A Grandma With True Grit

To avoid an arranged marriage, woman left Austria for a new life in America.

| Good Old Days

Ida Aman was born in Austria on November 23,1868, to Jacobi and Caroline Aman. Jacobi died two years later, and Caroline was left to provide for Weindelin and Ida, his younger sister. Caroline married again to a local farmer friend and had two more children.

As a child Ida had a beautiful singing voice. She acquired a guitar and learned to play and yodel in the Swiss style. Her lilting voice echoed through the mountains and valleys of the Tyrolean Alps where she lived. She became quite popular in the nearby villages.

Caroline died when Ida was in her teens. She kept house and did all of the many tasks that her mother had previously done. She also corresponded with a friend, Josef, who had immigrated to the United States and taken up residence in a Chicago boarding house. She looked forward to going to America and marrying Josef and having a family in Chicago.

When Ida reached 18 she was shocked, bewildered, then infuriated because her stepfather announced his intentions to marry her. He was lonely, needed a wife and companion, and Ida was his most likely choice.

This horrible idea forced Ida to make several quick decisions. She decided she must leave Austria. She sought and received help from her brother Weindelin, who now operated a lace factory in Feldkirch near the Swiss border. Ida sold what little jewelry and material wealth she could find, and with her suitcase and beloved guitar, fled to the French coast and a new life in America.

Traveling alone, with little or no money, she arrived in Chicago only to find that Josef had left town to find work in St. Louis. She worked at the Chicago boarding house, saving her money to travel to St. Louis. By then she had communicated with Josef, who had found her a job in a boarding house near the railroad roundhouse.

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