Mabel Amussen Preston was a product of polygamy. Following direction from leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, her father, Carl Christian Amussen married three women: Anna Katrina Neilsen, Martha McIsaac Smith, and Martha's sister Barbara McIsaac, Mabel's mother was the third wife, Barbara McIsaac. Though the family lived in Salt Lake City, Utah, Mabel was born in Cardston, Alberta, Canada on May 18, 1890, through the "Mormon Underground." Because the United States Government was strictly enforcing polygamy in Utah, Carl sent Barbara and their three-year-old son, Victor to Canada to give birth to their second child, Mabel. Years later, when Mabel's granddaughters asked her if she was a Canadian, she would reply: "Now, Dearies, if a cat has kittens in the oven would that make them biscuits?" And that settled that.
Life in Canada was challenging. There were no homes available, so the brethren in that area built a log cabin for Barbara and her children. As spring came to the little cabin, the logs burst into bloom, "with its myriad of little branches making the house a delightful bower." (quotes are from Mabel's own life sketch.) In the fall, Prairie fires ravaged the fields of grain, burned sheds and animals; and then winter pelted them with "great hailstones bigger than hens eggs,
"Modulate your voices."