STORY OF RUDOLF VON NIEDERHAUSERN AND ELIZABETH TRACHSEL
Christian, Rosa, John, Lena, Martha and Anna, sons and daughters of Rudolf von
Niederhausern and Elizabeth Trachsel, related personally to Irene Beutler
Schwartz (a granddaughter) incidents about their family as they could remember
them. Proofread and revised by Karine W. Hill. Theses were compiled and written
for the benefit of all of the descendants of this couple, in an effort to
impress on all the need for appreciation of our great heritage and the
importance of living the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints. It was only through the love and devotion of the Gospel that this dear
couple made great sacrifices so that we are able to enjoy the blessings of a
choice people and country. Our aim and purpose should be to so live that we will
be worthy to meet them in our Father's kingdom.
von Niederhausern was born the 10th of February 1839 at Ruti Thurnen, Bern,
Switzerland, on the estate of Holenweg, which had been in the Niederhausern
family for about five hundred years. The von Niederhausern's were known as
"tillers of the soil." They were a very industrious and a hard-working
people. It was customary that the eldest son take over the estate. As Rudolf was
the youngest of nine children in his father's family, it was apparent that his
chance to take over the family estate would never materialize. He began to look
for opportunity of securing a farm elsewhere. When yet a young man he was able
to make arrangements for and secure a farm in a nearby vicinity. Krautern, as
the homestead was called, was near the county seat of Guggisberg.
von Niederhausern family was very religious. They studied the Bible regularly
and made the reading of it a part of their daily life. Most of this family
joined the State Protestant Church; previous to this time they had been members
of several churches. They were diligently searching for the truth. Rudolf Sr.
always encouraged members of his family to be faithful to the church to which
they belonged, and to live the principles of their religion as they understood
the spirit of prophecy, he also told them that, if they were faithful, the time
would come when they would have a chance to receive something greater than that
which they already had.
was married to Maria Gottschmann in the year of 1865. (The inscription on the
heating oven in their old home is still clearly legible and reads "Rudolf
von Niederhausern and Maria Gottschmann, 1865.") On the 17th of May 1868, a
baby daughter was born to them and she was christened Maria. Then again they
were planning for another baby and twins were born prematurely. Through this
ordeal the mother and both twin babies died.
Rudolf had relatives care for tiny Maria, and buried his sorrow in hard work on
his farm. But time heals grief and sweetens memories, and as the years passed
Rudolf became aware of the lovely young daughter of a neighboring family who
lived close to his childhood home and about twelve miles distant from his own
farm. He came to know the blonde blue-eyed Elizabeth Trachsel when he went to
visit his own tiny "Maria." Elizabeth's mother was known as a
"well-to-do widow," and thirty-six year old Rudolf visited the widow
and asked for the hand of her nineteen-year-old daughter. The mother consented.
Elizabeth was not consulted at this time, but she must have been aware of the
ambitious and handsome dark-eyed Rudolf, for their children remember Rudolf
often teasing her in later years by saying that when she was approached on the
matter of marriage her answer was "Ja, Ja, Ja, Ja." They were married
in the year of 1875. With their religious backgrounds and a sincere desire to
keep the commandments of the Lord, their marriage had every chance for success.
Lena's contribution: "Here is Mother's wedding poem. Maybe you would enjoy
having it. Margrit Lohner translated it for me from the German writing. The
English translation doesn't seem to have quite the same meaning as the German;
it is beautiful in German." This wedding poem was written as a special
tribute for Elizabeth and Rudolf at the time of their marriage; a copy of the
original and the English translation follow:
Der schone Tag er ist erschienen
Dir Brautigam, Dir holden Braut,
Wo lhr Euch durft nun ewig lieben
Als trem Gatten seit getraut.
