1909 & 1910, Coming to America

Bill, Frieda, Otto, Christiana, and Walter Andra

Bill, Frieda, Otto, Christiana, and Walter Andra

1910 -COMING TO AMERICA, written by Frieda and Clara Andra

The story of the Andra Family Coming to America written by sisters Frieda and Clara Andra, compiled by Deanne Yancey Driscoll.

Frieda begins: “My story begins in the Old Country – in Germany.   My father, Friedrich Theodor Andra, died November 23, 1902 in Meissen, Sachsen, Germany.  Mother, Wilhelmine Christina Knauke Andra, was left with five children, ranging in age from six months to nine years.  The children’s names were: Frieda Minna, Walter Theodor, William Friedrich, Clara Anna and Otto Carl.  My poor Mother had to struggle to support us.  She did small jobs at home and we children helped.  I worked here and there to help along.

Clara wrote, “In 1905, my oldest brother (Walter) who was twelve worked where ever he could to earn some money to help mother.”

Clara wrote the following about their conversion to the Mormon Church, “The blueberries were ripening, and we always picked buckets of them to sell.  So, on one of these outings, mother met a family by the name of Boettcher, she started to tell Mother about a new religion they had joined.  She invited Mother to one of the meetings.  It was the beginning of a wonderful new life for Mother and us children, as the next year we met many new friends.  Mother loved this new church and its teachings.  It was a wonderful good way to live.”

Frieda also wrote her memories of their conversion: “Three years later, while we were in the forest picking berries, Mother met a lady named Mrs. Boettcher.  Mrs Boettcher told her about some Mormon Missionaries who were holding some meetings.  So Mother began attending the meetings.  One by one we all joined the church.  Years later, after we were all baptized, Mother invited the missionaries to our house.  She fed them and let them hold their meetings there.  However, the Lutheran pastor didn’t like it, particularly because Mother was a widow and he gave her a very hard time.”

Frieda continues her story: “In 1909, the Boettcher family decided to go to America.  Mother asked them if they would take her son, Willie. (Bill was young and he could go for a cheaper fare.)  They agreed to do this.  Mother gave them the money for Willie.  When they arrived in Salt Lake City, they attended the German Meeting in the Assembly Hall.  After they had been in America half a year, they sent Willie to do farm work for a man they had met at the German meeting.  They didn’t even know where the farm was nor did they care.”

“When they wrote to Mother, they said Willie was lost.  When Mother told the people in Germany that her son was lost in America, they called her names and told her she was wicked to have let him go.  But all the time God knew where Willie was.  He was opening the way for us to go America.  Mother prayed to our Father in Heaven for her son’s safety and that she might be able to find him again.  Her boss, Conrad Zinke, sent telegrams trying to locate Willie but was unsuccessful.  One morning Mother was on her way to work when a light shone about her and she heard a voice say, “Go to America.”  When she told her boss, he said he would be glad to help her all he could.  When he asked her if she had any money, she answered ‘Very little.’  He was so kind.  He sent a man over to help pack, and get the tickets, and get the money he’d given them exchanged for American currency.  They gave us a big going away party in their villa.  The farewell dinner was held in the most beautiful room.  They cried and hugged us as they said good-by.  Our friends gave Mother the rest of the money she needed to make the trip.  Even my boyfriend Paul contributed.  Grandmother Wilhelmine Richter Knauke and Aunt Augusta were at the depot to bid us farewell.  They really thought Mother was foolish for going to America.  They didn’t realize my Mother had been inspired to go.  She knew God would guide her if she was faithful.  God in Heaven surely did guide us all the way to America.  Glory be to him in the highest for all the wonderful blessings we have enjoyed.”  (Otto left for America on the 5th of May in 1910. He was 7 years old and would turn 8 on the voyage.)

William Fredrick Andra wrote: “I was born on Feb 11, 1898, in Meissen, Saxony, Germany to Wilhelmina and Theodor F. Andra.  My father died when I was about four years old.  I was baptized in the Elbe River in April 1909 and came to the United States the following month of May.  I left at the age of eleven, one year ahead of the same boat, but were for some reason delayed a month.  The boat that they (his family) had intended to take sank in mid-ocean.“The Lord moves in mysterious ways, his wonders to perform!”

Frieda continued: “We left for America on the 5th of May in 1910.  We traveled by train to Bremerhaven, Germany.  There we boarded a steamer: The North Deutcher Loyd.  For two weeks I was terribly seasick.  When we reached Philadelphia, the rock salt was unloaded.  Everybody was very kind to us there and people gave us money.  The cook, who had become a good friend of mine, bought me a ring but my sister Clara insisted she wanted it, so I got the locket he had bought for her.  Then we traveled to Galveston, Texas.  When we arrived there, we freshened up and my friend, the cook, showed us the town.  He bought us some bananas, which we had never eaten before.  We swallowed the chewing gum whole, as it was also strange to us, and then we all got stomach aches.  We certainly enjoyed the cook.  He was always kind to us and saw that we had good food to eat.  Another fellow gave us a cake.  When our train was due, we had to say good-bye to these fine friends.  It was quite rough on the train.  We couldn’t talk much so we enjoyed the scenery.  Many funny things happened.“

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