which includes the conversion and baptism of some of the the
EDWARD DURTSCHI FAMILY
and many other people who are known to the Durtschis and other relatives.
Compiled and Copyright 1998 by Isabel Durtschi Walker
David Hirschi was born the 13th of August 1866 in Zwischenfluh, Diemtigen Kt., Bern, Switzerland. His mother, Susanna Katharina Werren was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints one year and fifteen days after David was born. David was blessed by Karl Maeser and baptized by Theodore Brandli, 11 April 1878 and confirmed by Gotfried Teuscher.
David says that most of the time his father was out buying cattle, sheep, goats, furs, hides, butter etc., and made good money but had very little interest in religion. His mother was in the home and there worked with the children. He says, "She loved us and taught us to pray and serve the Lord but father would not accept the Gospel which made things very bad in the family for father was not in tune with the message that the missionaries brought."
When David was about 8 years old he had to take care of the goats. He took them to the woods and trained them to follow him He says, "This was OK as long as I was alone but sometimes other children wanted me to go with them and have a good time, but as sure as I went the goats followed me and what a time I did have."
David came to the United States when he was 16 years old, and his sister Rose, two years younger, came with him. John Stucki had sent a letter from Montpelier, Idaho asking David's parents if he could pay the way for David and Rose to come to the United States and when his mother answered the letter saying it would be fine, mistakenly addressed it to John Kunz, also living in the Montpelier area. These two men had lived near the Hirschis in Switzerland and after being converted to the church, emigrated Idaho. John Kunz answered the letter and sent the money for David and Rose to get to the United States, so instead of David working for John Stucki, to pay back the money sent for their passage, he had to work for John Kunz, who, David said, was a hard taskmaster.
It took several years, but eventually the money was paid back and David was a free man.
[David's hand written story is in detail and some of the information blends into the history of our grandparents and parents so I am giving information that leads to the meeting of David Hirschi and our people, the Edward Durtschi Sr. family, the Aeschbacher family, the John Hofers and some others in Switzerland and the Waschlowski family in Germany.]
The day came when David found the sweetheart he married. Her name, Magdalena Wuthrich, was a sweet young woman. David wanted to marry her in the temple but they didn't have the money to take the trip to Logan so they were married by their bishop and later were married in the temple.
Eventually they moved to the Salem, Idaho area where they lived most of the rest of their lives. David built his wife a little four room log home with a dirt roof and they moved in with their then small family. They lived in what we would call now days, poverty, but David was ambitious, worked hard, getting up early and working late, sometimes working for other farmers to make a little extra money, which they badly needed.
Most of his farm had to have sagebrush grubbed out before any crop could be planted. As he removed sagebrush he planted grain and hay and other feed for his animals and a garden for food for the table.
In his own words he said, "Oh, we felt so happy to have a home of our own and we wanted more family." They eventually had twelve children. Many years later he bought a two story frame home that gave more space to live in and was near the church and the school.
Brother Hirschi and his wife were very generous, kind, loving people. They gave a home to several people who needed help at different times. One sick, old man stayed with them for several years, until he passed away, and Brother Hirschi paid for his funeral even though the family had little to live on themselves. He writes, "Many times I would have liked to have sent off a letter to some of my friends in Switzerland, but we did not have two cents extra to buy a stamp."
That was very good news and I went away happy," said Brother Hirschi. Monday came and so did the money, and now he could enlarge his farm considerably.
David Hirschi was a very spiritual man and he depended much on the spirit to direct him in his affairs. He was often inspired to do something where the outcome was in his favor. Prayer was his anchor. The Lord was his friend.
In the month of December of 1902, David Hirschi received a letter from Box B, Salt Lake City. That is the box that all calls for missions came from at that time. His family had increased to seven children, the oldest only twelve and the youngest 4 months. He agonized over an answer. He wanted to serve a mission. He wanted to go back to his homeland and teach the gospel, but what of his family, what of his farm and his meager financial condition? After he had given the letter to his wife and she had read it she said, "Yes, you go, that is the only way," and he said, "but what of you and the little children and the money for me to go, because we haven't any?" And she said, "The Lord will open a way." What faith!
