Christian Kunz

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About Christian Kunz

Birth: Dec. 26, 1846, Schwenden, Switzerland

Death: May 9, 1941, Logan, Utah, USA

Burial: Bern, Bear Lake County, Idaho, USA

Father: John Kunz II

Mother: Rosina Knutti

Spouse: Elizabeth Buehler and her sister, Caroline Buehler.


"A Life Sketch of Christian Kunz By Ida Kunz Boss, his Daughter". Christian Kunz was born in the shadow of the Alps in Schwanden, Bern, Switzerland, on 26 December 1846. He was the third child of a family of ten children of Rosina Knutti and John Kunz II.

The Kunz home was located on a three-acre farm with a large barn where enough cows and goats were kept to make Swiss cheese. The children all worked at home herding and feeding the cattle and goats and caring for the garden. One of Christian's jobs was to herd goats on the mountains. His young friend, Jacob Tuescher, and he would spend hours throwing stones at the pine trees, seeing who could clip the most tops off. The boys also found pleasure in gathering alpine roses.

One day Christian and his older brother John were playing on a cliff about the height of a two-story house when he tumbled off onto the cobble stones beneath. Although he recovered completely, it gave the whole family a good scare, as he was unconscious for some time.

When he first went to school, Christian was very bashful. Students then were taught to listen and not talk. The punishment for whispering was for the culprit to hold a block of wood in his mouth until someone else was caught whispering. When Christian received the block of wood, he wiped it off before putting it in his mouth and received a whipping for it. His teacher would often excuse him from singing since he couldn't carry a tune and instead, have him teach a lower grade arithmetic class. The school house where he attended was built of hewn logs, and the shingles were held down with cross planks and large rocks.

Christian began smoking while still a young man. One day as he helped a neighbor do some chores, the neighbor asked how long he had been smoking and if he liked it, commenting that he would have given a hundred franks if he had never started smoking. Christian was so impressed with this comment that he never smoked from that time on.

At the age of 21, Christian participated in military training for the Swiss army for one month in Bern, Switzerland. When he was 22 years old he became ill with typhoid fever and was hospitalized. His weight dropped from 155 to 90 pounds, and he lost all of his hair. While he was in the hospital, his family joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. When he returned home from the hospital, he met the first Mormon missionaries who were named Karl G. Maeser and Edward Schoenfeld.

Christian was baptized into the Church by his brother, John, on 12 May 1870. During the following July, his family, excepting his brother John and his sister Rose, emigrated to America with the Karl G. Maeser Company on the S.S. Manhattan. The voyage lasted twelve days, during which time a severe storm arose. The wind blew Christian's gray hat into the ocean. He did not go after it but said afterward that he surely thought about doing so at the time. The storm was so severe that water from the waves wet the top of a 40 foot mast.

Each day during the trip Christian visited with a young lady named Eliza Buehler who was also emigrating with the Maeser Company. He had met her previously in Switzerland and was very happy that she was also coming to America, even though her trip was being financed by someone in Utah who probably intended to marry her.

In New York City there were many interesting sights to see, but Christian was most impressed with the light and dressy harnesses worn by the horses. He really liked the streamlined buggies. They were very different from the more substantial ones back in Switzerland.

The party came west by train from New York. In Cheyenne, Wyoming, Christian saw the American Indians for the first time and watched them with interest. As the train came through Ogden, Utah, President Brigham Young went through the train and shook hands with all the immigrants. He impressed Christian as being a fine, intelligent and sociable man.

Upon arriving in Salt Lake City, the Kunz family camped at the tithing office for a few days. Eliza Buehler went to stay with her sister, Annie Buehler Hicks, who had emigrated earlier to Salt Lake City. Christian called at the Hicks home several times to become better acquainted with Eliza. Before he left Salt Lake City, he overheard Eliza say that she had no intention of marrying the man who had financed her trip from Switzerland. This was good news to Christian as he had plans of his own for Eliza.

Inasmuch as the Kunz family was skilled in cheese making, a call came from Brigham Young through Bishop Hunter for them to settle in Bear Lake Valley in Idaho and build a cheese factory. They did not, however, go directly to Bear Lake that summer of 1870, but stopped at Logan, Utah, and helped the farmers there thresh their grain in order to get enough flour to make bread for the winter.

In November Christian decided to go to Salt Lake City to see Eliza Buehler. He decided to walk the distance of 70 miles and arrived there two days later. He met Eliza and they were married on 6 December 1870 in the Salt Lake Endowment House. They settled temporarily in Logan, Utah. The following year Christian's father and the rest of the family went to Ovid, Idaho, and established a cheese factory there while Christian and Eliza moved to Bear Lake and started a dairy on the Charles C. Rich ranch.

