Biography of Ulrich Buhler and Family
Contributor: MLKDBROW87 Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
Compiled by Alta R. Ashby
Fonda R. Wilhelmson
Switzerland is a very small country. Here nature has been lavish only in the bestowal of awe-inspiring scenery. The towering Alps, green forests, rushing rivers, pastoral meadows and shining lakes, combine to make Switzerland a scenic jewel. But everything else the Swiss possess, they have had to work hard to obtain, including their freedom. They have had to struggle to win and maintain political and economic independence, which undoubtedly colored their national character. The Swiss are cautious and hard working. They love orderliness and cleanliness and have a keen appreciation of thoroughness. What the Swiss do, they do well!
Ulrich Buehler was born into this hardy race on November 29, 1823 at Heimenschwand, Buchholterberg, Bern, Switzerland. Buchholterberg was the name of the entire mountain which was dotted with scattered farms that comprised two strung-out villages, Heimenschwand and Wangelen. He was christened at Schwarzenegg, Sigriswill. The godparents who witnessed Ulrich’s christening were Johannes Buehler, brother of the baby’s father; Johannes von Gunten, a resident of Endorf, a hamlet in the parish of Sigriswill; and Anna Willener nee von Gunten, wife of Christian Willener. The christening of an infant was a time of celebration for friends and family. The Buehler family had maintained rights of citizenship at Sigriswill for many generations. The Citizen’s Register of this parish, stated that Ulrich Buehler was from the branch of the Buehler family originating in Schwanden bei (by) Sigriswill, one of the many hamlets within the parish of Sigriswill.
This picturesque resort town, Sigriswill, faced south, on a hillside and overlooked lovely Lake Thun (Toon). It’s location formed a veritable sun-trap, with breathtaking views of the blue lake and the mighty complex of the Bernese Alps. It was the center of a large parish, taking in eleven villages. It was a haven of peace and quiet amid Alpine pastures and forests. Such natural beauty attracted tourists from many countries.
Little is known of Ulrich’s boyhood but it is presumed that he lived a normal, industrious life. He attended school, where attendance was compulsory until the age of fifteen or sixteen, and then he, as most young Swiss men did, served a three-year apprenticeship. The young people were put to work early and made to realize that life was earnest.
Every able-bodied male citizen was a potential soldier. At the age of nineteen they were called up for a medical examination. If passed, they served a rigorous training period of 120 days. When the young soldier returned home he took his uniform with him so as to be prepared in case of an emergency and also for subsequent three-week periods of “refresher courses” he would serve until he reached the age of thirty-six. After this training Ulrich Buehler took care of a resort hotel in Sigriswill as the manager.
He met Anna Burgdorffer and married her on April 26, 1845 at the state church in Thun. She was the daughter of Christian Burgdorffer and Susana Egli and was born September 21, 1824 at Eggiwill, Bern, Switzerland. The young couple lived in Gunten, another pretty village. It was located on the north shore of Lake Thun and was situated at the mouth of the stream of the same name, which emerged from a deep woodland gorge. It also included a romantic waterfall. Gunten commanded marvelous views of the Eigar, Monch and Jungfrau mountain peaks.
Anna was small of stature and energetic. She was thrifty, industrious and a splendid cook and seamstress – a fitting companion for Ulrich Buehler. They belonged to the Swiss Reformed Church where they were devout and sincere members. Ulrich prospered and they had a comfortable home in Gunten. Their first child, Anna, was born there on April 1, 1846. Ulrich had established a tobacco factory; he also had vineyards and manufactured wines. On market days, he would visit the neighboring villages to sell his products.
Life was good to the hard-working Buehlers. They were blessed with three more daughters by 1854. One day “Tobacco-Ueli” as he was known to his associates, visited a Mr. Bischoff’s printing shop to pick up some labels for his cigars. While he was there he noticed a small pamphlet entitled “Zion’s Pioneers” (Panniers or Banners) lying on the table. Upon asking the printer what it was about, he was informed that a minister of a religious sect from America had left it there. He urged Ulrich to take it home and read it. He did, little realizing that this small pamphlet would change the course of his entire life.
Ulrich read the pamphlet and felt that the message was true. Later the Mormon missionaries called at the home and spent all night discussing the scriptures and the restored gospel as taught by the Latter-day Saints. The missionaries, one of whom was Elder Jacob Secrist, so ably presented their interpretation of the scriptures and their explanation of the restoration through Joseph Smith, that Ulrich and his wife became converted to Mormonism.
When the Buehlers committed to join the Church, they truly embraced the teachings in word and deed. They determined to live all the doctrine and as will be seen, this would cause some major upheavals in their lives.
