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The Edward Durtschi Sr. Family Story
Chapter 3

THE SPIRIT OF GATHERING
July through September, 1905

        After Mother, Alfred, Emma, and Fred were baptized, they got the spirit of gathering. Mother encouraged me to go to Utah and of course, the children were eager for this new adventure. I was not yet completely ready to emigrate to America. For 26 years I had put over half of my life into this farm. Just six months earlier on 28 January, 1905 we had put the farm into my name. Of course that was a joyous time, and a milestone in our lives. I was now 56 years old. It was the time in life to start slowing down, not the time to go half way around the world and start over again. It was almost more than I could think about to leave it now. However, as mentioned before, the incident with John at school did as much as anything to help Mother and me make up our minds. We did not really want to leave, for we had a good living, and a lovely home. All we had worked for, these many years, was here. How could we leave it all, and go to a strange land we knew nothing about, with nothing to go to? For a while, we struggled with our heavy decision. Finally Mother told me, "The children and I are going to America, and we want you to come too. We do not want to go alone, but we are going." Of course, I was not about to let my family be separated; we had always been a close family.
        Even though Mother, two of my daughters, and three of my sons were baptized I still had my doubts about the Mormons. The missionaries kept coming to our home, all the while encouraging them, and hoping to convert me. From the time Clara went to America, she continued to write us. I wrote to Edward in Chicago and asked him to go to Utah. I wanted him to find out if Clara was in slavery or if she was permitted to live with her husband and was free to do as she pleased. Edward did go. And Clara was very surprised to see him. He was extremely happy to find everything in order. All the Swiss people in Midway gave a big party for him and he was pleased with all he saw. After he returned to Chicago he wrote a convincing letter encouraging us to come to Utah.
        I finally decided for the good of the children perhaps it would be better if we did emigrate to Utah. Of course, my brother Fred and his family were already there. Plus, being among Latter-day Saint people was important to my family.
        Although I did not understand it then, the spirit of gathering with the Saints was influencing me also. Shortly before this, Gottfried Wampfler came along and wanted to buy our farm. So without further hesitation, we sold out to him.
        Contracts were signed for passage across the ocean on a steamship. Final preparations were made to leave our homeland, our beloved Switzerland. One third of the passage had to be paid at the time we made the contract with the shipping company. The money I received in payment for the farm more than paid for our passage across the ocean and to Utah. We packed all we could take with us in trunks reinforced with metal striplings. Several days before we boarded the train these trunks were packed, carefully labeled and hauled in the wagon to the railroad station from where they were shipped to the ocean port to be loaded on board the ship.
        Towards the last of September we sent word to John that he should come home. We told him when we were leaving and on what day he was to join us. He walked home on the appointed day arriving late in the afternoon. I explained to John, the neighbor for whom he had worked had sent word he should go to his home. The man wanted to settle up with him for his summer's work. John was tickled. He didn't think he was going to get anything as summer's wages except his board, and room in the hay loft. The neighbor gave John five gold pieces. When he got home he handed them to me. At the time I was sitting on the porch with five missionaries. They were there to bid us farewell before we left for America. When John handed me the gold pieces, I got up from my chair. Slowly, I walked along the row of missionaries, and solemnly gave each one a gold piece. I know it made John feel proud and happy to share because he loved the missionaries.
        Elizabeth Mutzenberg was born and raised in the town I grew up in. Her parents were good friends. They lived just 5 miles from our home in Wimmis. She was converted by Elders Alma Burgener and Conrad Gertsch. Elizabeth was the only one of her family who joined the Church. She joined the church very much against the wishes of her mother. Life for Elizabeth at home was not pleasant after she was baptized. She was practically disowned, yet she knew the gospel was true and would not deny it. When she heard we were going to America she wanted to go with us. By this time she was 22 years old so she did not need the consent of her parents. Still, she did not want to go without her mother's permission. Her mother said if it were not for me, she would never have let her emigrate. Yet, she trusted my judgment, and knew Elizabeth would be in good hands if she came over with our family. Her mother gave permission to me and as Elizabeth needed some help to prepare to leave, Alfred went to help her. As she and Alfred were leaving, that poor little mother was crying and repeating over and over, "Oh, if only I hadn't given permission, if only I hadn't given permission."
        I can still picture in my mind: Elizabeth Mutzenberg, Mother, Elise, Alfred, Emma, Fred, John, and me as we walked across the field towards the town and the depot. We all had an empty feeling as we walked away from our home for the last time but we never looked back. We had new horizons to look forward to, a new land, the headquarters of the Church, and a reunion with loved ones who had already emigrated. We boarded the train at 10 o'clock on the morning of September 30, 1905.
        Two of our daughters remained in Switzerland. Rosa, who was married to Rudolph Kaufman, and Caroline who was engaged to Gottfried Feuz.
        As mentioned before, Gottfried and Caroline met in Grindelwald where they were both working. They were married on 23 October, 1905, and moved to Gsteigweiler. This picturesque mountain village is in a steep canyon on the road to Grindelwald. It is perched high above the town of Interlaken, in the Swiss Alps. Caroline said, "We moved into a small lean-to attached to a larger house which clung to a steep cliff. Everyone in the village walked miles to even find a level spot to plant a garden. The mountain side was so steep that long high stairs were made to the entrance of each dwelling.
        Gottfried was born June 14, 1877 in Gsteigweiler. His father, Casper Feuz, made his living by guiding mountain climbers during the summer months. In the long cold months of winter, he earned money selling the wood he chopped and delivered to the people of the village. His mother, Elizabeth, contracted tuberculosis early in her marriage. The family was poor, and his father became more and more discouraged, and unable to provide adequately for his family, until he gave up entirely. So Gottfried took on the family responsibilities at a very early age.
        Gottfried's mother passed away when Gottfried was 12, leaving three younger brothers, Peter, John and Christian, and two girls, Elizabeth and Marguerite. These were not all their children, as several died in infancy.
        "Gottfried did his best to keep the family together." Caroline said, "Several years later he mourned losing Marguerite. She died at 18 of the same disease which had taken his mother. For years he kept in touch with his sister Elizabeth. He always had a place in his home for his brother Pete. Somehow Pete would always find a job near Gottfried's home, wherever that happened to be.
        "Gottfried's family was all baptized in the Lutheran Church. Because his mother realized that she would not live to see her children grown, she gave them all a good foundation in faith. She begged them never to stray from their early beliefs, and Gottfried didn't.


        "Gottfried's family, like mine, was usually up before daylight working for neighbors or his father until school time. After school he immediately ended up back in the wood lot.
        "Gottfried continued to help his father with the wood business, and doing any odd jobs he could find to help feed the family. When he matured, he worked in a hotel at Grindelwald, eventually becoming a guide and mountain climbing teacher. He was energetic, and loved the mountains and their challenges. When he was in his early twenties, he was caught in a rock avalanche. He was badly injured, and then spent many months in a hospital. After he was released, he came back to the hotel, met me, and of course, you know the rest of the story.
        "After our marriage and move to Gsteigweiler, Gottfried continued working at whatever jobs were available. I took in sewing and awaited the birth of our first child, who was born in April of 1906. A baby girl presented herself. Gottfried was very disappointed, as his heart had been set on a son. He surprised and pleased me by naming the baby Caroline, which was immediately shortened to Lena. Seventeen months later another daughter, Emma, was born."

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This work Copyright 1987 for the Durtschi Family by Mark Durtschi.
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