Dad beste Los sei Euch beschieden
Nie stor es yea eirn Ungemach
Der Himmel offne sich hienieden
Es blue stetz Gluck an jenem Tag
So lebt vergn'u'gt gleich Engelschaaren
Wie heute stetz gesund und fohl
Wir feiern dann nach 50 Jahren
Die goldene Hochzeit ebenso.
lovely day it has arrived
For you, the groom, and you, the bride,
When you may love, for all eternity
And be united as true man and wife.
May the best fate attend you always
And not be disturbed by harm
May heaven be open to you here below
And happiness bloom as daily charm.
May your life have the peace of angels,
As today, may good health be yours,
And 50 years hence, We will celebrate
A Golden Anniversary to be sure.
Maria was now 10 years old, but had been in the care of relatives since the
death of her mother and so continued to make her home with these relatives. Only
occasional visits were made to the home of her own father and stepmother by this
Rudolf farmed about 135 acres of land, besides caring for livestock, which included sheep and goats. There was a great deal of work to be done and Rudolf was a very busy man. The main crops consisted of hay and grains-wheat, barley, and flax. As the majority of the work was done by hand, probably with the exception of the plowing, which was done with a hand plough pulled with horses. The hay and grain were cut by hand with long three-foot scythes. It was raked together with large hand rakes. The grain was stored on the main floor of the barn and threshed after the fall work was completed. Rudolph was the first farmer in that area to buy a threshing machine, but it still required hand feeding. The milk that was produced from the cows and goats was made into cheese by a hired "Cheeser." Nearby farmers also brought their milk to be manufactured into cheese. With all this work to be done it was necessary to hire several men; thus it was also necessary for Elizabeth to prepare meals for the hired help. Elizabeth was a very helpful companion and helpmate, and she worked hard to give her husband the support he needed. She kept a big garden, cooked little potatoes to feed the pigs, and did other chores. There was a big rock oven in the dairy and each week she baked this oven full of bread. The oven was heated with wood; when hot the coals were raked out and the loaves put in to bake.
and Elizabeth did not forget the commandment to "Multiply and replenish the
earth." Thirteen sons and daughters were born to them. Three of the
children, Maria, Joseph, and Emma, died in infancy. Ten of the sons and
daughters were raised to maturity: Rudolf Jr. Elizabeth, Christian, Margaritha,
Johannes, Rosina, Lina, Martha, Anna, and Friederich. As the children grew up in
this family they were taught to take their share of responsibility, to work, and
to be thrifty. They shared the responsibility of helping with the tasks to be
done on the farm and providing a livelihood for the family. One of the most
disliked tasks was herding the sheep and goats, and these playful animals
delighted, it seemed, in giving the children a merry chase as they tried to keep
them from going into the grain or hay fields.
parents were anxious that the children should have every opportunity to have an
education. The children were sent to the village school and the rod was not
spared if they did not do what was expected of them. School was in session
practically the year around. At planting time and harvesting time school was
dismissed for two or three weeks. Two afternoons a week the girls learned to
knit and sew while the boys had military drills. In the spring of the year
examinations were given. It was customary to give each of the students that had
achieved by passing their examinations a small amount of money for this
accomplishment. The amount of up to one dollar was given to the student,
according to the grade they were in. Rudolf was a very interested father and
encouraged his children to achieve the highest; if they worked hard and received
satisfactory grades he would add to their fund by doubling the amount paid by
the school board. Usually some sort of celebration, known as "Award
Day," was held in connection with this achievement event. At this time, the
girls' knitting, sewing, and other handiwork were displayed. Booths of different
kinds were put up where the children could buy goodies and trinkets of various
kinds with their reward money, which made a happy ending of the "Award
brought glorious times for the children. The climate in this particular part of
Switzerland was favorable for raising several different kinds of fruit trees and
also berries. Rainfall was plentiful which made it ideal for the growth of many
wild berries in the nearby woods. Strawberries, raspberries, huckleberries, and
other kinds of fruit all grew wild and profusely.
