Calene Peck family collection
Netta Anna Furrer Cardon, early Ogden pioneer, was a physician/surgeon and trained in Switzerland.

In this column a week ago, I wrote about my sister-in-law Calene Peck's relative Madeline Cardon, whose childhood dream as she was growing up in Italy, about missionaries visiting her home in the future, actually came true. She joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and came to Utah Territory.

It was so much fun that I think I'll do it again, but this time, we'll focus on Netta Anna Furrer Cardon, Madeline's sister in-law and Calene's great-grandmother. A summary of Netta's life is found in a book, "Beneath Ben Lomond's Peak: A History of Weber County," written by Milton R. Hunter and published in 1944. If you have ancestors who were involved in the settlement of Weber County in the 1800s, you need to read it. There are hundreds of names in the book. One of them may be that of a family member. Google offers a number of sources, including on FamilySearch.org.

Unlike many of the early converts to the LDS faith who were poor, minimally educated and of the working class, Netta was born March 13, 1826, into a Zurich, Switzerland, family that could afford to help her fulfill her ambition to become a doctor.

When she was 14, she was sent to Lamples Hospital, where she was trained for four years as a nurse. Along with her medical learning, she became adept at German, French, Italian and English. A cousin, David Eptner, who was a medical professor at the Geneva Hospital, encouraged her to continue her education and become a physician/surgeon.

After additional training in Leipzig, Germany, and in Constantinople, she returned to Switzerland to learn that her father, mother and a brother had recently died.

At about this time, a life-changing circumstance occurred. Netta met Elder Heurs, a missionary for the LDS Church, who taught and baptized her. She set sail for the United States and on the three-month ocean voyage aboard the Enoch out of Liverpool, England, used her medical knowledge to save the lives of many fellow shipboard passengers when a contagious disease struck the vessel.

After disembarking at New York, she traveled by train to the Missouri River, where handcart companies were being organized in Iowa City. She had brought enough money from Switzerland to buy a wagon, a yoke of oxen and provisions for the journey across the plains. But when she became aware that a family had arrived without enough resources to buy an outift, she gave them enough of her money to meet their needs, then purchased a handcart and a minimum of provisions for her own trek.

Those "provisions" included her medical bag, some medications, a few surgical instruments and a trunk of clothes that boasted among other things a beautiful dress of blue silk. She joined the Edmund Ellsworth Handcart Company and headed across the country. She pushed her own handcart for the entire journey and often walked barefoot to conserve shoe leather.

Wow! I can see it now. From the lush hills of Switzerland with its flowing waterfalls to the then-wasteland of middle America must have been an eye-opener of considerable proportions for the young woman.

She arrived in what was then Great Salt Lake City on Sept. 26, 1856. LDS Church leader Brigham Young introduced her to John Cardon (probably because both of them came from the Alps lands of Switzerland and Italy). In time, they married. Brigham's charge to her as they ventured into married life was to use her medical knowledge to help the sick and needy "without remuneration."

Netta obeyed, devoting her life to the service of others, often leaving her home- and business-building duties with her husband and traveling by horseback if necessary, to do so. She set many a broken bone and put stitches into damaged flesh, including a serious scalp injury a young man had suffered. She was the midwife who saw a great many of Weber County's newborns into the world.

The Cardons made their first home in the Marriott area of Weber County. Ultimately, 501 Washington Boulevard in Ogden became the family address.

In 1863, her husband, working with his hired man, known in the book as "Mr. Madsen," and many of the local men (and one intrepid woman, Netta, who wielded a mean pick and shovel), dug a canal to bring water to the first carding mill in the county. The water was channeled from the Ogden River at about 1251 Canyon Road. The water flowed to the mill, built of pine logs and standing next door to the Cardon home. Its address was 503 Washington Boulevard. John and Netta did the carding at night after a day of farm duties.

Netta clung to some of the cultural amenities she had enjoyed in Switzerland. She owned the first piano north of the Ogden River. A daughter was taught by Eliza R. Snow to play, and she accompanied a local choir that traveled through the area giving concerts to raise money for the first pipe organ in the then-new Ogden Tabernacle.

On Aug. 25, 1907, Netta died, leaving two sons and three daughters and a whole host of people who had benefitted from the medical education she undertook in her native Switzerland. Her name is on a list of pioneer doctors who lent their expertise to early Weber County settlers.

So if your Utah roots were planted in Weber County, remember the title "Beneath Ben Lomond's Peak" and look it up. There may be family history tidbits there of great value.