Jacob Anton Lenz and Anna Katharina Muchenberger

Jacob Anton Lenz (1866) and Anna Catharina Muchenberger (1865)

Jacob Anton Lenz as a ChildJacob Anton1 Lenz was born 6 Feb 1866 at Wallenstadt, St. Gallen, Switzerland. He was the son of Joseph Anton Lenz and Maria Anna Gaudentia Spiess. (This is a compilation of the accounts given by Anna Katherina Lenz Bowlby from 1969-1979.)

Jacob was born and raised in Wallenstadt, St. Gallen, Switzerland. His family belonged to the Catholic Church. He had quite a lot of stomach trouble even as a child. Perhaps he didn’t get the right kind of food for a weak stomach. He went to work in a factory at the age of twelve. He worked only half days. After he was fourteen he worked full time. The hours were long – 7 A.M. to noon and from 1 P.M. to 6 P.M. His wage was only 50 cents to 75 cents per day. His parents worked too. His ancestors had lived in Switzerland for generations.

Jacob had been an incense boy who swung the incense before the priest. He had taken part in different rituals that the Catholic Church had, and he was quite proud of this.

Jacob had to go to the army for six months. Every Swiss boy had to go to learn where the passes were which allowed the people to come into Switzerland; they also had to learn where all the tunnels were. He joined the band while he was in the army.

Catharina was 24 years old and Jakob was 23 when he came back out of the army, and they were married. The occupation given for him at the time of the birth of his first son, Jacob, is “schlichter”. Anna Lenz Bowlby said that it had to do with the dyeing process at the factory.

JacobAntonLenz & Catharina Muchenberger - WeddingJacob married Anna Katherina Muchenberger 11 Jun 1889 at Weesen, St. Gallen, Switzerland. After their marriage she had my oldest brother Jacob. Joseph was on the way. They lived in an apartment house in Wallenstadt with four families. They lived upstairs. On the first floor was a family with nine children. The mother had a baby every year. Katherina was sitting outside their apartment house on a bench to watch little Jac play on the grass. The apartment house stood back from the road a ways. Edie, the eldest daughter in the family came out with a baby in her arms. They were talking together when Katherina said, “Why look, there’s two strangers coming up the path.” They had to come from the highway, up along the canal where the water ran at the side of the place.

Edie said, “They are the Elders!”

My mother said “What did you say?”

“They’re Elders of the Church, Edie repeated.”

“Oh, do you have Elders?” Katherina asked. “And what do they do?”

“They come and preach to us. We’re Mormons.”

“Oh, my goodness. I’ve heard of that, but they are a terrible church.”

“Edie said, “Well, I’d better go upstairs…” And she picked up the little boy.

Mother said, “If you have anything to read on that would you let me have it?”

“Oh yes,” Edie said, “but they would be glad to talk to you.”

“Oh no, no, no, no! I wouldn’t dare do that, but you bring me some literature,” she saidemphatically.

So Edie brought literature to her. Katherina went upstairs and put little Jacob to bed; she read all that afternoon and she was converted. She said, “This is the Gospel. This is the truth. I know this is it. This is what I’ve been looking for.” Every word she had read in the Bible substantiated the truth of the statements in the pamphlets. How wonderful! When people want to know about God he sends his missionaries. She was ready to be baptized.

Now she must tell Jacob. My mother then decided to make a nice supper for him-everything he liked. So they had supper and she said, “You know, I met little Edie downstairs and she was telling me about the Elders. She gave me some pamphlets, which I have read, and they are very interesting.” “My goodness!” he said. “Don’t you have anything to do with those people! Why they’re Mormons; they have lots of wives. Don’t say a word about the Mormons..not to anybody. They’re terrible. You stay away from them. I’ll not have them in our house. We’re having nothing to do with it!” exclaimed Father.

Now Mother knew that what the pamphlets said was true, so she started to pray every day

several times that her husband might accept it. For a whole year she left the two children with her mother and went back to the factory. One night Mother went over by the window. It was evening in the springtime. She opened the window and Father was reading the paper. Then all at once Edie and their guests started singing, “Oh my Father thou that dwellest in the high and glorious place. When shall I regain thy presence and again behold thy face.”

Mother said, “A Father in Heaven… I have a Father in Heaven. I didn’t know that.” When she heard that song she knew for sure that it was true, but she didn’t say it.

Father said, “Would you shut that window please? I can’t read with those people singing.”

Mother said, “Don’t you think it’s a wonderful song?”

“It might be but just shut the window.” So mother did, and she went in with the baby who was in the bed. She knelt down and prayed and she knew. She prayed for her husband. Katherina asked Edie one time if they baptized women.

Edie’s reply was, “Oh no, your husband has to give his consent, and they’d like him to come too.”

Mother said, “Oh never mind, don’t say anything about it.”

But every night for two years my mother knelt – in the morning and at night by the children’s bed and prayed that my father would accept the Gospel. She learned some of the hymns and sang them and prayed every day. So much is done through faith and prayer. My father had been an incense boy who swung the incense for the priest. He had taken part in different rituals that the Catholic Church had and he was quite proud of this too. So he said, “What do you think my priest would think of my going to listen to those people?”

So it went on. One night Mother had prayed so hard and she had wept too. She wanted to go so badly to hear the Gospel from these missionaries.

One night Father came walking home and said, “You know, I was turning into our pathway. A couple of those Elders were walking along and talked to me. They seemed like nice fellows. You know they talked about Switzerland and how beautiful it was. America must not be very beautiful, because they talked about Switzerland and how beautiful it is. They asked me what I was doing and you know, they’re really nice men, aren’t they?”

Mother said “Well is that so? I’d sure like to meet them too.”

Well, he said, “Some time invite them up in the evening, but not until after ten o’clock! We don’t want any of the family to bump into them. Gosh I’d never hear the end of it.”

Mother was so happy she thanked God all night long. Mother made the appointment for the next day. They locked the door and pulled the curtains (because Jacob’s parents lived across from them). Then they sat there until three o’clock in the morning and heard the Gospel in its fulness. Mother said she was ready to be baptized, but Father said, “It sounds all right, but no, we are not going to go to any meetings yet. There’s no chance of me becoming a Mormon. My priest wouldn’t like it and my parents wouldn’t like it. That’d be awful.”

