Durtschi Home
Rosina Kathrina Durtschi and Rudolph Kaufman

Written and copyright by Lee J. Bybee

        When the name Switzerland is brought to your attention what thoughts concerning that country come to your mind? If you are of Swiss ancestery you cannot be without thought at such time, so probably your first thought will likely be concerning its marvelous scenery; its great world-renowned mountains, its beautiful, peaceful valleys, the lovely green slopes dotted with storybook homes or you may think of the long snow covered ski slopes which are so popular. You may think of its industry, the Swiss cheese for which it is famous or the watchmakers whose products are known and respected throughout the world. Perhaps you think of the long reign of peace with which the country has been blessed for more than 250 years and the government which has so carefully preserved this peace. Your thoughts will be determined by your knowledge of that nation whether gained by personal visitations or from the stories related by those who lived there.
        Switzerland is a land of peace and beauty but in the days of our ancestors it was also a land where hard work was the lot of nearly every person. It was a hard land which required the maximum from those who would match their strength against its forces.
        Into this land in the quiet, unpretentious town of Wimmis, in the canton of Bern and near the lake of Tunner, Rosina Kathrina Durtschi was born on August 30, 1878. Her father was a farmer whose name was Edward Durtschi and her mother was Rosina Katharina Hiltbrand. Rosina was born in the home of her parents which was the former home of her maternal grandparents, Christian Hiltbrand and Susanna Itten. Because her first name contained three syllables, in common usage it was shortened to Rosa and by this name she was known.
        She said that she had a happy childhood on the farm where she was born. There was fun and pleasure in their home and there was lots of work. At that time the size of the average farm in Switzerland was 20 to 40 acres. The farm of her father contained 75 acres so the extra land called for extra work. Rosa learned to work on that farm but she also learned something more. She learned something which makes a vast difference in the worth of a worker and in his finished job. She learned to enjoy working. Early in life she began helping with the farm work and early in life she acquired that feeling which, prompted by good health, a strong body and a pleasant environment, causes a person to begin the tasks of the day with enthusiasm and to reflect upon the accomplishments with pride and a determination to do even better, tomorrow. This attitude became the hallmark of her character.
        In her girlhood the summertime day began at 4:00 a.m. and the wintertime day only an hour or so later. Most of the work was done by hand methods and required strong and willing bodies. Many of the farm implements which we knew in our youth were not available to them. Only a few farms had more than the basic plow and small wagon. There were scythes, axes, hammers, rakes, sleds and other small tools which could be made at home or by a neighbor, but they were hand tools and required muscles to operate them. The more modern implements were not manufactured in Switzerland and only the more affluent could afford them. In later years her father was able to buy an American mowing machine which pretty well retired the scythes and was greatly appreciated.
        Rosa was an attractive girl with blue-grey eyes and black hair who preferred the simple life. Dancing and festivities were not her chief concern. She loved the farm duties and enjoyed handling and training animals. When there was a colt to break for work or riding she eagerly assumed the task. Because she was kind and yet firm with them she developed gentle, easy to manage animals. She once trained two cows to work and when an extra team was needed they were used. She loved to hitch a colt to a cart or sleigh for a speedy ride down the road. In later years she confessed that she "took more corners on two wheels than four."
        The family home had eleven rooms which gave her the opportunities and experience needed to manage her own home and to maintain its neat and homey appearance. The family was closely associated and love and harmony were found among them. When they were together in the evenings her father often entertained them with his accordian. She loved those evenings and she always had a love for music. They were raised in the Lutheran faith by parents who were honest, religious people and who followed the teachings of their church. In thier home Sunday was a day of worship so on Saturday the firewood was stacked, all major cooking was finished, shoes were shined, dresses and blouses were pressed so that Sunday could more nearly be a day of rest.
