Written and Copyright by John Durtschi
Scribe and Typist: Josephine Durtschi
My Father came from a place which was called Faulensee which was near a lake. My mother lived on the other side of the lake. My mother was the only daughter in her family. Her Father had considerable land and was farming for a living. My mother had four brothers who were not very much interested in the farm. Three of her brothers immigrated to America and went to Colorado, where they became farmers. One brother stayed and received part of his father's land and made his living farming in Switzerland. He was our neighbor.
While Father was courting Mother, her father could see that Father would be a good farmer and would be a good man to run the place. After they got married he sold the place to Father, and Father had to pay a certain amount to Mother's brothers. Father then had considerable land to farm. He also had quite a number of livestock, and selling cattle he raised on the farm helped to pay the debts.
I was born on the farm, the youngest of eleven children, two of whom died in infancy. I will remember at mealtime that there would be eleven people surrounding the table - nine children and two parents.
We had a wonderful home. My parents were wonderful people. I don't ever remember having any discord in the home. My Father and mother would support each other and we could never get suympathy from one if we were punished for wrong doing by the other. We would sometimes try to go to mother and get her sympathy, and she would say: "Well, Father wants you to be a good man: so he is correcting you because he wants you to know what is right." We never would even dare think of saying anything but kind words to Mother because our Father wouldn't stand for it.
The living for the family was provided from the farm, which all that were old enough helped to work. To help out with the income for this large family, Father also hauled and sold firewood to the nearby towns and cities. On his return trips he would bring bread and other food needed for the family that was not raised on the farm. There was no oven in the cookstoves used, and the women were not able to bake bread. Father was a good provider. Mother was a good cook, and took care of the family in an efficient way. She was a good housekeeper, and that was the extent of her duties; she was not required to work outside the home. As a child I would often ask Mother to tell me a story, and usually it was a story from the Bible. She knew the Bible almost by memory. While very young, I had a love for the Savior because she would very often tell me a story from his life. She sometimes used to tell us things that she considered made an ideal home. One of these things was music, and she would say it was wonderful if the mother could play the organ or the piano. Father supplied the need for music in our home. He could play the accordian, and many an evening we enjoyed sitting on the porch around Father while he played for us.
When I was old enough to go to the field with Father, he would plant grain, broadcasting it with his hands. Whenever he finished planting a patch of grain, he would take off his hat and ask that the Lord would protect it, and bless it that he might be able to harvest a crop. Before his death he said that he had planted and harvested crops for some fifty-five years, and had never lost a crop.
The vicinity in which I was born was near a high mountain called Niessen. This was a high mountain, so high that in the wintertinme the sun would shine for only a short time each day. It was beautiful in the summertime. The mountain was all green. There were pastures for cattle to graze on. These pastures were fenced in because it was like a field with good rich feed on those slopes. Father owned a part of the mountain to pasture his cattle on.
When I was about eight years old, Father hired a man to take care of the cattle on the property. This man wanted some help, so I had the chance to go and work there in the summertime. At three o'clock in the morning he would wake me up, I would roll off of my bunk bed, get dressed, and walk up on the Upper Alp as we called it, where the dry cattle were. I would turn them out of the barn, and herd them until the flies got bad about nine o'clock. They were filled up by then; so I would put them back in the barn. We would sit there in the shade together and through his telescope watch the people down in the valley. I could even see where my own folks lived. I could see the family down below. If Father was home he would be working with the older children. They would be working in the hayfield getting hay ready to dry and put in the barn.
In hauling wood, Father had two horses in the earlier years. Later he used just one. He would haul wood that he had gotten out in the wintertime, sometimes with the help of the older brothers. He would get it ready in the winter,then in the summer he could haul it to the city on a wagon. He would haul it out of the mountain on sleighs. Talking to a friend here in the temple in Idaho Falls who came from our same town in Switzerland, he told me that he often watched my Father as he came with a load of wood on, with just one horse, to a place just in front of their house. The road was bare because the snow would go off earlier there. Lots of times he would see my Father when he got on that bare ground with the sleigh. The horse would have to stop before the load got clear across the bare ground and rest. Then it was awfully hard to start the load again. My Father was a big strong man, and, he said, Fahter would get hold of that sleigh and lift it and speak to the horse and the horse would pull. Between the two of them they would get the load off the bare ground.
