Edward D. Sr. Family Story Home
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The Edward Durtschi Sr. Family Story
Chapter 5

MIDWAY
October 1905 to Spring 1909

        We were excited to be in Midway and stayed with John and Clara until we found a place of our own. Clara had been praying for this a long time and now it was a dream come true. Although it was reality, it was hard for us to believe it was all happening at last. Of course, there was a lot of talk as Clara personally related her journey to America and Utah. All the while as she was telling us of her adventure, we were sharing with her moments of our trip to this wonderful land. And of course, it was exciting for the whole family to see my brother Fred, and his family, who had come to America the same time Clara had immigrated. He and his family seemed to be happy and prospering in this new land. We were in a land where freedom abounded and was promised to all -- a place where we could practice our new-found religion with freedom from persecution, which sadly, had not been the case in Switzerland.
        In time, Elizabeth found a job and moved to Salt Lake City, where she worked until she married Ed.
        About a week after we arrived in Midway, we moved out of John and Clara's home to our own farm. It was on about the tenth of November when we bought a 30 acre farm from Anton Anderson. This is the home we later remember as the Bob Mitchell home, and was adjacent to the resort that Whittakers later bought. We enjoyed the home on this farm very much. We also purchased Mr. Anderson's machinery and the animals he had on his farm, so we were able to go about farming as though we had owned this place all our lives.
        Our home was a modest little house which was rather small for our large family. But we were grateful to have a roof over our heads once more, and a place to call home. After we were settled that evening, we had our prayers and went to bed. It was great to feel that maybe we would be able to be happy in our new found surroundings.
        It was a short-lived feeling because the very next day, we looked out and to our dismay saw a group of boys forming outside our house. They were shouting unfamiliar words that did not sound friendly. Suddenly there was a crashing of glass as a window came shattering into the room. What could it mean? Surely these boys were friendly Mormons! But no, shouts of "Dutchmen! Dutchmen!" were heard as more rocks crashed into the house. Sick at heart, we ran outside as the boys fled. With this episode, our grand illusions of the perfectness of America and Zion began to shatter as the glass on the floor. Somehow we had felt all our trials would be over if only we could reach this place. But we never realized people are basically the same wherever you go.
        Clarence Probst (who was 94 years old at the time this story was collected in 1987), was one of those boys. "Yes," he confessed, "I was one of the boys who did it," and he added this bit of humor. "We threw rocks at the house and then ran and hid in a barn that was near by. Well, one evening we each threw a rock and ran into the barn to wait and see what would happen. To our surprise, when we came out of the barn the Durtschi boys were hiding in the ditch and caught us. Boy, did we ever get a beating. That ended this kind of fun for us. The Durtschis were not well accepted when they first came to Midway. Even though Midway was largely Swiss people, they had been here a long time, and all spoke English. The Durtschis were foreigners, and we couldn't understand them. The nice thing about it was, John Durtschi and I became the very best of friends later on. The family was also accepted by most everyone as they learned English. I felt badly when the family moved to Idaho and was sorry to see my friend go."
        The first week passed with no more incidents of that type, and when Sunday came, we took heart and walked the three blocks to the church. All was strange and unfamiliar, but we were determined to give it a try. This was a new experience, being the first time we had attended a meeting of the church in a regular congregation. It was interesting to say the least, quite different from the Lutheran services in our old congregation in Wimmis. We were warmly welcomed by some, but others thought it was humorous that we couldn't speak English and we were often ridiculed by them. This harassment plagued my family for many years to come. Later, as we started to understand English, we were accepted much better in the community. But Durtschis are not easily discouraged and no amount of persecution was going to keep my family from their new found religion. Clara encouraged and comforted us as she had already learned how the townspeople felt.
        There was no barn on our new farm, so Alfred and I brought timber out of the Snake Creek Canyon that winter and Rone Blood sawed it into lumber. The next spring Ernest Durtschi built a barn for us. With this large barn we began to increase our farm animals and equipment to run this wonderful farm.