        Rosa received all of her formal education in Wimmis. She completed 9 years of schooling which was comparable to a high school education in America. In 1896, when she was 18 years old, she went to the capitol city of Bern to work in a bakery and a laundry. It was her first experience away from home and the scenes and sounds were so different and there were so many strangers that the old malady-homesickness overtook her and she returned home. After a short period of convalescence the urge to be out on her own returned and she began working at a nearby hotel. The following year she went to Grindelwald to work in the big tourist hotel, the Hotel Baren. It was there that she met and fell into love with Ru
        dolph Kaufman who was a coach driver for the same hotel.
        Located in a high mountain valley, not far from Wimmis, is the town of Grindelwald. In this beautiful valley, set jewel-like near the base of Switzerland's most famous mountains, Youngfrau and Matterhorn, on a 25 acre farm beside the town, lived Rudolph Kaufman and his wife Elizabeth. Here among some of nature's grandest scenery, they raised their family of five boys. Elizabeth came from Speitz, near Wimmis and Rudolph was a native of Grindelwald. He augmented the farm income by serving as a mountain guide in the mountains which he knew so well. The Rudolph Kaufman who we honor today was the first son of this couple and was named for his father. He was born on April 22, 1876 and spent his boyhood in this lovely valley on the farm of his parents. The parents were of the Lutheran faith and young Rudolph was raised according to those teachings.
        They had two cows and several goats, but the cows spent the summer in the Alps in the care of an "Alpher" who made cheese from the milk. Alfalfa and grain were grown on the farm and were cut with a scythe. The hay was forked into piles and tied into various size bundles so that all members of the family could help in carrying it on their backs to the hay loft in the barn.
        Early in life Rudolph learned responsibility. His father was often away from home for several days on guiding trips and the farm operation was left to him. During the winter he helped his father in the shop, where they made sleighs for the trade, or he worked in the lumber mill where he learned to square timbers with a broad axe. He received 9 years of schooling which equaled an American high school education.
        In 1894, when he was 18 years old, he began working for Fred Boess at the Hotel Baren in Grindelwald, one of the largest tourist hotels in Switzerland. In the summer he worked as a coachman and the first two winters he took care of the dairy herd where he milked 12 cows by hand. The year, 1897, brought two great changes in the life of Rudolph Kaufman. He became a full time coach driver for the hotel and he met Rosa (Rosina) Durtschi who had just began working there. Meeting this fine young woman was the best thing that ever happened to him and he resolved to spend the rest of his life with her.
        They became engaged to marry but continued to work at the hotel to accumulate funds before beginning their married life. Rudolph never told me whether they reached their goal or whether they just gave up and got married. But in any event, they went to Bern and were married on February 17, 1900. In July a baby boy was born to them and became another Rudolph. He was known as Rudolph, Junior.
        Rudolph continued at the hotel until 1903 when he left to work on the construction of a cable way on the Matterhorn where he was engaged in the blasting operation. In December 1903 their first contact with the gospel of Jesus Christ came at the home of Rosa's parents in Wimmis. When the missionaries came to the house of her father he invited them in and heard their message. This so impressed him and the family that they asked them to return and they became frequent visitors to the home. Although Rudolph was at first skeptical of this new religion, he and Rosa eventually heard and believed them. The Lutheran minister and some of the townsfolk tried to persuade them to not believe the missionaries and some animosity and persecution developed. The parents sold their possessions and migrated to Midway, Utah in September 1904. Rosa and Rudolph continued in their new faith and were baptized on March 11, 1906. Although they had two children and a third had indicated its future arrival, they also migrated to Utah. With the help of her parents they sailed on the S.S. Araabic on April 27th and arrived at Boston, Mass. on May 15, 1906.
        Now they had come to America, the land of promise and freedom. But they found that it could also be a land of problems. Fortunately the matter of immediate housing was solved by her parents and they shared their home until they could move to themselves. Rosa's fondest wish was to be on a farm where the family could work and be together but it was not yet possible. They needed income and they were unfamiliar with the language and the customs and so the problems began to appear.
        Rudolph found work at a sawmill where he was off-bearing from the saw. He soon learned that the men were taking advantage of him because he was a foreigner unfamiliar with the sawmill operation and unable to speak and understand the language well. He said that they delighted in sawing off a huge slab from a churn butt tree and then laugh at his efforts to move it away unassisted. He knew that he could not continue under such circumstances without injuring himself so he quit, and noticed as he left that two men had taken his place.
