HOME ~ Contact us

Dorothea Berta Ernestine KERSTEN

For his history, see LeGrand Elliott MORRIS. [Family Tree].
Born 3 November 1916 in Rosette, Box Elder County, Utah.

Dorothea Berta Ernestine KERSTEN. [Familytree].

See also Autobiography of Dorothea Berta Ernestine Kersten.

Dorothy, as she was known, was born on Tuesday, 9 MAY 1922 in the village of Boock, Kreis Randow, Pommern (or Pommerania), Prussia; the daughter of Max Paul Christian KERSTEN [F10] and Agatha Adelheid Anna BETHSOLD [F11].

Dorothy was given the name Dorothea Bertha Ernestine Kersten, partly after her paternal grandmother, Berta Ernestine Bartel, but she has always been known as Dorothy. She was born with a twin brother, Johannes Karl Wilhelm Kersten, but he only lived a few months after their birth. He died July 12, 1922, leaving Dorothy with just one other sibling, her older sister Ruth Agnes Mariechen Kersten (called Ruthy).

The Village of Boock

Boock at that time was part of Prussia, and so it will be referred to as Prussia in this family history. With the rise of Communism following World War II, Boock fell within East Germany. Now, however, since the reunification of East and West Germany, it lies in the very northeast corner of Germany.

Pommern, or Vorpommern (Hither Pommerania) as it was more specifically named, was a “Land” (State) of the Kingdom of Prussia. Kreis Randow is a smaller jurisdiction, like a county, lying along the Randow River to the west of the city of Stettin. Following the reunification of East and West, these jurisdictions have changed. The Kreis (county) for a time was called Rothen-Klempenow, after some of the larger villages, but it is now named Kreis Loecknitz, after the largest village in the area. The “Land” (State) is now Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

The village still is known as Boock. Boock is located in an area of gently rolling hills just before the Baltic coastal plain. It has always been primarily an agricultural community, of a little more than a thousand inhabitants, with fields and small patches of woods surrounding the village.

Dorothy's Early Life

One day after her birth, the 10th of May 1922, Dorothy was blessed in the Stettin Branch of the Swiss-German mission by the missionary, Elder Julius Sach. Her parents were active in the Stettin Branch and their testimonies grew in their new found faith. As they began their new life together, they remained in Boock and continued to work on their parents' farms. When Dorothy was still a baby, she was often tended by her Grandmother Bethsold while her mother was out working in the fields.

As their children were born, Max and Agathe decided that they wanted to raise them in Zion, so they began preparations to emigrate to America. They had an uncle, Karl Bethsold, living in Duluth, Minnesota, who agreed to sponsor them; so they decided that was where they would go. On the 10th of November in 1924 the family's membership records were removed from the Stettin Branch. On the following day they received immigration visas from the American consulate in Stettin. On the 18th of November they embarked from the Port of Hamburg on the ship RMS Andania, a ship of the Cunard line.

Though she was not yet three years old, there occurred one event on the voyage that quite impressed itself on Dorothy's mind. She remembers stumbling and falling on the deck of the ship and rolling toward the edge of the ship. Before she reached the edge, though, she remembers a man grabbing her and preventing her from falling over the side of the ship. Later, when she recounted this story to her family, they told her that it was her own father who grabbed her in time. She had been afraid of falling over the side to notice that it was her own father to helped her.

The ship stopped at Halifax first before traveling on to New York. After 12 days of sailing, on the 30th of November 1924, the family arrived at the immigration center at Ellis Island in the New York harbor. From there they took the train to Duluth. As they traveled on the train, they passed close enough to Niagara Falls so that they could hear the falls, even though they could not see them. They arrived in Duluth on the 3rd of December 1924.

When they arrived in Duluth, they lived at first close to their uncle, near 23rd Street in Duluth's west end. This first apartment, at 6820 Polk Street, was an upstairs apartment behind a store owned by her uncle's family.

Her father, Max, obtained employment as an electrician in the steel mills around Duluth. He had gained experience as an electrician working in the factories at Stettin. As part of his job in Duluth he learned to rewind the electrical motors used in the mills.

When the family arrived in Duluth there was no branch of the church located near them. Having only heard negative things about the church, her Uncle Karl was horrified to learn that the couple he had sponsored were Mormons. He took Max aside and told him sadly that unless he gave up this crazy religion, he could not allow his family to associate with Max's family. Max looked Uncle Karl in the eye and said," I'm sorry uncle, but I will not give up the gospel."

For a while, Uncle Karl did as he had threatened to do and the families had little contact with one another. Eventually, however, the families reconciled. But their lifestyles were so different that they never grew very close. Karl's family loved to get together on Sundays to drink beer and play cards, while Max's family was very religious, attending church and entertaining missionaries on the Sabbath.

Since there was no branch of the church in Duluth, Max wrote to the church headquarters and requested permission to hold meetings in his home. Missionaries were soon sent to Duluth and the branch there was reopened. Max was subsequently called to be the president of the Duluth branch and served in that capacity for quite a few years.

Soon, Max moved the family to a new apartment near 56th Street. Four years later, about June 1928, they moved to 502 S. 66th Avenue, also in Duluth's west end. Dorothy went to school there at a school in Fairmont Park area. There was also a zoo there that she loved to visit, especially at feeding time, when the lions would roar and the animals were the most active.