We had plenty to eat and would always have a great time at mealtime because the family always ate together; we have never eaten one at a time. Father had a great ability to tell stories and interesting things he had experienced. We would be entertained listening to him at mealtime. We had a real enjoyable time. We experienced every day together at mealtime what most people think of now as family home evening. It was a real enjoyable time for all of us.
While we were working in the fields, we did much of the work by hand, raking the hay and then making shocks out of it and piling it in piles so if it rained it wouldn't spoil. It would cure in the shocks and piles, when it was good weather.
Wimmis, Switzerland, had a great deal of rainfall. We never stacked hay outside there. Everybody had barns providing shelter for the hay. We never saw a stack of hay outside as we do in this country.
I have to tell how we could put the hay in the barn. First we would pitch it on the wagons. When we had a load, we would go to the barn. We had sort of an incline built so we could drive up over this incline up into the top of the barn. When we got the load up in the top of the barn we could pitch it off until we had the barn full. We never had to pitch the hay up - just roll it off the wagon with pitchforks. Then somebody would stack it, spreading it around, tromping it down solid. We would have our barn full of hay enough to feed the cattle and horses for the winter.
We would cut our grain and put it in bundles. At that time there were no combines. Father would cut it with a scythe and tie it into bundles. Then we would take it into the barn, which also served as a thrashing floor. This thrashing floor was in the center of the barn where we pulled in with the wagons to unload our hay. It was a solid plank floor. When we were ready to thrash the grain, we would clean the floor off good, and then put the bundles on the floor. They had flails to thrash it. This was something like a ball bat we play baseball with, tied to the end of a handle with a leather strap so that they could swing it around. There would be four men threshing the grain out together. They would do it in a ryhthm-sort-of way so it was really interesting to listen to them. The flails would hammer the grain out. When they got it all hammered, they would stir it around so that it was all exposed to the blows as they came down. Then they would rake the straw off of the threshed grain, and sack up the remaining grain. They would put that through the fanning mill. Somebody would be turning the fan to blow the chaff off of the wheat. Then the wheat would be sacked up again as clean wheat.
We always had cows, so we always had our own milk and sold milk to the nearby town. Our income was from the sale of cattle and milk mostly, and some grain was sold in addition to the wood Father hauled.
In that country there was no irrigating done, although we had big streams of water coming down from the mountains. Where we lived, the land was flat enough to irrigate nicely, but we didn't know irrigation. We had a fairly long growing season in Switzerland. Although there were high mountains, the valleys were actually low, not so much above sea level. But as you would imagine, there were also higher valleys. Most were maby 3,000 feet above sea level. Maybe my older brothers and sisters might say: "Well, you are wrong there, they were 4,000 feet above sea level." Anyway, that was characteristic of Switzerland. For instance, in Faulensee where Father was raised, the area is full of grape vinyards. So you can see that they have a good climate. But that was further away from the high mountain, Niessin, and they had longer days in the winter than we had where I was raised.
Our uncle, Fred Durtschi, and his family helped to get our family interested in the L.D.S. Church. They had joined the Church and immigrated to Utah. When people joined the Mormon Church they got the spirit of gathering and it was quite hard for some people to understand how that spirit took hold of people who accepted the gospel. They had accepted the gospel before we had missionaries come to our place. Because of Uncle Fred accepting the Gospel, the missionaries got access to our home.
One of the missionaries was Alma Burgener, whose Father had immigrated to Utah. Father had known his Father from the time they were boys before he left Switzerland. When Father heard of Alma Burgener, he was interested in seeing Alma and finding out how his family was getting along. When Father got a chance he invited Alma and his companion, Conrad Gertsch, both from Midway, Utah, to our home. Of course, when they came they began to explain the Gospel to my parents and the older children who were at home. Father listened to them, and got a report of how Alma's folks were getting along. There were many stories about people who went to Utah. I think these stories were mainly started by the ministers. They said when immigrants got to Salt Lake City the Mormons took their wives away from them. A lady told my Father that if you go to Utah they will take your wife and money. This made Father uncertain and worried about going to Utah.
