Biography of William Gideon Kocherhans
Contributor: crex Created: 2 years ago Updated: 2 years ago
Biography of William Gideon Kocherhans
1879 to 1949
Written by his sisters Molly, Julia and grandson Steven Kocherhans
William Gideon Kocherhans was born March 28, 1879 at Richfield Sevier Co. Utah. He was the son of John Jacob Kocherhans and Mary Ann Zundel. His parents had been called to Richfield in the spring of 1879 from Payson, Utah, where they had just finished building an adobie home. While in Payson grandmother Kocherhans was living with them and helped the midwife with her duties. One month after “Willie” as his mother always called him was born he was blessed by Bishop Poulson, (May 1, 1879) at Richfield, Sevier, Utah. He was a very easy child to care for as he was never cross. Two months after being blessed the family took him on a long journey back to Payson where his grandmother Zundel lived. After a visit they returned to Richfield at it was not too long after this that his grandmother Kocherhans passed away in July. The next year 1880 in the spring his father and family were called to Orderville to be in the United Order of Enoch, Willie made the trip with his father and mother and sister, Mary Dorthea and a brother John Hyrum. They all rode together in a covered wagon, it was a long tiresome journey but the children seemed to get along very well. A few months after arriving in Orderville they were all happy to welcome a new little brother on September 17, 1880. His name was Henry Amon. They were living in the fort or United Order houses which were built on joining another with a large kitchen and dining room in the center, where they all ate at long tables and the women took turns in doing all the community work and taking care of the children. Very little is remembered about William while he was very young, just a normal child and never seemed ill or bad tempered. On April 6, 1882 another brother was born, and given the name of David Samuel. Soon after this they moved up to the Orderville Factory six miles up the canyon, Willie was four years old when they moved. In 1883 another sister, Christina Caroline was born and again in 1885 another brother Joseph Alma and another sister Ann Elizabeth was born in 1887. Willie was very active at this age and was very daring. One day he walked on top of a large water flume that carried the water to run the factory. He had his dog in his arms and he fell, the dog fell in the flume and was carried over the fall and killed. Willie fell off the side and struck his forehead on a wooden pail, it was a very bad cut and he carried the scar all his life.
On June 11, 1887, Willie was baptized at the Orderville Factory by F. L. Porter and confirmed by his father John Kocherhans. Most of his activity at this time was helping to take the cows up Lydia’s Canyon and going after them with his brothers. There was a lady, Ellen Ann Chamberlin who taught the older children to read and write. It was a private for they had no public schools. They also had Sunday school and primary for the children and sacrament meeting also at the factory, all children attended.
When William was ten years old the family moved from the factory to Losee a small village that his father had helped to settle two years before he was ten. After they arrived in Losee another sister was born and was named Julia. About this time he and Hosea Merrill went for the cows and it was raining and they got lost and the town hunted all night in the rain and they had stayed at a sheep camp and were safe. He also went to a public school that year for the first time. His teacher was Ephriam Caffell. In the summer he helped on the farm some and played and just grew, the boys herded the cows up the canyons and explored all the hills and valleys close around. When he was about sixteen he and his brother henry herded a herd of sheep for Ole Ahlstrom and saved the money they had earned so that Will could go to Beaver to school the next winter. At the academy he took carpentry and received very good marks and excelled in painting flowers especially roses, he returned in the spring and worked at Hansen’s saw mill, then returned to school. About this time the family moved to Tropic, which had been settled about ten years. This year 1900, Will and his brothers John and Henry all worked at the saw mill and bought part of the lumber for a new house. Will went to Provo to the Brigham Young Academy that winter and John and Henry still worked at the mill by spring they had enough lumber to build the house. Henry helped him and John still worked at the Mill to get the money to live on and to send will to school again that winter. The house was finished the next year. John went to Wyoming with George Bybees and worked in a saw mill. Henry still worked at Hansen’s saw mill and Will came home from school in June 1902 and worked on the farm. He received his call for a mission to Germany and left after Christmas, as he was to be in Salt Lake City on January 1, 1903.
He visited his grandmother Zundel at this time. He served a 3 year mission returned home in October 6, 1903, went to Wyoming and worked. In 1907 he returned home and with his sister Julia went to Provo and to B.Y.A. for another year. Then went to tropic for a while then returned to Wyoming where he met and fell in love with a young girl, Viola Perry and was married in the Salt Lake Temple on Oct. 7, 1909. They then came to Tropic for a while and then to Cannonville to teach school.
In 1910 William and Viola moved to Byron, Wyoming, where William worked at carpentry while waiting for school to start in the fall. That summer their first child was born and they named her Olga Viola. Thirteen months later tragedy over took them and Olga fell sick and died.
William taught school that fall on Lovell, Wyoming, and that summer did carpentry work which he continued to do the rest of his life. While living in Wyoming he contracted and built a school and many houses. Also, while living in Wyoming, Glen, Lavor, Hilda, Lapriel, Ivan and Chester were born which brought much happiness to William and Viola. In August of 1923, they sold their home in Lovell and moved to Provo, Utah. Two years later William bought a peach orchard in Orem which consisted of five acres and they built a home there. They lived on the peach farm from 1925 through 1947. During this time William continued with contracting and working with the peach harvest in the fall.
In 1927, Viola gave birth to twins, Marjorie and Maxine. William was so excited and rejoiced with his wife in the new arrivals. But again, tragedy betook them. Whooping cough broke out in school and it was carried home where both babies caught it. The doctor said that neither had a chance but Marjorie came through. Maxine got worse and it developed into capillary bronchitis and died. This was heart breaking for the family. With the Lord’s blessings and goodness they were able to continue on.
William was a very religious man. My father Ivan said, “I’ve never heard my father say a sear word.” When William was baptized he was told that he would be forgiven of all his sins and from that day on he never said a swear word again. Viola gives this description of him. “He was a very hansom man. He was about 5’ 10”, dark brown hair, brown eyes and a sweet smile. Many remember him as gentle and kind.
William taught classes in the church and said once that he had taught since ordained a teacher at the age of 15. Not only did he teach school, but he taught Sunday school, the high priest quorum and was also in the bishopric and a ward clerk. He was very active in the church. The family always had family prayer in the morning at the breakfast table and in the evening. In the fall of 1949, William took sick. He insisted on working Labor Day but had to return home after he got his boys started. He continued to get weak and passed away on October 27, 1040. He died of virus pneumonia.
The following are from the missionary journal of William entitled:
Work! Work!! Work!!!
Do It Now!
Wm. G. Kocherhans
Sept. 11, Sun. morning my head was stopped up and I had a headache. I could hardly speak. We fasted as usual and held Sunday school. Elder Hirschi went to Burgdorf to hold meeting. I stayed in Langnan. At 2pm there were many,(the hall full) who came to meeting. I felt so bad to think I could not speak on the account of my cold, but trusted in the Lord. After singing and the sacrament was over, I called on Brother Aschemann to speak for 25 minutes. Then I started in that 10 min. and would end it, but to my surprise I spoked for 50 min. and when I got through there were several in the room crying, some saints and some strangers. Whether they felt sorry for me or whether I touched their hearts with the words which were spoken through me I do not know. I know the Lord blessed me abundantly.