HISTORY OF FRIEDRICH DURTSCHI SR. FAMILY
Written and Copyright 2001 by Freda Baker
Friedrich's family moved to the outskirts of Faulensee where his father Johannes became successful in accumulating a fair estate. As a boy, because his parents were very poor, the children were "farmed out" to work at other families. Johannes had a very hard life, having to "work hard and starve a lot." He was ambitious so he would not deprive his children of the home and support they needed. He strove for a good education and purchased a farm where his children could live and learn to work. He became a county official as well.
Friedrich as a boy learned to garden and take care of animals. He went to school as the law required. In that day when a young man wanted to learn a trade he was apprenticed to a skilled artisan, and the possibility that Freidrich was apprenticed to a carpenter is very probable, as he became an accomplished carpenter.
Friedrich served with the army, as was required, two weeks each year.
He helped with the hauling and transporting of lime rock from the quarries to the barges where by lake it was transported to the railroad terminals for shipment to other areas.
On February 28th, 1873, Friedrich took to wife Elisabeth von Kaenel of Aeschi, Bern, Switzerland. He was twenty-seven years of age.
Elizabeth von Kaenel was born in Faulensee, Bern, Switzerland, October 31st, 1852, the second daughter of Samuel von Kaenel (June 20, 1824) and Maria Burgener (October 26th, 1826).
Her older sister, Maria was born in 1850 and died at 16 years. Samuel von Kaenel, her brother, was born October 18, 1854 and the youngest child, Susanna, was born April 10th,1857 in Aeshi, Bern, Switzerland. In the fall of 1857 before Susanna was a year old the parents were stricken with typhus fever and on September 26th, Samuel passed away at the age of 33, his wife followed him in death on November 6, 1857.
The four young orphans were farmed out to relatives, probably on the father's side.
One day, Elizabeth's grandfather Jakob Burgener went to see his grand-daughter. He found her terribly neglected, her hair was uncombed and filled with lice. Her clothes were ragged and she looked hungry. Jackob said, "I just took her by the had and took her home with me."
Elizabeth was raised with her aunts and uncles and was treated as one of the family. Her grandmother, Anna Tuesher, taught her how to manage a home, and taught her how to sew a fine seam. She never had a sewing machine, but her stitchery was exquisite.
Elizabeth's grandmother died September 8th, 1872 when Elisabeth was 20 years old and about six months before she married Friedrich Durtschi.
Friedrich and Elizabeth set up housekeeping in Faulensee. It is believed they remodeled an old restaurant into the town bakery and Friedrich's carpenter shop. Their living quarters were on the second floor. Having a bakery on the ground floor was handy. The townspeople bought their bread because on none had a private oven.
Their twelve children were all born in Faulensee:
(1 Friedrich, Jr. born February 20, 1874. He was born in the family home in Faulensee while his father was in the army guarding the Swiss border from the German Army which was retreating from the French Army.
2) Albert, July 8, 1875. His death was the first real sorrow the couple had to bear. He died at the age of ten, May 22, 1885. In that day leeches were used to draw blood, but it was of no help.
3) Ernest, Born January 10, 1878.
4) Elise, born March 3rd, 1880.
5) Lina, born January 13th, 1883.
6) Johann Albert, born June 24th, 1885. (Originally he was named Albert following the death of his brother in May 1885. It was the custom in the old country that when a child died, the next baby of the same sex was given the name. Alma Burgener persuaded Friedrich and Elisabeth to give him a name in his own right, so Johann was added and he went by the name Johann or John the rest of his life.)
7) Adolph, born April 6, 1887.
8) Robert, born January 14, 1889, died the 6th of March the same year. It was reported that he died of convulsions.
9) Alfred, August 30, 1890.
10) Huldrich, April 2, 1892.
11) Frieda, born July 12, 1894. She contracted diphtheria and died just before her seventh birthday. Her passing left a vacant spot in their lives. She was a delightful girl. The brothers just loved her. The cherries were ripening when she too sick and the boys took turns finding ripe cherries to give her.
12) Wilhelm, born June 12, 1898.
