August and Della Casson Cahoon Lenz

August Lenz and Della CahoonAugust2 Lenz (Jacob1) was born 29 Jan 1894 at Murg, Baden, Germany. August had to be tended by some kindly people, who took very good care of him because his mother needed to work to help support the family. He was almost three years old when he was able come home to live with the rest of the family. August’s brothers thought he was very disloyal because he cried so much for “Papa Klause” who had been family to him. They called him “Klause” as a nickname for quite awhile.

The family moved to Robenhausen and then to Ottikon, Switzerland. These moves were

necessary to stay employed. Jacob and Anna bought part of a house with four families living in it.

August started kindergarten at age four. He attended school in Robenhausen and Ottikon.

When August was about ten years old (April 1905), he emigrated to Canada with his mother, two sisters, and baby brother, Henri. His father and two brothers had already emigrated there the year before.

When they arrived in Montreal, August was the envy of the whole family because he found a purse with $5 in it. He tried to find the owner, but when no one claimed it, it became his.

The family moved to Toronto to find employment in a Swiss embroidery factory there. In

Toronto, during a cold winter, Henri died of Diphtheria on February 6, 1906. The family was crushed. A better job was offered in Chicago, Illinois. They moved there and found a branch of the church to attend. August, Anna and Frieda attended school while they lived in Chicago.

The family learned of homestead land in Saskatchewan, Canada. Jake obtained a homestead; Joe and August joined him the following year. Later Joe took up a homestead also. They had the S 1/2 and NW 1/4 of Section 14 township 37 range 24 W. of the third Meridian. In May or June of 1908 Jacob Anton decided to take his wife and family to the homestead. Another baby girl, Lillian, had been born after the boys left Chicago and died at birth. The boys were not told about Lillian until after their mother had died. She couldn’t talk about it to them.

The family arrived to find a dug-out with a lean-to roof. A house was built out of sod for the family. Slough grass and mud for the roof didn’t hold up too well when the snow melted. The boys and Anna went to work for other farmers and also for the railroad which was being built. By then Luseland was 9 miles away, Salvador was 4 miles away and Unity about 30 miles away. The town of Battleford, where they had to go for supplies, was about 90 miles away. They had to travel with oxen and wagon. Mosquitoes, flying ants, and cold winters made life extremely miserable.

August and Joe worked to provide a living for the rest of the family while the others worked to improve the land.

Money was scarce and the grocery store was a long ways away. August was to take just one shell and the gun and hunt for wild game to feed the family. He would always bring in several prairie chickens and a duck. All his life he never hunted for fun-only for food when it was needed.

He was known for straight shooting. He made soda biscuits to supplement the meat. He also learned to make bread. On the dry yeast cake package, the directions stated that the yeast needed to be soaked in warm water, but not hot water; then the liquid was added to the dry ingredients to make bread. August set the yeast in almost cold water for fear of getting it too hot and spoiling it. The bread wouldn’t rise and resembled cheese when baked. They ate it anyway.

One day in early winter Jake came in to get warm and accidently pushed the yeast off the

reservoir onto the back of the stove. When they discovered it the yeast was all bubbly and smelly.

August used the yeast in the bread anyway…it couldn’t be wasted. To their happy amazement the bread was light and fluffy! They had good bread from then on.

Once when they were in Battleford for supplies they had some tapioca pudding at a restaurant.

August asked the waitress how to cook it. She told them to boil it until done in water and then add sugar and cream. They bought some tapioca and when they got home, August started his task. He took a kettle and dumped the package in the water and started it simmering. To their amazement the kettle was soon overflowing, so it was put into the largest kettle and still it grew higher, but it still wasn’t cooked. The dishpan was next and then the wash boiler. It was finally done. By the time they finished eating it with the help of the old cat, it was rather rubbery and gooey.

Just before Christmas, Jake and Joe went for supplies. They were to come home before the end of the week. A terrible blizzard hit and they couldn’t get through. August had only one shell left and a few dried beans. He decided he’d better set out on snowshoes for help. When he was about 30 miles from home one of his snowshoes broke, and he had to push through shoulder high snow. He became exhausted. He was unconscious when trappers found him the next morning after he had lain out in the snow all night. They took him to an old doctor. The doctor thawed him out and treated his frost bite with axle grease and a concoction the Indians used. He recovered and was ready to travel and shoot again in two weeks. (Told by Uncle Jake at an anniversary party honoring August and Della on March 12, 1960.)

