Wednesday, June 10, 2009

SERENDIPITY in Schmiedrued

I can’t believe our good fortune as we descended into the gorgeous village of Schmiedrued, Switzerland where my great grandparents Samuel and Verena Goldenberger joined the church after the miraculous healing of one of their little sons by a Mormon missionary. They had 13 children of which 8 survived childhood.

I had been there before 22 years ago with my mom, her sister Wanda and Shawni and we had the good fortune to find a house that still said Goldenberger on it and some long lost relatives who let us take some pictures. We took photos of the church and went on our way.

This time, because I had my trusty partner Richard along, we found much much more! My heart was pounding as we drove down up and down the verdant hills entering Schmiedrued and my visions of those relatives working in the fields and walking through the fields with their children was almost before my eyes!

Farming Schmiedrued 153

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These pictures were shown us by our distant cousins who you’ll soon see. The woman on the left is a Goldenberger from long ago and looks very much like Verena!

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These pictures just can’t do this place justice. You need to see the 360…but this will have to do.

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I especially like the cows! They each have their own individual cow bell!

And I think they liked us too…especially when Rick spoke to them! Have you ever seen a more intelligent looking cow?

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The first things we saw when we got to town in search of Goldenbergers was this:

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We stopped that restaurant next door and they directed us to the ower of this company who was Christian Goldenberger….sure enough a great great grandson of Samuel Goldenberger. We went to his house (which was above his business):

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This was on their front door:

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He and his wife welcomed us warmly and asked us to come back the next day for a family dinner (it was his daughter’s birthday). Can you believe that the Grandma Goldenberger was there too? It was a truly delightful family!

Christian Goldenberger, his wife and mother.   Schmiedrued 196

Christian Goldenberger, his wife and his mother!

He is the town electrician and a good one at that! He told us that the Bergermeister (mayor) of Schmeidrued was also a Goldenberger and he called his daughter who spoke English to see if they would be home in the morning. She said that we could come at 8:30 but they would soon be leaving for church.


Knowing that we would never find a ward to attend church we went to the church to this lovely church that services the whole valley and saw a child baptized by a young woman who was “the priest”. We were later told that there are many Mormons in the valley and that they have a church in a nearby town….darn…too late to attend and “meet the Mormons”!

2009-06--07  Schmiedrued 047 Stained glass window in the  Schmiedrued church  184

Stained glass window in the church and the organ loft.

Organ loft Schmiedrued chruch 187

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We wondered if we could find any Goldenbergers in the graveyard…or Bolligers (Samuel Weber Sr.’s wife was Marie Elizabeth Bolliger or Hunzikers (Samuel’s Father, Hans Rudolph Goldenberger married Verena Hunziker). Got that? At any rate, the graveyard was FILLED with Goldenbergers, Bolligers and Hunzikers and the gravestones were fascinating! Each grave was carefully planted with plots of lovely flowers. 2009-06--07  Schmiedrued 042

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We read in geneological records we read that Samuel Weber Senior was buried in the next town called Schiltwald so we went there to find the grave but were amazed to find only new gravestones. When we asked where the old graves were, we were told that 30 years after death those graves are done away with to create new places. AMAZING! But here is the school which was the main building of Schiltwald and was certainly there when our ancestors were there. The graveyard was directly across the street and so this is where Grandfather Samuel Goldenberger will be waking up on resurrection morning.

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On Saturday night we had found Herr Steppen who was the director of the museum. He lived just two houses up from Goldenberger Electric. I had been so sad because we had gotten to Schmiedrued 25 minutes after the museum closed. The year 1843 was on the front door so we knew that building was there while Samuel and Verena lived there. Samuel was born in 1855.

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Museum of  Schmiedrued 166

This little museum was just incredible! Herr Steppen and other historians in the village had collected from the county (canton) of Aargau. the main floor was all old looms. this is the first mechanical loom which was built in 1890. Is this man cute enough? He was so kind to lead me through the museum with such good English! At the end, he add told me that he was 86!

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This is a loom like Grandma Verena may have used:

Perhaps loom used during Verena's time.  Schmiedrued museum 105

I have a thousand pictures from this museum but until this summer here are a few highlights:

The shoemaker’s shop

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Oxen shoes:

Oxen shoes   Schmiedrued 128

The pig killer! Gruesome…the farmer lifts up this huge metal bolt, puts the wooden dowel on the pigs head and hit the bolt with a hammer to kill the pig instantly!

Pig killer. Lift metal bolt, put on pig's head, hit with hammer, pig dies instantly Schmiedrued 141

I don’t think the pig was this happy, especially because this is the sausage maker:

sausage maker  Schmiedrued 144

Here are some things that he actually used during the war. When I told Herr Steppen that I thought that the Swiss stayed out of the war, he said that he was a “watchman” to be sure that they were safe. He said that the Americans begged the Swiss not to black out their windows at night so they could see where the borders were during the night bombings, but they refused. Therefore four Swiss cities on the border of Germany were accidently bombed by the Americans. “After that”, he said with a smile,’they uncovered their windows!”

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According to Herr Steppen, this is the World’s best potato masher. And below, carpenter and forging tools:

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The museum was fantastic! So many things that were used at the time of our ancesters! I am so grateful for people like Herr Steppen for saving things like this for posterity!

Rick left after the first hour and I found him (not without much detective work) watching Federer win the French Open on a “big screen (turned on especially for him since it was really for conferences) at the restaurant across the street...the only one in town.

restaraunt across street from museum where we watched Federer win French Open  Schmiedrued 161

It was fun to see the final in Switzerland. Everyone is so excited that a Swiss man is now possibly the best tennis player of all time!

Federer winning French Open on the big screen at funny restaraunt Schmiedrued 165

The only sign that was a prevalent in the valley as Goldenberger electric is the one below:

Loosli construction EVERYWHERE   Schmiedrued 171

Jared…you’d better start checking Aargau for relatives! Everyone knew the name, but here they say Losley (with a long o). That serendipity would be a bit too much to expect!

Wish you could have all been there with us! We showed both families our family picture and they were amazed and very excited to make connections! We are glad to have their contact information and so proud to be related to these wonderful families!

2 comments:

the roots said...

What a cool story mom! Thanks for sharing that and all the great pictures with us. I am realizing there is a lot I need to learn about our ancestors! I think is awesome the mayor is the bergermeister!

the roots said...

this is eli by the way.