When Dorothy was 8 years old she was baptized a member of the church. This occurred on the 27th of July 1930. The Branch at that time was meeting in the Woodman's Hall. Near it was Lincoln Park which had a creek running through it. The elders dammed the creek and she was baptized there by Elder Ferril M. Sorenson. They then went to the house of a member who lived near by, and there she was confirmed by her father. The Duluth Branch was then part of the Lake Conference of the Northcentral States Mission, of which Arthur Welling was the Mission President.

During the year 1934, when Dorothy was 11, they moved to 1313 Medina Street (Medina Street was 56th Street). That summer Dorothy broke her leg while roller skating.

Since Dorothy's father was the Branch President the missionaries were often in their home. She remembers being asked once to pray. Afterwards she looked up to see the bewildered look on the missionaries' faces and realized that they couldn't understand a word she had said. Without thinking, she had said the prayer in German, as the family often prayed in either English or German and were used to hearing both. When she realized her mistake she felt so embarrassed.

Teenage Years

When Dorothy was 13, in junior high school, she played the cello for one year. The next year, and from then on, she switched to violin lessons. She attended the Robert E. Denfield High School where she continued with the violin and rose to the second violin in the high school orchestra. She also joined a string quartet, upon the recommendation of her instructor, which played for schools and church groups in the area. One of the places at which they performed was the Casa del Norte Cafe. During high school, Dorothy also took courses in business, such as typing, shorthand, and dictation.

Toward the end of her high school years, in her Junior and Senior years, Dorothy started working for a lady, helping with the housework, making beds, cooking supper, and other household chores. Agathe believed in the importance of work and helped arrange for this employment, which was only about a block from their home.

In the spring of 1940, Dorothy graduated from high school and the family moved to 5303 Medina Street. Immediately after graduation she started working as live-in help for a lady in downtown Duluth for the wage of four dollars per week. She had her own room upstairs with half a day off on Thursday and a half a day off on Sunday. On her Thursday afternoon off she would return home and Sunday afternoon was spent at Church.

That fall she worked at a place that made rag rugs. She was there for a couple of months, threading the loom and ironing the scraps. Everything had to be precise, and her supervisor was very particular as to how it was done. During the Christmas season that year she worked at J.C. Penney's. That winter she also worked selling Avon, but didn't enjoy it very much.

About April of 1939 Dorothy first met her future husband, LeGrand Elliott MORRIS [4] when he, as a missionary, stopped in Duluth on his way to Canada. During the next year they met again when LeGrand returned to Duluth for Mission Conferences.

During 1941, Dorothy found a job working in a new theater that was nicely decorated. Her job was working at the milk bar and she wore a costume that made her look like a little Dutch girl. Dorothy enjoyed working at the theater. That year her sister Ruthie left home and obtained work in Washington D.C. In fall, the family moved to an upstairs apartment on 8th Street and during that Christmas season she again worked at J.C. Penney's.

In February of 1942 the wife of Dorothy's cousin Herman (Karl's son) called and told her that there was a job open at Armour meat company, but it wouldn't last long. She said if Dorothy wanted the job she should hurry over right away before the union sent a girl to interview for the job. Dorothy went immediately. She got the job and began working in the sausage kitchen. At first she prepared the casings, getting them out of the packing barrels, wrapping and tying them, measuring and twisting the links. She also worked in other parts of the plant, doing head cheese and other products. The job paid quite well but she didn't enjoy working with most of the people there. They were a rather rough bunch and used bad language and told rude jokes. She stayed there for 7 months, until August when she moved West.

During her years growing up, Dorothy was very busily involved in church activities. She taught the 9 year old class in the Sunday School, held offices in the MIA, and sang in the choir. In 1942 Dorothy helped her father, who was still the Branch President, acting as his secretary and helping with his letters.

During the summer of 1942 Dorothy and her mother were called as missionary companions. They tracted together and taught discussions. Dorothy remembered her mother as a powerful speaker and a wonderful missionary. She had been called and set apart by the Mission President, George F. Richards, Jr., but was not given a release date. She did not know then that in a few short months she would be leaving Duluth for a new life out west in Park Valley. The family was at that time living in the upstairs apartment on 8th street.

On 4 SEP 1942, Dorothy left home to go west to meet her intended husband LeGrand. She and her girlfriend traveled on the train together. After about two days they arrived in Utah.

On 19 SEP 1942 she and LeGrand became officially engaged. On 29 SEP 1942 She received her Patriarchal Blessing from Patriarch George F. Richards.

Dorothy and LeGrand (LeGrand Elliott MORRIS [F4]) were married on 30 OCT 1942 in the Salt Lake Temple, Salt Lake City, Utah. She also received her endowments at that time. Upon returning to the ranch at Park Valley, they lived in the Calahan homestead down in the lane, about 2 mile below LeGrand’s parents. In the Fall of 1943 Dorothy’s parents came to Utah to visit, and the family was sealed together on 3 NOV 1943. This must have been a great joy to her parents, who after being faithful members of the church for over 25 years, to finally have the opportunity to receive their blessings in the temple.

In 1948 they moved from the lane up to the ranch with LeGrand’s parents and fixed up the rooms above the garage. It was rather cramped quarters for them since they by then had already three children, and then the twins were born. They lived there while the Calahan home was moved up next door to LeGrand's boyhood home, where his parents were living, and it was renovated and enlarged. In about 1951 the house was finished and they moved in.

On 17 NOV 1955 Dorothy's mother died. This was very difficult for her since they had always been very close.

CHILDREN of LeGrand Elliott MORRIS and Dorothea Bertha Ernestine KERSTEN: