Life Sketch for Hannah Mundwiler Dietrich
Contributor: mfields Created: 2 years ago Updated: 2 years ago
The Life Of
HANNAH MUNDWILER DIETRICH
(Taken From Her Own Writings)
EARLY YEARS AND PARENTS
I Hannah Dietrich was born on June 26, 1897 to Ernst Mundwiler and Louise Buser, in Tenniken, Switzerland, on a farm [which was] the farm of my paternal grandmother, who was a widow at the time. A midwife was attending my mother. Doctors were very few and far apart and all the women had to depend on a midwife.
I was the third child born to my parents. My younger brother, Johannes, was also born while we lived on the farm. My father's mother made the kids work really hard. During this time my mother wove silk ribbons. She was also a learned dressmaker.
About this time, my Father's only brother, Gotthold, came home to the farm to visit his mother (my grandmother). He told her that he was going to America. He was all prepared to leave. His mother was in shock when he left, and she died shortly after. Grandmother died before I could even remember her. My father then sold the farm. He did not like farming.
After we sold the farm we moved to a nearby farm to live with my mother's parents. They had a large house and I can remember my grandparents were loving and kind to us children. There were four of us children at the time: Marie Louise, my oldest sister, Ernst, my older brother, myself, and my younger brother (who was a baby), Johannes. An older girl also lived with us, and mother taught her to weave silk ribbons. (She was somehow a relative of mothers.)
By this time we had another a new baby born to our family. One night a very sad thing happened to us. We still had kerosene lamps. We did not yet have electricity. When the older girl went to bed she did not turn the wick down enough, and during the night it started to smoke and mother woke up. She could smell it. The baby slept in the room where the lamp was. The baby had choked to death from the smoke. That was a very sad time. It was a great sorrow for all of us. The baby who died was Frederich, born 8 October 1899.
We had another baby who did not live more than 2 months. It was another boy (Otto). Our church cemetery was up the hill and we children had to carry the little casket up the hill to the cemetery. Another baby was born in that town. It was a girl (Martha) and we had to carry it to the cemetery again. My mother was too weak to nurse it. In those days there was no baby formula or baby food.
My father looked for a job and he found one in a town about one hour from where our grandparents lived. We loved our grandparents very much but we had to move again. We girls had to work around the house. We had to go to a Sunday school which belonged to the Lutheran Church.
The town we moved to was Laufelfingen. A train passed by that town and it was a big town, with a big schoolhouse. I remember that my mother made all of us children's clothes. I remember mother was a very pretty woman and very kind to everyone, family and friends. My mother was always there when somebody needed help.
There were hardly any doctors available and my mother, even though she was not a midwife, was often called upon to help, especially in cases of a death.
My mother had 12 children, and she died at the age of 43, of cancer.
My father was born on a farm in Switzerland. When he was 18 years old his father died suddenly and his mother needed him to work on the farm. He did not like farming.
A few years later he learned to know my mother. She was only 19 years old and very pretty. He married here and she moved to the farm where she learned to weave. Weaving was an industry that was prevalent at that time.
As a young boy, father learned to play the violin from his school teacher, and he was very good at it. He wanted to be a musician. He played the violin beautifully and he knew the technique of most all instruments. He taught music to many young people and formed orchestras. He played dance music for many parties. He played in the Symphony Orchestra. Music was his life's joy.
My father was loved by everyone, young and old. He was only 51 when he died of cancer.
CHILDHOOD THRU YOUNG ADULTHOOD
In 1902 there was a big epidemic of whooping cough and measles in our town. Most all the children in the town were sick. My brothers and sister and I were all in bed, and our parents were up day and night taking care of us. A doctor from the next town could not take care of all the sick children.
I was still in bed when all the others were getting well again. I had a fever every day, so my father took me to the hospital and the doctors said I had pneumonia and I had to stay there. Nobody could see me except from the outside through the window. After 12 weeks they told my parents I had TB like all the people that were in the room. I was too sick to be kept in the hospital anymore.
My mother had faith. There was a nature doctor who had some kind of medicine and lots of people went to him. He lived in the country but sometimes he came to the town to see people. My mother went to him. He gave her medicine and he said, "You give her this every half hour. I don't know if I can help her. She is too sick. But if her fever is gone in the morning, you can continue to give her the medicine until it is gone. Then bring her to my place. If the fever is not gone, I can't help." I can still remember everybody the next morning when they shouted, "The fever is gone!" My mother was the happiest one. In a few months I was well again. I had to learn to walk again. I was five years old.
When I was seven years old, I started school in first grade. My teacher was an elderly lady. She was very strict with me but having an older brother and sister in school already, I learned right with them. It was not hard for me to learn. I got along just great. This teacher had first and second grades, and soon I was in the second grade.
A man teacher taught third and fourth grades. He was a very good teacher. He had just one arm. He lost one in the saw mill when he was a boy, but he could do anything with his remaining arm, even give the boys a spanking if they needed it. The teacher was special and we all loved him.
In the third and fourth grade we started to learn religion. Most all the people here were Lutherans. We children had a Bible in story form and we had to learn the stories by heart. The minister came over once a week to the school house and taught us religion. Our church was up the hill and on Sundays we went to church there. We children had lots of friends and we liked to live here.
My mother was often sick and she had 2 babies, and both died about 2 months after birth. We children had to carry the casket in a big wash basket up the hill where there was a little cemetery around the church. It was a sad mission to do that.
My father had a nice orchestra started in that town, but his heart was set on a house that was for sale in a bigger town. He wanted to move there. There was a high school, and more opportunities for his music. So we moved again, to a town called Sissach. We bought a big house, 3 stories high. Two stories were rented apartments. I started in fifth grade. I had a kind teacher and I enjoyed it.
My mother was not well and she did not move in with us. She stayed with an aunt. She was expecting a baby again. This time she had a doctor who was taking care of her. The baby was born just fine, but mother could not give her any milk herself. The doctor said our mother's milk was not good, and told her about another new mother who had plenty of milk and who could nurse the new baby. One of us had to bring the baby to the lady several
times a day, and it worked. The baby grew just fine. She is still alive here in America. She is eleven years younger than I am. We named the baby Rosa. She was born May 12, 1908.
Well, I went through fifth and sixth grade and then to high school. I worked hard in school and made good grades. I wanted to go to college and be a school teacher but my mother had three more babies and I had to help mother because she was not well anymore. I graduated after 2 years of high school. It was a sad day for me because I knew my schooling was over. The babies who were born were Ida, born April 9, 1910 and died July 16, 1910. Another was Emma, born September 4, 1912 and died March 3, 1913. The last one,
Martha was born March 8, 1915 and died May 26, 1915. Mother was sick all the time. Medicines were not far advanced. My father took mother to the big city to a doctor and he said she had cancer but it was too late to do anything about it. So I had to take care of mother and my little sister Rose who was now eight and a half years old. My older brother Ernst learned a trade, my older sister Marie was already a weaver.
Early one Sunday morning my brother Johannes called me. When I got to him he had terrible pain in his stomach. I made him a cup of herb tea which helped some. We had to call the doctor who said he had go to the hospital which was one hour away by train. My father took him and they found he had appendicitis. They operated and said he was alright. During the early morning a messenger came to our house and told us that something went wrong with the boy, and that my father should come to the hospital. My father went right away. He had to walk because the train did not run at night. (That was long before there were any cars.) A few hours later we got another message that our boy had died. He was only 17 years old. My father came home by train. I went to the station. I hardly knew my father. In those few short hours his dark hair had turned completely grey.
Johannes was his father's pal in the music line. My mother, sick as she was already, it almost broke her heart. When her two sisters came to the funeral she said, "The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh". A little over a year later, mother passed away. It was just about a month before Christmas. I tended her day and night. The day before she died, I had just given her a little food and she said to me, "Hannah, you have taken good care of me, the
Lord will take care of you. Your life will be a good one. Take care of little Rose. Don't let anybody take her if father should die".
After mother died, we girls took good care of daddy and the household. I was like a mother to Rose. She was only 8 years old and a sweet little girl. We kept the household like mother had done.
After 3 years, my older sister had a boyfriend, and my father had decided to marry again. The woman he married was a widow with her own home. My brother had already moved away to get some more learning experience and he had a good job in another part of
Switzerland. My sister also had a good job and Rose of course went to stay with father. Rose said to me, "mother said you would take care of me." I assured her that I would do that. Father's new wife had never had a child. She did not like it that he divided his attention with her. Rose had her own room upstairs at stepmother's house and that’s where she was expected to stay all the time.
