Wally Franziska Lucas
During the past year or two it has become apparent to me that we have little recorded information about Grandma Wendrich’s life. Many of her posterity never knew Grandma personally and may not be able to appreciate her amazing character. I decided to gather whatever information was still available and put it on paper. In 1975, Cydney Peterson Quinn conducted a brief oral interview with Grandma. I have referred to this interview for some information. I also had a number of conversations with her daughters, Ann and Charlotte in 2003-2004. I hope that I have given an accurate representation of her life. There is additional information about the Wendrich family’s daily life in Ileann Wendrich Peterson’s personal history. Judy Peterson, October 2004.
Personal History of Wally Franziska Lucas Wendrich
Wally Franziska Lucas was born May 17, 1893 in Steinpleis, Saxony, to Franz Edward Lucas and Anna Pauline Dassler.
She was the twelfth child and ninth girl born into this family. Three years later, her four brothers were joined by another boy—Walter Otto. A fifth baby boy (Max) was stillborn.
Wally had an aunt who lived in nearby Leubnitz. She had no children of her own, and as the burden of raising 13 children was great, Wally’s sister, Nanny, was sent to live with the “Leubnitzer Tante.” Nanny was two years older than Wally. She was not happy in Leubnitz and would frequently run away and walk back to Steinpleis. And so it was decided that four year old Wally should be sent to live with the aunt instead. In the beginning, Wally would be taken home to visit on the weekends, but her siblings teased her so unmercifully about living with the “Leubnitzer Tante” that eventually Wally visited home less often.
This map shows the relationship between Werdau, Leubnitz, and Steinpleis. The Werdau Viaduct (under the letter “N” in Leubnitz) marks the location of the home where Wally was raised.
Wally went to school until she was fourteen. After graduation, all young people of the Lutheran religion were required to go to religion class for six months. Prior to her confirmation, her aunt took her to a neighboring city to shop for her graduation. The girls all bought their first long dresses—black, hemmed about a foot from the floor, and worn with long black stockings.
Wally graduated in May 1907. One of the gifts that she received for her graduation and confirmation was a little Gesangbuch.
On this graduation shopping trip they stayed overnight with her Aunt’s friends. While they were there, the Mormon missionaries came by. Although the friends were very religious in the Lutheran Church, they invited the missionaries to come in and stay for supper. That was the first time Wally had heard about the Mormon Church. Wally said that as she listened to the missionaries talk she felt like someone was standing by her right side saying, “You will join that Church someday.” Having been raised in a religious home and having read the scriptures, she said that the teachings of the gospel were easy for her to accept. From that time on, Wally wanted to join the Church, but her aunt did not approve, and so Wally was not allowed to be baptized.
On June 19, 1908, Wally’s sisters, Helene Elizabeth and Ella Maria were the first family members to be baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Her mother, Anna Pauline, and her sister, Anna Johanne, were the next to be baptized on July 8, 1908. On September 9, 1908 her father and two sisters (Olga Alice and Nanny Amanda) were baptized.
The following quote came from a conversation between Wally and her granddaughter, Cydney. “I knew my aunt wouldn’t want me to join the Church. And I knew she didn’t like to spend money, so I made a proposition. I said, ‘What would you rather have me do, go take dancing lessons or join the Church?’ I thought surely she wouldn’t want me to take dancing lessons because she was pretty tight. Lo and behold, she said dancing lessons.”
“I had a real loyal friend whose last name was Lotzman. I persuaded her not to tell that I was sneaking away to Church instead of going to dancing lessons. We always acted like we had been together dancing on Sundays. She would say ‘Wasn’t that fun, you know so and so on,’ as though we had been together.” Wally was baptized September 20, 1910, at the age of 17.
In 1912, Wally’s parents and five of her sisters immigrated to Utah. Wally’s father felt that it would not be fair to her aunt (who had raised her) for Wally to leave her now, so Wally was left behind. About a year after her family had immigrated, Wally had a dream in which she saw the hand of her father. She said, “I knew it was his (hand) because as a child I had played in his woodshop among the shavings, and I had watched his big palms and knuckles as he worked with his woodcarving tools. In my dream I watched his hand write a letter and I could read the words. He begged my aunt to let me come to America. At that point I did not live with my aunt because I was working in another town. I spent my days off with her. When I returned to her home she showed me my father’s letter which had arrived in the mail. I had already seen the letter word for word in my dream.”
Wally’s aunt agreed that she should go to America and join her family there, and so Wally joined a group of other Latter-day Saints and sailed for America on the Tunisian, September 3, 1913. She joined her family who were living at the time on Ninth West in Salt Lake City.
Wally described meeting Frederick Hermann Wendrich at the 26th Ward Christmas social the same year she arrived in Utah. She says that Aunt Nanny had seen Fred and was attracted to him. Aunt Nanny wanted Wally to see him. When they got to the party and met Fred, he was more interested in Wally than he was in Nanny. Fred described their meeting differently. He claims that they met in May of 1914. He had taken a job with the J.R. Walker family at 1205 East South Temple. He took care of their yard and their cars. He had been working there about two weeks when a young girl started to work there as a housekeeper. He said, “Wally and I had so much in common. I was hungering for someone to understand me and our association turned into a deep and lasting friendship which terminated on the 24th of November, 1914.” They were married the next day in the Salt Lake Temple.
May of 1915, they rented a fruit farm in East Crescent. Here they started their family. Their first child, Sybil, was born on the farm, attended by Dr. Roberts from Midvale. They left the farm in October of 1915 and moved to 1350 South 9th West in Salt Lake City. Three more children were born to Wally and Fred here. Marie was born March 14, 1917. She only lived a year. Ray was born on November 17, 1918, and Charlotte was born on February 25, 1922. Just after Charlotte was born, Wally and Fred purchased a home at 463 North Redwood Road where four more children joined the family—Ileann (April 19, 1924), Lucy (July 18, 1926), Darlene (October 19, 1927) and Yvonne (December 2, 1928).
Wally was a woman of faith. One of the church callings that she received was to serve in a Relief Society Presidency in Saltair. She was frightened of the responsibility. In her own words she explained: “I always made things a matter of prayer. I don’t know exactly how it came about, but anyway, I prayed over it and … anyway, I was pretty low, and I prayed over it. And it was like I was in an assembly hall or tabernacle. All at once I hear the choir singing. There was a man standing by the pulpit, long white beard and looking at me. The choir sang; I couldn’t see them, but I could hear them sing, ‘Fear not, I am with thee and be not dismayed, for I am thy God, give thee strength, give thee aid. I’ll help dir, I’ll strengthen dir, I’ll cause thee to stand, uphold by my righteous omnipotent hand.’ That person with the long white beard stood by the pulpit and nodded to me. That was my answer to my prayer.”
Wally had another sacred spiritual experience which was recorded by her niece, Esther Nemelke Boekweg.
At one time, Fred and Wally undertook a financial venture with Uncle Fred and Aunt Nanny Mehner (Wally’s sister). They purchased and operated The Whip at Saltair and Lagoon.
Wally was a wonderful homemaker. She had a real reputation for her cooking. She was an expert with meats—especially wild meats. She would bake them all day long, plugged with pieces of bacon and juniper berries. She made a special sour cream sauce which she used to baste them many times while they baked. She and Fred had a smoke house where they worked together to cure all their meats, stuff their own sausages and wursts, storing their fresh side pork and bacon. Wally would take the fresh cabbages and make her own delicious sauerkraut and red cabbage.
Sauerkraut Recipe (Adapted)
1 plastic package sauerkraut (Drain off half of the juice)
1 large carrot, grated
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1 teaspoon dill weed
1 tablespoon caraway seed
1 potato, grated
½ pound bacon, cut up and fried. Save fat.
Combine all ingredients (except potato and bacon) in a heavy pan. Cover with water. Simmer about one hour. Peel and grate the potato and add to saurkraut and cook until it thickens (just a couple of minutes). Add fried bacon and bacon fat. Always better the second day.
Wally’s Red Cabbage
1 medium red cabbage, shredded and chopped
2 cooking apples, grated
1 small onion, chopped
2 tablespoons bacon fat
½ cup sugar
1 bay leaf
5 whole cloves
1 whole cinnamon stick
Pinch of nutmeg
Enough water to moisten the bottom of the pan.
Combine all ingredients and simmer about an hour. Make a paste of 1 tablespoon flour and ½ cup red wine vinegar. Add to cabbage and cook till thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste.
She had a big kettle she used to cook carp. She would boil them with onions and spices, then bake them in the oven, basting them repeatedly with butter. One of her children’s favorite things was Mehlbrei. It was actually just a thickened white sauce, but Wally served it with a topping of browned sugar and butter. Though Grandma didn’t like to make it because it was hard to cook it without scorching it, the kids all loved it and would eat it slowly around the edges trying to make it last as long as possible. No one could beat Wally at baking. Her specialties were Streuselkuchen, Kirschkuchen, Stollen, and Auflauf (similar to a popover).
Wally’s Streusel Kuchen Recipe
1 1⁄2 cups sugar
1⁄2 cup soft shortening
Mix the first three items together and stir in 1 cup milk.
3 cup flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoon salt
Sift dry ingredients together. Add zested rind of one orange (optional). Combine dry ingredients with the sugar, shortening, and eggs. Spread on greased and floured cookie sheet. Cover with topping.
1 lb. butter, softened
4 cups flour
3 cups sugar
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
Mix together well until mixture forms into small clumps. Spoon onto the base mixture. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Shake pan gently to see if the center still jiggles. Streusel is done if the baked dough is firm.
One time Fred invited his boss, H. C. Shoemaker, to come for dinner. My, what a feast was prepared, and all the family worked together to clean and prepare for this special company.
Wally was a very resourceful woman. She did a lot of canning, which was a production. The girls were responsible for cleaning all the bottles, which were often put away without being carefully cleaned. This was a huge job which required that they soak the bottles in boiling water. Wally suffered from a diseased kidney and never had good health until she had it removed sometime after the children were grown. Canning was very hard on her and sometimes her friends, Christina Werner and Grace Hansen would come to help her. She tried to sew for the girls, but several times they would come home from school to find she had passed out at the sewing machine. Wally would make all the girls’ Easter dresses. The girls wore long stockings and garter belts from Fall until Easter. Then the long stockings were exchanged for anklets and patent leather shoes . She used to take the squares of wool suiting fabric and sew them together into quilts and tie them. They were warm and cozy, but very heavy.
In 1933 the Wendrich home caught fire, due to some faulty electrical wiring. The damage was significant and they had to tear everything down to the brick.
They had recently completed a new chicken coop which was not yet being used. They moved their beds and whatever furniture had survived the fire into the chicken coop. They cooked on a stove in the garage. They made do with this arrangement through the summer months. Fred did most of the repair work himself, assisted by Bishop Stutznegger and other brethren from the ward. Fortunately, they were able to get back into the house before the cold weather of winter.
When Wally became very sick, she took a trip to Aunt Nanny’s in California to see a Chinese doctor who specialized in kidney diseases. He would prescribe special herb drinks which were very bitter. She was gone most of the summer, and Grandpa was so happy when the time came to go and bring her home. He would sing around the house, “I’ll take you home again Kathleen.” Nothing seemed to work well until she had her kidney removed about the time that Lucy and Darlene were married. After that her health was much improved.
Wally and Fred had a lot of German friends. They did things together as a group, or some of them would come to the house to visit. They were really close friends with Jake and Christina Werner and Tom and Grace Hansen. In July of 1948, they took a trip to Canada with Jake and Christina. It was while they were on that trip that Fred was diagnosed with diabetes. The Hansens and the Wendriches would get together several times a month for dinner on Friday evenings. The kids were always happy as they piled off the bus knowing that they would be eating with their Hansen friends that night.
