Sunday, January 19, 2014

(SMITH) From having maids to living in poverty--leaving it all for the gospel

Peter Zemp was born in Escholzmatt, Switzerland, a breathtakingly beautiful hill-and-valley area that is now part of the UNESCO Entlebuch Biosphere Reserve.1

Peter Zemp was born in this farmhouse, called "Ruetihus," according to
contributors at 

Peter Zemp was born in the middle house, obscured by the trees in this 2008 photo.2
As a boy, Peter moved to La Chaux-de-Fonds, a Swiss city close to the French border. Peter and his family were watchmakers. To this day, the prosperity of La Choux-de-Fonds "is mainly bound up with the watch making industry. It is the most important centre of the watch making industry in the area known as the Watch Valley."3 La Chaux-de-Fonds is also a beautiful place, and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.3

La Chaux-de-Fonds, from opentravel.com4
As watchmakers, Peter and his wife, Elisabeth Neuhaus Zemp, were somewhat well-to-do. They apparently owned their own business and employed four girls. They also had at least one housemaid, and Elisabeth did no housework for years. Elisabeth "had maids to tend the children and...even comb her hair."5

On January 1, 1879, Peter and Elisabeth Zemp were baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.6 They decided to emigrate to Utah. They were disowned by family and sold their business at a loss.5

The Peter and Elizabeth Zemp after emigration. Pictured with
their children Pierce, Alfred, and Amelia.2
"[I]n Utah, [Peter] could not make his living as a watch maker, as the people were poor.  He met with one disappointment after another.  He settled first in Salt Lake, then in Logan.  He would do any kind of work he could get."5

Eventually, things improved for the family. Peter became a foreman for a railroad company, built his own house, and again established himself as a watchmaker.5
Peter Zemp's home in Logan, Utah, which is no longer standing 7
"Peter was very religious....The gospel was his all."5 Being able to see his children grow up with the blessings of the gospel probably far outweighed any material sacrifices he had made. He seems to have lived by the command: "thou shalt lay aside the things of this world, and seek for the things of a better."8

Peter's obituary verifies that he understood the things that matter most: "He was honest, industrious and true to his friends and his convictions, and will certainly receive the plaudits of the Master when he shall meet Him on the other side, for being a man of deeds rather than words"9.

***This post relies almost completely on research done by others. I have NOT verified the accuracy of the genealogy or the facts of Peter's life, but I do believe them to be correct.

Line of descent:
Alice Zemp, 1925-2000
William Zemp, 1886-1942
Peter Zemp, 1837-1909

2: Photos taken from on Peter Zemp's page. Peter Zemp's identifier is KW81-66K. This is a link to the first picture:
5: These paragraphs rely on two sources, "Life of Peter Zemp" and "Part of a letter written by Aunt Emily - May 14, 1942," available on Peter Zemp's page:
6: According to the Ordinances section on his page, (and the same section on her page)
8: Doctrine and Covenants 25:10
9: Obituary under "Death of Peter Zemp in newspaper" at