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July 20, 2019




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Life of Johannes Zollinger

Johannes Zollinger was born June 4, 1795 in Urdorf, Switzerland to Heinrich Zollinger and Barbara Braem. He married Elizabetha Usteri of Zürich, Switzerland on May 17, 1829. They became the parents of seven children: Ferdinand, Anna, Johannes (died as an infant), Anna Barbara, Elizabeth, Dorothea and Jacob.

Elizabetha Usteri came form a religious group of people. Several of her ancestors were ministers, and her family had lived in the city of Zürich for 300 years.

Home in Urdorf, Zurich, Switzerland - 1861
Home in Urdorf, Zurich, Switzerland - 1861

Johannes and Elizabetha made their home in Urdorf, Switzerland where he was considered a well-to-do farmer. Fruits and vegetables from the garden were carried to market in baskets on their heads.

In the year 1857, some Mormon missionaries came to the city of Zürich and became acquainted with a family by the name of Horlacher. Their daughter, Mary, was at the time working as a hired girl in the family of the minister in Urdorf across the street from the Zollinger home. Her job required her to go to the Zollinger's for milk. She became good friends with the girls of the family. Mary quit her job and went back home in Zürich. She found her parents had joined the Mormon Church. She also joined the Church.

The minister persuaded her to consent to come back to work for him again. She again renewed her friendship with the Zollinger girls and this time told them of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. The Zollinger family became interested in her message and would go on a Sunday to Zürich to attend the Mormon meetings. In a short time, the mother was convinced of the truthfulness of the message.

During the summer of 1861, the Zollinger's hired two carpenters to help remodel their home. One of these men was very well versed in the scriptures and took every opportunity he could to try to show or prove from the scriptures that no one should join the Mormon Church. His efforts were in vain. One day in the late fall of 1861, Johannes and Elizabetha with some of the family walked toward the Limmat River to be baptized. Their sons, Ferdinand and Jacob, were picking apples in the orchard and came to see them and know of their intentions. Ferdinand began to curse and swear and make all kinds of threats against the Elder who had enticed his parents to join the Church.

They had a custom among the farmers of helping each other with their threshing. One evening a neighbor sent word to Ferdinand to come and help him with the threshing. The grain was stacked in his barn and when he got through and was coming down from the top of the barn, he slipped and fell injuring his leg. He was laid up for several weeks. This gave him the opportunity to think and read the scriptures. He became convinced of the truthfulness of the message brought by the Elders so he and his younger brother, Jacob, and sister, Dorothea, set the date for December 16, 1861. The Elders came and they held a meeting in their house the evening before where the town officials and other people came, and they heard the message of Mormonism. The next day, they walked a mile to the place set for baptism. Ferdinand had to go on his crutches. After he was baptized, he was a well man and walked home without the aid of his crutches to the joy of the family. He was at this time 32 years old, single but engaged to be married and he was greatly respected by the people of the community. All the family were now members.

The next morning, he loaded some sacks of potatoes to take to the city. The sacks weighed about 200 pounds. He did this alone and to the astonishment of his neighbors. The folks have looked upon this incident as the hand of the Lord in bringing him around so they could immigrate to this country. The folks had a keen desire to emigrate so they went to the town officials to make arrangement for a public auction in order that they might dispose of their property. Public notice was posted and their first auction was held before Christmas, the second in January. J. U. Haderli who had married Anna, one of the family, tried to persuade the people not to bid on the property in order that they could not leave, but his efforts were in vain and by spring time 1862, they had sold all their property. As J. U. Haderli was not a member of the Church, he and Anna and family could not emigrate. She was very sad to see them leave.

Johannes Zollinger Family - 1862
Johannes Zollinger Family - 1862
Click photo to see list of names

In the meantime, they had made arrangements with the church agents to sail for America in the spring and to purchase for them an outfit to cross the plains.

They packed their trunks with bedding and all the things they could take with them they thought necessary and left Zürich for Basel amid an affectionate farewell of their home folks on the 1st day of May 1862. They left Basel on the 2nd of May and went by train through Mühlhausen to Paris and then to the seaport town of Le Havre, France. Arriving there, they found their vessel had left so they remained behind for two weeks. They had arrived at Le Havre, France on the 4th of May.

They made arrangements to sail on a freighter that was manned by a lot of Irish sailors who were a rough bunch. The accommodations were very poor and they made two kitchens upon the deck where the people could cook their meals. There were more than 100 saints who took passage on that sailing vessel.

On the 15th of May, they boarded the ship and the ship took a southern course along the coast of France, then west along the coast of Spain. From there, they sailed south along the coast of Portugal and came in view of the city of Lisbon on the 4th of June. When they were out two days, a man from Baden died and was buried at sea. After leaving the coast of Portugal, a big storm came up and broke their kitchens into splinters so they could not cook. The storm lasted three days, and the kitchens were again repaired, but they caught on fire and were destroyed. Before they landed at New York, two children had died and were buried at sea.

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