Question: Who was Peter Bravandt and what happened to him after he joined the Church in Denmark?
Answer: Peter Brawand (Bravandt) was born December 20, 1801, at Matten bei Interlaken, Bern, Switzerland, the third and last child of Heinrich Brawand and Anna Heim. Peter’s mother died when he was just a year old. His father remarried when Peter was about nine, and they had eight children. Due to the large second family, Peter moved out on his own at a young age, working in the ship yards and venturing out into the sea.
Peter married Maren Sophie Wiberg, who had been previously widowed, August 22, 1835 at Hillerød, Frederiksborg, Denmark. Peter and Maren had three daughters: Anne Katherine [January 30, 1836-April 19, 1931], Emma Emelia [April 25, 1837-July 20, 1874], and a daughter who died in infancy [April 1939-June 2, 1839].
Peter took up citizenship in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1840 as an Innkeeper. He belonged to the city military artillery from 1840-1845. Peter joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Copenhagen, Denmark on November 21, 1852. His daughter Anne Katherine was baptized April 17, 1853. His wife, Maren, died December 6, 1853, while Peter was not at home. Emma reported the death to local authorities stating her mother was too poor to leave anything behind. Emma was baptized on December 29, 1853.
By April 1854, Peter had returned home to Switzerland, after a twenty year absence, where he shared the principles of the restored gospel with family and friends. Many were prepared to be baptized, but Peter did not have the authority to perform this ordinance and summoned assistance from church leaders. In May 1854, Elder Jacob Secrist, a missionary assigned to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Swiss mission headquartered in Geneva, was assigned by President Thomas Stenhouse to go to Bernese Oberland, Bern, Switzerland and baptize the converts of Peter Brawand. Elder Secrist reported in a June 20, 1854 letter to his wife from Thun, that within weeks he had baptized eleven people with six to eight more good prospects. When he wrote to his wife again on July 25, 1854, he stated that twenty more had been baptized with more good prospects ahead.
Presumably Peter remained in Switzerland assisting Elder Secrist with the work. As more people joined the Church, the local religious leaders became concerned and appealed to local authorities. Elder Secrist was declared by the authorities to be a false teacher. Jacob Secrist was ordered to leave Bern. Later, reports that Secrist had returned surfaced, and on September 17, 1854, Peter Brawand was arrested and jailed, being mistaken for Secrist. Subsequently the real Jacob Secrist was apprehended, and Peter was released.
On December 2, 1854, upon being released from prison, Jacob Secrist reported to the then mission president Daniel Tyler that Peter Brawand had returned to Copenhagen, as he was worried about his daughters and wanted to send them to Zion. Elder Secrist described Peter Brawand as “a good saint and a man of God, full of faith and good works.”
Upon arriving home Peter made plans to get his two daughters to Zion. Nineteen-year-old Anne Katherine went on the ship Charles Buck leaving Liverpool on January 17, 1855, arriving in New Orleans, Louisiana, on March 14. She left Mormon Grove, Kansas, on June 13, 1855 on a wagon train headed by none other than Jacob Secrist, who was returning home from his mission. She arrived in Salt Lake City September 7, 1855. Jacob Secrist died of cholera in Nebraska. Anne Katherine married John Haslam in 1865 in Salt Lake and became the mother of six children. She died in 1931 in Salt Lake and is buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.
Peter emigrated to America soon after Anne Katherine with the intent of working and saving money to send for his youngest daughter, Emma Emelia. Peter sailed to New York on the ship Fidelia, arriving July 26, 1855. The ship’s manifest records his profession as “carpenter.” He arrived at Mormon Grove on August 14, 1855, accompanied by Jens Larson and family, where he was greeted by President Jens Christian Nielsen who reported “all were well.”
Peter was working at Atchison, Kansas, near Mormon Grove in November, when he suddenly passed away on November 19, 1855. John Jost who was stationed in Mormon Grove under the direction of Andrew Siler records in his journal:
“Fell in with a man from Denmark, Peter Bravant. He could not speak English, but spoke German. He could not get a place to stay – brought him home last night – had been three days at most and had not a place to stop at… wife treating him well – to day not so cold Monday 19 Nov. This morning called the old man to go to work and after knocking and calling for some time went up and in the loft and found him dead. Was much surprised for he seemed not so bad yesterday and went to bed without complaining. Made the coffin and sent word to the Grove, put him in the coffin and put the coffin outside the door for want of room. Tuesday 20 the Do??? [diggers] from the Grove came today and took the corpse to bury it at the Grove.”
President Jens Christian Nielsen later records that “the things from Brother “Brabands’ who recently died” were sold the evening of Sunday November 25, 1855 at auction with the proceeds going to the branch fund to help the poor. Peter’s dream of gathering to Zion with his daughters and the saints was not realized in this life.
Nineteen-year-old Emma Emelia left Liverpool on the ship Thornton, May 4, 1856, arriving June 14, 1856. By this time the trail head had moved from Mormon Grove, which was largely accessed by boat, to Iowa City, Iowa which was accessed by rail. Emma left Iowa City with the Willie Handcart Company July 15, 1856, arriving in the Salt Lake Valley on November 7, 1856.
John Jost and Andrew Siler each drove a wagon accompanying the Willie Handcart Company.
Emma Emelia married Rasmus Nielsen Jeppesen in 1857 in Salt Lake and became the mother of eight children. She died in 1874, at age thirty-seven, in Manuta, Box Elder, Utah, and is buried in the Brigham City Cemetery.
In 1979, the Swiss saints celebrated the 125th anniversary of the introduction of the restored gospel with a jubilee. Special honor was given to Peter Brawand who was instrumental in helping organize the Church in Canton Bern. Thousands joined in celebrating his acceptance of, sharing of, and sacrifice for the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Source: Excerpts from Peter [Bravandt] Brawand, 12/20/1801-11/19/1855, Originally Submitted by David Welker 7.29.14, Edited 4.23.17; FamilySearch.org.