Why have I chosen Mary Coats Bergstrom as my "Strong Woman"?
This 1901 obituary really says it all:
Mary was the paternal aunt of my great-great grandmother, Mary Maud Coats Stratford - the little child mentioned in this obituary, and the one who cared for her at her end. Her story is a good reminder that sometimes our ancestors made more than one trip across the Atlantic. I've found Mary's first crossing, with her husband, Carl, and younger sister, Jane Coats. I'm still looking for Mary's return with my great-great grandmother. I'd love to see that goat listed on the passenger list - ha ha!
As with all stories, there is so much more I could write about this woman. Suffice it to say that life was not all roses for her. She was born into poverty. She worked in a cotton mill from a very young age. Her marriage was disappointing, and her alcoholic husband eventually abandoned their family. She never had children of her own. However, instead of sinking into despair, she worked hard and saved her money, bringing her widowed mother and adopted niece to start a new life as Utah pioneers. While she was sad to lose her husband, his departure enabled her to finally find financial independence and stability. Her stores in Ogden and Logan were community gathering places, and she made lasting friendships with her neighbors and customers.
Mary Coats Begstrom, I admire your strength and courage, and am so grateful for your legacy of thrift, persistence, and love for your family.
1. "Death of an Old Resident," (Utah) Ogden Standard, 11 November 1901, page 6; Utah Digital Newspapers (https://newspapers.lib.utah.edu : accessed 6 March 2018), search term "Mary Bergstrom."
2. Maud Coats Bergstrom Stratford, "Sketch of the Life of Mary Coats Bergstrom," 4 September 1922, Daughters of Utah Pioneers, Camp 33, Recorded by Ethel Stratford Skeen; digital copy in personal collection of the author, East Lansing, Michigan, 2018.