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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

LaHeutte, Switzerland

For many years we believed the story that our Burkholder ancestors migrated from Switzerland to Germany to Pennsylvania. In the 1990s new information surfaced that changed the story. Our immigrant ancestor's parents were not Christian and Elizabeth, but Ulrich and Barbara. They never lived in Germany. The Burkholders were from Ruderswil, Switzerland. In the 1720s they moved to the Jura Mountain area of Switzerland.
Anabaptists were not persecuted as heavily in the Jura Mountains as they were in the Emmental Valley. They were not welcomed but tolerated. One of the restrictions was that they had to live 1000 meters above the villages. This was to keep them from mingling with and "infecting" normal people with their Anabaptist ideas. Life on the mountains was hard. Water was scarce and the soil was not very productive. They were not allowed to purchase farms but could only rent them.
The Burkholders lived on the mountain above the village of LaHeutte. We don't know the exact location of their farm because it was rented. Ulrich and Barbara were making plans to immigrate to Pennsylvania with a group of other Mennonites when Ulrich died unexpectedly. Barbara brought their six children in 1754 as planned.
This is looking down on the village of LaHeutte from the mountain above it. This was probably a familiar scene to our Burkholder ancestors and is what they left to come to Pennyslvania.

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