We started to investigate the Church. When the missionaries came they talked to Father about some of the mysteries and about Joseph Smith. They said: "As man is, God once was, and as God is, man may become." That sounded too strong a doctrine for my father. He said: "You fellows are welcome to come as long as you need a place to stay, but don't tell me any more about your religion. So these missionaries, having an invitation to stay at our place, called often. They were always welcome, were fed, and had a place to sleep if they wanted to. So we got started in the summer of 1905. My mother, Alfred, Emma, and Fred were baptized. They got the spirit of gathering, and Mother told Father, who was not very much in favor of immigrating to America; "The children and I are going to America, and we want you to come too. We don't want you to let us go alone, but we are going." Of course, Father wasn't about to let our family be separated; we had always been a close family and had wonderful family relations.
Someting happened when I was ten years old, in my third year of school, that changed his mind. Since we belonged to the Lutheran Church, my school teacher became very hostile when he learned from the Lutheran Minister that we were entertaining Mormon Missionaries in our home. While I had never had any unpleasant experiences with a school teacher before, this teacher now began to make things miserable for me. One morning I came to school with Fred (I don't remember if Emma had graduated at that time; maby she was there too); the teacher started to ask questions. He said, "There are some men going around town here with briefcases. Does anyone know who they are?" He expected me to blurt out and say, "Yes, they are Mormon missionaries," but I knew immediately that he was baiting me to give me trouble about the Mormons. The people hated the Mormons and so I didn't raise my hand to volunteer any answers about who they might be. The other kids said they might be traveling salesmen or other different possibilities. The teacher said, "No, they aren't traveling salesmen." I thought to myself, "If you know who they are, why do you ask the kids?" So I didn't raise my hand at all. Well, it made him angry because I didn't fall into his trap. Finally he gave up and started to teach, which he should have done in the first place. When recess time came, we all marched out to play. I made sure that I had everything in order. I put my books in the booksack and put them in my desk so he would have no reason to find fault with me. I marched out and we played. While we were playing I had a hunch that I should look up. Our room was on the second story. I looked, and just then the teacher opened the window and threw my book sack full of books out. Then I knew that I was really in trouble. I knew that I hadn't done anything wrong, and I hadn't said anything to give him offense. The bell rang to march back to class just after the teacher had thrown out the sack. I said to my buddy who I was with, "I wonder what I am suppost to do with that book sack?" He said, "He must have wanted it there or he wouldn't have put it there." I thought that was a pretty good answer, but it wasn't a good one for me. I marched in. When I got to my seat the teacher was coming back from his lectern with his stick. They always had a stick about two feet long to punish the mean boys with. When he came with that I knew what was coming. I froze stiff, is what I would call it, I was so scared. he said: "Why didn't you bring that booksack up here?" I couldn't talk; I knew he was going to beat me up. He grabbed me by the collar and pulled me up off the seat and said, "I'll show you!" He took me downstairs, my feet were dangling in the air; he was a big powerful man. He just carried me down there by my neck. When he got me down he shoved my head down by the ground and said, "Now pick it up!" Then he really let me have it with the stick as hard as he could. I was black and blue when he got through with me. He dragged me back upstairs; I hardly had to even walk - he just had me dancing in the air. He set me down in my seat. I used to love to answer questions and take part in the classroom discussion, but I didn't answer any more questions that day. When I went home that night my parents could see what had happened. My brother Fred had heard the commotion. He was in a higher grade and said he would have liked to come and help, but he knew what would happen if he did. There would have been a general war. My mother took me to the doctor the next day. The only way you could be excused from going to school is to have a doctor's excuse. After the doctor saw me and heard what had happened. He said, "That boy needs to go to the Alps for his health," and he gave the necessary excuse.
The reason I tell this story is not just to recite the grusome facts, but I have thought since that something like this had to happen. This made my Father realize that if people are so intolerant here as to beat up an innocent little boy, maby we had better go to America. This had to happen for my father's sake, because he did decide to go to America with the family after that.
