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Genealogy in Switzerland - A Longenecker Family Search


I recently visited Langnau, Bern, Switzerland and spent two days immersed in all things Langenegger. My wife and I arrived at the Langnau rail station on June 25, 2004, exhausted from a long flight from San Francisco. As we left the train station we were immediately struck by the unique character of this area.

Outside the train station are the remnants of a cobblestone street, now patched by asphalt. Everywhere we looked were beautiful Swiss houses and buildings - many of them hundreds of years old - and all colorfully decorated with pink and red begonias placed in flower boxes below each window. As we found later, the Emmental is also a wonderland of covered bridges, friendly people, church spires with Swiss clocks and chimes, tinkling cow bells - everything you expect Switzerland to be.

As we walked toward our hotel in Bareau we noticed how friendly and courteous the locals are - stopping to allow us to cross the street and smiling as we passed with a friendly "Hallo" or "Guten Morgen." The town is dotted with long stone tanks with well water splashing in at one end and draining out the other. They look something like a stone horse tank. These are available to anyone who wants a cool drink of well water.

After we settled into our room at the Landgasthof Hotel Adler, the owner kindly invited us to a short ride into the countryside where we saw more beautiful houses and pastures. After we returned we asked a few locals in the hotel restaurant about the Langenegger farm and they had a good laugh. Turns out that there are a lot of Langeneggers there and we didn't know the name of the people who lived in the original house that we came to see.

The hills are about 1200 feet above the valley floor and incredibly green with grass and forested areas visible from anywhere in town. Langnau is small - perhaps three or four long blocks across and the hills seem very close. Black and white cows break up the greenery and produce and wonderful tinkling sound as they graze around ringing the bells around their necks. Higher pitched bells worn by sheep and goats blend with the clunk-clunk bong-bong of the cow bells making a delicious backdrop to the scenery. This is the last sound we heard as we drifted off to sleep covered with a feather quilt on our first night in Langnau.

The birds woke us up to wonderfully green world that is Langnau in the summer. We enjoyed a wonderful breakfast of homemade bread and jelly provided by our host, Stephen. We hoped to attend church, but found that our information was incorrect and arrived too early. Instead we started our walking tour of Langnau early. Langnau is a small town and we walked all of the main streets by about noon when we took a break for lunch to share a small cheese tart and an apple pastry from a small shop near the center of town. By that time, the local museum had opened. It is housed in one of the oldest houses in Langnau and is a great opportunity to look around inside one of these magnificent buildings and see all of the fancy joinery done by the builders. It is also a great museum with a number of permanent and rotating exhibits that depict the history of Langnau and its residents.

The museum's docent has lived in Langnau for 70 years and knows the Langenegger name very well. She quickly found a book that contains the Langenegger family crests - one for those in the valley (Langenegg Ey) and one for those up higher in the hills (Langenegg Unter). She also loosely parsed the name into Lange (Long in English - pronounced 'Long' in German too) and negg (hill in English - pronounced 'neck' in German). I haven't been able to confirm the word 'negg' anywhere - but that is what she said. The book also included a statement, "Ulrich, von Langnau, wanderte 1748 nach Pennsylvanien [USA] Aus (Faust 61)" which roughly translates that Ulrich Langenegger immigrated to Pennsylvania in the United States in 1748. This is our ancestor Ulrich Langenegger Sr. The book doesn't give a further source for this information. On the map, the Langenegg Unter is just about a 30 minute hike up the hill from the museum and Langenegg Ey is about a mile down river from Langnau. Since the Unter had been owned by someone other than a Langenegger for many years, we decided to take a closer look at the Ey property in the valley to see if we could at least get a picture of the house and perhaps, if we were really lucky, meet a distant relative.

Margaret and I walked along the river where many of the local people were taking a break from regular life to cool off. We were pleasantly surprised at the number of covered bridges in and around Langnau - all still being used. We even drove over one just outside of Langnau.

