Life History of Viola Lauper Johnson

Chapter 2

Ancestors and Relatives

Do you remember any of your 4 grandparents? Any greats? What were their names?

Paternal Great Grandparents Jakob (Jacob) LAUPER & Elizabeth KUENZI [Künzi]
Jean Pierre Francois SACHOT & Jeanne Louis SERGY
Grandparents Johannes (Jean) LAUPER & Marie Elise Cecile SACHOT
Maternal Great Grandparents Mads PEDERSEN & Mette NIELSEN
(Jens is my step-grandfather, but to whom we're sealed)
Grandparents Hans MADSEN & Marie Johanne SORENSEN
(Hans is my step-grandfather, but to whom I'm sealed)

I saw and knew one grandparent ONLY, she being my maternal grandmother Marie Madsen. I saw her only on one occasion when I was old enough to be accountable, so I cannot say I knew her personally. On that one occasion, I felt slighted and intimidated, since I was in the company of a couple of others of her well-known and favored granddaughters.

Where did your grandparents live? What was their home like? Did it have a special feel?

I never knew my paternal grandparents. Grandfather Jean Lauper passed away in the land of Switzerland shortly before my father immigrated to this county. Grandmother Marie Elise Sachot Lauper did come to American, to the town of Lehi and the home of my parents in about the year 1904. She, too, passed away before my birth. I never had the opportunity to meet either my blood grandfather, Jacob Wissing, nor my step-grandfather, Hans Madsen. I did have a very few young girl meetings with my grandmother Marie Johanne Sorensen Madsen; but it couldn't be said that we were really acquainted. I was never in her home.

Tell about any special memories of grandparents or great-grandparents.

Unfortunately, I never knew my Lauper grandparents, except by legend - likewise, the grandparents on my mother's side with the exception of my mother's mother. She was Grandmother Maria J. Sorensen Madsen. My mother was born to her out of wedlock. I never knew her father, but did meet with her mother, Grandmother Madsen, on a few very brief occasions. Neither our mother nor any of us enjoyed a close relationship with this grandmother inasmuch as mother was raised with her grandmother Else Nielsen/Sorensen/Jacobsen.

If I were to talk about my most favorite and most tender stories concerning my parents and ancestors, it would relate to the very subject of that which brought them to this country - and that is their CONVERSION TO THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS. It is THEY to whom I owe, and to whom ALL of YOU owe, our OWNERSHIP to the Gospel. I say "ownership" very thoughtfully, for that is exactly how I feel about it; and I am ever so grateful to those parents and ancestors for their Sacrifice and FAITH. That Faith began with Grandmother Else Nielsen in Denmark, and Father Emile Louis Lauper in Switzerland - of course, unrelated in circumstance and place. Nonetheless, it was because of their courage and "believing blood" that our church heritage began and happened. They were truly the Pioneers of our family.

I'd like to pay special tribute in this writing to Grandmother Else. She, as a lone mother of four who had been deserted by her husband in Denmark, was prompted to allow the Latter-day Saint Missionaries to enter her humble abode, to introduce and teach the Gospel. She and family were baptized, and through her working of miracles and with the Immigration Fund of that day, she was able to immigrate to Zion. We owe her so much for our connection to the Gospel, our membership and Faith.

Some additional stories of Viola's great-grandparents, as recorded at the Lauper Family Reunion, 1998.

What did your grandfather do for a living? Tell what you know about it.

Essentially, my background includes only farmers; however. Grandpa Hans Madsen was a furniture merchant. He and his brothers learned furniture making with their father in the "old country" of Denmark. He plied his skill until his marriage to our grandmother Maria in polygamy. Then he was forced to go into hiding with the lawmen in hot pursuit after polygamists. He and his family finally went into the Idaho area where the 'heat of the law' was not so intense; and he did go into farming at that point, at which he failed miserably.

What are some favorite anecdotes or stores about your ancestors?

It is my feeling that I weave these stories throughout my writings. But for the sake of this question, let me say this. During the last Christmas holiday (Dec. 1998), I attended our family's Little Christmas Eve celebration at the home of Dave and Judy Lauper. Judy asked that I give some stories of our early Christmas experiences as a band of children with our parents, Emile arid Emma Lauper. I tried to do this. Perhaps I can find my notes and reconstruct what I offered that night. [She essentially does that when talking about Christmas in her childhood.]