Ulrich Buehler was especially impressed with the Word of Wisdom and when he decided to be baptized, some six months later, he believed that because of his strong conviction he could no longer make and sell wine, nor manufacture tobacco products. As a result he made arrangements to sell his home, cigar factory and vineyards. He informed the elders that he and his wife would be baptized but that his family preferred to remain in Switzerland rather than “gather to Zion”. He and his wife were baptized in Lake Thun by Jacob Secrist on a warm summer day, July 22, 1854 and confirmed the same day. It wasn’t long after this that he had a change of heart and informed the elders that he was willing to emigrate to America.
The Buehler’s daughter Susanna, when writing her biography, recalled a faith promoting incident that took place when she was a child. “When I was about five years old, something happened that made me fully believe in prayer. My mother and my two oldest sisters, Anna and Magdalena, went to visit my aunt, my mother’s sister who lived across the Lake Thun and about three miles inland. Father took them across the lake in his boat. It was Thursday and on the following Sunday, taking my sister Eliza, my brother Gottfried, and I, he rowed across the lake to bring them home. Upon reaching the shore on the opposite side, Father pulled the boat ashore and tied it to a stake. Eliza and I jumped out and ran to meet mother and the girls who were waiting for us. Oh, weren’t we glad to meet them! Mother had never been away from us before as I can remember.”
“As we reached the boat again to return home, the wind started to blow and the lake was a regular cauldron. Father quickly pulled the boat up on the shore and then went up on a large rock to overlook the lake. When he came down he was very worried and said it looked as if it would be impossible for us to cross that night. Remember, we were three miles away from our relatives and would have had to walk a long way.”
“For some time we stayed in the boat and waited. My father said, ‘Well at least there is no one at home to worry about us, for we are all here.’ After waiting a little while, Father asked us all to kneel down and pray. While he was praying to the Heavenly Father, I grabbed hold of Mother’s skirt and looked around to see to whom my father was talking. I felt as if he were talking to God and that He was right there with us.”
“When we got up from our knees, the lake was real calm in the middle, the very place where we had to cross, but about a mile each way, on both sides, and further down, it made an awful sound, and the waves rolled high.”
“Father watched the waves and then all at once he said, ‘Quickly, now is our time!’ We were all in the boat, Father was at the helm, and mother and Anna and Magdalena took the oars and rowed with all their strength. For about a half an hour they rowed desperately, and finally reached the other side in safety. Father secured the boat and as he did so, the waves crashed together behind him like thunder, and rain came down in a torrent.”
“Our home was only a short distance from the shore; but when we got there, it was raining so hard our clothes were all soaked with rain. We quickly got our dry clothes on, then Father called us together and we knelt down and thanked God who had saved us and led us across the lake.”
The Swiss mission president and those in authority, had observed Ulrich Buehler and because of his integrity, industry and faithfulness, asked him to remain in Switzerland. They told him that his firm testimony and strong leadership were greatly needed at that time to establish and strengthen the branch. He was asked to be the Presiding Elder in the local branch at Steffisburg. After talking it over with his wife, he readily consented to stay but since he had sold all of his possessions, it was necessary to find another place to live. He contacted a convert to the Church, Christian Berger, who was leaving for America. Brother Buehler arranged to buy the small Berger farm which was about fifteen miles from their previous holdings.
It was sometime between the birth of John Ulrich (born September 21, 1859 at Gunten) and Carl (born June 21, 1864 at the farm Aschelenburg, at Huetten bei Steffisburg), that they moved from Gunten.
The Buehler family wasn’t completely happy with the new farm as they had left a comfortable three-story home and were now living in a type of stable. Industrious Ulrich and his capable wife, along with the help of their family, made the place livable. This farm was on the hillside, and had a lovely view but poor top soil. The Buehler sons helped carry dirt in buckets or baskets up the steep hills to replace the soil which had been lost through erosion. The boys and girls helped herd goats from whose milk cheese was made and sold. The family found happiness in their work and joy in their new religion. It was at Aschelenburg that Karl G. Maeser and other missionaries often visited at the Buehler home to teach and discuss the principles of the restored gospel.
About six weeks after Ulrich Buehler was baptized, he wrote down his testimony and gave a copy to Elder Secrist. It was written in German and given with the hope it would help to convert others, since Ulrich was so well known. The translation follows:
September 6, 1854
I give this testimony to Jacob Secrist, the so-called Mormon Elder. This testimony I give in the name of Jesus Christ of myself – that this man Jacob Secrist teaches to us the clear truth and understanding of the Holy Bible. I and my whole house, received through this man, a great blessing. I am convinced he is full of the Holy Ghost. Before, I couldn’t understand the scriptures, because of the wrong teachings and interpretations. Now through the wonderful guidance of God I can read and understand. This testimony I give in writing that these teachings are the same which Jesus Christ taught many years ago.
