Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Jeanne Henriette de Büren 1861-1944

Jeanne was the first daughter of Henri de Büren (1825-1909) and Natalie de Freudenreich (1835-1900). Like her sister Henriette and brother Albert Gustave she was deaf from birth. While not much is know about her life, what still endures is her beautiful artwork. Like her father and many of her ancestors she had a great gift for art.

Jeanne Henriette de Büren (1861-1944)

Jeanne (far right) with her sisters, Amelie and Alice.

Château de Moilans (Savoie), 1876

Château de Miolans detail


Chalet detail

Lakeside, 1883

Lakeside detail

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Berner Münster

The cathedral of Bern was for many of my ancestors the center of religious and civic life. Louis de Büren's tomb is within the cathedral as are many visual refrenences to the de Büren family. When I was in Bern last, I arrived too late in the morning and was only able to spend a couple minutes in the cathedral before it was closed for the lunch hour.

Thankfully I came across many beautiful photos from the Berner Münster on flickr by Christoph Hurni, which I have included below.

Berner Münster as seen from the Aare river.

Inside of the Cathedral.

Window commemorating the marriage of Ernst de Büren (1858-1928) and Ida de Bondeli.

Large window with de Büren crest at the center.

Window with various guild arms.

Detail of the Butcher's Guild arms, in which the de Büren family has participated for almost 700 years.

Arms of other Bernese families that allied themselves with the de Büren family.

de Mülinen

de Wattenwyl

de Freudenreich

de Fischer

de Tavel

de Diesbach

de Bonstetten

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Louis de Büren 1453-1526

Louis was the second son of Pierre de Büren (1425-1458) and Christine de Seftigen (1416-?). He was a figure of incomparable energy and drive.

As a young man he fought at the battles of Morat in 1476 and Nancy in 1477 against the Burgundian army of Charles the Bold. In both battles he distinguished himself by his valor and bravery. He is mentioned in Diebold Schilling's Grosse Burgunderchronik, which covers the history of Bern and Burgundian Wars. An allegorical stained glass window chronicling his feats hangs in the Church of Wimmis to this day.

He was later Magistrate of Wimmis, Burgdorf and Thun as well a Bernese Senator. He was a devoted friend of France, and in 1500 left his official duties to fight for French King Louis XII in his war against Milan and Naples. For this act he was officially rebuked, stripped of his duties and fined. He would later return to favor in the eyes of Bern.

Louis would not have any children and would give his fortune to his nephews, whom he adopted. He would die in 1526 and be buried in the Cathedral of Bern, where he rests still.

Battle of Morat (Murten), 1476

Battle of Nancy, 1477

de Büren crest on Louis' tomb in the Cathedral of Bern.

de Büren crest is at center in the floor at the altar.

In his first marriage, he would marry Marie Segesser de Brauneck, from a noble Aarau family.

In his second marriage he would marry Adèle Fries, daughter of Henri Fries of Fribourg and Nicola Techtermann.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Château de Denens

On my recent trip back to Switzerland, I paid an all to brief visit to my Cousin Pierre de Büren at the Château de Denens, near Morges. The Château of Denens has been in the family since 1796 when it was acquired by marriage with the de Tavel family and Pierre's children represent the 7th generation of de Büren's living at Denens. I remember vividly as a boy visiting Pierre's grandmother Marie Dorette, and getting lost within the house.

Château of Denens with vineyards in foreground.

Watercolor of Denens by Albert de Büren, Baron de Vaumarcus.

Sepia of Denens by Albert de Büren, Baron de Vaumarcus, circa 1830s.

Sepia of Denens by Albert de Büren, Baron de Vaumarcus, circa 1830s.

Denens is an active winery with many varietals, the Chasselas is still my favorite.

Charles Jules de Büren 1808-1879

Charles Jules was the son of Louis Jacques de Büren (1771-1838) and Marie Henriette de Tavel (1777-1864). He started his military career in the service of Holland like his father and grandfather before him. When his regiment was disbanded in 1829 he went on to serve the King of Naples. He would serve in Naples until 1836 when he would return to Switzerland to marry.