School was held for half a day even in the summer, but I spent the summer of 1905, when I was ten years old, working for a neighbor in the Alps. A neighbor who had an Alp a long distance away asked Father if I could go with him to help take care of the cows that summer. Father said that he wouldn't have let me go under other circumstances, but since I couldn't go to school any longer, he gave his permission. During that summer I slept nights on the hay up in the loft of the barn.
During that summer my older brother, sister and mother were baptized. Towards the last of September, I got work that I should come home because the family was going to emigrate to America. They sent word as to the day that they were leaving, and told me what day to come home. I walked home that day and got home late that afternoon. My Father told me that the neighbor for whom I had worked had sent word that I should go to his home and he would settle up with me for my summer's work. I was tickled. I didn't think I was going to get anything except my board and room in the hay loft. I thought that was my summer's wages. When I went to settle up with the neighbor, he gave me five gold pieces. When I got home I handed the five gold pieces to my Father. At the time he was sitting on the porch of the house with five missionaries who were there to give us a farewell before we left for America. When I handed Father the gold pieces, he just got up off his chair and went along the row of missionaries, and gave each one a gold piece. That actually made me feel good because I loved the missionaries.
The next morning we started out bright and early. Father had made a contract with the steamship company for the passage. Alfred, Elise, Fred, Emma, and I with our parents made the trip. Two married sisters could not go. Also my oldest brother and my sister Clara had emigrated to the United States before, so they were not with us. When we immigrated, there was a girl, Elizabeth Muetzenberg,who had joined the Church who came over with us. She was the only one of her family who had joined the Church. Her mother said if it weren't for my father, she would never have let her emigrate, but she trusted my father and knew she would be in good hands, if she came over with our family.
I can still picture in my mind how we walked across the field towards the town. We went to the depot where we took the train and traveled through Germany to the ocean. At Antwerp we took a steamship. As we got on the ship to cross the English Channel, the ocean was nearly always rough, and it really rocked the big ship. As we sat down to our first meal - it was supper - we could watch the dishes rise to meet us from the other end of the table. It made me so sick that I left without eating dinner. When I went up to the deck to feed the fishes, I saw mothers with babies on their laps leaning over the edge throwing up, with their babies screaming. It wasn't a pleasant sight. I ran to the edge of the deck; there was a place there where I could barely reach my elbows up and I joined the mothers. All the way over I was the most generous in my family in feeding the fish. One time we had about two hours when the fog was so thick that we couldn't see ahead or behind us. They had the foghorns blowing to warn other ships so that two ships wouldn't run into each other. That was really a dismal time. It was really spooky thinking that other ships were getting near us and might not stop in time. Other than that the days were mostly sunny.
It took nine days to get to New York. In New York we saw the sky-scrapers. We spent enough time there to see all around and see what things looked like. Later we got on a train to Chicago. In Chicago we stopped, and my older brother Edward, who was working there, met us and took us around to see all of the important places, like Swift's packing plant. Elizabeth was a day behind us, and Father told Edward to meet her and see that she got on the right train to go west, which he did. I suppose that it must have been love at first sight, because after he came west to Salt Lake City where Elizabeth was working, they got married.
As we traveled on the train from Chicago to Utah, we enjoyed seeing the grain fields and fruit orchards that we passed through. The first night we were in Salt Lake City we stayed with some friends who were from Switzerland. We all slept on the floor. The next morning we took a train to Heber City. When we got to Charleston, our cousin Fred came into the train. He was looking for Elizabeth but since she wasn't there yet, he was disappointed. When I saw him I was so tired of riding on the train that I said I was going to ride with him. I jumped into his wagon. I would rather have the rough ride with him on a wagon than ride on the train one more inch. He said that John Burgener, my sister Clara's husband, would meet the train to take the family to their home in Midway. I said "That's all right, I was going with him." I went home with him and that evening John Burgener came in a white-topped buggy with a fine team and brought me home. He had had to make a special trip to get me. We lived at the Burgener home until we rented a house in Midway. Later Father bought a 20-acre farm. This was next to the resort that Whittakers later bought.
In Midway they held both English and German church meetings. We went to both of the meetings. The kids soon picked up enough of the language so we could enjoy the meetings in both languages. We had lots of good experiences in Midway.