The Lord did open a way. A Brother Fisher came and asked if he could run the 50 acres that Br. Hirschi had just bought, and work it on shares. Money came from the ward. He had helped build a canal to water the Salem area and he was paid with shares instead of money so he was able to sell his shares for more than he had anticipated. Other miracles happened, making the mission possible for him. He had to have enough money for his passage to Switzerland and that he now had. He was officially set apart as a missionary on March 31, 1903 by Rulon S. Wells, an apostle and the 22nd of April, 1903, he found himself in his homeland of Switzerland as a Missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, alone and almost penniless. Elder Levi Edgar Young was his mission president.
Those were the days when missionaries went into the mission- field, most of them without purse or script. They depended on the goodness of members and friends for a bed at night and food to eat. One had to be a very dedicated missionary to live under those circumstances. This is the way Elder Hirschi lived during his mission. His wife needed what she could scrape together to keep the family in food and clothing. What little she could spare she sent to him, for which he was very grateful because he understood well her condition. Her encouraging letters were looked forward to with great anticipation. She never complained about what she didn't have, she was always positive and grateful for the blessings of our Heavenly Father each day and so thankful that he was able to fill a mission. The members and occasionally those who were investigating the gospel, gave him a little money.
Sometimes he had a companion and other times he worked alone, walking miles in a day, giving tracts, teaching those who had a desire to listen to the message of the gospel, helping to organize branches of the church and helping keep branches already organized going, giving the Saints instruction and encouragement, and baptizing those who were ready for baptism. He had investigators come to him and ask for baptism, which was always a blessed, exciting time.
For the first part of his mission he worked in and out of Bern, visiting all the little towns around that city. The people, for the most part, were kind and seldom did he go all day without being invited to eat a meal. But too, there were those who were antagonistic and cruel. One chased him and his companion off his property with a pitch fork, but generally when there was a ruffian wanting a fight, soft spoken words of kindness, mellowed the aggressor and often a good gospel conversation was the result.
Elder Hirschi was making visits among members and non members and he came to the home of the Hofers in Eggiwil. John, the son, had been converted and was a good member of the church but the mother had not yet accepted baptism because her husband was very much against the church and was angry at John for having been baptized. He made life miserable for the two of them at the very suggestion of going to church or "missionaries." When Elder Hirschi knocked on the door, Mother Hofer answered it. She was so glad to see him but afraid at the same time. Elder Hirschi wrote, "She told me the old man was behind the house and that I should go in and she would fix me some dinner and we could visit a little and I could leave without "the old man" knowing I was there. I was thankful for the food then visited a few minutes with John in his shoe shop and his father didn't know I had been there.
Twenty-one saints bore their testimonies the next fast day in Langnau. The Swiss loved to sing so there was singing practice every Sunday.
Elder Buhler was the presiding Elder in Bern at that time and worked with different ones of the Elders so it was that he and Elder Hirschi went visiting and a rain storm came up. They were given refuge from the storm by a family Ramsieir who were good members. They gave the two Elders each a pair of beautiful cuff links.
He mentions working with Elder Huber and Elder Murri but doesn't give their first names. He tells of going into the Alps and picking "Alpenrosen" - - alp roses.
In keeping the branch books Elder Hirschi and the other missionaries were able to visit all the members of the branch except one. Elder Hirschi gave much prayer and thought in hopes that somehow they would be able to find this "lost sheep."
One day, as he was walking, visiting and tracting, he came upon a man sitting in the shade of a tree. Elder Hirschi walked up to him and started a conversation and gave him some tracts. Then the man said, "I am Brother Muster, a member of the Latter Day Saint Church." Elder Hirschi says, "Here I found out where that last member was. Br. Muster started to cry like a little child and said I had been guided by the Lord to find him."
October came and also a transfer. He, in his new area was able to visit with his sister who lived in Stoken which was a very beautiful place, but he said to himself, "Nothing like America for me, even if Switzerland is beautiful."
This town of Stoken was very close to his home in Zwishenfluh, the home he left at the age of 18 to go to America. It brought back many happy memories but his mother and some of the family had emigrated to America and his father had remarried and had also emigrated to to the United States so there was nothing left there but memories.
