Anna Cecilia and Albertina


Long ago in Sweden there lived a glove maker named Anna Cecilia who took great pride in her fine stitching and embroidered delicate designs on gloves made of soft leather cuffed with fur.

Among Anna’s customers was Rasmus, a young shoemaker who brought the tops of his fine shoes for her to embroider. One day, along with shoe tops, he left some books with Anna that told about Joseph Smith, a new prophet through whom the ancient gospel of Jesus Christ had been restored. As she read the books, an assurance came into her heart that they were true. A short while later she was baptized by the young shoemaker in the cold waters of the Ore Sund, a strait in the Baltic Sea between Sweden and Denmark.

Anna’s husband had died and she had a desire to take her little daughter Albertina to be with the Saints in America. Rasmus had gone already, and a number of their friends were preparing to leave too. Anna borrowed enough money for both their fares. And after a journey by sea and by rail to Hamburg, Germany, Anna and Albertina boarded the sailing ship Humbolt for the trip across the ocean.

For more than six weeks they lived aboard ship in crowded quarters, where food was scarce and storms were plentiful. Finally, the company arrived in New York harbor. Anna was grateful for their safe arrival but her little girl was crying for food and there was no money left to purchase any. In despair she took Albertina into a nearby warehouse where they both knelt behind some large barrels and asked God to supply their needs. Stepping outside they met the man who had been in charge of the company of emigrants. He explained that he had charged too much for Albertina’s fare and refunded part of the money—enough to provide food for the remainder of their journey!

Soon the travelers were aboard a train bound for Nebraska, where the railroad ended. Then their belongings were loaded onto ox-drawn wagons for the long trek across the plains to Utah.

The route lay along the Platte River that had to be forded several times. On one such occasion, someone took Albertina from her tired mother and set her on one of the loaded wagons being drawn through the water by oxen. All went well until the animals tried clambering up the slippery bank and the load shifted, throwing the little girl into the river.

“Mother! Mother!” Albertina cried as she struggled to keep her head above water.

Anna plunged into the cold water and was immediately caught in the strong current. She managed to catch hold of Albertina, but she was unable to swim as her heavy, sodden skirt wrapped around her, pinning her arms and legs. She struggled vainly to reach the shore as the current dragged them into deeper water.

The captain saw Anna’s plight but stood by helplessly. Suddenly, as though in answer to Anna’s silent prayer, her feet brushed against a submerged sandbar. Still clutching Albertina, Anna’s floundering subsided, and she gained a temporary footing on the sand just below the surface of the swirling water. A moment later a rope was thrown to them and, after a short struggle in the cold water, friendly hands reached out and helped the two to safety.

That evening as they sat by the campfire drying their wet clothes, Albertina looked up at her mother and said, “Mama, I was afraid when I fell in. Weren’t you afraid too?”

“Yes,” replied Anna, “but when those you love are in danger, you don’t let fear keep you from trying with all your might to save them. And remember, Albertina, our Savior is always near to hear our prayers for help.”

[photos] Photos by Marilyn Erd

[photo] Fine leather glove embroidered by Great-grandmother Anna Cecilia

[photo] Each block of this “remembrance quilt,” belonging to the author, has a picture of some event in her family’s history, i.e., Great-great grandfather Rasmus tending sheep; Grandma Rose praying to Heavenly Father for help in finding a lost doll; Albertina’s plunge into the river.