Monday, June 25, 2012

Fanny Constansia Wessman Parker Rule Johnson Moody

The Wessman Family, 1906, Salt Lake City, Utah.
Back, left to right: Henry, Herbert, Harold.
Front, left to right: Fannie, Amanda (mother), Bertha.

Amanda and Johan Wessman and their children were not able to emigrate to America together since they were living in reduced circumstances in Göteborg, Sweden.

The Wessmans sent their two oldest daughters, Fanny Constansia and Bertha Marie, to Utah first. Fanny had been born in Göteborg on May 5, 1873.

The family record says:
The two older sisters Fanny and Bertha came to the United States when they were about 15 years of age with other members of the church as converts and went to work as maids in homes of church members when they reached Salt Lake City.
We do not know the exact circumstances of their emigration; no one has yet (to my knowledge) found their emigration records. The 1910 census notes that Fanny arrived in America in 1888 and Bertha arrived in 1890. I always assumed that they traveled together, but they may have traveled separately.

Fanny's First Marriage

In 1890 Fanny married Joseph Almon Parker. Joseph was the son of early Mormon pioneers Joshua and Drusilla Hartley Parker.

Joseph Almon Parker. Picture from Ancestry, courtesy of Mary J97. Original source unknown.

We have a copy of a letter that Fanny's father, Johan Wessman, wrote from Sweden to his wife and family in America. It mentions Fanny's husband, Joseph Parker.
Jag har inget brev fått sedan du omtalade dett öde som hadde drabbat min goda mäg Pärker. Ja undrar just hur dett är med honom. Jag tror väll intet att benet var utaf efter som ditt satt så min ditt kan taga lika lång tid innan ditt blir fulkomligt gott men vi skall hoppas dett bästa, men som jag vet att dett medför verre plågor när dett är så till vridet.
[I have not received a letter since you reported the affliction that has befallen our good Uncle [son-in-law] Parker. I am wondering how he is. I well believe that his leg was not broken the way it sets, but it can take a long time before it is healed. We shall hope for the best, but I know it can be worse in suffering from a sprain.]
When Johan Wessman finally reached America, he and Amanda moved to Kamas, in the mountains above Heber and Park City, to live with Bertha and her husband, Martin Olsen, but he died not long afterwards.

Fanny Wessman Parker in 1906.

In the meantime, Fanny and Joseph Parker had five children, Fanny Drucilla (1891), Walter Almon (1892), John Willard (1894), Joseph Hartley (1895), and Edith (1899).

I do not know any of the history of this family, but sometime between 1900 and 1910, Fanny and Joseph divorced. The 1910 Census shows Fanny living with her children Fanny, Walter, John, Hartley, and Edith, at 128 South 12th West in Salt Lake City.

After the divorce, Joseph married Anna Opitz from Switzerland and they had at least four children. Joseph's death certificate shows that he was divorced at the time of his death.

Fanny's Second Marriage

In 1912, Fanny married Northern Irishman David Rule. He had arrived in Utah two years previously and was listed on his 1912 citizenship application as a 40-year-old janitor, six feet tall, 195 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes.

Fanny and David don't seem to have had any children. They divorced and he later married Pauline Gehring, and had one daughter, Ida May Rule. Rule's death certificate notes that his usual occupation was a guard at the State Prison.

Fanny's Children and Probable Third Marriage

Meanwhile, Fanny's oldest daughter, Fanny Parker married Lawrence Brown. Their children were born in Canada, Oregon, California, and Utah.

Fanny's oldest son, Walter Almon Parker, seems to have remained mostly in Salt Lake City, although he was in Bannock, Idaho, when he registered for the draft during World War I. (Perhaps Fanny will show up in the 1920 census in Idaho, since I haven't been able to find her record.) His death certificate lists his wife as Anna Schmucker Parker.

