Edward D. Sr. Family Story Home
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The Edward Durtschi Sr. Family Story
Chapter 4

FROM WIMMIS TO MIDWAY
September 30, to October 17, 1905

        It took a day, a night, and part of the next day to go from Switzerland, through France, to Antwerp, Belgium. Here we left the train and boarded the ship. The ship we were to sail on was immense -- bigger than anything we had ever seen. It had two huge smoke stacks and the thought came to me: "How can a vessel so large and so heavy stay afloat on that vast expanse of water?" Needless to say, there was no small amount of fear wasted by the family that day and for many days to come.
        We had supper as soon as we boarded the ship. Most of the passengers were on deck the first day. Meals were served for 300 people at a time in a large dining hall.
        As the ship departed into the English Channel, the ocean became rough. The huge waves really rocked the big ship. John recalls, "As we sat down to our first meal out to sea, we watched the dishes rise to meet us from the other end of the table. It made me so sick I left without eating dinner. When I went up to the deck to 'feed the fishes', I saw mothers with babies on their laps leaning over the edge, throwing up. To make matters worse, their babies were screaming. It was not a pleasant sight. I ran to the edge of the deck. There was a place low enough where I could barely reach my elbows up and I joined the mothers. All the way over, I was the most generous of my family in feeding the fish."
        Mother was the only one out of our family who felt like eating by the evening of the third day out. Everyone else was sick, so sick that food was the furthest thing from our minds.
        One time we spent about two hours in the fog. It was so thick we could not see ahead or behind us. The foghorns were blowing, which only added to the eeriness of our unsettled feelings. That was a dismal time. It was spooky thinking that other ships were getting near us and might not stop in time. Other than that the days were mostly sunny.
        We later learned that just a year after we had sailed across the ocean, our ship was hit by another vessel and cut in two. It sank and everyone on board was lost -- over a thousand passengers.
        After 9 days, we arrived at port in New York, October 12, 1905. Our baggage had to be inspected by customs before we were released to continue our journey. All our luggage was opened and inspected, and strewn in every direction. But soon it was over, and we were able to repack again.
        In New York we stared at the skyscrapers. We spent some time viewing the surrounding area. Once again, we boarded a train, only this time in America, and continued on our way to Utah. Elizabeth, through some misunderstanding, was unable to continue on the train with us. She was held over in New York until the next day.


        When we arrived at the station in Chicago, Edward Jr. was there to meet us. It was so wonderful to see him again! Sadly, we did not have much time to spend with him. But he did have time to take us around to see all of the important places, like Swift's packing plant. All this huge industry was much different than Wimmis, and Switzerland. It was almost as if we were on a different planet.
        As Elizabeth was a day behind us, I told Edward about her and asked him to meet her. The next day he met her train and saw that she got on the right train going west. This was the first time he had met her. I suppose it must have been love at first sight, for later when he came West, he married her.
        The train ride across the United States to Utah would take us nearly a week. Clara had sent us letters from Utah and told us how wonderful it was, how much like the Alps the mountains were, and what beautiful farming land there was. We eagerly looked forward to seeing this country we were going to. As we traveled on the train from Chicago to Utah, we enjoyed seeing the grain fields and fruit orchards we passed through. The first night we were in Salt Lake City we stayed with some friends from Switzerland. We all slept on the floor. The next morning we left Salt Lake City for Midway.
        It was the 17th of October, and we were nearing the end of our journey. We went south through Provo, then up into Provo Canyon. Excitement grew as the old Heber Creeper, as it was affectionately called, chugged up through Provo Canyon. It brought back fond memories of home. Our hearts took courage when we viewed the beautiful mountain peaks of majestic Mount Timpanogas. Then as we continued our journey, our senses absorbed the rugged canyon walls, the waterfalls, and pine groves. Throughout the trip, was the ever present winding Provo River, rushing along side the train. Maybe, oh maybe, our new home would be all right after all. A home where we could find a haven, secure and free from persecution and fear.
        Finally, the train pulled out of the canyon into a beautiful green valley encircled by mountains. Our first stop was Charleston where we were met by Fred Durtschi, son of my brother Fred. As previously mentioned, their family had come to America about a year and a half before. Fred had come to pick up Elizabeth. He was disappointed to hear she would not arrive until the next day. We were to go on to Heber. Clara's husband would meet us at the station there. John was extremely tired of riding the train. When he saw his cousin he decided to ride with him and jumped into the wagon. John explained, "I would rather have a rough ride with him on a wagon than ride on the train one more inch." Fred reminded him that Clara's husband would be waiting in Heber to take us to our home in Midway. But it didn't matter to John, "That's all right, I'm going with you anyway." And he went home with Fred.
        We patiently kept our seats and finally the conductor said, "All aboard," as the whistle blew. Steam hissed out between the huge wheels and the big lumbering engine slowly started to move along the tracks again. Soon we came into full view of the beautiful Heber valley, nested in the mountains around Heber. We were thrilled and excited to see this valley which was to be our new home. This little country town of Midway had a background of beautiful mountains so similar to our home in Switzerland. We were all grateful for the beauty and solitude of this, our new home. And the excitement grew as the train approached Heber as we thought of being reunited with Clara. Finally the train chugged to a halt. What a happy reunion! We were also pleased to meet Clara's husband, John Burgener. That evening he made a special trip in a white-topped buggy pulled by a fine looking team. Before long he brought our son, John, home from my brother Fred's place.

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