        In the vicinity of Midway is an area of hot springs. Over many years, hot pots had formed. As the water rose up out of the ground, it gradually left layers of crust, and through the years with the hot water running over the crust, more layers were deposited until they rose up and inward to form large cones. These deposits were not only high, but the walls were sometimes several feet thick. Some of these hot pot cones were on our farm. One of the larger pots was sealed on top and was now dry inside. Into this pot we blasted out a doorway and made it into a chicken coop. This made a nice warm place for the hens and they laid eggs all winter for our use. This coop is still there and its roof is intact. Later it was used for a cattle shelter.
        Mother and I were happy in Midway. As was mentioned before, this was a community of Swiss people with whom we had almost everything in common. I wrote back to friends in Switzerland and told them how glad we were that we had brought our family to America and how happy we were to be among the Saints in Utah.
        In Midway, Utah, our family attended the German L.D.S. meetings every Sunday. On the 19th of November 1905, at the age of 56, I, Edward Durtschi, Sr., was baptized a member of the Church. I had finally come to the understanding that it was true.
        Eventually, we were attending both English and German church meetings. Of course the main reason we went to the English meetings was to see if we could learn a bit of the language. The children soon picked up enough of the language so they could enjoy the meetings in both languages. We had lots of good experiences in Midway.
        One Sunday, when we had lots of hay out in shocks, some big clouds came rolling over the mountain. It looked like we were in for one of those long rainy spells. I said to Mother, "Don't you think that we had better go out and stack that hay in the barn? It is such good hay now, and if it rains for two weeks it won't be worth much. Don't you think we ought to haul it in?"
        Mother said, "If that hay rots because we wouldn't haul it in on Sunday, then it will have to rot!" I only did it to get a rise out of her, and it seemed to work very well. Of course, I knew her answer to my question even before I asked it. We were willing to take the chance, and subsequently, the hay was put up in good condition.
        During our first year of farming, Alfred, Fred, and John helped me on the farm. Alfred did all the irrigating as well as helping with all the other farm work. Then in his spare time he worked in the mines.
        When we arrived in Midway, my sons, Fred and John, started school immediately. "We had to begin in the first grade because we couldn't speak a word of English," John recalls, "They said they would promote us as fast as we merited being promoted. At first we didn't go very fast. We had a nice, patient teacher in the first grade, and started learning the English language. When we first started school in Midway a bunch of boys would follow us home throwing stones and yelling, 'The Dutchmen!' I remember telling the Bishop's wife that her boys, Clarence included, were throwing rocks at us. It wasn't too many years until we were singing in a quartet with these same boys and we became the best of friends. It was a pretty good quartet and we sang for many people. This experience benefited me later when I went to school in Logan.
        "In the second grade, our teacher was Miss Wilson; she was especially good to us. Once we got past the second grade we started to make progress faster and were promoted. Fred went faster than I because he had gone further than I had in school in Switzerland."
        When my boys had a job away from the farm they always gave the money they earned to me. I told them if they wanted to give that money to me, to just put it in the purse. Then whenever the boys needed money for shoes or to go to a dance, they went to the purse and got what they needed. They never thought about taking more money than they should.


        As mentioned before, times weren't always easy. My children and grandchildren were involved in a sad and tragic situation. The street east of the school was a division line between the boys living on the west side of town and those who lived on the east. Clara's boys were young and often received terrible treatment. On one occasion, Clara's oldest boy, Bill, was caught by a Burgener cousin who had some other boys with him. They put a lasso rope around Bill and drug him behind their horse. When they let him go, folks at first thought he was dead, but fortunately he survived this terrible ordeal.
        In the spring of 1906, Edward Jr. moved from Chicago. "After bidding goodbye to the Nightingales who had been so kind to me in Chicago," Ed recalls, "I moved to Utah to be with my family. I found a job at the Steam Boat Mine in Snake Creek Canyon, and worked for Jessie Knight. My brother John accompanied me on some of the trips to the mine when I was hauling freight. John would put blocks behind the wagon wheels so the horses could rest."
        Then on the 24th of June, my sons, Edward and John were baptized. Edward was 25 years old, and John was 12.
        Back in Switzerland, Rudolph and Rosa continued in the faith and were baptized on March 11, 1906. They had two children, and although a third had indicated its future arrival, they wanted to immigrate to Utah. Mother and I helped them out. They sailed on the S.S. Arabic on April 27th and arrived at Boston, Massachusetts, on May 15, 1906. It was exciting for all of the family to see Rudolph and Rosa again.
        Rosa and Rudolph worked very hard to become established in this new land. "Now we had come to America, the land of promise and freedom," Rosa states, "But we quickly found that it could also be a land of problems. Fortunately, the matter of immediate housing was solved by my parents and we shared their home until we could move into our own place. My fondest wish for a long time was to be on a farm where the family could work and be together but it was not yet possible. We needed income and we were unfamiliar with the language and the customs, and so the problems began to appear.
        "Rudolph found work at a sawmill where he was off-bearing, or removing the lumber from the saw. He soon learned that the men were taking advantage of him because he was a foreigner, unfamiliar with the sawmill operation and unable to speak and understand the language well. He said they delighted in sawing off a huge slab from a churn butt tree and then laugh at his efforts to move it away unassisted. He knew that he could not continue under such circumstances without injuring himself so he quit. He noticed as he left that two men had taken his place."
        There was little demand for laborers in this small community, so Rudolph accepted a job in the silver mines at Park City. The extent of his resources at this time was a devoted wife, two children and $25. In September of that year, Martha was born in their family and the following winter they moved into a home for themselves.
        Not many years after we arrived in Midway, Julius Fredrick Gertsch came to our home for a visit with our family. He was one of the missionaries who came to our home in Wimmis. He started making frequent visits, and was soon courting my daughter, Elise. It was a fast courtship, and not surprisingly, they were married March 23, 1908 in the Salt Lake Temple. Children born to them were Lydia, Alma, Ida, Phil, Lena, and Carl.
        Julius Fredrick Gertsch was born to Julius Gertsch and Anna Rosina Nussbaume on January 12, 1880 in Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland. Lauterbrunnen, is a mountain village in a narrow, long valley with vertical walls of rock towering upward on each side. It is located just South of Interlaken, and West of Grindelwald.
        His family also moved to America, and Julius worked for the railroad as a maintenance man until his mission. After his mission, Julius learned that we had come to America, and where we were living. He took the train to Midway and came to visit us.


        Rudolph, Rosa, and their three children were sealed in the Salt Lake Temple on 20 January 1908. Two days later on the 22nd, Mother and I took the family to the Salt Lake Temple. We were married in the House of the Lord and had the family sealed to us, except Caroline. She was still in Switzerland, and as yet had not joined the church.
        The summer of 1908 passed, and in October of that year, Arnold was born to Rudolph and Rosa. Now there were two boys and two girls in their family. That was the last time the score was even among the Kaufman children.
        Rudolph continued to work in the mine. After his Saturday shift he walked home on a trail through the mountains so he could be with his family. On Sunday afternoons he borrowed my horse. Then he and Rudolph Jr. rode double to the top of the hill. From this point Rudolph continued his journey to Park City on foot while his son returned to Midway.
        Working conditions in the mine were not satisfactory, indeed, sometimes they were actually dangerous. When Rudolph reported such conditions he would be assigned to work alone in those areas. This caused him much anxiety and also increased Rosa's worries. Then Rudolph resolved to quit the mine as soon as circumstances would permit.
        Clara and John rented the farm they were on for two years, and then moved to Park City. There John joined his brother-in-law, Rudolph, working in the mine. Clara mentions, "In the 10 months we lived in Park City, we saved $900.00 besides paying our tithing. We were also blessed with two children. We moved back to Midway and bought a team and wagon and a few acres of land."
        Now, Mother and I had only one child in Switzerland. Caroline and Gottfried were not having an easy time of it. They were both working hard, and trying to look at life as best they could, but it was all they could do to get enough to eat. We thought how wonderful it would be if they could also come to America. Then our complete family would be together again. It would be an impossible dream fulfilled. We wrote them letters telling of the opportunities here in America. Of course, we had to work hard to get ahead, but we were getting ahead, and weren't starving as they were. Caroline relates of this time in their lives, "These early years of our marriage were difficult. Our lean-to was very small and inadequate. Gottfried's work took him away from home for weeks at a time, and hard as we both worked, we could barely keep alive. Because I was home with two small children I could not go out and find work. I worked at home sewing during the night for neighbors who paid what little they could afford. I even helped those without any money. I missed my loving family who wrote happy letters from Utah, describing their new home and their pleasant associations in their new faith. We talked and talked and sometimes quarreled. All of my family was now in America. Four years previously, my husband's brother, Pete, had also immigrated to America. He was living in Jackson's Hole, Wyoming. One minute we agreed to emigrate, then doubts would take over. The final decision was heart-breaking in many ways. We both loved Switzerland, and were uncertain and fearful of such a momentous change.
        "Finally, in the very early spring of 1909 the decision was made. We sold almost everything we owned. There were tools and a few pieces of shabby furniture. We quarreled again about selling the little sewing machine. Then we crated it, and put our clothes and featherbeds into trunks. Included in this were four precious linen sheets that my grandmother had woven for me. She had woven sheets for each of her granddaughters. Pete helped pay for our tickets to America. There was a long train trip through France and then we embarked on the Savey, a small French passenger ship. Before we left home, we had discovered that yet another child was on its way. As luck would have it, I was sick all the way across the Atlantic ocean. Other passengers cared for little Lena and Emma, who remember the journey as a great lark. They had new found friends peeling oranges for them and feeding them until they were stuffed. (The taste of oranges has forever after brought shipboard memories to this little family.) Finally, after seven days at sea, we got our first view of the Statue of Liberty on Ellis Island. However, the grandeur of it all was soon forgotten. Culture shock hit us as we found a real language barrier in spite of the English we had learned in Swiss schools. Ahead of us was a whole week on the train. It was miserable because we had little money. The only food we ate was sandwiches and milk, bought at luncheonettes. This was all forgotten when we arrived in Salt Lake, and were met by the Durtschis. We had a joyous reunion with my parents, brothers and sisters. It was like coming home."


