While investigating the Ancestral File on the Family History Library website (http:www.familysearch.org), I spotted one of my Swiss ancestors. Following the pedigree linkages, I traced his line back to the beginning of the 14th Century, to one Jean Jacob CHALON. I wondered how such extensive data had found its way into the Ancestral File. Eventually, I visited the Los Angeles Family History Center, where all the Ancestral File CD's have been loaded onto a server, and where a high-speed printer is available. After tracing the CHALON line forward for about 15 generations, I spotted a familiar name, Ezra Taft BENSON, well known as the thirteenth President of the LDS Church, and previously Secretary of Agriculture in the administration of US President Eisenhower. Further investigation identified his grandmother as a member of the BALLIF family that left Lausanne in time to join the early migrations of the Mormons to Utah. The BENSON pedigree is a veritable Who's Who of Mormon history, so it is not surprising to find such extensive files.
In fact, there were a number of early Swiss converts to Mormonism, and they played a significant role in the development of Utah. An interesting account of their story can be found in the Utah History Encyclopedia project.
- John W. McCoy