THE END OF AN ERA|
1917 - 1930
Ida and Alfred's first child was born on January 11th, 1917. He was a bouncing boy whom they named Arnold. My posterity was growing and growing. Life seemed to be going well for Rosina and me, and our children's families. Of course, times were sometimes hard, but things seemed to be looking up for everyone. I was so pleased with my children, and with their honest, hard-working natures.
In 1916 and 1917 John attended college. Then in the fall of 1917, with John's help, we moved to Idaho. During our move we took our horses, some of our machinery and our household goods. We put them in a 40-foot railroad immigration car. Ray and John Burgener went along with us to look at the country. We watered the horses with buckets while we were on the train. We had enough hay in the car to feed them.
Our new farm joined the farms of Ed and Alfred. Mother and I lived with Alfred and Ida that first winter. They had two unoccupied bedrooms upstairs in their house, and only a little baby to share the house with. During that first winter Rosina and I were in Teton Valley, the boys helped me get timber out for a new home.
At the Kaufman farm, Rudolph had returned home but still was not feeling well. The external incision had healed but he was still draining internally. This resulted in the formation of a huge abscess or pus pocket on his side. In the fall of 1917, he again went to Salt Lake. Just before he reached the city, his abscess ruptured, so he did not go to the hospital. He felt so good the next day that he boarded the train for home.
Fred finally finished his draftsman's course at Utah State. At this point in his life he joined the Army Air Corps as a mechanic on those newfangled things that fly in the air. I was well pleased with Fred for doing this. He was the only one of all my children to join the service in the defense of this new land we had come to. Fred told us, "I joined the Army Air Corps to serve my newly adopted country which was in the midst of the first great war. I served from December 15, 1917 until January 21, 1920. During this time, my duty stations were in Salt Lake City; Waco and Ft. Worth, Texas; Ft. Sill, Oklahoma; and St. Paul, Minnesota.
"While serving at Ft. Sill as an airplane mechanic I once narrowly missed getting killed. I was helping to start a training airplane by spinning the propeller. When the engine caught, the prop caught me in the leg and knocked me down. I was unhurt but badly shaken. Only about a week later, I saw the death of another man by exactly the same kind of accident. A couple of days after this incident, at 6 o'clock in the evening, I had a chance to go on a joy ride. It proved to be a splendid one. The pilot, a good sport, sure made it interesting for me! He made the tight spirals, the tail glide, and looped the loop for me. Our altitude was 5,000 to 7,000 feet.
"Soldiers still appreciate the offer of a dinner and a chance to visit with good people in a civilian setting. One Sunday in St. Paul after Sunday School, a friend and I were invited to dine with one of the members. It was good to visit and be with people having the same ideals and beliefs. It was exciting to partake of good home-cooked grub. My time in the service gradually passed."
Back on Kaufman's farm in 1918, a well was dug near the house with 18-year-old Rudolph Jr. doing most of the digging. At a depth of 86 feet, they found a plentiful supply of fine water. The daily trips to the spring were no longer necessary. In July of this year, tiny Elizabeth was born to further help outnumber the boys in their family.
At this time, Rosina and I moved out of Alfred and Ida's home into the log shack that was on the farm we bought. This was in the spring of 1918. Now we started farming in dead earnest. There was also a log stable with room enough for a team and two or three cows. In July, Ernest Durtschi, my nephew, came from Salt Lake where he was a contractor building a lot of fine homes. He said to John, "You need a home real bad." John replied that yes, he knew we needed a home. I'd had a home my whole life, and I surely would have hated to die in this thing.
Ernest brought his father, my brother Fred along, who had also been a carpenter by trade. As this was going to be John's farm, he said to John, "I'm here and I've got my tools with me. I'll just build you a home if you want me to."
John replied, "That would sure be an answer to prayers if you would do that." So he started on the house, and we talked about the plan which he thought would be workable for John, being a young fellow about ready to get married. John felt Mother and I needed our privacy. So he had Ernest plan a house that would work good for us to live in half and him with his family, when he got one, to live in the other half. After it was staked out, Alfred came over with four head of horses and the scraper. That afternoon we dug the basement. Ernest started to put in the forms and the house went ahead quickly. We mixed all the concrete for the basement walls by hand. We did it on a platform with a shovel."
The timber we hauled out the previous winter was sawed into lumber by Eli Hill at his saw mill. Ernest Durtschi worked on the home with the help of the boys, the in-laws, and anyone else that offered a day's labor. Ernest built the framework of the house that summer. In the winter he came back and finished the interior of the house. When it was finished, we knew we would have a good home.
At this time, a tragedy struck our families which nearly wiped all of us out. Again God tried our faith in giving us something hard to swallow. It was especially difficult for my son Alfred. Looking back he related, "I believe in God with all my heart and I know that we are His children. I know He is interested in our welfare, but at one time I almost forgot this important principle. We were in debt and paying 8% interest on the mortgage. This summer was beautiful. The crops were planted and grew fast through June and July. The crops were growing bumper yields and it looked like maybe this year we would be able to make some progress. The valley was beautiful. Everything looked good and we were expecting a bounteous harvest. August 1st, 1918 dawned a wonderful day. It was hot and sultry as the day wore on. We were working in the fields cutting hay."
While Alfred was haying, we were finishing the basement walls of our new house. A wind started to blow. Looking out to the west we saw some black clouds rolling over the mountains and darkening the valley. It was a fearful scene; we had no idea what it could be.
With each minute the fury of the wind strengthened. First came sheets of rain and then hail. Hailstones almost as big as walnuts pelted the ground. The grain, bent with the force of the wind, was chopped off by the hailstones. Then with the deafening roar of a freight train, a tornado meandered across the farms and carried our bumper crops for miles up into the mountains. What was not carried by the wind was beat into the earth, and all that was left of our beautiful crops was about five inches of stubble."
The hail stopped, the wind calmed, and the sun came out, but the damage was done. In a few minutes it was all over. It was so unbelievable that something like this could happen. We were heartsick."
The storm cut a path across most of the valley. Among other things, it blew down a wing off of the high school in Driggs. It sliced across the valley leaving destruction everywhere it went. We were in its belt when it came through the valley. Everything was devastated. We still had our homes, barns, and families. Yet, it was hard to count blessings at a time like this.
When Ernest was building the house he used to walk out to the field and say, "I have never seen such wonderful crops." Everything was standing up tall and beautiful, it was a heavy crop of wheat and barley. Later, the people that rode in the mountains said they saw our grain scattered up there through the brush.
John stated, "That evening, after the storm was over, my brother was coming down along the creek on his horse. I was doing my chores, whistling and singing hymns, and didn't see him coming or I would have kept still. He shouted, 'You must feel happy.' I don't know that I even answered him. It made me feel a little funny because I did sound happy. But the spirit told me everything would work out all right even though our wonderful crops had been demolished."
Alfred related, "The next day was Sunday and I didn't feel like even going to Sunday School. I felt the Lord had forgotten that we were paying our tithing and trying our best to do everything He expected of us. In my discouragement, I turned to the Bible. I began reading right where the book fell open. It happened to be Eclessiasticus in the Apocrypha. These are the words I read. 'My son, if thou come to serve the Lord, prepare thy soul for temptation. Set thy heart aright, and constantly endure, and make not haste in time of trouble. Whatsoever is brought upon thee, take cheerfully, and be patient when thou art changed to a low estate. For gold is tried in the fire, and acceptable men in the furnace of adversity. Believe in Him, and He well help thee; order thy way aright and trust in Him.' I of course went to Sunday School with my family. Ever since that time, whenever I had discouraging times I repeated this scripture to myself and gained strength.
"On the 17th of August 1918," Alfred continued, "The Pratt Ward Bishopric was reorganized. James Rigby was put in as Bishop, Charles Christensen as first counselor and I as his second counselor."
Before the big storm, when we started building the house, John went to the lumberyard. The lumberman said that since we had a wonderful crop he would give us cash terms. Well, when he found out that our crop was destroyed, he added 12 percent to the price of the material and charged 12-1/2 percent interest on the money. We were in a bind and didn't have any money; and we couldn't afford to leave the basement standing without going ahead with the building of the home. We needed it so badly, especially John, since he wanted to get married. He also wanted Mother and me in the home, so we kept on building. This put John in terrible debt, and there wasn't anything I could do about it. This brought about hardships, but we were seldom discouraged in spite of what happened. That fall, a bright spot found Mother and me, when Rosie LaVerne, Ed and Elizabeth's last child, was born on October 15th, 1918.
Things were going brightly for John also. It was this year he met Luella Dalley. They had a good time courting, and in the following year on February 5, 1919, they were married in the Salt Lake Temple. "Luella had been teaching school in Alta, Wyoming," John told us. "She was ward organist and a Sunday School teacher. After our marriage, since she had already signed a contract to teach that fall, she went ahead and taught throughout that year. I drove her to school in the sleigh. We determined that our marriage should not interfere with the contract she had signed. After teaching was over, we often enjoyed our evenings singing or reading a good book together. She had purchased a piano, and I finished paying for it; so we had good music in our home from the beginning. She was a good piano player and a good singer. Before I met her, she had sung in the ladies' quartet that won first prize in the all-Church contest in Salt Lake City."
"We had two milk goats and Julius planted alfalfa around the house for summer feed. We also went out to the fields and cut thistle weeds for additional feed. Hay was purchased and laid in the barn for the winter. This was stacked loose, and needed to be packed by tromping on it. Latter we had a Holstein cow. Many people said it was the largest cow around at that time. Still later, a small Jersey was purchased, and Carl milked her.
"Julius was a Home Missionary for many years. As a result of his efforts, some people were baptized. Julius changed employment and started working for a grocery store. He still worked nights, and in the mornings went to the temple. Throughout the years he spent several days each week in the temple. Coming or going from work, the temple, or home, he was often seen riding a bicycle as that was how he usually got around.
"Julius directed the German Singing Choir in Salt Lake and I was very proud of him. At one time we just about sold our property to follow the rest of my family to Idaho. At the last moment, we didn't sell. Julius would have had to give up the choir, and his almost daily temple trips."
When we were last talking about Clara, she was living in Midway. As you will remember, they were living with a deaf man whose place they were slowly buying for the past seven years. "But then he got mean," Clara lamented. "He wanted more money. And one day he hit me with a shovel. My husband got mad and hit him with his fist. After that we made him eat in his own room, though I cooked it for him.
"The next spring (1919) we took our cattle, team and furniture and moved to Idaho where my folks lived. So we left the place, with the money we had poured into it, to the old man. He died a year later and his son came and sold the place.
"It was exciting to be around my parents and brothers again. It was also exciting to be in a new area with new opportunities. We rented a dry farm on the west side of Teton Valley but it didn't rain that summer and the wheat burned up. So we moved over to the east side of the basin by the state line into an old log house. My husband worked for my family the rest of the summer. We had eight children by then. In the fall we were lucky to rent a 160-acre farm with a good water right and a big seven-room house on it. When I lived in Midway town, I always wished for a farm like this with the house in the middle of it. This way my children had to stay home and learn to work. Now my wish was fulfilled. The house was almost in the middle of the farm and the next neighbor was a mile away." We were excited to have Clara and John Burgener living so close to us. I have always loved having my children around me, no matter how much either the children or I have aged.
If it wasn't bad enough to have our crops destroyed by the storm in 1918, things didn't get a bit better in 1919. That year the valley experienced a severe drought. The resulting feed shortage raised the price of hay to $40 dollars per ton. By the late spring, hay was $50 a ton and it had to be shipped in from Utah. This was an exorbitant price. At that time, when butterfat was 12 cents per pound, it was prohibitive. That spring there was no money to buy hay with, and considering the price, there was no hay to buy. In order to keep the animals alive we chopped down the willows along the creek. John, Rudolph, Ed, and Alfred, and their children, cut trees and placed them where the stock could eat the smaller twigs. The cattle hungrily ate them, sometimes gnawing off branches as big as a man's thumb. We also cut quaking aspens in the grove so the cattle and horses could eat the limbs. This way we were able to keep them alive until there was grass for them to eat. Not everyone had to keep their stock alive by feeding them willows, however. The Burgeners were able to purchase some hay by borrowing money at 10% interest.
Under such conditions, it was impossible for Rudolph to meet the farm payments but Bishop Carlson never pressed for payment. Rudolph always paid the 10% interest charged although it was sometimes paid by harvesting crops, or other work for the good neighbor.
In the midst of all this hardship, Isabel was born on July 12th, 1919, to Alfred and Ida. And in September, Martha was born to Fred and Caroline.
Clara told us, "We were happy on our farm as a family even though we had many hardships and disappointments. It was a cold country. Some years when we had nice grain, the frost came and froze it and we couldn't get much for it. It was the same with potatoes, but the rent had to be paid anyway. We could raise good hay, and it was also a good country for cattle."
The year 1920 was relatively uneventful for the Kaufman family, except that one July morning, proud Rudolph awakened the family with the news that Alfred had been born. His daughter Rosa did not share the enthusiasm of her father. She believed that girls were the best workers. She asked him, "Why wasn't it a girl?"
It was also somewhere in this period of time that Rudolph and Rosa purchased 40 acres which nearly joined their farm on the northwest. This land was also purchased from Bishop Carlson. This substantially increased the amount of hay land which was needed for the growing dairy herd. In all of the transactions with Bishop Carlson, only a promise and a handclasp were needed to bind the agreement. No note or mortgage was asked for or given. Rudolph also had a similar arrangement with his bank transactions. Although bank practice required a note, his promise to pay when he could replaced a mortgage.
In about the year 1921 or 1922 the Teton Stake Mission was organized. The Stake Presidency called men from each ward in the stake to do missionary work one day and one evening each week. Fred Duersch, and my sons John, and Alfred, were called. They labored among our non L.D.S. friends in the stake which proved to be a very rewarding experience. The results were remarkable and they received many joys for their labors. Right in the middle of all this missionary activity, Walter was born to Alfred and Ida on July 29th, 1921.
Through the years, Rudolph continued to make cheese for his family's use. In 1921, Rudolph's brother, Pete, came from Wisconsin to visit them. He was a cheese maker and encouraged them to begin making cheese commercially. He was further encouraged by financial help from Rudolph Jr., who had accompanied Pete from Wisconsin. The decision was made to go ahead, and a cheese factory made of logs was completed on their place in 1922. Rudolph began making the first commercial Swiss cheese produced in the valley. It was all accomplished in a 500-pound capacity copper kettle.
"Ed and Elizabeth gave up much for the gospel," Ina Harris Day added, "And they had great faith in the leaders of the Church. They never asked, 'Why', but always did as they were asked even if it meant great sacrifice. We loved to visit the Durtschis. The folks got to visiting and it became too late to start home with a team of horses. We were made so welcome, and often we'd stay overnight. There certainly wasn't room for our whole family with their large family in those two rooms, but we did it.
"The men usually were outside visiting and doing the chores while the women generally stayed inside. Ed Durtschi was such a kind man and so considerate of Sister Durtschi. He treated each of the children as if they were important."
At this time Ed bought 40 acres of land which joined their place on the west from Ern Hill. This added to their place and was a good piece of ground.
Up to this time, and after, German, or the Swiss dialect was always spoken in our homes. Emma, Fred, and John would be my only children who would not speak German as a primary language in their homes. This was nice in a way, for the children learned their ancestral tongue. But it also made it difficult for the parents, and the children when they were away from home. The children couldn't communicate very well with any of the other kids, except their cousins. When school started, the children were extremely hampered. Finally, one by one, the families realized what they were doing to their children, and started speaking English at home. This was especially hard for the parents who had a hard time speaking English as it was.
My son Fred was finally released from the Army Air Core. Then, after serving so long with the armed forces, he gave up more years of his life to the service of the Lord. He did this by serving on a mission for the Church. I was very proud of Fred for having a desire to serve the Lord and his fellow man in this manner. My mind went back to the missionaries who came to our house in Switzerland. I thought of Fred doing for others what they had done for us. He served on his mission during the 1920's and went to the Eastern States Mission. All in all, Fred's mission was a very good experience for him. However, one event did occur which has caused him a great amount of anxiety during his life. It happened that one of his companions insisted that he had bad breath. "At first I didn't believe him," Fred stated, "But he finally convinced me of it, and I have since been careful not to get too close around others. It has been a plague which has been with me and I have learned to live with it." I doubt the missionary who convinced him of this ever fully comprehended the damage he caused. For whatever reason he did it, it was truly a heartless and unthinking act.
On March 3, 1922, I was especially delighted to have another grandson born. This child was born to my youngest son, John, and his lovely wife, Luella. He was given the name John Ray because his mother insisted on the "John", and John wanted the "Ray".
During the early part of 1922, a flu epidemic hit Teton Valley. Ed's family was one of the hardest families hit. This was extremely tragic, for it took our oldest son away. "Our family became ill with the flu in March 1922, and everyone was sick," Elizateth stated, "It became Ed's lot to care for everyone else in the family and do the chores. One night he called the Elders, his brother Alfred, and Charles Christensen to administer to us. When they were through, I turned to them and asked them to please administer to Ed. He was not feeling very well either. It was only a day later that he got so sick that he had to give in and go to bed. He had over exerted himself on our behalf and now he was paying for it. But instead of getting better, he only got worse. There was no help to be found in the valley because so many people were ill. Finally, we were able to get a nurse from Felt. She didn't show much interest. So John Burgener, seeing our plight, came in and took wonderful care of us all, besides doing the chores.
"When Ed's condition worsened, despite a bad blizzard, Charles Christensen drove a team and sleigh to Driggs and returned with a notary public, Amacy W. Clark. He was brought to have the necessary papers drawn up to turn the title of the lands over to me. We were all afraid that if Ed got much worse, he was not going to pull through this. Getting the lands transferred over into my name meant the difference between our losing the farm, or being able to hold on to it. Ed became much worse, then passed away March 16th, 1922.
"My greatest regret," Elizabeth continued, "Is there was no hospital at the time where Ed might have been taken for better care. Granted, his lungs may still have been weak from that long sickness in Chicago years before, though I have often wondered if his life could have been spared.
Ed's daughter, Rosie LaVerne, gives us this bit of beauty. "Although I was just 3-1/2 years old, I can remember him. He used to stoop down and encourage me to come to him when I was learning to walk. He often took me out on the horse-drawn sleigh with him while he fed the cattle. It was a joy to be with him. When he was very sick he would motion for me to come and sit on the bed beside him. I felt there was something wrong so I sat just as still as I could. As I sat beside him, he talked to me."
Roland W. Brown, a valley old-timer, recalled that he was always so impressed with Edward Durtschi. He remembers him as a friendly, handsome fellow. Roland said he was at a dance in the other end of the valley when he was told about Ed's passing. So he got on his horse and rode to Spring Creek to call on Ed's family. In those days bodies were not embalmed, so Roland and another fellow volunteered for the night vigil to watch the body and change the formaldehyde cloth to keep the body damp. He remembered how they nearly froze because the windows had to be kept open.
When there was a death in the ward, it was Fred Morgan's job to get lumber and work until the casket was finished. The Relief Society provided the lining. Later, Bishop James Rigby came and read through the handbook on dressing the dead in temple clothing. Then, before the funeral, Roland was asked to be a pall bearer. The funeral was unusually sad. None of us could believe this was happening, and our minds refused to accept it. After the service, we took a pair of harness reins, and not wishing to let him leave us, lowered the casket slowly into the grave.
My son, Edward, was buried in the most beautiful place on earth I can imagine. On the left side of the mouth of Teton Canyon is a hill that partly encloses the U-shaped canyon. The cemetery rests on the top of this hill. From this point, the canyon floor opens wide in front of you. Rock rises up on each side of the canyon into huge, rounded mountains. And in the background, past the head of the canyon, loom the granite Teton Peaks reaching high into the heavens. You should see this place in the spring. Everywhere there is tall green grass filled with mountain flowers, teased by the mountain breeze. Bees are humming in the cool, clean air. And often feathery clouds can be seen playing around the majestic mountains. Visiting this place made me wish that I could rest here also when my name was called.
It was a terrible blow for Mother and me to see our oldest son, Edward, laid away. It nearly drove us to our own graves. How would this poor family survive without their father? Our hearts went out to Elizabeth, and the whole family did what they could. Ed was the first one of us to come into this new land, and also the first of many of the Durtschis to be buried in the Pratt Ward Cemetery. We had come so far! And now it pained us to the core to see our son gone, leaving a wife, and a nest full of little children.
Six months later tragedy struck at the family again in another form. It seemed that each forward step by our family was followed by a short period of depression. This time it involved Rudolph and Rosa's house in the fall of 1922. Rosa said of the incident, "At evening chore time, a fire was made in the old log house to warm the rooms for bedtime. The cows were being milked and the small children were in the cheese factory to watch the cheese making process. The house began to burn. When it was finally discovered the entire house was engulfed in flames. Not one article within the house was saved. One room of the cheese factory was being used as a bedroom and kitchen but we had no other living accommodations. The neighbors responded generously to our tragedy. They brought bedding and clothing, and took children into their homes to sleep. They also showed many other acts of kindness. Sheridan Smith provided a sheep camp with two beds and a stove. Cheese making was temporarily discontinued by this tragedy and the factory was enlarged and converted into a home. My daughters, Rosa who was living in Pocatello, and Martha, who was attending school in Rexburg, returned home following the fire."
During this difficult time, Rosa and Rudolph were blessed with a baby girl. In December of 1922, Isabel Nora was born in the converted Kaufman home. Because they felt this was to be the last one, she was given a middle name. No other child had been so named.
Rosa continued, "With the help of the Durtschis and others, a new and much larger cheese factory was constructed. It contained two kettles. One had a capacity of 1,800 pounds of milk, and the other 2,200 pounds. Also included in the factory was a curing cellar and a large packing room. The first cheese was made in this factory on July 23, 1923. The Swiss cheese industry was now established in the valley and two cheese makers were hired. The first was Frank Novak, who was falsely represented, and a few months later, Ernest Brog was hired. The latter brought with him new methods and techniques which made the operation more profitable. When he left, Rudolph and Arnold operated the factory. Businessmen were enthused with this new venture in the valley and were proud to be associated with it. One banker from Driggs gave major physical assistance to the construction of the new factory. He spent several hours digging in the new cellar. He urged Rudolph to buy cows, which were imported from Wisconsin, and this improved his herd. He loaned him the money which was to be repaid 'when you can'. By careful selection and management, Rudolph and I built up one of the fine herds in the valley.
"We were staunch believers that only necessary work should be performed on Sunday." Rosa remembered, "One summer there had been so much rain on the cut hay it seemed it would spoil in the windrow. The day finally came when the hay had dried enough that it could be stacked the next day. But the next day was the Sabbath!! Several farmers felt since the Lord had cleared the skies and dried the hay, He must have intended that they get it into the stack. Even the bishop felt the same and stacked his hay. But we reasoned that it was still the Lord's day and we waited to see what Monday would bring. We were blessed with another sunny day."
Mother and I began to grow old. In the early spring of 1923, Mother was 72 and I was 73 years old. We had seen a lot during our lives. As I looked back I marveled at everything which had happened in my life, and the lives of my family. We started out in a little town in Switzerland, and leaving all we had, came to America in search of a better life. We have seen joy and heartache. We have lived long, full lives, and the Lord has been very merciful to us. Oh, if He can only be so good to our children! There is a blessing about old age that the young do not often share. And that is, we lose our fear of dying. Rosina and I looked upon death as a grand journey to be happily experienced. We have great faith death will move us onto new heights of existence. We looked upon it as the time to return to our fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, and friends. The longer an old person lives upon this earth, the less he has holding him here. And the more worn he becomes, the more prepared he gets for that step all mankind must take.
I want to tell my posterity that I love you, and only want the very best for you. Stay close to each other. Only the Lord is more important than family. Stay close to the Lord. Work hard, and live life joyfully. Experience the pain when it comes, but look for the good that life has to offer. And now I bid you a fond farewell until we are reunited in eternity... Your father, Edward Sr."
In the spring of 1923, Edward became ill with dropsy. He passed away the 20th of July, 1923 and was buried on the 22nd in the Pratt Cemetery under the shadow of the beautiful Teton Peaks.
Rosina, the mother of this fine family failed fast after her husband went. Sometime in September, she suffered a stroke from which she never recovered. Clara took her to her home in Darby where she cared for her until she passed away on Christmas Day, 1923 at 6 p.m. She was laid to rest by the side of her husband, and near her beloved son.
With the passing of Rosina Durtschi, Emma received another letter edged in black from her brothers and sisters. This was the way a death was announced in those days. Emma felt great sorrow and loneliness with the death of her parents. John and Emma Lundin's daughter, Lucinda said, "Mother could not go to the funeral or in any way be comforted by her family. It's no wonder she died at the age of 52. She was probably just too tired and careworn to even try to live any longer. The thing that hurts me now is, at that time I knew nothing about life. So Mother didn't get any love and sympathy from me or any the rest of her children either. The dear soul was alone, all alone in a house full of children."
"At this time we decided on a business venture to help make some extra income. We built some cabins and rented them to hunters and summer tourists. This made even more work for me, but I was eager for ready cash, to help educate the children. Also a larger, more comfortable house had just been built. My geraniums were still the main decor. Lena got married in June of 1924. One by one, she invited her sisters to come to Washington where each one completed their schooling. Then they went on to productive careers of their own. At this time in our lives, we had a surprise. Our last child, Hilda, was born. We welcomed her into our family on New Year's Day in 1925."
About 1925, a third piece of land was purchased and added to the Kaufman farm. It was 160 acres of good pasture near the foothills. This gave the Kaufmans a total of 280 acres and nicely rounded out their operation.
"It seemed that Rudolph and I had now reached a plateau in our lives," Rosa realized, "To this point the way had been all uphill but now everything seemed to level off. Our family was now complete. No additional land was needed. The farm and the cheese factory operations provided a good income and our health was reasonably good. Never again did we struggle to make ends meet or to avoid slipping backward. It was the time in life we had long looked for. The older children were beginning to leave for homes of their own. The younger ones were at an age where they could make decisions and required less supervision. So Rudolph and I entered into a period of life which could be termed our golden years. There was still work for us to do and we still had some troubles. But our work was lighter and our troubles were small."
There were 20 families living in the Bates Ward where John and Clara attended their meetings in a log house. They were very active participants at church and did all they could in the ward. Clara worked in the Relief Society. Her children were also active at church. Her oldest daughter played the organ from the time she was 14 until she went away to work.
John and Luella's second son, Reed Robert, was born February 15, 1926. Things were looking up for them even though they were in such terrible debt. John especially did not like being in debt and worked extra hard to pay off his bills. But this was a slow process, and took many years.
In February of 1926, Alfred Durtschi, Lawrence Hatch, Bryan Fullmer, and Ralph Tompson were called to do missionary work. They were to work mainly with the inactive members of the Church, but also among the non-members of the Jackson Hole area. Alfred stated, "We found several families where Latter-day Saint girls were married to fine non L.D.S. men. They only needed encouragement to leave the tobacco alone and then they were ready to accept the gospel. These people treated us royally, and always furnished food and beds to sleep in. I paid Willard Morgan two dollars a day to do my chores while I was gone. That was all the expense I had for the month I was away.
"On one of my trips home I stopped in to see our stake president, at his garage. The first thing President Choules told me was that Bishop Rigby was leaving the valley. It was a shock to me. I thought he would be the last man to leave Pratt Ward.
"I found everything was in order when I got home to Ida and the children. However, I wondered if everything was still all right on the 21st of March 1926 when I was sustained Bishop of the Pratt Ward. I was ordained a Bishop by Apostle Joseph Fielding Smith. Charles Christensen was my first counselor and Elmer E. Rigby was sustained as my second counselor. I looked upon this calling as a grave responsibility. And I am happy to say that I had the support of the people." With one of the German speaking boys from Switzerland being made Bishop, no doubt, most of the heckling against these families must have stopped. Of course, this turned out to be a great blessing for everyone.
In the fall of 1926, John Burgener was called on a 6-month mission to Canada. When he came back in the spring, his health was poor and he was losing weight. In spite of this, on the first of July, 1927 he also was made Bishop of his ward.
At this time, a tragedy of the worst kind struck the Burgener home. "In December of 1926, my husband, John, bought a horse," Clara explained. "One night as he walked in the stable, the horse kicked him in the stomach. He got feeling worse the next day and on the 12th of January, 1927 I took him out to the Idaho Falls Hospital where they operated on him that night. Three days later my dear John died. Before he died, he asked us if we would bury him by the side of my parents. He didn't want to be sent to Midway. This we did. I was left with 11 children, the youngest only two years old. My husband was insured for $1,000. The funeral expenses were $225. I took the rest and made a payment on the farm as we were determined to stay there.
"Each day my oldest boy, Bill, got up at 6:30 and started the fire in the heater," Clara added, "Then he went out to the barn where he did the chores. As soon as he went out, I got up and started the fire in the kitchen to make breakfast. After the chores were completed, Bill had to take the children to school in the sleigh. It was too cold for the children to walk the three miles.
"In the latter end of January, two weeks after my husband died, it got terribly cold. One night it was 42 degrees below zero (F). On this extra cold morning I didn't hear Bill start the fire and go out. I was sound asleep until I heard somebody call my name in a frightening voice. I sat up in bed but I couldn't see or hear anything because it was so dark. I lay down again and dozed off to sleep. Again somebody called my name and I immediately sat up and wondered who had called me. Everything was so dark both inside and out. Because of this, I laid down again and dozed off to sleep. Then somebody grabbed me by the shoulder. They really shook me hard as they called my name again. I jumped out of bed and ran for the living room. We had one of those old fashioned heaters without a frame around it. To my shock, I found our big heater glowing red from top to bottom. The wooden wall behind the heater was already smoking from the heat. In a few minutes that wall would have been on fire. Six of my smaller children were sleeping on the other side of it. It scared me so badly. I quickly opened the outside door. I called for my boy to come in. He couldn't hear me. Then I realized that having the door open only made the fire go much faster. I quickly closed the door and tried to decide how to make it slow down. Then I heard a voice say to open the door on the heater. I opened it, and the fire soon slowed down. Before long the heater began to get black again. I know it was my husband who came from the other world to save our lives and our home.
Clara continued, "In June, 1927 my oldest boy got married. My second oldest boy was hurt in an accident and had to go to the hospital to be operated on. The doctor said he couldn't do any hard work for two years. It seemed like everything was going against us that summer. I helped in the fields with the haying and watering. One morning I got awfully sick. It was getting worse by afternoon. Later in the afternoon I became paralyzed and I began to suffer terribly. I thought any minute I would last no longer.
"As soon as the boys came home that evening, Reed rode five miles to town to get the doctor. When the doctor came he gave me morphine pills to kill the pain. It was nearly four hours before I received any relief and could move around again.
"The next day when I was able to move around, I went to see the doctor. He told me that he couldn't help me. I told him he must help me because I had a big family and farm to take care of. But he shook his head and said there was nothing he could do. I left feeling very blue and discouraged. How was I going to run the farm, earn a living, and take care of my children if I was sick? And worst of all, what would happen to them if I also died? Few times have I ever prayed so hard for help from a kind, wise Father.
"When I got home, I walked out to the ditch to get some water. While I was there, my father, who had died years before, came to me. He said, 'Didn't I tell you three years ago that if you ever suffer with your kidneys, to drink the tea made from these herbs along this ditch?" Then I remembered him telling me this. I gathered some of them and made tea. In a week, I was as well as I could be. I thanked Heavenly Father dearly for permitting my father to come back and help me. And I learned from the experience something I shall never forget: That is, to always have herbs on hand. I had a neighbor who suffered from the same thing for many years and spent hundreds of dollars trying to get cured. I later told her if she drank the tea, she would get better. She took some, and in two weeks was better. Since then she has had good health. The Lord gave us herbs for our health and we should use them.
"After trying to operate the farm during the summer, I sadly realized that it was more than we could handle. In the fall," Clara went on, "We decided to go back to Utah on a smaller place. In November we sold everything that could be sold, except the farm. So we moved to Provo and bought another farm. We made a down payment of $1,800.00. I bought it for $7,850.00. There was a good 5-room brick house with a full basement on the farm. It was built on a hill overlooking the B.Y.U. campus and the city of Provo. Toward the west was Utah Lake and the Oquirrh Mountains. On the east was the beautiful Timpanogos and other mountains. We had 16 acres of level land. All along the hill below the house was a grape vineyard. The first year we did fairly well, earning $1,000 from the crops ."
This work Copyright 1987 for the Durtschi Family by Mark Durtschi.
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