Bryner Pioneer Museum





68 South 100 East, Price, Utah 84501

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(435)636-1399

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(435)636-1399

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HANS ULRICH BRYNER JR., 1827 - 1905, AND ANNA MARIA DOROTHEA MATHYS, 1828 - 1893, MARGARETHA KUHN, 1839 - 1906, and SUSANNA MILLER 1821 - ?

Compiled by Merne L. Livingstone, Lethbridge, Alberta, May 2006, great granddaughter, from the following Sources:

"History of Hans Ulrich Bryner Jr.", by Lura Redd, granddaughter

"Story of Hans Ulrich Bryner Jr. Family," by Rosella B. Anderson and Lilly B. Frandsen, daughters

Two poems of his life, written by Hans Ulrich Bryner Jr., himself

Patriarchal Blessing of Hans Ulrich Bryner Jr., at Salt Lake City, by John Smith 6 Apr 1901

"Hans Ulrich Bryner," from the History of Alowis Bauer II, driver of his wagon across plains, owned by Nancy Hunsaker of Portland, Oregon

1880 U. S.Census of Springdale, Kane, Utah

Church Ordinance Index in computer site, lds.org, Family Search

"Susanna Muller Bryner born 16 May 1832 at Hirslanden, Zuirich."

Mormon Immigration Index of Families, and

Mormon Immigration Index of Voyages--Enoch Train, March 1856

Church Emigration of 1856, "Fifth Wagon Company - Capt. John A. Hunt

"Hans Ulrich Bryner Sr." by Lura Redd, great-granddaughter

We have all heard of the Martin-Willie Handcart Company that got caught in heavy snow in 1856 and many people were frozen to death, or had their hands and feet frozen. Among that company were Hans Ulrich Bryner Jr. and Anna Maria Dorothea Mathys, my great grandparents. They were among the first converts in Zurich, Switzerland in 1854, in fact, one source says that Ulrich was the first one baptized..

Ulrich was born in 1827 and spent his childhood at school, and delivering the shoes which his father made in the evenings. He would get scolded if he dawdled on his way. The parents were good religious Lutherans, and taught their children to pray, to be obedient, honest, prompt, industrious and thrfty. When Ulrich was ten years old, his father bought a large farm, which changed their lives a lot. His mother no longer had to spend so much time weaving at her loom, or spinning thread for the shoes, and his father left his cobbler's bench to look after the farm. Ulrich learned to do farming chores such as plowing, mowing and pruning. His sisters did the hoeing. Such things as weaving, spinning and knitting were done at night after the day in the fields, while Ulrich read to them from the Bible..

The children were allowed to go to the best entertainments that came along. They attended school from age six to twelve and did very well in their studies. By the time Ulrich was grown, he could speak five or six languages. They were a happy united family and were fairly well off. They were always grateful for their early training and for their heritage.

When Ulrich was nearly 16, a close friend sickened and died. This worried him very much, and he did not sleep very well. . Then he had a dream, in which a man with a grey beard and peculiar eyes led him half-way round the world in complete darkness. When they came to the "top of the world," it was brightly lighted, and he was shown the city of Zion, where there were three doors in a wall. He was told that he could not enter the doors now, but could later on, if he were faithful. He told his family of his dream and they all wondered what it meant.

He attended University, intending to go into government service. Then he married Anna Maria Dorothea Mathys, and they had a little daughter Mary. They were happy and carefree for two years.

During the summer when university was not in session, he worked at a meat-packing plant, dressing hogs, and he was very good at it. He could kill, scald, scrape, hang and draw a hog faster than most anyone. He had won four cups as prizes and received promotions until he becamse superintendent of the slaughter-house. Then one day, while preparing for a competition, a carcas slipped from the gambrel pin and the hoof struck him in the eye, gouging it out onto his cheek. His brother Casper was working nearby and quickly got him to a doctor, but the eye could not be saved. He was in hospital for some time, and got infection in that eye which travelled to the other eye. His parents took him to a specialist in Germany, but they could do nothing. He was blind!