Now again, by command of the Lord, men are sent out into the world to teach and no power of man can hinder them. If one is expelled, then two or three others will take his place; and with the help of the Almighty God, they will do greater work than the one has done.
This testimony I give to the Mormon, in the Name Jesus Christ, Amen.
/s/ ULRICH BUEHLER
(translated from German by Brother Walter Koch.)
At thirty-one years of age, Ulrich Buehler had achieved a position of prominence in the community. Economically he was successful and he and his wife had been pillars in the Evangelic Reformed Church. In the eyes of the world he had much to lose by joining the LDS Church. Surely he had considered that he would lose the fellowship of his former church, plus his position among his associates. But he counted the cost small compared to the reward of membership in the true Church.
The Buehlers’ baptism caused much consternation among the citizens of Gunten and parishioners of Sigriswil. As a result, the Bernese historian and pastor at Sigriswil, Reverend Karl Howald (1796 – 1869), energetically tried to hinder further growth of the “Mormon” movement. Early in August, Elder Jacob Secrist was ordered to appear before an extraordinary meeting of the Sigriswil Parish Council who declared him “… to be a false teacher, who attempts to lead the weak in faith astray …” and notified the district authorities in Thun of his activities. In mid-September the Director of Justice and Police of Canton Bern, ordered Secrist deported and warned other cantonal police officers about Secrist’s proselyting.
The appeals of Buehler, Bischoff and other Church members to the cantonal government and the American consular authorities in Bern were of no avail. After meeting with Church associates in Geneva, Secrist, although sick, returned to the Bernese region. He received excellent care in the home of Margaritha Wampfler at Maurachern and upon regaining his strength visited the Church members. He reported that “I kept myself hid from strangers and traveled from place to place after night (and as the Saints are very much scattered, frequently walked twelve miles after dark)”.
Mission President, Daniel Tyler (1816 – 1906) came from Geneva and at a meeting with the newly baptized converts at the Wampfler home in Maurachern set apart Ulrich Buehler as the local Presiding Elder. (Source: THE KUNZ FAMILY by Phillip Kunz, history researched by Paul A. Nielson.).
The pastor tried to show Ulrich Buehler the error of his ways and persuade him to return to the fold. Ulrich could not be dissuaded. To further illustrate Ulrich’s strong testimony, after his July 1854 baptism, he refused to have his new-born son Gottfried (born October 28, 1854) baptized and christened into the State Church. It was important that the baby’s birth be registered, to prove his legal citizenship. Brother Buehler requested that the minister do this. The minister refused on the grounds that the child had not been duly baptized nor christened. Ulrich defied the minister and went over his head to the Justice Department in Bern. After demanding that his son be legally registered, the authorities in Bern wrote to the minister and told him he SHOULD register the baby. (On July 19, 1976 at the Bern, Switzerland State Archives where Fonda Wilhelmson and Alta Ashby were in attendance with their cousin Paul A. Nielson, Genealogical Researcher, Paul found the original police document mentioned above.) The letter is as follows:
August 17, 1855
You have sent us the petition of Ulrich Buehler, who requested to get permission that his son born October 28, 1854 with the name of Gottlieb to be registered in the Taufrodel respective birth register of K.G., Sigriswyl without being baptized, because he did not acknowledge the baptism of small children according to the Christian teachings of the apostle. The church superintendent of Sigriswyl, which received your problem to be reported, did not receive an answer to this problem.
Since it is written, as in this case the freedom of faith and religion is a law, to force the baptism would make this freedom invalid, so it is not to be allowed to do so.
The Taufrodel is not a judicial register, which will give information, if someone belongs to this or that religion or faith, but it is a civil register to give information about a person, his stand, the time of his birth, etc., and which therefore should have a correct register of all the births, no matter if the children are really baptized or not.
Inasmuch as there is no doubt about the real birth of this special child, it is the duty of the writer of the register, to write it down immediately, but to remark in the Taufrodel if the child is baptized or not.
The refusal of the registration proves by no means the incorrect interpreting of the duty of the priest as writer of the civil register and the official will be responsible for all arising damage.
If the questionable boy is a legitimate child of the _____ and there is no doubt about his patrimony, it is of course the duty of the writer of the civil register, to write the information in the Taufrodel.
You will tell this disposal to the personages in Sigriswyl and you will take care that it will be done … and the …. (?) … preferable.
If later the registration in the Taufrodel would have difficulties, of which you have to be informed, notify us immediately about it.
