I know these posts will appear backwards - the final thought will be read before the major explanation. If you want read the next post first, then come back to this. It's up to you.
I am sure if we interrogated John about his changing of Mamma's religion, he would stand behind poetic license. And I suppose it is his perogative to do so. However, I did want to share, that of all the people who seem to truly have been unbiased about religion, that prize would go to Loriminel Christine Nielsen Fitzgerald. I don't use her choice of marrying a Catholic as my validation. Though it can be compiled in the process as a support of evidence.
Over the years of my research, as I read about her accomplishments, associations, and actions. I came to see how John's portrayal of his mother may have been the most accurate. The Nielsen family did convert to Mormonism. Niels Christian Nielsen and Caroline brought their family to "The Promised Land" of their faith. They and many of their Scandivanian companions settled in Southern Utah. They built dams, roads, towns, and religious zeal together. Minnie was very much apart of this. Ancestry.com is full of stories of various members of her family building the communities, that still stand today.
Why Minnie moved to Price is unclear. Work? Family? Friends? I don't know. By all accounts though from the beginning she mingled comfortably with many in the town. In fact, it was Governor J. Bracken Lee's grandparents that introduced Minnie to Thomas. After they wed, their real life story can be followed (a bit) through the Price Advocate archives. Here are listed all the parties, they gave, all the trips they took, who they invited or were invited to, what social functions they attended and so on. Minnie often had Catholics and Mormons in her house for cards, dinners, etc. She also created plays for church fundraisers for 2 seperate denominations. One of the Mormon. She is also credited as putting on the first children's parade in Utah. Each of these was a full community effort.
It was Mamma's ability to love so openly that made Papa Married a Mormon so endearing to me. I knew even as I read it, that the world might be a better place, if I could learn to love - even a drop - like she did. I know she was not perfect. I know there were deep struggles at times. But as the scripture states, "She put her hand to the plow and never looked back." She married Papa fully knowing that it might be hard. But she knew how to embrace him, his family, and others in a remarkable way. Mamma, Minnie, Tena, whichever you choose to call her, was the most accurate portrayal John gave us.