Of course he was very discouraged, and so was Maria. Her friends even counselled her to leave Ulrich, saying that his parents could look after him for the rest of his life, but Maria refused, saying that she wanted to do all she could for him. His family was kind to them, and all were willing to provide for them, but Ulrich could not be happy. He felt that the Lord had cast him aside.

Four long sorrowful months passed by, then he had another dream, and the same man told him that he would cross the sea with his family, then cross the great prairies into the mountains and reach the City of Zion.

Shortly thereafter, a Mormon elder, George Meyer, was preaching in Zurich. Before they could contact him, he went on to Bern. Family members walked for two hours to attend his meeting there, and they recognized him as the man in Ulrich's dreams--he had a grey beard and crossed eyes. He taught them many principles of the gospel, and they invted him to come to their home where he taught them. Twelve family members were baptized on 16 Mar 1854, the first converts in Switzerland. They were so happy that they thanked the Lord and wept for joy. Elder Meyer made their home his headquarters in Switzerland, which made the neighbors unhappy. They threw stones at his fourth floor windows and broke them.

The Bryners wanted to join the Saints in Utah, and began to make preparations for the long journey. They couldn't all go at once, so Casper and Barbara Ann went first to make preparations for the others to follow. The most ardent and thrilled of the group was his mother-in-law, Anna Dorothea Meyer Mathys. She worked hard and planned carefully for the trip, but she passed away before the sailing date. All the rest of the family, five in all, came to U.S. They were allowed only 17 pounds of baggage per person, so Maria had to leave behind the life-time supply of sheets, pillowcases and all kinds of household linens that she had woven. Ulrich, an artist, had painted a life-size portrait of Maria, and that too had to be left behind along with other treasured family keepsakes. The crossing took 42 days on the vessel "Enoch Train."

It was 1856 and they now had two children, Mary Magdalena and Gottfried Henry. Their little daughter, Pauline, who was born in Oct. 1855 lived only a few weeks, passing away in November. They felt the little boy was too young to make the trip, so they left him with his grandparents, to come later on. They landed in Boston, then went through New York to join the saints. Casper had purchased a wagon and oxen, and Ulrich's friend, Alowis Bauer, was to drive their outfit, so everything was ready for them to go on to Utah, but they were delayed in Iowa for two months waiting for 300 handcarts to be built for the others who were to be in their company.

They left Florence about the first of September, 1856. Travel by ox team was difficult for the pioneers, especially for Ulrich who could not see. He held onto the back of the wagon, and if the going got tough for the animals, he would help push the wagon. There is a painting, done by Lura Redd, in the D.U.P. museum in Salt Lake, of Ulrich clinging to the back of the wagon as he stumbled over the rocks, bumps, ruts, hillocks and gopher holes, and was sometimes dragged along when he lost his footing.

The journey was slow and uneventful for the most part, but at times there was plenty of excitement. They had two yoke of oxen on their wagon. Usually the lead yoke had to be led. When the cattle stampeded, the driver would jump on the back of the lead oxen and beat them over the heads with a whip he always carried. This caused the oxen to shut their eyes, and then they would slow down. When Ulrich's oxen stampeded, the driver broke his arm and the wagon was upset. An old lady who was riding with them, had been holding little Mary on her lap as she sat on the stove. In the upset, Mary was on the bottom, then the lady, then the stove on top of her, and lastly the wagon. The lady tried to shield the child by bracing herself on her arms, and was so badly hurt that she died. Mary's life was saved, but she had nervous spells afterwards. She was given a blessing that she would live to be her father's eyes, which she did for twelve years before she passed away.

The trip, about 1000 miles, took nearly four months, and it got very cold when they were about half way. Ulrich's legs and feet were frozen, as were the driver's, so while Maria treated their limbs with poultices of snow and wild sage, she had to drive the wagon as well as look after her injured daughter and prepare their food. However the frostbitten legs healed well. Eventually they overtook the Martin Handcart company and were asked to take another family into their wagon, so they had to leave some of their belongings beside the road.

