Monday, September 28, 2009

Henri de Büren 1825-1909

Henri de Büren was the only son of Albert de Büren (1791-1873) and Catherine de Senarclens (1796-1857). Like his father before him he was a great lover of nature and art. He was a trained botanist at Thaer's Agriculture School near Berlin and was a great amateur artist.

In 1852 he embarked on an expedition of the Americas that would take two years. He would travel through the United States, Canada, Cuba, Mexico, Panama, Peru and Brazil. Along the way he met great figures in science, and kept a journal and sketch book as his constant companions. His trip is chronicled is much greater depth on my sister site The Grand Tour as well as in A Voyage Across the Americas - The Journey of Henri de Büren an adaptation of his original journal and letters home available on Amazon, iTunes and Barnes & Noble. The French version of his journey Voyage aux Amériques, Lettres et journal d’un jeune baron neuchâtelois is now also available through Le Groupe Ethno-Doc.

A year after returning to Switzerland he would marry his cousin Madeleine Sillem. Tragically she would die only six weeks into their marriage. The entire family including Henri were totally devastated. Five years later he would marry for a second time, with another cousin, Natalie de Freudenreich. They would have nine children, three of whom were deaf from birth.

Henri would be a Member of the Grand Council of Neuchâtel from 1856 to 1865 and President of the Agricultural Society of Neuchâtel from 1859 to 1885. He was also at two times President of the Agricultural Society of Romand (French-speaking) Switzerland.

In 1888 after much soul searching and surely many sleepless nights, Henri under the advisement of fellow family members decided to sell the Château of Vaumarcus, home of the de Büren family since the mid 17th century. He needed to find a home that was not as large and near special services for his children. He would move his family to a country home the family named La Châtelaine the district of Aïre near Geneva. As an interesting aside, Châtelaine was the former home of Dr. Théodore Maunoir, co-founder of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

A small passage about Henri from Terre et gens de Neuchâtel: Les saisons de la vie By Samuel Zwahlen

"Abolis par la constitution républicaine de 1848, lesdits titres devaient pourtant se conserver longtemps encore dans la mémoire des Bérochaux. Jusqu'à leur trépas, c'est-à-dire jusqu'à la fin du siècle passé, M. Georges Petitpierre de Wesdehlen, à Saint-Aubin, et M. Henri de Büren à Vaumarcus demeurèrent, pour les contemporains: «Monsieur le comte» et «Monsieur le baron». Longtemps après la dispariation de ces honorables citoyens, il y eut à Saint-Aubin une propriété toujours appelée «chez le comte» tandis que les habitants de Vaumarcus et d'ailleurs faisaient dans le «bois au baron» d'abondantes récoltes de chanterelles."

Henri de Büren (1825-1909), painted in 1859 by Rodolphe Léon-Berthoud

Photo of Henri from the 1880s

Natalie de Freudenreich (1835-1900) as a young woman

Photo of Natalie from the 1880s

Madelaine de Freudenreich (born de Senarclens), mother of Natalie, and Henri's aunt. © Swiss National Museum

Photo of Vaumarcus from the early 1900s

Photo of the Palais at Vaumarcus from the early 1900s


In 1855 Henri married Madelaine Sillem (1835-1855) daughter of Wilhelm Sillem (1804-1885) and Angletine de Senarclens (1808-1894).

In 1860 Henri married Natalie de Freudenreich (1835-1900) daughter of Edmond Alexandre de Freudenreich (1807-1876) and Madelaine de Senarclens (1811-1843).

From his second wife he had nine children:

1. Jeanne Henriette (1861-1944)
2. Albert Gustave (1862-1938) ∞ Odette Thonney
3. Germaine Sophie (1863-1931)
4. Amelie (1864-1935)
5. Philippe Frédéric (1865-1953) ∞ Louisa Fabrini
6. Henri Charles Paul (1867-1943)
7. Alice Eugenie (1868-1923)
8. Charles Gabriel (1870-1930)
9. Henriette Albertine (1874-?)

Interesting Tidbit:

Illustration of Guillaumine Louise de Büren most likey done by Henri.

Henri's sister Guillaumine Louise (1821-1877) with whom he was very close, was instrumental in transcribing his letters home from his two-year trip to Americas and which have become the foundation for my Grand Tour project. She also married Dr. Eugène Clément of St. Aubin a noted naturalist and archaeologist who made extensive finds along the lake of Neuchâtel from the Stone Age. Incredibly enough the finds by Dr. Clément would not have been made if not for the lowering of the lake to accommodate the new Suchard steam boats, that were funded in part by Albert de Büren, Guillaumine's father.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A tragic dispute

Nicolas de Büren was the third son of Philippe Albert de Büren (1679-1756) and Elisabeth de Diesbach (1681-1724). He was also the brother of Salomé de Büren mentioned in an earlier post. He was born in 1708 and when he was old enough entered the Swiss Guards in the Service of France. His Swiss regiment was stationed at the garrison of Montmédy in Lorraine.

Citadelle of Montmédy

After a heated disputed between himself and a fellow officer from the de Diesbach family about which town was superior, Bern or Fribourg, a duel ensued and Nicolas was killed. He was 19 years old.

