Monday, May 31, 2010

Grain Sack

I was given this as a gift when I was a teenager by a Claire de Büren of Bern. It is a de Büren grain sack from 1813. I have always liked it and appreciate the design a great deal. The CLvB most likely stands for Charles Louis de Büren (1767-1851), son of David de Büren, Governor of Sumiswald (1734-1782).

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Spirit of Vaumarcus

When I worked one summer at the Château of Vaumarcus, the house of my ancestors, I was told by the Chatelain Claude Thalmann of the local spirit who inhabited the castle. He was a bit tongue and cheek about it and I laughed along with him.

Château de Vaumarcus by Night

I thought it was a joke, but in doing some research, I have found many references to this spirit that range from the diabolical to the simply mischievous. Whether true or not, it appears many people over time have given the legend some credence. When I stayed in the castle for a summer I will attest to some interesting occurrences. I have included an historical anecdote below:

The following story comes from Les sorcières neuchâteloises by Fritz Chabloz. It reveals the "protective" side of the spirit.

"We find still in one of the towers in the Château of Vaumarcus a saddle and bridle that act as proof of a local legend. The Baron of Vaumarcus was also a bailiff for the Canton of Bern. During a time of particular strife he was ordered to war by Bern and was about to leave the castle for battle. The local spirit who wanted to keep the family safe, took the Baron's horse and placed him in one of the towers of the castle. The Baron took this as an ominous sign and did not leave. Not long afterwards he learned that the battle had been a rout and was told that if he had commanded troops on that day he would surely have died."

Monday, May 24, 2010

Thoughts on Swiss Society

The following observation on Swiss society of the 1860s comes from the The life and letters of Edward A. Freeman, D.C.L., LL. D. By William Richard Wood Stephens. Freeman was an English historian Edward Augustus Freeman (1823-1892) who traveled extensively throughout Europe. During a voyage to Switzerland Freemen mentions both Albert de Büren and his son Henri de Büren in one of his letters. Freeman three years earlier spent the night at Vaumarcus on the invitation of Albert and it is unclear if they met again or he is referencing their previous encounter. From his letter is appears that Albert would have liked to turn back the clock on social reform, like many other Swiss aristocrats for that matter.

Edward Augustus Freeman (1823-1892)

"To J. Bryce, Esq.

Somerleaze, February 24, 1867.
... As for the rich, I conceive that save merchants at Basel and such like, Schweiz has hardly any people whom we should count rich. Aristocrats, or rather ex-aristocrats, abound, but they are mainly poor, having lost their two great sources of revenue, Condottieriship and Verres-ship. From all I can hear, they have no real grievances. Wherever, as at Zurich, they have frankly accepted the new state of things, and have gone in and taken their chance with other folk, they have got their share like other folk. At Bern for a long time they were sulky and held aloof from public affairs ; more fools they, as in many parts of the Canton they were distinctly popular, and would have been preferred to other candidates. Most of my friends are naturally democrats, but I saw some of the other sort at Chur, and specially at Neuchâtel.

One man, James de Meuron, patrician, but who talked fairly and sensibly, told me that, just after the Revolution, there was an ugly rush of Artisans and market folk, but that things had righted themselves, and that all sorts got into the Assembly, only too many lawyers, a fault not confined to Welsh-Newcastle. Then I stayed a night with the Baron de Buren, a charming old man, but who wanted the king of Prussia back again. The only intelligible grievance I could make out was that he had been compelled to sell some tithes. If he got a fair price, I don't see great harm. I should like to see all rights of one man over the land of another redeemed in the same way. On the other hand, he seemed to be in exactly the position of an English squire, people capping him and calling him ' M. le Baron.' He was, by election, President of the Communal Council, and his son was a member of the Legislature of the Canton. So I really did not see that his hardships were very great. He dwelleth in a real castle, Vauxmarcus to wit, whose name you will find among the doings of Charles the Bold."

Friday, May 21, 2010

Evangelical Biography of Otto de Büren

I found this biography of Otto de Büren (1822-1888), former Mayor of Bern, in Evangelical Christendom, published in 1889 by the Evangelical Alliance. Otto was the President of the Swiss Branch of the Evangelical Alliance and a very devout Christian.

"The Evangelical Alliance has lost one of its most distinguished and valued supporters in the demise of Otto de Büren, whose death took place on December 25, 1888.

Born at Berne, September 19, 1822, and the only son of Colonel Albert Rudolf de Büren, Otto de Büren was placed at an early age under the care of Mons. Wenger, to whose careful training and skilful development of character and abilities Switzerland is indebted for several able and distinguished men.

After following a course of religions instruction under Mons. Gaudard, he made his first communion on Whit Sunday 1839, and it may well be said that it was not with him a ceremony observed as a custom, but one in which his heart and soul participated in faith and love. After a sojourn of a few months at Neuchâtel, whither he went to perfect himself in the French language, ha returned to Berne, and there prosecuted his studies in the law, and likewise in military strategy, etc. It was with zest and impressment that Mons. de Büren, in 1842, entered the army, his father's example, his previous training and love of physical exercise heartily inclining him thereto. His advancement was rapid. In 1855 he was commandant of the battalion of the town of Berne; in 1875 he became colonel, and commanded successively the 7th and 8th brigade of infantry. In 1882 he retired from active service, leaving his duties to younger men, able and willing to take them up.