Fanny's third child, John Willard Parker, was in Lemhi, Idaho, for the World War I draft. I can't find a wife, but he is listed in New Family Search as having a son, Hartley V. Parker. John died in 1947 in Berkley, California. He was buried in Salt Lake City. Aha! I just located John in the 1930 census in Albany, Alameda, California. He was living with his mother, Fanny Johnson, widow, from Sweden, immigrated in 1887. That is Fanny Wessman. She is listed as the matron at a club house. What can that mean? This census was taken shortly before Fanny married William Alfred Moody. (See below.)
Note: The 1930 census lists Hartley Parker as Fanny's grandson and he is listed in New Family Search as John's son (as stated earlier in this paragraph), but he could be the son of Fanny's other sons, Walter Parker or Joseph Hartley Parker.
Fanny was listed in the 1930 census as "Johnson." Was she married to someone else after she and David Rule divorced? Or did she use Johnson as an assumed name? Let's go back to the 1920 census and search for Fanny Johnson. Okay. Fanny shows up in the 1920 census living in a boarding house in Oakland, Alameda, California, married to Sam V. Johnson. It shows that she immigrated in 1888 from Sweden and was naturalized in 1890. (That was the date she married Joseph Parker. Since he was a citizen, she became a citizen at that time.) (Am I one hundred percent certain this is the right woman? No, but I am about ninety percent certain. Yes. See comment to this post.) I can't find anything further about Sam Johnson. He is listed as having been born in Nevada, and I do see a Sam Johnson born in Nevada who was a Native American, but I don't see any others in the area.

Fanny's fourth child, Joseph Hartley Parker, also showed up in Idaho for the World War I draft registration with a note that he lived in Salt Lake City. He married Mabel Cuillard in 1916. They may have divorced. Joseph died in Alameda, California, in 1946.

Fanny's youngest child, Edith Parker, was born in Salt Lake City in 1899. I believe she is "Edith Johnson" in the 1920 census, working as a servant in the home of Harold and Amy Schiller of Salt Lake City, Utah. (See notes about her mother's use of the name Johnson above.) Edith died in 1975 in Oakland, Alameda, California.

Fanny's Last Marriage

In 1930 Fanny married William Alfred Moody. William Moody was a distinguished member of the Mormon community. When he was still in his twenties, he served in the Samoan Mission and then returned about a decade later to serve as the Mission President. While on his first mission to Samoa, his first wife, Adelia, died from complications of childbirth. (See article "Women from Zion in the Samoan Mission: 1888-1900" from Mormon Pacific Historical Society Proceedings, Eleventh Annual Conference, Mormon History in the Pacific. Vol 11, No 1 (1990), 54-80.)

William and his second wife Sarah lived in Thatcher, Arizona, and had seven children. They later moved to California. 

William Alfred Moody. Picture from Ancestry, courtesy of marianmoody60. Original source unknown.

After Sarah died in Berkley, Alameda, California, in 1930, William married Fanny Wessman. She had evidently been living in the area since at least 1920 and must have been active in the Mormon community there. He was 59 at the time and she was 56 and they did not have any children together. At the time of their marriage, William had two teenagers left at home, 18-year-old Alton and 16-year-old Reginia. Fanny's children were all grown.

Fanny died from old age and senility in 1949 in Salt Lake City. She is buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery. Her gravestone reads "Fanny Wessman Moody."

Fanny Wessman's gravestone, Salt Lake City Cemetery. From Find A Grave, courtesy of Judie in Salt Lake.

After Fanny's death, William Moody married Amy Gertrude Toye, originally from England. After she died in 1958, he married Cornelia (Cora) Hendrika Wilhelmina Van Meurs Esmeyer, originally from the Netherlands. His fifth wife outlived him.


  1. I just glanced at Fanny's brother's obituary:

    It lists her as Bonnie Johnson (Bonnie is probably a misreading of someone's handwriting), so that is conclusive, and I will edit the post with this information.

  2. Hello, Her is another obituary type for her brother. In it he lists his sister Fannie as living in San Francisco.

  3. Thank you, Sandee. I've added that to a new post: