What I Remember about Ida Benedicta Anderson*.

Written by Emily Anderson,
daughter of Olof (1871–1963), Ida Benedicta's brother.

Of all the relatives, friends, and visiting missionaries coming for overnight, or longer, sojourns to the O.J. Anderson's household (consisting of Dad, Mother, and me) during Dad's eight-year pastorate (1909-1916) in Derby, Vermont, the only one whose stay I looked forward to and thoroughly enjoyed was Aunt Ida's. The anticipation and enjoyment were due not only to the imaginative presents that she always brought me but also to the fun and excitement that she engendered each day of her visit. She taught my friends and me games that were new to us, told fascinating stories, and taught me to paint with watercolors. She also made handsome and fashionable clothes for my dolls. On one visit, most thrilling of all, she made red and white stripped rompers for Agustus Cicero, my most prized possession - a teddy bear. Although the trip from Gary, Indiana, (where she lived and taught school) to Vermont was not an easy one in those times, not always were her visits fore-warned. Sometimes there would be a telephone call from the rail-road station four miles away heralding her unexpected arrival. Was I thrilled! I'd squeal all during the ride to the station to pick her up. Once, when my parents and I had returned from a two-week trip to Maine, we found her in our house. She'd been there for two days. Entrance to the house had not been difficult as the front-door key always reposed on the outside sill of the hall window in plain view. Was I excited to find her there! Thereafter, every time we went away I'd search the house on our return hoping to discover her presence. However, in all instances save that one, I was disappointed.

When my Aunt Anna, who was Dad's sister and my cousin Olga's mother, died, Aunt Ida took Olga to live with her in Gary. Olga was twelve years old. I was eleven. I wasn't exactly envious of Olga, but I pictured the glamorous life Olga would be living in a suburb of Chicago and with Aunt Ida! A few years later, I do not recall how many, Aunt Ida was offered the position of art teacher in Carson College, a newly established home and school for orphan girls. Its grounds and buildings were beautiful and the girls whose fortune it was to be there lived like the daughters of a millionaire. Aunt Ida, of course, took Olga with her to Carson College. Olga lived with Aunt Ida until she graduated from high school and completed a business course. Although Aunt Ida did not legally adopt Olga, she treated her as a daughter and assumed full responsibility for her support and education until Olga was able to be on her own financially. Upon my mother's death in 1923, just one month prior to my graduation from high school, Aunt Ida came to stay with Dad and me for a few weeks. One can imagine how much this meant to me.

Four years later, at the invitation of Aunt Ida, I went to Philadelphia to seek employment. There I lived and worked until my retirement in 1974. I enjoyed my association with Aunt Ida in Philadelphia and missed her greatly after she moved to New York City. I did see her occasionally after that as a welcome guest in my home in Mt. Airy (a suburb of Philadelphia) and whenever I journeyed to New York City on business. Aunt Ida was an unusual person. Her keen sense of humor, talent, and engaging personality brightened many lives.

She had been born in Sweden. In 1897, while still in her teens, she came to the United States with her sister Anna. With the help of her brothers Andrew (Anders in Swedish) and Olof she matriculated in what was then known as Maine Wesylan Seminary and Female College, in Kents Hill, Maine, later to be known as Kents Hill Seminary. Although the only language which she spoke and understood on her arrival at this school was Swedish, in less than three months she was able to take her turn at delivering a dissertation in excellent English in chapel before the student body and faculty. When I was a child, glowing reports of this were related to me by both my father and mother, who had also been students at Kents Hill at that time. More than twenty-five years later one of my professors at DePauw University, who had been a member of the faculty at Kents Hill when Aunt Ida was a student there, also described the incident to me. In addition, he reported how popular Aunt Ida had been with both faculty and students. Following her graduation from Kents Hill in 1901, Aunt Ida attended Syracuse University in New York. Here she majored in art. Upon her graduation fours years later she was offered and accepted the position of art teacher in the public schools of Gary, Indiana. I am proud to be able to add my recollections of Ida Benedicta Anderson to those of Bo Adlerbert and I thank him for this privilege.
* The "Aunt Ida" of this narrative is the one and the same person who was the "Benedicta" of Bo's chronicle. Prior to her1922 visit to Sweden she had been called by her first name, Ida, rather than Benedicta, her middle name, by her relatives and close friends. During that visit to Sweden, for some reason of which I have no knowledge, she decided that henceforth she preferred to be known as "Benedicta." This name "took" with all except her immediate family, especially her nieces and nephews, who just couldn't become accustomed to calling the Aunt Ida they knew and loved "Aunt Benedicta."

(Notes from Harriet Williams)
Ida Benedicta was the sister of Olof Anderson, Anna Johnsson and Andrew Anderson (swedish name Anders) the captain who helped his sisters to move to USA. At the Family Reunion in Maine in September 1999 I met Anna's and Andrew's grandchildren Bob, John, Margeret, Dick, Eleonor, Ron and Martha.