As a soldier he was called to take part in the war of the Londerlund, and was adjutant to Colonel Bontems, a well-known Vaudois. His abilities were highly appreciated by his superiors, and not less was he beloved and trusted by the common soldiers, whose confidence he won from his first coming in contact with them.

When the municipal election in 1849 look place, Mons. de Büren was elected a member, and in 1850 was made a member of the Grand Council. He was re-elected every fourth year, during a period of thirty eight years, and continued in office up to the time of his death. He eventually held the proud position of President of that renowned body. This last proof of the high esteem and confidence in which his fellow-citizens held him was given in the spring of 1887.

When Strasburg was beseiged in 1870. Mons. de Büren, Mayor of Berne, Dr. Rômer, Mayor of Zurich, and Gottliel Bischoff, Chancellor of Bâle, were chosen at a conference held at Olten, to go to Strasburg, having a letter of recommendation to General Werder. The deputation succeeded in entering the city so long intimately connected with the land of Tell, and were received with loud cries of 'Long live Switzerland.' Thousands of women, children, and non-combatants were permitted to withdraw from the city, and enter Switzerland, under the protection of the noble men who had gone to their succour. Mons. de Büren has published a most interesting account of this episode in his life.

In 1833, the candidature of Mons. de Büren for the mayoralty was very severely contested, so much so, that a little later on, in 1888, he would not allow himself to be nominated to that office again. Times and men had changed. He felt the moment was come to retire and give place to others. His compatriots, however, were not ungrateful. When his decision became known, the Bernois organised an immense cortege with the intention of rendering homage to the magistrate who had served his generation during a quarter of a century, sans peur et sans reproche. To the multitude, Mons. de Büren spoke with a firm voice, in words of patriotism as ardent as they were disinterested, and in no way hesitating to avow his Christian principles. 'The honour which you do me,' he said, 'and for which I thank you, ought in verity to be given to one higher than I. It is God who has given me success! All glory be to him!'

The earthly career of this truly great and good man was now nearing its close. He fell asleep in Jesus on Christmas night, Dec. 25, 1888. Amidst all his sufferings, which were ofttimes acute, the consolations of religion were ever present, and bis soul filled with longing expectation of an abundant entrance awaiting him in the presence of the Lord."

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Wordless Wednesday – Family Photos

Family stories are much more compelling when you have a face to accompany a historical narrative. This post however is not about words but rather the lack thereof. In honor of Wordless Wednesday, I am grouping all of my favorite family photographs of de Büren women from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Enjoy!

Jeanne de Büren (1905-1996)

Natalie de Büren (1903-1986)

Cousins Alice de Büren and Cécile de Freudenreich

Alice Eugènie de Büren (1868-1923)

Jeanne Henriette de Büren (1861-1944)

Germaine and Amélie de Büren

Germaine Sophie de Büren (1863-1931)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Foreign Service Officers

Over the 800 or so traceable years of de Büren family history, many de Büren men have served in Swiss military regiments of foreign princes, kings and emperors. As mercenaries, the Swiss fought all over Europe, providing their services to the highest bidder. Interestingly though my ancestors would serve the Kings of France and Princes of Holland repeatedly over many generations.

Some historical background on the Swiss military from The Swiss Army System by Remy Feesch

"Some facts of Swiss history may explain how the military spirit has developed and has always been kept up in that little Republic, and that the actual state of preparedness is partly the result of that military spirit of the Swiss population.

The foundation of Switzerland dates from the 1st of August 1291, when those farmers and huntsmen round the Lake of Lucerne assembled on the 'Rütli' and after deliberation took a solemn oath to defend one another and to destroy those tyrants which Austria had sent to subdue the country.

Already in those days general conscription formed a basis and was a principle of the swiss military system. It was a matter of course to the Swiss people that every able bodied man or boy should defend his country.

For the next few hundred years we find the Swiss continuously fighting for independence against almost every power in Europe. The Swiss Regiments became quite famous and when there was nothing to fight for at home, they sold their sword abroad. We find Swiss Regiments fighting with the armies of Philipp II, Francis I, and Charles V. During the terrible struggle of the French Revolution in 1792 the famous 'Red Swiss,' a Regiment of body guards of Louis XVI, were entirely annihilated in the garden of the Tuilleries by the bloodthirsty mob of Paris."


In the service of Louis XII
Louis de Büren (1453-1526)

In the service of Henry II
Conrad de Büren (1530-1561)

In the service of Louis XIII
Jean de Büren (1610-1631)

In the service of Louis XIV
Victor de Büren (1641-1708)
Albert de Büren (1644-1685)

In the service of Louis XV
Nicolas de Büren (1708-1727)
Philippe de Büren (1727-1808)
David de Büren (1734-1782)
Louis de Büren (1735-1806)
Philippe de Büren (1737-1760)

In the service of Louis XVI
Louis de Büren (1735-1806)


David de Büren (1614-1659)

Gabriel de Büren (1669-1694)

Victor de Büren (1703-1753)
David François de Büren (1714-1743)
Charles de Büren (1731-1757)

In the service of William V, Prince of Orange
Charles de Büren (1731-1757)
Jacques Louis de Büren (1771-1838)

In the service of William I
Philibert Charles de Büren (1794-1858)


Albert de Büren (1719-1798)


In the service of William III
Gabriel de Büren (1669-1694)

In the service of George III


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