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Romaine Stauffer
2011 July

Burkhalten, 3418 Rüegsbach, Switzerland

The Burkhalten farm in the Emmenthal Valley lies below the hill where the "Burkhalter Kirche" was established around 1125 in nearby Rüegsbach.

Burkhalten means "castle slope." Burg is the German word for castle and halde means slope. A burghalder lived on the slopes below the castle. Rüegsbach had no castle, but there was a castle at Burgdorf where the earliest written record of a Burghalton (Burkhalter) is found in 1344. A tax record from 1393 mentions a Hens an Burghalton (Hans Burkhalter) living at Rüegsau (about 18 miles from Burgdorf). This may have been the old Burkhalten family farm which is the oldest known Burkhalter farm and therefore recognized as the place where the Burkholder name originated.

According to the unwritten law in the Emmental Valley, the youngest son inherited the family farm and the other sons moved to other farms nearby, but it continued to be

called by the family name. In this case, they carried the name of Burkhalter, and it was spread throughout the valley.

The Burkhalten farm is still in operation and owned by the Pfister family. The oldest existing house was built in 1750, and a larger one was built in 1900.

1750 Home



Burkhalter Kirche


1. Romaine Stauffer, "Bishop Christian Burkholder and His Swiss Family" in Pennsylvania Mennonite Heritage, Vol. 34, No. 3 (Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society, 2011 Jul). See also the Addenda.

1a. Romaine Stauffer, "Bishop Christian Burkholder and His Swiss Family Addenda," www.dgatx.com/family.../2011/07-cbx/hs.html (July 2011). Addenda for the original article in Pennsylvania Mennonite Heritage (July 2011).

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