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
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,
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.