I recently visited Langnau, Bern, Switzerland and spent two days immersed in all things Langenegger. My wife and I arrived at Langnau Train Station on June 25, 2004, exhausted from a long flight from San Francisco. As we exited the train station, we immediately struck the unique character of this area.
Outside the train station are the remains of a paved road that is now secured by asphalt. Everywhere looked beautiful Swiss houses and buildings – many of them hundreds of years old – all decorated with colorful and pink and red bellows placed in flower boxes under each window. As we found out later, Emmental is also a land of miracles of covered bridges, friendly people, swiss-clapped churches, cow bites – everything you expect from Switzerland.
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As we walked to our hotel in Bareau, we noticed how friendly and kind the locals were – stopping to let us cross the street and smiling as we passed a friendly “Hallo” or “Guten Morgen”. The city is dotted with long stone tanks with well water that splits at one end and drains the other. They look like a stone tank. These are available to anyone who wants a cool drink of water.
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After settling into our room at the Landgasthof Hotel Adler, the owner invited us for a short stroll through the countryside where we saw more beautiful houses and pastures. After returning, we asked some locals at the hotel restaurant on the Langenegger farm and they had a good laugh. It turns out that there are a lot of Langeneggers out there and we didn’t know the name of the people who lived in the original house they came to see.
The hills are about 1,200 feet above the valley floor and incredibly green with grass and woodland visible from anywhere in the city. Langnau is small – maybe three or four blocks long and the hills look very close. Black and white cows break the green and produce and the wonderful sound flickers as they walk around the ringing of bells around their necks. The taller bells worn by sheep and goats are combined with the bell-bong cake of the bell cows making a delicious backdrop to the landscape. This is the last sound we heard as we started to sleep covered in a quilt with wings on our first night in Langnau.
Our birds woke up to a wonderful green world that is Langnau in the summer. We enjoyed a great breakfast of homemade bread and jell provided by our host Stephen. We hoped to attend church, but found that our information was incorrect and arrived too early.
Instead we started our tour of Langnau early. Langnau is a small town, and we walked all the main streets around noon, when we took a lunch break to share a little cheese and a pastry shop from a small shop near the city center. At that time, the local museum had opened. Housed in one of Langnau’s oldest homes, it is a great opportunity to look inside one of these beautiful buildings and see all the fancy roofs that the builders build. It is also a large museum with a series of permanent and rotating exhibits depicting the history of Langnau and its inhabitants.
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The museum professor has lived in Langnau for 70 years and knows the name Langenegger very well. She quickly found a book containing the tops of the Langenegger family – one for those in the valley (Langenegg Ey) and one for those taller in the hills (Langenegg Unter). He has also loosely analyzed the name in Lange (Long in English – pronounced “in German”) and negg (hill in English – pronounced “in German). I couldn’t confirm the word & nbsp; anywhere – but that said. The book included.
and a statement: “Ulrich, von Langnau, wanderte 1748 n Pennsylvanien (USA) Aus (Faust 61)”, which roughly translates to Ulrich Langenegger migrating to Pennsylvania in the United States in 1748. This is our ancestor Ulrich Langenegger Sr.
The book provides no other source for this information.On the map, Langenegg Unter is only a 30-minute walk from the hotel. hill from the museum and Langenegg Ey is about a mile down the river Langnau, since Unter had been owned by someone else from Langenegger for many years, we decided to take a look at the Ey property in the valley to see if we could at least to make a picture of the house and maybe if we were really lucky, meet a distant relative.
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Margarita and I walked along the river, where many of the locals took a break from normal life to cool off. We were pleasantly surprised by the number of covered bridges in and around Langnau – all of which are still in use. We even walked one just outside of Langnau.
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Just as we approached the long road to Langenegger’s house, two women came from the river and one of them spoke English. He told us that we were in the right place and that the Langenegger family lived here. He offered to accompany us to the right house between a group of different houses and buildings owned by us. With a wonderful German “Woo hoo” he called the people inside us and introduced us to my 9th cousin who lives in the house where Ulrich Langenegger Senior was born in 1664 (mentioned in the book he immigrated to Pennsylvania).
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Our famous cousins were kind and warmly welcomed, even though we had just appeared on their doorstep after over 250 years without a Christmas card! We had a brief discussion about the family and we saw some of the information they had there. Coincidentally, the couple’s sister by the door was in Pennsylvania to watch a reunion of Longenecker while we were in Langnau. We’ve exchanged contact information so we can keep track of it with information we find useful. They were kindly given us a cool drink from their meal before we soon went around the farm to take some photos.