So the missionaries kept coming periodically on the quiet for two or three months. Then about six months later, there was a couple getting baptized and the missionaries wanted them to attend the baptism. So Father and Mother went and that’s when trouble started. It was broadcast throughout the whole town before you knew it that Jacob and Katherina Lenz were going to the Mormon Church.

The priest came and said “How long are you going to serve the devil? You stop that at once!… and you come to confession Sunday and repent of it.”

Father finally felt the spirit of the Gospel. They kept on going to Church. Father had gone to the priest. When the priest asked him about this church and when he was going to

turn away, Father couldn’t answer. He just got up and walked out. That was the last time he ever went to confession. Jacob and Anna were baptized a month later with some other young couples (on 18 Apr 1892). Mother said she felt like she was walking on air. Such happiness! She sang all of the songs. But for Father it was different. His friends made fun of him. They would say things like, “Saint Jacob, how many wives are you going to have? Are you going to have to go to America or are you going to have them here?”

Jacob’s relatives said, “What did you go and do that for? Of all the churches there are, you would pick that one!”

Everyone made so much fun of Jacob that he couldn’t go on the way things were. The fellows he knew from the army had made fun of him along with other friends and co-workers. Father finally said, “I can’t take it any longer. Let’s leave here. We’ll go to Germany.”

They went to Murg Am Rhein in Germany. Jacob had a better job there and his pay was better. He had worked as a Schlichter in Wallenstadt. In Murg he worked in the embroidery factory, and he liked it better. He sure made better money. They lived there two years and the Elders never came. Mother wanted to invite the missionaries over, but Father wouldn’t allow it because of what had happened before. He told her never to tell a soul they were Mormons.

After living in Murg for two years with Mother praying regularly, Father said, “According to the paper a conference of the Church will be held in the next town!” Katherina wanted to go to it.

Father said, “Yes, we don’t have to tell them we’re Mormons. We’ll just go and listen.” And so they went to Conference, and oh the joy of it! And the songs of it! Father was the first one to walk up to the elders, shake hands with them and invite them to come to visit.

The Elders came and visited them in Murg time and again. But the German people never made fun of them. By that time they were getting along pretty well. They had money in the bank, a nice garden, wood stored for the winter, and they even had wine in the cellar. Father liked a glass of wine in the evening.

They had an elderly couple that took care of the two little boys all the time. They had a little farm outside of the town. The little boys told these old people about the church, and they said they were so thrilled; that if they were younger they would also join the church.

The Elders then said, “Come to Zion. Come to America. Your wife can come later with the children.” “Oh no,” they both said. “We can’t part from each other. We just can’t do it. Oh no, no, no. If we go, we all go together.” The Elders returned to America, and Father worked another year.

August was born on a very cold winter day in Murg, Baden, Germany. By spring Mother had some farm people take care of August. Their name was Klaus. They loved August. They fed him fresh goat’s milk, and gave him the best they had. Their own children were grown up. So August loved these people. Mother went back to work.

I, Anna Katherine Lenz Bowlby, came along three and a half years later. I was the first girl. (Born 14 Jul 1897; blessed 15 Jan 1898.) The neighbors said, “Now you must make some nice clothes.”

Mother replied, “Oh, no. She’s no better than our boys.”

That fall, the factory put in new machinery, so they didn’t need as many workers. Father was discharged. He went to Switzerland to work at a Swiss embroidery factory again, but not at near the wages he had been getting in Germany. We moved to Öfflingen briefly and then to Ottikon, Switzerland. It was about a two or three hour train ride from Zurich.

Frieda was born. Father had friends in to celebrate. The men smoked heavy cigars. The Word of Wisdom was not stressed so much then. Father did not tell anyone he was a Mormon. He joined a band, had friends and a good time. The celebration of Frieda’s birth was a good time, but the smoke had hurt her eyes and a day later she was taken to an eye clinic. She stayed there for a month. The family moved to the town where the clinic was while she was there. They were afraid she would be blind. Her eyes gradually got better. She was soon well again, much to Father’s delight. Then they moved back to Ottikon. They bought part of an apartment house. There were four families in it. It had a garden. Grapes grew up the front of it. Each family had a part of the building from the ground up: a cellar; the ground floor; a second story; and an attic. A big kitchen and living room were included. The heating stoves were concrete and had no oven. That was typical. Every town had a bakery and so individual homes did not have ovens.

Father finally gave in to Mother’s pleas to have the Elders over again and the Elders came. Mother said that when they walked in, it was a thrill. They brought the Spirit with them. One knew they were men of God. They washed and mended their clothing and then went on again. The Elders had to walk three miles to another town, where there were other members to visit. They also had conferences and meetings to attend.

When Father’s friends found out he was a Mormon, they said, “We never thought that of you!”

Father said, “Have I ever done anything wrong? I’m just the same as I ever was!” So the band came and played (their instruments). They opened the windows so people could hear.

Father gave up the embroidery factory and went to work in another factory. The room was sixty feet long. As bolts of cloth came on the rollers, they would go through a tank with sizing in it. Then they would go over hot rollers to dry. When the fabric reached the end, the bolt of fabric was ready to be sold. Father worked bare footed.

A neighbor looked after Frieda and me until the boys came home from school.

I was six years old when my Father got sick. He worked in the factories again, and he didn’t have enough to eat. We couldn’t afford meat and didn’t have much money. His stomach always ached. He tried all of the folk treatments for it and finally went to a doctor. He continued to work.  He would cook eggs and coffee on a little oil stove and ate bread.

My brother, Jac, got hurt in the school. Some boys pushed him, and he hit his ankle on the edge of a desk. For several months he limped around and finally had to quit school because he couldn’t walk on it any more. Six months after the injury occurred, Jac was taken to Zurich, and he saw a doctor about it. They found that the ankle bone had a chip off it and the bone had disintegrated. They put a needle through his ankle, but they couldn’t detect solid bone, so they decided it had to be operated on. He was there for five months. The young doctors learned on him. Finally he had to have his leg taken off just below the knee. Father and Mother would travel by train to visit Jac, and they also visited Church Conference while they were in Zurich. People were wonderful. Even the minister came and said, “We want to help to buy a leg for the boy.”