states: "We loved to go to the woods and gather berries, especially where
father and the boys were cutting timber. We gathered them by painful. Sometimes
mother would let us go and sell them to people that could afford to buy them. We
liked to sell them to the Pfarrer (minister). We were no different from the
children of today, we liked money of our own and mother would allow us to have
the money which we made from our sales."
further relates: "After a rain storm the mushrooms grew overnight and we
gathered them and mother (Elizabeth) prepared many delicious meals with them and
the berries which we had gathered. It was fun in the fall of the year to go
nutting. There were many hedges on which clusters of hazel nuts grew. We,
brothers and sisters, looked anxiously forward to the time when we would go
together to share this pleasure."
was provided for in their own family circle. In the long winter evenings the
family gathered in the living room around the great, huge hearth to keep warm,
and enjoyed songs, stories, games, etc. Also, father or mother read to them from
the Bible and taught the truths of Christianity to them. The girls would knit or
sew under the loving supervision of their mother. Rudolf and his good wife put
religious training as the foremost obligation of their home life. Even in the
busy affairs of providing for his family, Rudolf took time out each morning to
read a chapter from the Bible and gather the family together to kneel in family
prayer. To the smaller children, it seemed that the prayers ran to great length.
The youngest daughter relates "there was time to chase the chickens from
coming into the house." This they did slyly, and would then return quickly
and unnoticed to the prayer circle.
John says, "I had wonderful parents." My father read the Bible every
night, a chapter or two. He had hired men who after supper would sit around the
big table with the family. He told the men now I am going to read a chapter in
the Bible; if you want to stay that is alright and if not, you can go. He was
just a man of that kind. He never smoked or one would never hear him swear and
when he had hired men, he told them no, no and they hushed. He did not allow
them to swear.
largest city nearby was Fribourg and my father went there about every week or so
to get goods for the home or things which were needed or tools. The market there
was about 15 kilometers away and of course there were places where you could go
in and drink and eat. Father went in the place and sometimes there was trouble
therein. When they saw him they hushed. He was well respected and wouldn't stand
for any swearing or foolishness."
Sabbath Day was strictly observed. Everything was in readiness before the day
arrived. No shining of shoes, sewing of buttons, chopping of wood or any
unnecessary chores was done on the Sabbath day. Whenever possible, they attended
church services. However, with all this there still grew a "spirit of
emptiness"-there was something lacking. Studying of the scriptures only
proved to them that their religious beliefs were not soul satisfying. Because
Rudolf was a genuinely religious man and also observant of local happenings, he
heard of a new sect, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and he had
also heard that Mormon missionaries were laboring in the nearby city of Bern.
The missionaries had visited Rudolf’s sister, Anna Pauli, and her husband,
Rudolf Pauli. As they became more interested and fascinated by these
missionaries' message, they were anxious that Rudolf and Elizabeth should also
share its beauty. In the year of 1888, missionaries from the Church were
introduced to the Rudolf von Niederhausern family.
minister in the local village was greatly concerned when he heard that Rudolf
had allowed these missionaries to come to his home. He knew that Rudolf was one
of the richest and most influential men in the community and he realized that
this action would probably result in his losing some of his congregation. The
minister became very conscientious about making regular visits to the von
Niederhausern home and tried continually to convince the family of their erring
ways, He advised them to join any sect but those "despised Mormons,"
He told them action such as this would bring disgrace upon his Parrish.
Father Rudolph began to realize that the missionaries had the truth and also the
authority to perform ordinances that were necessary to salvation, he tried to
explain to the minister how important he felt that the principle of baptism was.
