Guardian Angel

Around 1900 many European families immigrated to America and some found their way to Haralson County, GA. They left their homeland for many different reasons. Some to escape religious persecution, some to escape the treat of war, But all were looking for a better life.

One such family was the Zuercher family. Anton Zuercher had arranged passage for himself, his wife Elizabeth and their three children, Joseph age 6, Anna age 5 and John age 3, aboard the ship Martha Washington, bound for America. But they would have to travel by train from Vienna to Trieste, in order to board the ship.

The first day on the train went well, but on the morning of the second day, the children woke early. The mother took them to the "lavatory", located at the end of the car. While the mother was helping the little girl she felt a gush of cold wind on her back. As she turned around she found the train car door open and her youngest child missing. Her first impulse was to jump off the train, but something stopped her. She ran to her husband in hopes that the child had returned to his father, but he had not. She started crying, "My baby has fallen off the train." The commotion awoke the other passengers and the emergency cord was pulled, but the train kept going. They tried to find the conductor, but the train car doors were locked. Some of the people shouted out the windows, but were not heard. They were locked in a train car with no way to summon help. All the mother could do was to pray for the child's Guardian Angel to protect her son and return him safely to her.

After what must have seemed like an eternity for the mother, the train pulled into Leitsch. A representative of the Railroad Company appeared with the news that a child had been found that apparently fell off the train. The child had only a minor injury and would be arriving on the Express shortly. The mother could hardly believe the news, but refused to leave the station until she had her child safely in her arms.

At that moment an officer of the Law appeared to get a statement of what had happen. They had suspected that the child had been thrown off the train, since the doors on the coaches were to be securely fasted by the conductor before it leaves a station. But somehow the door in this coach had not been securely locked.

The fast train, the Express arrives with the child. The mother and child are reunited. The child had only suffered a cut on his forehead above his left eye. The child explained, "He took a somersault out of the train".

Later it was learned that a Railway Watchman had heard the cries of "Mama", which was very strange for this remote location. He knew that something must be wrong and prepared to signal the Express to stop until he could find the source of the cries. Upon investigation, he found the child lying on the railroad tracks crying. The child was then placed on the Express to be reunited with his family.

(NOTE: The rest of the trip was uneventful. The family was able to board the ship Martha Washington and after 17 days at sea arrived in New York on December 25, 1912. Then on to Atlanta, Georgia where they stayed for three weeks before going on to Budapest, Haralson County, Georgia. After renting a house for a while, they bought a farm with a house. They planted cotton and corn, but could not get a "fair price" for the cotton.
The father went to Allentown, PA and got a job in a "wire mill", but after working 10 days, he was in an accident and died on September 26, 1916. He was buried in Allentown.
The mother and children remain in Budapest, GA until 1923. At that time they move to Allentown. The mother, Elizabeth Zuercher died in 1958 at the age of 83. Joseph worked for Bethlehem Steel and retired as a foreman. He died in 1986. Anna was a textile worker and retired after 45 years. She died in 1997. John retired from A. M. F. York Division Bowling Products Engineering Department in York, PA. He died in 1990. A fourth child, Marie, was born in Budapest, GA on March 28, 1913. Marie died on Jan 30, 1918 and was buried at Budapest Cemetery.)