Wally had a little poodle dog named Gigi. She had a ferocious bark, but provided real company for Wally. Wally loved cherry chocolates and would always have a box of them stashed away somewhere. She also liked Chinese food and would often want to go to a Chinese restaurant. She especially loved egg foo yong. She loved to go—anywhere! At the first mention of any activity, Grandma would say, “Let me get my purse.” She had a wonderful sense of humor and always kept us in stitches when we were together. Grandma loved a compliment, and when someone paid her a compliment she would say (with a perfectly straight face), “What did you say? Could you repeat that, please?” “One more time.” Then she would break into a big smile.
Wally never learned to drive a car. She did try a time or two, but could never get the darn thing to stop when she hollered “Whoa!” Even the dog was afraid to ride with her and would jump out of the car and run for cover when she got behind the wheel.
One of the greatest challenges Grandma faced was learning the English language. It did not come easily for her. She said that it took her seven years before she could carry on a conversation. For this reason, the older children primarily spoke German at home. As Wally’s English got better they spoke less German at home, and so the older children were quite fluent in German while the younger children understood but didn’t speak German as well. Although Wally eventually became quite fluent with the English language, she always had a strong German accent.
In this audio clip, Fred Hansen is interviewing Wally. In this particular clip, Wally talks about the two patriarchal blessings she received during her lifetime. Her first blessing was given by F. W. Schoenfeld on March 1, 1914 in Salt Lake City. It is written in the old German Shrift, which is very difficult to read, and which only a very few people can still read. A translated copy is in the possession of Randall T. Peterson. Her second blessing was given by Hyrum G. Smith on January 9th, 1922 in Salt Lake City. Wally loved both of these blessings.
For a number of years Jed and Charlotte invited the whole Wendrich clan to spend Thanksgiving at Camp Kiesel up Ogden Canyon. Grandma would come, and oh, how she loved to be there with all her posterity. In 1973 there was so much snow you couldn’t even drive up to the camp, but Wally was not one to miss out on fun, so some of the men made a carrying chair with their arms and carried her up to the lodge.
That year Charlotte brought a lot of pictures of Grandma and they did a “This is Your Life” slide presentation with a narration.
When her daughters felt it was too dangerous to leave Wally at home alone, they moved her out of her home and took turns keeping her for two or three weeks at a time. It made her feel bad to think that she was being a burden to her daughters and she didn’t enjoy being moved around, so Charlotte and Jed invited her to stay there with them. Charlotte did hair in her kitchen, and Wally always seemed to enjoy the ladies coming and going. She would sit and watch Charlotte work and visit with her clientele. Of course, they always fussed over Wally. When Charlotte and Jed moved to Arizona, Wally moved with them. She lived with Charlotte and Jed until she died in 1986.
In the summers Charlotte and Jed would take their trailer to Utah to help at various scout camps. Some years they spent in Bartlett, Idaho. Some years they were at Camp Loll near West Yellowstone. Other years they spent at Camp Kiesel in Ogden Canyon. Grandma loved nature and would gather pine cones. At one of the camps they nicknamed her “Grandma Pine Cone.”
In 1978, Charlotte and Sybil took Wally back to Germany to meet Fred’s family for the first time. Grandma would have been 85 years old. They flew into Hamburg where they met Fred’s sisters, Bertha and Frieda.
Wally immediately slipped into her native tongue, but would occasionally slip back into English and would have to be reminded that she was in Germany. When Charlotte took her to bed the first night, Wally said, “How could we be in Germany? We didn’t even cross the ocean.” Charlotte explained that they had flown over the ocean in an airplane. Wally was quite amazed. She bonded with Frieda and Bertha as if they had known each other always. She loved singing all the old German folk songs and dancing around with Frieda and Bertha.
Horst Gewehn had fixed up his van to make it as comfortable as possible and then drove Charlotte, Sybil, and Grandma into East Germany. They went to Steinpleis where Grandma was born. She recognized the family home and was able to show them where her father’s wood-working shop had been attached to the house. It had since been removed, but you could still see where it had been. They were able to go up into the home, which was still occupied by the family that had purchased it from Wally’s parents when they immigrated to America.
While they were in East Germany they also visited Hilde and Werner Pfob—Fred’s niece. They took them to their summer cabin and farm. They picked blueberries. Grandma ate until her tongue turned completely blue.
They also went to Leubnitz where Wally lived with her Aunt from the time she was four years old until she immigrated to America. They went to visit a woman named Luisa Ferlin. During the war her family was so destitute. The father was in prison in Russia. The family had nothing but rags. They even wrapped their feet with rags because they had no shoes. The East German relatives were also suffering and had written to see if Wally and Fred could help them. Wally collected clothing, shoes and other helpful things. Sybil’s mutual class helped to package things up and they shipped them to Germany. Some of these things were given to the Ferlin family. One day Luisa Ferlin was riding on a train and a woman sitting by her asked if her dress had come from America. Luisa said,”Yes, from Utah.” The woman asked if Luisa was a Mormon. She said no, but that the family who had sent the clothes were Mormons. The woman asked Luisa if she would like to attend the Mormon Church with her. Then she could write to her friends in Utah and tell them she had been to Church. She said she would like to go, so the woman took Luisa to church. When Luisa returned home she told her father (who had, by then, returned from Russia) that he must go to church with her. He did, and soon he and Luisa were baptized. Later the mother, Olga, and a son were also baptized. At a later date, the Ferlins were able to help Wally with some genealogy work she was trying to do.
Through this experience, Wally and Olga became close friends and corresponded throughout their lives. Wally saved a package of letters from Olga which are currently in the possession of Cydney Quinn. One of these letters suggests that Wally continued sending packages throughout the difficult years. In a letter written in December of 1958 Olga tells of receiving a package that made all the difference in their Christmas celebration that year. The package contained butter and raisins, money, and even coffee (which could be traded for almost anything they needed). The Ferlins would never have been able to buy these things in Germany. She described how much each of these items would have cost had they tried to buy them, and how they were each used. The Ferlins were faithful members of the Church throughout the war and were still attending church when Ileann and her family visited the Ferlins in 1976. How they loved Wally.
Back to Wally’s trip to Germany. She met Luisa Ferlin at church and Luisa took them to a home and told them that a woman lived there who was Wally’s same age. Charlotte went to the door and knocked. A woman answered the door, and Charlotte could see another woman lying on the couch. She asked if anyone there remembered a Wally Lucas who had moved to America as a young girl. The woman on the couch said, “Wally Lucas—I was thinking about her just last week. I have a picture of Wally and me when we were in third grade. I will give the picture to you because it would mean something to you.” Charlotte said, “Wait a minute. Wally is outside in the car.” They brought Wally into the house. The two women recognized each other and had a wonderful time reminiscing about their childhood and all their classmates who were in the picture. The woman gave Wally the picture to keep.
The woman who answered the door was just visiting in the home, but turned out to be a distant cousin of Wally’s.
They were in Germany for about four weeks. Wally was able to do everything and loved the trip! They took her lightweight wheelchair which was a big help.
Wally was diabetic, but while she was living with Charlotte in Arizona her doctor recommended she go off her insulin. She quit using it and didn’t have a minute’s trouble.
This amazing woman who suffered from such poor health through much of her life died of old age on March 26, 1986, just one month short of her 93rd birthday. She passed away quietly at Charlotte and Jed’s home in Mesa , Arizona. Her body was returned to Utah for a funeral at the mortuary. At the time of her death she left a posterity that included six living children, 35 grandchildren, 114 great-grandchildren, and 14 great-great-grandchildren. She was buried in the Salt Lake Cemetery on March 29, 1986 next to her beloved Fred who preceded her in death by nearly 27 years.
March 29, 1986