THE FAMILY HISTORY|
FRED FEUZ AND CAROLINE DURTSCHI FEUZ
Written and copyright by Caroline Oliver
Our family biographics have been well written and documented by others.
Today we will pay tribute of one more of the progeny of Kathrine and Edward
Durtschi, Caroline Durtschi and her husband, Gottfried Feuz. Gottfried
Feuz, his name was Americanized to Fred after he came to this country, was
born June 14, 1877 in Gsteigweiler, high above Interlaken in the Swiss
His father, Casper Feuz, made his living by mountain climbing and guiding
during the summer months, and selling wood which he chopped and delivered
to the people of the village during the long cold winters.
Mother Elizabeth contracted Tuberculosis early in her marriage to Casper.
Several of their children died in infancy. The family was poor, and the
father became more and more discouraged, and unable to provide adequately
for his family, until he gave up entirely. So Fred took on the family
responsibilities at a very early age.
The mother passed away when Fred was twelve, leaving three younger sons,
Peter, John and Christian, and two girls, Elizabeth and Marguerite.
Fred did his best to keep the family together, and years later mourned
losing Marguerite to the same disease which had taken the mother when
Marguerite was only eighteen. He kept in touch for years with his sister
Elizabeth and always had a place in his home for his brother Pete, who
always worked near where Fred's home happened to be.
The family was all baptised in the Lutheran Church. The mother, realizing
that she would not live to see her children grown up, gave them all a good
foundation in faith, and begged them never to stray from their early
School was obligatory for nine years. Fred, usually up before daylight,
worked for neighbors or his father until school time, leaving immediately
at the end of his lessons to go back to the woodlot.
While very young, Fred helped his father with the wood business, and doing
any odd jobs he could find, to help feed the family. When he grew older he
worked in a hotel at Grindelwald, eventually becoming a guide and climbing
teacher. He was energetic and loved the mountains with their challenge.
When he was in his early twenties, he was caught in a rock avalanche, and
badly injured, spending many months in a hopsital. This experience was not
all bad, for he had time to read, and met people who helped him to a wider
view of the world. Meanwhile, in Wimmis the Edward Durtschi's welcomed
their fourth child. On September 25, 1883, Caroline was born. Hers was a
happy childhood. She loved school and enjoyed growing up with supportive
brothers and sisters. Her cheerfulness and sense of humor were noted
early, and graced her whole life. The Durtschi home was large and pleasant
with plenty of work for everyone. It was always remembered as a happy home
by Caroline, who only prayed she could make her own home as pleasant in
later years. When Caroline finished the nine grades, she chose, with the
help of her parents, to go to France to a school for fine sewing, and the
opportunity to learn the French language. Proficiency in foreign languages
was a necessity for getting work in the hotel field which was the ambition
of many young people. Caroline stayed in France for two years, and was a
young lady when she returned home.
Before she left France, she ordered a Singer sewing machine, which was
imported from New York. She often told how her brother Edward gave her
some of his savings to make this purchase. This little machine was a joy
and a help all through her life. Upon getting home she found herself
sewing for all her family and neighbors, but her greatest pleasure was to
work in the fields with her brothers and sisters. Her family had always
enjoyed their Lutheran church affiliations, and church and Sunday school
were part of their busy days.
About this time the Mormon missionaries came and introduced the whole
family to a new religion, and Caroline was very interested, especially so
since the missionaries were attractive young men, near her own age.
However, before she had committed herself, the date on her contract for her
first job arrived, and she left home to take a job in a hotel in
Grindelwald. Pretty, vivacious and youthfully impressionable, she loved
the high mountains. She loved her work, and most of all, she fell in love
with Gottfried Feuz. It was a sudden romantic courtship, and they were
married in October and moved to Gsteigweiler into a small lean-to attached
to a larger house which hung to a steep cliff. Gsteigweiler was a
picturesque mountain village which just happened to be in a steep canyon.
Everyone in the village walked miles to even find a level spot to plant a
garden, and long steep stairs made the entrance to all the dwellings.
