- Name: Bertha Isch
- Born: March 23, 1870 Woodford County, Illinois
- Died: December 24, 1945 Tremonton, Utah
- Related through: Dan's grandmother Melva Castleton
Bertha Isch was born March 23, 1870 into the home of Nicholas and Mary Sommer Isch, in Woodford County, Illinois.There were eight daughters and three sons, Anna, Dena, Emma, Bertha, Leah, Joe, Samuel, Mary, Ida, John and Anna. The first daughter, Anna died a month before her youngest sister was born so the new baby was named Anna after her sister.
Her mother, Mary Sommer was born May 18, 1839 to Michael Sommer and Anna Erb in Heiligenstein, Germany (Alsace Lorraine area in France.) They were affiliated with the Anabaptists. After her mother, two brothers and a sister died of cholera, Mary and her father came to America in 1857 to live with a brother.
Her father, Nicholas Isch was born July 7, 1836 to Johann David Isch and Maria Haeuselmann in Oberwill, Bern, Switzerland.
Grandma was raised in a good Christian home. They were devout members of the Apostolic Christian Church and spoke German. They dressed very plainly and were strict living sober people, who tried to live the teachings of the New Testament as nearly as possible. Grandma often talked of her conversion to live her life for Jesus.
They lived on a farm in Woodford County until she was nine years old when they moved to a farm in Gridley, Kansas. Bertha was a good student; however she only went to the 4th grade in school.
She went to work in the home of Henry Getz, where she met Philip whom she later married. She was married at the age of 23, on January 1, 1893 in the Apostolic Christian Church in Tremont, Illinois.
Their first home was on a farm in Tremont, Illinois. Here Bertha gave birth to three sons, Samuel Gottlieb, Fredrick William and Elmer Nicholas (Ike.)
In 1901, with a few families from their church they sold their farm and moved out west to Utah. They traveled by railroad to Deweyville in a boxcar. It was cold and raining, mud came to the hubs of the wagon that came to pick them up at the train. They stayed in the home of Gene and Ida Brenkman until their home was built.
In this home, four miles west and one mile south of where Tremonton exists, Ruth, Henry, Mary and Ervin were born. The soil was poor in the area so they moved to another farm where they had two more little boys who both died. This was very hard on Grandma, she talked of them often. They were buried in Salt Creek Cemetery which still exists and is known as the little old German Cemetery. The land for the cemetery was donated by Grandpa John Sommer and is owned by the Apostolic Christian Church.
In 1920 they built a nice brick home in town and Grandpa had chickens, pigs to butcher and a cow, Grandpa ran a business as a drayer. They had a beautiful big garden; they grew wonderful vegetables and gorgeous flowers. We loved to help them plant it every spring.
The great depression hit hard but the family stuck together and they were able to pay off their home. Grandma cooked for men working out on farms and construction and took in boarder and roomers.
Grandma was a large, hardworking Swiss-German lady, she loved us a lot.She could do anything from making the beautiful fine lace to work in the garden and care for the farm animals. She gardened, cooked, canned, sewed, quilted, did her own wall papering, helped butcher their meat, and did about anything that needed to be done.
She was an excellent homemaker and cook; she made her own cottage cheese, bread, pies, cakes, cinnamon rolls, delicious ice cream and lots of fried chicken. We had our own cow and she cooked a lot with cream and real butter.For supper we usually had meat, fried potatoes, cottage cheese, homemade bread, jam, canned fruit, and always peppermint tea. She had a lot of boarders and construction workers for dinner at noon and she always baked pies for them. The train ran close to their property and even the beggars knew where they could get a good meal.
We always lived close, and in their home almost every day. We were always her helpers. We scrubbed her floors, cleaned the bathrooms, did the vacuuming and dusting and loved baking days. My favorite was rhom kuchen (Cream cake).
In 1943 we moved across the street from them. Mother always looked after Grandma and Grandpa. I was at their home nearly every day even if just see how they were. In high school Maxine and I scuffed the floors every week and did Saturdays cleaning. We were never paid, it was our job and we just did it.
Grandma had a fun happy disposition. She worked hard and fast and would often scold in German when we needed it. She was a member of the Apostolic Christian Church. They dressed very conservative and plain; many people thought we were Amish. She often told me of her family and childhood, and of her conversion to take Jesus into her life.
We always had a lot of company from back east. Relatives and ministers would come and we had church in the living room after most of our people went back east. The minister, Henry moved back to Peoria and they sold their church which was west of town across the canal and railroad tracks.
Grandma died on Christmas Eve in 1945. This was one of my first experiences with death and I missed her so much.
This article was written by grandaughter Melva Castleton. Thanks Grandma Melva for sharing it with us.