        There was little demand for laborers in the small community so he accepted a job in the silver mines at Park City. The extent of his resources at this time was a devoted wife, two children and $25. In September of that year Martha was born into this humble family and the following winter they moved into a home to themselves. On January 20, 1908 in the Salt Lake temple, Rudolph and Rosa were sealed to each other and to their three children. In October of that year Arnold was born and now there were 2 boys and 2 girls. That was the last time the score was even.
        Rudolph continued to work in the mine and after his Saturday shift he would walk a trail through the mountains to be with his family. On Sunday afternoon he would borrow Grandpa's horse and he and Rudolph Jr. would ride double to the top of the hill where Rudolph would continue his journey to Park City on foot while his son returned to Midway.
        Working conditions in the mine were not satisfactory and sometimes they were actually dangerous. When he reported such conditions he would be assigned to work alone in those areas. This caused him much anxiety and also encreased Rosa's worries.
        In April 1909 Rosa's brothers, Edward and Alfred Durtschi, bought farms in Teton Valley and were going there so Rudolph left the mine and he and his brother-in-law, Fred Feuz went with them. The Durtschis had adjoining farms on the Idaho side of the state line. Rudolph filed on a homestead about a mile above the line in Spring Creek canyon. In the fall of 1909 the Kaufman and Feuz families arrived by train at Rexburg and were met by the Durtschi brothers. They traveled by wagon to their new homes east of Driggs.
        Rudolph worked for Eli Hill in the timber and in the sawmill and the family lived in one room of his house. Rudolph and Fred Feuz cut timber in North Leigh canyon for Eli. They walked home weekends to Spring Creek a distance of 10 miles or more. They cleared sagebrush land for Andrew Larsen in Darby for $1.00 an acre and their only tool was a grubbing hoe. This was a tool with the handle mounted at right angles to the cutting edge. It weighed about 4 pounds in the morning and seemed like 40 pounds by the day's end.
        Along about this time we learned that Rudolph got the cart before the horse. As partial payment for his work, Eli Hill gave him a wagon which he gladly accepted. But he had no horses. However, before too long this was taken care of when Eli Hill paid him for his work with a team and harness. A roan team named Pearl and June. Rudolph had now earned for Rosa their first team, harness and wagon by the strength of his muscles and the sweat of his brow. His determination and sense of responsibility had again moved him forward.
        Socially these were trying times for the family. Some of the neighbors were heartless and refused to accept them as their peers. They ridiculed their home made clothing and their broken english. They grasped each opportunity to embartass them whether alot or a little. When they were asked to offer a prayer in church meetings some members were greatly amused at their efforts to find suitable english words and if they spoke in Swiss their laughter was unconcealed. The children too were harrassed and ridiculed by other children so that they hesitated to mingle as they should. Although these conditions brought about a gradual withdrawal from church activities, their faith in God and in Jesus Christ remained firm and their testimony of the Gospel remained strong. An honest tithe was always paid although it was not always paid in cash. The year Rudolph received horses instead of cash he asked the Bishop if he would accept homemade cheese and thus was the tithing paid that year.
        In later years, to avoid further embarrassment, some public demonstrations of faith were discontinued but all were encouraged to continue them within the family or in private. When they did go to church the white top buggy was washed and cleaned and each person was dressed in his best.
        There was some levity in their lives and in the community for someone had attached to the Kaufman homestead the name "Gugger Hora", the name by which it was known and referred to until recent times. This was a Swiss name which translated into Cuckoo Mountain. They laughingly said that no one but a cuckoo would live up there in that brush. The proper Swiss name is "Gugger Horn" and it refers to a high place where a sweeping view may be obtained. Perhaps the slight modification of the word and the jovial translation indicates the freindliness which prevailed among the families as they worked together to make homes for themselves in this beautiful valley.
