|Hans Ulrich Winkler|
Biography of Hans Ulrich Winkler and Mary Thalmann Winkler
Written by Louisa Thalmann Hasler
In a beautiful little valley or Switzerland in the little town of Zell, Hans Ulrich Winkler was born December 21, 1838, His parents were Jacob Winkler and Susanna Burri. He was the youngest of four living children. Four others died in infancy. The three older children were girls, Elisabeth, Susanna, and Anna. Their home was an ideal one and also their family life. The parents conducted an open house or inn, also a bakery and they owned a little farm.
Elisabeth was married to Jacob Ott in 1856. Susanna married John Thalman in 1848. When Ulrich became of age he was sent to the city of Zurich to perfect the bakery trade, and also learned fine bakery. After he graduated he came home and helped his father run a good business. There were large factories In the neighborhood and the town people were supplied with fresh bread every day.
When Ulrich was twenty-two years old be courted and married Mary Thalmann of Hamburg, May 6, 1860. As mentioned before their home was a prosperous and happy one. Their father (Jacob Winkler) was a fine singer and his children had all inherited his talent and had fine voices. Ulrich and Anna also played the guitar. Their home was much frequented by the young people and all would join in singing and playing, especially on Sundays and in the evenings.
Such was the happy condition of their home in the early spring of 1863 when the youngest sister Anna and Mary, his wife, went on an errand to a home where the mother of the family had joined the Mormons. They found a missionary there from Utah. They talked of the Gospel of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and both were so impressed by the doctrine that they promised to return and learn more of the new message. This they did and in a short time they both applied for baptism. They brought the message home to the rest of the family and nobody seemed much opposed to it. Ulrich investigated and was convinced of the truth and entered into the waters of baptism. All went well until the spirit of gathering came upon them. The missionaries worked hard to encourage them to go to Zion, well knowing that the spirit of opposition was so strong that delay might weaken their faith.
It was a great undertaking to leave their aged parents alone and to leave their beautiful home. The work was too hard for their parents to continue to do alone. The parents thought they could keep them from going by refusing them the money to emigrate. But Mary’s mother (Anna Thalmann) came to their rescue. She saw that a great change had come upon this young family for the better. Although she could not then understand the gospel she felt moved upon to help them, seeing their determination to live a better life and their strong desire to go. She borrowed the money to assist them to emigrate.
Sister Anna was to be married; her trousseau was all ready, but the young man broke the engagement at once when she became a Mormon.
Ulrich and his wife had two beautiful children and she was to become a mother again before their journey's end. Therefore they found it advisable to journey together. Sister Anna was very much attached to the children and would be a great help to them.
Preparations were made to start with the first emigrants who were to leave Switzerland on May 6, 1864. By this time the evil one used all his power to stop them from leaving. Relatives and friends combined with their entreaties to hinder their purpose.
On the last evening at home a few of his immediate family had gathered to say goodbye. They were to leave on an early train to the city of Zurich. Soon the house was filled with his young friends who seated themselves at the tables. (I was also present at this occasion.) It was whispered to us that these people, who now fancied in their belief that violence should be done to stop them, were there for that purpose. They were waiting for the two elders from Utah whom they believed had done all this mischief. However, Ulrich was informed of the trouble and warned the elders not to come to the house.
Their young friends sat there sullenly. It was hard telling what they had planned to do. Although they had loved their friend and companion so dearly their sorrow and regrets to lose him were intense and they were surely grave. All at once Ulrich stepped into the room where they were assembled. He addressed them something like this: “My dear friends: I feel the parting from you all just as keenly as you do, but I am convinced of the truth of this unpopular religion.” He then bore a strong testimony of the truth to them. He wished them all happiness and told them that nothing they could say or do to the contrary could change his conviction. He then told them there was only a short time left before their departure and that he would like to spend the few moments left with his father and mother and dear ones. At this, all assembled rose to their feet and extended their hands. All were in tears, but wished him God-speed and happiness. The next minute the room was empty.
The parting from these parents was indeed a supreme test of their faith. But a spirit of peace and happiness prevailed. What other spirit could exist when such an heroic character is manifested. (Nearly sixty years have elapsed since then, but never can I remember or talk about that scene without shedding tears of joy because this service of his was the means of bringing all their own family into the fold.) And also his true and devoted wife Mary brought her dear ones into the fold and all gathered in Zion. Ulrich's father died a few years later but had received the gospel and was baptized. The aged mother came to Utah with her other daughters and their families, thirteen in number.