There was an organized branch in Langnau but it needed much help from the missionaries to keep the group strong. The two missionaries who were assigned there for a time were Elder Bruger, who was the senior companion, and Elder Hirschi. Elder Bruger was soon to be released. In Elder Hirschi's words he says, "Elder Bruger was to make me acquainted with the saints so we went to Eggiwil. There we had to climb up and over a big hill to a family Aeschbacher. The road was very bad and the snow was very deep. When we got there we were about give out. We were received very good and we had for supper potatoes boiled in the peeling, and rutabagas and black bread and we had indeed a number of good times with these people. While we were eating we heard a goat beller under the table. I looked and one of the girls said they have the goats in the cellar."
It is here that he was called to be the District President by Levi Edgar Young. He had come to participate in a Missionary District Conference. This responsibility added much to David Hirschi's responsibilities and he spent a lot of time in prayer and fasting, pleading for the Lord's help.
On Sunday, April 17, 1904 he walked to Wimmis and there he met Elder Conrad Gertsch from Midway, Utah. On the 19th he walked to Durenast and visited with Elder Alms Burgener, Elder Eschler and again with Elder Conrad Gertsch. They walked together to the city of Thun where they parted, each for his own area.
The Bible classes were very fruitful and many were baptized because of the loyal efforts of those faithful missionaries.
Some time later Julius Gertsch was sent to work with Elder Hirschi who was a dedicated missionary too. [From the writings of Lydia Gertsch McCall, daughter of Julius we read, "Julius F. Gertsch, his mother and sister Lydia joined the L.D.S. Church in Switzerland. They came to Salt Lake from Corgement, Bern, Switzerland and lived in Salt Lake. Later, Julius was sent on a mission to Switzerland. He was one of the missionaries to the Durtschi family. This family joined the Church and, in time, came to Utah and settled in Midway. Julius and Elise Durtschi met again. They were married in the Salt Lake Temple March 27, 1908."]
Often, Elder Hirschi went to see his sister and family who had not accepted the message of the missionaries. His heart ached because strangers would accept the gospel but his own sister was so cool toward the message he wanted so badly to share with her, but he didn't push. He says, "If she is to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ, the time will come, I will be patient." Even though she would not listen to the gospel message she always fed him and asked him to stay over night with her and her family.
One day as he was visiting and looking for some one to share the gospel with he says, "We came to a Widow Muzenberger. Her daughter was a real Latter Day Saint but as soon as we got there and she found out who we were, this mother gave us the devil and told us that all we wanted with her daughter was to get her to go to America and there live in polygamy, "and since my girl has belonged to your church, I can't reason with her." She was raging mad and I let her talk until she was through, then she was going outside but I moved my chair to the door and spoke to her, then she began to cry and before we left she had calmed down and seemed somewhat more friendly." [This daughter, Elizabeth, came to the United States with the Edward and Rosina Katharina Durtschi family when they came to America in 1905 and later married Edward Durtschi Junior. They settled in the Teton Basin in Idaho and there their six children were born.]
As they visited, Elder Hirschi asked his companion, Elder Weber, [another change of companions] if he knew any more friends that he had not yet met in Wimmis.
Elder Weber said, "Yes, there is a family Durtschi in Obermat via Wimmis, but they would not listen to us.
Elder Hirschi asked, "Were they unkind to you?"
"No," said Elder Weber, "But they quit us," and Elder Hirschi said, "I have a strong feeling that we should go visit them."
Elder Hirschi continues, "We did go see them and had a wonderful conversation with them. Before we left the Mother Durtschi pleaded with me to be sure to come the next night to teach them more of Mormonism. I promised we would."
The next afternoon the two Elders had a Bible class with a large group of investigators they taught every week and after the class Elder Hirschi went to the Durtschis to keep his promise. He says, "They gave me a good supper and then afterwards we sat around the table with our bibles and we "thrashed out" Mormonism until after eleven o'clock. They asked me to stay with them that night and the next day we continued our discussion for a little while. Mother Durtschi prepared a good breakfast for the family and invited me to eat with them, then I had to go keep other appointments." [This was the Edward and Rosina Katharina Durtschi family.]
The Elders planned a beautiful Christmas program for friends and members. They decorated a tree and hung it on a swivel from the ceiling so it would turn around. Everyone was impressed with it and with the beauty of the spiritual Christmas program and the good feeling that was felt that evening. Later many friends who had been regular attenders at the Bible class asked for baptism.
Elder Weber, Elder Gertsch and Elder Hirschi walked miles every day, making contacts, sometimes alone, sometimes in pairs, holding Bible study classes two or three nights a week in different homes and having Sunday Schools every Sunday. The field was indeed white, all ready to harvest. Many were baptized, a few fell away but the work went on. The urge to go to Utah, "Zion" touched many converts after their baptisms.
The power of the Priesthood was evident as the Elders laid their hands on the heads of the sick, many of whom were almost immediately healed, according to their faith.
The missionaries had several Branch organizations going in different towns. Problems occasionally came up in a branch where bad feelings or misunderstandings sometimes arose among some of the members. As soon as Elder Hirschi found out about these differences he immediately took action, getting those who were at fault together and tried to find solutions to their problems. On one such occasion Elder Hirschi says, "I called the two that were in trouble in another room and spoke to them awhile. It touched their hearts that they cried like children and they shook hands and forgave one another and came and took me by the hand and thanked me for what I had done for them." Many times he acted as peacemaker, avoiding greater problems.
An undated entry says, "Elder Steiner helped Durtschis in the hay and in the evening Father Durtschi took us in his buggy to our meeting in Durenast.
March 16, 1905, I went to Durtschi's and helped them split some wood. When Father Durtschi came home he wanted me to come in the house and speak the gospel to him. In the evening he would not let me go so I had to stay over night. In the morning he was going to the city, Thun to buy a pig and I rode with him to Durenast.
March 26, 1905 Elder Hirschi says, "We held the first Sunday School in Wimmis and there were 12 present without the missionaries. After Sunday School the girls of the family Durtschi came to me wanting me to go home with them to have dinner, which I did."
All was not well in the community, for the children told the Elders that the school teacher told them not to take any tracts or books from them nor were they to go to their meetings any more, but the children loved to go to Sunday School and many went in spite of the warning from the teacher. It is possible that this was what triggered the terrible experience John Durtschi, Edward and Rosina's youngest son had one day as he began the school day. In his own words he says; "One morning I went to school with my brother Fred. He was in an upper class. 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. Many 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 my book sack and put them in my desk so he would have no reason to find fault with me. Then I marched out and we played. While we were playing I had a hunch 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 I was really in trouble. I knew I hadn't done anything wrong, and hadn't said anything to give him offense. The bell rang to march us back to class just after the teacher had thrown out the sack. I said to my buddy with me, "I wonder what I am supposed 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. We 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, I was so scared.
He screamed, "Why didn't you bring your book sack up here?" I couldn't talk, I knew he was going to beat me. He grabbed me by the collar and pulled me up off the seat and said, "I'll show you!" As 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 yelled, "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, my feet only occasionally touching the floor. He really had me dancing in the air. Then he slammed me down in my seat. I used to love to answer questions and take part in the classroom discussions, but I didn't answer any more questions that day. [John Durschi history.]
Father Edward, seeing John's condition when he got home from school and hearing what went on, couldn't believe that something like that could happen to a young innocent child. The doctor saw John and heard what had happened. Then he said, "That boy needs to go to the Alps for his health," and he gave the necessary excuse so John wouldn't have to go to school. [At that time in Switzerland, the father had to pay a big fine or be thrown into prison if there was not a good excuse for a child to be out of school.]
John's experience later helped the family make the decision to emigrate to America. Fredrich, Father Edward's brother and his family had already gone to America and settled in Midway, Utah. Clara, one of Edward and Rosina's daughters also had gone to Midway and married John Burgener, one of the missionaries who had been in Switzerland. Edward, the oldest son, had emigrated to the United States and was in Chicago and later went to Midway too.
Elder Hirschi goes on with his narration; Father Durtschi had never been to our meetings or Bible class and so when we were about ready to go to the class he was sitting on the sofa without his shoes on, so I went and hunted his Sunday shoes, which were not hard to find, and I put them on his feet, got his hat and took him by the arm and said, "Now, let us go to meeting." He smiled a little smile, then laughed as I was getting him ready but he got up and came with us. His good wife and children were so glad. I really think that was the happiest time in their lives.
Br. Hirschi writes further, When we came to the house every seat was taken up and we really had a joyful time together.
