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Life Story Of Alfred Durtschi

LIFE STORY OF ALFRED DURTSCHI
Written and Copyright by Isabel Walker

Born October 2, 1886 at Wimmis, Ct. Bern, Switzerland, to Edward and Rosina Katarina Hiltbrand Durtschi.
Baptized Aug 20, 1905 by David Hirschi in Switzerland.
Ordained a teacher November 10, 1906 by James Wilson, a priest January 14, 1908 by Jacob Probst, an Elder May 29, 19? by Alma Engberson, High Priest August 17, 1918 by Stephen L Richards and set apart as second counselor to Bishop James Rigby the same day.
Died 8 March 1980 at Sugar City, Idaho.


        I was raised in a Christian home. Both Mother and Father being very religious members of the Protestant Reformed State Church of Switzerland. I saw the first Mormon Missionary in the summer of 1900, Elder Sam Schwediman of Newdale, Idaho. He delivered Mormon tracts to our home. We did not let him into the house. My grandmother, living with us, being the spokesman, told him that we had no need for his religion, that we had all we needed to save us.
        I read the tracts and had to confess that what there was in them was in harmony with the teachings of the Bible, but I had no desire to investigate further, as the "Mormons", it was reported, were terrible people.
        About the first of November, in the year 1902, two Mormon Elders came to our home, Alma Burgener and Conrad Gertsch of Midway, Utah. We let them into the house and they commenced to explain Mormonism to us. They told us the story of the Prophet Joseph Smith... (and) they were permitted to come again... They stayed with us that night and as we visited they told us that they were giving their time free and were paying their own way while on their missions. We thought that was a great thing for young men to do and so my father told them, "If you are willing to do that for your church, then whenever you come to this vicinity you can come to our home and we will feed you and we will always have a bed for you to sleep in, but don't tell us any more about your religion". They made use of the invitation and came often. They gave us a copy of the Book of Mormon and a book containing a short church history. As I read I came to the conclusion that if it was not a made up story and what I read was true, it must be the work of God, it was up to me to find out...
        I had a fair knowledge of the bible as it was. Our parents made us children sit around the table all day Sunday and read the Bible, each child taking a turn reading a few verses aloud. It was hard for us to concentrate on what we were reading as we heard the neighborhood children sledding down the hills and playing games together outside, where of course we to would rather have been. I also had just finished a two year course of study of four hours a week during the winter school months, which we were completed to take in our church. This was taught partly by the minister and partly by the school teacher. I started to study the bible more than ever. I wanted to find out if Mormonism was true or not.
        The two missionaries were released and went home to Utah and for a time we did not see any more Mormon missionaries. But I remember one day we were talking about the Mormon religion and my mother made this statement, "I don't know about this Mormon religion, whether it is true or not, but I know this, that a church that produces such fine young men as these men are, is a better church than ours". Father could forbid them to preach Mormonism but he could not forbid them to live it. Example still preached Mormonism where they had been told not to preach doctrine.
        In our youth we learned to work hard. Each child in the family had his special jobs to do. Father worked in the timber a lot, sawing and chopping wood to sell to the townspeople, so it was the responsibility of us children to take care of the farm. We learned early in life that to be able to work was a blessing. We were all happy when Father would take one of us with him to help saw and chop the wood. It was through this extra work Father did that we were able to make payments on our land and home.
        One day in November of 1904, two new Elders appeared, David Hirshi of Salem, Idaho and Conrad Weber of Salt Lake City. So our door was open to them, we were ready to listen. I started anew to study, to read and I started to go to their meetings. I prayed for light and light came. As far as I was able to judge Mormonism was true. Never the less, I wanted to be sure, so I followed the admonition of Moroni 10:4 and by sincere prayer and fasting I received a testimony of the truth. We members of a Protestant Church thought that we were in the light, but when the greater light came, the true light, the Gospel light, that light that I had known before was now darkness.
        I was baptized August 20, 1905 by Elder Hirshe. My mother, two sisters, Eliza and Emma, my brother Fred and six other converts were baptized the same night. I was then 18.
        Shortly after this, a man came along and wanted to buy our farm. As the spirit of gathering with the Saints already possessed us, we sold out and left Switzerland, September 30, 1905, arriving in New York October 12,1905 and in Midway, Utah on October the 17. About the tenth of November we bought a 30 acre farm in Midway. As there was no barn on the farm, my father and I got timber out of the canyon that winter and in the spring we built a barn for our animals.
        I was helping my father on the farm. I did all the irrigating as well as helping with all the other farm work. In my spare time I worked in the mines. My brother Edward, who left Switzerland in the spring of 1902 to come to America and...(then stopped in) Chicago... He got a job working in the kitchen of a hotel. In the spring of 1907 he came to Utah...
        We liked Utah, but the time had come when we felt that we were reaping where we had not sown. Our younger brothers were now big enough to help Father run the farm so Edward and I came to the conclusion that it was our duty to do our share towards helping to make the desert blossom, which meant, get out in a new country and help dig canals and ditches, put desert land under cultivation and to help build new church houses. To do this there were two opportunities, the Uinta reservation in Utah or the Teton Basin in Idaho. We went to look over both areas twice. We felt that 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, 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.
        Edward and I left Midway on April 26th, 1909 with three head of horses and a covered wagon. We arrived in Teton Valley May 14th. We stopped on the west side in the Bates area.
        ...The farm we rented was in the north end of the Bates Ward. It had a log cabin and a horse barn on it, for which we were very glad. There was no machinery on the place so we went to Driggs and bought a hand plow and started to plow. We planted about 10 acres of oats and then it rained and snowed -- and it snowed some more. This scared us -- just what kind of a cold, miserable valley had we come to? We decided to leave and at least go to the lower valley, if not clear back to Utah. Ed went over to Driggs and told the owner of the land that he could have the oats that we had planted, that we were leaving the country. The man was a Real Estate man. He told Ed, "Don't do that, I have a farm up here on the east side. I am taking a man up there right now. You had better come along and in case he isn't interested, you may be." It was a nice sunshiny day and the grass was green. Ed liked the looks of the land and he told the man that he would bring me over the next day to see it and if it was agreeable with me we would very likely buy it. So the next day he showed us the farm and then he said, 'I am going to take you up there against the hill to show you a beautiful orchard just to show you what you can raise here." ...And low and behold, it was, it was a nice orchard that really looked good. In going up to the orchard we passed a place that he said, "I have this place here, 160 acres. You can come and live in the house and you can have everything you can raise this summer. There will be 25 to 30 tons of hay you can put up, and all the grain you can raise you can have. I want you to take good care of it so when I bring people here as prospective buyers it will look good. I offered it for sale all summer last year for $6000.00, I will take $4000.00 for it now."
        We moved over the next day. The place had a nice two room log house with a shanty. We were really happy that we could take possession there. We went to work and plowed and planted about five acres of oats. This was the 27th of May when we moved onto this place located in the Alta area, Pratt Ward.
        As we started farming there, we could hardly wait until we could buy it, for this surely was the place we wanted to buy, this was the place we wanted to be the rest of our lives. There were only 25 acres under cultivation, so here was the place we could make the desert blossom. We were able to buy the place on the 11th of June, 1909 for the sum of $4000.00, $500.00 dollars down and $500.00 a year and we took over the $1600.00 mortgage.
        Edward married Elizabeth Mutzenberg in the Salt Lake Temple at April conference time, the 8th of April, 1909. She was born and raised in my father's hometown. Her parents were good friends of my father, living just 5 miles from us. She was converted by the two Mormon Missionaries, Elders Alma Burgener and Conrad Gertsch. She joined the church very much against the wishes of her mother. She was 22 years old so she did not need the consent of her parents and when she heard that we were going to America she wanted to go with us, but not without her mother's consent. She gave permission to my father and as Elizabeth needed some help to prepare to leave I went to help her. As we were leaving that poor mother, crying, repeated over and over, "Oh, if only I hadn't given my permission, if only I hadn't given my permission." Well, Elizabeth traveled with us and worked in Salt Lake until she married Ed. She was a real pioneer woman, traveling from Utah to Teton Basin in a covered wagon. It was hard going, getting started in a new country, as Teton Basin was at that time, but she never complained. She was an excellent cook and housekeeper and played an important part in our early success....
        As Ed had been in America long enough to get his naturalization papers, he had to appear before the district judge in Heber, Utah on the 9th of August. Our father, having more cattle than he could handle on his small farm, gave him 8 cows and some heifers to take back with him to give us a start with cattle. I went down to Sugar City to meet him, prepared for two one-night campouts, as it took three days to take the animals from Sugar City to Driggs.
        The oats we raised we had to haul to St. Anthony. We got from one dollar to one dollar and twenty five cents a bushel for it. There were no railroads trains to the Basin until 1912.
        The income from the farm was meager so I had to go off to work in the winter. I got a job in Sugar City by the Sugar factory working for a cattle company. I had to haul sugar beet pulp to 300 head of cattle. I had to give them all they could eat and I hauled from 25 to 35 tons of pulp to them every day. For this I was paid $1.33 a day and my board which was $40.00 (?) a month.
        there was a $1,600.00 mortgage on our farm which could not be paid off for ten years. This meant that we had to pay $160.00 interest each year. I had to work four months to pay the interest on that mortgage. On the other money we owed, the interest was 8%. This was the first winter we were in Idaho, 1909-1910
        In 1910 we rented our neighbor's farm of which there were about 60 acres under cultivation. We put up about 45 tons of hay and about 400 bushels of oats. We got half the crop. This was a great help to us in providing feed for the cattle, as there was not much hay ground on our farm. In the fall of 1910 I had to go off to work again. I was filled up on feeding cattle in Sugar City and decided to go to Utah to work in a mine which was a lot easier work and better pay, $2.00 a day and board for 8 hours of work.
        As we had to build a much needed horse stable, I was not able to leave for Utah till Christmas time. I visited for two days with my sister, Elisa. I arrived in Salt Lake on Saturday night and on Monday night the Swiss people had a big Christmas party, a nice program and dance afterwards. Here is where I saw the one that was to become my wife. They had a Swiss Yodler Quartett perform and Ida was a member of that quartet. I discovered that she had a beautiful alto voice. I had no chance to get acquainted with her at that time. I had to remember too, that I had come to Utah to work to earn much needed money to pay debts, not to find a wife. I went home to Midway thinking that I might get a job in the mine in the canyon of the Midway mountains, but I was too late. There were too many men looking for work. I was wishing I was shoveling pulp in Sugar City.
        My father had hay for sale but there was no demand for it in Midway so I hauled several loads of loose hay to Park City, 15 miles over a mountain. One ton was all a team could haul. It was a long hard pull.
        Father gave me a team of colts that had just been broken and on the 9th of March I started out for Idaho with them. They pulled my buggy. I stayed the first night at a farmer's home at the head of Weber Canyon above Ogden. He had two young sons, the older one was about 23. We had prayer together before I left in the morning and this young man asked the Lord to bless me on my journey and keep me safe.
        Before I drove off he sold me some hay for the colts and then he warned me about the train that came up the canyon at a certain time. He said there was a place in the canyon where the road was very close to the river with a steep cliff on the left side with the train track very close to the river where the young colts could give me trouble if the train happened to come while I was in or near this dangerous place. I thanked him and started on my way. Sure enough, the train came along as he said and the colts were surprised by this huge black monster that came puffing up the canyon but I was in a fairly safe place so got along all right.
        I was going down the dangerous stretch that the young man had warned me about when I heard another train coming. I couldn't turn around because the road was too narrow. The cliff was to my left, the river dropping off to my right and that big black locomotive coming toward us on the track next to the river. The colts snorted and balked. There was no place to go but drop into the river if I lost control of the horses so I jumped from the buggy and held the colts by the bridles. They reared up on their hind legs as the train steamed up the canyon lifting me right off my feet into the air, but somehow we were miraculously saved from destruction and I was able to continue. I thank God for the prayer of that young man that morning.
        Another exciting and almost impossible experience with those colts was when I got to the Snake River Ferry Crossing near what is now Lorenzo. There was no bridge so everything had to be ferried across the river. Those animals didn't care much for the idea of getting on that ferry. I even thought of blindfolding them but had nothing to do that with. After much persuasion we got them onto that flatbed. I hung on to those animals for dear life. How we ever made it across the river without losing those young inexperienced animals overboard will always be a miracle to me. The Lord has come to my aid many, many times when I felt the cause was lost.
        I drove to the Hirschi home in Salem where we were always made welcome and there was Edward to meet me. I was sure glad to see him.
        I had a chance to work for a farmer in Darby for a few days for $1.50 a day and dinner. Then the snow went off so that we could start to break up desert on the 15th of April. As it happened, we were able to rent a sulky plow and some horses so we could run two plows and that spring we were able to break a considerable piece of tough desert sod. We raised a pretty good crop and got the grain all stacked but because of continual storm and snow we were unable to thresh until Christmas and after....
        (Grandpa spent the winter of 1911-1912 working for Ernest Taylor, a sheepman in Clawson for $40.00 a month, and the next winter milking cows and feeding sheep for his brother, the banker, Bill Taylor for $45.00 a month. Grandpa was getting an excellent reputation as a good, dependable, hard worker.)
        This was the winter of 1912-1913. Something of importance happened about the middle of October. The railroad was completed and train service started in November. On the 12th of December I had to appear before the district judge in St. Anthony with my two witnesses to get my naturalization papers. So I got a ride on the new railroad train. The train left at 5 o'clock in the morning in 20 F below zero weather. David Herschi of Salem and Herbert Flamm of Rexburg were my witnesses, both were missionaries that had come to our home in Switzerland. I was so proud to be a citizen of the United States.
        The next fall Ether Taylor, a brother of the other two Taylor boys, wanted me to work for him on his ranch, so when we had finished harvesting I went to work for him. He was a fine man to work for.... (After Christmas a young man came along and asked for a job. I told Mr. Taylor that I would like to go home as we had a lot of work that I would like to do, so he hired the man and let me go. We needed a hay and cow barn bad so we went to work to get out timber to build that barn. In the spring my brother Fred came home from college where he had taken a course in carpentry, so here was a chance for him to practice. He did a very good job.
        At this time I began my activity in the church. I was put in as teacher of the Theological class in the Pratt Ward Sunday School. To teach that age group was in my opinion the most difficult to teach. I felt it was beyond my ability. I would have refused if it hadn't been for one thing. I received the Priesthood on November 10, 1906. I considered it a blessing and on my way home that night I promised the Lord that I would never refuse to do whatever I was asked to do by those in authority over me. I have kept that promise to this day. I would have liked to refused because of my inability to speak the English language. Fortunately, the course of study was the Articles of Faith by Talmage. The students seemed to be interested and the response by the class was good. One Sunday one of the rather backward boys told me, "When you explain the Gospel to me I can understand it." That was an encouragement to me and I was happy that my efforts were not all in vain.
        In May of 1914, James Rigby who was then the Sunday School Superintendent, was released and David O. Harris was put in as Superintendent, with Charles Waddell as his first assistant and I was asked to be his second assistant. In June of 1915 Brother Waddell moved away and I was put in as first assistant. In May of 1917 David Harris left the ward and I was put in as Superintendent of the Sunday School.
        (In the spring of 1915) Ed and I had been in partnership now for six years. It was time for me to get going on my own so I suggested to my brother that we divide our property so that I could build a house and get married. He agreed that this was a good idea so I made two parts and told him, "Take your choice," and he did. He having had more money than I, I made allowances so that he was well paid. We were both better off by having worked together. One morning before breakfast we divided the 40 head of cattle and 8 head of horses that we had.
        I now went to work to get timber out to build a house. I put the foundation in the fall and in March and the first part of April I had Rudolph Kaufman Sr. come and help me build the house. I bought the most expensive cookstove in town and a good new bed, 4 chairs and cooking utensils, some groceries and went to work to put the crops in so that I could go to Salt Lake to June Conference to find a wife. I was after that Aeschbacher girl with the beautiful Alto voice. I knew where I could find her, on Sunday in the Assembly Hall she would be singing in the German Choir. I did find her there and I took her and another Swiss girl out to Lagoon where we had a boat ride and we met some other Swiss and German people who were her friends. On Monday we went swimming in Salt Lake. She was working in a laundry and had to be on the job so there was no time for sporting around -- and my money was not plentiful after building a house and buying furniture.
        I told her what I had come down for and it was all up to her to make the decision. I wanted Ida to go up to Teton Basin so she could see what she would be marrying into, and of course, she wanted to do that too. That was the way the situation was left for the time. In August Ida came up for a few days, the deal was made and we got married on the 7th of October in the Salt Lake Temple in the year 1915.
        It was hard for Mama to make that decision because if she decided to get married she had to give up a few things that were dear to her. She was singing in the Tabernacle Choir, in the German Choir and in a Swiss Yodeling Quartet. She played a somewhat important part in the Mutual in her Ward, all this she had go give up if she came to Teton Valley with me, so I could sympathize with her if she didn't day Yes! Yes! Yes! We didn't know that something just about as good was waiting for her in Pratt Ward. She was asked to sing in a quartet the second Sunday she was in the Ward and that winter the M.I.A. put on a churchwide contest for male quartets, ladies quartets and double mixed quartets. The final was held at the M.I.A. June Conference and low and behold, the Pratt Ward, Teton Stake Ladies Quartet of which Mama was a very important member, took first place in the church. The other members of this quartet were Grace Green, Luella Dalley and Erma Wilson.
        We had no buildings on our place except the house. I had the cows in an old stable over at Ed's place, so it was necessary for me to go get timber out to build a barn. Mama had to be taken to singing practice one night and sometimes two nights a week for it was a common thing for them to be called to different communities in the valley to sing, but we were young, strong and happy and glad to render service where it was needed.
        We never got rich on the farm but we had enough to eat of good food, and work for the children to do so they could learn responsibility. Many times we got discouraged at the way things were going. During the depression -- 1933 to 1940 -- conditions were bad. We got 10 cents a pound for butterfat, five cents a dozen for eggs. Good milk cows sold for fifteen dollars. We got from fifteen cents to 25 cents for a bushel of wheat and we had to pay 98 cents for a sack of flour and we paid 8 to 10% interest to the bank for money we borrowed.
        I believe in God with all my heart and I know that we are His children, and he is interested in our welfare. 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 growing bumper yields and it looked like maybe this year we would be able to make some progress.
        One afternoon it was hot and sultry. We were working in the fields cutting hay when a wind started to blow. A big black cloud came rolling over the sky from the southwest. In a few minutes it started to rain and then hail. The wind blew so hard it drove hail stones into the grain and hay with a force that cut everything off close to the ground. The wind carried some of it to the tops of the mountains where the next summer it sprouted and grew. In a few minutes it was all over -- everything seemed to be all over. The hail stopped, the wind calmed and the sun came out, but the damage was done.
        The next day was Sunday and I didn't feel like even going to Sunday School. I felt that 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 and ever since that time, whenever I had discouraging times I repeated this scripture to myself and gained strength.
        The following spring there was no money to buy hay and there was no hay to buy. In order to keep the animals alive we chopped down the willows along the creek and quacking aspens in the grove so the cattle and horses could eat the limbs. We were able to keep them alive until there was grass for them to eat.
        On the 17th of August 1918, the Pratt Ward Bishopric was reorganized. James Rigby was put in as Bishop, Charles Christensen as first counselor and I as second counselor.
        In about the year 1921 or 22 the Teton Stake Mission was organized and the Stake Presidency called men from each ward to do missionary work one day and one evening a week in the stake. Fred Duersch, my brother John and I were called. We labored among our non L.D.S friends in the stake which proved to be a very rewarding experience for the results were remarkable.
        In February of 1926, Lawrence Hatch, Bryan Fullmer, Ralph Tompson and I were called to do missionary work, mainly with the inactive members of the church, but also among the non-members of the Jackson Hole area. We found several families where Latter Day Saint girls were married to fine non L.D.S. men who only needed encouragement to leave the tobacco alone and then they were ready to accept the gospel. These people treated us royally, always furnished food and beds to sleep in. I paid Willard Morgan two dollars a day to do my chores while I was gone and that was all the expense I had for the month I was gone.
        Everything was all right when I got home. On my way home I stopped in to see President Choules at his garage and the first thing he 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.
        On the 21st of March 1926 I was sustained Bishop of the Pratt Ward, with Charles Christensen as first and Elmer E. Rigby as second counselors. I am happy to be able to say that I had the support of the people. I was ordained by Apostle Joseph Fielding Smith. I was released 25 years and 4 days later, on March 25 1951. My brother-in-law, Frederick Duersch was the ward clerk in the former Bishopric and he remained as ward clerk. I want to pay tribute to Brother Duersch. He was a very efficient, faithful man and was considered one of the outstanding ward clerks on the church by the Presiding Bishopric. When Duerschs moved to Logan, Utah, Oscar Green was appointed ward clerk and he was equal to Fred Duersch. A dependable ward clerk means a lot to a Bishop.
        My wife has been a wonderful bishop's wife. She faithfully stood by my side through all the years, helping in every way she could. She has been a wonderful mother to our children and always active in the church. She spent hours teaching our children music, especially singing, and those were some of the happiest days of my life to hear them play their instruments and sing together.
        The thing that caused me the most anxiety was the building of a new, very much needed, three unit church. The people of the ward decided to build a rock building. We presented our plan to the Presiding Bishopric and church architect. The answer was that we would not be able to pay for a building like that and counseled us to build a one unit building with shingles on the outside. I was one of those who said, "As far as I am concerned, if we still have to carry the benches outside every time we have a social or dance, we will stay right where we are, even though it is inadequate."
        We appointed a building committee consisting of Charles Christensen, Elmer Rigby and T. Ross Wilson, who also acted as Secretary. Correspondence was carried on for a full year with the church architect before we got permission to go ahead and build. The permission finally came, saying, "Now we have been corresponding long enough, go ahead and build as big and as expensive as you want. You will receive six thousand dollars from the church and no more." In those days the church paid 50% on any building, but not ours. When we got through it had cost us over $17,000 but we got what 99% of the people of the ward wanted. A little more than half of the ward's share could be paid in labor and material.
        Had we known that we were going into the worst depression that ever struck this country, we would never have started to build at that time. In March of 1931 we started to work in the rock quarry and within three weeks we had most of the needed rocks on the building spot. During the winter of 1931-32 we hauled the gravel and that fall we put the basement in. In August of 1933 we commenced to build. Money was hard to get but we kept on building. In 1934 we thought (at least we hoped) the depression was about over but then came what President Roosevelt called a 'recession' and that for us farmers was worse than the depression ever was. I hated to ask the people for money but we had to have $1,045 to pay the bill. I wrote to the Presiding Bishopric and asked them for $1000 which under the present circumstances we were unable to raise. The answer came and it was short, it said, "We told you so." That was the time when I came near apostatizing from the church. --It never pays to get mad.--

"Life is not always sunshine, it is not always rain
It is not always pleasure, it is not always pain--"


        It was nearly conference time and as all the Bishops were expected to go to conference. I went and after the meetings I went to see the Presiding Bishopric and tried to explain to them what we farmers were up against. Somehow I got through to Br. David Smith and he said, "All right, we will pay the $1045, but don't come back for any more appropriations." Well, we finally got our church completed in 1936 and it was dedicated by Elder Harold B. Lee. We were so proud of our new Church.
        We bought the furniture for the church for the sum of $1000. The church paid $600 of it and the night the furniture was delivered we had a party where we raised the other $400. No more collecting so far as the church building was concerned!!!
        The next thing was the building of a new Stake Tabernacle. The ward was assessed $4000 of which Charles Christensen paid $1000. It was not much of a job to raise the rest because times were much better.
        In 1948 the ward bought a church welfare farm for the sum of $12,000. It was a cash deal. The ward raised $3000 and borrowed $9000 from the church. The income from the farm paid off that bill. It was easier for the ward to raise the $3000 for that farm than it was to raise $300 when we built the church house. In my opinion the Pratt church welfare farm is the best 80 acres in the ward.
        I said in the beginning of this story that my brother and I felt that it was our duty to do our share towards helping to make the desert blossom digging canals, putting desert land under cultivation and helping to build meeting places for the saints. Well, here is where I had a chance to help build new church houses to my heart's content. It was a struggle but it was a great achievement for a small ward like Pratt -- averaging 200 members. Achievement brings joy and there is no achievement without labor.
