Anna Catharina Muchenberger – 1865

Anna Catharina Muchenberger – 1865

This history covers her birth to her marriage 1865- 1889

Anna Catharina Muchenberger was born 16 May 1865 at Oefflingen, Baden, Germany, the daughter of Johann Muchenberger and Catharina Gasser.

As a little girl Anna Catharina lived in the Black Forest of Germany. She went to school at the age of five years and had to walk quite a ways – about one mile. The trees were so tall along the road that one never saw the sky, and it was always dark.

Catharina’s family moved to Wallenstadt, Switzerland, when she was ten. She went to school until she was twelve. At fourteen the girls were allowed to work in the textile factory. She was a short little girl and had to stand on a stool to reach all the shuttles. She did weaving. She loved the hum of the machinery. In those days it wasn’t quiet – it was noisy. One couldn’t speak to other workers unless the machinery was shut down because there was so much noise. She wasn’t allowed to tell her father how much money she made so that he would bring his pay home for the family to live on. Her mother would put the money in the bank.

Catharina used to get very hungry but was not allowed so much as a piece of bread between meals and often laid across a chair when her stomach ached from hunger. Just so much food was dished out at meals. In the mornings she would go to school, and then in the afternoon she’d go to work. She earned only fifty cents per day for that type of work. They made all different colors of silk scarves for Indians. She loved to sing. She knew all the Swiss yodel songs.

(Catharina probably attended the Catholic Church as a girl, because her father was Catholic; when a couple is married in the Catholic Church, they are required to promise to raise their children as Catholics.) When Catharina was 16 years old she accompanied her mother to a meeting at the Lutheran Church one rainy Sunday. They walked to church. The minister spoke on St. Luke – how Jesus sent the apostles out two by two, throughout all the world to preach the Gospel to every kindred, tongue and people. He repeated this two or three times, and it sure sank into her heart.

When they got home her mother said, “Well how did you like my Church?”

Catharina said, “Well, I never heard that before. That’s something new. What did he mean byElders?”

Her mother replied,” Oh my child, that’s just old fashioned stuff.”

Catharina said, “Mother, the next time the minister comes to visit you, would you ask him?”

The minister visited them the next day and her mother said, “Will you please tell my daughterwhy we don’t have Elders?”

“Oh”, he exclaimed, “my child forget about that! You see, we are the Elders now. In olden times the Catholics had only a few Bibles; the Elders had to memorize certain things; then they were sent out to the people to tell them about the Bible. Now, we are the Elders of the Church; don’t you let that worry you.”

Catharina never said anything else because she was too shy, but it stayed in her mind. In the summer time, she and her girl friends went for walks. Catharina  and her girlfriends would stop at every Church in the neighboring towns and go to meeting. She’d say, “Do you have Elders?”

“No we don’t. Our minister’s the Elder and we don’t preach that.”

After a while she and her girlfriends tired of it. Catharina thought, “Well, I’ll just give up on finding out about the Elders”. She let further thoughts of religion rest. The subject didn’t come up again until after her marriage to Jacob Lenz. She gave up her search and just read the Bible. There wasn’t much reading material in those days. She didn’t care about newspapers. While she would knit stockings, she would read the Bible. She had thirty-two pairs of stockings knitted by the time she married!

When Jacob Lenz came home from his service in the army, Catharina and he sang in the choir together. She liked to sing; her mother had a wonderful voice too. She went to dances and enjoyed life. They had the priest’s blessing of their marriage and both of them kept working at the textile factory after their marriage.