The family had a garden plot where they raised potatoes and other vegetables. They also had a large cabbage patch. In late summer the cabbage was shredded and placed in large barrels of brine, to make sauerkraut. This became on of their mainstays during the winter. Meat was cured by smoking. As there was no refrigeration at that time everything had to be pickled, dried or cured.
The boys drove the cows into the foothills to graze. Each cow had a bell of a different tone and the melodious sound echoed through the valley. In the summertime the cows were driven high into the Alps.
As is usually the case in a large family, the older children were encouraged to help care for and teach the younger ones. They supervised sledding in the winter and bowling in the summer as well as helping with the weeding, etc.
Friedrich, Sr. worked in his carpenter shop when he had some jobs to do, but the people in the area were too poor to give him enough work to make a good living, so he worked on the barges and helped with the shipping on the lake to supplement his income. Sometimes storms would come up suddenly and cause great waves to hit the ship. On one occasion the winds and the waves dashed the ship against the rocks, and it tore a hole in the vessel. The men had to literally bail for their lives. When Friedrich returned home he was exhausted. He found Elisabeth sick in bed and all the children sick with the measles. Friedrich almost collapsed.
Friedrich had a responsible job with the fire department. When the alarm sounded he would grab his helmet and storm out of the house to help protect the town. That is the picture the children remembered of him.
There were few horse-drawn vehicles in the village, so most of the deliveries and hauling was done by "people-drawn" carts. Elise and Lina delivered bread for the bakery in a two-wheeled cart. They also delivered groceries at times. In the summertime when the resort hotels were open in the Alps and the tourists visited the area, the girls would carry goods up the steep terrain, in hods strapped to their backs.
On May 13, 1898, just before his youngest brother was born, Friedrich, Jr. married his childhood sweetheart, Rosina Bhend. He prepared living quarters for his bride in the attic of his father's house. Rosina developed consumption and died when they had been married less than a year.
On May 13, 1901, Friedrich, Jr. remarried. He wed Catharine Luginbuehl of Krattigen, Bern, Switzerland. It was about this time that "Mormon" missionaries were proselytizing in the area. Catharine had been to hear the missionaries and coaxed her husband to go with her to hear their message. He finally consented, with the idea in mind that he would "run them out of town." But he heard the message. His parents and some of the children went to hear them. Friedrich and Elisabeth had heard John Huber preach the Gospel in the early 1870's, but were not inspired. It was at that time that their friends, the Andreas Burgeners, were converted and immigrated to America. One of the missionaries was Andreas' son, Alma. His father had told him to be sure to look up his friends when he was in the area. Now Friedrich, Sr. exclaimed, "How is it I didn't see it before?" The whole family was preparing for baptism, except Ernest who was away from home at the time. When he heard that they were contemplating going to "Zion", he told them that he would buy the house and turn it into a saloon. This grieved his mother and she begged him not to consider it.
Before they could be baptized, Elisabeth fell ill and died. It was thought by some that she had given up drinking coffee too suddenly and her heart failed. However, it was probably that she died of a ruptured appendix.
Elise was away from home working in Monaco and was unable to come home for the funeral, which saddened her. she said of her mother, "I almost worshipped her."
Elisabeth was a very lovely woman. She sustained her husband and comforted him when he was distressed. At one time he had signed a bail bond, and ended up paying it. He was very upset. She told him not to worry, "Don't feel bad, the Lord will provide." She was a religious woman and belonged to the Calvinistic Land Church and walked the five miles to attend her meetings each Sunday. Elisabeth was a cheerful, ambitious, frugal, happy person. Her children inherited a good line. She was survived by her nine children, (three having died) and one grandchild. Alice, daughter of Friedrich, Jr. and Catharine was only a few months old when her grandmother died on November 30, 1902.
Friedrich Durtschi, Sr. was baptized in his beloved Thunnersee on May 27, 1903 by Elder Alma Burgener and confirmed the same day by Elder Conrad Gertsch. Elise was confirmed by Alma and Lina was confirmed by Conrad.