One Sunday we had lots of hay out in shocks and some big clouds came rolling over the mountain. It looked like we were in for one of those long rainy spells. Father said to Mother, "Don't you think that we had better go out and stack that hay in the barn? That is such good hay now, and if it rains for two weeks it won't be worth much. Don't you think that we ought to haul it in?" Mother said, "If that hay rots because we wouldn't haul it in on Sunday, then it will have to rot!" Father had a twinkle in his eye and we could see that he knew the answer to his question even before he asked it. He was willing to take the chance, and the hay was put up in good condition.
I always gave the money that I earned to my Father. He would say, "If you want to give that money to me, just put it in the purse. Whenever we needed money for shoes or to go to a dance, we would just go get it from the purse. We never thought about taking more money than we needed. When we first started school in Midway, a bunch of boys would follow us home, throwing stones and yelling, "The Dutchmen!" I remember telling the Bishop's wife that her boys were throwing rocks at us. It wasn't too many years later that we were singing in a quartet with these same boys and we became the best of friends. It was a pretty good quartet and we sang for many people. This came in nice for me later when I went to Logan to school.
When we first came to Midway, my brother Fred and I started school; this was in the fall of 1905. We had to begin in the first grade because we couldn't speak a word of English. They would promote us as fast as we merited being promoted. At first we didn't go very fast. We had a nice, patient teacher in the first grade, and started learning the English language. In the second grade we had a Wilson girl; she was especially good to us. Once we got past the second grade we started to make progress faster and were proomoted. Fred went faster than I because he had gone further than I in school in Switzerland. In the fifth grade the teacher said that we could take an examination in arithmetic along with the sixth grade. Those who received high enough marks could be promoted; I happened to be one of those who got high marks. That spring I was promoted into the seventh grade and after two weeks I was promoted into the eight. In 1911 while I was in the eight grade, two weeks before it was time to take the examination for graduation, I had a bad accident. A horse I was riding fell through a hole in a bridge. I was coming at a fast trot; it was a big horse and liked to go fast. The fall threw me off, and then the horse went end over end over the top of me and caught one of my legs that was still up in the air and laid it right over my head. The horse was knocked unconscious as well as me. I had to slap the horse to make it get up and off of me. The horse was still dizzy; it finally managed to get to its feet and stumble along. I could see that my right leg was lying up along side of my head, and that it was broken badly; so I started calling for somene to help me. It was in the evening at twilight, and the neighbors were all eating dinner. A boy from town happened to be walking along the road, and he helped notify the neighbors and my brother-in-law, who was living only a block from there. They carried me over to his home and called the doctor. There was no hospital to take me to. The doctor started sawing lumber to box my leg in. It took six men to pull on my leg so that the doctor could set it. The doctor hung a fifteen-pound weight over the edge of the bed for six weeks to keep the bone in place. It took three more weeks before I could get up and start using crutches. So it was a bad final exam, and said I couldn't take it. However, I had good enough grades so they let me start high school without taking the final exam. The accident happened in May, and I was on crutches all summer and still on crutches when school started in the fall. So the first year in high school I was called "The little crippled boy". That first winter of high school my cousin Alfred and I batched together. He was going to high school for the first year. The next winter a Mr. Hicken who had been doing janitor work at the school came and talked to me and said, "I'd like you to do my chores because I'm going to the University of Utah to finish my education so I can teach school. Your board won't cost you anything if you'll milk four cows, feed the pigs and chickens and separate the milk for me." That was wonderful for me. I didn't like batching too well. I had a nice place to stay, and Mrs. Hicken prepared good meals for me while I went to school. I would hurry home from school and go do the chores and take care of all of the animals. In the morning I had to get up early to do the chores before school. That was all much better than cooking my won meals. I enjoyed it there and worked there for the next three winters doing chores for my board. Mr. Hicken got through school and I only spent that first winter without him; but when he came home and started teaching, he said, I'd like you to keep right on doing chores working for your board," and I did.
