THE LIFE STORY|
EDWARD DURTSCHI, Jr.
Written and copyright by LaVerne Darrington, the youngest daughter.
Born 3 December 1880 at Wimmis, Bern, Switzerland
Eyes blue, Hair black
migrated to America in 1903
Ordained an Elder December 9, 1907 by Jacob Probst
Endowed January 22, 1908
Patriarchal Blessing by Thomas Hickens 18 April 1909
Married to Elizabeth Muetzenberg 8 April 1909 by J. R. Winder in the Salt
Lake L.D.S. Temple
Edward was the eldest son, the third child, of Edward Durtschi and
Rosina Katharina Hiltbrand. Her ancestry, reportedly, runs back to Pope
Gregory VII. Father's mother had always been a very religious woman and
wanted her family raised as she had been - to spend Sunday afternoons
reading scripture - the Bible. Each child was expected to take his turn
reading aloud. As a result, my Father and his brothers and sisters had an
exellent back ground. So when Mormonism was presented to them, they more
readily accepted it. However, the youngsters in this family were
red-blooded Swiss, typically sports-minded. Especially on winter days when
the coasting was good on a nearby hill, it took real concentration to stick
with Bible reading. In time, Grandmother would relent and allow them some
In Switzerland there were nine years in the public schools. Usually
only the children of the well-to-do would go further. After Father
graduated, he took the compulsory military training. Upon completion each
man was required to keep his rifle and other equipment in readiness, that
at all times Switzerland could be defended. Once Father won a six-shooter
at a lottery where lots of chances were sold. This he prized very much.
He was a real marksman. He could shoot crows handily and that admittedly
is a real feet.
For a time he worked on the dam project that was to produce
electricity for the fist electric train in Switzerland. The coal source,
to power the trains, was from France, yet there was always the concern that
in case of war this might be cut off. Here the achievements of Swiss
engineers were incredible. To solve the problem of the water lines
freezing during the winter months, powering the generators, they tunneled
thru a mountain to lay the water line. To this day every train in
Switzerland is run with electricity.
Aunt Rosa married Rudolph Kaufman and they both worked at a resort up
in the higher mountains. Uncle Rud drove a fine chariot for the tourists.
The resort business slowed down abruptly and they lost their jobs so they
came home and worked there. My father felt that now he could be relieved
of home responsibility and urged his Mother to persuade his Father to let
him go to France. It was agreed and he went by train. Aunt Caroline was
already there and helped him find work. He stayed for about two years and
learned to make cheese. While there he sent his father a gift, a barrel of
pure grape juice. Grandfather did enjoy the little sips he'd allow himself
while he worked in the hay. Father came home from France on a bicycle, a
new pompadour style hair cut, which really made the neighbors take notice.
Father was a tall, well-built man, full of vim and vigor. He wasn't
afraid to tackle any job however difficult. It was the custom for families
to hire the neighborhood butcher to come to the home to kill their pigs.
While in France Father had also learned the butchering skill. This
particular day the town butcher had come to kill a pig for the Durtschi
family. The animal was large and the butcher was afraid of it. Seeing his
hesitation, Father grabbed the axe and with one mighty blow he lowered the
animal. Grandfather would often relate this incident with some pride.
The Durtschi family could be trusted. The reputation was that their
word was as good as their bond. And Father's was no exception. Too, when
he had employment away from home he would send his wages to his father.
In the Durtschi family each child had it's particular work to do.
Grandfather did a great deal of timbering, sawing and chopping wood to sell
to the townspeople, so it was the children at home who did the farm work.
They learned early in life that work is a blessing.
Father's parents were devout members of the Lutheran Church. The
first Mormon Missionary came to their home in the sumer of 1900 - Elder Sam
Schwendiman of Newdale, Idaho. He left some tracts, but Great Grandmother,
living with the family, let him know that they had no need for his
religion, that they had all they needed to be saved. The resistence was
partially due to the unfortunate reputation the Mormons had in the
community. But the tracts the Elder left were read.
Then again about the first of November 1902, two Mormon Elders visited
the home, Alma Burgener and Conrad Gertsch of Midway, Utah. They were
invited in but the doctrine, as they explained it, was beyond
comprehending. That they were giving their time and paying their own way
did impress Grndfather and he remarked: "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 that
invitation and came often. After the release of these two missionaries,
Grandmother 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."