Gottfried kept on working at whatever jobs were available. Caroline took
in sewing and awaited the birth of their first child in April of 1906. The
young father was very disappointed when a girl was announced. His heart
had been set on a son, but he surprised and pleased his wife by naming the
baby Caroline, which was immediately shortened to Lena. Seventeen months
later another daughter, Emma, was born.
These early years of the Feuz marriage were difficult. The housing was
inadequate, Gottfried's work took him away from home for weeks at a time,
and hard as they both worked, they could barely keep alive. The young
mother was housebound with two small children, and often sewed all night
for neighbors for little or no pay. She missed her loving family who wrote
happy letters from Utah, describing their new home and their pleasant
associations in their new faith. The young couple talked and talked and
quarreled. One minute they were agreed to emigrating, then doubts would
take over. The final decision was heart-breaking in many ways. They both
loved their country, and were uncertain and fearful of such a momentus
change. Finally, they sold everything they owned. Tools and a few pieces
of shabby furniture. They quarreled again about selling the little sewing
machine. Then they crated it, put their clothes and featherbeds into
trunks, not forgetting the four precious linnen sheets that Caroline's
grandmother had woven for her, as she had woven for each grandaughter's
hope chest. Tickets were bought in part with money which brother Peter had
sent from America. Now the train trip through France and the embarking on
the Savey, a small French passenger ship. Before leaving their home, they
had discovered that yet another child was on its way, and that accounted
for the fact that Caroline was terribly sick all the way. Other passengers
cared for little Lena and Emma, who remember the journey as a great lark,
with new found friends peeling oranges and stuffing them. The taste of
oranges forever after bring shipboard memories. After seven days at sea,
Ellis Island and the shock that there was a real language barrier in spite
of the English learned in Swiss schools. Now a whole week on the train,
made miserable by a lack of money, so the only food was sandwiches and
milk, bought at lunchonettes. This was all forgotten when they arrived in
Salt Lake and were met by the Durtschis, and a joyous reunion with parents
and younger brothers; it was like coming home.
Gottfried immediately found work with his brother-in-law, Rudolph Kaufman,
building a power plant near Heber. Caroline was so happy to be with loved
ones, the children enjoyed a beautiful summer. September 24th, the long
wished for son, Emil, was born. The Feuz's now really needed a home of
their own. Edward and Alfred were starting farms in Idaho, and wrote
telling of work and opportunities for aquiring land. So again, everything
was packed, somehow a team and wagon materialized, and the Feuz's were on
the move again. In Driggs, they found a very small cabin near Alfred's
farm where they settled, happy to have their own place, modest as it was.
Now Fred was working several months away from home on a distant sheep
ranch, walking miles every saturday night to spend a few hours with his
family, and leaving early Sunday afternoon to go back to the sheep camp.
Spring and summer, Caroline worked hard at planting and growing a vegetable
garden large enough to feed the family all year. Lena and Emma helped herd
the Uncle's cows. In the autumn the mother and her children picked up
potatoes and gleaned grain on the Durtschi farms. The brothers, Alfred and
Edward gave us enough grain and produce to feed our few hens and
Winter found the whole family busy carrying wood to keep warm. There are
happy memories of long narrow boards softening in the stove resevoir for
weeks on end, of these Father fashioned the first of many such pairs of
skis for his chldren. At three, little Emil took off on a trial run across
a snow covered field only to fall off the slats and his proud father had to
wade out through deep snow to rescue him again and again.
In the fall of 1910 Fred had gone hunting in Jackson Hole. He was very
impressed with the endless herds of Elk and wildlife of all kinds. He not
only brought home enough meat to last the family all winter, but also a
determination to homestead. As soon as possible, he went back to strike a
claim on a piece of land. The children loved to hear him tell of that
beautiful valley, how like Switzerland the mountains. Now he hiked for
miles, until, looking back the view was so overwhelming he decided on the
spot. Years later we wondered if he hadn't stumbled on those Spread Creek
rocks which forever after surfaced with every plowing. Going back to the
days in the little cabin above Driggs, Walt was born June 12, 1911, and by
the end of another year, we were ready to move to the Wyoming homestead
where Father had built a log cabin to receive us.
