MORMONISM comes into our lives
CIRCUMSTANCES SURROUNDING THE CONVERSION OF THE ZOLLINGER FAMILY
During the summer of 1861 my father hired two carpenters to remodel our house. One of them, who considered himself abible scholar, tried to persuade my parents to join his church but they were not to be moved. The town Minister who lived across the street from us had in his employ a young lady by the name of Mary Horlacher. Through her daily visit so our home for their supply of milk, Mary and our family, especially my sisters, became very good friends. Then one day Mary decided to quit her job and return to her home. Her parents, in her absence, had accepted the gospel and were baptized. The Minister, needing her services again, insisted on her coming back to work. In her old job again, Mary made use of every opportunity to share the knowledge of her new found religion with us. My parents became interested. They began attending the meetings of the Elders in Zurich. Mother knew that this religion was much different than anything she had heard of. Their baptismal date was set for November 20, 1861. Ferdie and I were finishing the apple harvest that day when we noticed our parents walking along the public pathway that led in the direction of the Limmat River. Ferdie surmising what they were up to and being prejudiced against this new religion, began to swear and curse and threatened to stop them from going. But the Lord blocked his way, for he met with an accident.
It was the custom in those days for the farmers to help each other with the threshing of their grain. To keep it dry it was stacked in the barn. Ferdie was asked by a neighbor to come and help him. That evening while coming down a ladder, he slipped and fell injuring his leg. As a result he was confined to his bed for five or six weeks. Never did an opportunity to study and reflect on the teachings of Mormonism present itself in a better light than it did then. Ferdie was soon convinced of the truth and desired to be baptised.
My parents, now members of the Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day Saints, had in mind to sell the farm and home and emigrate to America. This would have been impossible had my brother Ferdie decided against joining the church. The Lord had his hand in it and directed matters for the good of all.
THE DAY OF MY BAPTISM – December 16, 1861
In my early youth I cared little for religion. My uppermost desire then was for enjoyment and that was only on Sundays when we boys got together. Since by brother Ferdie was laid up, it fell to my lot to look after the feeding of the stock and the milking. I was in the barn doing the farm chores when the Mormon Elders came to our house. My mother came out and said that Ferdie and my sister Dorothea, were going to be baptized and that she wanted me to go along too. I said that there was plenty of time for me, but I did as I was told. That evening my mother invited the town officers and neighbors to a meeting. The officers were the only ones who came into the house. The other people stayed outside until the meeting was over. After the meeting we walked about a mile to the mill race on the Limmat River. Ferdie walked with the aid of his crutches. There was four inches of snow on the ground and it was cold. One of the Elders went into the cold water something I had never seen before. When Ferdie came out of the water he did not have any need for his crutches. He was healed and walked as before. As for me, they never gave me any change of clothing, so I had to walk home in my wet clothes, but to my amazement, instead of freezing and being cold, I was not only warm but hot. So anybody can guess right there was the power of God made manifest, faith was planted in my heart a a real foundation was laid, I could not get away from it if I wanted to. I know it was the power of God. The baptisms and confirmations were performed by Elders Gerber and Miller. The next morning Ferdie loaded the wagon with 200 pound sacks of potatoes. The neighbors were astonished and wondered what had taken place, for the day before he was unable to walk without crutches.
MY BROTHER BECOMES ENGAGED TO BE MARRIED
Ferdie would have been the 3rd member of the family to be married, but since his fiancee would not join the church the marriage was called off. Shortly thereafter, in a meeting, he met Louisa Meyer and they became engaged to be married. She was the oldest in her family. When her father died and her mother re-married, she left home to work in the city as a weaver of silk. She stayed with her Aunt who had been bedfast for many years with rheumatism. When she was baptized she had to be carried down into the water and was healed by the power of the Priesthood and the next day she walked to Zurich a distance of twelve miles. She emmigrated to Utah and married “Troubadoni” Stachli. He was nicknamed this because of his interest in music both in Switzerland and in St.George, Utah. He joined the church in the fifties.
Preparing to leave Switzerland
To a well-to-do farmer as my father was, the decision to sell all his property which represented almost a lifetime of accomplishment and hard work and to go to a strange land, was a most difficult one to make, but my mother, being more of a boss, assured my father that it was the right thing to do. We chose to dispose of our property by means of two public auctions, one before Christmas and the other in January of 1862. Notice of these had been posted according to law prior to the date of sale. My brother-in-law, J. Haederli, not as yet a member of the church and not wanting us to leave, persuaded the people not to bid, but the Lord knew the desires of my father and mother and took a hand in the matter. The people changed their attitude and everything was sold at a good price.
