Gottlieb Hirschi was born January 16, 1837 to Anna Amacher and Ulrich Hirschi in Danbresen, New Chatel, Switzerland. After being converted to the LDS faith, he left his home to go to America. He sailed from Liverpool, England on the ship “Emerald Isle” with Henry Hug as Captain, leaving August 20, 1859 and later arriving in New York.
He traveled across the plains with the Jesse Murphy Company, leaving Florence, Nebraska June 19, 1860 and arriving in the Salt Lake Valley August 30, 1860. He served as one of 23 captains of the ox teams that led 279 people and 40 wagons to Great Salt Lake.
While in Salt Lake, he met a Swiss girl, Mary Ann Rupp, who was the daughter of Susanna Winkler and Christian Rupp. She was born January 12, 1838 in Seigrisville, Bern, Switzerland. They were married September 14, 1861 and sealed in the Endowment House October 19, 1861. That same fall, they were called by Brigham Young to settle in southern Utah, in Santa Clara.
Hardships were suffered there as “The Big Flood” of 1862, wiped out part of their land, and later it was difficult to get irrigation water to the land. Their first child Albert Hirschi, was born in Santa Clara, July 18, 1862.
After two years, they sold out and moved to the settlement known as “Adventure” on the upper Virgin River, which later became Rockville. Here they purchased 10 acres of land which was paid for with his coat and vest. They cleared off the sagebrush and built a dugout where their first daughter, Mary Ann, was born on June 10, 1864. Later they were able to build a nice adobe home on the hill at the west side of Rockville. From the porch that covered the front and side of the home they had a lovely view of the river.
There were some problems with the Indians. At one time when Mary Ann and the children were alone an Indian carrying a gun came to the door looking for “paleface”. Someone had shot his dog and he was out for revenge. Fortunately, he did not find Gottlieb.
They, with typical Swiss thrift, hard work, and determination were able to raise many types of fruit and other produce. Working from early morning until late at night they were able to survive and care for their children. During the winter months, Gottlieb would go north to sell or trade the dried fruit.
In 1871, Gottlieb was called as Bishop of the Rockville Ward, and in 1883 he received a call to serve a mission in his native land. Leaving Mary Ann with six children, the youngest just six months old to care for and keep Gottlieb in the Mission Field. Prior to his mission, they had had ten children – three had died before reaching the age of two years and the oldest son had died at age 18.
Gottlieb returned from his mission May 4, 1885, having sailed on the ship the S. S. Wisconsin. Even though he had been away for two years, he had remained the Bishop from 1871 until his death January 24, 1900. The cause of death was believed to be ruptured appendix.
To show their love and respect for this great man, members of the town cut cedar and pine boughs with which they covered both sides of the street from his home to the chapel. His casket was carried through the path of these boughs. After filling the requirements, Gottlieb Hirschi became a citizen of the United States of America on September 10, 1894.
Note: Many years later when his son, David Hirschi, served a mission in Switzerland in the same area as his father had served, David found a copy of Gottlieb’s farewell address and translated it from German to English. Below is the address:
The time is fast coming when my labors in this land shall come to an end and with happy countenance I turn my face toward my home. Dear Brothers and Sisters should I never see you again, I solemnly testify to you once more that we the Elders of Zion have brought the Kingdom of God to your doors and that Mormonism is Godly and Eternal Truth: therefore, dear brothers and sisters remain true to the Covenants which you have made to God, for it will bring you happiness and blessings and eternal life in the world to come. May the Lord of Heaven bless you all and fill you at all times with His holy spirit that you may know what will bring you peace and contentment. I also tender you my heartfelt thanks for all the kindness which you have shown me. The Lord bless you for it. May you all be prospered both in body and spirit is my prayer to my Heavenly Father, with a hearty farewell I bid you all adieu.