Jac came home very solemn and quiet. He had been through a lot of pain. Mother’s cousin, Henry Wiedman, came and took Jac home to live with them for awhile. They had a farm. Jac needed milk, eggs and good food. He was sixteen years old; he lived with the Wiedman’s for six months and got well and strong.

By this time Father was really sick. The doctor said, “If you don’t get out of that factory right away… well, six months is all I give you!” He was to have meat, better food, butter, milk, eggs and rest. We only had meat on Sunday; they were the cheaper cuts; we also had a little butter. We didn’t have cream or sugar for porridge. All we had was skim milk, and brown bread. We could have all we wanted of that. Grandmother came and said, “My goodness! Your children eat bread by the loaves!”

Mother said, “They can have all the bread they want. I was hungry as a child. At least mychildren can have bread.”

It all takes money. By then there were five children. Father had stomach trouble. He couldn’t digest anything. They said he was dying. He had some special food and a little more meat and things. The Elders administered to him. They said, “You must come to America.” Jacob had a share in a co-op store and they sold it. They had a couple of hundred Francs. Grandmother (Anna Catherina Gasser Muchenberger) loaned them enough money for tickets to America for Father and Joe. Mother didn’t want Father to go – he was so weak. My brother Joseph was to go with him since he could speak French. Mother said, “If anything should happen to Father, write and tell me. Do the best you can.” Mother was expecting another baby.

In May, the day came that Father was to leave. Joe and Father left with a suitcase and a few clothes and said goodbye. When they came to a high hill they stopped and waved again. At the back of the apartment, Mother stood and sang, “Come, Come Ye Saints”. The Lord helps when you are all in, down and out, and shows the way.

The neighbor woman stood crying and said, “How can you sing a song? You may never see him again. If he makes it he will never send for you. Other healthy men have gone and never sent for their families.”

“Not my husband!” Mother felt that all would be well. The Lord was her strength and sheprayed. She had felt so terrible until then, but then it all fell away from her. She knew it would be all right with Father.

Father and Joe set forth on a Jewish ship. The only thing Father could eat was soup. There was some meat in it. He felt better and by resting slowly regained his strength. The voyage lasted 12 days. When they arrived in New York, they only had a little money left. A man said, “You’d better go to Montreal. You’ll find it better there. Too many people come here all of the time.”

Father replied, “I haven’t the money to go to Montreal.”

The man said, “Then I will lend it to you.” The man gave them some money and his address.

So Father and Joe went off to Montreal. They got off the ship and went to a restaurant. Father put money on the table and said, “Suppe”. So they had a large bowl of soup and white bread. After that they only had $.25 left.

Now what should they do? They walked to the wharf. Men carried hides to the hold of the ship. Father saw a man directing things and asked him if they could carry the hides also. So the man motioned him to get in line. Joe did too. They worked all afternoon and evening. They gave him $1.00 and they gave Joe $.50. One of the workers could speak German and Father asked him where one could sleep. The man took them to his boarding house and told the landlady that he would bring them with him for a week until they could earn enough money for their own room. After three or four days father felt he the work was too hard on him and went to look for other work. He found work at the Victrola Gramophone Company. Music was wonderful. Joe worked there as an office boy. Father worked putting Gramophones (phonographs) together. They rented a room. They did their own cooking and saved money.

In six months they sent enough money for Jac to come over. Jac went. They made a Gramophone out of old parts for themselves.

Now back to Mother with us children – Grandfather had died. Grandmother came to stay with us. She had a little sewing machine on the table and turned it with her right hand. She had bad ulcers on her legs. Mother couldn’t go to the factory any more so she brought a spinning wheel home. It had round little spools on it; up on top it had arms to put silk skeins on. So she sat in a chair and peddled it. This turned the arms and the little spools filled up.

By this time I was going to kindergarten. I learned to knit and learned my A, B, C’s. I helped Mother with spools and minded children for the neighbors. When baby clothes were made, I hemmed diapers by hand with plain stitches. Little Henry was born. Mother went back to the spinning machine. She made enough money to feed us.

Then one day the postman came, and said, “Oh, Mrs. Lenz has a sealed letter from America. It’s got money in it.”

Father had sent two gold pieces from America. In those days they didn’t have money orders like they do now – money was sealed into a box. Mother had to sign for it. The Post man told everyone about the money from America as he delivered the mail. Everybody wanted to see the gold pieces. When Jac had left, it took all the money Mother had to send him off. He had grown and needed clothes.

After Jac arrived in Montreal, all three of them worked and saved to bring Mother and uschildren over.

When Mother opened these two gold pieces, my grandmother was so happy over it! She loved money and she had money in two banks. However she was awfully tight and very careful of her money. But those gold pieces – they were something! One evening Grandmother said, “Let’s look at those gold pieces again! She would run them through her fingers. Now that Jac was helping, more gold pieces would come. Father wrote and said, “Next month you will have enough gold to bring you over. Make arrangements to come. We’ll be waiting.” Mother was earning enough to keep us going, so she put all that he sent in a special place. When Mother went to get the money, several pieces of gold were gone. Nobody knew where she kept the gold pieces except her mother. Poor Mother could not tell Father or accuse her mother, so she sold the machine and a lot of her things so that they would have the money to make the trip. She hid her money in a different place. The Lord helped her all the way. May came. Mother sold her house on the quiet and never told anyone. Her mother said, “You’re underhanded.”

Mother got the tickets and gathered everything together for the trip and made the necessary arrangements. She prayed to the Lord continuously. She had put extra money in special pockets she made in her petticoats so she could just reach in and get what she needed because she was so afraid of having it stolen from her. We each carried our own basket with a change of clothes in it. We had to get a vaccination before we even got on the ship, and it was sure strong stuff because we never got sick with all these diseases any of the “childhood diseases”. We finally got on the ocean liner at Antwerp, Belgium.

The captain took us into a room that was on the third grade down in the ship. We just had a round hole for a window. We could stand up on our bed bunks and look out there and see the waves. Then one day the captain came to warn Mother to put Father’s watch away. She had left it hanging in our compartment so she would know what time it was. He then took the watch and put it into her pocket because she didn’t understand what he was saying. Mother said there was drunkenness and fights on board, so she put a big basket against the door of our cabin and slept on it. She was afraid so many times. Her prayers were heard. She was always a shy person and felt the heavy responsibility of getting things done to care for her young family. There was a terrible storm that came up. The ship would go way up and just plunk right into the deep. Many of the passengers were sea sick.

