A pleasant accidental discovery and reconnection of an American family to their Swiss relatives can certainly be called serendipity. Since then, many reunions have followed. This year the Americans showed the Swiss the beautiful Northeast Iowa. We certainly can see why many from Switzerland came to settle in this area after leaving their homeland!
The reunion of about 250 people was held June 13, 14 & 15 with many activities for not only the Swiss relatives, but for many who came from all over the country. The three-day celebration began with a welcome reception on Friday evening. International Schaufenbuel family members arrived from Switzerland, Tokyo, South Africa and Canada. American Schaufenbuel family members came from several states from coast to coast. Joyce Schaufenbuel, with help from other family members did a display at the St. Lucas Historical Society Museum preparing a historical exhibit that is still on display. Joyce’s research found that her great grandfather Sigismund Schaufenbuel originally settled in Spillville after leaving Switzerland in 1857. He was among the people to sign the papers in 1868, showing support for the building of St. Clement’s Church outside of Spillville. He moved to St. Lucas where he raised his family after he fought in the Indian Wars in the Dakota Territory and later was wounded in the Civil War.
Organizer Joyce Schaufenbuel explained the whirl-wind of events, “About 80 people took a bus to Prairie du Chien for a Mississippi River boat tour. Saturday afternoon included guided tours of Spillville, in particular the War Memorial Bandstand. It was discovered just recently that Sigismund Schaufenbuel’s name was listed on the plaque of the memorial honoring him for his service in the Civil War. This plaque was built in 1921, but it was not until May 2013, that Sigismund’s great-granddaughter discovered his name listed on the plaque. The group also stopped at St. Clément’s chapel just outside of Spillville. Sigismund Schaufenbuel and others signed the Corporation Papers in 1868 committing their support for the building of the church and establishing a parish. Sigismund’s brother, Frank arrived in Spillville in 1864, was a member of this church and was married there before he moved to Prairie du Chien. Saturday evening there was a program - introducing families, with a dinner and dance at the Inwood. “
“Sunday morning a Mass at St. Luke’s Catholic Church included a tribute to the family and a performance of the song, “For the Beauty of the Earth” song by various members of the family. All participants were volunteers from the family and ranged from 4 to 80 years old. They had only a short practice just before Mass, but the performance was beautiful and moving. A group photo was taken immediately after the service in front to the altar. A traditional American meal including fried chicken and homemade rhubarb pie was served in the church hall. A total of 192 family members attended on Sunday, the last day of the celebration. Sunday afternoon the St. Lucas Historical Society Museum opened to feature a room totally dedicated to an exhibit of Schaufenbuel family history. The Schaufenbuhl family crest and records date back to 1497 in Switzerland. Historical documents, narratives and photos were on display chronicling the history of the family from Switzerland to the present day. Members of the family also brought artifacts from their private family collection to share with all the other descendants of Sigismund and Frank Schaufenbuel. Hayrides to the country provided by two great-great grandsons stopped at the Smallest Church, which has a historical connection to the family. It was close to this sight that Anton Stathel and five other families arrived in 1848 and later became known as the village of “Old Mission.” Anton Stathel was the father of Sigismund’s wife and was instrumental in founding the town of St. Lucas. He donated 30 acres of land for the Catholic Church and established many businesses in Statheltown, named after him. The name was later changed to St. Lucas when the church was built.”
“The White House restaurant in St. Lucas opened Sunday evening for a private dinner for the family. Paintings of significant landscape scenes, buildings and churches in the area by Kathleen Schaufenbuel Hadley, a great-granddaughter of Sigismund, were presented to each Swiss family,” concluded Joyce.
We are sure they were captivated by our lovely area and will be back again.