Some additional stories of Viola's parents and great-grandparents, as recorded at the Lauper Family Reunion, 1998.

Additional stories about Vissing/Wissing ancestry (written in 2005)

[These writings were prompted by some questions from niece Bonnie Lauper Goodliffe with regard to Viola's blood grandfather, Jakob Busk Vissing. This was Emma Vissing Lauper's blood father. In particular, the first section below was answering a question as to his association with the Church.]

[The spelling of names is complicated by differences in language and a lesser "concern about consistent spelling" in the "old days". Consequently, you will see all sorts of variations on Grandfather Vissing's name. Grandma Viola usually used the spelling of "Wissing" because this is what her mother Emma used, as well as several other relatives. The original name, in Danish, is spelled "Vissing", but most of the family chose to change to "Wissing" (perhaps due to German influence) when they immigrated. However, at least one of Emma's uncles, which one, I cannot exactly recall, did continue to use "Vissing".]

Grandfather Jacob Busch was certainly a Church member: baptized, endowed and married in the Salt Lake Temple to his wife, Nina. I feel that several of the family of about 8 childen were baptized (not all remained steady in the Gospel, however). I took mother on occasion in Salt Lake to visit, I think it was Aunt Mary and Aunt Josie. There was an Aunt Anna, too, I recall. [This is perhaps the sister who was christened Christiane?] However, I also recall that the older "Mother Vissing" was 'Anna" as well.

Jacob Wissing did work inside the Salt Lake Temple in early days. (I think it was carpet-laying.) He married and had three childen: Nona, Andy, and Roy. As I view it, they might have run out of work in Salt Lake and were off to California to seek their fortune. (He also did sales work and always showed a 'bend' for sales work.) They stayed over in San Francisco briefly [although none of the Lauper family were yet there]. Of a historical note: they left San Francisco on the way to Los Angeles on the DAY BEFORE the city of San Francisco was shattered by the mighty EARTHQUAKE of l906. They arrived safely in L.A. where they lived the rest of their lives (in the L.A. area). He, Jacob, did pursue the Sales-type of work and was thus employed when Serge visited him.

I did MUCH work and recording for this [Vissing] line during the l970's, until I was informed that we were to devote our time and efforts toward our SEALING line. [This is reference to the fact that Emma's mother, Grandmother Maria Johanna, was never married or sealed to Jakob. She was later married and sealed to Hans Madsen.] My discontinuance of this work does not indicate my feeling that this family is not worthy of attention in Heavenly Father's Kingdom, BUT...

Jacob's parents were "salt of the earth", good and devoted. Mother had a brief but happy acquaintance with the parents during a visit to Salt Lake. They, too, gave up everything to come to Zion. Not all the children remained steady in the Gospelm but several did; Uncle Eliinn was a temple worker. In fact, he was there and chose to do a session on the day I was married in the Salt Lake Temple. [This was our first acquaintance with] his family, although Mother and my sister Alice had visited them before. I took my Mother to visit Aunt Mary and Aunt Josie in Salt Lake areas more than once. They were widows then, although Aunt Josie lived with a son on the penninsula [back in San Francisco?].

Mother always knew, more or less, where her father resided. He wrote and kept in touch with her mother durng the early days. He loved Maria and wanted to marry her. It was only following her absolute wedding to Grandfather Hans Madsen that Grandfather Jacob Wissing finally gave up on that love affair. He kept a sporadic or, perhaps more correctly, an infrequent connection with daughter Emma during the next several years, but she always seemed to know where he was. After their going to the L.A. area, where they continued to live, she had an address, of course. His wife, Nina, had an illness (the exact nature I've forgotten) which was reason for her to be influenced by someone (a friend or neighbor??) to become sold on the Christian Science way of life. She forsook all medical help thereafter, and was in poor health for a few years before passing away. He lived longer, to 1931, in fact, but had been somewhat influenced by her strict Faith and way of life. Although he suffered a lingering and painful illness, he did not accept medical help until at the last, when it was too late (according to his sons). I am uncertain as to whether or not he actually "joined" the Christian Science Church.