        Through industry and thrift, conditions began to improve for the family. Land was cleared, crops were planted and livestock was now found on their place. And, of course, there was a garden. Rosa demonstrated her knowledge and ablity in her gardens. She knew what to plant, how to get the maximum yield and how to preserve the matured foods for future use. She managed her garden so that it produced the major part of their food requirements. She also had a personal enterest in their livestock, each chicken, pig, horse or cow. Not only was she interested in them from an economic angle but because by her nature she had compassion for all living things. Her livestock or her family did not long remain uncomfortable if she could prevent it.
        By 1916 they had outgrown Gugger Hora. Three more children had been born, Ida in 1912, Frieda in 1914, and Emma in 1915, and the place was not ideally situated for profitable farming. So they disposed of it and leased a place from Bishop Andrew Carlson some 2 1/2 miles north of Spring Creek which had 80 acres of rolling hills just waiting to produce for them and a wonderful view of the majestic Teton Peaks a few miles eastward. Much of this place was ready for cultivation but there were many trees and some sagebrush to be removed to put the entire place into production. Within a few years they had purchased this place and it became the Kaufman home ranch. Here Rosa was contented. They had a good place, the family provided all the labor to operate it and they were together. Her heart's desire, her fondest dream had now become a reality.
        Now there was a larger garden and more livestock. Farm machinery could now be purchased and a dairy herd was in the making. In some respects their place was rather primitive. There was a log barn, a two room log house with a dirt roof (a third room was later added), and there was no well. Domestic water was brought from a spring on the place just north of them and in the wintertime the livestock was driven to this spring. But to Rosa and Rudolph these were minor things which had to be temporarily endured. While they were incovenient, with hard work and co-operation they would be corrected. And co-operation was the key to their success. In all matters - spiritual or material, in all decisions pertaining to crops, purchases, sales and methods of operation there was consultation and co-operation between them always. At times the older children were included but when a decision was reached it was abided by all.
        For a few months, in their new home, all went well but in February 1917 Rudolph was stricken with appendicitis. At a time when a severe blizzard held the valley snowbound. For more than two weeks the train did not enter the valley. When the train was able to reach Drummond, some 30 miles north, Edward and Alfred Durtschi took him by sleigh to the train. Edward returned home and Alfred accompanied Rudolph to a Salt Lake hospital where he remained in a critical condition for some time. When he improved sufficiently to be moved from the hospital he stayed at the home of his sister-in-law, Elise Gertsch until he was able to return home in June.
        During this long absence the burden of managing the farm fell upon Rosa and the children. Under these trying circumstances their 7th child, Lena, was born in March. Of all their children this was the only birth which Rudolph did not attend. Rudolph Jr. and the daughter Rosa did all of the plowing and cropping but all of the children who were old enough to be useful were required to help where they could.
        Although Rudolph had returned home he was not well. The external encision had healed but he was still draining internally. This resulted in the formation of a huge abcess or pus pocket on his side and in the fall he again went to Salt Lake. Just before he reached the City the abcess ruptured and he did not go to the hospital. He felt so good the next day that he boarded the train for home.
        In 1918 a well was dug near the house with 18 year old Rudolph Jr. doing most of the digging. At 86 feet they found a plentiful supply of fine water and the daily trips to the spring were no longer necessary. In july of this year tiny Elizabeth arrived to further help outnumber the boys.
        In 1919 the valley experienced a severe drought and the resulting feed shortage raised the price of hay to $40 dollars per ton by the next spring. Even by today's standards this was an exhorbitant price and at that time, when butterfat was 12 cents per pound, it was prohibitive. Rudolph and his children cut trees and placed them where the stock could eat the smaller twigs. Under such conditions it was impossible to meet the farm payments but Bishop Carlson never pressed for payment. Rudolph always paid the 10% interest charged although it was sometimes paid by harvesting crops ect. for the good neighbor.
        The year 1920 was relatively uneventful except that one July morning proud Rudolph awakened the family with the news that Alfred had been born. The daughter Rosa did not share the enthusiasm of her father. She believed that girls were the best workers. She said to him, "Why wasn't it a girl?"