The cows were in the barn as it was warm that day. Milk from their cows is sold to a herd of local farmers who make it into cheese. If you’re looking for authentic Langenegger cheese, look for the Emmentaler type as this is where they make it. It is sold in the USA as a simple Swiss type cheese – the type with holes in it. I must admit it tasted much better in Langnau than in California.
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The house is an easy walk along the river from Langnau and consists of the original home plus a few extra houses and buildings. I found the house a challenge to photograph on its own. It is a typical Swiss farm with a seating area and a barn under one roof. On one side is a sloping ramp that goes directly into the attic above the barn used to move hay to this area for storage and use during the winter.
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The roof is steep by American standards but not as steep as I expected in a snow-covered area. Most ceilings in the area are tiled and include a series of six-inch brackets that hold the snow in winter so that not everyone falls at the same time. Some buildings had a simpler system with only a set of brackets near the bottom of the roof that held a four-inch pipe extending the entire length of the house – presumably for the same purpose as the brackets in other buildings. In addition, the system probably uses snow to insulate the roof from the cold. Another interesting thing about some roofs and houses – builders sometimes put their initials and date of construction on the roof using different colored tiles. Others were drawing this information under the eaves or on the face of the building under the eaves.
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Langenegger’s house is not as fancy as some in the city, but it is large and includes some fancy artwork that we saw repeated inside the museum, on covered bridges and elsewhere in the area. The main structure seems to be large beams carefully joined together at the right angles so that they become stronger as more weight is placed – and held together by wooden clothespins. On a bridge near the city, we saw a metal band that seems to have been added later.
The activity of rural centers around dairy cows. There was a large farm planted near the house along with a well maintained garden that seems to give away every home we saw in Switzerland. Along the motorway’s approach to the farm there are some cherries with mostly green fruits as they begin to turn pink in places. The rest of the farm seemed to be on the grass. My friend John Garland in Oklahoma would call fencing “psychological fencing” – not an obstacle to an animal he wants out. We noticed that many hedges appear to be temporary and power-bearing so that cows can easily move to fresh grass as needed. We still saw an electric fence attached to a solar panel high in the mountains with a long train away from Langnau. Respect for today’s occupants & # 39; time and space, we only stayed for a while.
We returned to our hotel on a path that runs along the river and stopped for a rest in the shade of an old covered bridge. We were exhausted again and happy to meet our distant relatives and see the old house.
Research: If you are exploring this area, there is no pedigree information available in Langnau immediately. The record office has been filing since 1886, but it does not release it without the permission of the persons mentioned in the records and the fees for doing so are very high. You will have a much better luck in Bern, where most of the Swiss archives are kept. There is almost always someone who speaks English and filing cabinets are no exception. The files are neither computerized or indexed – but they are very neat based on location and time frames. You have to tell them exactly who, where and when you want to look to get the right microfilm. Then it’s an old-fashioned search that searches through files written over time using unknown styles and letters. The closets are outside the office in the hallway and you should leave your backpack, wallet, etc. there. It’s free and safe.
The Archives de l & # 39; attat de Berne is located in Falkenplatz 4, CH-3012 Bern near the main train station. It was easy to find the third time I tried. The train station is large and busy and on many levels. Locate the lifts at one end of the station and move them to the top. If you have a problem, follow the students and signs at the university to find the lifts. Once at the top, head to the campus – the only way you can really get through – and pass between two large campus buildings. Falkenplatz 4 is the first building on the right after passing through the campus area. There is a small stop in front of the small park where students get together for a cheap and good sandwich – they arrive there early, as the sandwiches run out quickly after noon. The office is open from 8:00 until 12:00 and from 1:00 to 5:00 every week except Friday when it closes at 4:30. If you want to confirm before you go, their phone numbers are 031/633 51 01, fax 031/633 51 02. Copies are a Swiss franc per page – so get a lot of money so you can get all , what do you want. You can easily spend 50 franks in an afternoon depending on the files you want. I didn’t have time, but you might want to check out these resources provided by the Langnau museum. . .
Zivilstands- und Burgerrechtsdienst
Des Kantons Bern
031/633 47 85
Fax: 031/633 47 39
3753 Oberhofen am Thunersee
033/243 24 52