At the crossing of the Platte river, they were snowed in for eleven days. Sixteen people died, and the ground was frozen so hard that they couldn't dig graves, so they buried the dead just under the snow. Little Mary got so cold they thought she was frozen, but her father rubbed life back into her little cold body. Ulrich reported that at one time the snow was 9 feet deep, and the pioneers had to walk in front of the teams to tramp down the snow so the teams could pull the wagons.

In Wyoming, their condition got so desperate from the cold, lack of food or warmth that word of their plight reached Salt Lake, and men and wagons were sent to rescue them. Casper was among the group, but missed Ulrich's family. They arrived in Salt Lake City on Christmas eve, 1856, and finally were located by Casper. What a joyful reunion it was! They went on to Lehi, where Barbara and the rest were waiting for them. Barbara had married Maria's brother, John Mathys, and they shared all they had with Ulrich's family.

The next summer Ulrich's parents, Hans Ulrich Bryner Sr. and Verena Wintsch, and sister Verena came from Switzerland, bringing little Gottfried with them for another happy reunion. The parents had also travelled by ox team, having accidents along the way in which his father broke his arm and had to continue driving his wagon with the broken arm. He never completely recovered.

Ulrich and Maria settled in Lehi for a time, where Pauline Ann was born in 1857, then were asked to go to the Ogden area. Ulrich operated a farm here, and Elizabeth Ann (Lisette) was born there in 1860. Albert Alma was born in St. George in 1863, then Mary Verena was born in New Harmony in 1866 and Casper Franklin I May 1870 in New Harmony.

Here Ulrich made and mended shoes, a skill he had learned from his father in Switzerland. He was also able to butcher animals even though blind, to prune fruit trees and grape vines expertly, and to weave baskets. He would choose the willows himself and weave baskets which accurately measured bushels and half-bushels. He also wove ornamental baskets. He bought a small farm, and his wife spent most of her time with him in the fields, helping him with his work. She devoted her life to him, and during this time, had five more children, making eight in all. The oldest, Mary, was the only one of all his children that he ever saw.

They planted cotton, picked and carded it, dyed it with roots and herbs, and Maria spun it into thread on a spinning wheel whch Ulrich's father built for them. Brigham Young pronounced it the best thread he had ever seen. Of course, there were no stores or money in New Harmony. They had to provide everything themselves. They wove material for their clothing, and sewed everything by hand with the tiniest stitches imaginable. Ulrich made all the shoes. Maria and Ulrich taught their family to be industrious, the daughters did the housework while Maria was outside during the day, and in the evenings, they worked inside, one member reading from the Bible or the Book of Mormon while the others did their work. They raised their family strong in the church.

Maria must have been a wonderful woman. Her life, after Ulrich lost his sight, must have been very different to what she had planned. She was very capable and could do most anything. She devoted herself to helping her husband. She was very small, but quick and efficient. Her friends said she was sweet and charming as well.

Ulrich could manage pretty well in the house if the furniture was always kept in exactly the same spot and there was nothing littering the floor. He trained his sons to do many things, among others, to drive a team by the age of eight.

His son John, told of an interesting experience. Four men, U.S. marshals in disguise, and their armed guards, asked Ulrich and his eight-year-old son to haul some freight for them to Pioche, Nevada. It was slow going, as the wagon was so heavily loaded. When they reached Pioche, the marshals confessed that the load wasn't only horse shoes and toe calks, as they had said, but hidden in it was $50,000 worth of gold, the payroll for the mine. There were so many robbers around, and officers were so scarce, they devised this scheme to get the money safely delivered--they figured no one would suspect that a blind man and a little boy would be carrying the mine payroll.

Ulrich was a good judge of horse flesh, having known them in his homeland. He could tell by the feel of a horse's head, legs, shoulders, neck, etc. whether it was a good horse. Some even claimed he could tell the color of the horse by feeling it. They had an old wagon which was still in pretty good shape. One day his young boys said a man wanted to trade a much newer wagon for it. Ulrich said that didn't make sense--nobody would do that kind of a thing, and he wanted to "see" the wagon. He went out and felt it all over, and said "I wouldn't have it. It's a narrow-guage wagon. It wouldn't 'track' in the ruts in the road, and would be hard for horses to haul." The man must have been a stranger--no one who knew Ulrich would try to fool him that way.