Again, there was sadness in leaving a home, Alfred's and Edward's families
the Kaufman's, though everyone was too busy for much visiting, yet the
children loved getting together and for Caroline. It meant leaving family
she knew she would miss very much.
Late August of 1912, the team was again hitched up, the trunks packed, the
little Singer hoisted onto the wagon with all the family. Pete rode a pony
and drove the cattle, three milk cows, two heifers, and two calves. The
trip should have been recorded on film. The children loved camping up
along Teton Creek, sometimes little Lena was allowed to ride the pony and
drive cattle. Emil spoiled the first evening by squatting on a step ant
pile and being painfully bitten. It was a bad trip for him, the second day
he begged to ride on the high driver's seat with his father, and as the
wagon lurched into a deep ditch, he tumbled down in front of the wheels,
only a well-trained team, which responded instantly to his father's frantic
tug on the reins saved his life.
The road ran west of the Snake River and crossed the dam at Moran. The
last night out, we camped near there, and were frightened by a terrific
thunder storm, which scattered the spooked horses, and it took Father and
Pete one whole day to find them.
The day was bright as we drove through golden Aspen for a first look at the
new home. To the children it was wildy exciting, a small unfinished log
cabin sitting in tall sage brush. To the mother, who knows what thoughts
she had. I do remember coming from the bright outdoors into the small dark
room, finding Mother tacking up a false ceiling of cheesecloth to the beams
to keep the dirt of the roof from sifting into the room, and in answer to
my questions about his, Mother laid down the hammer and burst into tears.
That was the only time I ever saw her weep.
No time was wasted, both parents worked from dawn to dark building a
shelter for the cows, a small log chicken coop and corrals. Spending hours
grubbing sagebrush for next spring's planting of garden and field.
On September 27th, we woke up to find a new baby, Albert, had arrived while
we slept. Father left the second morning to drive the team to Victor to
get winter supplies, and most needed windows for the cabin. He had put off
making this trip, waiting for the baby and now it was high time, winter was
upon us in the shape of eight inches of new snow and I remember Mother's
tracks out toward the corral where she was milking the cows, while I had
been told to watch the children, new baby and all, and above all to keep
stuffing wood into the kitchen range. How surprised Father was when he
came home and found that the little stove had consumed over half the wood
he had cut for the winter, heating the windowless cabin.
Mornings we would wake up to sounds of Mother's cooking breakfast and the
two parents planning the day's work. Making plans which were often
frustrated by lack of enough energy and too few tools.
It was work, work, work and each child was given a job according to his age
and ability. Mother was a wonderful, patient teacher, taking time to
carefully point out the easiest way and making us feel it was a privilege
to be allowed to help with all the necessary work. Father spent much time
away from home, earning cash at any available job, cash badly needed to buy
machinery, seeds and supplies. He usually hired his team along with
himself. Here is a good time to praise the hard working horses which
helped build up the place, mismatched, unmatched teams, gentle and loved by
the children, they were part of our lives.
Mother grew vegetables against such odds as late frosts, which often ruined
the whole planting, and had to be replanted. What fun, the seed catalogs
in the winter, and we always had good variety. Some nights the deer would
come and eat and purcupines would rustle through the new peas, doing no
harm, but by the time the dog chased them out, the pea patch as well as the
dogs nose was spoiled.
Mother was an emaginative cook, her stews and soups were delicious. We
baked our own bread from wheat we ground ourselves, always there was milk
and cream. Butter and cheese-making were part of our daily chores. The
chickens took much time, Mother managed a surplus of eggs which were sold.
It was Mother's egg money that provided many necessities.
There was always plenty of meat, father enjoyed hunting. There were sage
hens, rabbits and if the supply ran out and hunting season was over, father
would say lightning is sure to strike an elk or a moose and he would take
the pack horse and come home with meat.