        Somewhere in this period of time, 40 acres which nearly joined the home place on the northwest, was purchased from Bishop Carlson. This substantially increased the amount of hay land which was needed for the growing dairy herd. In all of the transactions with Bishop Carlson only a promise and a handclasp were needed to bind the agreement. No note or mortgage was asked for or given. A similar arrangement was followed in his bank transactions. Although bank practice required a note his promise to pay when he could, replaced a mortgage.
        Through the years they continued to make cheese for their own use. In 1921 Rudolph's brother, Pete, a cheesemaker in Wisconsin, visited the family and encouraged them to begin making cheese commercially. Further encouraged by financial help from Rudolph Jr., who had accompanied the brother to Wisconsin, a log cheese factory was completed on their place in 1922 and Rudolph began making, in a 500 pound capacity copper kettle, the first commercial Swiss cheese produced in the valley.
        It seems that each forward step by this family was followed by a short period of depression and this time it involved their house. At evening chore time, in the fall of 1922, a fire was made in the old log house to warm the rooms for bedtime. While the cows were being milked and the small children were in the cheese factory to watch the making process, the house began to burn. When this was discovered the entire house was engulfed in flames and not one article within the house was saved. One room of the cheese factory was being used as a bedroom and kitchen but they had no other living accommodations. The neighbors responded generously to this tragedy bringing bedding and clothing, taking children into their homes to sleep and many other acts of kindness. Sheridan Smith provided a sheep camp with two beds and a stove. Cheese making was temporarily discontinued by this tragedy and the factory was enlarged and converted into a home. The daughter Rosa was now living in Pocatello and Martha was attending school in Rexburg but returned home following the fire.
        In December of this year Isabel Nora was born in the converted home. Because this was to be the last one she was given a middle name. No other had been so named.
        With the help of the Durtschis and others a new and much larger cheese factory was constructed which contained two kettles. One had a capacity of 1800 pounds of milk and the other 2200 pounds. Also included was a curing cellar and a large packing room. The first cheese was made in this factory on July 23, 1923. The Swiss cheese industry was now established in the valley and two cheese makers were hired. The first was Frank Novak who was falsely represented, and a few months later, Ernest Brog. The latter brought with him new methods and techniques which made the operation more profitable. When he left Rudolph and Arnold operated the factory. Business men were enthused with this new venture in the valley and were proud to be associated with it. One banker from Driggs gave major physical assistance to the construction of the new factory even spending several hours digging in the new cellar. He urged Rudolph to buy cows, which he had imported from Wisconsin, and improved his herd. He loaned him the money which was to be repaid "when you can." By careful selection and management Rudolph and Rosa built up one of the fine herds of the valley.
        They were staunch believers that only necessary work should be performed on Sunday. One summer there had been so much rain on the cut hay that it seemed it would spoil in the windrow. The day finally came when the hay had dried enough that it could be stacked the next day. But the next day was Sunday!! Several farmers felt that since the Lord had cleared the skies and dried the hay, He must have intended that they get it into the stack. Even the bishop (not Bishop Durtschi) felt the same and stacked his hay. But Rosa and Rudolph reasoned that it was still the Lord's day and they would see what Monday would bring. Monday was another sunny day.
        Sometime in 1923 Rosa surprised Rudolph by telling him that there would be another last child and February 1924 Ella Flora was born. This one would be the last so she was also given a middle name.
        About 1925 a third peice of land was purchased. 160 acres of pasture near the foothills. This made them a total of 280 acres and nicely rounded out their operation.
        It seems that Rudolph and Rosa had now reached a plateau in their lives. To this point the way had been all uphill but now everything seemed to level off. Their family was now complete, no additional land was needed, the farm and the cheese factory operations provided a good income and their health was reasonably good. Never again did they struggle to make ends meet or to avoid slipping backward. It was the time in life to which they had long looked forward. The older children were beginning to leave for homes of thier own, the younger ones were at an age where they could make decisions and required less supervision so Rudolph and Rosa entered into a period of life which could be termed their golden years. There was still work for them to do and they still had some troubles but their work was lighter and their troubles were small.
