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Max Paul Christian Kersten and Agatha Adelheid Anna Bethsold
Max Paul Christian KERSTEN. [Family Tree]. [How are we Related].
He was born 22 July 1893 at Boock, Kreis Randow, Pommern, Prussia; the fifth child of Wilhelm August Karl KERSTEN and Berta Ernestine Karoline BARTEL.
See also Biography of Max Paul Christian Kersten below.
Max had always had an interest in religion. He asked a lot of questions about religion. When he was about twelve years old, his pastor came to their home and tried to persuade Max's mother to allow him to be trained for the ministry. Although she was a good and religious woman, his mother decided against it. She said that they could not afford to educuate the other children and that she did not feel that it would be right to allow it just for one and not the others.
When Max turned 14 his father gave a pair of high topped boots and said, “Max, you are a man now.” Max felt very proud. Also, at the age of 14, Max began work as a baker's apprentice to Otto Kersten in Stettin. He worked also in several other cities during his apprenticeship. Eventually, Max passed his exams successfully and became a full member of the Baker's Guild when he was still seventeen.
As a young man, he had a happy disposition. He was said to be a "man about town". The girls all liked him. He liked to sing, and had a pleasant voice. He enjoyed traveling. When he came home from his apprenticeship travels or on leave from the military, all his friends and relatives came to visit. The house would ring with his voice as he sang.
When he was grown he weighed 165 pounds. His eyes were blue and his hair was blond.
He loved his Grandfather, Wilhelm KERSTEN [F40]. On the night that his Grandfather died (4 AUG 1908) he came to Max in a dream, held out his hand, and said goodbye. Three days later Max received a letter from home reporting his Grandfather's death.
At about the time he turned eighteen, Max joined the military. His mother was concerned lest her son fall into undesirable company while in the army. Before he left, she made him promise not to drink or carouse as many soldiers often did. And he kept that promise.
World War I began in 1914, and soon involved all Europe. The spark for the war happened on 28 June 1914 when a Bosnian Serb assassinated the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne. Austria-Hungary's demands for revenge against the Kingdom of Serbia led to the activation of a series of alliances which within weeks saw most European powers at war. Because of the global empires of many European nations, the war soon spread worldwide. Max soon became involved in the war, and in the fall of 1914, was sent first to Belgium and after a short time to France.
In the following year he was sent to the Eastern Front where he spent several years. He was there during the time of the Russian Revolution. Max told his grandchildren that the cavalry group he worked with all rode white horses. They had no doctor or medic on hand but they did have a veterinarian to care for the horses. One time Max got very ill. His condition deteriorated to the point that they feared for his life. They took him to the cavalry's veterinarian to see if he could do anything for him. The veterinarian gave him a jug of clear colorless liquid, told him to drink the entire jug immediately and then go straight to bed. Max did as he was told. He said he was under the influence of the tonic for a full three days. But when the effects of the tonic wore off, he was cured. For the final year of the war, Max was sent back to France.
When the war ended in 1918 Max returned home to Boock, where he worked as a carpenter with his father. When he needed to have his shirt collars starched and pressed, his mother told him to go over to the home of Agathe Bethsold who did such laundry for a living. While he waited for her to finish the ironing, Agathe told Max about her new religion, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As Agathe spoke, Max became interested in the gospel. He began attending church with her. Max's interest in the church grew as did his interest in Agathe. One day, Agathe mentioned to Max that she would marry only a member of the church. By this time Max was convinced of the truthfulness of the gospel, and he was baptized on 24 AUG 1919.
A few months later, on 18 DEC 1919, Max and Agathe were married at the nearest civil office in Rothen Klempenow. They would have normally been married in the local church at Boock, but since they had booth become members of the LDS church, they probably did not feel that they wanted to do this. Therefore they were married at the civil office in Rothen Klempenow. His devotion to Agathe was only equaled by his devotion to the church.
Because of both their religious natures, Agathe and Max took their membership in the church seriously, and it was the guiding principle of their lives. Max liked to read the Bible, especially the stories about the Savior. Agathe liked to read the Book of Mormon.