Early in June of 1912, Father put Lena back of himself on his gentle saddle
horse, and after riding four miles, enrolled her in school. Because of the
rigorous winters, and lack of good roads, school was only a summer term.
The second morning, Lena hiked the distance alone to the little Wolff
school house. Each term another sibling joined her and soon there were
several of us hiking and enjoying school.
Both parents were eager that we learn the English language and every
evening we went over our lessons with one or the other and they improved
their own speech that way. Father served on the school board for many
years. When school became a nine month session, and there were several of
us attending, we often drove a team. This was great fun in the winter with
the wagon box filled with straw, rocks heated in the oven at our feet. The
temperature sometimes going to 40 degrees below. Still later we skied to
school when roads were impassable because of storms. How pleasant to get
home evenings, to find a bowl of Mother's soup to appease our hunger before
we started our chores.
After that first winter, Dad and Peter built on a room and a half. Dad
built all our furniture of pine boards and with the windows full of
mother's always blooming geraniums,who needed interior decoration.
The family grew. Ann was born June of 1914. Trudi surprised us in
September of 1916 when Father, who had always served as mid-wife was away,
on some job and Lena and a very frightened neighbor lady welcomed this
petite newcomer. Martha was born in September of 1919, Edward in 1923, and
as a final surprise, Hilda welcomed the New Year in 1925.
Statistics only, that do not tell of the uniqueness of each new
personality, of the joy and pleasure as well as the added responsibility
each one brought to the family. The parents taught compassion and
tolerance to each child in their turn and nurtured a devotion between these
siblings which enriched their whole lives. All were blessed with an
abundance of health.
As each child grew, they started working the fields. Each year more land
was cleared and the rock sled was dragged and filled again and again.
Mother talked Dad into planting alfalfa, the expensive seed was purchased
and crops paid off in greater yield. Besides our own hay land, we
harvested several wild meadows and sometimes leased other fields.
The few cows produced well, a few calves were bought here and there until
there was a sizable herd.
In the winter Dad often took a blanket and perched on the hay stacks to
scare away the elk which came in droves to pirate the hay. All summer
Mother irigated way into the night. I can see her yet, with skirt tucked
up around her waist, high rubber boots, often mismatched, mended ones, a
mosquito net on her head, shovel in hand, coming in way after dark, when
the whole family was sound asleep.
Winter nights, Mother sewed not only for her brood, but the little Singer
was still sewing for neighbors for a bit of cash. Mother would let Lena
stay up and read out loud. We read our way through the Bible then through
the New Testament twice and the Book of Mormon again and again.
Teacing her daughters to sew too, once she drew a carnation on a remnant
(all that remained of grandmother Hildebrand's weaving) and Lena learned
her embroidery stiches and then was hurt and shocked to see this sampler
used as a patch on her father's long-john knees. Nothing was ever wasted.
Holidays are remembered, work planned so that Sunday was a day of rest and
time for Bible stories and soups. At times there was Sunday School to
attend, long trips on horseback, a great pleasure and a getting together
Easter, a joy after the long hard winters, was usually shared with
neighbors; children running happily over the ground still damp from recent
snow, but with flowers appearing and a promise of warm sunny days.
Christmas, so special, no matter how little money, there were surprises.
Caps and mittens, even sweaters that Mother had knitted secretly after we
slept. Sugar carmelized and broken up for candy, candles on a tree, the
lamp extinguished and we all sang. Mother re-told the Christ story and
Father played the accordian. No, we did not know we were poor.
Time passed. First Lena then Emma finished the eighth grade, decisions
were made, education was all important, heart-breaking goodbyes were said,
one after another Lena, Emma and Ann were sent to Ashton where they worked
for their room and board and finished four years of high school.
When Trudi and Martha were ready for this step, Jackson schools were
finally accredited and the girls could come home weekends. Both Father and
Mother gladly made sacrifices that made this schooling possible.
For the boys it was much harder, they were so needed on the ranch, that
formal education pretty well ended at the eight grade. In the fall, Father
would guide hunters and hire out the saddle and pack horses, and as the
boys grew up, they helped with this.