Ida Benedikta's mother Bengta was a sister of Bo Adlerbert's grandfather Jöns Adler Andersson. Bengta's husband died young and Bengta had difficulties to feed 8 children. As far as I know 4 of them moved to USA. (Anders, Anna, Olof and Ida)
My mother's cousin Elvy Jerlov, today living in Sweden, remembers Ida Benedicta very well when she visited her family in Italy in 1922? Elvi told me she loved Ida Benedicta. (The italian people thought she had big feet though!)


Letter from Ida Benedicta visiting Sweden to Louise, her brother Andrew's daughter the 22nd of July 1922

                                                                                                            Söndagen den 22 juli 1922

Dear Louise

Your father said that you wished so much to get a letter from Sweden that I thought I would write to you first and the whole family can read this letter. (Det kostar så mycket att skriva brev här.) It costs so much to write letters here. It costs fifteen cents to send a letter to America.

Let me say dear Louise that you have mighty fine relatives in Sweden. They are very elegant, they have been all over Europe and can speak several languages, but they speak German and Swedish most of the time and I assume you that I have some time to keep up conversations (med dem) with them. They understand English but do not speak English as well as they speak the other four languages as French, Italian, and German.

My trip was delightful. I was not at all seasick not even one minute. The weather was fine, but in spite of all that two kinds of the passengers were sick at one time or another. It was so sleepy at first that I slept about sixteen hours each night but after a few days on the rocky waves I got over my **dew..siness. It took only nine days to come from New York till Gothenburg and you can understand there was not a small excitement when we first sighted land on the coast of Scotland. We came with a boat direct from New York to Gothenburg. We had a whole day on the North Sea when we couldn't see any land at all and it seemed so strange after we had had been seeing Scotland for a whole day. We went seeing Scotland in between the islands. You can trace it on the map. For two days were we in the golfstream and then was the temerature high, almost too hot for comfort, but later was it cold, so cold that it was necessary to have all the warm clothes one could find to put on. I am very sorry to hear that Olga is sick in Boston with typhoid fever. Poor child, I am so sorry for her. Today has been a rather sad day here we have had sickness. My cousin Axel who is about the same age as I has been very sick He has four children. The youngste is a little girl the dearest little two year old I have ever seen.

Now must I say something about my arrival. It seemed so strange, very strange. As soon as my luggage had been examined I took a taxi and rode to my aunts home Föreningsgatan 3, where I lived twentyfive years ago. A cousin was alone there and was so surprised when I told her who I was she could not express her feelings. We didn't know one another. Then after a little while I took a train and came out to the country with your aunt *** Olga where I now am. She sends all kinds of greetings to you all. I can not express them all. Your aunt Cecilia came here also as soon as she knew I was here. My own aunt and cousins live here during the summer so I spend my days with them and sleep with my sister, your aunt. Last evening we had regular family gathering and talked till eleven o'clock Swedish, French, German and English. Poor me I can hardly make myself understood. Two of my cousins I have not seen yet, but I hope I will see them before I go back to America. One is in Germany and the other in France. You have twelve second cousins who are able to speak four languages. Wouldn't you like to see them? Some of them are very fine looking, some of them not so fine. One of my cousins (an uncle to your second cousins*) does never do anything but travel around and amuse himself and he is now thirtyseven years old. I will say he is interesting, extremely interesting.

It is late and everybody is in bed, I think I must go to bed although I had intended to fill up this last page too with something. Polite, I have never seen such polite people as the Swedish people are. I think they are so polite that in America would it be impossible as they would not have time to be so polite, it takes one fourth if not more of the day to go through with their "goodmornings" "did you sleep well?" "Had you any dreams" "Do you feel well?" "Do you wish anything?" "Hope you have a happy day" "Thank you for coming" etc. Every time you leave the table you have to say "thank you for the food" to the person in charge of the home. By the way, they eat five times in a day. Your cousins here have names as follows: Hanna, Olof, Elvi, HannaGreta, Bo, Elna, Ivan, Eva and I will not name any more. Tomorrow I am going to visit your aunt Cecilia, my sister and she has ten children now what do you think of that, most of them are grown up but they live at Lund. Now must I send my best regards to your dear mother, your sweet sister, your best brother, your always dearest self, your fine brother, your happy sister, your darling baby brother. All the last is Swedish politeness. Don't you think it took a bit of time to write all of that but so talk they from morning till night - I love everything and everybody here and I am so glad I came.

Tante Bennedict

Notes from Harriet Williams September 2001:
* Nils Bonde Adler 1885-1984
** I can not read the word.
*** Olga lived in Älvängen, 25 km north of Gothenburg and was the head of Jöns & Johanna Adlers Dairy and milkshop.. She never married but old people in Älvängen remember her as a lovely person, just as we remember Ida Benedicta being an adorable person.

If you scroll down you can see the first page of the letter.