1977 discovering European roots

Discovering European roots

In each of Richard E. Studers journeys to the western hemisphere, in the villages or towns he stopped at, he always checked records and telephone directories for traces of his family surname. This effort helped him find Studer's the world over. From each country and in all walks of life, there seemed to be Studer's at every turn. Perhaps not all directly related, but indeed carrying a venerated name. As a result of tracing the families tree, a sense of pride in history now permeates Richard's life making him perhaps more whole and certainly more appreciative of his ancient and exciting heritage. 

A Beginning - why the research began, why it continues 
The Old Family Bible

When the Studer siblings began the genealogy quest, there was limited knowledge regarding their Studer heritage. They possessed no official documents. The only known physical evidence was a very-old family bible (shown above) which had been passed down through the generations. It had been given to Amandus Studer by his mother upon his departure for the new world. Amandus then passed the bible on to his son Joseph, who later passed the bible on to his son Joseph A. Studer. Joseph A. Studer gave the aged bible to his eldest son James A. Studer. Upon James A.'s death, his brother Lawrence (Larry) received the treasured bible. Richard (Dick) had knowledge of this bible and sought out his brother Larry hoping to find valuable information within it's pages. Together Dick and Larry examined the bible and found that it contained some handwritten German messages which were clearly from the hand of an older time. Part of the text was already translated; it said that the bible was the property of Sebastian Studer and his wife Anna Marie Fritz of the village of Overbush.

A Village Name 
The name of a village was an exciting discovery! Richard and Larry thought it would be a simple thing to look up the name of the village and then visit the location. But alas, no one was able to find a village named Overbush on any of the maps of France. Undaunted, Dick and Larry decided to have another translation made of the text and the translator (a gentleman educated on the continent), told them that the name of the village was actually Oberbruck, located in the Alsace region of France. Armed with this new knowledge the brothers had little difficulty locating the village. Oberbruck lay in a sleepy little valley in the Vosges mountains near the Rhine River just northwest of Basel, Switzerland. Excited about this new information, Dick and his wife Evie made plans in 1977 to visit this small village on their journey to Switzerland. This would be a solid starting point for Dick. A way to research the limited information that his father had passed on to him about his roots. Now Dick could clarify his father's comment, that Joseph's own grandfather had come to America from this very region. Dick could not resist the opportunity to explore his family's history and was determined to discover more knowledge while visiting the area. 

The 1977 Trip. Looking For A Connection... 
After landing in Geneva, Switzerland, Dick and Evie searched the phone book for the Studer surname and found many. Virtually all were French speaking. From Geneva they traveled to Interlachen which is at the foot of the Jungfraujoch and the Bernese Oberland mountains. Here they found a large stone monument in a small park which was dedicated to a Bernhard Studer who was an early explorer of the area. They also discovered many living Studers in the area, among them a liquor distributor and the operator of a small chalet type hotel. In the Swiss capital of Bern they found hundreds of Studers listed in the phone book, including many professionals and entrepreneurs. 

Luzern, Switzerland 
Moving on to Luzern, Dick and Evie visited with a Dr. and Mrs. Max Studer. Max was a retired physician. He and his wife were a wellspring of information regarding the Studer heritage. They taught the American Studers about the history of the Studer name and provided them with a copy of an authentic Studer crest. Max also gave them a book about the history of Studers from the Entlebuch valley area of the canton of Luzern. Max then advised them to visit the village of Murbach while in Alsace because many Studers from the Luzern area had apparently settled there. 

Zurich, Switzerland 
The next stop was Zurich. The travelers found there several hundred Studers listed in the city directory, once again this included numerous business professionals. Dick and Evie discovered that people with the name Studer had inhabited the city since the time of the crusades in the year 1200. From Zurich the excited duo boarded a train which took them through Basel and then on into the Alsace region of France, to the city of Mulhouse. At last Dick was in the region of his European ancestry. 

Mulhouse, France 
After arriving in Mulhouse, Dick and Evie rented a car and drove on to Murbach, a small village built around the ruins of a Benedictine monastery. Finding a family with the name Studer they asked for information and were told that the Studers in the area had come here in 1600 from Luzern, Switzerland. When Dick told the Studers of Murbach that he and Evie were headed for Oberbruck (in the Doller valley) they replied that the Studers of Oberbruck weren't related to the Murbach Studers. This surprised Dick but he remained undaunted. He and Evie continued their exploration of Murbach. In the cemetery next to the monastic ruins Dick and Evie found that nearly half the graves bore the name Studer. They also found a large monument dedicated to the memory of those who perished in both of the great wars of the past century. Among the honorees were two Studer names. 

The Doller Valley 
Driving on along the Rhine River valley the intrepid pair turned into the Doller river valley traveling through many picturesque villages before arriving in Oberbruck. The first stop in Oberbruck was the church. Located next to the church was a small general store. At the store, Dick and Evie were given information on how to locate the parish house. Arriving at the parish house they discovered that the priest spoke no English. Subsequently they were taken to the nearby school where the teacher spoke English. Our travelers told the teacher of their desire to find the birth record of Amandus and were promptly lead to the office of the mayor, which conveniently was located in the school building. In the mayors office a clerk examined a large leather bound book of records and found the handwritten entry recording the birth of Amandus Studer, Dick's great-grandfather. Dick and Evie now knew that they were indeed standing upon the same ground that Amandus had trod upon so many years ago. 

Oberbruck, France 
When it was discovered that the American visitors were not actually strangers but in fact long lost relatives of their friends and neighbors, the villagers were quick to offer the information that several families of Studers still lived in Oberbruck and some of the surrounding villages. In Oberbruck, they were informed that many Studers lived in the next village, Dolleren. Dick and Evie proceeded to Dolleren and there examined the church and cemetery. Once again they found many Studers from the past. Because of the late hour and their need to rise early (to reconnect with the train back to Switzerland) the weary couple decided not to make any further investigations. Their trip was nearly over, they choose instead to "take names and addresses from a phone book" so that they might contact their possible relatives by mail, after returning to America. 

Sending Letters - Getting A Reply 
Back in the U.S.A. Dick and Evie wrote to several of the addresses they had gathered and quickly received a response from Rene and Marie Rose Studer of Masevaux, who said that they would be happy to assist them in their quest to find blood relatives in France. Dick's excitement was renewed by this information. He shared his European experience with his brother Larry and was able to ignite a fire in him as well. When their sister, Genevieve expressed interest and agreed to accompany them, the three siblings decided to tour the area where Dick and Evie had made their discoveries in the fall of 1977. 

Preparing For The 1978 Trip 
The American Studers then wrote to Rene Studer informing him of their plans. To prepare for their visit the family did further research. Larry ordered a copy of the microfilmed records of births, deaths, and marriages for the village of Oberbruck from the Mormon Genealogical Library in Crystal, MN. With the assistance of their brother Joseph M., Dick, Larry and Gen perused the records for two days. Every time the name Studer was mentioned the document was photocopied. When these documents, which were handwritten in French and German, were translated they proved to be very fruitful. Among the records were those of the birth and marriage of Sebastian Studer born 1776, as well as the birth records of his sixteen children from two wives and the death records of several children as infants. The marriages of Sebastian's children and the births of their children were noted as well. A large chart was prepared showing relationships from Sebastian and his son, Amandus, down through the generations, connecting Dick, Larry, Gen, Joe M., etc. to the Studers of Oberbruck. This chart was completed and brought with them on their next great adventure to Europe.