The minister then replied that if it was baptism that he wanted, he could do
this ordinance for Rudolph, too.
missionaries came either from Thun or Langnau, cities of a distance of 20 to 50
miles from the von Niederhausern home. As they walked, it took them several
hours to reach their destination and they were naturally hungry and tired upon
arrival. Rudolf was a good Christian and felt the need to offer them lodging for
the night; he didn't have the heart to turn them from his door as had been
suggested by the minister.
time passed Rudolf s sister, Anna Pauli, and her husband joined the Church and
immigrated to Zion. They located in Logan, Cache, Utah, and their letters now
told of the blessings that came to them through their acceptance of the Gospel
plan. They had found the peace of mind they sought for in making the right
decisions, although they had encountered much opposition from the adversary.
Anna wrote that it was wonderful to come to Zion, even though they became very
homesick at times. Again the local minister made false accusations, saying that
Anna had probably written this way because she was so anxious that other members
of the family join them in this new land of America. But Rudolf knew this was
not the reason his sister had written as she did, and the accusing words pierced
him as if lie were being cut with a sharp knife.
missionaries continued their visits and taught the principles of the restored
gospel in the von Niederhausern home. They continued to be made welcome and were
shown every consideration and given the best of everything; at times the
children even resented the many sacrifices that the parents made for the
missionaries. Rosa remembers that a small bedroom above the "cheesery"
was kept especially for the missionaries. It was a small pleasant room with one
large window overlooking Elisabeth's garden. Just below the window grew a prune
tree. To the right was a small forest, also to the left. When the window was
opened you could hear the cuckoo call in one forest and hear the echo in the
other. Rosa states that this bedroom boasted a highly varnished wooden bed with
a "real" mattress-the only mattress they owned. The family all slept
on straw ticks, covered by thin feather beds. (Each summer these ticks were
refilled with sweet smelling fresh straw and the feather beds were aired and
plumped.) Rudolf and his lovely companion were well read, and as the gospel plan
was presented to them they had no difficulty in following and grasping the
truths being taught. On one occasion, the minister told dear Mother Elizabeth
that she read the Bible with "Mormon eyes."
missionaries also visited Heironimuss von Niederhausern, an elder brother of
Rudolf, during this time. He, too, was interested until the principle of tithing
was explained. Heironimuss could not see the truth of this principle, and it
became a stumbling block to him. He was a man of "goodly means" and
felt that he would rather keep his hard-earned money for his own interests.
He never did join the Church.
of their expressed interest in the Church and the missionaries, Rudolf's family
became the subject of much persecution and ridicule. Taunts such as "Here
come Kraeutern Rudi's missionaries" or "The egg pancake preachers are
coming again" were heard often. (Egg pancakes or "Eierdaetsch"
were a delicacy served especially for special guests, and, of course, this was a
special treat when the missionaries came.) Other children at the village school
had much to say and teased the younger members of the von Niederhausern family
the spring, a Church conference was being held in the city of Bern. Rudolf and
his wife made plans to attend this conference and to be baptized in the Aare
River. This was a beautiful place, as the city of Bern was situated on a
peninsula. On the 12th of May 1894 Rudolf, Elizabeth, Rudolf Jr., a girl friend
Anna Marti, and Christian made the trip to Bern. Anna Marti later left the
Church and some have mentioned that she was baptized only because of her
attraction to the missionaries.
recalls: I was sixteen years old. I thought when my father asked me if I wanted
to go with them that 'I guess if my parents were baptized to this new religion
it would be good enough for me, too.' I thought I might get out of some work and
I could drive the one horse shay to the 'stadt' or city." The one horse
shay was a two-seated buggy and Christian felt quite proud that they would let
him go to be the driver.
the next summer Margaritha, John, and Rosina were baptized in the Graben, a
creek near their home-1895. They had been old enough to be baptized at the time
their parents were baptized, but remained at home to care for the younger
children and to do the chores.
of the missionaries that visited the von Niederhausern home and were responsible
in part for the conversion of this family were: John Theurer and John Schiess
from Providence, Utah; Fred Weyerman, John Gilgen, and Joseph Keller (a very
choice missionary, gifted as a preacher) from Logan, Utah; Gottfried Eschler and
Henry Tuescher from Bear Lake; Emil Kohler from Midway, Utah; and Frederich
Reber from Santa Clara, Utah. There may also have been others involved.