He could recognize his friends by their voices, even though he might not have talked with them for years. There were several other Swiss brethren in New Harmony, Bro. Brubacher, Bro. Rohner, to name two. He loved to go visit them, and his grandchildren were called on to lead him to their homes, where he would visit for hours, it seemed to the children who had to wait to lead him home again.

Ulrich's cousin, Casper Wintsch, died in 1866, leaving his wife Margaretha Kuhn with two small children, Henry aged 7 and Mary aged 1. A few months later, she married David Bjork in Lehi, and had a little daughter, Susan, who lived only 11 days, We do not know when David Bjork died, but Ulrich, who of course had known Casper in Zurich, wrote to Margaretha and suggested that he should take care of her and the children, so they were sealed in the Endowment House on Nov. 1st, 1868. She sold her property in Lehi and moved to Toquerville, near New Harmony, where Ulrich settled her in a home. He divided his time between New Harmony and Toquerville, where their ten children were born.

In 1883, on 14 Feb., Ulrich was married to Susanna Mueller. She had been listed in the 1880 census of Springdale, Kane co., Utah, with his family, as "Susanna Miller, a servant, and a widow, born in Switzerland, age 57." The Church Ordinance record gives more details--birth 16 May 1821 at Hirslandern, Zurich. They had no children. We know nothing else about her, except that two days after their marriage she was sealed to Henry Eyring as her father. There were about 20 others sealed to him the same day.

In 1884, Brigham Young called Ulrich to go to Price and help settle that territory, so they sold the farm in Toquerville and started out in April. In New Harmony, Maria and her family joined them, so they made quite a party. It took three months to make the trip. They had to travel slowly because of the cows and calves, and reached Price on July 23rd. Next day, Pioneer Day," a big celebration was held for everyone in the area.

Ulrich and Margaretha had up to 300 stands of bees and the children all helped extract the honey, but Ulrich could help at this too, he turned the extractor and helped build the bee boxes and frames. He wove baskets here, too, and they were in great demand. He braided rope from cowhide, and could do most anything with his hands, with the help of the children. . He could help on the farm with a lot of the heavy work. They had brought fruit pits from New Harmony and planted many fruit trees and grape vines. Ulrich made some very good wine. They also sold vegetables and large barrels of sauerkraut, a specialty of Ulrich's.

In the fall of 1887, Henry took his mother, Maria, back to New Harmony to live with her daughter, Verena and William A. Redd. During the summer, the Bryner home in Price caught fire. (It was the first home finished in Price.) Fortunately all the family were sleeping outside that night as it was very hot. Ulrich rushed up the stairs to get their money, deeds, and mortgages from the sales of their homes in New Harmony and Toquerville, His hands were burned, his whiskers were burned off his face, and his face was terribly blistered, but he had picked up what he could before turning back. However the metal box containing much of the money, silver and gold, was still in the fire and when it was located after the ashes cooled down, the coins were all melted together. It had to be re-minted, but they still suffered a loss.

Margaretha thought two of her girls had been burned too because they had been sleeping in a wagon box and were not with the others. She had a nervous breakdown and was in hospital in Salt Lake for two years. The family had to live in a renovated granary until another house was built. Ulrich directed the building of this home, which was similar to those in Switzerland, and fireproof. It was made of rocks and cobblestones, piled into forms which were filled with mortar and then let dry, when the forms would be moved higher and a new layer of rock and mortar formed. It was a fine home, cool in summer and warm in winter.

All of Margaretha's family addresses were burned, so they could not write to family in Switzerland until Carl, a nephew of Maria's, came to see the World's Fair in Chicago and brought word from her family back home. After enjoying a visit with Carl and hearing of her family in Switzerland, Maria took sick and died on Sep. 1, 1893, at age 65. She was buried in Price.