In 1915, I graduated from high school. Judge Hatch was one of the judges when we were debating in high school. He had the nerve to say, when he handed out the diplomas, that I had earned that diploma better than any of them. The Hickens were quite proud to think that their chore boy deserved such a compliment.
I missed one year of school after high school when we were busy on the farm. After I missed one year, I decided I would like to go to Logan to school. Father said it would be all right; that he could handle what chores we had. My brother Fred, who was up in Idaho building a barn for Ed and Alfred, wanted to go to school to learn to be a draftsman, so we decided it would be good to board together in Logan. The first day I got to Logan in the fall, I walked all day out in North Logan trying to find work before I knew for sure my brother Fred was coming down from Idaho. I decided that maybe I could work myself through like I did in high school. I walked all day asking farmers for a job to milk cows or to do any chores they had during the winter so I could go to school and earn my board. I failed to get a job. On the way home that evening, I was walking down through Logan, and a Swiss fellow saw me and started talking. I tolk him I had been looking for work. He said, "If you need a place to live while you're going to school, why don't you go see sister Nyman? She is a lady who works at the temple and has just built a big new house. She has a room she would like to rent. You ought to go see her." I went to see her. She could speak both Swiss and English, and as I talked to her she told me that she would like to rent the room. I looked at the room, and saw that there was no wood stove, only one for heat. I asked how we could cook our meals. I had Fred in mind, and that he would be with me in the room. She said, "I'll tell you what I'll do; if you'll furnish the groceries, I'll cook the meals and we'll all eat together. That really suited me fine. When Fred came down from Idaho we had a nice room for both of us. We ate together in the kitchen with Mrs. Nyman. We had it much nicer than if I had gotten a job in North Logan choring for somebody. That way we had time to study and enjoyed the winter together. I spent the next winter with my brother living at that place.
There was a Glee Club at the college with 24 voices. They had tryouts, and the whole college wanted to get in because they were going to sing for the Governor. I didn't think I had a chance because all of them were upper classmen, and I was a freshman. But I knew that I didn't even have any chance at all if I didn't try out. The teacher played the piano, and I sang along with him. Was I surprised when they put the names on the blackboard, and there was my name heading the second bass list! So that was one of my favorite things. I was in other organizations too. I was in the Ag Club and the leading vetrerinary student in the college, but the singing was the favorite thing that I did. When we sang for the governor, we were fed in the Hotel Utah. We put on concerts in many towns and cities in Utah. We were living in the fifth Ward then, and all the guys who were singing in the Glee CLub were invited to sing in the fifth Ward choir. Mr. Hansen, the conductor, could speak a little German and liked to use it once in awhile. He would put his hand up to his ear and say in German, "Ah, what a bunch of howling cats!"
In 1916 and 1917 I attended College. In the fall of 1917 we moved to Idaho. My brothers, Edward and Alfred had gone to Idaho earlier. They could have bought land in the Snake River Valley for around $25.00 an acre, but they went on up as far as Rexburg and Salem where David Herschi, who converted my Father and the rest of the children to the Church lived. They thought they would go to him and see if he had any advice for them. He advised them to go up to the Teton Basin. They looked the country over. It looked alot like Switzerland. They liked it, and David had relatives up there. They rented land on one side of the valley for a year and didn't like it. They were just about ready to leave when the real estate man said that he had a place on the east side of the Valley. He showed them the place that they later bought. They divided the land when Alfred got married.
Charles Mitchell came to the Basin from Midway. He wanted to settle next to my brother on the farm we wanted to buy, but couldn't because the man who owned it couldn't make up his mind to sell. It was 120 acres. Charles went to the man to see if he would sell him the place, but the man was rather hesitant, so Charles said to him, "Well, I am here to buy a place, and if you don't want to sell, there are lots of places that I could buy." The real estate man persuaded the owner to sell to Mitchell, who remained there only a year. The winter was too rough for him, so he bought our place in Utah and we bought his place in Idaho. It all had to be that way; it was just a blessing in our favor. We might never have been able to buy if he had not come and bought it and then wanted to sell it.
