The Men & Women Who Built Lehi: Female immigrant earns living as a trapper
Lee Anderson | Lehi Historical Society and Archives
Albertine “Tina” Bolliger came to Utah from Switzerland as an 8-year-old in 1886. Her father died when she was 17, leaving her to care for her mother, one sister, three brothers and a 12-acre farm. She plowed, sowed and harvested without help.
When she was 21, she married William Ritter and immediately went to Point Lookout, southwest of Rush Valley, where they ran the Overland Stage station for several years. While in Rush Valley, they began trapping bobcats and coyotes. For three each, they received$10 from the government and $7 from the local sheepmen.
In 1904, the couple moved to Alta, which was then a mining settlement with little more than a hotel, store and a few homes. While William worked in a mine, Tina drove a wagon team of ore from Alta to the Murray smelter. Much of the road was hard to navigate as it was only wide enough for one wagon. Later, she drove a four-horse stage from Murray to Alta, making one round trip daily.
In 1907, William and Tina moved to Lehi. Unfortunately, no work was available for Tina. So, she bought several hundred pounds of fish from the fishermen at Utah Lake, cleaned and skinned them and then hauled them in her white-topped, two-horse buggy to Bingham,where there was a ready market for fish. She made over double what she paid for them. William started trapping muskrats around Utah Lake and sold the pelts for 60 cents each, making $1000.
In 1908, the Ritters built a home at 300 West and 200 South. For the next six years, they trapped coyotes, bobcats, badgers and even bears from Wendover to the Strawberry and Duchesne Rivers. Albertineworked as a trapper for the State of Utah while William trapped for the federal government.
After William died in 1932, Tina married Jens Peter Christensen in 1933. Jens died in 1948. A widow at age 70, she was still as much at home outdoors as she was in her youth. She spent her days working in her vegetable garden, slept outside most nights beneath the trees,and cooked on a stove in her backyard.
She walked with a cane because her horse fell on her after slipping on the ice. She led an adventurous life and was unafraid to go against the social norms that kept most women indoors. She remarked, “I’ve done everything imaginable except housework and needlework. That I never liked to do. My life is outdoors entirely.”
Tina was born Caroline Albertine Bolliger on Nov. 25, 1877, to Johannes Bolliger and Anna Maria Burkhard. She was the fourth of seven children. She died in American Fork on Mar. 27, 1953, and is buried in the Lehi City Cemetery.
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