There were others who tried to "get rid of the Mormons." At one time while the Elders were having a meeting they were interrupted by a herd of cows with those big cow bells ringing, go down the street, then turn and go past their place of meeting again, and again and again. One of the members went out of the meeting and was able to get a cowbell off one of the cows. About three days later the owner of the bell went to the man to get the bell. Susanna Tuescher told him that he would have bad luck for trying to disrupt the Mormon meeting. Three days later he put that bell on his best cow to take the herd to the alps. To his sorrow the cow died that same day and he said he would never do anything like that again to disturb the Mormons. [As told by Elder Hirschi in his history.]
Elder Hirschi writes this note, "I had a gospel conversation with Br. and Sr. Hofer. They are very good Saints. Br. Hofer and I gave out more tracts, then came back to the home for supper. Br. Hofer gave us each two francs and he fixed my shoes." [Apparently the missionaries often split and took a member with them to go do their tracting and visiting.]
[Rosette Aeschbacher Hofer was the first of her family to be baptized. She was baptized by Elder Winterberger in August of 1903. She had been working away from home and met the Elders who taught her the gospel. She invited Elder Winterberger to her father's home in Eggiwil to teach her father and younger sisters the gospel. She married Johannes "John" Hofer on the 24th of April 1909. Her mother had passed away on the 8th of October 1900.]
Another interesting entry in his journal says, I went from Faulensee to Wimmis. There I helped Durtschis in the hay and in the evening we had a wonderful Bible class. After the class several asked me if I didn't want to baptize them pretty soon.
Two weeks later he was again in Wimmis to hold Sunday School and meeting. Elder Steiner held Sunday School in Durenast. In the evening Elder Hirschi held a Bible class at Durtschis and stayed there over night. This Bible class was held at the Durtschis often and the Elders were always invited to spend the night. This was a welcome invitation.
Some of the missionaries who came to work in that area, besides Elder Hirschi were, Elder Weber, Elder George Steiner, Elder Herbert Flamm from Rexburg, Idaho, and Elder Kohler from Utah. [Often Elder Hirschi (David) only gives the last name of the Elder he is speaking of or is working with so I am not able to give full name information on many of these Elders.]
The Elders were on the go all the time, searching for people who would listen to the gospel message. When Elder Weber and Elder Hirschi visited in Winterthur they met with the Julius Billeter family. This family was converted and baptized. [Julius Billeter is the man who did a great deal of genealogical research in Switzerland for the Durtschis and hundreds of other Latter-Day- Saint families after his conversion to the church.]
On August 20, 1905, Elder Hirschi writes, Bible class started at two o'clock and the meeting in the evening was very good. There were eleven people who wanted to be baptized. I felt that it would be good to speak to them and explain what a wonderful step they were taking and Elder Steiner was in harmony with me. I then called them together and we surely had a nice meeting. The weather was so pretty and the water in the lake was warm and the moon was shining. We all walked to the beautiful Thuner Lake, which wasn't far off. When we all got on the bank of the lake we had a little prayer, then I baptized these friends and all felt so happy.
Afterwards we all went to our little hall and confirmed them, who were as follows:
On August 31, 1905 Elder Hirschi makes this entry, I was visiting friends and Saints in the Wimmis area and on the way Father Durtschi met me with a bundle of hay on his back. He laid the hay down and shook hands with me, then we both sat down on the hay and I started a gospel conversation with him and I had my Bible, Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants with me and we spent over an hour discussing different principles of the gospel. Then he wanted me to go back with him and eat supper with them. After supper we all walked to Wimmis to the Bible Class. We stayed with the Durtschi's that night.
Another interesting entry one day later, Father Durtschi and his son Alfred, wanted to go to the Simenthal to get their cattle from the Alps. I went with them on the train as far as the Heisdrichbad station, Oei, which saved me much time and a few miles. From there I walked to Bachlen to visit August and Eliza Hahlen. Then I walked back to Oei and got the Book of Mormon which I let a lady have for almost two years and she never read it.
Sept. 8, The Bible class was real good which we held last night in Wimmis. Today I had to go to the Oberland to see my good "sheep" there but the time was short and I had no help. I walked to Rudlen, Aeschi, Interlaken, Matten, Gsteigweiler and made visits every place and stayed over night with the friend Hasler and I was very tired.
