Skip to main content

Viola Johnson Vandeburgh journals and correspondence

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS 4092

Scope and Contents note

Eleanor Woodward Vandeburgh’s biography on Viola Johnson Vandeburgh, entitled Hearts of the Children. It discusses childhood adventures, family injuries, farm stories, Viola’s secret engagement and elopement to Mt. Idaho to marry Peter Vandeburgh, and other courtships and marriages after Peter’s death. After finishing Viola Vandeburgh’s story, the book gives accounts of her children’s weddings, her children’s biographies, some poems or song lyrics, and a typed newspaper article. 68 pages.

Journal of Viola Vandeburgh, June 24, 1923 – June 18, 1933. Begins in Clarkston, Washington and ends when Viola is about to go to Idaho. 138 pages.

Memories written by Viola Vandeburgh Smith at the time her husband, Peter Smith, was writing his autobiography. 2 pages.

A notebook entitled, “Our Trip to Seattle.” 38 handwritten pages. Photocopies included. Letters from Peter Elias Olsen (writing from Koosharem, Utah) to Milton Horace Vandeburgh (one of Viola’s sons) and his wife, Luella Elida Olsen. 1930-1935. 6 leaves.


  • 1900-1950


Conditions Governing Access note

Open for public research.

Conditions Governing Use note

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances. Permission to publish material from the Viola Johnson Vandeburgh journals and correspondence must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Board of Curators.

Biographical History

Violet Viola Vandeburgh married five times and had five children with her first husband. She opened a restaurant to help support her children after her first husband died.

Violet Viola Vandeburgh was the daughter of Margaret Rosalee Kern, (1852-1898) who worked as a waitress to support her two children after her husband (John Andrew Mock) died in the Civil War. Margaret married Harvey Douglas Johnson, Violet’s father, around 1882. Violet was the oldest child of this marriage. Her family lived in Missouri, Nebraska and Idaho. Her mother died in a horse accident when Viola was about fifteen.

Viola met her future husband, Peter Vandeburgh (1877-1932), when he was training horses for the Spanish American War. She had to keep their engagement a secret from her father, but was able to elope to Grangeville Idaho to marry him in 1900. They moved to Washington State. Their children were Preston Oscar, Milton Horace, Martin Adam, Dell Cook (who died when one year old) and Douglas Dale. Her sons, Preston and Milton, joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Peter passed away in 1932 and Viola supported her family by opening a restaurant called Mom’s Coffee Shop. In 1937, she married Frank Morrell, who left her upon learning he couldn’t use her home and property as he pleased. A kind man named David Bloom came into Viola’s life, and helped her financially; unfortunately, he was killed in a car accident. Viola married Peter Smith in Reno, Nevada. They were married by President Nathan T. Hurst from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They were very happy for a few years, but Peter became aggravating and even dangerous at times, to live with. With persuasion of her children, she divorced him. She married Ernest J. Hamlin in 1955 in Reno, Nevada. Viola Vandeburgh passed away on April 4, 1955.


2 folders (0.2 linear ft.)

Language of Materials



A biography on Viola Johnson Vandeburgh, her journal, memories, a notebook and family letters, 1900-1950.

Custodial History note

Donated by Catherine V. Wagstaff in 1988.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

Donated; Catherine V. Wagstaff; 1988.

Appraisal note

LDS cultural, social, and religious history (Collection development policy for 19th Century Western and Mormon Manuscripts).

Processing Information note

Processed; H. Christine Swindler; 3 July 2007.

Register of Viola Johnson Vandeburgh journals and correspondence
Karen Glenn and H. Christine Swindler, student processors and John Murphy, curator
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English in Latin script.

Repository Details

Part of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Repository

1130 HBLL
Brigham Young University
Provo Utah 84602 United States