When most Church members reflect on their pioneer heritage, they usually rely on journals from grandparents, great-grandparents or even great-great grandparents to learn about the trials and faith-promoting stories of the pioneers as they crossed the plains.
But that's not the case with Carrie Edna Hansen Anderson, a member of the Ephraim 5th Ward, Ephraim Utah Stake. The stories of the difficult journey are as familiar to her as her childhood.Sister Anderson, 99, is one of the few surviving children of a Mormon pioneer. Her mother traveled to Utah in 1857 with her family in the Christiansen Handcart Company. She was 4 years old at the time.
"They wrapped my mother's feet in burlap after she had worn out her shoes. What they must have suffered pulling a handcart!" she exclaimed.
She still remembers her mother, Carolyn Olivia Olsen Hansen, singing, "Hard Times Come Again No More," a favorite song of hers as she traveled by handcart to the West.
Like many of the pioneers, music was an important part of life for her mother. "She loved to sing with her brothers," Sister Anderson said.
The hard work and endurance developed early in life was a principle that Sister Anderson's mother carried with her when she married James H. Hansen and raised a family.
"She taught us how to work. We were working all the time. We had to scrub the walks and steps with another rock to keep them white."
And without modern conveniences, there was even more work to do, Sister Anderson said. "We couldn't go out to play until the carpet bags were sewn together. We would take fabric pieces to the loom to make homemade carpet. I would help Mother. She would tack it and I would help stretch it. We put new straw under the carpet every year."
Sister Anderson, the eighth of 11 children, is the only surviving member of her family. Born July 3, 1891, she recently celebrated her 99th birthday with family and friends in Salt Lake City.
"I'm very proud of my pioneer heritage and to think that I'm still alive after all we went through," she said.
With only a year short of 100, Sister Anderson has had many years to learn and grow. The sage advice she gives to others is to "stay with the Church. There's nothing more important."