In 1903 Father left with several adventurous young men from their
community for America. While on the ship, Father contracted pneumonia and
when they got to Chicago, he was put in a hospital. The other fellows went
on to Wisconsin where they worked that summer. Later several operated a
cheese factory there, but Father spent most of the summer hospitalized. A
family by the name of Nightingale took an interest in him and would relay
imformation to his family in Switzerland. They received the news with
sorrow, actually picturing him already in the grave. They all wept. He
gradually recovered but he had to have his parents send money for the
hospital bill. Later he repaid them.
Coincidentally or miraculously, Grandfather was then able to give the
money to Aunt Clara at a time when she wanted so much to come to Zion.
After his recovery, Father was given a job as a dishwasher in the Lake
Michigan Hotel where Mr. Nightingale was the Chief Chef. He worked himself
up to Cook. (The family still has his Chef's cap and apron).
In November of 1904, two new Elders, David Hirschi of Salem and Conrad
Wever of Salt Lake City, called on the family in Switzerland. This time
they seriously studied Mormonism. On August 20, 1905, Uncle Alfred and
Aunts Eliza, Emma and Uncle Fred and six other converts were baptized.
Shortly after this, a man wanted to buy the Durtschi farm. As Uncle Alfred
wrote: "The Spirit of gathering with the Saints already possessed us. We
sold out and left Switzerland on September 30, 1905, arriving in New York
October 12, 1905, and in Midway, Utah on October 17th. About the 10th 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 bult a barn for our animals." Unquote.
We quote from Aunt Clara's history: "My Father wrote to my brother in
Chicago and told him to go to Utah to find out if I was in slavery of if I
was permitted to live with my husband and was free to do as I pleased. So
I had an unexpected visit from Ed. He was very happy to find everything in
order. All the Swiss people in Midway had a big party for him and he was
pleased with what he found. He wrote a nice letter home to Father and told
him to come to Utah." Unquote.
The Durtschi family did come to America in 1905 and settled in Midway
where Father's sister, Clara, was married to the former, Elder John
Burgener. Then the following spring of 1906, my Father moved to Utah from
Chicago. He was imployed at the Steam Boat Mine at Snake Creek Canyon by
Jessie Knight. Uncle John Durtschi tells of accompanying him on some of
the trips to the mine with freight. Uncle John would put blocks behind the
wagon wheels so the horses could rest.
Now the Durtschi's were in Utah. Mother employed in Salt Lake.
Grandfather, at one point, let my Father and Uncle Alfred know that Mother
was a very nice girl and he wanted one of them to marry her. Father had
been going with Julius Gertsch's sister, Julia. They'd had a disagreement
and she had written Father a letter asking his forgiveness. However, the
letter blew out of the mail box into the snow and wasn't found until
spring. Meanwhile, Father had started seeing my mother and they were
married April 8, 1909.
Quoting Uncle Alfred again: "Edward married Elizabeth in the Salt Lake
Temple at April Confernce 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 earlier
Mormon Missionaries, Elders Alma Burgener and Conrad Gertsch. She joined
the Church very much against the wishes of her widowed Mother. Elizabeth
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, which she would not give. She didn't want to
cause her mother any more sorrow so she asked my father to go to see if he
could get her consent. She did give permission to him 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." 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." Unquote - and "thank you", Uncle
Quoted from her own history: "...on the 8th of that month I was
married to Edward Durtschi, whom I met in Chicago on my way west, and who
had emigrated to America from Wimmis, Switzerland, about two years before
this. About six months after we arrived in Salt Lake City, he left Chicago
and moved to Utah to join his father's family in Midway."
As Uncle Alfred put it, in his history, "We liked Utah, but the time
had come when we felt that we were reaping where we had not sown. Our
younger brothers were big enough now to help Father run the Midway farm so
Edward and I came to the conclusion that it was our duty to do our share
toward 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 help build new church houses. To do this there were two opportunities,
the Unita Reservation in Utah or the Teton Basin in Idaho. We went to look
over both areas. We felt that we wanted to make Swiss Cheese so we needed
a cattle country. The Unita 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, but we
finally chose Teton Basen. It seemed to remind us so much of Switzerland."
