Sunday, June 12, 2011

My Grandma Gygi

Liesetta joins the Church

Liesetta was five years of age when she and her family moved to the Imperial city of Nürnberg, Germany eight miles west of the town of Leinburg, where she was born October 16, 1874. Her father found work in a brass foundry there, and there she received her only schooling which consisted of three years in the Volksschule elementary school.

Her father was Johann Carl Paulus Riedelbauch. Born in a village 60 miles to the northeast, in Bavaria, where his family had lived for generations. It was in
Liesetta Gygi Wedding 1892

Nürnberg that the family was introduced to the Gospel and taught by missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints. Her father was the first to join the Church, and was baptized and confirmed on the twentieth of November, 1881 at Sünderbühlteich in Nürnberg by Elder A. H. Cannon.

Liesetta’s mother Margaretha was baptized a month later, the 12th of December in the cold waters of the Zeltnerweier Castle by Elder Anton Ilg. Liesetta was then only seven years of age, the oldest of 8 children.

Liesetta's father found better work at the shipyards of the port city of Hamburg, in northern Germany. In July 1882 he was a brass foundryman living at Schulgangstr. 1 in Hamburg Altona. The rest of the family returned to Leinburg, and there lived with grandmother Kunigunde Blendinger, who resented their joining the Church, but softened her heart while living with them. Liesetta’s father sent large food packages to his family in Leinburg. The first oranges, raisins, figs and prunes the children had ever seen arrived in these packages from Hamburg.

The Moat of the Zeltnerweier Castle

While Liesetta and her mother were living in Leinburg, Liesetta was baptized into the Church on March 31st, 1884 at the age of 9, in the Urspring river by Elder F. Mödl. Both her father and mother related fervent testimonies of the truthfulness of the Gospel which were published in 1885 in Der Stern, the official magazine of the Church in Germany.

In July of 1884 Liesetta's father had earned enough money to move the family to Hamburg.
They lived at Peter Strasse 21 in the western section of the city not too far from the docks. They were a long distance from any LDS gathering, but the missionaries visited them regularly.

Peterstrasse 21, Hamburg Today, Restored

Liesetta emigrates to the New World

Persecution of Church members was intense in Hamburg. The children had to remain indoors most of the time to avoid threats, taunting and physical harm. Liesetta's brother Carl had his nose broken and was beaten by ruffians on his way to school. They made the decision to emigrate to America, as soon as they were financially able. They decided Liesetta would go to go first, accompanying other Saints traveling to Zion. On June 16, 1885, Liesetta, the eldest child, aged 10, was placed on a ship bound for the new World. They stopped in Liverpool, England where they were joined by other members of the Church emigrating to Utah. Then sailed from Liverpool the 20th of June, 1885 aboard the SS Wisconsin bound for New York with a group of 541 Saints under the direction of Elder Jorgen Hansen.

The trip lasted a little over two weeks. Seas were very rough and she often became sea sick. Elder Abraham O. Smoot, one of the returning missionaries from Germany, visited her when she was feeling very ill. Once, at the onset of one of the storms a mountainous wave threw her completely across the ship's deck. Though she came close to losing her life she told her grandchildren that she had been preserved by the hand of the Lord.

The ship arrived in New York harbor on the 8th of July, 1885 and passed by the statue of Liberty then under construction, which would be unveiled the following year. From New York City they boarded a train and spent another week traveling to Salt Lake City, far in the western Territory of Utah. Arriving at last in Zion, Liesetta had arms put around her by Sister Katharina Schoenhals, a native of Switzerland, with whom she lived at 45 South, 7th West for the next few months, and attended the Salt Lake 15th Ward until September of that year. She had arrived in this country knowing no one and unable to speak a word of English.Sister Schoenhals was very kind to her and it was difficult to leave, but Liesetta was sent to live with and work for the family of Mr. John Alexander, a native of Gloucester, England, whose farm was located in a section of the city known as Brighton Ward, about two miles west of the Jordan River.

In the early years this area seemed a long way out in the country. Here Liesetta worked hard and long for room, board, and clothing, but received no monetary compensation. She was a servant, and was not entitled to receive schooling, as were the other children in the household. The Alexander family members tended flocks of sheep and would live at the grazing locations for weeks at a time. Liesetta was often left at home to take care of the house, farm and animals. Her chores included milking the cows, cleaning the barns, feeding the animals, doing housework, cooking for the children, and other tasks.

On October 4, 1887 Liesetta's father passed away in Hamburg, Germany at the age of thirty-five years. His wife Margaretha composed a letter of testimony and hope which was published in Der Stern magazine in 1887 She wrote that despite her loss she was at peace and could sing hymn number 36 "Father, Thou givest peace and rest to Thy children who love Thee." She bore testimony that Joseph Smith was a prophet, seer and revelator. Who can separate us from the love of God, she wrote, not bitter persecution, pain or death!"

On June 3, 1888 Margaretha and her five remaining children left Hamburg at last for the New World. Word was sent to Liesetta and her next sister Nellie who had also arrived in Salt Lake, that their mother and the other children would arrive on a certain afternoon at the railroad depot in Salt Lake City. When word came, she was alone at the farm, but decided to walk to the train station herself. Nellie arrived first, but was soon joined by Liesetta. The two sisters waited for hours.

Liesetta, standing, and her newly arrived family 1888 Salt Lake City

Finally after dark, since their mother had not arrived, the sisters started the long walk home. The narrow board across the Jordan River was difficult to traverse at that hour. Upon arriving home Liesetta still had to milk the cows and do all the other chores at a late hour. During the night her mother and family did arrive, and were taken to the old tithing office square, where the Hotel Utah now stands. They were shown a small house where they could stay temporarily. Her mother and all of her children then rented a house on 4th west in the 22nd Ward. Later they moved to a log house on the corner of 6th West and 4th North, and finally lived at 336 S. 10th E.