        The name "Gottfried" was difficult to pronounce in English, so his name was Americanized to Fred after he came to this country.
        Fred immediately found work with his brother-in-law, Rudolph Kaufman, building a power plant near Heber. Caroline was so happy to be with her loved ones, and the children enjoyed a beautiful summer.
        Now the unbelievable dream had come true for Rosina and me. All of our children were here in a corner of America. We were together as a large and happy family. Elise was in Salt Lake City and the rest were here in Midway. It seemed most remarkable to me that we parted one by one in Switzerland. And now we were together again in a distant land, far from our native birth. Our whole family had a great feeling of love and concern for each other. The bonds which held our family together as a unit were more powerful than anything which had yet come up against us. Above all else, we were family. For up to this point these cords of love and concern had always brought us back together.
        Shortly after moving to Midway, my daughter Emma went to work for Andrew Lundin, a neighbor. As a result, she met their son, John Lundin. Later, on May 11th, 1909, they were married. John Lundin was the son of Andrew Lundin and Brita Nilsson. John's parents came to Heber from Sweden after being converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. John was born on February the 22nd, 1874, shortly after they arrived in Heber. They later moved to Park City where he and his father prospected and had many exciting experiences, one of which was the discovery of the famous Silver King Mine. Later, conniving lawyers rooked them out of it. About this time they bought the farm in Midway.
        John had been inactive in the Mormon church, and now that he had married Emma, he tried to go to church with her. But he did not feel welcome or accepted by the people of the church. People said to him, "Why don't you wear a white shirt?" How foolish and unkind this was. It did not matter to the Lord what color his shirt was, but what color his mind was. The members should have been more outgoing in making this lamb, returning to the fold, feel welcome and loved. Had they done this, the following history of his family may have been quite different. As it was, John quit going to church. This was the beginning of many lonely years for Emma as she was never again allowed to go to church. As circumstances changed, my family felt unwelcome at the Lundin farm and because of this we seldom visited. Many years later Clara often visited. But now Emma really felt that we had deserted her.
        Clarence Probst explained, "As a youngster, I used to work for Andrew Lundin, John's father. Because of this I feel I knew them better than many people. John Lundin was a bachelor of about 35 years old when he met Emma. When Emma married him, she felt her family disowned her. Within a couple of years they all moved to Idaho and she was left here all alone. I know she missed her family very much. John Lundin had gradually disbelieved the teachings of the Mormon Church and eventually apostatized. As a direct result of this, his family was not very well accepted by the mostly Mormon town. Of course, he didn't help matters any either. Whenever anyone visited them, and especially Emma's family, John stood out in front of the house, almost daring anyone to come. In reality, all this man needed was friends, but because of feelings about the Church, he had few people who accepted him outside of his family. This attitude by the town, of course, made him stand-offish. Had anyone treated him with warmth, he would have returned it.
        "The Mormons of Midway didn't really intend to single the Lundin family out. It just happened that way," Clarence continued, "I've seen this in other towns and with things that have nothing to do with religion. It has to do with being different, and with the threat that being different brings. When a few don't go along with the established norm of a community, the majority feel their values threatened by the non-conformists. And so it was with the Lundins. There was only one place they felt safe and happy, and that was on their farm. And except for school, or shopping, they rarely ventured from it. All in all, this was very sad. If the community had treated them with love and respect, the family would have felt welcome and accepted. And, no doubt they would have been contributing members of the community."


