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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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.“