SANTA CLARA — “Those who do not treasure up the memories of their ancestors do not deserve to be remembered by their posterity.” The Edmund Burke quote is included in an excerpt from the family records of the Gubler family entitled “Two Gubler Families in America 1857-1973.”
Before Casper Gubler walked across the plains of the United States as part of the Evans Handcart Company and before he journeyed even farther to settle in Santa Clara, he was a boy of 15 years and recently orphaned.
Casper Gubler was born into a large family – he was the 14th of 15 children – in Switzerland. But, according to Gubler family records, the “mortality rate in the family was very high.” Both his parents died just months apart in 1851 and seven of his siblings had preceded the parents in death.
Following the deaths of his parents, Casper Gubler moved in with a sister and found work. It wasn’t easy living as an orphaned teen; but Casper Gubler’s parents had left him with a piece of advice that would lead him on a journey that would shape his faith and create a pioneer legacy of community and strength that continues today.
“Always keep good company,” Casper Gubler’s parents had told him, advice that stood out to him prominently when he met missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or the Mormon Elders, as the Gubler family history states.
“When he met the Mormon Elders, he felt he could keep no better company,” the records say. Casper Gubler was baptized a member of the Mormon church in 1854.
Three years after being baptized, Casper Gubler began the long trip from Switzerland to Liverpool, England; from there to Boston, Massachusetts; Iowa City, Iowa; Florence, Nebraska; across the plains to Salt Lake City and eventually to Santa Clara where much of Casper Gubler’s progeny still resides.
It was in the October 1861 conference of the Mormon church that then church president Brigham Young called a group of people to go and settle “Dixie.” Among them were 85 Swiss converts, Casper Gubler included, who were called to settle Santa Clara.
“The thing about these pioneers is that they were willing to go anywhere they were sent,” said Tom Gubler the great, great-grandson of Casper Gubler.
The male family line from Casper Gubler to Tom Gubler is Casper Gubler, Henry Gubler, Archie Henry Gubler, Dale Gubler and Tom Gubler.
The pioneers of yesteryear had a strong faith that they were being sent where their talents would best be used, Tom Gubler said. For the Swiss converts it was their skill in tilling the earth that made them prime candidates to grow crops in Southern Utah.
“I think everybody lived on a garden,” said Dale Gubler, Tom Gubler’s father and the great-grandson of Casper Gubler. “They did whatever they had to do to make a living and take care of things.”
Dale Gubler is a pioneer in his own right. A descendant of the earliest Swiss settlers, he has been in Santa Clara for half as long as it has been a town, he said. Dale Gubler – along with his wife Sheree Miles Gubler – was honored as the Grand Marshal in the 2016 Santa Clara Swiss Days Parade.
Dale Gubler has many memories of growing up in Santa Clara, especially of its famous produce.
He lovingly recalled stories of his own father who used to travel to Beaver to peddle produce from his garden and orchard.
“My father went to Beaver, two trips a week, all summer long,” Dale Gubler said. Other farmers would take their goods to parts of Nevada to peddle, he added.
It was a skill and trade that had been handed down through the generations.
Dale Gubler said:
The early pioneers as the story is told … when people would turn in commodities for tithing, 10 percent, you know or whatever … (a wagon was sent) with commodities to Pioche and Panaca, Nevada, where the mines were going strong. They could sell the product, bring the money back and give it to the bishop to put in the tithing fund. It would take them right around a week to make that trip with a wagon.
It was hard work carving out a life in the harsh landscape of Southern Utah – it took the pioneers a full day or more to plow their garden plots, a task that with modern day equipment would take only 20 minutes or so, Dale Gubler said. It was a task, that if not done, could surely mean the detriment of a pioneer household where food was already scarce.
An excerpt from the Gubler family history tells of the difficulties for the new settlers in Santa Clara:”Since the Indian missionaries had been in Santa Clara several years, they had orchards, vineyards, and farm land already producing along the creek, but the spring and summer was a hard one for all the settlers who by now were in dire circumstances.”
Flour was rationed according to family size and the pioneers learned how to survive off some of the wild plant life.
It is precisely those hardships, Tom Gubler said, that make it so important to remember the sacrifices of the pioneers and to celebrate Pioneer Day.
“It’s all about remembering your heritage, remembering what has been done for you and to remember that legacy,” Tom Gubler said. “And hopefully leaving that legacy for your own children and to remember how hard the path has been that was laid before you.”
For Casper Gubler and his generations of descendants, that path began in Switzerland and continues today in Santa Clara; all because his parents sagely told him to keep good company.
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