In New York we had to wait some hours, so Mother put us all together. August held the baby. Mother went to send a telegram to Father to meet us at the boat in Montreal. The telegram never got there, but while she was sending it, August saw a small purse. I held the baby and August showed it to people. They shook it and gave it back, so he kept playing with it. Then he felt something in the lining. It was a $5 gold piece!

Then we traveled to Montreal. Mother had written Father’s address on a piece of paper. It’s a good thing she did! The French pronounce things differently. Noisy Montreal! There was lots of black smoke from the chimneys. No one was there to meet us. Father had come every day to meet the ship. The ship was late, so he went to work in the afternoon. Mother got a cab to carry the family and the luggage to the address on her piece of paper. She was disappointed when she saw the house. It was black with soot and the air was smoky. The apartment was right on the sidewalk! We had to wait an hour or so before Father and the boys came home from work. When they came home they were so dumbfounded… so surprised! Father fixed us a good meal. Jac wanted us to eat bananas. Ugh! But we soon learned to like everything.

Father had bought Mother a rocking chair and he said, “Now sit down in it.” Mother couldn’t help but laugh and laugh to think she had this chair that would rock back and forth just for her convenience. And how pleasant it was! The baby sat on her lap. Father was so happy over seeing the baby for the first time, and the boys were too. Father loved little Henry!

Father’s boss had been nice to him and said, “When your wife gets here would she clean the offices? My wife wants to go on a visit and wants someone to do her work.” Mother was so tired and didn’t want to, but Father said, “I’ll come and help you.” Joe did all the dusting. They earned $10 for a whole month’s work.

Mother wrote a letter to her mother and told her about the trip and the apartment and the rocking chair. A letter came back. “Of all things to spend money on a chair like that! If you have so much money, pay me for staying with you, helping to make children’s clothes for traveling, etc.” Father had sent the money at first to pay her back what they had borrowed for his and Joe’s tickets. So Father said, “From now on do not tell your mother we have meat twice a day or anything else.” Grandmother loved little Henry. She had written down all the things she had given them from the time they were married. It came to $100. Father sent it with the admonition, “Don’t you write to her again!”

Mother didn’t like the smoky city. The house was damp. Then there was an advertisement in the paper that in Toronto there was a Swiss Embroidery Factory. Father liked that. That was what he like best. So they moved to Toronto. Father and Jac worked in the embroidery factory, and Joe worked in an electrical shop. We moved into a nice three story house with phones for up and down stairs. There was a garden. Corn cobs were on the stalks. That was our first taste of corn on the cob. Then we moved to a cottage. At that time I was eight years old and we went to school and I had to learn English. Through us, Mother learned to speak English. When we learned to say “a chair”, it meant “ein Stuhl”; “a table” meant “ein Tisch”. Mother got so she could read and write English. She loved reading the English literature. She really liked some of it better than what we had in the German language.

My little brother, Henry, would walk behind Father. Father would pace back and forth..he liked to walk back and forth with his hands behind his back. This little boy could hang onto his hands and walk right behind him. Father loved him so! And then came winter time. It was cold. It was really cold, and we all got sick with colds, but little Henry had croup. Mother did all that she could. It turned into diphtheria. Henry couldn’t swallow any more. Father called a doctor. The doctor told him to call an ambulance to take Henry to the hospital. The ambulance had to pick up another three or four people. When Mother got to the hospital, my little brother was blue and Mother knew then he wouldn’t live. Mother stayed there all that day, but he never recovered and he died there in Toronto. When he died Mother felt so terrible and Father felt worse than ever before. Henry was buried out in the hills. Every Sunday morning Father would say “Let’s go to see Henry’s grave. I’ve got to go to Henry’s grave.” The rest of us were quarantined.

Grandmother wrote and said, “Anna, where’s that little boy. I couldn’t sleep all night..he was always choking to death in my dream. What’s happened to my little boy?” Mother wrote and told her.

While they were still grieving, they read that the Church was in Chicago, Illinois, and so they moved to Chicago during the summer of 1906, when the embroidery factory closed down in Toronto.. Father was able to get embroidery work there too. By this time Jac was twenty and was able to do embroidery work. Joe got a job in the Western Electric Factory. August, Frieda and I went to school. We had a good life there. We lived in the third story up above a shop and it was just lovely up there. We were able to go to the Mormon Church there. (There had been none in Montreal or Toronto). We really enjoyed going to Church. That’s where we learned about Sunday School. Joe, August, Frieda and I were baptized while we were there. My family really made good money, but there was only work in the winter time because they didn’t do embroidery work in the summer. Then they’d use up all of their savings during the summer.

Jac went to New Orleans and was shanghaied to a ship where they kept young fellows in water getting oysters. Jac had a wooden leg which got all wet and broke. They took him back to the land. He got his leg fixed and came home to Chicago.

Jac couldn’t get work for the rest of that summer. The paper reported, “Canada is giving away land for ten dollars for 160 acres.” So my family got the money together and sent Jac to Winnipeg. He went to the Swiss consul there. Jac met up with two Swiss fellows, the Zundti’s. He purchased a homestead near the Zundti’s, and never looked to see how many miles out it was or anything. (Later he found out he could have had land nine miles out of Battleford instead of ninety miles.) He sent a letter to Father that he needed money for oxen, a plow and a wagon. To keep the land, one had to stay on the land for six months and break sod, fifteen acres per year. Father was still working at the embroidery factory and sent him the money. During this period Jac worked for others in Saskatchewan and lived there all of the next winter.

The next spring (1907) Joseph and August went up to join Jac in the hope of seeing the Indiansthat they had read so much about. Joe was just barely 17, but he got a homestead too, right next to Jake’s. Well, reality was a different thing. They were not used to hardship. The boys built a sod barn about 14 feet square for the oxen, one cow, and some chickens. They built a dug-out for themselves of poles and sod for a roof. The dugout had a small window and a door with leather hinges. When spring came it filled with water from the melting snow and the rain.. So they cleaned out the barn, covered the walls with wet mud, and made bunk beds. They had a small stove; they burned wood which they could get 30 miles to the north-west where trees grew abundantly. They also had two shelves for dishes, and they had benches to sit on. They also had a cat. Forest fires were a constant threat.

