standing in her back yard. One of her favorite roles in life was being the "Goddess of Liberty" in the annual Fourth of July Parade.

Hilda loved to raise flowers and enjoyed working in her garden. The ground around her home became a community show place. she loved animals and always had several pets, ranging from piglets to parrots. Old Joe, the parrot, a member of her family for nearly forty years, was known for his friendly chatter to most of the town's people and children. Most of all she loved children. Soon after his mother's death she took a young boy, Bill Tomlinson, into her home and cared for him as though he were her own child until he reached maturity.

On October 7, 1919, Hilda was married to Showman Doyle Longsdorf in Salt Lake City. After their marriage, they made their home in Mt. Pleasant, where Showman operated a grocery and implement store. Hilda and Showman were very happy, sharing each other's interests, desires, and activities; always striving to improve Mt. Pleasant.

Unfortunately Hilda suffered from crippling arthritis during the last ten years of life, but kept active all the time. On a Friday night, January 12, 1946, her nephew Bruce found her after she had suffered a stroke. He and a niece, Johannah Hafen, were at her side when she died. Her death was a great loss to her family and the community.

(Hilda's history was taken from the Madsen History book, published by the Lars Madsen family Organization, 1967; pages 316-317.)

1 comment:

  1. Really good story although not related. I would love to have the book "Mount Pleasant" if anyone has one available.