At this time it was decided to build some cabins to add to the ranch income
by rentals to hunters and some summer tourists. This made even more work
for Mother, but she was eager for ready cash which would help to educate
the children. A larger house had been built just previously, much more
comfortable but Mother's Geraniums were still the main decor. Lena married
in June of 1924, one by one her sisters were invited to come to Washington
where each one completed their schooling and they went on to productive
In 1928 great change came over the valley. There were rumors of park
extension, neighbors sold out to a company which was secretly buying up
ranches. It was very disquieting, there was no future, no certainty as to
what to plan for. There were offers to buy the ranch, but these did not
interest either of the Feuzs'. They loved their land, it was their home.
There were the years that first Emil and then Walt invested in ranches on
the Buffalo, and branched out for themselves. Albert, too worked away from
home more and more, until he married and established his own home.
Soon only Ed was at home, and even though all the sons helped when they
could, Mother and Father worked harder than ever.
More changes, Emil and then Walt were married and built homes for
themselves, the daughters, too, married one after another. From this came
one of the greatest happiness's of the Feuz family. Grandchildren. There
was just never a time when one or more of these wern't visiting. All of
them today remember grandparents for their patience and good humor, and the
old ranch as a very special haven.
In the late forties Father's health failed, he had one heart attack which
taxed his strength.
Now the valley had changed entirely and 1942, President Roosevelt signed
the papers accepting the land which had been bought up by the Jackson Hole
Preserve Co., and making it a national monument which later became Teton
The Feuzs' still refused to sell until finally they were given a choice
either their property would be consfiscated or they could trade for land on
the edge of the Park bordering Walt's ranch. This offer they accepted.
The Park Service eventually had all buildings and fencces removed from this
property and today, except for a border of willows growing along forgotten
irrigation ditches, the land looks just as it did when Fred first saw it.
After the painful decision to give up the place Father put his affairs in
order. Ed took over the property that had been traded for and it later
became his ranch.
Father had a final heart attack in August of 1951, and is buried in the
Jackson cemetary, far from the land of his birth, but at home under his
beloved Quaking Aspen. His love of nature and philosophy of life sustained
him to the end.
Now Mother was left alone to make arrangements for the move to the new home
up on the Buffalo River. Before these were finalized, her brother Alfred
and an old friend, Conrad Gertsch, who years ago was the missionary who
converted her to Mormonism, (even though she did not fomally join the
church) came to visit her. Conrad had married her cousin years before,
raised a family and then been widowed.
The old spark was relit, in a short time they decided to be married.
Mother was baptized in the L.D.S. religion and they were married in the
temple in Idaho falls.
Mother was so eager to embrace her new life that she left the now deserted
old Feuz ranch without even taking the little Singer sewing machine.
At one time or another all of her children visited her and her new husband.
They were amazed at how happy she was with Conrad, which after all, wasn't
that amazing when you remembered how adaptable she had always been, how she
always met every situation with a happy sense of humor and how she had
longed for years to be part of the Mormon religion. She enjoyed ten years
of this life, so different from the busy hard years on the Wyoming ranch.
Conrad's children made her so welcome, many of the Durtschi family lived
close by, she had time to enjoy this, plus the kinder climate of Utah.
These were her happiest tears. She passed away in peace in September of
1963, and is buried in a beautiful cemetary above Heber.
So today, we pay tribute to our parents, tribute to their labors, tribute
to their integrity. In the continuity of life we hope we do honor to
Looking at the descendants of Caroline Durtschi and Fred Feuz, children,
grand children and great grandchildren, we see many of their physical
characteristics. We find the self reliance, the creativeness, the same
devotion to each other and their fellow creatures. Yes, Caroline and Fred,
you have been blessed indeed in this land of your adoption, which you both
loved so sincerely.
Pleasant visits with each of my brothers and sisters have helped the flow
of memory from which I have tried to create the chronicle of these few
years and if like the sundial, we have recorded only sunny hours, that,
too, is a Feuz trait.
This history was prepared
by Caroline Oliver and
presented by her at the
family reunion in July,