Before winter set in, Jac and August went to Battleford. There was some snow on the ground. They had a small sled with sides on it and one ox. Before they got to Battleford it really got cold. August froze his feet. They came to a shack where three bachelors lived; they wouldn’t let Jac and August come in and stay the night. But that night all three died from coal gas poisoning. Jac and August drove on and came to an old Dutch man’s place. His son was thirty years old. (Dutch is a lot like German, so they were able to communicate.) They took Jac and August in for two days. Jac and August went on to Battleford and went to a restaurant and had some tapioca pudding. They liked it and asked the waitress how to cook it.

“Oh, just put it in some water and boil it. When it is cooked put in sugar and salt. Then add some cream,” she said.

They tried some when they got back. They put the whole package of tapioca into a kettle. It swelled up. They finally had to put it into a boiler. They ate tapioca until they couldn’t eat any more. It was awfully gooey at the last!

Now in Chicago my mother was expecting another baby. She was very happy. She had money to buy new clothes for it. She crocheted things. Then the time for delivery came and they couldn’t get a doctor in the night. Finally a nurse came that Father had called in, but the baby was stillborn. It was a big baby girl and we called her Lillian. Mother felt so terrible. I remember Father had a little coffin in a cab. He took us girls with him and buried her in the cemetery. This was about April. Mother gave the baby clothes away. No more babies. She often said how thankful she was Lillian had died there; she would have died anyway on the prairies. She never told the boys about it. She didn’t like to talk to the boys. She seemed afraid of them. They grew up so fast. She had worked in the factories away from them so much.

Mother said, “I can’t stand it Father. I’ve got to go see my boys. I want my children now. I’ve got to go to my other children.” She wept so over this baby. As soon as Father was through work that spring, we left for Canada. We girls said goodbye to our friends and neighbors and went off on the train. All of our belongings were packed into a railroad car.

We finally got through Winnipeg. It was still cold that spring, but anyway we finally got to Battleford at night. We stayed in the station until morning, but there was no Jac to meet us. My parents had written and told him we were coming, but it wasn’t the first of the month yet, and he hadn’t come in to get his mail by that time. (He only went to Battleford once a month.) Father took us to a restaurant. The food was only half cooked and was awful. Father inquired about the boys. He found a man who let us live in a one room cook house. In the morning a milk wagon came. Mother saw women carry a jug to the milkman. The man filled it with milk. She called to me to bring a little pail. In Swiss the milkman said, “Oh you’re new here”. He talked to Mother and she found out that Joe had worked with that man in the fall and had earned a cow. The man’s name was Marug. He told Mother that the boys lived a ways out, but he didn’t know how far.

Father waited around there and tried to find somebody who knew the boys without success. “Well”, he said, “I’m not going to sit around here. I love to walk. I’ll just start walking.”

Mother said, “I wish you wouldn’t. You don’t know where to go or anything.”

“I can find out. Surely somebody will know,” replied Father.

Father didn’t know what a mile was. He got a ride to Wilkie, the half way stopping place and had lunch. It was 60 miles from Battleford. The man at the post office said, “Yes, I know your boys, but they live out at Grass Lake, about 40 miles. You’d better wait here. Not many live out there. There is only a wagon trail.” Since Father was tired, he spent the night at Wilkie. But Father thought, “I’ll make it.” He used to walk a lot. He didn’t have a blanket. He wasn’t dressed very warmly. It was spring and cold yet. When he came to a crossroads he didn’t know which road to take. He chose the wrong one. (Jac had passed through Wilkie during the night that Father had stayed there. Jac went to see Mr. Marug, who informed Jac that his family was in town. He also told Jac where they were.)

In the meantime Mother and children were in the old cook car. A knock come at the door.Mother opened the door. A big man stood there with fur around his cap and a package in his hand. His face was tan. She said, “I don’t want to buy anything, sir. I don’t care for anything.”

The man said, “Mama, don’t you know me?” It was my brother, Jac. He had changed so much in the three years since she had seen him! He had grown up to be a man now. She was so dumbfounded. She said, “How’s Father?”

Jake said, “I didn’t see Father.”

“Well he started walking yesterday, she said.”

“Oh my goodness. He shouldn’t have done that,” replied Jac.

“I told him not to but he wouldn’t listen,” exclaimed Mother. Then she was worried sick. It took three days to come in with the oxen, and it would take three days to go home.

The wagon was loaded the next day. The big trunk was put up in front. The big feather bed tick for us girls to sit on or sleep on and baggage were put in the back. The following day they left early in the morning. The oxen walked slowly. Oh we were scared of those animals, those great big old things! We’d never seen such animals before. When we came to a slough with water, they would walk right in and drink all they wanted and then go on again. At night we hobbled them and they would eat grass. Jac slept on the ground. Mother would sit by us and sleep.

After we arrived at Wilkie, a man told us that when a horseman had come along after my father had gone several days previously, he asked, “When you were riding in did you meet up with anybody?”

He said, “No I didn’t.”

“Do you know anything about a Lenz family?” the man continued.

“No, I don’t.”

“They’re down there someplace.”

“Oh,” he said, “I heard a couple of Lenz’ were living down there with Zundti’s!”

“I wonder if he’s all right. I’m afraid that something went wrong. I wonder if you’d go out and scout around a bit.”

So the man took his team and drove out. There he saw Father’s lunch paper on the ground going westward and so he followed the trail and he found Father crying, all cold and shivering and delirious and so sick. He lifted him into the wagon and wrapped the horse blanket around him and took him down to Joe and August. The boys put Father in bed and undressed him.

Father just yelled and hollered that he hated this country. What a God forsaken place theybrought him to. He just felt awful.

Two days went by and on the third day of our trip to Jac’s, we were coming to the edge of some hills. There was a valley with rolling prairie all the way and Jake said, “See that light there way, way off?” Joe and August had seen us coming and they were swinging the lantern and made a bonfire away from the house. It got quite dark by the time we reached their sod hut. A half-mile from the place, a gray cat came to us. Jac said she always came to meet him. Then, there we were!

As we drove up the boys said, “Father, Mother’s here now.”

Father was in bed with a fever and was making noises we couldn’t understand. Joe and August were nearly scared to death. They had fed him some porridge. Right away Mother dipped a sheet in cold water and wrapped him in it and fixed him some nice food and something warm to drink and washed his face and hands and fixed him up. Finally the fever was gone and he was himself again. But Father never liked Saskatchewan.