        Rosa developed a goiter which caused her some distress so she had it removed in Jamuary 1929. At this time the daughters Rosa, Martha and Ida had married and were away from home. Rosa did not fully regain her health after this operation and slowly became less active. Now she might by found lying down during the day for a rest, something unheard of before.
        In 1931 Paul Brog brought from Wisconsin a new cheese culture which permitted making cheese only once a day. This shortened the working day for Rudolph and also improved the quality of the cheese. In 1934 the cheese making was discontinued because of a disinterest and discontent among the farmers. The factory wAs closed and the equipment removed. The Rudolph Kaufman Swiss cheese venture had come to a close.
        In 1935 and 1936 the packing room was removed and Rudolph had John Christofferson build a nice 4 bedroom home in its place. The children helped to complete the interior finish work and Floyd Woolley, daughter Rosa's husband, built the cabinets. One Mother's Day 1941, while Rudolph and rosa were attending Sunday School, the children moved into their kitchen a new electric range and refrigerator. Rosa's surprise can well be imagined.
        Due to her declining health half of their land was sold to Alfred, the youngest son, in 1941. This gave them more free time which they used to visit their married children. In January 1946 she became seriously ill with anemia and heart trouble. She did not respond to medication and passed away in her beloved home on January 1946 at the age of 68 years and 9 months. She was burried in the Pratt Ward cemetary where a look to the east is rewarded by a view of the Teton Peaks in all their grandeur.
        Rosa was a woman who appreciated her family and oh, how her family appreciate her. She was extremely patient and understanding, thrifty and yet the soul of generosity. She was thankful for her health and her ability to work. And what a variety of talents she had. From working as a man in the fields and stables to the tender touch of a nurse caring for the sick: from making an addition to the chicken coop to baking a flaky delectable pie crust. The Kaufama children were surely blessed with a wonderful mother.
        God rest you, Rosina Kathrina Kaufman and keep you in his care.
        Rudolph continued to live at home with Alfred and Phyllis who were married about a month after Rosa's passing. It was hard for him to adjust to being without his companion of 49 years and he made frequent trips away from home. He was returning from a visit to Boise on July 1, 1947 when his son Arnold was killed when his bulldozer tipped over while clearing trees from a hillside.
        This blow was almost too much for him and during the ensuing months he became nervous and restless. Hoping that he would improve away from the farm and its memories he was invited to visit his children away from the valley and for the remainder of his life he lived among his children including those in the valley. Each time he visited a family he was welcomed as only a beloved father could be. Always quiet and uncomplaining he fitted easily into any home.
        Rudolph suffered two serious illnesses in this period. In 1951 he suffered a ruptured intestine which was corrected by surgery. In July of 1955 he developed hardening of the arteries to the brain and for most of the next two years he required much care. In 1959 his health improved and he again visited in Star Valley, Pocatello and Boise. He became known to his newfound friends as "Dad" and was enjoyed and admired by them also.
        Beginning in 1960, Father's Day became reunion day for the Kaufman family at the home ranch in Alta. Many happy gatherings were held there. Thanksgiving Day was frequently celebrated at Frieda's in Idaho Falls and all of the family was invited. Rudolph enjoyed being with his children on these occasions and seldom missed one.
        In September 1966, while visiting at the home of his daughter Rosa, Rudolph fell and broke his left hip. He was taken to a Pocatello hospital where he died on September 11, 1966 at the age of 90 years and 5 months. In his last years Rudolph sometimes remarked that he could not understand why he lived so long. No deceased member of his family had attained his age. But we who remain feel that the Lord permitted him to linger among us to be a continuing example of a humble and honest man and that we, by this extended association, might be influenced to develop more of these sterling qualities within ourselves.
        And thus his great life ended. Although his children did not surround his bedside they did surround him with their love as he entered into his eternal home.
        God rest you also, Rudolph Kaufman, and keep you in his care.

Compiled by Lee J. Bybee - 1971
with assistance from many family

Durtschi.com Admin: mark@durtschi.com

Page Updated: 11 Feb 01