The journey of Ulrich Winkler and family was an arduous one. They arrived in London safely but by an unforeseen cause the sailing vessel was delayed and they had to stay in that city a month. When the ship arrived hurried preparations for over a thousand emigrants was made. Facilities for preparing food on the ship were not ample. It was only possible to cook things every two or three days and people suffered on that account. The wind was not favorable to them so it took nine weeks to reach New York harbor.
The young mother suffered a great deal for want of food and it brought on a premature confinement. The baby lived only eight days and was named after the captain of the vessel, Hudson. Mary was so reduced in strength that she had gone nearly blind from weakness. She was tenderly nursed on the overland journey to Wyoming and gained some strength.
In Wyoming they had to wait four weeks again until the emigration teams came from the valley. Having purchased there a wagon and team they started out three days before the main company was ready to start. Some of the Utah brethren had told them they would always be in the lead. However, they were ill advised. They had not gone but a few days journey when one evening they saw Indians prowling around and found these Indians had burned a bridge ahead of them. This company had to make a hasty retreat and wait for another company coming along.
For a time all went well; then the little boy became very sick with what seemed to be scarlet fever. Everything was done for him that faith could do but he grew worse. One evening they reached a farm house where they begged the people to let them come in, but the folks no doubt knew the nature of the disease and refused, but gave them a piece of candle. The dear little boy's spirit took its flight just a moment or two before the candle went out.
They still had the little girl to comfort them but soon she too took sick. Under nourishment brought her down very low and dropsy set in. Then the mother took rheumatic fever and lay on her bed in the wagon helpless as a baby the rest of the journey to Salt Lake City. Ulrich and his sister Anna nursed her as well as they could and then Anna took sick. Of course they were among their brothers and sisters in the faith and they did all they could to help the afflicted family.
But cholera broke out in the camp and many died of it. Every morning the company had to bury some of the dead. In all this sore affliction Ulrich never complained or wished himself back home again.
They reached Salt Lake City the last of October 1864. Ulrich had taken ill the last week of their journey but when they reached the Valley he was kindly nursed by the saints and by November when the first snow was falling they again took up their journey to Richfield where they were advised to go to help settle that place.
When they reached there the weather was favorable for them to dig a dugout as they called it then and make themselves comfortable for the winter. There was plenty of wood there to keep warm with. Before he left Salt Lake he found a brother who loaned him $20.00 for which they got them a hundred pounds of flour. I believe they must have lived a good deal on the plan of the united order. Those who had come and raised grain the year before must have divided with the emigrants for there were a number of them and all out of means.
In the spring Ulrich bought some land. The settlers who lived in Richfield were destitute of clothing and were willing to sell some of their land for clothing and bedding. Ulrich started farming and raised enough bread stuff for the coming year. In spare time he made adobes to build them a home. He finished two rooms the next year.
In July of 1865 Ulrich and his wife Mary, his sister Anna and Claus Peter Anderson went from Richfield to Salt Lake City with ox team to get their endowments. It was then not safe to travel alone, but they took the shortest out through Thistle Canyon, the road being only an Indian trail. When they reached the canyon they found the coals still hot where Indians had camped, and had killed a man and his wife and taken their provisions. They were in the act of unyoking their oxen when they saw how near their danger was and they drove on as fast as the animals could go, none of them daring to speak a word until they reached the mouth of the canyon.
On December 31, 1866, a son Herman came to gladden their hearts. He helped to fill the place of the two little boys they had lost on their journey. In the year 1866 the Indians began to be troublesome. The settlers guarded their few animals and fields, but in the spring of 1867 the people were advised to leave Richfield. A few brethren had been killed and it was unwise to stay. Ulrich and his little family moved to Manti. Many of their friends went still further north to Mt. Pleasant and they soon followed taking up their abode in a one-room school house. Ulrich again went to work making adobes and soon built himself a one-room house. His family now numbered five, a son Henry having been born in April 1868. However, he stayed with there only a short time dying in December of the same year.
The next few years were prosperous ones and they enjoyed health and strength. Since he had left his dear ones in the old home in Switzerland he had always been in communication with them and preached the gospel to them in his letters. This brought its reward for in 1869 they greeted the mother and sister of his wife Mary. They had built onto their home and all lived together for a year.
