Schwarzenburg Native Travels to Missouri

Switzerland immigrant finds opportunity near St. Joseph, Missouri.


| Good Old Days


My great-grandfather utilized the opportunities available to him in his adopted country, as did many immigrants of his time. He came with nothing more than frugality, shrewdness, good health and the willingness to work hard. Born December 22, 1842, near Schwarzenburg, Canton Bern, Switzerland, Christian Marti grew up on a small farmstead, Heimigesslen. In 1866 conscription papers were served on him. Christ undoubtedly begrudged the amount of money it took to equip himself with the 16 items necessary to fulfill his army obligations. In 1866 he indentured himself to the Widow Uhlmann for 500 francs-which he worked off by 1868. (We have these papers.) According to family oral tradition, he left his widowed mother, his brother and sisters, his homeland, and a familiar way of life and used the widow's francs to buy passage to America.

Family historians say that it was early on a chilly morning when Christ Marti arrived in St. Joseph, Missouri. Believing that he could find an inn along the railroad tracks as one did back in Switzerland, he began walking north. Finding no accommodations along the way, he walked to Amazonia to get his breakfast; he remained in the vicinity for the rest of his life. Some family members say that he arrived with less than $1 in his pocket and that he bought an axe instead of breakfast because he found work north of Amazonia with the Ent family. He worked for them the next three years.

By that time he had saved $100-which was enough to make a down payment on 40 acres, a log cabin with a shed kitchen and a shed barn. The total cost of this outlay was $1,000. About half the land was in timber.

After that, he needed a cook/housekeeper. In the German-speaking Swiss settlement around Amazonia resided the Christian Bachmann family from Goldivyl, Switzerland. Christian Marti and his future father- and brother-in-law filed "Intent to Declare Citizenship" papers simultaneously in December 1870.

The Bachmann family included three daughters of marrying age: Magdalena, Rosa and Anna. It was not determined during his first call on the family just which daughter Christ was interested in. But on the second visit, he brought a box of candy and presented it to Magdalena. They were married in Amazonia on February 11, 1872, and proceeded to the farm six miles northwest. Magdalena cried upon her arrival. Among other things, there was no gate on the fence around the yard. Her mother had also warned her not to wear her nice clothing from Chicago to church or to other outings. Her mother reasoned it would be more appropriate to come attired in a sunbonnet and calico dress as other women did.

Some neighbors and others, including his wife, surely thought Christ would build a house first, since five children had joined the family by the time he was ready to build. However, Christ justified his decision thusly, "No, ze barn will build ze house!"





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