Sept 9, I had a good night's rest. I walked to Lauterbrunnen and called on family Graf, then I went to Wangen and Schildwald where I stopped overnight with Von Almens and they were glad to see me once again. Sept 10, I visited Fuchs and Gertsch. In the afternoon we had a very good time together in Von Almens house, speaking about the gospel.
In the evening the daughter of Von Almens, Mari Anna, asked me to go with her to see the goats. About three fourths of a mile away there were about twelve or thirteen little stables about five feet high on the mountain side, big enough for the goats. Then all at once a man came from the cliffs blowing a horn to notify the people that he was coming and brought about 150 goats and almost every one had a bell on its neck and then came about 30 people to milk those goats in those little stables. That was something to see!
Sept. 11, I walked to Geisteigwiler and when I came around the point, Mrs. Hassler was standing on the porch looking for me and as soon as she saw me she came to meet me and said, "I knew you would come. I had that feeling and I have cooked dinner for you and I have been waiting for you since twelve and now it is about two o'clock." When we came in the house there to my surprise I found that the table was set just for one and the good dinner was on the oven covered with a clean cloth.
Elder Hirschi only had a few weeks left of his mission, which was a two and a half year mission. On Sept. 17, 1905 he writes, I needed to go to Langnau to take charge of the work today and the meeting was well attended. They all wanted to see me before I left for the good America. Almost all of them wanted me to eat with them but I could not be all over!
After the evening meeting the three sisters Aeschbacher wanted me to go with them to Eggiwil. This was a three hour walk over a mountain and I did want to see their father Christian Aeschbacher before I left for home. We got there at one o'clock in the morning and when he saw me he cried like a child. We had a good, short visit together. It was too bad that the time was always so short.
[These three sisters all came to Zion, first came Lena. She worked 2 years, saving her money to help Ida come while Ida stayed in Switzerland saving her money so she could go to America to be with Lena. Rosette and John Hofer, with the help of the two sisters and their, by that time husbands, came to Logan in 1923.]
Ida Aeschbacher became the wife of Alfred Durtschi. They met in Salt Lake, were married and had 5 children, settling near the mountains on the east side of Teton Valley, Idaho. Lena married Fredrick Duersch who was taught the gospel in Germany and was baptized and emigrated to Salt Lake City where he and Lena met. They had ten children. They too, eventually settled in Teton Valley, just west of the Grand Teton Peaks.
Rosette married John Hofer in Switzerland. They also emigrated to Utah and settled in Logan in 1923. She died of cancer the first of February, 1925 just two years after they arrived in Logan. They had no children. John continued his trade as a shoemaker in Logan. Father Aeschbacher stayed in the little home in Switzerland and continued to assist the missionaries in their work.
The influence Elder Hirschi had, as a missionary, on hundreds of lives, can never be measured.
--Now back to the main story--Brother Hirschi had to leave this Aeschbacher family after breakfast to keep appointments he had made previously. He knew that perhaps he would not get to see them again before he went home and he left with a touch of sadness in his heart.
Sept. 24, Just as I was going to open the Sunday School, Elder Mauss came and wanted to give us a visit, which made me very happy. We had a nice Sunday School and at two P.M. our meeting was wonderful. The room was full and many had to go in the kitchen for a place to sit.
The Mission President sent Julius Gertrsch to Elder Hirschi, for, says Elder Hirschi, "I was very short on missionaries. We started for the Simenthal. We stayed in Wimmis over night and held a Bible class at the family Lortscher and then we went to visit Sister Kunz who had a son in Rexburg, Idaho."
[Mentioning Sister Kunz, I might add that many Kunz and Miller families settled on the southwest end of Teton Valley which is called Cedron. Samuel Kunz was a Patriarch and gave many of the Swiss people Patriarchal Blessings, among others.]
Sept. 25, "Just when I took my place at the table to eat breakfast, here came Miss Karolina Durtschi, a friend, and daughter of Father Durtschi and laid four pieces of gold before me on the table for tithing.
The next day when we came back to our room there were Elder Steiner, Mauss and Springer who wanted to see me and say goodbye to the friends and Saints who wanted to leave on the twenty eighth of September for Zion. These were families Lortscher and Durtschi, just the ones where we always held our meetings, "but the Lord will surely open some place for us to have our meetings if we are faithful in our duties and listen to his prompting," says Elder Hirschi.