August left the farm in his “seventeenth year” (1910/11) and went out to the mountains to work on the railroad that was then being built from Edmonton to Victoria on the coast. The following spring, he moved to Cardston, Alberta, where a tract of land that had been under grazing lease for many years was being opened for homesteading. He associated himself to a community of Latter Day Saints, having not been in touch with the church since he left Chicago at the age of thirteen years. August’s membership record had been lost so he was re-baptized and confirmed on 4 Nov 1912 in the Mountain View District. He also received a patriarchal blessing on July 12, 1912. He was asked to attend a class to prepare him to go on a mission at Knight Academy, but lacking the money to attend the class he found a job lumber jacking in British Columbia. He worked on the farm for Ursenbachs (in 1913), the Knight ranch, Evans and Allens until he had saved up the money for a full time mission by the end of 1913. Octave F. Ursenbach held the money for August’s mission.

August left for Salt Lake City on 3 Jan by train, and arrived there on 5 Jan 1913. On his way to the Swiss-German Mission he visited Omaha, Nebraska; Chicago, Illinois; Niagara Falls, New York; Montreal, Quebec; Halifax, Nova Scotia; Liverpool and London, England; Paris, France; and Basel, Switzerland. He arrived at Mannheim, his first field of labor on 3 Feb. He labored in Mannheim, Herne, and Eimsbuettel-Hamburg in the Swiss German Mission.

War was declared in September 1914 and all of the missionaries were called home. By October the Church was having to discontinue group meetings and just met with the members individually.

August had not taken a passport with him (or any other identification), and when he was asked to go back to America by the Church Authorities, he was not able to go, since the German government was on the lookout for defectors. Furthermore he had not registered in Mannheim, Herne, or Hamburg which was required by law. (According to August most of the Canadians and Americans at that time found it too bothersome to register in each town.) He spent from September through the end of January dodging the police and trying to continue his work with the members.

August was finally able to buy a passport to return to America (28 Jan 1915), after explaining everything to the police and receiving written verification that he was there as a missionary for the Church. However, he was unable to get to London in time to make the last ship for America before a blockade was put into effect. He stayed in Rotterdam, Holland with Elder

LeGrande Richards for about three weeks (16 Feb – 10 Mar) and then was able to board the “New Amsterdam” of the Holland-America Line to return home. Concerning his mission August wrote, “I have been on my mission a year, a short time, but I have gained what many years of college life could not give me, an experience that can not be got elsewhere. It has made another man of me and made me look at life from a different point of view altogether. Some people spend lots of money for pleasure that passes away and leaves a fatal reaction. I have not spent very much money and I have had more pleasure out of it than I ever imagined man could have anyway. I have had a veritable heaven within my breast. It has bettered me in a social, spiritual and physical sense way beyond my wildest imaginations. I have learned to know men and women, and I have friends whom it will always be a pleasure to remember and be associated with. It is a great honor.”

The voyage to New York was from 10 – 21 Mar 1915. They arrived on a Sunday afternoon. All of the third class passengers were detained on the ship until the next morning, when they were taken to Ellis Island. August remained there until about noon, when two missionaries got him out by buying a railway ticket for Raymond, Alberta. After a twelve hour layover at Utica, New York, he rode the train nonstop to Lethbridge.

Shortly after August’s return to Raymond on April 6th, 1915, President Allen held a ball at his home, where August first met Martha Schellenberger, a German girl working for Ray Knight. She was a sister to Gene Schellenberger, whom he had met a few years before in Mountain View when he was helping to paint the church building there. He proposed marriage to her on April 12th and they became engaged. In his journal August described Martha in this way: “She is certainly a peach, not one of the paint and curls kind, but a very sensible and nice girl. Just the kind I like and what is best, she is only a working girl and has some hard experiences.”

August married (1) Martha Schellenberger 19 May 1915 at Raymond, Alberta, Canada. She was born 11 Mar 1894 at Poppelsdorf, Bonn, Prussia, the daughter of Josef Schellenberger and Martha Mathilda Saul.

