REBER, Ernest: My grandpa from Santa Clara

Submitted by Hank West, as student at Heritage Elementary School in St. George, Utah.

Ernest and Rosina Reber

The Reber family came to this country from Switzerland. They lived on farms in the mountains around a small town called Shangnau, in Canton Bern, Switzerland. We have records that show they were probably there back to the 1400s, maybe even farther back. Our main ancestor was Christian Reber born in 1800. He had six children. Three of his kids joined the Mormon church in 1859. They were Johannes, Samuel and Fredrick. The Utah Rebers all come from these three pioneers.

Johannes and his family along with his brother Samuel came to America first. They traveled down the Rhine river, crossed the English Channel and sailed on a ship called the Underwriter in 1860. When they got to New York they traveled, by train, to Nebraska. Then joined the Captain to salt lake city, Utah. They arrived there in the fall of 1860. Brigham Young, the president of the Mormon church, sent them to Santa Clara in southern Utah, to colonize that area and farm.

My grandfathers, father, Fredrick, followed the two other brothers to Utah in 1865. Fredrick’s first child born in America was my grandpa Ernest Reber. He was the first white child born in the historic Jacob Hamlin home on the west side of Santa Clara. The home still stands and is a Utah historical monument. He was raised in the Reber home just east of the current Mormon chapel on main Street. This home is also marked as a Utah historical monument. 

The family farmed and made adobe bricks. Many of the old homes that are still standing are made of Reber bricks. Ernest was a hard worker on the farm and in the brickyard. He was a good man and a very good friend. The town was very small and everyone knew him and looked up to him. He stood out from most of the other Swiss people because he was a large man. He stood over 6 feet and weighed well over 200 pounds. 

Reber home, in

Ernest was married in 1896 to a local girl, Rosina Stahl. Grandpas first child, a little girl, was only 3 pounds at birth. They had to keep her warm in the oven and fed her with an eye dropper.

When she was only 13 months old the church called Ernest on a 2 1/2 year mission back to Switzerland. He was only 25 years old and it was very hard on his young family to be away for those 21/2 long years.

During his mission he became well known around the city of Zurich because he organized a choir that sang Swiss songs. His choir sang all around the area at local fairs and celebrations. Many Swiss people joined the Mormon church because of his influence. After returning home he was honored by the president of the church in a general conference for his Swiss choir and accomplishments on his mission. One very difficult time he had on his mission was the loss of his second child who died at birth.

Ernest took over the farm from his father Frederick and ran it successfully for many years. He had 5 children 4 boys and 1 girl They all worked on the family farm. Grandpa would walk to St. George on days off and work on the Mormon temple that was being built. He became a well respected man in the church and his community. He was a great husband and father. In 1949 he was called by the church to be the second counselor to St. George temple president Harold Snow. 

He was set apart for this calling in Salt Lake by church president George Albert Smith. Unfortunately a few months later Grandpa was killed in an accident in Santa Clara.

I have great respect for my early family and especially my grandpa Ernest. He was a wonderful example to us all and especially to me.

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