We slept in bunks and the boys slept out in the haystack that night.

Mother saw the sunrise and she loved it – and the wide open country. We were close to a slew. It had water in it. Father said, “Well I’m fed up. I’m ready to leave right away.” But there was no turning back. It was a long way to go, and there was no money. The boys had a rooster and four hens, which laid every day. August shot duck and wild prairie chicken. Mother made noodles – baking powder, bread flour, salt, cream and milk mixed up and put in a pan. When it was baked, it was cut in pieces.

My father and mother didn’t know anything about farming. They didn’t know anything about prairies. They didn’t know anything about country. Neither did my brothers. That spelled trouble for our family for some time to come.

The first summer we were there, Father decided we would build a sod house, and he wanted a big house (12′ X 60′). He wasn’t going to have a little shack like the boys’. So they plowed a furrow. The sod was black, with grass on one side. Father cut it into 2 foot square pieces. We carried the sod to the wagon, with me on one side of it and Frieda on the other. Jac would load it into the wagon and then take it to our house site. The summer was hot. We hauled water from the Wise place – two barrels on a stone boat every other day. When Mother washed, the oxen drank the soap suds. Mother also helped to carry the sods. So they built it sixty feet long. There was a bedroom at one end and it was 20 feet wide. There were two beds in our room and a curtain between. Father and mother had one side and Frieda and I were on the other side. And then the next was a kitchen. It was quite long. I’m sure it must have been eighteen feet and then the next room was about 12 by 12 and then another at the far end and they made a door into that place. My brother Jac had to haul wood all summer long (or for quite awhile). They went and hauled wood poles from thirty miles away in the bush country. Then he’d chop it up and we girls had to carry it and stack it up. We built this sod house and Mother, of course, had never done hard work like that; through that she got ruptures (the modern day term for a rupture is a “hernia”.) From then on she had troubles with ruptures, and it was so hard for her to do anything. Father never realized what mother went through…and I didn’t either until I got older. She was scared of the doctor and never went to see one. She always said they wanted lots of money.

They put poles on top. Father wired bunches of Slew grass to the poles in only two places. It was two feet deep.

Anyway, we children learned from those hard times. That’s why we got so big and strong and had big shoulders and big bodies. We had to work from the time that we were little and we carried sod. We’d hand it to Father as long as it was low down; Jake would have to haul it up higher. We did it all along the bottom. The sod was very heavy to carry. They put the grass down and then the next one would come on top, one way and then the other all the way around. It took an awful lot of plowing and an awful lot of sod. In the fall this grass lake was tall grass. We could walk in it and you couldn’t see the top of our heads. So Father thought he would make those thatched roofs they have in the old country. (They put on poles. Then they got this long straw and he tied it in bunches and wired it onto the poles close together.)

After the boys had been there together for the summer, Joe and August stayed home a couple of months and shot wild chicken and wild ducks. We had all kinds of wild meat and antelopes. We learned lots of things the hard way. Father and Jacob had to go back up and get rid of the furniture. But they sold most of it. They just brought back the things we needed, such as the beds, our table and one dresser. Mother did have three or four dressers so they sold everything else. It’s a good thing they had money from it because they had to buy some lumber. They were digging a well and put a curbing in it; they had to have that lumber. They bought groceries too. Jac and Father plowed  those thirty acres that year and worked it down so that the following year we would have a crop on it. And then we saw the forest fires.

Father and the boys made hay. We didn’t have a mower, but Father borrowed Zundti’s mower and then Father made little rakes for Frieda and me and we had to start raking hay into winrows. Father would go along and they would load it up in the wagon rack and put it on the haystack. So we had a great big haystack a little ways away from theplace.

After it was completed, we were so happy and so comfortable! There we were in this big house with a nice bed; we had at least a dresser; we had a big table and mother had some of her furniture and her dishes and things. Jac and Father also dug a well 30 feet deep. Fall came and all that we had planted was potatoes. It was new ground and had not been cultivated enough.

Early one morning at the end of October, we were lying in bed asleep. The wind startedblowing and all the straw stood straight up and the snow started drifting in on our beds. After we woke up in the morning Mother gave us a big umbrella to put over our faces and said “You children stay in bed.” The feather bed was deep and warm. So we stayed there all day. After three days the weather cleared, and then the roof started to drip.

The winter was long and hard. The stock and chickens were brought into one of the rooms of the house to keep them from freezing. And my father..oh I’ll never forget it… I couldn’t think of it. It was the first time I heard my father swear… the first time. I never want to hear another person swear. I couldn’t stand it. It just chilled us through and through. Well, the upshot of it was that they had to put sod on top of the hay to hold it down. That’s all they could do. Then it got so cold as the winter progressed. We had to put our bed out in the front room and Father had the sofa near the stove. Mother and we two girls slept in the bed during the worst six weeks of December and January. Mother and Frieda and I stayed in bed. It got so cold the well flu froze over. Later we were told it was 50 degrees below Zero. It was too cold; the wood was green; and there was no heat from it. Mother made a few pancakes in this way: she just fried biscuit dough and sprinkled a little bit of sugar on it. That’s all that she had left and there was no Santa Claus that Christmas. Joe was to send out a parcel but had no way to do so. Mother said, “Look children, we have to be sensible.” We didn’t cry, but we were awfully disappointed.

Christmas day we saw a small speck coming. It was Mrs. Wise. She had put on her husband’s overalls and had a pack on her back. In it was a wonderful cake, two loaves of bread, a pound of butter some dried apples. She stayed and visited. I’ve never forgotten it, and I’ve thanked her time and again for her kindness.

August came home for a visit after those lean months. When he saw Mother in bed he said, “Is that you Mother!? You’re so thin!”

Joe got a job in a dairy in North Battleford, and August worked for a farmer for $15 a month, from which they gave the family money for groceries and supplies.

The last well they had dug in the fall needed curbing, so Father and Jac went to Battleford to get some more lumber. They bought a 5 gallon can of coal oil, a sack of flour, and other groceries. The snow was deep; the oxen would jump over the drifts and jerk things loose. The supplies slid off and coal oil spilled down on one sack of flour. Well we had to eat it anyhow because there was no money to buy more flour, and it was too far to go back. We had to eat it, but when I smell coal oil I remember that taste that never left my insides for ever so long. We had baking powder biscuits out of it. That’s all that Father could make.