As their children were born, Max and Agathe decided that they wanted to raise them in Zion, so they began preparations to emigrate to America. They had an uncle, Karl Bethsold, living in Duluth, Minnesota, who agreed to sponsor them; so they decided that was where they would go. On the 10th of November in 1924 the family's membership records were removed from the Stettin Branch. On the following day they received immigration visas from the American consulate in Stettin. On the 15th of November they departed Boock. On the 18th of November they embarked from the Port of Hamburg on the ship RMS Andania, a ship of the Cunard line.
After 12 days of sailing, on the 30th of November 1924, the family arrived at the immigration center at Ellis Island in the New York harbor. From there they took the train to Duluth, where they arrived on the 3rd of December 1924. At first they lived close to their uncle, near 23rd Street in Duluth's west end. This first apartment, at 6820 Polk Street, was an upstairs apartment behind a store owned by her uncle's family.
Max obtained employment as an electrician in the steel mills around Duluth. As part of his job he learned to rewind the electrical motors used in the mills.
On 1 August 1925 Max signed a Declaration of Intention, declaring his intention to renounce allegiance and fidelity to the German Empire, and his intention to become a Citizen of the United States. They were then living at 2805 1/2 Wickers Street, in Duluth.
There had apparently previously been a branch of the church in Duluth, but when the family arrived in Duluth there was no branch of the church located near them. Max wrote to the church headquarters, requesting permission to hold meetings in their home. Missionaries were sent to the area and the branch was started again. Max was called as the Branch President in 1937, and served in that capacity until 1945. The North Central States Mission started the year after they arrived, in 1925.
When they moved to Duluth, they were in debt to their uncle, who had sponsored them. Friends had advised them to file for bankruptcy, but that would have violated their sense of honor, and they refused. It was very difficult for them to repay, but they insisted on fulfilling their obligation.
Having only heard negative things about the church, Uncle Karl was horrified to learn that the couple he had sponsored were Mormons. He took Max aside and told him sadly that unless he gave up this crazy religion, he could not allow his family to associate with Max's family. Max looked Uncle Karl in the eye and said," I'm sorry uncle, but I will not give up the gospel."
For a while, Uncle Karl did as he had threatened to do and the families had little contact with one another. Eventually, however, the families reconciled. But their lifestyles were so different that they never grew very close. Karl's family loved to get together on Sundays to drink beer and play cards, while Max's family was very religious, attending church and entertaining missionaries on the Sabbath.
Soon, Max moved the family to a new apartment near 56th Street. Four years later, about June 1928, they moved to 502 S. 66th Avenue, also in Duluth's west end.
In 1930 the Branch was meeting in the Woodman's Hall. The Duluth Branch was then part of the Lake Conference of the Northcentral States Mission, of which Arthur Welling was the Mission President. On 26 AUG 1931 Max received his Certificate of Citizenship.
During the year 1934 they moved to 1313 Medina Street (Medina Street was 56th Street).
When the girls were starting to grow up and became teenagers, Ruthy didn't always listen to her folks, but she would listen to Sister Cook, who was also a good member of the church. The Cooks lived out by Procter, a little railway place outside of Duluth. The Cook family had to walk a mile to the bus stop, then transfer from the bus to a train into Duluth. Sometimes they had to stand there in the intense cold while waiting for the bus. They were very faithful, though, and never missed a Sunday. One time the MIA had arranged an hiking outing out to Proctor where the Cook's lived. Ruthy had invited along some boys who were not of the best character. She was flirting with them and having a good time. Sister Cook took her aside and told her, "You know, afterwards when they are in the bar, they will only laugh about you behind your back."
The family moved to 5303 Medina Street. They later moved down to 8th street, to an upstairs apartment.
In the Fall of 1943 Max and Agathe went to Utah to visit, and the family was sealed together on 3 NOV 1943. This must have been a great joy to her parents, who after being faithful members of the church for over 25 years, to finally have the opportunity to receive their blessings in the temple.