Three weeks after Father and Mother were married, April 26, 1909, they
and Uncle Alfred left Midway for Teton Basin. Uncle John went to help them
over Coleville mountain with extra horses. They couldn't make it so had to
return and start out again by way of Provo and Salt Lake. They had 3
horses and all their possissions in a covered wagon. Before they left
Midway, Mother had made a large lard can (50 lbs) full of doughnuts which
lasted during the two weeks that it took to make the trip. It was surely a
treat for the travelers!
Uncle Alfred became acquainted with Samuel Kunz in the fall of 1908,
at the David Hirschi home in Salem. Sam helped them now to get a place to
rent in the Valley over on the west side in the Bates area. Quoting Uncle
Alfred again, "The farm had a log cabin and a horse barn on it. There was
no machinery 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,
then 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." Unquote.
It was Father wo took off for Driggs after leaving instructions for
Mother to fill that can with doughnuts again, for the trip back to Utah.
In Driggs he told the owner of the Bates land that he could have the oats
that were planted, that they were leaving the country. Mr. Winger, the
Real Estate man, told father that he wanted to show them another place East
of Driggs. It was known as the "Beckstead" place. This did not look very
good to him. There was just a small, low house and no barn. Now the real
estater got excited and urged Father to come with him to see still another
place he'd had for sale for $6,000 for the past year - 160 acres. There
was some meadow hay on it that they could stack and they could live on it
for a year and generally improve it so it could be sold by the next year.
This was the "George Eddington" place. It had a better house so they were
agreeable to move onto it. Mr. Winger told them that if they wanted to
buy, they could have it for $4,000. Then he went to Boise for 10 days and
every day he was gone they worked and became more interested in it. The
weather had cleared and when they arrived from Bates at "the home place"
the birds were singing in the grove of trees and they were satisfied to
call this home. It was a "thick" grove because it wasn't until a weel
later that they found they had close neighbors!
Quoting Uncle Alfred again: "As we started farming there, we could
hardly wait until we could buy, for this surely was the place we wanted.
this was the place where we wanted to stay the rest of our lives. There
were only 25 acres under cultivation, so here was where we could make the
desert blossom. We were able to buy the place on the 11th day of June,
1909, for the sum of $4,000. $500 down and $500 a year and we took over
the $1,600 mortgage." Unquote.
Uncle Alfred and Father spent the Winters timberng in Spring Creek
Canyon where they brought the logs to the Eli and Ern Hill saw mill. They
used this lumber to build their barns and other buildings. One day as
Father arrived home from the timbering project with his mustache solid with
icicles, he went to the ol' wash stand, and without a word, shaved it off.
It took some getting used to, seeing him without it.
These were difficult days, but they were jovial throughout and enjoyed
many hapy times together. It was a standing joke with Uncle Alfred and
Father that Mother did not like "Swiss Cheese" and they tried in every way
to camouflage it in order to get her to eat it, but they never succeeded.
Yet Mother helpped them make it in the shed just east of the old granery.
It would then be stored in the little cellar by the house, where many a
sample went out.
Uncle Alfred and Father worked the farm together for six years. One
morning they came into breakfast with the pronouncement that they had
divided the land. "How will you ever divide the animals," Mother asked?
"We already have them divided," they laughed. They went on to divide the
machinery and everything else in the same spirit. It was time that Uncle
Alfred get his own property, build a house and get married. He was fond of
a girl in Salt lake with a beautiful Alto voice, Ida Aeschbacher. On
October 17, 1915, they were married and Aunt Ida was a real pioneer, a
lovely, sweet woman, whom we loved all her days.
Uncle Rudolph and Aunt Rosa took up a homestead about 1 1/2 miles east
of our home place. Later they became interested in buying a farm further
north in Pratt Ward, so my parents took over the notorious "Gook-er-Hoora"
which we were told meant a vantage point from which one could over-look the
area below. Literally, one could look out over the valley. Uncle Rud was
a handy man and left the work of his hands everywhere in evidence, such as
the water wheels he'd built into the creek, that were always so
Father later bought 40 acres of land which joined our place on the
west from Ern Hill. This was not paid for when Father died in 1922.
Mother often told how the Lord blessed us as a family so that we could pay
our debts. A good wheat crop one fall finished paying the mortgage on that
In february 1917, Uncle Rud Kaufman became very ill with appendicitis.