Ulrich Buehler had to make separate application to have each additional child recorded in the state registers because he would not allow them to be baptized in the state church.
The following correspondence took place when Carl Buehler was born June 21, 1864 …
ULRICH BUEHLER DOCUMENT CONCERNING HIS EFFORTS TO HAVE HIS SON’S BIRTH RECORDED IN THE CIVIL REGISTERS:
(Translated from German by Mary Gray and her Mother.)
Ulrich Buehler from Sigriswyl, living in the cottage at Fahrni, in the district of Steffisburg, requests the permission to have his unbaptized male child, born June 21, 1864, to his wife, maiden name Burgdorffer, entered in the legal status register although he doesn’t with the child baptized.
According to the report from the parish office, Steffisburg, Buehler belongs to the Mormon sect.
The J & P D___, in accordance with their instructions in similar cases to the above mentioned request, have written the following process:
1. Ulrich Buehler should be called before the Steffisburg Vestry Board, and through suitable questioning, explain to this same board that if he persists in refusing to have his child baptized, he will consequently withdraw himself from the Evangelical (Luteran) Reformed Church. This report is to be given to you from K.h. immediately.
2. Should Buehler persist in his refusal, you should advise him that he is to appear with the child in question and accompanied by two legal witnesses to the Steffisburg Parish within a short period of time set by you. He will do this to register the unbaptized child and give the parish the given names the child will have. In so far as he accomplished this formality, the J & P D____ will give the Steffisburg Parish the authority and will direct them to have the child entered on the baptism record as unbaptized under the names the father has given him.
The Steffisburg Parish, in accordance with the district letter of June 19, 1844, is to send the Sigriswyl Parish an appropriate official notice. They want to inform the vestry board and Steffisburg Parish of the appropriate rebuke and finally report this matter to the government through the J & P D____. Ulrich Buehler will receive a principle witness (a written copy of this matter.)
On the 10th of December 1854, the Swiss Mission President, Daniel Tyler wrote to Elder Jacob Secrist, and said the following: “I have received a letter from Brother Buehler, the tobacconist and they are all in good spirits. I have full confidence that he was the right man for the place and I feel assured that you will yet have much joy in the foundation you have laid for although you have been compelled to leave, the truth still remains and will grow and bear fruit in spite of all opposition.”
Having been ordained an Elder shortly after his baptism, Ulrich felt that he must carry the gospel message to others and in doing this, he made many interesting friends and had invaluable experiences.
In one instance, he with six companions, was thrown into prison for holding services. At another time he was caught by a mob of twenty. His hands were bound. He fervently prayed for the Lord to protect him and then he preached a sermon with such force and power that his captors acknowledged that he was telling the truth and accordingly set him free.
It is reported that while two missionaries, Elder Brandley and Teuscher, were preaching, a mob gathered, determined to break up the meeting. In order to cause more noise and excitement, someone put bells on some cows and drove them around the house where the meeting was being held. One man by the name of Sperry was injured. Three of the cows which wore the bells died; thereafter the anti-Mormons never again used the same method to break up LDS gatherings.
One family by the name of Kunz, who lived in Simental, had heard of the gospel and of faith healings by the Elders. When one of their daughters, Rosina was afflicted by a spinal disease, they contacted Brother Buehler and listened to the story of the restoration. They recognized the truthfulness of the message and were baptized as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This was on June 22, 1862, by Brother Buehler. Through the power of the priesthood, manifested in the blessing given to Rosina and through her own faith, she became entirely well.
The vast distances between the scattered church members prevented their coming together often. Nearly a year after John Kunz I and his daughter had been baptized, Buehler and a fellow companion decided to visit the Kunz family on their farm above Zwischenflueh. News that the Mormon elders were in Diemtigen Canyon spread quickly.
One Kunz son, Johannes (John II) was angry at the elders and threatened to kill Brother Buehler if he ever came there again. He was among the men in the valley who decided to run the Mormons out of the canyon. This angry mob set out for the home of John Kunz I. The door on this house was a “Dutch” door which was divided in half so that the bottom half could be opened without opening the top half. Upon hearing the noise in his yard, John Kunz I went to the door and upon opening the top half, was confronted by neighbors, relatives and those he had thought to be his friends.
The disorderly crowd informed John I that they wanted to drive the Mormon missionaries out of the area. He was particularly upset when he saw his son in the mob and firmly told him to go home and “mind his business”. He then talked with the others and they finally left.
Though the people in the area were still antagonistic, representatives of the Church were able to make visits without being molested. Through these contacts, more members of the Kunz family were converted. John Kunz II got over his anger and was also converted. Two of Ulrich Buehler’s daughters, Elizabeth and Caroline married into the Kunz family and reared fine families in the Church.