In 1947 Max and Agathe moved permanently to Utah. Dorothy took care of Ruthie when Mom got things ready in Ogden. Max couldn't get a job in the Geneva Steel Mills in Provo, so he took a job as custodian for the church house at 26th and Jackson Avenue. There were four wards and a Stake meeting there at that time, so there was never and end to his work. Max had a years leave and could have gone back to Duluth to his old job, but Agathe wouldn't go back.
The second World War was hard on Max and Agathe. All their loved ones were in Germany, and no word could reach them as to how their people were surviving, if at all. During the war people learned to hate, and they felt the brunt of this, even though they had been legal citizens of the U.S. for many years.
In the summer time Max found extra work helping wealthy people with their flower gardens. He also fixed electrical things for people in their ward. From this extra money, Max saved it and kept it for their old age. Their home was free of rent, but their pay was small. They lived frugally, but saved enough so they could travel a little.
After the War, Max and Agathe sent clothes and bedding to relatives who were in desperate need. During these years Max and Agathe did extensive genealogy work for their families. We can see the hand of the Lord in their lives.
In 1948 he received his Patriarchal Blessing.
In 1955 Agathe died of kidney failure, so Max was left alone. After her death it was hard for Max to have an interest in life anymore. He had a chance to remarry, but he didn't. He had heard too many stories of widowers who remarried and then the wife left and took half the money. He knew if that happened he wouldn't have enough left for his old age.
Max continued working at the church house and lived alone for another four years. Then, in the fall of 1959, Diane, Dorothy=s daughter went to live with Grandpa in order to finish her high school at Ogden High School. She lived there during her Junior and Senior years at high school. During the years of 1961 and 1962 Diane worked in Ogden and lived with Grandpa. She then got married and Grandpa was alone again, until Naomi, another daughter of Dorothy’s also went there to go to school, from 1962 until 1964, when she graduated from high school.
About that time, Max went on an extended trip all over the eastern United States by bus with a group of members from his Ogden ward. He thoroughly enjoyed it.
In 1964 Max retired from his work at the church and went to live with Dorothy and LeGrand. He was content for a while, but he missed his friends in Ogden. Dorothy and LeGrand were busy with Ranch work and with the family, so Max decided to return to Ogden, but there was no one to take care of him there, so he went into a rest home. That was in 1968 in the fall of the year. He was in the rest home until 1972 when he got pneumonia and died. All his good friends and some former missionaries came to his funeral. He died in full faith in the Gospel.
He died 15 DEC 1972 at Ogden, Weber County, Utah, and was buried at the Ogden City Cemetery in Ogden, Weber County, Utah.
Agatha Adelheid Anna BETHSOLD. [Family Tree ]. [How are we Related].
Agatha was born 8 August 1891 at Boock, Kreis Randow, Pommern, Prussia; daughter of Karl Friedrich BETHSOLD and Albertine Wilhelmine BARTEL.
She had grey eyes and dark brown hair.
Agathe had an older sister and brother, Agnes and Ewald, who were working in Berlin. Ewald was employed there as a member of the Emperor's Guard. Agnes and Ewald met the LDS missionaries there and were converted and joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on 8 SEP 1911. Agatha also went to Berlin to work. She worked as a maid and learned how a "lady" should act. For the rest of her life she was guided by a strong sense of what she considered appropriate behavior. While working in Berlin she was introduced to the missionaries through Ewald and Agnes. She studied the gospel carefully for a long time before she was converted, but when she gained a burning testimony, her faith was unshakable, even though her decision to join the church was very unpopular with her family. She was baptized on 3 APR 1913 in Berlin by Elder Ashael H. Woodruff. She said that she was baptized in the River at night, because then it was against the State religion to join another church. She also said that for both her and her sister, when they came up out of the waters of baptism, they were so filled with the spirit that their bosoms burned within them.
She met with her brother and sister in the branch meetings. Ewald lived in Berlin until after the war, when he moved to Utah. Agathe was however later quite disappointed in her sister. She had one child out of wedlock, and when she became pregnant a second time, she had an abortion. The person she married also was not interested in the church. This was very distressing to Agathe.