Christian and his brother John were feeding four or five hundred sheep on the Charles Rich ranch. They noticed from time to time that a sheep had been killed during the night and the sheep were very much disturbed. So Christian and John were determined to find out what it was. So he and his brothers John, David and Jacob and a neighbor, Gottlieb Dubach, all kept vigil on the roof of a shed. The corral was south of them and was fenced on three sides and on the south was a creek two feet wide and eighteen inches deep which served as the enclosure as the sheep would not cross the creek. There was a moon that night and it went down about ten o'clock. Just as it went down a bear appeared on the south side and slowly crossed the creek and made a quick grab at the sheep. This frightened the sheep so that they rushed and broke down two panels of fence and the sheep escaped. It was agreed that no one would shoot until the intruder was inside the corral. When he got across the creek they all began to shoot. After several shots were fired everything was quiet. Christian then volunteered to go to the house after a lantern. Just as he got down off the shed the bear made an awful peculiar growl and Christian thought the bear was at his heels so he lost not time getting back on the shed. After everything was perfectly quiet for some time he went to the house and got the lantern.

Early the next morning the men were up and one of them got the oxen and yoked them and loaded the bear on some poles on the running gear so they could take their trophy and show it to their father, who lived up by the Bern hills. They were proud of their killing and the sheep were no longer molested. That same day Christian went to Paris, Idaho, and got 25 cans of lye to make soap from the bear grease. They cooked it in a huge copper kettle that held a thousand pounds of milk. It made splendid soap. Besides that they saved two five gallon cans of bear oil. They used the oil to grease shoes and harnesses. And they sold the hide for seven dollars. It was a young grizzly bear that weighed about four hundred pounds.

In 1873 Christian went to Salt Lake City to work in the Cottonwood mines to earn money to secure passage for his brother John and his family to come to America. Christian had a narrow escape one day in the mine when the ground on which he stood collapsed and fell through to the next level of earth. The only warning he had was the rumbling and shaking of the ground as it fell.

He took up more land in Bern, Idaho, and raised wheat and made cheese from custom cows every summer. He proved up on his homestead rights at Bern and built his home there. One day he and his brother, John, were building a bridge across an outlet and they had only one axe. It was their habit when not using it to drive it into one of the planks on the bridge. The vibration caused by dropping timber loosened the axe and it fell into fourteen feet of water. The nearest ranch was a mile away and John walked there to borrow another axe. While he was gone, Christian decided he would recover the axe by standing two poles against the bridge and then working himself down into the water. He was unable to reach the axe by this means as it took too much time and his breath was cut off for too long a period. Since his first idea didn't work he decided to tie a rope around his waist and dive for it. This he did and after the seventh try he recovered the axe. When John returned he told him of the incident and that he could now swim. Of course John wanted visible proof. Christian removed his clothes and did several turns around and swam across and back. He often went swimming with his sons during the noon hour on hot summer days when they were putting up hay, and many years later he even went swimming with his grandsons in the Garland canal in Utah.

In the spring of 1878, Christian and Elizabeth invited her sister, Caroline Buehler, from Midway, Utah, to come to Bern on a visit and help milk cows and run the dairy. On 10 October 1878, Caroline Buehler was married to Christian Kunz as a plural wife in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City, by Joseph F. Smith.

Both of his families were moved to Nounan, Idaho, in 1881, which was twelve miles north of Bern, where he operated a cooperative dairy for the Church for two years. Following this, they moved back to Bern where he did some dry farming, raised cabbage for the market and also ran a dairy.

Polygamist families in Utah and Idaho were sought by the U.S. deputy marshals during the year 1882. Punishment under federal law for a plural marriage was a fine of $500 or imprisonment for five years or both, and Christian was worn out from running and hiding from the deputies. One day he went to the bank and got $75 and waited for the deputies to visit him. One day he was out in the pasture digging post holes north of his home when he saw Shorty Watson, who was over six feet tall, coming down the Nounan road. Shorty rode up to Christian and the conversation between them went something as follows: "Are you Chris Kunz?" Christian answered, "Yes Sir! Are you Shorty Watson?" The reply came, "I sure am. Where have you been? I've been looking for you for a long time!" Shorty then said, "I have some papers for you." Christian said, "So have I got some papers for you," whereupon he handed Shorty the money with this statement: "Now Shorty, you just go on down the road and we will say nothing about it." The deputies never bothered him again.

