Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Over the past year and a half, I have received some great press and assistance from friends, fellow bloggers, publications and media outlets. Thank you all for your support of my ongoing project and helping me bring Henri's voyage to life.

– Tim Omarzu of Novato Advance
– Jessica Dacey of Swissinfo
– Hilda Birchmeier and Wal Baur of Swiss Review
– Bénédict de Tscharner, Anselm Zurfluh and Emmanuelle Maubert of The Museum of the Swiss Abroad
– Christophe Dufour of The Natural History Museum of Neuchâtel
– Eduardo Salazar of Immigración en el Siglo XIX
– Beth Zurbuchen of Swiss Center of North America
– Jeff Kwaterski and Norma Garza of Impact Alliance
– Evan Bloom of Root Change
– The Bardet Family of Pioneer

I would also like to thank Dave Shaver, Milko Vuille, Hervé Boblet, Ernst Aebi, Martina Egi, Luciano Blotta, Francis Tapon, Dean Love, Les frères Scharffenberger, La famille Thalmann, the extended Obleas clan and of course my family for allowing me to pursue my dreams.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Lake George

In Henri's letters and journal, his must beautiful descriptions in my opinion are saved for nature. The following is a poignant piece translated from the original French concerning Lake George in New York state.

New York, 1852

"We headed towards Lake George, on the banks of which we stayed for a few days in Coldwell. This lake is the most beautiful sight that I have seen in America to this point and is especially charming because of its numerous islands. The lake is roughly twenty miles wide and at most a thirty miles long. The islands all have different aspects in regards to size, shape and foliage. Some have seasonal trees, some evergreens. They are surrounded by wild grass and bathe in waters even more limpid and transparent than that of the Hudson's. Add to this an admirable warmth of colors, a superb sunset and it will not be hard for you to believe me when I tell you that I felt touched by grace at the sight of such a magnificent spectacle. I think that I would have given a year or two of my life to reproduce it, but all this was only, as the Germans say a 'frommer münch.' I realized it was impossible to complete a little sepia drawing on location and completed it later. It is as far away from reality as we are from one another."

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Death in the New World

One of the most emotionally charged moments from Henri's journal is his description of the death of a German emigrant wife and mother. It reinforces the perilous nature of such a journey as well as well as the immense courage it took the emigrants to leave all that was familiar in Europe and venture into the unknown.

Bridge near Magdalena, Peru

I have translated the description from the original French:

Chachapoyas, Peru, 1853

"We had just left Magdalena, when I came across a scene that shocked and saddened me. A German woman who was part of our expedition was apparently dying on the side of the road. I found her underneath a blanket, laying down in the tall grass with her dog by her side. Her husband was standing by their horse unsure of how to comfort her. I bent down and offered her some sherry cordial from my flask, but she was unable to swallow. I strongly urged her husband to do something for her. He said he would ask for help at the next house and would then rejoin the group when she was felt stronger. Members of the expedition who passed by five minutes after I had left found her dead. Further ahead I met her daughter of 12 years who was oblivious to the what had transpired. I felt she had abandoned her mother, who had been ill since the beginning of the voyage, and I couldn’t help from voicing my disapproval. The german woman and her husband had been warned of this sad end by the doctor, but due to her obstinacy, her courage and abnegation she decided to make the trip nonetheless. I would say that she is emblematic of all women who have accepted intense suffering with great bravery, and resolve."
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