My mother had never learned to bake bread because she always bought it wherever they went. In Switzerland they didn’t have ovens in their homes to make bread in. Mrs. Wise tried to teach her to make bread, but Mother didn’t use enough yeast cakes. In those days we used little yeast cakes; then the dough had to be kneaded well.

In the spring I, Anna, went to live with a family to help take care of the children. Mother cut my hair so that I could take care of it. (See Anna’s story for more details.) The first of October I went back home. My family came for me. I was there all that summer and I had grown four or five inches.

When Frieda saw me she said “Gosh, Look at Annie see how she’s grown. Will I ever get that tall?” Well, I was surprised at the changes while I had been away. After I left the farmers came flocking in. The land was taken up all around us. Father’s land, a small piece that he had taken, had a big slew on it below the house and that’s where the pasture was for the cows. I woke up to the gobble of turkeys and the yelling of the geese. I couldn’t imagine what the noise was, so I got up and found out. A school had been built, so back to school we went. There were twenty children. Now we also had warm clothes to wear, felt shoes, coats, and mitts. We used to have to make smudges to milk the cows. But anyway they came for me and they had $35 out of the $40 I had earned. The family gave me $8 a month. I really was glad to have known those people and they were very good to me. This woman used to say, “Well we’ll sure miss you around here.” But I learned to speak English because I had to speak only English you see.

My parents went to Battleford and they bought big cans of peanut butter, syrup and flour. Flour then was $2.50 a sack. Father bought four or five sacks of flour. They said, Well we’ll have enough flour for the winter anyhow. Jake was trucking for the railroad that was going in. He worked for money to buy horses. After that time Jac had horses to drive.

Times got better and a small wooden house was built. To this day those men never thought of comfort. Jac and Joe worked on the railroad and made more money. August worked for a farmer, and got $200 so came home. He said, “Mother, let me take you to town and buy some things for you.”

“Why you darn kid, hand over that money!” said Father. “Everyone turns in what they earn.” Father was angry. During the night August got up, and walked away to town and went to Raymond, southern Alberta, where he started working for farmers. Mother cried a lot and said, “Where’s my wandering boy tonight?” After years we heard he went on a mission to Germany.

Joe had no girl friend, so he took us to everything. We used to go to literary meetings, sing songs, and recite poems at the get togethers at the Methodist Church. Methodists didn’t dance. When we were fifteen we started going to dances fifteen miles away. We loved to dance until 4 A.M., and then hit the road for home. Joe had a well fed driving team. He had foot warmers and would get home in time to milk the cows and then get some sleep. At haying time in the summer, Father would say that if you can dance all night you can work. And work we did. We ran the mower and rake, helped haul it in to the stack. In the fall we hauled grain to the granaries and to the elevators at times too. Father never went alone; Frieda always had to drive the team for him. During the years I worked out, Frieda was home. She and Mother couldn’t part. She had to help Father go to water the cattle; he didn’t like to drive a team and she always had to go along. We used to ride bare back. Frieda loved horses. Whoever came, she only saw their horses! She always wanted to go places and visit neighbors, but just as soon as we got there she would say “Let’s go home!” She didn’t know what to talk about. She was the home girl. When I got home from Battleford she would always say “Now bake something good!” She learned how to bake after she got married. She also grew to be as tall as I was!

I went to work for the Barricks again. I had many good times with them. I learned how to get along with people and be appreciated. We were not appreciated at home. We just had to work or we were considered lazy.

There wasn’t much happiness at home. Father was shouting, yelling or sometimes cried because things didn’t go as he wanted them to go. He had not been raised on a farm. At night Father, Joe and Frieda played cards or checkers. I loved to read.

In the meantime Jac and Joe each had a homestead…Father also. All joined in the center. We lived in Father’s place where the house and barn were. We finally got a well with a pump in it. We milked the cows and sold cream. We also sold grain. The boys and I brought all the money we earned home. Only necessities were bought. They bought a Rumley oil pull engine and a yellow grain separator. Each fall they went threshing for the neighbors. They also bought a cook car. Every fall I’d do the cooking for eight to ten men.

In the fall of 1915 Jac and Caspar Zundti went to Switzerland. Each got married. So Jac brought Emma home. Ah me! It was hard for her to adjust to prairie life. Jac built a home on his place. We had a big barn, so the boys used it too.

A town was built up nine miles away and was called Luseland. Another town was four miles away called Salvador. We took the cream cans there to ship to Edmonton.

Joe got to writing to Pearl in Kentucky. Finally she came. They got married. She was pretty, and he loved her. They built a house on his land and lived there. By this time Frieda and I had boy friends that we danced with. Father got frustrated and tired of the prairies and left Saskatchewan for Idaho. Fall came. Jac had nine acres of rye seed and said that we could use the money from it.

August had come home from his mission and had married Martha Schellenberger. She used to work for the Allens and Knights. She was a fine housekeeper. She was to have a baby so Mother said that I’d better go over and see what I could do to help. So I went on the train, stopped off at Brandley, then on to Raymond. This was a new experience and I had lots to learn.

Now where we had lived we used to go to Church in the old school house where the Baptists and Methodists also held Church. I learned of the Bible stories, read magazines that we got and the Pollyanna stories. That was my highlight on Sunday. One winter we had Brother Brandley come to speak to the people. He never went anywhere but with us. The men talked of cattle and land value, etc. He ordained Father an Elder and the boys priests.

Now at Raymond, the Allen girl met me at the train. We went to their home, had supper and then they took me out to where August and Martha lived. Now I was grown up, nineteen years old. August had not seen me in years. He had always talked of his little

sister. Mother was short. I guess he thought that we girls would be too. We were a head taller than Mother. Martha said, “This is your little sister?” Ha, ha, he laughed.

Well, I stayed until Charlotte was born. They took me to Mutual and Sunday School. August talked about the Knight Academy Church School, etc. I loved it all. That’s what I wanted. When the baby came I did the housework. Martha had a trained nurse to take care of her. The neighbor had a baby so I did the housework there, too. I received two pet lambs. They were cute. August crated them for me when I was ready to go home. He gave me the small Book of Mormon and other Church Works. I loved them – they were my first nice books. I loved the hymns we sang at Church. My life was changed. I’d ask the Lord if he would send me the right man to marry.