One fundamental teaching in the Buehler family, which the children always remembered was that the family was called together for morning and evening prayer. When severe storms raged or in times of sickness or difficulties, special prayers were offered. Ulrich taught his children to pray for each other and for protection for their buildings which were under one roof. They also sought particular prayers whenever they left home for several days.
Brother Buehler remained in Switzerland teaching and preaching the gospel for eighteen years after his conversion. He was a fluent speaker and had a thorough knowledge of the scriptures. He was also a good singer. He often walked all day and night to get to his meetings. People enjoyed listening to him preach in his native tongue. He was sincere and convincing in his testimony of the divinity of the missions of the Prophet Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. He defended Mormonism among his fellow countrymen, his enemies and the unfriendly ministers.
Sister Buehler assisted her husband in every way possible. She was a charming hostess to the early missionaries who called at her home. Among those who were frequent visitors were Karl G. Maeser, Edward Schoenfeld and many others. One elder, Jacob Miller came to Fruitigen to preach, and was put in prison; Ulrich Buehler got him out.
The three eldest daughters of the Buehler family emigrated to America before the family left in 1872. In June 1867, 20 year old Anna left home for Liverpool with some of the returning elders. She became ill there and spent six weeks recuperating before she was able to continue her journey aboard the MANHATTAN.
In the ship’s summary, where the passenger’s countries’ of origin were written, she was the only one from Switzerland – how lonely for her with no one to converse with for she knew only German. It was said that she almost starved because she didn’t know how to ask for food. Finally she went and stood by a table and by her gestures, someone figured out that she was hungry. She arrived in New York on the 4th of July 1867. That fall she arrived in Salt Lake City and took a job as a maid in a non-LDS home. She had many difficult times before she married a widower, John Thomas Hicks.
Magdalena was the next to leave home at age 21. Her fare was paid by the Perpetual Emigration Fund. She sailed from Liverpool on the MINNESOTA, August 23, 1869. She arrived in New York on September 6, 1869, which made her arrival in Salt Lake City late in the fall. Three years later, Elizabeth left for America with a group of Swiss Saints, among whom was the John Kunz I family. She sailed aboard the MANHATTAN in 1870, and was met in Salt Lake City by her sister, Anna Hicks.
The Buehlers finally were able to sell their property in Huetten bei Steffisburg and left for America. Aboard the MANHATTAN, June 12, 1872, were Ulrich, age 49; Anna, age 48; Susanna, age 20; Gottfried, age 18; Caroline, age 15; John U., age 13; Karl, age 8; and Gottlieb, age 4. Sister Buehler was ill while on the ocean. There were 221 Saints on the MANHATTAN and David Brinton was in charge of the emigrating Saints.
When they stopped in Pittsburgh, the railroad officers opened the last car for five minutes only, not informing the passengers of the shortness of time. Caught off guard, some of the passengers had to throw their luggage in through the windows and rush aboard. They arrived in Salt Lake City on July 4th, 1872 at 10:00 PM and were met by their daughter, Anna Hicks, who lived on North Temple Street. They also visited with the Christian Burgers who lived in Cottonwood. While there, 18 year old Gottfried Buehler and his friend, Chris Burger, hiked up through Parley’s Canyon to Midway where some of Chris’s uncles had settled. Gottfried was impressed with the area. He told his father Ulrich, about Midway and since the family was looking for a place to establish a home, he went with Gottfried the next day to look it over. The scenery reminded him of Switzerland and he was sure that his family would feel at home in the lovely valley. They made arrangements to move into a 3 room log cabin which belonged to a man named John Moser. It was located just east of the present Midway school. The following year they purchased land from Ezekiel Bates and built a home and farmed. This is now the Francis Probst property.
Midway had a population of 1000, of which one-half were Swiss people who had come from the beautiful Bernese Oberland, (The Swiss Alps). Ulrich Buehler knew the carpenter trade and in 1874, built one of the first frame houses in Midway. The lumber for this home was cut and sawed in Snake Creek Canyon. Like so many of the Swiss, he made and carved his own furniture. True to his industrious nature, he frequently spent the evenings cutting shingles of a special design for covering the sides of his house, thus making it Swiss-like and artistic to suit his taste. His daily goal was to cut a wheelbarrow full in the evening until finished. After completing his own house, he was hired to build several other houses in Midway.
Brother Buehler was asked to be President over all the German-speaking Saints in Midway and held the position for many years. He befriended the poor and took good care of them.
Ulrich and Anna Buehler were sealed in the Endowment House on July 28, 1873. Their children were sealed to them in May 1891 at the Logan Temple. An interesting account of their family gathering in Logan for this purpose, is related by a grandson, Heber C. Hicks.