soon as Rudolf and his dear companion became members of the true church they
felt the "spirit of gathering" and were anxious to forsake friends and
loved ones to go to the new land "Zion," where they could worship
according to the dictates of their conscience and also partake of the blessings
of going to the temple to be sealed for time and eternity.
the Lord saw fit to test this family; He has a way of helping people realize
their blessings by placing obstacles in their way, thus making them grow and
develop. Such was the case with this dear couple. The farm and belongings were
put up for sale, but circumstances arose which prevented them from selling the
farm readily. Rudolf was a man with a big heart; he had loaned amounts of money
to several different people, who were now reluctant and slow to pay their debts.
These delays, at least in part, could easily have resulted because Rudolf joined
the unpopular religion.
Eschler suggested that if some passage money could be arranged, it would be wise
for some of the family to immigrate then; later, after the necessary business
transactions were completed, the parents could make the trip. Passports were
therefore secured for the three teenage girls: Margaritha, age 16; Rosina, age
14; and Lena, age 12. With fear and yet an unfaltering faith, trusting their
father's wisdom, the girls bade goodbye to their loved ones to go to a new and
strange land-America. They left with sadness in November 1898, hoping that in
the near future they would be reunited with the other members of their family.
After an ocean voyage lasting 8 days, they disembarked the ship and came by
train directly to Logan, Utah.
the voyage, Rosa worried constantly that they would not be able to find their
aunt when they arrived in America. One night she had a dream in which she
clearly saw the railroad station and her aunt waiting to meet the train. Later,
as their train pulled into the snowy Logan station, she recognized it as the one
she had pictured in her dream. There stood her aunt, dressed exactly as Rosa had
journey had taken about three weeks, and the tired girls were happy to go home
with their aunt. They lived with her until they were able to secure work for
their own board and room.
feelings against the family members remaining at Krautern were becoming stronger
during this period. It is interesting to note that the two missionaries most
instrumental in helping these von Niederhausern girls obtain passports and
passage were consequently accused of kidnapping Mormon girls and shipping them
to America. As payment for their innocent assistance to the von Niederhausern
family, they were forced to spend approximately six weeks in jail.
three girls now in Utah soon managed to find work. Margaritha was first in the
home of Dr. Gowans, where his family became very fond of her. Later she went to
Cokeville, Wyoming where she helped Salome Beck cook for section hands that
worked on the railroad. Here it was that she met Salome's brother, Felix
Beutler, whom she later married. Rosina worked for several different
families-the Standers, Sam Hendricks, the Mooreheads; she then secured a
position in the home of Apostle John A. Widtsoe. She remained with them for
eight years, until her marriage to John Wursten. During these years she became
very attached to them, and they to her. Lena stayed with and worked for the John
Schiess family in Providence, then later for Isaac Smith, the Stake President.
Here she met John Glauser, whom she later married.
Jr. was married to Elizabeth Zbinden in the old country and came with his new
bride to America. Christian, who had been in military service, also came with
Rudolf Sr. had large holdings in the old country, they brought little cash for
him after the payment of his debts and people who were obligated to him were not
able to make settlements. He was forced to take great losses, and came to this
country a poor man.
addition to financial losses, the parents were greatly grieved because of the
sickness of their nineteen-year-old daughter Elizabeth, who was believed to have
had consumption. Because of her ill health, she was unable to make the journey,
and so was left in the care of Rudolf s oldest sister, Anna Kunz, who had no
children of her own.
four youngest children, John, Martha, Anna, and Frederich, with their parents,
bid goodbye to their loved ones and their beloved home in Guggisberg and were
enroute to a new and strange land to be reunited with other family members. They
embarked on the ship "New England" and after several days travel
arrived at Boston, Massachusetts the 2 May 1902. While on this voyage, John
dreamed that Elizabeth was playing with he and the other children on board ship.