Ernest had returned home humbled by the death of his mother. He started to attend the meetings with his sisters and he was baptized by Alma Burgener the same day that his brother and his wife, Johann were baptized by Alma Burgener. Friedrich, Jr. was confirmed by Alma Burgener, and the rest were confirmed by Conrad Gertsch. Alfred and Huldrich were not baptized until after they had immigrated to Midway. Wilhelm was not yet eight.
Before they left for America, Freidrich's brother, Edward of Wimmis, and his family honored the departing members with a party. The Edward Durtschi family came to the United States later, and lived in Snake Creek for a time.
After Ernest's baptism he told his family he would travel to Midway and check out the situation before the rest of the family left. He wrote back and told them to sell everything and come.
All of the Friedrich Durtschi family except Ernest, who had already gone to America, and Elise, who had a contract to complete in Monaco, left for America from Basel, Switzerland on April 14, 1904. They traveled to Belgium where they boarded a ship of the Red Star line and set sail for "Zion" on April 16. Elise came later by herself.
The voyage was rough and most of the family suffered with sea sickness, and probably homesickness, after all, they were leaving their native land and friends and going to an unknown country. They landed in New York on May 4, 1904 and traveled by rail to Midway, Utah. Ernest and Andreas were there at the depot to meet them and escorted them to their new home. The Midway lane was very muddy at that time of the year.
The Burgener family helped them find places to live. "Fred" bought a sixteen acre farm in "Stringtown" about two miles south of Midway. On August 12, 1904 Friedrich, Sr. purchased a farm from Gottlieb Kohler with 25 shares of capitol stock from the Midway Irrigation Company for $1340.00. This probably meant that the farm was 25 acres of irrigated land, as one share usually was sold per acre. The farm Friedrich bought was just south of Fred's place, in Stringtown. The family moved into a rustic cabin located on the south west corner of the land, just at the junction of the Stringtown-Charleston road.
Lina went to work in Salt Lake City and Elise kept house for the family until she married Conrad Gertsch on June 7, 1907 in the Salt Lake Temple. Then Lina returned home to take care of the housework. She was married to Alma Burgener in the Salt Lake Temple on October 7, of the same year. She and her husband moved to Midview, out on the "reservation." So it became John's lot to do the housework and help on the farm. Ernest had married Elise Fischer April 5, 1905 and had moved to Salt Lake. Adolph was in Salt Lake in the construction business so the family had dwindled.
Once Friedrich was inclined to marry a Mrs. Zwerful, but she beat him to it. He laughed and said he was going to sue her for breach of promise. Another time he sent money to Switzerland to a Mrs. Weber, who immigrated and was his housekeeper. He seriously was considering marriage. But one day William came home from school hungry and she refused to let him have some cheese to eat. One day she accused him of not washing his hands and face clean and wiping the dirt on the towel. She chased him through the yard and rubbed his face with the towel until "The skin almost came off." So Friedrich decided there was too much contention and he told her to find work elsewhere.
Friedrich was a faithful member of the Midway Second Ward. He was unable to understand the speakers but attended his meetings anyway. There were many Swiss people in Midway and they held meetings in the German Hall where they studied and had some good times together.
When the family arrived in Midway the three boys, Alfred, Huldrich, and William were all enrolled in the first grade of the Midway Grade School, until Alfred and Huldrich mastered the language, then they were placed in their age group. They trudged through the dust, the mud or the snow the two miles to go to school, each in it's own season.
In 1910, Adolph returned home to help his family build a brick house. It was built of "white" (really an off yellow) brick, the first such in the valley. It was a good house for that point in time. Of course there was no indoor plumbing. The water was pumped from a well north of the house, the trusty ole tub was used for the Saturday night bath and there was a small square building out back, which was usually tipped over or placed up on the barn by the fun-loving boys of the town on Halloween nights.
As his sons left for their own places and activities, Friedrich found the farm too much to handle. In 1915 he sold the farm to his son Ernest. Ernest paid $3,000.00 for it on January 28th, 1915. The deed was put into his wife, Elise's name to safeguard it from being attached by some of the businessmen who had dealings with Ernest, and who were not always to be trusted.