“It was in the spring of 1891 that Ulrich Buehler and his wife arranged to go to Logan Temple and have their nine children sealed to them. At that time, they and their four sons, Gottfried, John, Charles (Karl), and Gotlieb, were living in Midway, Wasatch County, where they had settled shortly after their arrival in Salt Lake City in 1872. Of their five daughters, Anna and Susan Hicks and Magdalena Berger, lived in South Cottonwood Ward, about 8 miles south of Salt Lake City, while Elizabeth and Caroline Kunz lived in Bear Lake County, Idaho. Grandfather Buehler, with his wife and four sons loaded their provisions and bedding in a large wagon, 3-seated, white top, and drove via Park City to the home of Anna and Susan where they picked up the two and continued west to the home of Magdalena, who lived on State Street, the main highway running north and south through Utah.
“Christian Berger, Magdalena’s husband, also had a white-top, so they reprovisioned both wagons, divided the family in the two wagons and started north.
“At night they drove off the road a short distance and camped, cooking their meals over a camp fire. A week after leaving Midway, the family arrived in Logan. Christian Kunz had already arrived with his wives, Elizabeth and Caroline and was waiting for them. After a day of rejoicing over their first reunion in a number of years, the entire family went to the newly dedicated temple. All had received their endowments. The temple work for the Buehler and the related families was officially started, with all the family participating in the work for those whose names they had brought from Switzerland. After spending a week inaugurating the plan, which was the beginning of the work for our kindred dead and our genealogical research, they left.
“The enclosed photograph was taken of the family rejoicing over the wonderful beginning. They then returned to their homes in safety. As far as I have been able to learn, this was the last time all the members of the family were together at one time.”
/s/ HEBER C. HICKS
Their daughter Magdalena Berger, who had no children, worked for fourteen years, almost daily in the Salt Lake Temple so that her ancestors might have the blessings of the gospel. Her husband, Christian Berger, at his death, left several hundred dollars to have the temple work continued. If the posterity of Brother and Sister Buehler would unite their efforts to continue doing research and temple work, much could be accomplished in getting the genealogy lines of the records that have not yet been obtained.
Of Ulrich’s Buehler’s descendants (at this writing), 36 have been called as missionaries in the Church. They have labored in 12 different missions and spent a total of 72 years – this doesn’t include the 18 years Ulrich spent in Switzerland.
Anna Buehler died October 25, 1902 at the age of 78. Brother Buehler followed his companion January 30, 1907 at the age of 84. They were buried in Midway, Utah. Their posterity numbered 590 in October 1946 when the Ulrich Buehler Family was organized. The devout lives of Brother and Sister Buehler and family should be a source of inspiration and lasting benefit to us, their descendants.
NOTE: In checking the various documents in the bibliography, we found the name Buhler spelled Buehler and Buhler.
“History of Elizabeth Buehler Kunz”, by Eliza Kunz Rigby and Nellie Kunz Dredge, daughters.
“A BRIEF BIOGRAPHY OF THE LIFE OF ULRICH BUEHLER”, Kunz and Buehler Families, copy in the Church Historian’s Office, S.L.C. Ward History of Bern, Idaho Ward, GS Film 7185.
L.D.S. Passenger Lists, Church Historian’s Office.
“HOW BEAUTIFUL UPON THE MOUNTAINS”, Wasatch County Daughters of Utah Pioneers, Published 1963, Deseret News Press.
“THE KUNZ FAMILY: Johannes Kunz and Rosina Katharina Klossner Kunz”, by Phillip R. Kunz, Published 1988.
Early Church Membership File.
“HISTORY OF BEAR LAKE PIONEERS; Daughters of Utah Pioneers, Bear Lake County,
Idaho”, Published 1968
“HISTORY OF BERN, IDAHO – 1874-1981”, written and compiled by George Kunz.
“KUNZ HISTORY – History of Johannes Kunz I and wife Rosina Katharina Klosner”, written and compiled by Oliver Kunz, Ezra L. Kunz, Maxine Kunz Blaser and Thekla Kunz with additions by Paul A. Nielson.
“FODOR’S. SWITZERLAND AND LIECHTENSTEIN, 1976”. History and Travel Guide by Eugene Fodor.
Travel Guides gathered in Switzerland by Alta R. Ashby in 1976. Information given by Paul A Nielson at same time.
Historical documents obtained in Swiss Archives at Berne, under direction of Nielson in 1976.
Swiss Research obtained by Fonda R.P. Wilhelmson and Pearl Michaelson.
