Monday, January 13, 2014

Nellie Rindlisbacher Anderson

[This is a continuation of my series on Early Sister Missionaries of Tennessee. This sister and her companion may have been the first two in Memphis. -Bruce]

Rosa "Nellie" Rindlisbacher was born on August 16th, 1894 to Christian Rindlisbacher and Anna Barfuss in Millville, Cache Co., Utah. Her parents were Swiss-German immigrants and Nellie was proud of where they came from. The Rindlisbacher family farmed land that they rented, and moved several times through Utah, Idaho, and Oregon before they settled in Millvale, Utah.

Sister Rindlisbacher arrived on her mission on November 29th, 1915 and was initially assigned to Jacksonville in the Florida Conference, and then in May 1916 to Atlanta in the Georgia Conference. She and her companions were not the first Sister missionaries in Florida. Nor were they the first in Georgia. But she and her companion were about to be pioneers in Tennessee.

On December 8th, 1916, Sister Rindlisbacher was transferred from Atlanta, Georgia to Memphis in the Middle Tennessee Conference with Mabel Pettit, with whom she had worked in Florida. In the words of the Conference President Henry M. Child "We are thankful for the assistance which has been given us through the assigning of Sisters Pettit and Rindlisbacher to the Memphis Branch. These are the first lady missionaries assigned to labor in this Conference" [1] Later that month, Elder Child noted that "The influence for good of our lady missionaries, Sisters Pettit and Rindlisbacher, is already being felt in Memphis. They are meeting with success in canvassing and the assistance in the branch is appreciated." [2] 

That assistance must have included work in the local Sunday School. At the Christmas program put on by the Memphis Branch Sunday School, "the time generally taken up in class work was used by Sister Pettit speaking upon the life of Christ and sister Rindlisbacher reading an appropriate Christmas story. "Arise, My Soul, Arise" was also beautifully rendered by Sisters Pettit and Rindlisbacher and Elders Barrus and Ipson." [3]

At the end of January Child wrote that the missionaries at Memphis, "Elders Barrus, Smith and Muir and Sister Pettit and Rindlisbacher are holding a number of good meeting each week. New openings for holding cottage meetings with strangers are increasing." [4] While frustratingly vague, it does imply that the sisters were essentially doing similar proselyting work to the Elders.

There appears to have been an understanding at the time that the lady missionaries were to bring more talents than the Elders. In these sisters' case it was musical talents. At the dedication of the meetinghouse in Sarah Mississippi, Sister Pettit played the Organ while Sister Rindlisbacher was the choir leader. [5]

Sister Pettit was released on March 26th, 1917 and Sister Forslund replaced her as Sister Rindlisbacher's companion. Conference President George W. Barrus made it clear that Sisiter Pettit had been replaced and that her replacement's tenure in Memphis was considered temporary. "Sister Anna Forslund, the stenographer from the office, is with us for a short time. She and Sister Rindlisbacher are having good success and are enjoying their labors" [6] He went on to say they were "doing good work in Memphis. One one occasion they were invited to go and sing to a sick lady" [7]

By May Sister Ridlesbacher had transferred to Chattanooga in the East Tennessee Conference with May Porritt as her companion where the two were "meeting with splendid success" [8] Sister Rindlisbacher was serving in the recently organized young women's Mutual Improvement association. Sister Forslund also transferred back to the mission office and resumed her role as stenographer.

At the August 19th meeting of the East Tennessee Conference, Sister Rindlesbacher, and Sister Porritt appeared in the group photo of the Missionaries of the Conference. The report in the Liahona noted that "Sisters Porritt, Rindlisbacher, and Forslund, lady missionaries, contributed to the success of the conference by singing several solos and duets."[9] Sister Forslund's primary role in the office as stenographer might explain why she was not in the photo with the other two sisters. At the end of the conference, Sister Porritt was released to go home.

This photo was taken from just before her release while she was serving in Chattanooga. Sister Rindlisbacher is on the far right of the middle row.

A month later, on September 10th 1917, Sister Rindlisbacher was also released to go home.

Nellie married Verl Anderson on June 26th, 1918. It is likely they knew each other before her mission. He served in the Central States Mission (1915-1918) at the same time she was serving in the Southern States Mission, and he returned home only a few months before they were married. They were the parents of seven children. Her 50th wedding announcement says she attended Utah State University and actively sang in many capacities. [10] She passed away September 1984 in Millville, Utah, and was buried in the Millville City Cemetery.

[1] Liahona 14: 429
[2] Liahona 14: 447
[3] Liahona 14: 478
[4] Liahona 14: 495
[5] Liahona 14: 605
[6] Liahona 14: 734
[7] Liahona 14: 766-768
[8] Liahona 14: 812
[9] Liahona 15: 367
[10] Ogden Standard Examiner 25 Jun 1968


Unknown said...

As a historian, I really appreciate your efforts with these postings. Excellent job. Contemporary Latter-day Saints in Tennessee, as elsewhere, stand on hallowed ground because of the history of those who came and served. Thank you for bringing these pioneers and their missionary efforts alive. Your text and references are far from being "amateur."

BruceAllen said...

Thanks. I'm glad you liked it.