This was the year I was to receive my spiritual avocation into the Protestant church. I always attended the Lutheran church but on confirmation day I would not go. No one could make me go.The minister sure made a fuss about it. The Catholics and the Lutherans met in the same church building in Urdorf because the nearest Catholic town, Uetikon, was two or three miles away. Neither would my mother got to church in Urdorf, saying it was all “humbug” and stayed home and studied the scriptures. She was a chosen woman, firm and true to the Lord.
Looking ahead to the time when they would make the long journey across the plains from Florence, Nebraska or Winter Quarters, to the great Salt Lake Valley, they ordered four yoke of oxen and a wagon through the church office in Bern. Having made all preparations, including new suits made for them by a tailor, they were ready to leave.
THE LONG JOURNEY TO AMERICA 54 days at sea
On the 30th of April, 1862, my parents, my brother Ferdie and his fiancee, Louisa Meyer and I, my two sisters, Elisabeth and Dorothea, bid farewell to our loved ones and our fatherland. It was hard to say goodbye to my sister Anna Haederli and family. I did cry, but we left for the gospel’s sake and we had faith in the Lord.
From Urdorf we traveled by Zurich. There we had our picture (Tin type). On the second of May we were Switzerland and the next day in Paris, France. Here we spent the day sight seeing. None of us had ever been away from home before. My mother was dressed in her old fashioned clothes and bonnet two hundred years behind the times, people were staring and laughing at us while others would point their finger and say, “look”. You can guess what a spectacle we made of ourselves. The city people had never seen a bonnet just like my mother’s neither had I.
We arrived at the sea port town of La Havre, France, on the 4th of May. The ship we had booked passage on had left the day before so we had to wait for two weeks for another. Here the marriage of my brother Ferdie, to Louisa Meyer, took place, which was on the 12th of May, 1862.
We left La Havre on the 15th of May, on the freighter, Windermere, manned by a very rough group of Irish Sailors. Some remodeling was done to accommodate the 109 people seeking passage. Two kitchens were improvised where the passengers could cook their meals which consisted mostly of potatoes. Berths, three high, were provided for sleeping quarters.
Brother Serge Ballif, an early convert to the church from Lousanne, Switzerland, and who gave up a good position and comfortable home in order to devote himself to Missionary work, was in charge of our group. Among this group of saints from Switzerland and France, was Ferdie’s chum, Henry Mathes and his sweetheart, who were later married in America and Brother and Sister Wintch and their two sons. Their son Jacob was in love with my sister Dora and they would have been married had he not became ill and died at Winter Quarters August 8th, 1862.
Picture taken April, 1862, in Urdorf, Zurich Switzerland a month before the family emigrated to America. From left to right, front row. John Ulrich Haderli, Anna (Zollinger) Haderli, Elisabeth (Usteri) Zollinger, Johannes Zollinger. Second row. Jacob Zollinger, Elisabeth (Zollinger) Neeser, Dorothea (Zollinger) Lau, Louise (Meyer) Zollinger and Ferdinand Zollinger at the right behind his bride. The other two gentlemen are friends of the family.
Emilee’s notes: What an amazing story of faith and conversion! Jacob was 16 years old when he was baptized and his brother Ferdie was 32.
It can be a little confusing to read a person’s life history when you do not know the person and those they include in their story firsthand. I like to keep my family tree handy so I know who is who.
Here is an abbreviated family group record of Jacob’s immediate family:
Father: Johannes Zollinger
Birth: 4 June 1795 Urdorf Zurich, Switzerland
Death: 18 February 1875 Providence, Cache, Utah
Mother: Elisabetha Usteri
Birth: 4 July 1809 Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
Death: 18 November 1881 Providence, Cache, Utah
1. Johann Ferdinand Zollinger
Birth: 18 October 1829 Urdorf, Flundern, Zurich, Switzerland
Death: 16 December 1912 Providence, Cache, Utah
2. Anna Elizabeth Zollinger (married John Ulrich Hans Haederli)
Birth: 11 November 1831
Death: 25 October 1901
3. Johannes Zollinger
Birth: 25 October 1833 Urdorf, Zurich, Switzerland
Death: 25 November 1833 Urdorf, Zurich, Switzerland
4. Anna Barbara Zollinger (married Konrad Meyer)
Birth: 27 January 1835
Death: 5 December 1857
5. Elisabetha Zollinger (married Jacob Neeser)
Birth: 18 October 1837 Urdorf, Zurich, Switzerland
Death: 14 January 1884 Malad, Oneida, Idaho
6. Dorothea Zollinger (married Daniel Frederick Lau)
Birth: 3 February 1841 Oberurdorf, Oneida, Switzerland
Death: 26 September 1925 Soda Springs, Caribou, Idaho
7. Jacob Zollinger (married Rosetta Loosli)
Birth: 3 July 1845 Urdorf, Zurich, Switzerland
Death: 11 July 1942 Providence, Cache, Utah