Finding Willie

Wilhelmina Christiana Knauke Andra Wendel

Christiana Wilhelmina Knauke Andra Wendel

A continuation of the compilation by Deanne Driscoll.

Frieda Andra continues her story: “After we arrived in Salt Lake City, we hired a hack, which is like a buggy but much nicer.  The driver sits up very high.  We couldn’t locate the Boettcher’s so we went to the L.D.S. President’s residence (Joseph F. Smith) where their daughter Ida worked.  Ida was so happy to see us.  She sent us to her sister Clara’s.  After visiting there, she gave us her mother’s address and we left to look for it as it was getting late.”

“Although we had come to America in hopes of finding my brother, Willie, whom the lady had reported as lost, I know that coming to America was God’s plan.  Our Father in Heaven works in a mysterious way His wonders to perform.  Our driver kept driving towards the address we had given him.  As we came to 9 West and 4 North, he turned.  This country was so different to us.  Then Mother saw a little boy coming down the street and we stopped to ask him directions.  Then Mother shouted, “That is my boy! My Willie!”  And sure enough it was our brother.  He couldn’t speak German.  He just stood there trembling and pointing to where the place was.  We all jumped out and hugged him.  He had been on his way to the depot to meet our train.  Mrs. Boettcher had told him we were coming when he had returned from Fairview where he had been working for that man.”

“Two blocks away lived the lady we had been hunting.  So we paid the driver $3 for driving us around all day.  When we knocked at the lady’s house, she refused to let us in.  For her excuse she said, “Keep your things out there.  I don’t want any lice in my house.”  Of course we knew we didn’t have lice, but we sat out doors on some lumber and she brought us a piece of bread and a drink of water.  Her home was filthy.  There was a pig in her house and the chickens were running in and out.  What an awful place!  When Mr. Boettcher came home, he invited us in and fed us.”

“Then a sister Rigler came and said, ‘Come.  There is an empty house you may stay in.  I will give you a couple of blankets and a lantern.’  It was about eleven o’clock by now and we were all very sleepy.  We were even too tired to look around the house.  We all slept soundly, grateful to have our brother Willie with us again.  His lips were bleeding and his feet were sore and bleeding, also.  He had not been cared for, only given a lot of cussing and lickings.”

“In the morning we looked around the house.  This house had been flooded during the time that the Jordan River had flooded this area.  It had left dirt throughout the house.  There were no windows.  Outside there was a big barn, a flowing well, and four large trees (Poplars).  It was a beautiful day.  Everything looked green.  Mother called us together to have our morning prayer.  She thanked our Father in Heaven for all his goodness and for providing us with this house, which would be our paradise.  We were so thankful to be in America.  I have never heard a more inspiring prayer in my life.  The next day Mr. Rigler came back and told Mother who owned the house.  We made arrangements to rent the house for $2.50 a month.  Then Mr Rigler took Mother to town on a streetcar to buy a stove, washtub, dishes, food, pans, and a dishpan.  While Mother was gone, we scraped the dirt out.  Sister Rigler bought glass for the windows and even helped Mother put them in.  Walter made a cupboard from some lumber he had found.  We used orange crates for chairs.  We were very busy that Saturday.  Then on Sunday we attended Sunday School.  People were very kind to us.”

“We had arrived on June 3.  On June 5, I got a job for $5 a week plus room and boarding at the boarding house.  On June 6, Walter found a job at the floor mill (Hastler’s).  He boarded with Mother.  Willie worked at a slaughter house, so we were able to get meat to eat – tails, liver, etc.  It was very good.  Mother bought Willie a small red wagon which he took to market and brought home food we had never seen before.  The cantaloupes made us sick.  We ate the corn raw, which didn’t make us feel any better.  It wasn’t long before we learned which foods to cook.” (Clara and Otto would have still been in school during the early years in Salt Lake)

Frieda continues: “Well, it wasn’t long before our little house was a cute little dream house, complete with furniture and curtains.  Soon we had some baby chicks, a dog, and a cat.  Oh, those wonderful days in a very wonderful country which was given to us by God.  God bless America!”

Written by Frieda Minna Andra Clara added the following memories: “We missed our friends and relatives and everyone dear to us. Mother was so homesick for a long time, we used to talk about Germany and cry and cry, Mother and I.  But time heals all sorrow.  We had a new life here, and new friends to make, go to school and learn a new language.  Mother got work, so did my sister, Frieda, and Walter.  Willie was our spokesman when we couldn’t make someone understand, he would help us.  He was such a help to Mother.  He worked at the slaughterhouse and got meat for it.  Then he would go to the market place and help the men there, and get fruits and vegetables for it.  Then he went to the railroad tracks and picked up coal.  So Mother was able to save the money and pay back the money she had borrowed for us to come to America.”

“It was so different here.  In Germany we lived in an apartment with lots of people around.  I had a cousin Elsa, we were such pals, but here we were so alone.  We moved into a little old house no one had lived in for a long time.  We cleaned it good and Mother bought second hand furniture and beds, and a stove that we could bake in.  There was a well by the back door so we had to bring all the water in.  Mother had brought dishes and some pots and pans, bedding, and the curtains.  My brother Walter bought some lumber and made a nice kitchen table and benches, built a cupboard so we had something to put our dishes on.  This place had a big yard, so we cleared the weeds away, and dug a large space for a garden.  Mother bought all kinds of seeds.  It was Otto’s and my job to keep the garden watered every day.  It turned out to be a beautiful vegetable garden.  We bought some chickens, the boys got a dog, I got a kitten.  It was the first time in our lives we could have them.”

NOTE: Otto Andra was baptized on 31, Dec 1910. He was living in Salt Lake City, Utah with his mother and family at that time.  The 1940 Census states that Otto had a fourth-grade education.  It was difficult for the family because they arrived only speaking the German language.  However, Otto seemed to learn fast as did the others in his family.  On 22 May 1914 his mother married John Wendel and they would eventually move to his farm.  Otto listed on a passport that he was a farmer and I assume he worked on the family farm. John Wendel would be the only father he actually would know.

 

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