Written by his wife, Mary, from incidents told by him.
Copyright 2006 by the Durtschi Family
By way of explanation, I think a wife is probably the poorest person in the world to write a history of her husband. First, she knows both too little and too much. Secondly, it is difficult to be sufficiently objective; however, since it is asked of me, I have done what I could.
Alfred Durtschi was born 30 August 1890, the ninth child and seventh son of Friedrich and Elisabeth Von Kaenel Durtschi. He was born in Faulensee, Bern, Switzerland. Brothers Albert and Robert had passed on before his birth.
Their home occupied the second floor of a building in the center of town. The ground floor was occupied on one side by Grandpa Durtschi’s business. He was a cabinet maker. The other side was the community bakery, which must have been well patronized by the “family upstairs”. Most of the people in the town bought bread from this bakery.
I must of necessity use some imagination, mingled with what Alfred has told me, to write his history. His picture on the family group shows him to have been a pretty stolid, serious, and even stubborn small boy. These are traits that have gone with him through life. Like other things, these have been good qualities.
Alfred’s youth was similar to others of his day. There was always plenty of work to do. They had a garden, and also a small farm and several cows out of town.
The school was close and Alfred had almost completed the eighth grade, when their world must have dropped from under them, for on November 30, 1902, his mother died after a few days illness. Shortly before this, they were converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and were planning to be baptized and immigrate to America. Following his mother, Elisabeth’s death, the family did join the church and immigrate to Midway, Utah.
Alfred, at the difficult age of fourteen, had to enter school in the first grade in order to learn the new language. This must have been made more difficult by the fact that most of the preceding generation still spoke the Swiss language in their homes. Many of them, including Alfred’s father never learned English. In spite of all, Alfred did a remarkably good job, as he has done of anything he undertakes. He is a perfectionist, a trait, which has made him and his work more often appreciated some time later than at the time he was doing it. The world, today, is too interested in getting the job done and collecting their money than the quality of the work.
In 1918, shortly before the end of the “war to end all wars”, he was drafted into the service. He spent several months at Fort Logan, near Denver. These were miserable months. The “flu” was rampant, and Alfred contracted it. Alfred did reap some benefits from this service, his citizenship and a veteran’s status.
When I first met Alfred, he was twenty-nine years old and was living with his sister’s family, the Burgeners in Midview, Utah. Part of this time he lived also with his brother, John, in a small house which belonged to his brother, Adolf, out on the North Myton bench. At this time, marriage was the least of my interests. I had dreamed of nothing but being a school teacher from early childhood, and besides, Alfred was another girl’s beau. My general reaction to him was that he was clean---the kind of cleanliness that would keep a young woman safe to be with him. He was tall and also a hard worker.
Alfred and myself, (Mary Sadie Spanton), were married in the Salt Lake Temple June 21, 1922. He once told me that he hadn’t really proposed to me but sort of “went along”, when I set the date.
Alfred is the father of five children, three sons and two daughters. The first little daughter, Betty Ruth, died when she was two and a half years old. There are fourteen grandchildren.
We had no financial assets when we were married and with the imminent depression gathering Alfred worked at anything he could get, no matter how hard it was or how low the pay. Late in November of 1930, soon after a cement mason’s pay was raised from fifty to sixty cents an hour, his job ended. About a month later our little daughter passed away. This was a dreary winter.
Alfred bought a hundred pounds of beans for a dollar and somehow the winter passed.
The following summer, Alfred was fortunate enough to trade the equity in our city home for an acre of ground where we now live.
In our first year we rented an old home close to Lena and Alma. Alfred somehow obtained enough money to buy a good jersey cow and calf. This cow provided us with milk for many years.
By the following spring, Alfred had dug a basement by hand. He built a house twenty feet by twenty-two. We moved into this in May, 1932. At this time we were about a block from water and electricity. We carried water from a neighbor’s well and used coal oil lamps. We planted a large garden and leased the adjoining five acres to sow alfalfa for our cows. Then came the bees, his one great love, but as neighbors began to fill in the vacant areas, the bees were not welcome. Besides this, I developed a severe allergy to honey bee stings. This made it necessary to give up the bees.
Through many more years of hard work, the little house which at first was meant to be a garage had become a three unit home. With the help of the older boys, his brother Ernest and his sons, and others, we were never in debt for any part of it.
Until the last ten years, except for the hurt of a crippled foot hurt in childhood, and a few injuries acquired in his work, Alfred has always been well and strong. These last years he has been less able to work. He attends church regularly, and does a lot of Temple work. He has a garden and a large yard.
Thus the days go by and we are grateful for each one.
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Page Updated: 22 Aug 06