Elder Hirschi goes on, We love these families. We held a meeting at the Durtschis which lasted two and a half hours and every place was taken up and many non-members too. After the meeting we sang songs of Zion and entertained ourselves until morning. The same time, Father Durtschi sat by a table and had his money on it and made four separate piles, two for his two daughters, (Rosa and Karoline) for they were not going to America yet, one pile for him and then another one. Then he stood up and took one pile in his hands and came to me and said, "Brother Hirschi, this is for you. I looked in his eyes and said, "Brother Durtschi, I will not take that money. You take good care of it and when you get to Zion don't trust everybody for in Zion there are some who are just as bad as some we have here. You will need it there." Then I saw tears rolling down his cheeks and he put the money back on the table and took a five Fr. piece and came to me and said, "Well, you will take this," and I said, "Yes, I will take that," and we hugged each other."
The Durtschi family, with the exception of Rose and Caroline left Switzerland on the 30th of September, 1905. Edward Junior was already in the United States as was Clara who emigrated some time earlier and had married John Burgener, a missionary she had met while on his mission in Switzerland.
Elder Hirschi continues, I went to Gerigs. Their girl asked me to baptize her. The family was packed, ready to leave for Zion. I helped them with their trunks and in the afternoon Elder Rindlisbacher and I made some visits and in the evening we packed his trunks. They had to be sent a week ahead. He too, was going home to America and his family, for he had finished his mission and had been released.
The next day we went to the river. There I baptized the girl Ida Gerig. When I walked in the water she was so glad to be baptized that she jumped in the water and laid in it. I raised her up, then baptized her. We went back to the home and Elder Kocheraur confirmed her.
Many entries went something like this, "We, [Elders and Saints] went to our little hall and held a wonderful meeting. Every seat was taken. In the evening we had a good singing practice. [I believe that Elder Hirschi realized that through song and the words of the hymns, hearts are mellowed and the spirit can be touched, often more effectively than preaching alone, for after his meetings there was always "Singing Practice."]
As Elder Hirschi prepared to go home he wanted to make visits to many of the dear friends he had associated with and loved. One place was to the Rudolph Kaufmans. His wife Rosa is a daughter of Father Durtschi. Elder Hirschi writes, "We held a Bible class there but her husband wouldn't come in the room. He wanted to stay in the kitchen, so I went out and took him by the arm and led him to the table right next to me and we had a good Bible class. He asked me to stay with them overnight.
September 29th he received this message from his Mission President, George F. Bailiff:
Elder Hirschi received his release and President Heber J.
Grant asked him to be in charge of the Saints who were emigrating to
America. He wasn't very excited about this assignment. He had to
see that everyone leaving had the right papers that were necessary
to leave Europe and to enter the United States, had the money
necessary to enter the United States and see that all the baggage for
his group had the proper identification and seals. It was a big
job. He knew it would be, but he survived it all. He had 65
persons in charge and they arrived in Boston on November 5, 1905,
all in good condition.
This has been a most wonderful experience for me [Isabel] to read this
very special record that Brother Hirschi kept for his family and for
the generations yet to come, not to mention those of us who have
learned so much more about our parents and ancestors who were born
in Switzerland and Germany. What a rich, precious heritage we have.
How very blessed we are to belong to families who could feel within
their souls that the gospel message Elder Hirschi and the other
missionaries taught them was true. They knew without a doubt what
they needed to do when they heard this sacred message.
I thought perhaps you might like to know how I was
fortunate enough to find this information that we haven't
known until now about our ancestors in Switzerland. I was
visiting with Millie Hirschi Mortensen one day and the thought
came to me as we were talking, "I'll bet she has a history of
her father who was instrumental in bringing some of our
ancestors into the church while on his missions in Switzerland
and Germany." So I asked her if she had a history of her
father's mission experiences. She came out with a large Book
of Rememberance size, two inches thick, of his history. I
then asked her if I could read it and she graciously let me
borrow it. It is handwritten but had been re-copied so many
times that some was hard to read.
Isabel D. Walker
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Page Updated: 1 Apr 01