Soon after arriving in Logan, Utah, the parents had news from relatives that
their daughter Elizabeth had passed away May 1, 1902, while they were yet on the
ocean voyage. The parents and younger children arrived in Logan May 10, 1902. It
was just 3 ˝ years from the time the girls arrived in America until the entire
family had immigrated, in three separate treks. At last Rudolf Niederhausern had
realized his great ambition of "gathering his family in Zion."
disappointments came Father Rudolph's way again when he was influenced to buy
some range land 20 miles up Logan Canyon at a cost of $2.00 an acre. He
envisioned building a hotel and "half-way house" where people could
lodge and buy milk and food as they journeyed to Bear Lake. Anna remembers going
to the courthouse for her father, who could not speak English, and paying for
this land with $20.00 gold pieces. Her father's idea was sound, but the land was
so far away and shortly after he arrived in this country his health began to
fail. He was not to enjoy life in this new land for very long. He became ill and
on the 18th of May 1904 he departed this life. His mission of establishing his
family in the "land of opportunity" had been accomplished.
after his death, Anna had a dream in which she saw her father, dressed in white,
preaching to a great congregation of people. When she told her mother about this
dream, Elizabeth replied: "It is up to us to see that the temple work is
done for those people." Anna was so impressed by her mother's
interpretation that she gave her $30.00 she had saved, to be used for that
purpose. This contribution marked the beginning of the family's genealogical
work and research.
the rest of her life, Mother Elizabeth labored faithfully in the temple. At that
time there were sessions only on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. The first
session began at nine o'clock and it took almost the entire day to go through
and John were compelled to find work, which took them to Sunnyside and Castle
Gate, Utah where they worked for some time in the mines. Rudolf Jr. remained in
Logan and worked by the day for anyone who needed help.
by one the children found companions and were married. Frederich and Mother
Niederhausern enjoyed each other’s association in their small home on 8th
North and 6th East, where they had a cow, a few chickens, and raised a garden
and hay for the cow. As Fred grew to manhood he desired to attend school at the
A.C. College (now USU) not far from their home. His ambition was realized as he
studied carpentry work and became a very efficient workman. He now replaced the
little old house with a lovely modern bungalow, which was a blessing and comfort
to his dear, little mother while she sojourned in mortality.
making a pleasant abode for her son and many grandchildren who visited her,
Elizabeth found great satisfaction in visiting her children and getting
acquainted with each new grandchild. All of her married children lived within a
distance of five miles from her home, with the exception of Lina who had moved
to Salt Lake City. Margaritha and her husband had purchased a farm in North
Logan, and many times this dear grandmother walked the four miles to pay them a
visit. As each harvest season commenced, she, with some of her grandchildren,
would go to the grain fields in North Logan to glean the heads of grain that had
been knocked off as the binding machine cut the grain. When several sacks were
filled, they were loaded on the wagon or buggy and Elizabeth would return home,
happy in the knowledge that her little flock of chickens could feast on the
gleanings during the coming winter.
of the daughters paid this tribute to her mother, Elizabeth Trachsel von
Niederhausern: "Yes, mother was a wonderful woman. She attended the temple
regularly. She was so very kind and patient. She had such great faith and it
could not be surpassed. She believed in the healing power of the priesthood when
hands were laid upon the heads of the sick. She also used the blessed oil to
give to her sick cow when she felt it was needed."
eyes closed in death 4 March 1921 after a short illness. Rudolf and Elizabeth
are now reunited in another sphere of action. Their joy cannot be full unless
each of us, all linked in the chain of the Rudolf von Niederhausern family, will
be as devoted, as united in purpose, and as willing to sacrifice our all if
necessary in building up the Kingdom of God on this earth. Let us not forget our
obligation to them for the heritage they gave to us.
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If there are any additions or corrections that would make this more complete please send them to Nathan Niederhausern.