In 1837, his father would turn over the Château of Denens and it lands to him. It would take a good deal of money and time to bring the Château back into working order after the years of neglect by his father. His father had the bad habit of losing at cards, which he seemed to do often. It is said that Charles Jules was so ashamed of his father, that he told people that his father was in fact Louis de Büren, last Bernese governor of Lausanne.

Charles Jules unlike his father was a great administrator of his household, got the most out of his land and was very skilled with his hands. He was held in high esteem by those who knew him.

Charles Jules de Büren (1808-1879)


Illustration done by Charles while in the service of Naples (1830-1836)

Illustration done by Charles while in the service of Naples (1830-1836)

In 1836 Chales would marry Julie Marguerite de Mülinen (1814-1851), daughter of Count Godefry de Mülinen and Julie Marguerite de Graffenried. She would tragically die of smallpox.

In 1853 Charles would marry Louise de Perregaux (1826-1910), duaghter of Armand Frédéric de Perregaux and Adolphine Julie de Pury.

From his second wife he would have six children:

1. Marguerite (1854-?) ∞ Aimé Auguste Monod
2. Hélène Jeanne (1855-1922) ∞ Henri de Mandrot
3. Guillaume (1857-1899) ∞ 1. Florence Hugonnet 2. Emma Thibaudin
4. Blanche Adèle (1859-1917)
5. Louis Alfred (1864-1944) ∞ 1. Henriette de Luze 2. Alice Marie de Luze
6. Hilda Louise (1867-?) ∞ Jean Guillaume de Chambrier

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Albert Gustave de Büren 1862-1938

Albert was the first son of Henri de Büren (1825-1909) and Elisbeth de Freudenreich (1835-1900). Like his sisters Jeanne and Henriette he was deaf from birth. Not much is known about Albert except for the fact that he would marry Odette Thonney (1888-1947) in 1907 and lived at a country home in Yvonand (VD) across the lake from Vaumarcus.

Albert Gustave de Büren (1862-1938)

The one item that I was able to find is a true gem. Albert wrote a journal as a boy between 8-11 years old while living at Vaumarcus. It is written with a wonderful innocence and is very detailed about his childhood; who visited the castle, what crops were being harvested, what activities he did with his siblings, and it reveals his deep faith. It is an incredible window into the world of the Château of Vaumarcus during the early 1870s.

Albert Gustave's boyhood journal.

Interesting Tidbit:

Albert Gustave is mentioned along with his sisters Jeanne and Henriette having attended the International Congress of the Deaf and Mute at the 1900 Universal Exposition in Paris. Interestingly, the Congress materials spoke a great deal about the U.S. and the great achievements of Gallaudet.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Museum and the Library

The HIstorical Museum of Bern (Historisches Museum Bern) and the Library of the Bourgeoisie (Burgerbibliothek Bern) have been part of any trip to Bern for as long as I can remember. They both house a good deal of the de Büren patrimony.

Most of their holdings came from the Bern line of the family that died out with Eugene von Büren. In my opinion if Eugene had had more faith in the other members of the family not to squander the rich heritage of his forefathers, the holdings might still be in private hands, but that alas is another story.

With my grandfather's and my father's generation the relationship with both institutions has been cordial, and at times a bit frosty. I know my grandfather felt many of the items were rightfully his. In communications with my grandfather, he often felt that the museum and library were not always very transparent in their accounting for all of the items relating to the de Büren family. Similarly, I remember very vividly that when I visited the the Library as a teenager, the Director at the time told me in no uncertain terms, that any family item was the property of Switzerland and I should persuade my father to ship everything back.

It is upon this sometime rocky ground that I made my current visit to the Bernisches Historisches Museum and Burgerbibliothek. I however wanted my interaction with these institutions to be different, one of my own making, one built upon mutual respect and shared passion for history and cultural preservation. My projects on the de Büren family and Henri de Büren's travels through the Americas have created that platform for a new relationship.

Bernisches Historisches Museum

The museum is closed on Monday but Mr. Quirinius Reichen was gracious enough to receive me. We spoke first about my projects and showed him my research to date. He was impressed with what I had accomplished, and we proceeded to the basement of the museum to look through the catalogue of de Büren items. He was very helpful and patient and I was able to see some amazing portraits which he said he would get me photos of.

In a less than regal moment, while in the cramped basement I hit the top of my head on a metal fire extinguisher box. As I saw stars and felt blood trickle down my scalp, I joked with my host that I was now part of the museum.


After lunch I met with the new Director of the Library Dr. Claudia Engler. We had a great meeting. She was gracious enough to have consulted the family archive beforehand and had pulled some books and manuscripts that she felt I might be interested in. She was taken with my passion for my family heritage and offered to help in whatever way she could. I was able to complement her understanding of the de Büren portrait archive and felt it was a meeting of peers. It was truly enjoyable.

Wayne Dyer says "When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change." I believe that is true of my interactions with these great institutions in Bern. I wanted a relationship that was not encumbered by the baggage of the past, I wanted one that was authentic and supportive and that is what I received.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Butcher's Guild

The de Büren family have been members of the Metzgern Zunft (Butcher's Guild) for almost 700 years. The first member of the family to establish himself in Bern, Rudolf von Büren joined the Butcher's guild in 1326. For generations afterwords, his descendants joined the guild of their choosing. However, from Ludwig von Büren (1515-1560) on the family have been exclusive members of the Butcher's guild.

While recently in Bern I was lucky enough to visit the medieval guild of the de Büren family. I was greeted with great warmth by Martin Sauerer, who gave me a tour of the club and invited me for coffee at Harmonie, one of the oldest restaurants in Bern. I hope to revive the tradition of active participation in the guild that was central to my family's life in Bern for countless generations.

Guild Arms
Arms used in the 1940s

Coat of Arms of Butcher's Guild Members. The de Büren crest can be seen at left.

Recently in some family papers I also found a number of letters from the Butcher's Guild to a female family member who had taken ill in 1940. The Butcher's Guild gave her a financial dispensation for a number of months to help her with her rent while she got back on her feet.

One of the letters from E. Brügger of the guild.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Philippe Albert de Büren 1678-1756

Philippe Albert was the son of Albert de Büren (1644-1685) and Benigne de Loys (1660-1722). He would start his studies in Geneva in 1695, and would later travel throughout Europe. Not much is know about his early life apart from the fact that he was elected to the Bern Grand Council in 1710. He would later become Governor of Morges (VD) in 1723. He was not wise with money and even though his wives were wealthy it appears that he left his children with almost nothing.

Philippe Albert de Büren (1678-1756)

Philippe Albert's home in Bern, Herrengasse 23, now known as the Wattenwyl Haus.

Elisabeth de Diesbach (1681-1724), his first wife.

Marie de Chandieu (1704-1735), his second wife.

In 1702 Philippe Albert would marry Elisabeth de Diesbach, daughter of Nicolas de Diesbach, General and Avoyer of Thoune and Salomé de Wattenwyl.

In 1725 Philippe Albert would marry Marie de Chandieu, daughter of Charles de Chandieu, Lord of L'Isle, Villars and La Coudre, and Lieutenant General in the Service of France, and Catherine Marie de Gaudicher, Countess of Aversé.

Marie's Father, Charles de Villars-Chandieu (1659-1728)

From his first wife he would have eight children:

1. Victor (1703-1753) ∞ Anne Marie Tillier
2. Salomé (1706-1786) ∞ Théodore du Gard
3. Nicolas (1708-1727)
4. Elisabeth (1710-1789)
5. Albert (1713-1717)
6. Frédéric (1716-1770) ∞ Marguerite de Diesbach
7. Albert (1719-1798) ∞ Marie Zehender
8. Maria (1724-1786)

From his second wife he had two children:

1. Charlotte Catherine (1726-1800) ∞ François Louis de Graffenried
2. Philippe (1727-1805) ∞ Elisabeth de Freudenreich


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