In 1870 many of the settlers moved back to Richfield but Ulrich sold his house and land there and remained in Mt. Pleasant. Another son, Albert William, was born to them Feb. 28, 1870. In June 1874 he was again rewarded with the joy of greeting his mother and sisters with their families here in Zion. He met them in Salt Lake and brought them home to Mt. Pleasant. Not one of his immediate family was left behind except his father who had died, and he had received the gospel and had been baptized. On April 28, 1875 another son Gilbert was born. About this time Ulrich's mother who was living at Mt. Pleasant with her daughter Susanna took sick and died.
In 1875 Ulrich was called to go to Arizona to help pioneer that country. A company of brethren went late in the fall of that year and traveled with ox teams. Much hardship was experienced as they had to trail their way through unknown mountains and snow. Their cattle had nothing to subsist upon but pine tree boughs. They let their wagons down over cliffs with ropes and chains but reached Mon Copy about February 1876. Ulrich stayed there about one year and gave his labor and time freely. He then returned to Mt. Pleasant for his family. But he found it hard to part with all his relations who were living there and so he did not return to Arizona. On November 18, 1877 another son Ernest was born.
In the fall of 1880 the health of his wife Mary began to fail. As she was in a delicate condition we all held out hope that it was owing to this that her health was poor and that all would be well when her time would come. Another boy Edwin was born on October 1, 1880 and for a little while it was thought that if she could gain her strength all would be well. But this hope could not be realized. She gradually grew worse and on Dec. 9, 1880 her spirit departed. Her baby lived only seventeen days. Her loss was a great trial to the family. She was one of those tried and true and patient mothers who held her husband and her children dear. She was a true Latter-day Saint in every condition in life and was always a peacemaker. She was beloved by all who knew her. Her daughter Lena was then about fifteen years old and able to take hold of some of the household duties. Ulrich's sister Elizabeth was a great help to them and divided her time with the duties of her own home to help with the sewing and things that could not be expected of a girl so young.
In September 1882 Ulrich married again, an emigrant woman, Rosalina Larsen, who had come from Wisconsin. She had been married before and brought four children from her former marriage to this family. In due time two children were born to them, a daughter Amanda and a son John. The mother died September 23, 1886, when John was nine days old and Ulrich was left again with his large family. His daughter Lena had married John Jorgensen in September 1882 and had moved away from Mt. Pleasant. Now again his good sister Elizabeth came to the rescue and helped them with their household duties, and his wife's sister Louisa Hasler took the baby John and kept him for two years.
Brother Winkler had remarkable courage. While he suffered greatly in all this adversity he never despaired and his cheerful disposition upheld him in all of his trials. In 1887 he married again, another widow with four children from Mt. Pleasant. (Leah Fowles.) Five children were born in this last marriage. Four of them and his wife survived him at his death. The five children are Wilford, born Sept. 25, 1888; Mary, born Jan. 15, 1891, Leah born Dec. 16, 1892; Katherine, born Oct. 7, 1894; Montel born Sept. 9, 1897.
Brother Winkler carried his load cheerfully and the Lord blessed him with good health so that he was able to provide for his large family. His faith in the gospel helped him with courage and fortitude that he never despaired. He always took his part in his Church duties and paid his tithes and offerings. He was for many years a member of the choir and the Brass Band. He also played the guitar. And I can never remember when he was not a ward teacher. In this capacity he had much success. He died March 4, 1904 at Mt. Pleasant, Utah.
His sister Anna who gave up her sweetheart and came to Utah for the gospel later married Claus Peter Anderson. He came to Utah as a captain in Johnson's Army. Many of the soldiers were ill because of the lack of salt in their diet. Brigham Young took salt to them but they were afraid to use it, thinking it might be poisoned. President Young asked for someone to come and taste it and then the rest could see that it was only salt and would not harm them. Captain Anderson felt he owed this to his men, many of whom were ill and so he tasted the salt. Its use brought back health to many and Captain Anderson thought that President Young did such a fine Christian act in bringing this salt to the soldiers who had been sent to do harm to the people of Utah that it aroused his interest and he investigated Mormonism and soon became a member.
Ulrich Winkler and Magdalena Hafen Winkler