Transcript for Holmstead, Mary Kaisa Ekstrom, Life history [ca. 1930s], [1]

When I was sixteen I left Christiania (now Oslo), Norway, with my sister, Caroline Ekstrom Thompson. We were with a company of Mormon elders who were returning to Utah...We sailed the Atlantic Ocean for seven weeks and five days before we landed in New York. Three weeks later we came to Lawrence Hill, Kansas, where we joined Captain Scott's Company and came to Utah.

At St. Joseph the emigrant train had stopped to have a general washday. I finished my work and went to a nearby house. The housewife was washing. I asked her in my broken English if I would wash to earn a dinner for myself. She did not think I knew how to use a washboard. I pushed her aside and began to run the clothes on the board as I had seen the girls doing at the laundry in Christiania. She promised me a dinner for my work. Soon my sister came to watch me. I asked if I could wash for her dinner, too. The request was granted. Presently, two more girls came and I begged dinners for them, too. For our meal, the housewife fried us a platter for pancakes. We ate every scrap and were happy and ready to go back to camp once more.

I could speak only a little English and understood even less. On our journey, people often asked me if I was married. To my ear it sound as though they asked if my name was Mary. I always smiled and nodded in answer to the question and pointed to the wagons. One day, another emigrant told me in my own language what people asked. From such experiences as these, I picked up a better acquaintance of the English language.

I arrived in Salt Lake City on the 11th of October, 1866.