I got a job near where my brother was. It was a good job cooking for 10 adult people. Next to the kitchen was the dining room. It was always filled up at meal time. The lady of the house always came to the kitchen before mealtime and helped a little. She put the food on the table. Everybody did eat at the same table with the boss and his wife. It was a nice bunch of people, like a big family. The young lady of the house tended the store. The
Pastry Cook made real good French pastry so I never had to make cakes or cookies.
Besides cooking, there were three rooms I had to take care of every day. I made the beds and tidied up the rooms for 2 apprentices and the Pastry Cook. I was surprised to see on the dresser of the Pastry Cook, a stack of books. The Bible was the only book I knew. The Book of Mormon was strange to me and the Covenants was also unknown to me. There were also a few songbooks. I wondered what kind of religion he belonged to. The lady of the house told me he was a "Mormon." I never heard of them.
This young man's name was Friedrich Dietrich, and I didn't know it then, but this young Latter-Day-Saint was the man I would someday marry.
Note: Ernst Mundwiler married his second wife on September 23, 1920. He died September 15, 1921. This marriage was short lived. After his death, Hannah arranged for Rose to live with the parents of Fred Dietrich in St. Gallen. Rose was very happy there until she and Hannah came to America.
I was blessed, as a baby, in the Lutheran Church in Switzerland.
I was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints on April 23, 1923 by Brother Alfred Niederhauser in an open river in Basel, Switzerland. I was confirmed after the Baptism, in the same location, by Elder Orson Kasteller, a missionary.
My baptism was on a Sunday Evening. We went after a Mutual Meeting. Everyone came. We walked to the Park almost one hour away. There was a big river. All day it had been overcast, and suddenly a bright moon came through the clouds. I had such a heavenly feeling. I did not know if the water was cold or not. When I came out of the water, my friends took me a distance away, and dried and dressed me again.
I had to sit on a bench and a missionary confirmed me and said: "Receive the Holy Ghost". He also gave me a blessing. On the way home we sang hymns. Nobody of my family was with me. My father and mother were already dead, but I was very happy to be baptized. I pondered also when I would (literally) receive the Holy Ghost. I ask the Brother who baptized me. He told me, "you have to live the Gospel faithfully and you will find out what the Holy Ghost means to you."
Many years have passed since that time and I surely have found out how wonderful it is to be guided by the Holy Ghost.
Fred Dietrich was born November 17, 1900 in Zurich, Switzerland. His parents moved to St. Gallen, where Fred attended a Catholic School until he was almost 10 years old. His parents were members of the Catholic Church.
A family who had moved into the house of his parents had joined the Latter-Day-Saint Church. Through them, his family was made acquainted with the missionaries, and soon Fred and his parents were investigating the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
When Fred was 10 years old he and his mother were baptized and a few months later his father joined the Church. From this time forth, Fred studied the Gospel and was very active in the Church.
After Fred graduated from High School (at about 15 years of age) he had to go to Luzern, Switzerland for 3 years to learn to be a Pastry Cook and Candy Maker. After his graduation in 1919 he worked as a pastry cook in different parts of Switzerland. Through all of this time he did not forget the Gospel. He studied faithfully and always paid his tithing. He never neglected to preach the gospel to his fellow workers or to pay his tithing, which he sent to his home branch in St. Gallen.
When he was 20 years old he met Hannah Mundwiler, who was employed in the same business place where Fred was a Pastry Cook. He told Hannah about the Gospel and gave her a different book to read (The Book of Mormon). Through this, Hannah later accepted the Gospel.
In 1925 Fred came to America. He stayed in New York for a few years, where he worked at the Ritz Carlton Hotel. After he arrived in New York, he wrote to Hannah and encouraged her to come to America. Hannah (and Rose) came in 1926, and Fred and Hannah were married in the Brooklyn Chapel on March 1, 1928.
After their marriage Fred and Hannah settled in Union City, New Jersey where they were active in the Union City branch of the church. Fred was called to be assistant to the Sunday School superintendent, and later as a counselor in the Branch Presidency. Two sons were born to Fred and Hannah there. The first one passed away a few hours after his birth.
In 1930 Fred moved his family, (Hannah, who was pregnant with Charles, and Fred Jr., a baby) to Salt Lake City where he had been offered a job at the Hotel Utah. He worked for a short time at the Hotel Utah, but due to the depression and accompanying economic conditions, he was laid off. He then established his own business (The Swiss Bakery), which he managed until his death on January 15, 1952 at the age of 51.
Hannah and Fred were sealed in the Salt Lake Temple in January 1933.