(As told to Golden Virgil Adams Jr. by Mrs. H. Thiessens & Ruth T. Adams about 1962)
It was a nice clear winter day in January. The snow that was lying on the ground glistened as if it were manna from heaven. This was the day a blessing from heaven was given to Hermannus and Henrietta Folkers Thiessens.
With mid-afternoon came the much cherished parcel. This was the third boy born to this couple.
The little bundle arrived in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah. The date was January 13, 1924.
This was a very special day for Folkert Teunis Folkers and his wife, Hilje Mulder Folkers, since this was the first grandchild born since they had come to America from the Netherlands. Because of this, Hilje was given the honor of naming the little boy. Henrietta, the mother of the baby boy wanted his name to be Joseph for the Bible character who was sold into Egypt. However the grandmother chose the name Joseph Hyrum; Joseph for the Prophet Joseph Smith, and Hyrum for the Prophet's brother. Thus, the baby was blessed and given the name of Joseph Hyrum Thiessens.
When Joseph was six months old, his father and mother gave him a book having no pictures. He turned the pages looking at the book, but not once did he tear a single page. This was thought to be quite remarkable by his parents. His father said he was really going to be a book-worm!
Joseph, being about a year old, was allowed to have an old song book to take to church and he really loved to sing. However, his parents had to be quite careful. When the singing stopped, Joseph would just keep right on singing. At this, everyone would laugh.
It was often that his father sat in front of the congregation and Joseph was not at all concerned or content until he could run up and sit on his father's lap. He did this many a time when he was a young chlid.
Joseph had a dark complexion. His skin was an olive color. As a young child he had dark blonde hair which later turned a dark brown. His eyes were a dark brown and they had a very special way all their own in expressing every wish. His eyes were extremely beautiful as were all his features. At times they looked exttremely puzzled and other times they were very happy.
Joseph Hyrum Thiessens, about 1 year.
Joseph was a favorite of his grandparents Folkert and Hilje. When his grandfather came home from work each afternoon, Joseph would be waiting for him as he always had something in his lunch pail especially for Joseph.
When Joseph was a year and a half old, the family was invited for Christmas day dinner to some of the family's Dutch friends. Joseph's father and grandparents were in California and his mother stayed home with the children. Joseph was asked to sing a little song in Dutch since the people there were all of Dutch descent. Joseph spoke English as did his brothers and sisters.
One winter day this same winter, Joseph heard his grandfather coming home. He was sitting on his rocking horse and when he heard his grandfather's voice, he tried to climb off. He couldn't quite make it. In his struggle he lost his balance, slipped, and ruptured himself. He then had to wear a truss. He wore this for about a year. After this, he was all right.
When Joseph was about four years old, his mother took him and his three younger sisters, Hilda, Ruth, and Grace to Liberty Park in Salt Lake City, Utah. Joseph was to watch Hilda and Ruth; his mother held the baby, Grace. You can imagine the picture it made when he took Hilda and Ruth, held on to their little hands, and said, "Come on you little kids. It's time to go home" as if he were all grown up?
When he was about five years old, his grandparents moved to live with George Albert Smith [in the cottage behind his home]. As Joseph visited quite often, he became a favorite of George Albert Smith.
Brother Smith had a grandson about Joseph's age. He lived next door to the Smiths. Joseph and the grandson soon became fast friends.
As Joseph grew older, Brother Smith often took Joseph with him to the Church Office. Since the Thiessens family had no car, he delighted to travel with George Albert Smith just for the ride. Brother Smith would often give Joseph a tablet of chocolate which he would faithfully save to divide with his brothers and sisters.
Joseph Hyrum, Henderika, and Hilda Thiessens at 2916 South 7th East on their front porch, abt. 1930
At the age of ten years, Joseph and Hank, his older brother, dug an underground hut as their clubhouse. This was done in the back yard at 7th East. It was about five feet deep and about four feet square. They put boards over the hut and put dirt and leaves on top of this. Leaving just enough room for an entrance, they dug steps into the dirt as a means of getting into the clubhouse.
Folkert and Hilje moved to the house where Folkert planted a vegetable garden in the back yard [at Leland Avenue] and Joseph would help with it.
At the age of ten, he had eaten many green apples and came home sick with a stomach ache. He called his mother early that morning before his dad left for work and complained about the pain in his abdomen.
After talking to Joesph and examining him, his mother was convinced that it was appendicitis. She talked to her husband, but he would not agree that this was the case. He was determined that it was simply the green apples.
Henrietta wanted to call the doctor, but Hermannus didn't agree. Since the family doctor was out of town and she didn't know of any other, she waited until about 11:30 p.m. and then called the neighbor's doctor.
Joseph had then become much better and didn't seem to be in so much distress. When the doctor came, he told Henrietta that it would have been much better had she called six hours earlier. He explained that it was a ruptured appendix. So Joseph was rushted to the hospital and was operated on as soon as he arrived there. Joseph's father felt extremely sorry then that he hadn't consented to call the doctor earlier.
On the way to the hospital, Joseph said to his mother, "Mother, if I am going to die, I don't want you to worry over me. I am sure I'll be all right. I have throught over my life and I feel sure that my Heavenly Father will accept me. So please don't worry about me if I should die."
He was very sick after the operation and the doctors told the family not to plan on keeping this boy for very much longer as his body was filled with poison and the drain pipe that had been inserted would not carry it out.
After Joseph came out of the ether, he asked his mother to go home and call his father and a brother who was counselor of the elders quorum in the Wandameer Ward at this time. This brother [Johnson] had received a special blessing for the healing of the sick by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The following happened about two days after the operation:
The nurses and the doctor at the hospital told the mother of the beloved lad to stay with him that evernig. They had pulled a screen around his bed and were expecting him to pass away that night. He had turned yellow in color due to the poison in his system.
The Brother [Johnson] and Hermannus came that night to administer to him. They asked him, "Do you have faith that God could heal your?"
Joseph's answer was "HOW COULD I DOUBT IT?"
They then proceeded to administer to the almost lifeless form. They had no more than removed their hands from his head that Joseph started to vomit and got rid of so much infection and poison that so infested his body. He asked them to go home and not to worry about him. He said he would go to sleep and spent a very restful night. This was quite a surprise to the nurses and the doctor.
From that day on he was on the road to recovery. Although he had the drain tubes in for a long time, he was very active in church and school. He became a Deacon when eleven years old. He also became a scout and, of course, he loved it dearly.
Dluring the summer months while living at 7th East at the time Joseph was eleven or twelve, he and his sister, Ruth, would get up early Sunday morning and go fishing in the lake at Nibley Park and they they would be home in time for Sunday School. It was times like this that brought these two very close to each other.
Joseph was falsely accused of chasing and abusing pigs. The people that lived around their neighborhood had pigs that were chased by other boys. The bishop called him and accused him of this. This affair broke his heart to think that the bishop didn't even so much as apologize. Joseph, bishop, and parents went to the people and they couldn't recognize him as one of the group. Later the boys were found and Joseph was cleared. But it left a sting in his heart. So much so, that he made a praying matter of it. And yet, he cried for over two hours because it affected him so.
When Joseph was twelve, he, his brother Hank, and some of his boy friends went to Nibley Park. It was a very cold winter day. Joseph skated into the middle of the lake and onto thin ice. The ice broke and he went through. The boys brought him home, about two and one-half blocks away, and he was found to be a very wet and frozen young man.
While the family lived at 7th East, Joseph would pump Ruth [on a bicycle] to their grandparents, three or four blocks away. They would help in the garden and some of the chores. In afternoons, when their grandfather was not able to do much work anymore, they would sit with the grandfather on the east side of the house and play dominoes by the hour.
To continue to Part 2, CLICK HERE.
About the author
Welcome to Legacy Stories. I hope you will join me in finding pleasure in digging into the past and revealing our buried treasures in picture, video, audio and words as my legacy to you.