ENSIGN August 1982, “Early Missionary Work in Italy and Switzerland”, by James R. Christianson, p. 35.
“JACOB SECRIST PAPERS”, Church Archives, MSD 5015, Church Historian’s Office.
“SAINTS ON THE SEAS: A Maritime History of Mormon Migration, 1830-1890”, by Conway Sonne, publish University of Utah Press, SLC, Utah, 1983.
LDS Church Records of Thun Branch, Switzerland, GS Film 128144, Swiss-German Mission, Thun; pp 50, 59, 61, Simental, pp 42.
LDS Endowment House Record “H” Book 29, 1289
Ulrich Buehler’s christening: “Birth and Christening Register of Nonresident Citizens of Sigriswil, Berne, Switzerland, Vol I, Page 81, entry #301.”
“BIOGRAPHY OF ANNA BUEHLER HICKS”, (1846-1907) by daughter Bertha Hicks
“AUTOBIOBRAPHY OF SUSANNA BUEHLER HICKS (1852-1938). Post script to autobiography by daughter Rose Hicks Hamblin.
“LDS CHURCH IN SWITZERLAND” Historical Notes, Paul A. Nielson.
LDS CHURCH IN SWITZERLAND
By Paul A. Nielson
Since the founding of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints the members have been actively engaged in preaching the message of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. As early as April 1837 many missionaries were sent to England where they baptized several hundred converts in the following four years. It is possible that reports of this success reached the Bernese region inasmuch as the earliest mention of “Mormons” was made shortly thereafter during the meetings of the Bernese Synod in 1841. Reverend Abraham Samuel Rufenacht (1800-1866), who at that time had served as pastor at Wattenvil in the Gurbe Valley for six years, called attention to this new religious denomination.
It is a cause of concern that this Mormonite Sect, probably in conjunction with land speculation, will also attempt to proselyte in Canton Bern, and that agents of the same, one of whom, originally Bernese himself, has been personally brought to his (Rufenacht’s) attention, may be gadding about in this area. It is necessary that the clergy maintain a watchful eye over this dangerously cunning form of the selling of souls.
The pastor from Oberdiessbach, Reverend Johann Karl Rudolf Anneler (1804-1877), who is also aware of this matter, does not find it so dangerous, inasmuch as the people are fully capable of seeing through such a clumsy deception.
Lorenzo Snow (1814-1901), a member of the Council of the Twelve Apostles, was called on a mission to Italy by Church President Brigham Young (1801-1877) during a general conference of the Church in Salt Lake City, Utah in October 1849. Snow and his companion first traveled to England, where they called Thomas Brown Holmes Stenhouse (1824-1882) and another new convert, to accompany them on this mission. After spending several months among the Waldenses in Torre Pellice, Snow sent Stenhouse to Switzerland in late November 1850. When Snow visited Stenhouse in Geneva in February 1851, he was much pleased with the prospect of establishing the Gospel in Geneva. I feel free, and in a free atmosphere and to prophecy good of Switzerland.
After the “Mormon” missionaries had begun to preach their message in Basel, and later in Zurich, the beginning was also made in the Bernese region by Peter Brawand (1801-1856), who had been converted in Denmark and then returned to his home town of Interlaken. He taught “the principles of the restoration of the Gospel through the appearance of an angel to Joseph Smith,” resulting in several persons desiring to be baptized. However, inasmuch as Brawand “did not have authority to baptize”, Jacob Foutz Secrist (1818-1855), a missionary who had been laboring in Europe since 1852, was sent to the Bernese Oberland in May 1854 in behalf of the Church leadership in Geneva, to perform the baptisms of the converts.
Secrist remained in Thun and labored diligently to convert others. On June 20, 1854, he wrote to his wife in Utah: I have baptized 11 within 2 weeks and expect to baptize 6 or 8 more very shortly and a very good prospect ahead.
On July 25, 1854, he wrote:
I have been in this place 2 months and have made a small beginning having baptized 20 that are rejoising (sic) in the truth with a very good prospect ahead although the priests are crying fals (sic) teacher yet individuals will inquire for themselves. Several remarkable (sic) cases of healing on several of the Saints since baptism – this has established them more firmly in the truth.