What is bitterly ironic about this episode was that Nicolas was killed in the duel by a member of his mother's family.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Frédéric de Büren 1716-1770

Frédéric was the second son of Albert de Büren (1678-1756) and Elisabeth de Diesbach(1681-1724). From 1735-1754 he was in the Swiss Guards in the service of France. He fought during the War of Austrian Succession at the Battles of Fontenoy, Rocoux, Lauffeld and the Siege of Bergen op Zoom during which he was wounded by a cannon blast. In 1755 he became member of the Bern Grand Council and in 1764 would become Governor of Erlach.

Frédéric de Büren (1716-1770), painted in 1770 by Constant Boili

In 1753, Frédéric would marry Marguerite de Diesbach (1737-1796), daughter of Amédé de Diesbach and Marguerite Hackbrett. She would later marry François de Willading.

An Irish Scoundrel

Frédéric and Marguerite would have three children, sadly only one would live to adulthood. Marguerite Elisabeth de Büren (1754-1836) was a very bright and warm person. Her father died when she was 16 years old, and the various members of her mother's family were not very good at managing her money. In 1776 she was entered in a marriage contract that would not bring her happiness and if her father were alive he would have never allowed it. She would marry Nicolas O'Brenan, who was born in 1740 in Amsterdam and whose family was originally from County Kildare in Ireland. He took his new wife to Strasbourg where they lived for a number of years high on the hog, presumably with her money. When the money ran out, he disappeared. Marguerite would return in disgrace to her mother in Bern. The marriage was annulled, and Nicolas was ordered to pay an yearly "living" to Marguerite, which he would never do. Nicolas O'Brenan was said to have died at Versailles in 1803.

Gabriel de Büren 1669-1694

Gabriel was the second son of Jean-Charles de Büren (1636-1719) and Dorothée de Wattenwyl (1644-1674). He served the Swiss Guards in Holland under William III Prince of Orange and King on England. His military career seemed promising but would die young at the age of 25.

Gabriel de Büren (1669-1694), painted in 1694.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Swiss Hospitality

While traveling through Switzerland, English historian Edward Augustus Freeman (1823-92) was shown some unique Swiss hospitality by Albert de Büren (1791-1873). The following is a part of a letter he wrote home in 1864. It comes from The life and letters of Edward A. Freeman, D.C.L., LL. D. By William Richard Wood Stephens.

Lausanne, April 16, 1864.

Thank Gretchen for her letter; but I think it is your turn to have one now. I see my last letter was written at Neufchatel on Thursday, so I will tell you what I have been doing since. One thing will sound like something which you may read in a story-book. That same afternoon I was seized on by a certain Baron, who said to me, ' Vous etes mon prisonnier,' and shut me up in his castle till next morning. Don't think, however, that I was put in a dungeon among dead men's bones and what not, as I slept in a comfortable bed, and had tea and ham and breakfast. In short, the Baron is a very kind old gentleman, De Buren by name, who lives in Vauxmarcus Castle by the Lake of Neufchatel, a real castle let me tell you, and not a mere chateau. I was to call on him for him to show me his castle, and to show me where the battle of Grandson was fought. So we took a long walk that evening through most beautiful places, not very unlike some of our own places, but with the Jura just above us, and the great snowy Alps on the other side of the lake. But I did not know that I was to stay there all night till he said,' vous etes mon prisonnier.' The next day he took me in his carriage as far as Grandson, where I saw the castle and a very fine church, and went on by railway to Chavornay, thence by omnibus to Orbe, a curious old town on the top of a hill, looking on Jura one side and the Alps the other, with a church with its tower at the east end, which I never saw anywhere else. Then this morning I walked out to Romainmotier to see the church, which is a very wonderful one, and one of the oldest in Switzerland or anywhere else.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Louis de Büren 1735-1806

Louis was the third son of Victor Charles de Büren (1707-1773) and Catherine Fischer (1712-1787). In 1751 he entered the Swiss guards in the service of France, he would serve France until 1788. From 1754-1762 he fought in all of the battles of the Seven Years' War with great distinction. He was wounded in the chest at Bergen, where he took out two enemy cannons and retrieved the flag of his regiment. He was also used for diplomatically sensitive missions by the Duc de Broglie, the Prince de Soubise and the Comte de Lorges. For his service he received a Royal Order of merit in 1776 from Louis XVI.

Louis de Büren (1735-1806)

In 1780 he became a Major and was stationed in various French towns. He spent a time Corsica as well as in Marseille. While in Marseille, a great fire broke out and Louis led the soldiers under his command to help rescue those at risk, at great personal peril.

Gifts from the City of Marseille for Louis' bravery.

In 1788 he returned to Switzerland. He would later become Governor of Lausanne in 1793 and would serve Bern at Lausanne until 1798, when he was asked to leave by the revolutionary government in Vaud.

Louis and his family painted in 1796, most likely at Lausanne.

"Dédié à Monsieur de Büren, Comandant General des Trouppes. Chevalier de l'Ordre du mérite militaire et du Conseil Souverain." Illustration by Konig, 1792.

Illustration Detail. Louis can be seen at left, next to the cannon.

Louis' Secretary built by Christoph Hopfengärtner in 1792. © Schloss Jegenstorf


In 1773 Louis married Marie Catherine de Sinner (1754-1842) daughter of Fréderic de Sinner (1713-1791) and Julie Marianne de Wattenwyl.

From his wife he had five children:

1. Catherine Rosine (1774-1839) ∞ Emanuel Louis d'Ougspurger
2. Arnold Louis (1775-1854) ∞ Marie Herrenschwand
3. Albert Charles (1779-1817) ∞ Marie Julie de Wattenwyl
4. Albert Rodolphe (1784-1856) ∞ Marguerite Catherine Thormann
5. Eduard (1794-1858)

Interesting Tidbits:

The Swiss genealogy site of Ahneninfo has traced many Swiss historical figures back to Charlemagne. Here is the entry for Louis.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Anna de Büren 1551-1609

Anna was the only daughter, and along with the her brother Jean, the only surviving children of Louis de Büren, Lord of Seftigen and Governor of Wimmis (1515-1560) and Marguerite Archer (1542-?). Anne's parents died when she was young and she and her brother Jean were taken in by her mother's sister Barbara Archer who was married at the time to Jacques Dellsperger, Governor of Thun.

In 1551, Anne would marry Senator Michael Ougspurger (1544-1611), Governor of Moudon and Lausanne, son of Michael Ougspurger and Elisabeth Uldrisold. Anne would be Michael's second wife and would give him 18 children. In fact in 1851 she had quadruplets (2 boys and 2 girls), something that I am sure was atypical for the time.

Illustration of both Ougspurger and de Büren crests, 1592

Part of a tapestry from 1598 that portrays the story of Adam & Eve. The Ougspurger and de Büren family crests are at center.

The Ougspurger and de Büren family crests detail.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Philippe Frédéric de Büren 1865-1953

Philippe would be the second son of Henri de Büren (1825-1909) and Natalie de Freudenreich (1835-1900). He was born at the Castle of Vaumarus in 1865. After his father sold the Castle to Louis Pernod in 1888, the family would move to the country home of "La Châtelaine" in Aïre near Geneva. In 1890 whether of his own accord, or under the persuasion of his father, Philippe emigrated to Argentina. He would settle at Santa Victoria, near Chazón in Córdoba. While in Argentina, he would take a wife, Louise Fabrini, an Italian 17 years his junior and start a family. He would also start a cattle ranch and stay in Argentina 21 years until 1911 when he returned to Geneva with his wife and children. One of his sons, Carlos would later go back to Argentina, and take over the ranch.

Document of Philippe's registration with the Swiss legation in Buenos Aires. Signed by Joseph Choffat, October 12th 1891.

Louise & Philippe de Büren with their children Henri, Natalie , Elise, and Philippe, taken at La Carlota, Córdoba, Argentina in 1905.

From Left to Right: Philippe, Jeanne, Elisa, Olga, Louisa, Carlos, Henri & Natalie probably taken around 1911 when the family moved back to Geneva.

Philippe and Louise de Büren taken in 1947 for their 50th Wedding Anniversary.

Philippe, Louise and the Family of Carlos de Büren also taken in 1947.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Albert de Büren 1791-1873

Albert was the only son of Charles Philippe de Büren (1759-1795) and Charlotte Elisabeth de Büren (1765-1837). Member of the Grand Council of Bern, Governor of Moutier, Lord of Valangin and the last Baron of Vaumarcus. In 1831 the sovereign of Neuchâtel, the Emperor of Prussia, ordered all of his patrician land owners in Neuchâtel to exchange their feudal rights for an indemnity. Albert could not refuse the Imperial edict. As a young man he studied botany and Thaer's agricultural school in Berlin and became a great botanist in his own right. He was also instrumental in the founding of the Neuchâtel Natural History Museum with his friend Louis Coulon. He was a great amateur painter like his father and was beloved by all those who knew him.

Albert de Büren (1791-1873), painted in 1820 by David Sulzer.
The Château de Vaumarcus is visible in the upper right hand corner.

Catherine de Senarclens (1796-1857), painted in 1820 by David Sulzer

In 1820 Albert married Catherine de Senarclens (1796-1857) daughter of César Auguste de Senarclens, Lieutenant Colonel in the Swiss Guards in the service of the King of France and Marie de Loriol.

From his wife he had five children:

1. Guillaumine (1821-1870) ∞ Gustave Eugène Clément
2. Henri (1825-1909) ∞ 1. Madelaine Sillem 2. Natalie de Freudenreich
3. Marie (1826-1893)
4. Sophie Elisabeth (1827-1894)
5. Charlotte (1835-1869)

Examples of his artwork

Château de Vaumarcus

Château de Gottstatt

Château d'Echallens

Château de Loriol

Château de Blauenstein (Neu-Falkenstein)

Château de Gorger, 1832

Château de Rolle, 1832

Romainmôtier, 1837


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