        I had lots of time while milking cows to meditate and to memorize. I memorized many scriptures and poetry. I have enjoyed through my younger years to put on comedy acts at different entertainments with Oral Harris, Clad Nelson and Fred Duersch. Most of the memorizing of these acts I did while milking the cows.
        I realized too, that our young people needed to have enjoyment in their lives so we had lots of dances and refreshments to keep them satisfied. While I was the Bishop we had from two to four missionaries in the field most of the time.
        Ida and I decided we needed a new house -- the old one had served us well but now we needed something a little bigger. I had Fred draw up the plans and in the fall of 1946 and the spring of 1947 Rex Rigby helped us build. We moved the old house to the south about 70 feet and built the new one where it had stood. We still lived in the old house until the new one was finished. We lived in it for 20 years then sold it to Walter who still lives in it with his family.
        We have raised five children who have been an honor and a blessing to us. We are proud of them. None of them have caused us sleepless nights or heart-aches. They learned to work when they were young and have been a great help to us in running the farm. They have all filled missions, Arnold to Switzerland, Isabel to the Spanish American, Walter to the Eastern States and Lucile and Lucy went to the Northern California Mission. For the success of raising a good family the credit all goes to my dear wife, the able, loving mother who could by gentle persuasion and by love, rule the children, yet reproving with sharpness when needed. We are happy that our children all married well. We are proud of our sons and daughters-in-law and we are so very happy that they were all married in the temple.
        I regret that we did not put forth more effort to give them at least some college education. On the other hand, we have a feeling of satisfaction that their teaching ability has been recognized, that they have been able to render service as teachers and leaders. They have been loaded almost continually with teaching positions wherever they were.
        I was called on a mission to Switzerland in October on 1953. I entered the mission home November 4th 1953 and was released January 15th, 1955. On January 19, 1956, I was called to another stake mission and was released from that on January 22, 1959.
        While I was on my mission we not only taught the gospel by word of mouth but by deed. We helped a sick farmer get his hay harvested when he was unable to do it himself. In Interlaken we helped the members put up their hay. We cut the hay with a sythe and raked it up with a hand rake. A widow needed help to plow and we helped her do her plowing. These acts and others, helped us in our Missionary work.
        We have been looking forward to the time when we could spent our winter months doing temple work. The time arrived and we spent the winters of 1965 and 1966 in the Logan Temple and since that time we spent our time in the Idaho Falls Temple. Ida wasn't well and she got so bad that in 1972 we had to stop going.
        In 1966 we bought a trailer home and put it on the south side of Isabel's home in Sugar City. We have enjoyed living in the Sugar Ward. There are wonderful people wherever you look for them.
        I guess this story wouldn't be complete without a short paragraph about the flood we have experienced. One Saturday morning -- June 5th, 1976 -- all the valley was peaceful. Wilson and Isable and their children came home from a trip to California about 11:30 in the morning. They had gone there to visit their daughters Janeen and her family and to see Lucy in Sacramento. Almost as soon as they got home they heard on the radio that the Teton Dam was breaking -- everyone should evacuate and go to high ground. Wilson took Mama and me to Rigby to Lucile's home. We stayed there for almost three months before we were able to move into a trailer that the government supplied to the victims of the flood. Our home was destroyed and many of our books and treasures -- the accumulation of many years -- was gone.
        Mama was finally taken home after many years of poor heath. She passed away on the 17th of February, 1978 at Isabel's home where we have been living since we came back from Rigby after the flood. I have missed her an awful lot but it won't be long until I will be reunited with her. That will be a very happy day for me.
        My eyes have been giving me a little trouble so I have not been able to read like I would like to so this year, in April, at the age of 91, I had a cataract taken off my left eye. In June the other one was done, So now I must get used to wearing glasses so I can read again. That is one thing I really enjoy.
        The children come visit often as they can and sometimes some of the grandchildren stop in to see me. It is nice to know they think of an "old grandpa" once in awhile. There are 43 grandchildren now and 21 great grandchildren. It is quite a posterity.

By Isabel Walker.


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Page Updated: 11 Feb 01