A Biography of Emile Lauper

By Viola Lauper Johnson and Alice Lauper Brown

[Initial writing begun by daughter, Viola Lauper Johnson.]

Switzerland is one of the most noted little countries in all Europe. Its beautiful landscape, its lakes reflecting as a mirror, the Alps-all are making it very attractive for the tourists from all nations. One of the most beautiful lakes is called "Leman Lake" or by some people, "Lake Geneva". Many pretty little cities and small towns are bordering that lake. One is called Pregny, near Chambesy.

In the year 1869, and in previous years, a young couple lived there-Jean Lauper and his wife Marie Sachot Lauper. He was a cabinet maker (French Charron). His wife was an accomplished dressmaker and seamstress which helped in making of a livelihood. For five years they were childless. Then the Lord blessed them with a son, Emile Louis Lauper, born on the 13th day of February, 1869.

Emile and Elise, 1874
Emile and mother Elise, 1874

He was a robust child, very blonde with a mass of curls covering his head-and very attractive. His father worked part of the time for the Baron of Rothschild of Pregny. His work was to take care of different flocks of prize chickens which were strictly separated. Emile was a very young boy then but old enough to make a lot of complications for his father, and to the great displeasure of the Baron. When Emile was 2 ˝ years, his father and mother moved to the Canton de Vaud, at Luins. It was a little town and the birthplace of Emile's mother. There, the father began to build them a home. It was a long and tiresome job, inasmuch as the father was doing it all himself. Emile remembered suffering from the cold in the winter there. He also said that he could recall feeding the goats potato peelings. The house was finished in the fall of 1873. Later Emile became very useful to his father by milking cows and doing many tasks around the home. He was going to school and seemed to be doing rather well. His mother, intellectually inclined, was watching over her son's welfare.

It was twelve years after Emile's birth that another child was born to his parents. He showed much interest toward this little sister and although he often teased her and often made her cry, he had a tender love for her. When she grew a little older, to her great delight, he would take her with him on pleasure trips. Emile was fourteen when his mother, not satisfied with his school, transferred him to another town (Le Muids). There, under the teachings of a very old man, he made rapid progress and at 16 years of age Emile was one of the leading students in that school. By this time his parents, especially his mother, realized that many temptations were offered to her son. The main industry of that part of the country was wine making and much drinking went on, causing disasters in many families. It was very natural for people to be intoxicated, but the mother had a horror of the evil. The father being a fireside man would rarely go to visit; so Emile used to accompany his mother and, during their trips, the mother would talk to her son about the higher things of life and help him in his young man problems. Emile would write his thoughts in poems and his mother would help him-both being inclined toward such things.

The years passed and soon Emile was 20 years old. By that time the Temperance Movement was in full swing. Hearing of the meetings held in the next town, Emile went to hear what it was all about and became so interested that he pledged himself to abstain from any intoxicating drinks. It was a great surprise to his mother, but she soon realized that it was an answer to her prayer. Having a jovial nature, Emile soon made many friend and from time to time was an active member of that organization. He helped many to find the Temperance Association and to lead better lives. The Temperance Organization had one of the largest bands of the district. He played the coronet, spending his evenings learning and practicing. A great deal of enjoyment came to him from this recreation. After working hard all day at the vineyard, he would come home at night, take his coronet under his arm, and walk many miles to play in the band. Having a good tenor voice, he could have been trained under able teachers in that line, but this opportunity was not afforded him. Most of the singing was done in the meetings of the Temperance Association at Bein [?] at Chateau de Cottens, where some ladies had opened the doors and reasoned with him on the subject. It was of no avail. Emile was a lover of the soil and wished to remain at that work. Emile was also a very strong and energetic young man and often displayed these qualities. For example, at one time a group of boys resolved to walk around Lac Léman [the French name of Lake Geneva]. A certain limit of time was given and a reward was offered to the fastest walker. Several of the boys dropped out on the way but Emile arrived--the first one at his destination.

Around this time, the Mormon Elders traveling through the country, came to the Lauper family home, now in LeMuids with a ranch and vineyard. From the missionaries, Emile learned the gospel, and was baptized on the 22nd day of November 1892, in Lac Léman by Brothers W. Stauffer and Serge F. Balliff. In July, 1894, while working in the vineyard, he met with a very serious accident which nearly cost him his life. It was a case where a large stick (part of a fence) penetrated his body from the rectum to the heart. The condition was so acute that the doctors gave no hope to his parents. However, the prayers of the Elders and of many friends, as well as his good constitution free from impurity caused him to recover-to the amazement of science. Doctors gave honorable mention to his abstinence regarding liquors or poisons of any kind. After a month of illness, Emile was able to return home to a very thankful set of parents and was soon working again.

The following year, his father who had been ill for some time, passed away. Emile, with help, took care of the farm, both at Luins and LeMuids. Even so, the call of the gathering of Israel had been heard-and one year later, with his mother's blessing, Emile left Switzerland on May 16, 1896. Some friends, Edward and Sylvia Scharer and Rosa Despond, were going at the same time. People could not understand why that young man should leave his mother with so much responsibilities. His hopes were that his mother and sister should soon follow him. This was not realized until nine long years later.

Being in quest of adventure, his departure was not of as sad a nature for him. The trip through the old Continent was agreeable. The company was late in making connections with the steamer, and so remained in Glasgow, Ireland [Scotland?], for eight days and then sailed for America on the Circassia. He arrived at Morgan, Utah, the place of his destination, on June 15, 1896. During his stay there with the Francis family, he experienced another serious accident. This time it was with run-away horses. The injuries suffered at this time were felt a good many years afterward. Finding the winter very cold, he moved to Logan. He was dissatisfied there and went on to Salt Lake City where he worked at various trades. His desire for farming influenced him to come to Lehi. Liking the town, he made arrangements to buy a place and shortly thereafter was married to Emma Vissing, in the Salt Lake Temple on October 31, 1900.

[From hereon, the writing was done by another of Emile's daughter, Alice Lauper Brown.]

Dad had been living in Lehi previous to his marriage-alone at the "vineyard", across from the Lehi Cemetery. He used to come frequently to the Madsen home (Emma's mother had married Hans Madsen, and this was her home). Mother Emma told me how Dad would come walking with a brisk, jaunty step and his head high. He spent may hours talking with his neighbor, grandmother Madsen, and casting, now and then, his eyes toward Emma, sitting quietly for the most part but managing to be near by. Their courtship was brief; they met in August and were married in October. Following their marriage they remained at the "vineyard". During this period, Dad's early training in the vineyards of Switzerland stood him in good care of his orchard. He was an expert with the fruits. Dad had a great amount of perseverance and a strong sense of humor which never left him to the end of his life. Time after time he met defeat with only a firm resolution toward a new beginning.

While father and mother lived in Lehi for about 16 months, their first baby son was born. Dad was abundantly proud of his son, and was very eager to dress him in overalls, etc. Soon after this baby, Serge James was born, they moved to Mercur, Utah, where Dad obtained work in the mills connected with the mines. Mercur, at that time, was a booming town of mining, together with all the adverse elements that go with such a place. The church, however, was well organized there and Dad was faithful in his duties-attendance and otherwise, and lent his singing voice whenever opportunity presented itself for the upraising and edification of the membership. He also served as ward teacher, and in any priesthood functions required.

Very soon the second and third sons were born to Emile and Emma. Dad continued to work hard at the mill, coming home often with his clothes ringing wet from perspiration. The pay was good and the expenses of the family were many.

Then came a day of great joy for our Dad. Grandmother Lauper, Aunt Alice and her little daughter, Liliane, were coming to Utah from Switzerland to join our father and mother at Mercur. On the way across the continent; however, the train was wrecked. Along with many others, they suffered injuries. Dad went in great haste and anxiety to meet them in Salt Lake City. In due time they all arrived home where mother was waiting for them. Dad enjoyed many hours talking to them of old times and friends and telling them of all of his new experiences. They spoke in rapid French but mother had, by this time, learned a great deal of French from my father, and could understand-after a while-a good deal of the language. She also spoke in French with dad but she modestly never admitted being able to "speak French". Along with all of this visiting, dad and auntie Alice would also, with neighbors, spend many evenings singing together. After a few months; however, the families separated-Grandmother and Auntie took rooms in Lehi; and in a little time mother went to her childhood home of Moroni, Sanpete County, Utah, for a visit with her elderly grandmother, Else Neilsen. She took the children (the three boys, Serge, Ivan and John) and spent some months there with the elderly and ill grandmother while dad went north into the Bear River Valley to look for a suitable place-a piece of land from which to make a living.

Now it is 1975. Dad would be 106 years old this year.

When father was 100 years old-or on this 100th birthday, I should say, most of his living children and grandchildren met at the home of his tenth (10th) and youngest child -- a son-Ralph J. and wife Jane -- in San Ramon, California. This gathering was in our father's memory. Today, his descendents number seven living children (of the original ten children), with five of their spouses surviving; nineteen grandchildren; and thirty-eight great grandchildren; soon to be forty-one.

Now I will try to go back to Bear River and record a few events of Dad's life from that time until his death at age 66 on January 1, 2036, at Ventura, California.

Dad built a small two-room cabin on the river bottom and the family lived there for about two years. During that time, Felix was born and now they had four little boys. Serge started school, as did Ivan the following year. Dad was ever eager for his boys to grow up and he insisted on them working. He put in long hours in the fields and expected his little boys to stay much of the time with him-even at ages 5 and 6 years. After Bear River Valley, the family lived in a succession of places in that general area. Dad farmed for other people and was never quite able to own a piece of land for himself. He was very ambitious, an early riser and late worker, but seemed to lack the acumen for a successful businessman, therefore, it was drudgery. Their family increased-I, Alice, was born in 1908; then Elsie, followed by Marcel and Viola. When Viola was about three weeks old, dad took his family to Penrose to homestead some land on a rocky hill. There was a small cabin there and Dad added a large tent and room onto it. In this place, Dennis and Ralph were born. While Dad was there he served as a counselor in the Sunday School Presidency and was always active in the Ward. He had a strong testimony of the restored Church, and was such a forceful personality that none of us children ever doubted his judgment regarding the Gospel. Albeit, he demanded instant obedience and had a short temper. He loved his children and we knew that too. He was physically very strong and in spite of several serious accidents, he was able to work harder than most men, and exhibited feats of strength that his sons retell and glory in today. He was plagued with boils and carbuncles and suffered. I remember; he always had the philosophy that you didn't take things lying down, but that you "worked it off"-- whatever problem you had. He was a morally clean and decent man and could look into the faces of his children and say, "Your mother has been the only woman in my life, in thought as well as deed". He loved the scriptures, especially the Doctrine and Covenants, and his faith in the power of the Priesthood never faltered-he depended upon it!

In the year 1917, when the homestead was clear of debt, Dad sold it and we moved to Southern Utah, to Sugarville in Millard County. This farm of 80 acres was going to be his one day--so Dad thought. By now the boys were older and able to do men's work, which they did, but there was no way to make alkaline soil produce good crops-and it didn't. We lived there ten years and dad had to accept the fact of failure.

We belonged to Sugarville Ward, Deseret Stake (it was only a Branch when we arrived there). Brother Sill was our Branch President. Soon after it became a Ward with Bishop Anderson.

Dad would make long trips (30 miles each way) to the Cedars, a wooded place where he cut trees for fence posts, which he hauled home to sell-also bringing our fire wood from there. He and the boys worked for other farmers in their hay and beet fields to earn money for our support. Dad also drilled a deep well for drinking water. It was a life-saver and we were all so very thankful and proud of our well. The water was cold and delicious and inspired bother John to letter and hang a sign on the grainery "BONNE-EAU RANCH" LAUPER & SONS.

Dad loved and honored his parents and was especially close to his mother. She passed away October 5, 1912, and he sadly went to her funeral. It was while living in the house at the river bottom that he had a dream in which he heard his father say in French "Emile, Open the Door" (In French it actually came to him this way "Emile, Oeuvre La Porte"!) This command was repeated three times and the reality of it was very strong and sure in Dad's mind. Soon afterward he arranged to go to the Salt Lake Temple and was proxy for his father in having his parents endowed and sealed. In 1929 when Ivan left from Los Angeles to serve a mission in England, he visited home in Utah before departure. While there, he helped dad and our family move to Camarillo, California. We lived there in a two-room cabin again. There were five acres planted in strawberries and dad had his high hopes again of making good in selling berries. This timing was poor as it was at the onset of the great Depression and the market fell out of everything--so again, failure.

It was about this time that Serge was married (living in Los Angeles), and he went to the Northwest. Ivan was in the mission field.

From our Camarillo residence, we drove 16 miles each way to Ventura for church. Here, again we were in a Branch; but the Gospel continued to sustain us and it was our lifeline to better things.

Dad, I guess, never completely gave up his dreams, for when the inevitable eviction from Camarillo Acres came, he bargained again; this time for a plot of ground on a hill top overlooking the town of Ventura-a beautiful view, and he said he found it restful and stimulating at the same time.

There he began to frog-farm-he knew there would be money in frog legs. There was no road nor right of access to his place, but that was a small matter; he'd figure out something - an indomitable spirit. Meanwhile, he worked for W.P.A.; anything, to do his share of providing. His ailments accelerated. He suffered terrible stomach pain. and all of his injuries and hurts before-experienced returned to contribute to his ill health. He was operated on, to no avail, the death certificate read "cancer".

Almost his last words were-"Man Proposeth, God Disposeth". He died on New Years Day, January 1, 1936; and then I realized that I really loved him and how much he meant to me-Oh Dad!!

----A. L. Brown

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