When we moved to the Basin, we moved our horses, some of our machinery and our household goods. We put them in a fourty-foot railroad immigration car. Ray and John Burgener went along with me to look at the country. We watered the horses with buckets while we were on the train. We had enough hay in the car to feed them. Next spring, in 1918, we started farming in dead earnest. At that time we were just living in the log shack that was on the farm when we bought it. There was also a log stable for a team and two or three cows. In July, Ernest Durtschi, my cousin, came from Salt Lake where he was a contractor building alot of fine homes. He said, "You need a home real bad," and I said yes, I knew we needed a home. My parents were living with me in this old log house. My Father had a home his whole life, and said he would surely hate to die in this thing. Ernest brought his Father along, who had also been a carpenter by trade. He said, "I'm here and I've got my tools with me. I'll just build you a home if you want me to. I said, "That would sure be an answer to prayers if you would do that. So he started on the house, and we talked about the plan which he thought would be workable for me, being a young fellow about ready to get maried. My parents should live by themselves; so he planned a house that would work good for them to live in half and us to live in the other half. After it was staked out my brother Alfred came over with four head of horses and the scraper. That afternoon we dug the basement. Ernest started to put in the forms and we went right ahead real fast. We mixed all the concrete for the basement walls by hand on a platform with a shovel. He built the framework of the house that summer. In the winter he came and finished the interior of the house, and we had us a good home.
In August, just as we were finishing the basement walls, we saw some black clouds rolling over the western mountains into the valley. It was a fearful scene; we had no idea of what it could be. It came across the valley, a regular cyclone, with a big hailstorm. It blew down a wing of the high school in Driggs. We were in its belt when it came through the valley. It cut everything off the ground slick and clean, all the grain and vegetation. We had beautiful grain. When my cousin Ernest was building the house he used to walk out to the field and say, "I have never seen such wonderful crops." Everything was standing up tall and beautiful, it was a heavy crop of wheat and barley. When that cyclone came across the valley it cut that beautiful grain off at the ground and the wind took it right up into the mountains. The people that rode in the mountains said that they saw our grain scattered up there through the brush. That evening, after the storm was over, my brother was coming down along the creek on his horse. I was doing my chores, whistling and singing hymns, and didn't see him coming or I would have kept still. He shouted, "You must feel happy." I don't know that I even answered him. It made me feel a little funny because I did sound happy, but the spirit told me everything would work out all right even though our wonderful crop had been demolished. When we started building, I went to the lumber yard. The lumberman said that since we had a wonderful crop he would give us cash terms. Well, when he found out that our crop was destroyed, he added twelve per cent to the price of the material and charged twelve and a half per cent interest on the money. I didn't have any money and neigher did Father; and we couldn't afford to leave the basement standing without going ahead with the building of the home. We needed it so badly, especially me, since I wanted to get married, and I wanted Father and Mother in the home, so we kept on building. This put me in terrible debt. This brought about hardships, but I was never discouraged in spite of what happened.
In the year 1918 I met Luella Dalley, and on February 5, 1919, we were married in the Salt Lake Temple. Luella had been teaching school in Alta, Wyoming, and was ward organist and a Sunday School teacher. After our marriage, since she had already signed a contract to teach that fall, she taught throughout that year. I would drive her to school in the sleigh. We determined that our marriage should not interfere with the contract that she had signed. After teaching was over, we often enjoyed our evenings singing or reading a good book together. She had purchased a piano, and I finished paying for it; so we had a piano. She was a good player and a good singer. Before I met her, she had sung in the ladies' quartet that won first prize in the all-church contest in Salt Lake City.
On March 3, 1922, a son was born to us whom we named John Ray because his moter insisted on the "John", and I wanted the "Ray". Reed Robert was born February 15, 1926. The twins, Grant and Garth were born July 24, 1929, and died the next day. Don Lorell was born May 18, 1938. After Don was born they asked Luella to come back and teach again.