        Clarence Probst continued, "One summer during haying season while I was working for the Lundins, I was up in the top of the barn. Mr. Lundin was on the ground leading his horses as they pulled the hay up to the top of the barn. My job was to pull the hay in and stack it inside the hayloft. Just as this operation had started, I leaned against an old hay pile I hadn't disturbed before. Quick as lightning a whole hive of hornets was on me. They were in my hair, on my mouth and nose, around my eyes, in my ears, and in my shirt and pants. I could feel them crawling and stinging all over me. My first impulse was to jump, but Mr. Lundin, who was watching all of this in alarm was screaming at me not to jump. I was a good 40 feet up in the air so the jump would have hurt me worse than the stinging hornets. Grabbing the rope, I slid down to the ground. I ran to their pool as fast as I could go, stripping my clothes off as I went. Finally, without a stitch on I dove into the pool with those stinging critters in hot pursuit. Those stings nearly killed me, but it wasn't any worse than seeing all the Lundin women watching me from the house."

* * *


        Back on the Durtschi farm, my mind frequently turned to Elizabeth Muetzenberg who was still working in Salt Lake City. She had not yet married and I was concerned about her. Before we left Switzerland I promised her mother I would take care of her. And I didn't feel like I was doing a very good job of this. One day I had a father to son talk with Ed and Alfred. I told them Elizabeth was a very nice girl and I wanted one of them to marry her. "I had been going with Julius Gertsch's sister, Julia," Edward Jr. remembers, "We had a disagreement and she had written me a letter asking for forgiveness. However, the letter blew out of the mailbox into the snow and wasn't found until spring. Meanwhile, I had started seeing Elizabeth and we were married April 8th, 1909."
        The time now came that Ed and Alfred thought it best they get out on their own and do something important with their lives. After long talks with me it was decided this would be a good move for them. "Edward Jr. and I liked the Midway area," Alfred explained, "But the time had come when we felt we were reaping where we had not sown. Our younger brothers were now big enough to help Father run the farm. So we came to the conclusion it was our duty to do our share towards making the desert blossom. This meant to get out in new country and help dig canals and ditches, put desert land under cultivation and help build new church houses. We looked over several areas. During the fall of 1908 we visited Idaho and found land in the Snake River Valley for around $25.00 an acre. Then we went up as far as Rexburg and Salem where David Hirschi lived, the missionary who baptized me." Ed and Alfred went to ask his advice. He suggested they go up to Teton Basin. They liked it because it looked a lot like Switzerland, and David had relatives up there.
        "The final choice was between the Uinta reservation in Utah or the Teton Basin in Idaho," Ed stated, "We went to look over both areas twice. We felt we wanted to make Swiss cheese so we needed a cattle country. The Uinta area had poor land and poor water but a good climate. Teton Basin had good land, and good water but a cold climate. Many of our friends from Midway counseled us to go to the reservation because of its good climate. But after much consideration we decided on Teton Basin."
        Earlier, while at the David Hirschi home in Salem, Alfred became acquainted with Samuel Kunz, who helped them find a place to rent. It was over on the west side of the valley in the Bates area. They returned to Midway for the winter and made preparations for the move in the coming spring.

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