Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Family History Writing Challenge 2017

The Family History Writing Challenge begins today, and for the sixth year in a row I will be attempting to put some flesh on the bones of one of the branches of my family tree. Last year I wrote about my maternal side, discussing the Crusham family and their move from Ireland to the United States. This year I am focusing on my dad's side, the Kübler family. My dad had always been told his ancestors came from Germany, so when I began to get interested in genealogy back in 1989, that was my assumption as well. But then I came across a death notice for my second great-grandfather that stated he was born in Büsserach, Switzerland. That came as a great surprise to my father! And it opened up a whole new avenue of research for me.

Büsserach, Switzerland
A few years ago I was fortunate enough to be able to travel to the area where the Kübler family was from, and with the help of a local historian and genealogist, to trace the family back to the early 1700's. The family name dates back to at least 1615 in Büsserach, as we found a Kübler birth record from that year in the parish records. I'm not sure how that baby ties into my family, but the record illustrates the deep roots the family has in the community.

For purposes of this challenge, I will begin with my third great-grandfather, Vinzenz Josef Kübler. He is the one who, along with his immediate family, left his world behind to begin a new life in a new country.

Statue of Liberty
The other day a song played on the radio that I had not heard in decades - The Immigrant by Neil Sedaka. In light of everything going on in America, it was particularly poignant to listen to the lyrics. It also is very pertinent to this writing challenge. The song begins:

"Harbors opened their arms to the young searching foreigner
Come to live in the light of the beacon of liberty..."

I imagine that many of my immigrant ancestors felt the pull of Lady Liberty's lighted torch. I'm certain Vinzenz Josef of Büssserach was no exception.

Büsserach is a small (currently 2.92 square miles) municipality located in the district of Thierstein, in the Canton of Solothurn. It is situated in northwest Switzerland, and according to the Historical Dictionary of Switzerland, its history dates back to 1194, when it was known as Buezherach. The Swiss Federal Statistical Office-Land Use Statistics indicate that in 2009 the land in the municipality was 42.4% agricultural use and 46.2% was forested.

Neu-Thierstein Castle
The village is tucked into a valley on the eastern slope of the 3,950' Passwang Pass in the Jura Mountains. The Jura is a system of ranges that extends for 225 miles, separating Switzerland from France.

It was here under the watchful eye of Neu-Thierstein Castle that Vinzenz Josef Kübler was born on 16 October 1806 to Josephus Kübler and Maria Anna Saner. Josef, as he was called, was the second child as well as second son; however, he never knew his older brother Ursus. Ursus Josephi was born in 1804 and died in 1805. A sister, Maria (b. 1808), and brothers Johannes (b. 1812) and Ursus Victor (b. 1814) would soon be added to the family as well. But the family faced tragedy once again when Maria died at just two years of age.

The Küblers were land owners and a farming family. They worshipped at Kirche St. Peter, a Roman Catholic church that was presumably founded in the middle ages. While the existing church was built in 1953, the clock tower dates back to 1464 and houses a museum. Inside are relics and memorabilia of church history, including a painting of the first church and the baptismal font in which the Kübler babies would have been baptized.

Kirche St. Peter
Hopefully their faith sustained them when Josephus died in 1815 at the age of 40. After just 10 years of marriage, Maria was left on her own with a 9 year old, 3 year old and 1 year old as well as a farm to manage. How did the family survive, particularly through the great famine of 1816-1817?

there is still a Kübler farm in Büsserach today


Priscilla said...

I don't know how I missed your post with the link to this blog, but I can enjoy reading it now. And, you have written three books! There is a lot here to read and now that the challenge if over I hope to have the time to read them all. I am still trying to find my voice as a family history writer and I believe that reading other's writing is helping me. My family says that I have "grown" as a writer during February's posts. Oh, I have been a "Buckeye" since age 11 and a graduate of OSU.

Kim Wolterman said...

Hi Priscilla, thanks for the comment, and hello to a fellow Buckeye! As I am a non-fiction writer, I actually don't use many of the suggestions in the challenge because I don't want my family history to be creative non-fiction or historical fiction. I think everyone needs to write in the style they are comfortable with - there's no right or wrong way, just the way that works best for you. Best of luck to you on the journey.