Martha Schellenberger was the second child and eldest daughter of Martha Mathilda Saul and Josef Schellenberger. The family moved several times before moving to Frankfurt, where they were taught the gospel by LDS missionaries. Martha’s parents were baptized in 1903 and Eugen, Martha, and Otto were baptized in 1907, when she was 13 years old. During this time she attended school and did well in it. At home she helped with the cleaning and mending and other household chores and was said to be “very immaculate”. She also sang in the district choir in Frankfurt.

Martha’s father was a bookkeeper and had beautiful penmanship. He was able to support the family quite well and they were financially well established until World War I, when the value of the Deutsch Mark plummeted and inflation reduced their holdings dramatically.

Josef traveled to America and visited the Schlitz Beer company as part of his work responsibility and was impressed with the opportunities to be found in America.

In about 1917, August and Martha moved to Hill Spring, where August rented a farm. On May 14, 1918, Martha had her second child, Joseph Henry. Unfortunately the doctor who came to deliver the baby was less than immaculate in his procedures and gave her an infection which led to peritonitis. The baby nursed the infection from her and Martha died May 19, 1918 with Joseph Henry dying two days later. They were buried in the Cardston Cemetery. The doctor was eventually run out of the area for his practices.

After Martha’s death, Eugen and Otto decided to go elsewhere and wanted to take Charlotte Irmgard with them, feeling that she was all they had left of their sister. August did not allow them to take her with them, of course. Lottie, as Charlotte Irmgard was called, was cared for by August’s mother until he married Della Casson Cahoon on March 12, 1919. Whatever happened to Eugen and Otto remains to be discovered.

In Germany, the Schellenberger family received word of Martha’s passing (probably through Eugen and Otto). There was a mis-communication and the family believed that Charlotte had died along with Martha. The Schellenberger family never heard any further from Eugen and Otto either.

Lottie’s family has had the privilege of associating with Martha’s brothers and sisters and their children, nieces and nephews. Alfred’s daughter, Anneliese, attended the Lenz Reunion in 1995. She and Richard’s daughter, Renate, met some of you when they visited during the summer of 1997.

Anneliese is a retired school teacher from Leipzig; Renate was a retired secretary living in Muenster, Germany. She passed away 29 Jun 2001 of cancer.

August and Martha had 2 children:

w             Charlotte Irmgard Lenz, born 11 Aug 1916, died 24 Oct 1980.

w             Joseph Henry Lenz, born 14 May 1918 at Cardston, Alberta, Canada, died 21 May 1918 at Cardston.

Martha died 19 May 1918 at Cardston, Alberta, Canada, and was buried 21 May 1918 at Cardston.

August married (2) Della Casson Cahoon 12 Mar 1919 at Cardston, Alberta, Canada. She was born 19 Dec 1899 at Manti, Utah, the daughter of James Cordon Casson Cahoon and Martha Hannah Braithwaite. The Cahoon family had moved to Cardston in 1901 (on a train as far as Stirling, and then by covered wagon to Cardston).

Della was the youngest girl in a family of nine children. She was also a half sister to the first family of 6 children. They moved to Beazer, then Leavitt and farmed. She received her schooling in Beazer and Cardston. She loved riding horses, fishing, and cooking.

Her greatest lament was being next to the youngest so that she had to do the dishes, etc. She spent many summers cooking with her Aunt Millie for sheep shearing and threshing crews. She also worked at the restaurant with Aunt Orah. Her brothers took her to dances and parties and took good care of her. The Cahoon family was very musical and singing and instrumental music was enjoyed by all. They had beautiful voices and were good dancers. When they moved back to Cardston, their home was opened to many sick people from the country. Orah was a practical nurse, so Della grew up well versed in the care of the sick. She was a good cook and gardener. Sewing and dress designing were also some of her many talents. Her father taught her a few carpenter tricks.

Katherina Lenz lived about a block west of the Cahoons. After Martha died, Lottie and Della became good friends even though they couldn’t speak the same language. Della would take milk, eggs, etc. to the Lenz home. One day when August came to Cardston, Lottie excitedly told him she had seen her new Mama that day!

