Boarding House Job Took Woman and Her Sister to America

Swiss girls lived with aunt and uncle at boarding house in Ohio.

| Good Old Days

My mother came from Switzerland in 1906, accompanying an uncle who had come to America years before. He went back to Switzerland to visit his sister, who was my mother's mother. There were four girls in the family, and there seemed to be no future for them there. He brought the two youngest girls to America. My mother was 15 and her sister was 17. The uncle and his wife ran a boarding house in Ohio, and he said my mother could go to school and her sister could help his wife in the boarding house.

On the way across the ocean their ship had engine trouble near a small island, where they had to wait for repairs. It took them four weeks to get to America. They had no way to notify Mother's family, so they were almost given up as lost. They finally got to Ellis Island, where they had to wait almost a week to get a physical before continuing their journey to Ohio. My mother lived with her uncle and family for four years. She then went to Iowa to visit her sister who had married and moved there.

While there she married my father. He and Mother's sister's husband were brothers, who came to Iowa from Switzerland in 1909.

In 1954 my parents were able to take a trip back to Switzerland to visit their relatives. I'm sure the plane trip was much more pleasant than that earlier trip to America by boat.

Esther Olson
Denison, Iowa

Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community. 

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