Sally the Wash Woman

This highlight is on a colorful, yet downtrodden, resident of Draper called “Sally the Wash Woman”. Although she went about her business quietly, she left her mark on Draper forever.

Born Antonette Anena Peterson, in Denmark in 1857 (the exact date is unknown). She eventually immigrated to the United States and came to Utah. Sally was married to Mr. Marker and had one son, they later divorced.

Erva Smith remembers that her father, was always trying to help Sally, when he was Bishop. He called her Anena Marker. He would often take care of the downtrodden, and Sally definitely fit into this category. Some people were not kind to her. She was often seen walking the streets barefoot. Sally and her father spoke Danish.

For a living, Sally did “the wash” (laundry) for people who could afford to pay a wash woman. Erva remembers Sally doing the wash on the back porch of the Boberg home. She saved sacks of 50-cent pieces, she may have charged 50-cents per wash. Sally lived across the tracks by the Peter C. and Mete Rasmussen home (later the Bert Berrett home) at 12085 South and 800 East, then later she moved into the Bert Berrett home, and then moved again to a home on 7th East, 12300 So. The home on 7th was adobe and when Sally moved away many coins were found in the chinking of the home.

Lois Rasmussen said that Sally would be worn out after a day of work. She would have her bath in the canal, then go to the old home of Sister Huff and climb to the top of the haystack and stretch out under the stars, to sleep.

It is recorded that Sally was admitted to the Utah State Mental Institution on March 2, 1922, where she lived until she passed away December 12, 1928. Those records also state that she had one living child at that time. Cemetery records show that she was buried under the name Anena Marker December 16, 1928 in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.

No matter a person’s status in life, or their unique or peculiar qualities, each leaves an indelible mark on the people and communities in which they lived. Sally is an example of just that. While she suffered with mental illness, and certainly struggled in life, she was, and is, a part of the fabric of Draper.

If you have further knowledge of, or documentation about: Antonette Anena Peterson, “Sally the Wash Woman”, please contact the Draper Historical Museum (leave a message if no answer) (801) 495-3476. We would love to add to her story for our archives.