Ida remembers when they were to move into the house she as given the privilege of sleeping in her grandfather's bed, and how cozy and warm the feather tick was. Friedrich used his woodworking talents and made the two girls doll buggies with wooden wheels. Everything he made was expertly done.
Elise and the children brightened his life. He loved having them to play with. When the children came in from being out of the cold, he would warm their hands by rubbing them over his hair. He would pull them up on his lap and tell them stories, not that they could understand them, but it was fun. If they were good he would often give them a dime. In that day a dime was quite a bit for a child. He always carried peppermint candies in his pocket and shared them with the children.
Friedrich always grew a good garden and this was what he spent his time doing during that time.
In 1918 Ernest had an opportunity to buy a lumberyard on the outskirts of Heber next to the railroad. He decided that it was a good move to help him in his construction business. He built a fine brick home on the last block before the railroad depot, on the road to Midway and he moved his family and his father to Heber. The farm was sold to David and Mina Clayburn for $4,650.00. The papers were signed November 4th, 1918. Friedrich planted a large garden in the yard of the home in Heber. He took great pride in his harvests, but he was upset when the children sometimes ran into the garden, or damaged anything.
November 11th, 1918, the Armistice was signed with Germany ending World War I and Adolph came back from the war. He went back to his construction business in Salt Lake. He and Adele Rohrback were married in the Salt Lake Temple. As the "boys" returned from the war they brought the dreaded "flu" with them. After only a few months of marriage Adolph took sick and developed pneumonia, which was particularly virulent. (This was in the days before penicillin.) He died February 4th, 1920. Friedrich felt the loss quite badly, but this was to be the first of his losses to the epidemic of that year. Elise, [Ernest's wife] who had been such a caring person and who had brightened his life was an expectant mother. The Influenza was particularly hard on expectant mothers, so great care was taken to try to keep Elise from getting it. People wore gauze face masks and public gatherings were curtailed.
However Elise contracted the disease. She gave birth to twin daughters. The little girls died February 10th, followed by their mother on February 13th. They were buried in the Midway City Cemetery.
This changed Friedrich's life all around. Ernest, whom Friedrich had been living with had his own problems so Friedrich went to live with Elise and the Conrad Gertsch family for a bit. He enjoyed the children in that home too. He made the girls doll buggies and a cradle and some tables and cupboards.
Shortly after Elise's death, Friedrich went to live with Lina and Alma Bergener in Midview, in the Uintah Basin. It was just about this time that Alma built a larger house up on the knoll. Friedrich lived with the Burgener family for the rest of his life. He kept busy chopping wood for use in the stoves. He helped Lina in the garden, berry patch and orchard. Here again he made the girls doll buggies and doll furniture.
When the girls got to be young ladies and would bound about the house in their slips, he would complain about their lack of modesty. He'd tell Lina she should talk to them about it.
He faithfully attended his meetings and bore his testimony every Fast Sunday. Lina would interpret it for the congregation. Alma was first the branch President, then Bishop's counselor and then Bishop. He was always very thoughtful and kind to his Father-in Law. It is hard to say just how much he understood when he attended the meetings. He probably understood more than anyone realized. He carried a small dictionary with him so when he heard a word he didn't understand, he could look it up.
Friedrich would often go on long walks. Sometimes he would wander so far that it would be the wee hours of the morning before he returned. He often took the grandchildren for walks with him.
Alma Burgener sold his holdings in the Uintah Basin in 1919 and moved to Salt Lake. They lived at 942 East 33rd South for the rest of Friedrich's life. He always liked to plant things and when they were planting around their new house, he was quite firm in his intention of planting wild morning glory all over the place. Finally, Lina convinced him they were weeds.
On November the 11th, 1929, Friedrich's first great grandchild was born. This was Ernest's first grandchild. Friedrich often walked up to Hyrum's so he could hold the baby. This was his great delight.
Friedrich was a kind and thoughtful man. A gentleman in every sense of the word. He passed away of old age on the 21st of July, 1938 after a long life with his children and grandchildren and a firm testimony of the Gospel he embraced in his native Switzerland. He was buried in the Salt Lake Cemetery.
Written by Friedrich's grand-daughter, Freda Baker.