During the depression, I went to town on one occasion without money. We needed at least $2.50 worth of groceries, and I said to the storekeeper that I needed the groceries but I couldn't pay for them. He said, "When will you be able to pay for them?" I said, "I cannot even tell you that because right now, to be honest, I don't know when I'll have the money, but I know I will be able to pay for them." I had confidence that the Lord was going to bless me with life, health, and strength to keep on working, and that I was going to be able to pay for those groceries. I could see that it was bothering him, so I said, "Don't let it bother you," and walked across the street to his competitor and said the same thing to him. He just chuckled and said, "You're just as welcome as if you had the money." And of course he had my business for several years, and he never lost a dollar on us. If we didn't have the cash money he would say to me, "You don't happen to have a good cow to sell?" I would say I did. He would come up, I would sell him a good cow to straighten up the store bill. That is one way we got along during the depression. We were blessed and never lost a thing. Many of our neighbors lost their farms during the depression and everything they had. Once they spoke of foreclosing on me. I wrote them a good, stiff letter that I was doing my best and they were going to get their money. I just read the law to them, and they took me at my word. We came through in good condition. We were able to send our boys on missions and to college. Although they didn't have money to waste, they all got a good education. I would like to tell my grandchildren that faith and works will overcome the greatest problems. You can't give up when you have troubles. You've got to have faith that there is a God and he will take care of you, and you've got to have faith that there is a God and he will take care of you, and you've got to work.
On December 19, 1947, Luella suddenly passed away. She had some heart troubles after Don was born, and I often worried and prayed for her. The night before she passed away, as I came to the house after a hard day's work, Luella was making quilt blocks for Relief Society. We were visiting and I thought to myself, I think that she is feeling better than she has felt for years. The next morning at 4:30 a.m. she just raised up in bed and fell over and she was gone. Don was just nine years old at that time. When he saw how terrible I felt, he said, "Oh, Papa, at least she didn't have to suffer!" He had more sense that I did. It really just broke me up when I found out that we couldn't revive her. He could see the advantage that she didn't have to suffer when she died.
For a few years after Luella died, Arnold and Marian came to live with us; so Don had real good care. She was an excellent cook and took care of him. We had a good life with them. Then LaVerne, who had lost her husband during the war, came. After Ray got married, he and Josephine took care of us. Then one summer Alfred, who was Bishop, recommended me for a mission. I was interviewed by Matthew Cowley at the September Stake Conference. He said that I couldn't go on a mission because I had a teenaged child. Don was 12. So I said that I would be happy to stay home. I would have been happy to accept the call had I been called, but he said I should get married again. He counseled with me just like a Father would to his son. I told him that I had been sealed to my wife, and I didn't think that I should get married again. But he said that I should.
The Lord opened the way, and I met Alice Bollinger, who had been over from Switzerland for one year. She had accepted the Gospel over there and had been baptized. We were married on November 29, 1950, a month after I met her. She has also been a wonderful companion to me. She is a great worker and is faithful in the Church. She is like my first wife in that she never complains about paying a full tithing, and I always have paid it. She took good care of Don and helped him get off to the mission field when he was called.
When I married Alice she had a fifteen-year old daughter, Helen. We were sealed together in the Salt Lake Temple by Matthew Cowley.
With Alice's help we established a Grade A dairy system after we were married. We did this for a number of years. When we finally felt we were in good enough condition to rent the place, we did, and spent the winters working in the temples. We worked three winters in Mesa, one winter in St. George, and then we bought a house in Idaho Falls and started working in the temple there. In 1976 we moved to Ogden, near Don and Ann.
I always have been willing to accept positions in the Church to which I was called, and have enjoyed serving the Lord.. While in Midway I was ordained a Deacon, a Teacher, and a Priest. I was ordained an Elder at the time of my marriage. After our marrriage, I was made president of the YMMIA and Luella was made president of the YWMIA. I later served as Sunday School Superintendent. In the early 20's I was put in as first counselor in the Teton Stake Sunday School Superintendency, and at the same time I was put in as one of the seven presidents of the 144th quorum of Seventies. I served in both of these capacities with Walter Durrant. In 1926, President Albert Choules called me into the Stake High Council. I served there for 32 years. While serving in this capacity, I enjoyed visiting inactive members in the different wards more than I did the preaching.
I have worked hard all of my life, but the things that brought more happiness than any earthly gain are the joy from raising my family. The Gospel has been great for me, and it is a wonderful thing for which I have always been thankful that the missionaries came to our home and that we could accept it.
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Page Updated: 11 Feb 01