Just as we approached the long driveway to the Langenegger house, two women came up from the river and one of them spoke English. She told us that we were in the right place and that the Langenegger family did live here. She offered to escort us to the right house among a group of several houses and buildings located on the property. With a cheery German "Woo hoo" she called out to the people inside and introduced us to my 9th cousin who lives in the house where Ulrich Langenegger Senior was born in 1664 (the same one mentioned in the book that immigrated to Pennsylvania).

Our new-found cousins were gracious and greeted us warmly even though we just showed up on their doorstep after over 250 years without a Christmas card! We had a short conversation about the family and viewed some of the information that they had there. Coincidentally, the couple's sister-in-law next door was in Pennsylvania to attend a Longenecker reunion while we were in Langnau. We exchanged contact information so that we can follow up with them with information we find that might be useful to them. They kindly offered us a cool drink from their well before we took a short walk around the farm to get some photos. The cows were in the barn as it was unseasonably hot that day. Milk from their cows is sold into a coop of local farmers that makes it into cheese. If you are looking for some authentic Langenegger cheese, look for the Emmentaler type as that is what they make there. It is sold in the US as simply Swiss cheese - the type with holes in it. I must admit that it tasted much better in Langnau than in California.

The house is located an easy hike along the river from Langnau and consists of the original house plus some additional houses and outbuildings. I found the house a challenge to photograph by itself. It is a typical Swiss farm house arranged with living quarters and barn under one roof. On one side is an earthen ramp going directly into the attic over the barn that is used to move hay into that area for storage and use during the winter.

The roof is steep by US standards but not as steep as I expected in an area that gets lots of snow. Most roofs in the area are tile and include a series of brackets about six inches high that hold the snow in the winter so that it doesn't all fall down at one time. Some buildings had a simpler system with only one set of brackets near the bottom of the roof that held a four inch pipe running the entire length of the house - apparently for the same purpose as the brackets on other buildings. In addition, this system probably uses the snow to insulate the roof from the cold. Another interesting thing about some roofs and houses - the builders sometimes put their initials and the date of construction on the roof by using different colored tiles. Others painted this information under the eaves or on the face of the building under the eaves.

The Langenegger house is not as fancy as some in town but is large and includes some fancy joinery work that we saw repeated inside the museum, on the covered bridges, and elsewhere in the area. The main structure appears to be large beams carefully joined together at the proper angles so that they get stronger as more weight is put on them - and held together with wooden pegs. On one bridge near town we saw metal strapping that seems to have been added later.

The business of the farm centers around the milk cows. There was a large field of corn planted near the house along with a well-kept garden that seems to grace every house we saw in Switzerland. Along the driveway approach to the farm there are some cherry trees with mostly green fruit just beginning to turn pink in places. The rest of the farm appeared to be in grass. My friend John Garland in Oklahoma would call the fencing "psychological fencing" - not much of a barrier to an animal that wants out. We noticed that a lot of fences appeared to be temporary and electrified so that the cows can be easily moved to fresh grass as needed. We even saw one electric fence hooked up to a solar panel up high in the mountains a long train-ride away from Langnau. Out of respect for the current occupants' time and space, we only stayed briefly.

We returned to our hotel via a path the goes along the river and stopped for a rest in the shade of an old covered bridge. We were exhausted again and happy at getting to meet our distant relatives and to view the old house.

Research: If you are researching this area, no genealogy information is readily available in Langnau. The records office has records from 1886, but doesn't release it without permission of the persons mentioned in the records and the charges to do so are very high. You will have much better luck in Bern where most of the Swiss records are held. There is almost always someone around that speaks English and the records offices are no exception. The records are neither computerized nor indexed - but they are very neatly categorized by location and time frames. You will need to tell them exactly who, where, and when you want to look in order to get the right microfilm. Then it is an old-fashioned search browsing through records written along time ago using unfamiliar styles and letters. Lockers are located outside the office in the hallway and you will have to leave your backpack, purse, etc. there. It's free and secure.