Della and August were married a short time later. They moved to Kimball, Alberta to farm for a short time; because of the extreme drought that year they moved to the mountains to make hay for their stock. Melva was born at Grandma Cahoon’s home in Cardston. They then moved west of Beazer on the Charlie Trawlee place, where they farmed and were caretakers of a community pasture. When it closed and the Trawlee place was sold, they rented land near the Seddon School. They bought some land 4 miles

southwest of Hillspring and lived in a tent for about 6 months. One day a big wind came howling through and the tent blew down. All the dishes were broken and they decided it was time for a house since they had four girls by that time. They then bought a log house from Sydney B. Smith that was on the southwest corner of the town of Hill Spring. They moved it to the farm with 64 horses.

There were good times and bad times, good years and bad years on the farm. Some of the good times were picking berries along the river and in the mountains with the Martins (for pies and jams), going to Uncle Will Cahoon’s at Gas City and traveling over the corduroy roads, past the old wooden river on August’s back, tromping wool into the big wool sacks that were taller than the children tromping them, horseback riding, chopping and hauling wood, trips to Cardston across the reservation in a wagon or sleigh or democrat or with August in the car and sometimes the train.

Some of the bad times were the droughts, blizzards, hail, run-away horses dragging August, Lottie crushing her elbow, sicknesses, loss of little daughter, Ireta Alice, from a brain tumor, near loss of Irma from a ruptured appendix, debts and so on.

August bought some lots in Hill Spring where the girls lived in a one-roomed lean-to during the winter to go to school. In 1944 due to August’s poor health, he sold the farm and built a home one block east of main street in the center of town.

There was a fire at the chapel in Hillspring. The organ was badly damaged from the fire and was to be discarded. August asked if he could have it if he fixed it up. Permission was granted for him to take it. He painted the burned keys. Denim from his overalls helped repair it. He enjoyed playing the hymns on it for many years after that. (He took a few piano lessons from Fritz Sckeurffs during his mission in Sept 1914 at Hamburg.)

For years Della had washed, picked and carded wool for quilts with the help of the girls, for other people as well as the family. She had also sewed, made soap, and many other things to help clothe, feed and keep her family warm. She made quilts for sale also. She helped in Harker’s restaurant, baked bread, washed and ironed and mended clothes for others. Her cakes and cookies were enjoyed by all. She babysat children for years after her last girl, Hazel, was old enough for her to take in additional children. “Grandma Lenz” was what many children from Pincher Creek to Lethbridge called her. They dearly loved her and she loved them. Even though she and August raised twelve girls she still had lots of room in her heart for everyone.

August died 6 July 1960 in the Cardston Hospital after suffering from asthma and heart trouble for years; he also had liver congestion and pneumonia. Della moved to Lethbridge and sold the Hill Spring home. It was getting more difficult to keep fuel to keep the house warm. She, Ruth and Jeanine, lived together in Lethbridge for several years until she developed diabetes and had a few mild strokes. Taber was her home for a few years as well as Kosy Motel at Cardston, Magrath, Kinuso and finally she went into the Grandview Nursing Home at Cardston, Alberta, where she died May 14, 1980 at the age of 80 years. She was buried beside her husband and little girl in the Cardston Cemetery.

August and Della had 11 children:

w             Melva Lenz, born 16 Jun 1920, died 30 Mar 1988.

w             Helen Martha Lenz, born 7 Mar 1922, died 20 Sep 1987.

w             Myrtle Lenz, born 7 Feb 1924.

w             Irma Lenz, born 24 Apr 1926.

w             Ruth Harriet Lenz, born 9 Apr 1928.

w             Ireta Alice Lenz, born 29 Dec 1931 at Cardston, Alberta, Canada, died 27 Oct 1935 at Cardston.

  • Joyce May Lenz, born 28 Jun 1933.
  • Ruby Marie Lenz, born 12 Feb 1936.
  • Rachael Lenz, born 19 Mar 1938.
  • Marietta Faye Lenz, born 10 Oct 1940.
  • Hazel Irene Lenz, born 15 Nov 1943.

August died 6 Jul 1960 at Cardston, Alberta, Canada, and was buried 8 Jul 1960 at Cardston.

Della died 14 May 1980 at Cardston, Alberta, Canada, and was buried 17 May 1980 at Cardston


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Joe Soderborg
    Jun 26, 2010 @ 01:48:45

    I am a historian interested in the Swiss German Mission and I was wondering who I could talk to that might know more about his time in Germany.


  2. Trackback: 41st Wedding Anniversary of August and Della LENZ « Family History Fun

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