I do know he became inactive in his Latter-day Saints activity. This fact bothered Mother a good deal and she did wish for [my brother] Serge to make the contact. Somehow she felt Serge, having made a very respectable young man of himself, could announce that he was now slated to serve a Church Mission, thus making make a good impression on his grandfather, and even making a difference in his attitude regarding the Church. As I understand it, the results were disppointing. Brother Wissing was less than warm in his welcome of Serge and Serge got the feeling of unease that his grandfather suspected he had come expecting a financial gain of some kind. This was not true [it was not Serge's intention] and the subject was not mentioned during their brief, rather uncomfortable visit. Serge had no subsequent visits with Brother Jacob. No other of my siblings, nor other family members ever had a visit with this Brother Jacob. [Interestingly enough, Serge does not appear to mention this encounter in his own personal history.]

Tell about a favorite aunt or uncle.

One aunt who played a special part in my life was the wife of my mother's half brother. Harry Madsen. I never saw this dear lady, but she knew of us little urchins and always held a tender spot in her heart for us. She would send hand-me-downs in girl's clothing occasionally, which was a real "wind-fall" to us all. She also saved the funny papers from their newspapers and whatever else she deemed of interesting reading for youngsters; then from time to time a bundle of this reading material would be received by us with great pleasure. We had so little to read, and nothing of this kind, so we all rejoiced when her packages would arrive. She was a sainted woman in caring for her aged and crippled mother and aunt. Her name was Edith Acomb Madsen of Salt Lake City.

My father had but one sibling, a sister Alice. She is the Aunt I knew best and, of course, loved most. Although she always lived in Lehi, Utah (immigrating to that city from Switzerland as a young mother), she did visit us from time to time. Moreover, as I grew to adulthood, I visited with her and her family on many occasions. We were always made welcome, and she loved us. This was apparent. Wonderful memories of a lovely lady.

We had so few relatives with whom we were acquainted, but I must mention Aunt Mabel, the wife of my mother's half-brother Nels Peterson. They lived in St. Anthony, Idaho; and I never saw either or any of the family; but this sweet soul, Aunt Mabel, was attentive to us young Lauper. She, as did Aunt Edith, would send hand-me-down clothing and her once-in-a-while letters were always a delight.

As to uncles, this answer is quick and assured. Our Great Uncle Julius Sorensen was truly a Great man, and truly a Great uncle to us and especially to our mother. He, in fact, was perhaps our mother's very best friend throughout her life. He was her mother's only brother. Born in Denmark, he was dispatched with a family (members of the church) who was emigrating to America, so he came alone as a very young boy. This was necessary inasmuch as his mother, our great grandmother Else Nielsen Sorensen, had been deserted by her husband, leaving her with 4 young children. During the subsequent years of her bitter recluse, the Latter-day Saint missionaries finally found entry to her attic abode, whereupon she 'bought' the Gospel whole­heartedly. But the funds did not aggregate sufficiently toward passage to America, and the immigration lists were long with tedious waiting. In her desperation and urgent feeling that she must get her family to America and to Zion, she made the wrenching decision to send young Julius with friends. He stayed with these people a short time in Utah, but soon went on his own, taking work wherever he could find it. Alone and against many obstacles, he doggedly persisted toward finding better employment wherever he could; and was successful enough that he was able to send some small amount of funds back to his mother to help her and the rest of the family in their efforts to immigrate. Uncle Julius eventually emerged as a skillful, successful salesman after serving as a boy sheepherder for many years, a farm boy, jack-of-all-trades, a Deputy County Sheriff- spending much energy and a lengthy, dangerous pursuit of 'bad guy' Rafael Lopez, a notorious murderer who ran rampant in Salt Lake County during 1913---- more particularly raging through the Bingham Mines. Uncle Julius almost lost his life to this desperado during battles; and eventually had occasion where he could have taken the life of Rafael Lopez when he found him sleeping within one of the mines, but he chose not.

