Trachselwald Castle- we visited this sombre sight which was used as a prison from the 10th century up to the 19th century. Jacob Haslibacher lived in a nearby village & converted many Anabaptists. He was arrested & jailed in Bern. He was offered freedom if he renounced Anabaptist beliefs & practices. He was released & returned to the village. He once again engaged with the Anabaptist community resulting in lifelong imprisonment & torture. His entire family was impacted: 2 children were taken away, their home went up in flames, & his wife was also imprisoned & tortured.
Langnau Mennonite Church in Switzerland – this is the oldest continuous church in the world. The church dates back to 1520 when meetings were held for centuries in different locations & at different farmhouses. 1888 – the first church was built. Since then additional sections have been added. We spent time in the cemetery identifying family names from our home towns & enjoying the beautifully maintained graves.
We lunched at the Kambly Cookie factory in Trubschachen, the largest in Switzerland. We enjoyed the generous samples offered.
Hinterhutten Farm – one of the oldest farms in Switzerland & continues to be an active farm with 5,000 chickens & 17 cows. The farm was built in 1608. When leaders of the Anabaptist movement were being hunted for money, Hinterhutten was one of the hiding places. The hiding location was in the barn loft & could hold 4-6 adults at a time.
We visited another farm: Familie Haslebacher. They are the most technologically advanced farm in Switzerland. They have automatized cow milking. They have a robot that does the milking.
Our next stop was the Yoder cave where many had hidden when being pursued by the government. Due to winding mountainous roads, our bus was unable to reach the cave. We then proceeded to a different sight in the country & walked along a path leading us to a river & a bridge. This is where the Mennonites would meet to worship. This was an ideal location as families could gather from both sides of the river.
We then visited the Hamlet of Neuenschwand which is comprised of several homes. The Yoder sisters were able to identify our ancestral home.
Andreas Joder joined the group for dinner. He is native to Cug, Switzerland & is a distant relative to the Yoder sisters. There are currently 300 Yoders residing in Switzerland.
– Joyce Yoder