Hazel Jean Wessman was born of pioneer stock and lived her life in Salt Lake and Ogden except for one starry year which she spent in Berlin studying piano under the famous Spanish teacher, Alberto Jonas, at ten dollars per half hour. Tracy Cannon threw in an extra lesson a week on technique. It was a wonderful year, being there in the famous old city, in the company of the illustrious Utah colony studying music there at the time—Emma Lucy Gates [Bowen], Tracy Cannon, Tom Giles [a grandson of Thomas Davis Giles, Utah's Blind Harpist], Lulubelle Eldredge, Sybella Clayton (Basset) and her brother, Larry Basset [Lawrence Clayton], Willard Andelin, the great basso, and his wife [Arvilla Clark], who was studying piano and voice; Alfred Best, one of the best tenors in Utah, and his wife [his second wife, Emma Dean, was twelve years younger, and their first child was born in Berlin in March 1908], all fine church members. Also, there were the young missionaries, and Jean’s friend Rita Jackman and her aunt Helen Kimball [Tilton]. These three rented an apartment and had a piano which the girls practiced each four hours a day. Sundays were spent with the colony above mentioned, and the missionaries. It was their custom to attend Church, [seem to be missing some text here about Germany] which did not then tolerate religious freedom. After Church, they all went up town for dinner and then spent the day together.
One of Jean’s delightful memories of this time was the day she and Lucy Gates cooked Thanksgiving dinner for the missionaries. She says ladies were not safe at that time on the streets alone, so whenever the girls went out, Tom Giles, Lawrence Clayton or Tracy Cannon would escort them. The colony spent all their spare time together absorbing the culture of this wonderful old city.
Jean came home from this jaunt in August and was married in November to Henry R. Wessman whom she had been virtually engaged to before she went to Berlin. He had urged her to go and not miss such an educational opportunity. He was a linotype operator here and in Ogden, and was also of pioneer parentage and was born in Salt Lake. [Note: slight error in geography. He was born in Sweden.] They had met at Pete Christensen’s, Salt Lake’s first dancing school.
This was a very happy marriage, blessed with fourteen children, nine boys and five girls, all of whom lived to adulthood, only one having passed away a few years ago.
Henry Wessman was also a talented singer. He and his wife played piano duets together, and it was a very musical atmosphere for the fourteen children who were all born with a musical bent, and who all loved and appreciated it and performed as much as their opportunities would permit. Here was a husband who loved children; his own fourteen and all the neighborhood children as well. On holidays they really crowded them in. The neighbors often spoke of their memories of Henry Wessman out in the vacant lot playing ball and golf with the children. They had wonderful, happy times together, until the sudden death of this kind and gifted man, nearly twenty years ago. Sister Wessman and the thirteen children still at home—the youngest being two—bravely went on alone, with the kind help of the Lord. Sister Wessman says she does not know how she would have born [sic] her widowhood and the responsibility of her large family without the inspiration she drew from her Church affiliation. It was her salvation in her great need.
“I cannot understand how anyone can grudge time taken from other things and given to Church work. This is not a trial to do what one can for the Gospel, but a privilege which is repaid a hundred-fold.”
Sister Wessman, in her nineteen years of widowhood has not had to leave her home to go to work, but her willing and cooperative family have taken the responsibility of the home upon themselves. There has always been happiness, and unity among them. Now they are scattered all over the world, as well as some of them around here.
Seven sons served overseas in World War II, and all returned uninjured from combat. Two are in the service now.
Sister Wessman has served faithfully as organist in various organizations in our ward for 16 years, as well as acting as literary [?] in Relief Society.
Anonymous. “Nut-Shell Biography of Jean Wessman Our Organist.”
The color picture is Unter den Linden, a view of Berlin in 1900 by Max Liebermann.