Grandma Gygi and her children Helen, Florence, Alma, Orson, Mary, Ruth, Wilford, Ralph, Berniece, Thelma, and George 1953

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Blodgett Ovens

“The year was 1848. James Polk was the 11th president of the United States. Gold was discovered in California. And Gardner S. Blodgett built his first oven for a local Vermont tavern owner. Things would never be the same in California ... or in the foodservice industry.”

Blodgett Deck Oven

I first saw Blodgett ovens while vacationing in Ohio. I read the accolades about Blodgett ovens and their creator, Gardner S. Blodgett. Who was he and how are we related? We looked for Blodgett ovens wherever we traveled, and did indeed seem to find them everywhere.

“Today, the G. S. Blodgett Corporation is the leading manufacturer of commercial ovens in the world. Restaurants, fast-food chains, hotels, hospitals, institutions, small businesses and large corporations alike rely on the Blodgett name. In fact, their ovens have been in demand overseas since the late 1800s - long before global markets and international trade became the focus of our modern world.

Despite widespread success (or maybe because of it) Blodgett has never strayed from its original goal, or its roots. The G. S. Blodgett Corporation is located in Burlington, Vermont - just 1-1/2 miles from where the company founder and namesake forged a cooking revolution in cast iron over 150 years ago. And while the times and foodservice needs have changed since then, their commitment to building the best remains the same.”

Gardner Spring Blodgett, the son of Luther Palmer and Mary Jefferson Blodgett, was born November 10, 1819 in Rochester, Vermont. He married Sarah Ellis in Burlington, Vermont in 1849. Their only son, Frank Jefferson Blodgett was born there in 1857, and went on to become a prominent New York City Medical Doctor.

Gardner S. Blodgett Civil War officer's commissions, 1861-1864.

Two commissions were issued to Gardner S. Blodgett, the first appointing him as Assistant Quartermaster with the rank of captain, on August 6, 1861, and the second appointing him Assistant Quartermaster on July 6, 1864. Both commissions were signed by Abraham Lincoln, while the first commission was also signed by Thomas A. Scott, Acting Secretary of War and the second commission by Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War. The documents both bear engraved images of an eagle, flags, and other military symbols.

He was commissioned as Assistant Quartermaster with the rank of captain on August 6, 1861 and began his duties in Burlington, Vermont, equipping the First Vermont Cavalry Regiment. In 1862 he was ordered to Annapolis to serve as Depot Quartermaster. In 1864 he was sent to Baltimore to serve as Chief Quartermaster of the Eighth Army Corps. He resigned his commission on October 13, 1865. He died in Burlington, Vermont on April 16, 1909.

Gardner Spring Blodgett is a 4th cousin to our Neuman Greenleaf Blodgett, founder of the Mormon branch of the Blodgett family and Utah Pioneer. Their common ancestors are Samuel Blodgett and Huldah Simmons.


G. S. Blodgett Company was founded in 1848 by Gardner Spring Blodgett following his creation of an improved commercial wood-burning oven for a local Vermont tavern owner.
1854 The first patent of an improved product for baking. Created, sold and maintained thousands of ovens throughout the East Coast. Company growth and fame relied on the quality, versatility and reliability of the product. Blodgett ovens were in demand throughout the country, Europe and the world.
1892 John S. Patrick, then secretary and treasurer, purchased the company from G.S. Blodgett. The Patrick family remained involved with the company operations for three generations.

1902 Blodgett began to develop ovens utilizing gas an energy source.
1950s Blodgett pizza deck ovens were introduced.
1960s Convection-style cooking was discovered and Blodgett developed a complete line of gas and electric convection ovens.

Blodgett Rotating Rack Baking Oven

Blodgett Half-size Combi Convection/Steam Oven

1981 Blodgett acquired the assets of J.C. Pitman & Sons, Inc. a New Hampshire based manufacturer of commercial frying equipment. This acquisition was the basis for Pitco Frialator, Inc.

1982 Blodgett acquired Q Industries Food Equipment Company, a small Chicago producer of conveyorized ovens. In 1989, the operation moved to Burlington and is now part of the Blodgett product line.

1985 Blodgett entered into a licensing agreement with a German manufacturer for the distribution of a unique multi-function steamer oven. The first Combi was introduced in the US shortly after. The contract permitted the manufacture of these ovens by Blodgett, which commenced in 1992. When the agreement expired, Blodgett maintained worldwide manufacturing rights. By mid-1994, Blodgett was self sufficient in the manufacture of combinations ovens under the trade name of Blodgett-Combi.

1986 Blodgett purchased MagiKitch'n Equipment Corporation and Quakertown Stove Works, Inc., affiliated companies located near Allentown, Pennsylvania. These companies have been producing high quality commercial broilers for over 50 years. This acquisition continues operating under the MagiKitchn brand name out of Pitco.
1988 J.D. Johnson and Sam Hartwell lead a group of private investors to purchase Blodgett from the Patrick family.

1995 Blodgett International was established as an operating unit of G.S. Blodgett Corporation with a goal to further enhance and expand its export business-an area where it already had over 40 years of experience.

1997 Blodgett was purchased by Maytag Corporation.
1998 Blodgett celebrates its 150th anniversary

2001 Blodgett was purchased by the Middleby Corporation of Elgin, Illinois. At that time, Pitco and MagiKitch'n began to operate as their own entity and Blodgett International was blended into Middleby Worldwide.

2003 The Blodgett Range line was added. The range line includes premium heavy duty ranges, broilers and refrigerated bases.

2004 The Blodgett Steam line was added. The complete line of steam cooking equipment includes convection steamers, steam kettles and braising pans.