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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Rebstein, Switzerland: My Roots

Remember that one time Matt and I went to Europe? It was incredible, and I posted about it here, here, here and here. And remember all those times I promised I would finish blogging about it? A certain sister of mine won't let me forget about those, so here's the plan: I'll blog about our European honeymoon at least once a week--Tuesdays and/or Thursdays. Matt and I kept a travel journal so I'll refer to that as I go along. K deal?

I left off in Zurich, where we spent the night before heading to our main Switzerland stop--a quaint little village called Rebstein. It is where generations of my Graf ancestors are from and it was such a neat experience to be there and feel a special connection to them. Rebstein is in an absolutely breathtaking area of the alps, with unbelievable views from every angle. Maybe that's where my dad's obsession with pretty mountain views came from? I know for sure that Rebstein is where the Graf addiction to hiking comes from. I could've spent days and days just roaming the mountains above Rebstein and been perfectly content. It was fun driving through thinking of my ancestors doing exactly that.

The place I wanted to visit most in Rebstein was the little white church with the red steeple and the green clock. It's where my great-great-great-grandparents and their parents were married, and luckily, it was the first thing we spotted when we reached the village. The church is one of the sweetest little things I've ever seen, and even sweeter was the opportunity I had upon returning home to do some temple work for the family that began here hundreds of years ago.

After wandering around the churchyard for some time (and noticing that nearly half of the headstones said "Graf" on them... just like everything else in town), we found this map of the village and began exploring.

(Rebstein is also where our obsession with all European pastries began.)
It was amazing to see all the little connections we Grafs still have with our Rebstein ancestors, and such a neat experience to understand better who they were and where they came from. I'm lucky to have binders upon binders full of their stories and my family history, but nothing makes it come alive quite like walking where they did so long ago. I can't even imagine leaving such a majestic place with so much of my heritage to travel to America--and the then-barrenness of Utah, no less--knowing that I'd never return. I'm so grateful for the faith they had to do so.


  1. Awesome blog post. Love the pics. Esp the green trees and the scenery. Love your dress too! :) Gave me chills when you wrote that you got to do some of your ancestors temple work when you got back to the US. Super neat!

  2. Wow, it's amazingly gorgeous! My parents had similar thoughts when they visited last year: what must these people have thought after leaving THAT when they got to the deserts of Utah and said "THIS is the place?!" Haha. Although the mountains in Utah must have felt a little like home. Your pictures of Rebstein are gorgeous. And you make me want to overcome my fear of asking other people to take pictures of me, your pictures with Matt are always so cute!

  3. I like the idea of blogging about your travels once a week. Cute idea. Loved the pictures.

  4. I've always thought that having a graveyard near a church was an odd custom. But when I saw the picture of the church and the graveyard, it reminded me of temple work. People thought that being buried on sacred ground helped guarentee their salvation. The gospel wasn't available and people couldn't receive their ordinances, so they made due the best they could by at least being buried on the church grounds. Maybe some of our ancestors traditions were born of a deep desire for truths they didn't understand they were missing.

  5. I love that you were able to go and visit the place of your ancestors. That must have been so special. I'm so glad that you are still posting about Europe! I absolutely love it. Can't wait to go there some day.

  6. Love Rebstein and love that Grandpa Graf will be going there in September! It is an amazing place!

  7. I came upon your post while looking for photos of Rebstein as that is also where my Graf ancestors came from and they also settled in Santa Clara. I guess that we were the New Graf group. I've learned that there were two groups that came over; the Old Graf's,who came first, and the New Graf's, who followed a few years later. Apparently they were cousins. My great-great grandfather was Johannes Graf, my great-grandfather was Emil Graf, and my grandfather was Emil (EJ) Graff (he added another f... :-)). Anyway, it was fun to read your post and look at the beautiful photos of Rebstein. I would love to visit there someday as well.

  8. Great post! My husband is from Zurich (last name: Ringger)- his father and grandparents immigrated to Utah, but still keep many of the Swiss traditions and have that amazingly cute accent. Family history is so fun :) We can't wait to visit Switzerland, these photos are amazing and inspiring.


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