Uncle Julius also served as a city councilman and performed other civic duties; and he was a devoted Latter-day Saint. He married Aunt Lina, a sweet and loving soul, and they bore a large family. Uncle J. remained a true and loving son to his widowed mother throughout her life; and always kept a special spirit of loyalty for his motherland of Denmark. This influenced his creation of a missionary fund, hoping his family members would perpetuate strong missionary work to the Danish. His own sons manifested disappointing interest toward this effort; so it was that he took special notice of his niece Emma's family (our mother), answering the prayers of my brother Marcel, who was first to accept Uncle J's sponsorship to serve in the Danish Mission. Dennis, Ralph and sister Alice were all benefactors of the fund which made their respective missions possible. I should mention that Uncle J's 'fund' was made possible by the fact that their oldest son, Heber Sorensen, was a young fatality of World War I - suffering complete shell shock. He was never restored, but lived a long hopeless, sad life in a military hospital. For "his life", our Government paid the parents a very small insignificant fee. This money was used for the missionary effort, as it was a small fund that the Sorensen children could feel no claim to; and Uncle J., in his shrew manner, made that fund grow magically, so that our family was blessed many times over. Uncle J. was a thoughtful correspondent to my mother. He picked up her spirits ever so many times through his loving letters of encouragement and faith. He remained constant in doing whatever he possibly could to help her, showing sincere concern and affection during her most trying years. Indeed, the name of UNCLE JULIUS SORENSEN is a "gold-plated name" with each of our family and will forever be so!

Did any relatives serve in the Military? What do you know about it?

My Great Uncle Julius Sorensen (and he was a eat uncle to us) was my Grandma Marie's brother. He and his wife Aunt Lena had a large family of 11 children, the oldest, a fine strong son by the name of Heber who was drafted into World War I. During the early years of that conflict overseas, in the thick of it, he was shell-shocked and gassed. From that point on, he never knew anyone again; consequently, he didn't return home but was relegated to an Army hospital where he lived to an old age. Uncle J. used to visit him in this St. Louis conservatory and other places. A very, very sad happening in their family.

During World War II, two of my brothers, Marcel and Ralph, were conscripted for service in the army. Marc did basic training in some miserable outpost in Texas where he was able to do some weather observance work. Becoming trained as a meteorologist, he served out his time within the U. S. at weather station, and was discharged as a Sergeant after long and tedious service.

Ralph did basics in California and Arizona I think and eventually managed to aggressively force himself into Cadet Training and became a Bomber Pilot. He served in the European Theater, flew more than 25 missions, and was shot down (with only minor injuries). He finished his military career in the U.S. doing some training at an Iowa station.

Do you have special keepsakes that have been passed down in your family?

As I sit here, I see a china hot chocolate pitcher that was a gift at my parent's wedding. I have souvenir remnants that my mother kept from the burial clothes she sewed for an infant buried at age 3 weeks (Else Geneva). I gave a pewter trophy to Linda which my father received as an award for a noteworthy athletic achievement in Switzerland. I removed (or I should say had someone remove) the gold band from my mother's finger after her death. This I have given to my niece Paulie as a keepsake of her grandmother after she asked if I had anything that she could have. I also have an authentic black lace head covering which was part of the traditional head dress for women attending church in the European cities. It was worn and treasured by my Grandmother Marie Elise Cecile Sachot/Lauper.

[An insert, dated November, 2001. This event regarding Viola's wedding dress was remembered during a reunion in St. George, Utah area with another branch of our family - posterity that emerged through the marriage of Viola's grandmother, Maria Sorensen, to Hans Madsen.]

In the late 1920's, during my sophomore year in a Delta, Utah high school, I was fortunate in having a dedicated English teacher whose name was Sergene Benson. As I've mentioned in previous sections, I relish the memory of my exposure to her and her instruction. Much later, I was made aware that my grandmother Maria J. Sorensen/Madsen's youngest child, Julius V. Madsen, had married into that Benson family--to Sergene's younger sister Connie. Julius visited us occasionally and, as a family, we became acquainted with his personal life, including his marriage. Inasmuch as I had some communication with my former teacher, Sergene, through the years, I soon had more than the usual friendship with her sister Connie. When Connie learned of my approaching marriage, she offered her very own wedding dress to me for my wedding day. Connie arranged to have the dress, along with the bag of Temple attire, delivered to the home of another Uncle, Harry W. Madsen, who lived in Salt Lake City. With those arrangements, it was not a problem for me to pick up these items when Joe and I arrived in SLC to be married in the Salt Lake Temple. I am unsure in my description of the details of this dress, due to the many years that have elapsed since that special day of June 25, 1940. I will say that Connie wore only untailored clothes, dresses of soft material, with laces. buttons, and always very feminine in styling. The dress and all items fit perfectly.

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