Sign of Melchizedek 8 PM 5 AM

Family History Treasures

Willard B. Richards

The following is a quote from Willard B. Richards concerning John Kunz II and his son, Robert Kunz. It is found in the History of Willard Brigham Richards (1847-1942) compiled by Barbara Ereksen Cromar.

"In Switzerland, I made my headquarters in Bern and Zurich and smaller places. I had been over there but a short time when Brother Maeser came and sent me up in the Simmental (meaning seven tall valleys). Along with me, he sent a young man, a tailor by trade, who had been converted over there and could speak the language. He was my interpreter and companion as well. He was not much of an interpreter, though, because he could hardly speak a word of English. So you can see the pickle we were in, but somehow we got along.

"Dr. Maeser sent us there to look up some people who had joined the Church and who hadn't seen any elders in years [John Kunz I's family]. "When we went into the house, the oldest son [John Kunz II] was sitting at the table. He was visiting his parents, who--six or seven years before--had been baptized. The elders who converted them were put in jail for a week or so and never came back after that. These folks were in the dairy business; and this son was very hostile. He mistrusted us, me especially--an American. My young companion did all the talking and explained why we had come. The son stormed and cursed and called us everything. Naturally, this foreign talk didn't bother me. My partner--still a boy--held on. He would speak up in a timid voice; then, the man would rave back at him. 'Poor chances for a night's lodging here,' I remarked to myself. The old folks pleaded with their son, however; and finally they made me understand that, if we would leave in the morning, we could stay the night.

"Well, in the morning, the whole neighborhood came out. I received a letter from the minister, threatening that if I ever came back there it would just be too bad for me. I took the letter and showed it to Parry Nebeker, my district president, and then to Brother Maeser. He then took it to the American Consul, who immediately wrote the minister that he was there to protect Americans and that, if anything happened to me, he would hold him individually responsible. The Consul read the letter to me. It made peace with the minister; but the son behaved even worse, if that was possible, on our second visit. Finally, his sisters came out and sat on the couch and just trembled. All of them seemed to be afraid of him except me, and I felt as calm as could be.

"Pretty soon one of them asked me a question about America. I answered it so they understood; but it was comical--my broken Swiss was--and they laughed.

"The brother kind of kept quiet for awhile; then he started asking me questions about my country, too--said he was studying it. Before I left, he came over and sat down by me and invited me back again.

"The third time I went there, he apologized for the way he had acted. He explained that he hated Mormonism and felt disgraced when his people joined the Church. He felt like he wanted to kill all the Mormons off.

"I couldn't talk in their language very well, but each time my young companion went with me, and we talked for hours about the Gospel. Finally, the son said he was ready for baptism. I baptized him and his wife. His folks were so pleased they cried for joy. He was the only one I converted there.

"This young man's name was Kunz, and I never heard of him again until about sixty years later . . . that was about eight years ago (1928-29 or so). We had been having a Richards family reunion at my home, and an account of it got in the paper. A short time afterward, a man came to see me and introduced himself as [Robert] Kunz. He said the family had come to America, had settled in Bear Lake at a little place they called 'Bern,' and had gone into the dairy and cheese business up there. He told me that they had prospered over here, financially and otherwise; that they had good homes; that the family had grown; and that over two hundred of them attended the last Kunz reunion at Bear Lake.

"The tears rolled down his face as he expressed his gratitude to me for what I had done for him and his folks. 'Brother Richards,' he said, 'if you had not done another thing in your whole life, just see what it has meant to us to join the Church and come to America.' He was the son of the very man who fought me so hard. He told me how his father felt towards me and how he had repented over and over again at the way he first treated me. 'More than once, since that time,' he remarked, 'my father has defended the Mormon missionaries.'"

To Share Your Memories or Favorite Links:


joypeck @

8 PM 5 AM
© 2014 Joy