Monday, December 10, 2012

Story@Home Conference

Unlike many who search their family past only to discover precious little, I am uniquely blessed with a rich narrative tapestry covering more than eight centuries. One that starts in the 12th century on the blood-drenched battlefields of Europe and weaves its way through the steaming jungles of the Amazon, the fertile pampas of Argentina and finally to California's Central Valley. My family tale reads like a great novel, evoking the grand sweep of history, bursting with complex intrigue, compelling family drama, and fascinating personal stories.

Captivating as the history was, as I delved deeper into my research, year after year, I started to feel oddly empty. I thought I knew what this ancestral gift meant to me, but I hadn’t gone deep enough. For years I had only focused on facts and figures and not on the emotional component of my ancestor’s lives. Once I did, my research took on a more profound dimension and I was able to understand their lives and myself in a whole new way. Ultimately, my journey to share my family’s story has been an effort to tell my own.

I will be presenting Finding My Family, Finding Myself on March 23rd in Salt Lake City at the Story@Home Conference, a storytelling conference held in partnership with RootsTech. I feel it is a unique opportunity to tell my story and am deeply honored to be presenting among such amazing company.

To register for the Story@Home conference which runs from March 21st through the 23rd click here.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Family Bank

When I was a boy I heard stories of our family bank. Family bank, you say? A Swiss bank account I can believe, but who has a bank? Much to my dismay the bank was closed before I was born and the family trust which it was founded to hold is long since extinct.

The von Büren bank was founded by Albert Eugène von Büren (1817-1896) of Bern in 1838 and later became a private bank in 1860. In addition to holding the von Büren family trust, the bank was also very active in private banking for many of the other bourgeois families of Bern.

Eugène Charles (1845-1923), the son of Albert would later take over the bank and rename it E. Büren & Cie in 1884. Eugène Charles and his wife Catherine Marie de Salis-Soglio would not have any children so the bank would pass to another Eugène (1889-1966), his nephew, who would run it until its sale in 1963 to the Swiss National Bank.

Eugène would not have any children, and rumor has it, he tried in vain to persuade other members of the family from Geneva and Vaud to enter the banking profession and take over for him. Alas, no one was interested. He would sell the bank three years before his death, and would tragically be the last von Büren in Bern.

From 1860 until 1909 the bank was located at the Effingerhaus on Münstergasse in the old town of Bern close to the beautiful Cathedral.

From 1909 until it's sale it was located on the Bundesplatz, the most important square in Bern, in the same building where the Valiant Bank now sits.


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