He had to be rushed to Salt Lake doctors so Uncle Alfred and Father took
him by team and sleigh to Drummond, because the valley train was snowed
out. Uncle Alfred went on with him. The doctors gave them little hope for
his recogery. But after he was hospitalized a month he was able to go to
Aunt Elise Gertsch's. When he finally returned home July 1st, Frank
Richards met him with his new car. While he had been gone, a baby girl had
arrived, Lena on March 19, 1917.
Our family became ill with the "flu" in March 1922 and Father cared
for us all and did the chores. One night he called the Elders, Uncle
Alfred and Charles Christensen to admisister to us. When they were
through, Mother turned to them and asked them to please administer to
Father. He looked so tired and sick. It was only a day later that he had
to give in and go to bed. He had cared too long for the family, we found
out to our sorrow, and he grew worse. There was no help to be found
because so many people were ill. Finally we were able to get a nurse from
Felt, but she didn't show much interest, so Uncle John Burgener, seeing our
plight, came in, took wonderful care of us all, besides doing the chores.
The regret that Mother always had was that there was no hospital at the
time where Father might have been taken for better care. She wondered if
his life could have been spared. granted, his lungs may still have been
weak from that long sickness in Chicago years before.
When his condition worsened, despite a bad blizzard, Charles
Christenesen drove a team and sleigh to Driggs and brought Amacy W. Clark,
a notary public, back to have the necessary papers drawn up to turn the
title of the lands to Mother. To this day, we remember this generous act,
because it meant the difference between Mother losing the farms or being
able to hold on.
Ronald W. Brown, a valley old timer, still recalls that he was always
so impressed with Edward Durtschi. He was a handsome fellow, yet so
friendly. Ronald says he was at a dance in the other end of the valley
when he was told about Father's passing. So he got on his horse and rode
to Spring Creek to call on our family. In those days bodies were not
embalmed, so Roland and another fellow volunteered for the night vigil to
watch the body and change the formaldehyde cloth at intervals. He
remembers how they nearly froze because the windows had to be kept open.
Also how Bishop James Rigby stood there and read through the handbook on
dressing the dead in temple clothing. Roland was asked to be a pall
bearer. When there was a death in the ward, it was Fred Morgan who would
get lumber and work until the casket was finished. The Relief Society
provided the lining. Then he tells how they took a pair of harness reins
with which to lower the casket into the grave.
May 8, 1979, Flora's daughter, Renee Harris, and I were at the
Genealogy Archives in Salt Lake and finally recognized Ina Harris Day. Her
parents, Oscar and Rebecca Harris, were such genuine friends of the
Durtschis and Kaufmans in the Pratt Ward area. Ina agreed to write some of
her recollections. Here are some excerpts: "True, I've seen your dear
mother after we moved away, but not your father, for he died not long after
we left the valley. My father always referred to the Durtschi men as
"princes of fellows." Dad had had a little German in school. With this
and the little English the Durtschi families knew, they got along well.
There were times when some in the community were prone to look down on the
Durtschis because they were foreigners. We were taught to love all men,
especially those others abused."
"One day my father returned home from helping the men of the area
build a ditch to bring water to the land. He was so impressed with the
determination and ingenuity of the Durtschi brothers - Ed and Alfred. I
think John came later. As they pulled trees and made a stream bed, they
came to a huge rock. All the men together could not move it. The
Durtschi's tried to explain how it could be done, but were not understood.
All went home intending to bring more horses the next day. But to their
suprise the rock was already moved. Ed and Alfred had gone back, brought
boards and poles and built a box or frame around the boulder so that they
had something to hold to. This way the two moved it alone."
"Your parents had given up much for the gospel and they had great
faith in the leaders of the Church. They never asked, "Why", but always
did as they were asked even if it meant great sacrifice. We loved to visit
the Durtschis - usually Ed's. I well remember being made so welcome - even
when we'd stay over night - and there certainly wasn't room for our whole
family with your whole family in those two rooms. I really don't know why
we would stay over night unless the folks just got to visiting and it got
too late to start home with a team of horses."
"Naturally, I remember your father, but not as well as I do your
mother - for the men usually were outside visiting and doing chores. Your
father was such a kind man - so considerate of your mother. He treated
each of the children as if they were important. I suppose you know that he
delivered his wife's children at birth. We thought that was very special.
The one, Arthur, was delivered by someone else and at six weeks he became
ill. Your mother always felt that the steam baths, over the hot stove, as
was done, had something to do with his death." Unquote.