The Archives de I'Etat de Berne is located at Falkenplatz 4, CH-3012 Berne near the main railroad station. It was easy to find the third time I tried. The rail station is large and busy and on several levels. Locate the elevators on one end of the station and take them all the way to the top. If you have trouble, follow the students and the signs to the university in order to find the elevators. Once you are at the top, go toward the campus - the only way you can go really - and pass between two large university-looking buildings. Falkenplatz 4 is the first building on the right after you pass through the campus area. There is a small street stand just across the small park where the students congregate for a cheap and good sandwich - get there early as they run out of sandwiches quickly after noon. The office is open from 8:00 to 12:00 and 1:00 to 5:00 every weekday except Friday when it closes at 4:30. If you want to confirm before going, their phone numbers are 031/633 51 01, fax 031/633 51 02. Copies are one Swiss Frank per page - so take along plenty of cash so that you can get everything you want. You can easily spend 50 franks in one afternoon depending on the records you want. I didn't have time, but you may also want to check out these sources provided by the museum in Langnau . . .

Zivilstands-und Burgerrechtsdienst
Des Kantons Bern
Eigerstrasse 73
3011 Bern
031/633 47 85
Fax: 031/633 47 39

Nieisen Paul-Anthon
Biochstrasse 7
3753 Oberhofen am Thunersee
033/243 24 52

Gene Hall has been working on the family tree for over 25 years and currently is the CEO of FamilyTrackers, Inc. - a World Genealogy Exchange located at http://www.familytrackers.com/
The Landgasthof Hotel Adler mentioned in this article is located at http://www.landgasthof-adler.ch/

This article comes with reprint rights. You are free to reprint and distribute it as you like. All that I ask is that you reprint it in its entirety without any changes including this text and the link above.


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Chinese Brush Painting: Summer Flowers (Register by Friday, July 5)  Madison.com

Explore different Asian brush painting techniques to create various flowers: rose with butterflies, iris with birds, peony, sunflower with bees, and orchids.


Mother's Day Gift Ideas: How to Craft a Card, Paper Flowers, plus Cake Recipes With a Personal Touch  Newsweek

With Mother's Day 2019 upon us (May 12 just in case you have forgotten), Newsweek has compiled a list of deals for lunch and brunch to celebrate the dearest ...


How to Give Your Bike a Tune-Up for Summer  Real Simple

The sun is shining, the road is calling, and your bike is in need of some TLC. Our plan will get you ready to ride.


Hobbycraft has revealed the five craft trends we'll all be trying in 2019  Countryliving (UK)

Dirty Pouring, pyrography and wabi-sabi are set to be a hit with crafters in 2019, as Hobbycraft releases its 2019 craft trends. Read more at Countryliving.com/uk.


Are Craft Therapy & Art Therapy the Same?  PsychCentral.com

Craft therapy and art therapy offer many of the same mental health benefits. They use similar strategies. But are they the same thing?


25 Hobbies You Can Transform into a Small Business  Small Business Trends

With a little research and investment, it really is possible to turn these 25 pastimes into hobbies that make money as a small business.


Finding Gear for Teens to Try Out Hobbies  The New York Times

Wirecutter has recommendations for helping tweens and teens explore their creativity.


Choosing between the Best floor lamps to light a room! What are the floor lamps to light a room Reviews 2019  NewsNifty

When it comes to selecting between the best floor lamps to light a room brands, things can be confusing. The top brands and its reputation does make an impact ...


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Origami Secrets Revealed
Origami, or the art of paper folding, has been around for centuries. It is one of the most intricate, but at the same time simple expressions of art in the world.


The Making of a Slipcover: A Lost Art
Today in this world of fast everything, most of us just don't have the time (nor patience) to do an all consuming job of making a slipcover. We go buy them and not always are they what we want.


17 Tips For Getting Balloons to Last Longer in Hot Weather
In warm weather, latex balloons will typically only last outside for a day. As you know, sun, wind and heat will biodegrade the latex.


Woodworking Beginners: Secret Tips To Start Right
Woodworking: Where To Start - Tips From Experienced Woodworkers: Woodworking encompasses a broad area of skills, specialties, and applications. Some beginners take on too much too soon or blow their savings on expensive woodworking tools and machines that they don't know how to use and might not ever need.


