Johannes (John) Friedrich and Catharina (Catrina, Catherine) Maria Laetari Jonsson (Joensson): Highland welcomed converts to the LDS Church from many countries, including Germany. John was born in Mildstedt, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany on Aug 24, 1884, to Jons and Anna Petersen Jonsson. Catherine was born May 23, 1886, in Horstedt, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany to Lorenz Ingiver and Justine Catherine Claussen Laetari. They were married November 24, 1907, in Hattstedt, Germany.
John served in the German military for two years, leaving his wife and children to go and fight on the French line during WWI.
They were living in the City of Mildstedt, where he was a blacksmith and a grain merchant, when they first heard the LDS missionaries. They were baptized May 30, 1920, in the North Sea. Very soon he was made Branch President and continued in that position until they left Germany in 1927. His duties took him to clusters of Latter-day Saints distant from his home and he traveled by motor bike continually to visit the 170 members of his Branch. Their becoming Mormons created problems for his business, he lost a lot of customers but eventually some came back, enough so that he could raise money for his passage to America, although they did have to sell their home and most of their belongings.
They arrived in Salt Lake City in March, 1927, with their three children, Almae, Lorenz and Jens, having emigrated from Hamburg, Germany aboard the steamer "Hamburg". They lived in Salt Lake City for about six months then went to Idaho for a while where he worked on a dairy farm but he was searching for a permanent home. In 1929 he heard of a man named Adam(s) (which meant Saviour) selling his farm in Highland and thought “this must be Heaven” so he bought it and moved here later the same year (#13 on the 1958 Highland map). (After living here a while he said, “This sure hasn’t been Heaven”.) Their fourth child, Paul Fred was born in October and was blessed in the Highland Ward. Another child, Mary Ann was born to them in 1930. On September 26, 1927, John signed a Declaration of Intention to become a U.S. Citizen and to "renounce forever all allegiance and fidelity to...the German Reich."
He was not familiar with irrigation, having come from luxuriant Germany, but he was determined to succeed and with faith in God, they did so. He raised pigs, sugar beets, chickens, cows, hay and grain. He became a very successful and prosperous farmer. On the wall inside their back door was a sign that read: “Vee get too soon oldt, und too late schmardt”. John and Catrina never had a great grasp on the English language and were difficult to understand, even after 35 years in the U S.
John’s experiences-in the military, understanding a new religion, living in a totally new environment and culture gave him a great ability to understand youth and capture their attention and in 1934 he was called to advise the Priests Quorum of sixteen to nineteen year old boys. He continued in that position for more than thirty years. Before his conversion to Mormonism he was a pipe smoker and when he quit he saved the very expensive Meerschaum porcelain pipe he had used for a long time. One of his lessons to his boys on a regular basis was to bring out that pipe and let the boys smell it - so they would know how long the effects of tobacco would last in their systems. He always referred to the scores of boys he taught as “my boys” (I was one of them).
In November, 1957, John and Catrina celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary and less than a year later, on October 25, 1958, she passed away.
After her passing John visited his homeland and thereby was connected to Olga Ottile Rosenstreter, a widow who was a member of the Church and who wanted to immigrate to America. She was born January 29, 1898, in Gorodetskaya, Russia to Julius and Anna Marie Luening. She married Wilhelm J. Wiest in 1919 and he died in 1957. John wrote her a letter asking her thirteen questions about her activity in church, family relationships, ability to cook, level of debt, etc., and her answers made an impression so he returned to Germany in 1960, married her on August 13, and brought her to Highland. She spoke no English and life was lonely for her but the Relief Society sisters befriended her and became her family. She worked side by side with John on the farm and in his blacksmith work.
John passed away at the age of 91, on August 4, 1976. Olga continued to live in Highland until January 30, 1987, when she joined him. They are buried in the American Fork City Cemetery.
Lawrence (Lorenz) Thomas and Marie Degelbeck Jonsson: Lawrence was born in Mildstedt, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany to John and Catherine Jonsson (q.v.) on October 22, 1913 and migrated with his parents in 1927. He attended a special school in Germany for a while before they moved. He completed his schooling at American Fork High School. He was athletic and loved playing basketball, baseball and football. When he was 19 he contracted polio and after a long convalescence he was left with a limp for the remainder of his life. He didn’t let that slow him down, as he farmed and was one of the largest turkey growers in Utah for many years.
Marie was born February 24, 1917, to John Henry and Alice Ann Young Degelbeck in a family of nine. She first went to school in Ophir, Utah then they moved to Lehi and she graduated from Lehi High School in 1935. She met Lawrence on a blind date in Adamson Creek where the ward was having a wiener roast. They were married February 24, 1939.
They lived in Highland (#6 on the 1958 Highland map) and there they raised their family of four: Joan, Kathy, Jon and Tom and also raised beef cattle, hay and grain along with their turkeys.
Marie worked in the Primary for many years, including time as counselor to Genevieve Mathews and on the stake board she also worked in the Relief Society. She was a member of the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, was a faithful journal keeper and enjoyed a variety of handiwork, including embroidery and crochet. After her family was raised she went to work at the State Training School.
Lawrence died July 16, 1996, after which Marie sold the farm and moved to Idaho with her two sons, where they were engaged in farming. She died March 18, 2003 in Soda Springs, Idaho. They are buried in the Lehi City cemetery.
Paul Fred and Blanche LaDeane Bailey Jonsson: Paul Fred was born in Salt Lake City six months after his parents arrived from Germany on October 1, 1927. His parents were John and Catrina Jonsson (q.v.) who came to the U. S. as converts to the LDS Church.
Paul Fred (he was usually called both names-even by his family) was schooled at Harrington Elementary and American Fork High School, graduating in 1946.
LaDeane was born June 26, 1930 in Daniel, Idaho to William Roderick and Blanche Gilgen Bailey. She attended several different schools and graduated from Cyprus High in Salt Lake City. She and Paul met through his sister and they were married June 1, 1948 in the Salt Lake Temple. They made their home in Highland (#10 on the 1958 Highland map) where they raised hay, grain, peas, potatoes and turkeys. They had six children: LaMont, LaMar, Connie, Keith, Teresa and Jody.
LaDeane was involved in many Church organizations, serving as Primary Teacher, Cub Scout Leader and Secretary, Relief Society Secretary, visiting teacher and work day director, YWMIA teacher and sports director, Sunday School Teacher and Old Folks Committee member.
Paul and LaDeane divorced in 1970 and LaDeane moved to Pleasant Grove and worked at the Utah State Training School.
Paul went to work as a welder for Tote-Gote and Skyline industries. He made his home in Lehi and always had a garden, as he never lost the farming instinct. Even after he lost most of his vision he still gardened by feel. His last five years were spent in Abbington Manor in Lehi. He passed away there on January 10, 2017. He is buried in the American Fork Cemetery.
Highland Historical Society Home Page
Highland Historical Society Mission Statement
Highland History Chapters (compiled by: Charles T Greenland II):
1958 Highland Aerial Map - Interactive
1958 Highland Aerial Map - Large
1958 Highland Homes & Families (table with addresses)
Highland Censuses (and LDS Ward Membership List)