We certainly should point out that in a few short years (Father was
gone by 1922) that the Durtschis -- Ed and Alfred and John -- had, as
monuments to their MUSCLE - BRAWN and BRAIN -- each his own large barn all
completed. Uncle Fred figured into all this even though he didn't get a
barn, but we hope he knew his skills were appreciated. As we look back
now, we doubt that Mother and her little crew would have survived, had it
not been for the protection and convenience of the mighty structure that
was ours. Their priorities they had straight -- what was the oft-quoted
adage of those days--
"A barn will get you a house
A house won't get you a barn".
Father passed away March 16, 1922. Although I was just 3 1/2 years
old, I can remember him. He used to stoop down and encourage me to come to him, when I was learning to walk. He would take me out on the horse-drawn
sleigh while he fed the cattle. It was a joy to be with him. When he was
very sick he would motion for me to come and sit on the bed beside him. I
felt there was something wrong so I would sit just as still as I could. He
would talk to me.
The years following father's passing were difficult for Mother. But
neighbors, friends and relatives stood by. Fred Duersch and his family
lived up in the Canyon. His wife, Lena, was a sister to Aunt Ida. Fred
was good enough to work on our ranch - doing the "manual" our fragile
mother and we youngsters couldn't handle. Fred Weston came to take over -
and he later married Hilda.
What would Mother have done without Uncle Alfred and Uncle John to
lean on for advice and help - and Uncle Fred who showed up periodically to
carpenter or farm - the Kaufmans - the Burgeners - and the Feuz family in
Jackson! Then Aunt Eliza's family in Slat Lake and Aunt Emma's in Midway
tried to keep-in-touch.
Mother was a woman of faith - her prayers were truly answered as she
would face the problems before her. Many times, after taking a certain
course of action that she felt she was guided into, time proved that the
decision was a wise one - and things did turn out well. In the end, she
really had reached the goals she had set for herself -- to get a
substantial amount of genealogy gathered - get each of the children into a
profession that would give them a livelihood- and she supported three of
the five on missions.
As someone has put it: "How do you express all the joys, sadness,
enthusiasms and dreams of a lifetime in words?"
Think of the history that
has been made - since the days when the Durtschis were moved upon to accept
Mormonism - leave their Homeland - and accept the challenges of the new
life! Might we say, of the projeny, there hasn't been much faltering -
most have followed in the steps of their forebearers - living the Gospel -
foming a bulwark of good citizens of a land - that, as Pres. Ezra Taft
Benson, recently stated, is the Lord's base of operations in these latter
days. So, if we are to justify their sacrifices, then we will honor them
by accepting the challenges of our day. Must we be reminded that each one
of us, here today, could very well be a citizen of a land not so blessed as
Six children were born to our parents:
Bertha Margaret - Born January 28, 1910 - mostly resided in Pocatello,
Idaho - with husband Knowlin R. Hansen - 3 children -- Grand.
Flora Emma - Born August 9, 1911 - during marriage resided in Idaho Falls,
Idaho - with husband Joseph B. Waters. Flora passed away June 7, 1945 and
Joe on November 23, 1946. Their 3 children, two girls and a boy, were
raised by Veda and Sherman Howard. There are 3 children - 13 grand - and 1
Hilda Clara - Born January 22, 1913 - resided at Driggs, Idaho, with her
husband Fred B. Weston, until the accident that took their lives August 10, 1977 - 5 children - 11 grand.
Armin Henry - Born February 28, 1915 - mostly residing in Idaho falls,
Idaho - with wife Glora Dean Lowder - 7 children - 29 grand.
Arthur Edward - Born November 23, 1916 - Passed away December 12, 1916
Rosie LaVerne - Born October 15, 1918 - resided at Driggs, Idaho - with
Husband Weldon D. Sorenson, who was killed in active duty on Okinawa. They
had one son, Royce and he and his wife Diann Marie Waller have two
Since LaVerne's marriage to Wm. Darrington, they have resided at Declo,
Idaho - 3 children - 3 grand.
Look at the portrait of Grandfather and Grandmother Durtschi's family -
such handsome children - the girls especially striking. Our parents were a
good - looking pair. Who would argue the point - our grandcholdren took
after them moreso!
Written by LaVerne Darrington
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