Christian Fankhauser(in Swiss records it is spelled "Christen"), born at Trub, in the Canton of Bern Switzerland in 1661, is often cited as an ancestor of the Funkhouser families in America and while this no longer appears to be the case (see posting regarding Johannes Fankhauser and Barbara Habegger)the actual ancestors of the Funkhousers and other Fankhausers and Frankhousers,were definitely related and may have known him. His story is certainly an interesting one worth remembering and is part of the legacy of the broader Fankhauser/Frankhouser/Funkhouser families.
When he was still young Christen's parents, Peter and Catherina, moved a mile or two further up the Trubbach stream to a farm called the "Hinter Hutten" (literally the "upper buildings"} and when he married Barbara Habegger in 1685 it became their home. Several family trees cite Barbara's parents as Nicolaus Habegger and Barbara Rentch, but there is no record of such a couple at Trub or neighboring villages, but various members of the local Habegger families were involved with the Anabaptists movement that had flourished in the mountains of Switzerland for over 150 years and it may be through his wife that Christen began to be more involved with the Anabaptists. Basically the Bernese Anabaptists opposed the state supported Reformed Church and its intrusion into their lives by requiring baptism for their children, requiring attendance at communion, and paying fees to support the church. Many also refused to serve in or support the militia, because they believed that followers of Jesus should not fight in wars or use violence or force.
By 1690 Christen was being fined heavily and had to sell off his alpine pastures and cheese making equipment to pay the fines. Then in 1691 the Bernese government confiscated his farm, because he had apparently been holding illegal religious meetings and hiding other Anabaptists whom the authorities wanted to arrest. Barbara by this time had one child, Peter, and in 1692 another son, Hans, was born. They were able to stay on the farm but had to pay rents to the man appointed as custodian of the farm and guardian of Barbara and the children whom the authorities considered "abandonned." Christen was apparently hiding out in the mountains to escape arrest, but would come back whenever possible to visit his family and work on the farm. There was a special hiding place in the barn where he could elude the authorities if they came around.The older son Peter died as a child so a boy born in 1698 was also named Peter.
By 1705 Bernese officials decided to crack down and deport the most "troublesome" of the Anabaptists and for several years Christen was able to avoid capture but by 1709 they caught him and imprisoned him in the city of Bern. In the Spring of 1710 he was put on a boat with other prisoners and send down the Rhine and when they reached Holland the prisoners were suppose to be sold as galley slaves or shipped off to the wilderness in America. However, many escaped on the way down the river and in Holland the sympathetic Dutch set the remaining ones free rather than deport them.
Christen made his way back to Switzerland and took refuge in the Jura Mountains,north east of Bern, in a rather desolate area under the authority of the Bishop of Basel, who allowed Anabaptist refugees to stay there as long as they behaved themselves. Christen would slip back whenever possible to visit his family. On one such occasion in 1716, he had to flee across the mountains into the Catholic Canton of Luzern to avoid arrest, but Luzern authorities, rather than turn him over to Bernese officials, sent him back to the Jura. He spent his last days at a "dairy" (cheese making business) at a village named Court and died there in 1733.
Barbara died at "Hinter Hutten" in 1721 and the farm was suppose to be turned over to their son, Peter, but he could not pay the huge price they demanded and instead paid interest on it for almost another 20 years. Finally in 1740 he petitioned the Tauferkammer (court dealing with Anabaptists) to get the farm back and forgive the principal because he denounced Anabaptism and had paid more interest than the principal. He also declared that he was the only son and only child of the Anabaptist, Christen Fankhauser. His request was granted. So it is obvious that his brother Hans also died as a child. Had he survived and even emigrated years before it would have been an important factor in the Tauferkammer's decisions.
Peter, son of Christen, had a large family of his own and direct descendants still own and live on the "Hinter Hutten" farm. Simon and Regula Fankhauser, the young couple who now live there, have been able to establish a small museum around the hiding place which can still be seen in the barn and the story of Christen Fankhauser and the Anabaptists is told in very attractive and modern displays. It is well worth a visit to anyone visiting the area.
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