When the war broke out all her brothers were called to serve and so Agathe returned to Boock to work with her family on the farm. She also took in laundry for some of the villagers. Agathe was a very industrious person and learned to work very quickly and efficiently. She also had the true missionary spirit and was not afraid to talk to others about the gospel.
When the war ended in 1918 Max had returned home to Boock. When he needed to have his shirt collars starched and pressed, his mother told him to go over to the home of Agathe Bethsold who did such laundry for a living. While he waited for her to finish the ironing, Agathe told Max about her new religion, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
He began attending church with her. Max's interest in the church grew as did his interest in Agathe. One day, Agathe mentioned to Max that she would only marry a member of the church. But by time Max was convinced of the truthfulness of the gospel, and he was baptized on August 24, 1919. A few months later, on December 18, 1919, Max and Agathe were married at the nearest civil office in Rothen-Klempenow, Kreis Randow, Pommern, Prussia. They would have normally been married in the local Luthern church at Boock, but since they had both become members of the LDS church, they did not feel that they should marry in a church of their old religion. Therefore they were married at the civil office in Rothen-Klempenow.
Because of both their religeous natures, they took their membership in the church seriously, and it was the guiding principle of their lives. Max liked to read the Bible, especially the stories about the Savior. Agathe liked to read the Book of Mormon.
They moved to Duluth in late 1924. The North Central States Mission started in 1925. There had previously been a branch of the church in Duluth. When Max wrote to the church headquarters, they sent missionaries to the area and started the branch again. Max was called as the Branch President and served in that capacity for many years.
During their first year in Duluth Agathe had a tubal pregnancy and so the doctor did a histerectomy. In their second year in Duluth, she was lifting a sack of potatoes up the stairs to their upstaris apartment so that they wouldn't freeze, and she had a rupture. She almost bled to death. The doctor found that she still had a pulse and was able to save her life. After this, though, she never again had very good health.
She died 17 NOV 1955 at Ogden, Weber County, Utah and was buried there at the Ogden City Cemetery.
CHILDREN of Max Paul Christian KERSTEN and Agatha Adelheid Anna BETHSOLD :
- Ruth (Ruthy) Agnes Mariechen KERSTEN. Born 20 MAR 1921 at Boock, Kreis Randow, Pommern, Prussia. She was baptized on 28 JUL 1929. She grew up and attended schools in Duluth, Minnesota. When she left home she moved to the Washington D.C. area and worked as a secretary in government service. She married on 2 NOV 1942 to George Ashley MOODY II. They lived in Colonial Heights, Virginia. They had one son, George Ashley MOODY III (known as Ashley), who was married on 27 JUL 1968 in the Woodlawn Baptist Church, at 3:00 o’clock p.m. to miss Frances Cheryl HARRELL, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Charles William HARRELL of Colonial Heights, Virginia. They were married by Rev. Jack MOODY, a brother to Ruthy's husband George. Ashley was later divorced. He remarried later. Ruthy died in 2002.
- Dorothea Berta Ernestine KERSTEN. [How are we Related]. (Dorothy) Twin to Johannes. Born 9 May 1922 at Boock, Kreis Randow, Pommern, Prussia. She married LeGrand Elliott MORRIS [F4] on 30 OCT 1942 in Salt Lake City, Utah.
- Johannes Karl Wilhelm KERSTEN. Twin to Dorothy. Born 9 May 1922 at Boock, Kreis Randow, Pommern, Prussia. He died 12 JUL 1922 and was buried in Boock, Kreis Randow, Pommern, Prussia.
- [S1]. LeGrand Elliott Morris Family Records.
- [S2]. Letter from Helga and Gerhard Budach to Dorothy Morris, 1 January 1994. )
- [S3]. Family Record Book of Max Kersten. Copied from the original Parish Records of Boock.
- [S4]. Ancestral File, ver. 2.0.
- [S5]. Swiss-German Mission Records of the Stettin Branch, film 068806, 11148, pt. 31.