Carl visited his relatives and the World's Fair, then returned to Switzerland and met Margaretha's son, Albert, who was there on a mission. They found Margaretha's sister, Anna Hardmyer and other relatives, who sent their addresses to Margaretha. She was so happy to write them again. Carl joined the church there and gathered genealogy on his parent's lines. He emigrated to Price in 1900 and went on to Salt Lake where he did much temple work. He died several years later and was buried in Price.

The Bryner children were all industrious and independent, they didn't need his money, so Ulrich and Margaretha went to stay in St. George to do temple work. He hired research in Switzerland, and traced the Bryner line back to 1495 and the Mathys line to1555. Ulrich stayed on for seven years and said he had done temple ordinance for 5,000 of his kindred dead. He had a stroke and died Feb. 11, 1906. He was buried in the Price cemetery. Margaretha lived until Feb. of 1906, she died in Price.

In 1892 on his 75th birthday, Ulrich dictated a long poem to his neice, Annie, the daughter of his brother Casper, telling the story of his life, which added a few details to our story. He then had 75 descendants. He wrote another long poem a year later on his 76th birthday.

Ulrich left a strong testimony of the gospel, saying that he was glad he had been blinded, otherwise he might not have accepted the gospel. They left a great heritage for their large families.

The children of Ulrich Bryner and Anna Maria Dorothea Mathys were:
  • Mary Magdalena born 12 Jun 1851 in Wiedikon, Zurich, Switzerland. Died 10 Apr 1863.
  • Gottfried Henry, born 17 Jul 1853 in Wiedikon, Zurich, Switzerland. Died 4 May 1909. Married Isabella Birch. 7 children
  • Pauline, born Oct 1855 in Wiedikon, Zurich, Switzerland. Died Nov. 1855.
  • Pauline Dorothea, or Pauline Ann, born 2 Nov 1857 in Lehi. Died 26 Feb 1921. Married John Hardison Pace. 11 children
  • Elizabeth Ann, born 30 May 1860 in Ogden. died 17Nov 1937. Married George Henry Wood. 14 children (don't have birth date for Rulon Samuel Wood, youngest son) Elizabeth was called Lisette.
  • Albert Alma born 5 Feb 1863 in St. George, died 19 Dec 1930. Married Margaret Ann Pace. (have no children's names)
  • Mary Verena born 3 Mar 1866 in New Harmony, died 30 May 1934. Married William Alexander Redd. 14 children.
  • Casper Franklin born 8 May 1870 in New Harmony. died 5 Jan 1905. Married (1) Annie Dora McIntire, 1 child (2) Farozine Ellen Redd, 4 children
Children of Ulrich Bryner and Margaretha Kuhn were:
  • John Ulrich born 31 Jul 1869 in Toquerville, died 2 May 1952. No other information.
  • George Wilhelm born 27 Feb 1871 in Toquerville, died 9 Feb 1885, age 14
  • Helen Josephine born 14 Oct 1872 in Toquerville, died 24 Aug 1937 in Salt Lake City. Married George Adelbert Fausett in 1893. 8 children
  • James Levi born 7 Oct 1873 inToquerville. died 10 Apr 1951 in Helper. Married Ethel Anine Larsen, 5 children
  • Barbara Ann born 20 Jun 1875 in Toquerville,died 4 Nov 1945 in South Jordan. No other info.
  • Enoch Conrad born 5 Oct 1876 in Toquerville, died 19 Jun 1947 at Helper, Utah, married Ella May Zabriskie (don't know no. of children)
  • Rosella Elizabeth born 18 Jun 1878 in Toquerville. died 2 Nov 1961 in Salt Lake City, married Niels Peter Anderson, 8 children
  • Lilly Agnes born 13 Oct 1879 in Toquerville. died 30 Nov 1946 in Oakland, CA married Rasmus Frandsen, (don't know no. of children)
  • Jacob Alma born 25 Jul 1881 in Toquerville, died 7 Nov 1960 in Salt Lake City, married Ethel Acelia Porter in 1907, 6 children
  • Edith Margaretha born 19 Oct 1882 in Toquerville. died 23 Sep 1963 in South Jordan, married Thomas Sheppick in 1904, 7 children
  • Jacqueline Elaine born 1884, died as an infant.