Later that winter Christian was traveling from Nounan to Bern, Idaho, during a raging blizzard with four horses and a sleigh. Suddenly the horses stopped and could not be persuaded to start again. He finally had to turn them loose and make his way to the home of a friend who kept him from freezing to death and gave him food. The next day he found the horses where he had left them and was able to return home. He always felt that an evil, unseen power had stopped the horses that night.

In 1891 Christian homesteaded a ranch on Slug Creek, 25 miles north of Bern out in the hills. He moved Caroline's family out there every year from May to October for twelve years where they milked cows and made cheese to help support the family.

Christian entered into a contract with the Idaho state in 1905 to build the Thunder Bluff road from Paris to Franklin, Idaho. As the result of misinformation furnished by the county surveyor, most of the $2,300 promised by the contract stood to be lost. When the workers Christian had hired heard this, they quit working in spite of good wages, and left his employ. One of his sons, D. C., was successful in getting the state engineer to approve a change in the course of the road, and another son, Seth, did the surveying. The road was finished two weeks afterward. Although he didn't make much money, Christian stayed with the contract and kept his word.

Some bones were discovered in August, 1911, by Christian and his family on their land in Bern, Idaho. Further digging showed that they were large teeth which were apparently from a large animal. Christian sent word to Dr. James E. Talmage in Salt Lake City, Utah, then curator of the Deseret Museum, who journeyed to Bern and did further excavating. Dr. Talmage found that the skeleton was that of a mammoth, one of the huge elephants which lived before the appearance of the existing species of elephants on the earth. The complete skeleton was subsequently unearthed and sent to Salt Lake where it was reconstructed and put on display in the Deseret Museum. Representatives from the national government came to Bern to try to secure the bones, but Christian would not consider their offers.

He was a kindly man to his wives, children and neighbors. He was soft-spoken and God-fearing. He was loved and respected by all who knew him. He retired early and arose early and tried to teach his family to do likewise. He served in the Bern Ward Sunday School superintendency for eight years and in the Bern Ward bishopric for twenty-five years. He was acting bishop of the Bern Ward from December 25, 1915, to January 21, 1917. He was a lover of short sermons and meetings, therefore, his meetings were well attended by young and old.

In the fall of 1919, Christian and Caroline (Eliza died earlier that year on January 7) came to Logan, Utah, and bought a home on fourth north street. They did temple work for twelve years. He often did three endowments each day, and he felt contented working for his kindred dead. On the morning of 9 May 1931, he arose, ate his breakfast, walked into the front room of his home, sat in the rocker and cut his fingernails with his pocket knife. He shut his knife and put it into his pocket, tipped his head back and died of a heart attack. He was 84 years old.

Christian Kunz was the father of 26 children—16 sons and 10 daughters, both wives each bearing a set of twins. Elizabeth bore 12 children and Caroline bore 14 children. Four sons and two daughters filled missions for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."

Courtesy of Ida Kunz Boss, A Life sketch of Christian Kunz.



John Kunz (1823 - 1890)


Rosina Knutti Kunz (1819 - 1894)



Elizabeth Buhler Kunz (1850 - 1919)*


Caroline Buhler Kunz (1857 - 1947)*



Richard Willard Kunz (1872 - 1873)*


Emily Kunz (1874 - 1880)*


Elizabeth Kunz Rigby (1876 - 1950)*


Christian Wilford Kunz (1878 - 1907)*


Joseph Kunz (1879 - 1879)*


Jacob Kunz (1880 - 1880)*


John Moses Kunz (1880 - 1936)*


William Walter Kunz (1881 - 1902)*


Baby Kunz (1883 - 1883)*


Samuel Kunz (1885 - 1885)*


Mary Ann Kunz (1885 - 1885)*


Henry Daniel Kunz (1886 - 1930)*


George Warner Kunz (1887 - 1903)*


Alvin Nephi Kunz (1888 - 1978)*


Nellie Martha Kunz Dredge (1888 - 1971)*


Alma Alvin Kunz (1889 - 1960)*


Smith Arthur Kunz (1896 - 1961)*


Anthon U. (Tony) Kunz (1897 - 1989)*


Created by: Bruce J. Black

Record added: May 07, 2006

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Christian Kunz's Timeline

December 26, 1846
Schwenden, Switzerland
Age 25
Age 27
March 1, 1876
Age 29
Bern, ID, USA
Age 31
Age 32
May 10, 1880
Age 33
Bern, Bear Lake County, Idaho, USA
Age 33
Age 34
Age 35