So I went home. There was no one there to meet me. I hired a man to take me and the sheep out home. It cost $10 but he took hay on it. “Why couldn’t you have waited?” bawled out Mother; “I’ll claim the sheep.” Later she sold them for $100. Because I had had a trip, Frieda was to have a nice colt. She received a beautiful colt!

That fall Jac said, “All right, you can have the money for you and Frieda go to that school.” Frieda didn’t want to go. She had fallen in love with Mark. But Mother said that it would be good for her. We went to Raymond. We had $400. We got a room and did our cooking. We put our money in the bank and got out as much as was needed. We took cooking lessons, literature, sewing, arithmetic and piano. Frieda could only play by ear. I read the notes. Well, we enjoyed it. We had nice clothes and went to Church.

Mark decided that he was lonesome without Frieda, so he decided to come to Raymond. The only guy that would come with him was Guy Samuel Bowlby. I had always danced waltzes and square dances with him. They came out to see us; they also came to the Academy even though they were not members of the Church. They stayed two months. We left in April. They had money to spend. We went roller skating, to dances in the Opera House, to plays, and to shows. It was the first real living we had had. We went back home. The 1st of July 1917 we had a double wedding.

Frieda lived one mile away. Guy had bought his sister’s place at Unity, Saskatchewan. I had two cows and Guy had two cows. We got a cream separator and sold cream. It paid our groceries every week and also paid for the separator. That fall I cooked in the cook car and Guy had a bundle team on the steam threshing outfit of the Millards. We both made $6 a day. We made some $400, got our crop off and paid off the loan at the bank. That fall Guy said, “I’m paying tithing!” We sent Bishop Allred $100.

That winter we read the Book of Mormon. Guy said, “I believe it’s true. I’m going to join the Church. Jac and Joe both wanted to move to Alberta and had tried to sell out. Jac said, “I’m going to August’s to see about land.” Guy said, “I’ll go along and get baptized.”

March 14th, 1918 they broke the ice on the river on Heber Harker’s farm and Guy was baptized by August Lenz. They came back. Jac made a deal for the Ferrell place. He loved it with the trees and river there. Guy had bought a quarter section of land by Gibbs at Hill Spring. Guy said that if he was going to live that religion that they would move there.

The 1st of May (1918) Mother and I landed in Cardston. Mother had sold out too. She said, “Now we have finally come to Zion.” It has been for me. Everyone said we were foolish to come. I’m so thankful we did for our children’s sake. Everyone has a testimony of the Gospel. Mother bought a house on the south hill in Cardston.

August was living at Hillspring on the Parish Place. Martha was expecting. He brought her to town and left her at Mother’s. She had been sick. Blood poisoning set in. She and her baby boy died. August called him his “Crown Prince”. Mother cared for Lottie until August married Della Cahoon on the 12th of March 1919.

Father came back from Idaho and lived with her until she died in 1922. Mother had loved my twins so much. (They were born the year before she passed away.) It was the most wonderful thing that could happen.

Father went back to Idaho and remarried but couldn’t make a go of it. He came back and lived in a little house at Jac’s for some years and then at Joe’s. He had a stroke. I had him for two weeks until he died in 1939.

When Jac moved here he had two boys. They had one more child, a girl, to round out the family. Jakey stayed home with Jac and Emma, always doing chores. August served a mission to Switzerland. He then married and served in the forces during the war. Later they moved to Edmonton to raise their family of six children. Josie, his “thoroughbred”, as he called her, went on a mission, and married. She moved to Calgary and became a Real Estate Agent. Jac passed away in Jun 1967.

Joe and Pearl had a good thing going, nice place and all. They adopted two boys and two girls, (Violet, Frances, Jim, and Jody). Joe and Pearl made a success of the farm. He had a heart attack one evening while bringing in the cows to milk and passed away in April 1954.

August and Della were easy going. They raised a big family of girls (Lottie, Melva, Helen, Myrtle, Irma, Ruth, Ireta, Joyce, Ruby, Rachael, Marietta, and Hazel.) . All were good workers and they have made good on their own. August passed away in July 1960.

Frieda and Mark lived in Saskatchewan for many years, but finally moved to Cardston in about 1949. She raised seven girls (Edna, Clara, Fern, Olive, Janet, Evelyn, and Iva). All have done well. Frieda died in August 1971.

Jacob and Anna Catharina had 7 children:

  • Jacob Lenz, born 23 Oct 1889, died 29 Jun 1967.
  • John Joseph Lenz, born 24 Jun 1891, died 21 Apr 1954.
  • August Lenz, born 29 Jan 1894, died 6 Jul 1960.
  • Anna Katherine Lenz, born 14 Jul 1897, died 15 Apr 1981.
  • Frieda Lenz, born 4 Mar 1899, died 25 Aug 1971.
  • Henri Lenz, born 4 Oct 1904 at Attikon, Zurich, Switzerland, died 6 Feb1906.
  • Lillian Lenz, born 1907 at Chicago, Cook, Illinois, died 1907.

Anna died 10 May 1922 at Cardston, Alberta, Canada.

Jacob Anton LenzJacob and Anna had 7 children, 36 grandchildren, and 163 great grandchildren. Great great grandchildren and additional descendants are still being added.

Jacob married (2) Josephine Meissner 19 Aug 1925 at Salt Lake City, Utah. She was born 9 Oct 1864 in Germany, the daughter of S. Lang and C. Masener.

Jacob died 14 Mar 1939 at Hillspring, Alberta, Canada.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Jim Zunti
    Nov 05, 2016 @ 04:45:41

    Hi, I was reading your post about Jacob Anton Lenz and Anna Katharina Muchenberger, in Lenz Histories. Jacob and Joe Lenz, and their families, are also mentioned a number of times in a book entitled “The Homestead Challenge”, which is the family story of their neighbors, Caspar and Jacob Zunti (it is incorrectly spelled “Zundti” in the Lenz Histories). Readers interested in era photographs and additional Lenz details can find a pdf copy of “The Homestead Challenge” at https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=2A95B7C0F5186777!108&authkey=!AKodmFd7jOsru30&ithint=folder%2cpdf



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: