Thursday, June 26, 2008

Oberhofen, home to Ulrich Ammann

Here are two scenes from Oberhoften, a beautiful location on Lake Thun. The first is the Oberhofen church, where Jacob Ammann's younger brother Ulrich was baptized. Ulrich was some 15 years younger than Jacob. Their parents moved to Oberhofen at some point between them. Jacob made his living as a tailor in Oberhofen.

We know a little about the Ammann brothers' personalities from the Letters of the Amish Division that have been preserved. The portrait we get of Jacob from these is that he was rather rash and had a temper. Several times people describe him getting angry. However, from the letters that Ulrich wrote by himself he comes across as a gentle person. They are a study in contrasts. Ulrich supported his brother through the Amish division, but his tone was always more conciliatory.
We also doubt that Jacob Ammann was literate. He signed many contracts among his followers and it was usually i.A., sometimes with the note that he couldn't write. Robert Baecher points out that that doesn't mean he couldn't have read. But we also read in the Letters of the Amish Division that Jacob would have letters read to him out loud. All that suggests that he was illiterate, though we don't know.
Ulrich never reached the stature and respect that his brother Jacob had among his followers, but in many ways his views in the Amish Division letters ended up as the Amish ones.
The Oberhoften Castle is now a museum and a beautiful place to visit. I rode my bike there and the bike ride along Lake Thun is great. Then I took a ship from Oberhofen to Thun, and as we approached Thun we heard people clapping and singing. I thought it was a game but in fact some people were being baptised!

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