Make Your Own Citronella Candles
Need a cost effective way to get rid of mosquitoes? Try making your own citronella candles and eliminate mosquitoes while providing a romantic, outdoor setting. Making citronella candles is easy and can cost as little as $0.


Woodworking Tools: Right Selection And Care Will Save You Money, Part 1
Woodworking: Tools Of The Trade, Part 1 - A Place To Work: A civilization's maturity and intelligence is judged, in part, by the diversity and sophistication of its tools. When it comes to woodworking, the human race is quite advanced.


The Wonderful Art of Bonsai
The potential for enjoyment of Bonsai trees is enormous. These are the dwarf-sized trees that have been developed in the Asian countries of China and Japan for many hundreds of years.


Gold Jewelry Hallmarking Secrets Revealed
We should be familiar with the BASIC hallmarks mentioned on the website. It might pay you to read them again, just to bring you up to speed and ensure you have grasped the principles.


Choosing The Correct Comic Book Storage Box
Most Comic Book Storage Boxes are super strong and come with sturdy well-fitting lids and handle holes that can be left in the closed position for storing or pushed open for carrying. They are properly sized to hold a comic in a bag with a backing board.


Endless Possibilities With Custom Printed Lanyards
Custom printed lanyards are an extremely popular item and are readily available for purchase through a large amount of suppliers. Many suppliers have detailed e-commerce sites that allow buyers to select a lanyard style and customize it without ever having to leave their office or home.


Gift Baskets - Create Simple Easy Gifts For the Person Who Has Everything!
Have you ever thought about giving a personalized Gift Basket? Is it just me or do you also get excited when you give a gift to your friends and family and you know they love it! The downside you give a gift and you just know they hate it! Unfortunately you can't always get it right because what seems right and the appropriate gift for you isn't always right and appropriate for the person you are buying for. Take my mother for instance, if you don't buy her a gift say for Mothers Day you will be in the bad books for weeks.


Puzzle Pieces, Sequins, and Rhine Stones in Your Scrapbooks
Puzzle pieces make playful embellishments and borders. Puzzle pieces give a creative and playful look to children's art and educational scrapbooks.


A Look at Patriotic Lapel Pins
Perhaps the most popular type of lapel pin is the patriotic pin. Dating back to the Civil War in the United States, lapel pins that declare a person's patriotism are popular, highly collectible and trade-worthy! From the Civil War through WWI, patriotic lapel pins were medallions hung from ribbons pinned on a lapel.


Why Should You Collect Cat Collectibles?
Let the cat out of the bag! True, you will know various cat collectibles in here. No secret will be hidden, and no cat collectibles you wouldn't know.


Ribbons and Lace, Embroidery Cotton, and Hemp to Spice Up Your Scrapbooks
Ribbon and lace are by far the most common, and most beautiful, border embellishment. The flowing nature of both materials encourages a touch of softness and elegance.


I Didnt Know These Are Slowly Destroying My Scrapbooks!
Once you spend your precious time and energy creating a scrapbook, make sure it lasts! There are a few simple things you can easily do to ensure that your scrapbooks look just as good as the day you finished them, for years to come. The first thing to avoid is paper that is not lignin-free.


Woodworking Tools: Right Selection And Care Will Save You Money, Part 3
Woodworking: Tools Of The Trade, Part 3 - Tools For Measuring & Marking: A civilization's maturity and intelligence is judged, in part, by the diversity and sophistication of its tools. When it comes to woodworking, the human race is quite advanced.


Rubber Stamps - For Teachers and Students
Once again we are reminded that summer is not long enough. It is the beginning of another back to school shopping season.


Craft Crocheting from Your Home
Crocheting is not only a craft but an art. Once you master the basic stitches you will be well on your way to creating masterpieces you will be pride to share with your family and friends.


Sharing Journals
Creating a journal or diary that combines scrapbooking and journaling, is a journal that you can share. Writing about experiences and feelings, and including photos, ticket stubs, magazine or newspaper clippings, fortune cookie fortunes, drawings, and more, enhances and further explains those experiences and feelings, becoming a treasured keepsake for you and for your family and friends to share for years to come.

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