Upon Secrist’s baptism of several persons in Gunten, the Bernese historian and pastor at Sigriswil, Reverend Karl Howald (1796-189), energetically tried to hinder further growth of the “Mormon” movement. In the capacity of his office as secretary of the Parish council Howald wrote in the minutes of an extraordinary meeting of the parochial leadership (before which Secrist was ordered to appear for a hearing), as well as in a letter to the district commissioner in Thun, that as a result of the hearing:
The parochial leadership declared the aforementioned Jakob Eff-Sigrist (as Jacob F. Secrist’s name was recorded by Howald) to be a false teacher, who attempts to lead the weak in faith astray …
On September 11, 1854, Secrist was deported from the canton by the Office of Justice and Police of Canton Bern. On the same day all of the cantonal police offices were warned about Secrist’s appearance in a letter from the Bernese Director of the Police. When Daniel Tyler (1816-1906), who was then serving as mission president in Geneva, received reports of the situation, he traveled to Maurachern near Kiesen, where other Church members lived, and set apart ULRICH BUEHLER (1823-1907), a tobacco merchant in Gunten, as the local presiding elder. Through a mistake of the district commissioner’s office in Thun, Brawand was taken prisoner on September 17, 1854 (National Prayer Day), instead of Secrist.
Jacob Secrist wrote to President Daniel Tyler early in December from the French village of St-Louis near the Basel border that he had been deported from the cantons of Bern, Solothurn and Baselland as well as from the city of Basel. Tyler responded to Secrist on December 10, 1854, from Geneva, with the following words:
I have received a letter from Brother Buhler, the tocacconist they are all in good spirits. I have full confidence that he was the right man for the place and I feel assured that you will yet have much joy in the foundation you have laid for although you have been compelled to leave the truth still remains and will grow and bear fruit in spite of all opposition.
Secrist went to England and in the spring of 185? returned to the United States. As was often the case with returning missionaries, he was assigned as the captain of an immigrant company for the westward trek through the United States towards Utah. However, during this journey a cholera epidemic broke out and claimed many lives, including Secrist’s. He was buried near Kearney (Nebraska).
In spite of the persecution of the “Mormons” and the further difficulties which continued until the turn of the century, the Church grew in the Bernese region and throughout Switzerland. However, many of the converts immigrated to the “Mormon” settlements in the United States, particularly in and around Utah. By the end of the nineteenth century nearly 3000 Swiss “Mormons” had immigrated.
The temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Zollikofen, completed in 1955, should also be mentioned in conjunction with the Church in the Bernese area. As the first and thus far only “House of the Lord” on the European continent, it is a spiritual center where worthy members of the Church may participate in sacred ordinances.
Today there are approximately 5000 members of the Church in the various regions of Switzerland. Nearly a thousand of these “Mormons” form branches of the Church in Canton Bern, viz., in Bern, Biel, Burgdorf, Interlaken, Thun and Zollikofen.
1. William E. Berrett, SEINE KIRCHE WIEDERHERGESTELLT, Frankfurt a.M., 1972, 6ff.
2. Ibid., 121-122
3. From the minutes of the “VERHANDLLUNGEN DER GENERALSYNODE DES KANTONS BERN, DEN22ten und 23ten Juny 1841” (Proceedings of the General Synod of Canton Bern, the 22nd and 23rd of June 1841) in the Kantons-Synods Verhandlungen, 1839-1853, vol 1, pp 98-99 (Staatsarchiv Bern, Syn.Rats-Archiv, B 11). In Kurt Guggisberg, Bernische Kirchengeschte, Bern, 1958, 631, the year was erroneously cited as 1840.
4. Lorenzo Snow, The Italian Mission, London, 1851, 25.
5. Excerpts from the historical record compiled by Friedrich August Santschi (1821-1857) Anfangsgeschichte der Lehre Jesu Christi im Kanton Bern. (Historical Beginnings of the Teachings of Jesus Christ in Canton Bern), as diversely quoted bt Reverend Karl Howald (1796-1869) in his Sigriswiler Chronik: Karl Howald, Sigriswiler Chronik, vol. 6, pp 49-50 (Burgerbibliothek Bern, Mss. Hist. Helv. XXIb 396).
6. Jacob Foutz Secrist, Letters to Ann Eliza Logan Secrist (in private possession in SLS, Utah).
7. Verhandlungen des Kirchen-Vorstandes. Sigriswil #1 (Proceedings of the Parish Council. Sigriswil) (Kirchgemeinderat-Ptotokoll, 1852, 1929), 17 (Pfarrarchiv Sigrsiwil).
8. Adacta der Justiz-und Polizeidirektion des Kantons Bern, Nr. 1916, 11. September 1854 (Staatsarchiv Bern).
9. Kreisschreiben der Justiz-und Polizeidirektion, 11 September 1854 (Staatsarchiv Bern).
10. Howald, p 50
11. Daniel Tyler letter to Jacob Foutz Secrist (in private possession in SLS, Utah).
12. Dale Zollinger Kirby, History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Switzerland (unpublished Master’s Thesis, Brigham Young University, 1971), p. 196 (Swiss National Library).