Johann Theodore Brandley-missionary, family man, business man, colonizer, civic leader and church leader.
Theodore was born of humble but highly respected parents in the small, beautiful city Stofa, Zurich, Switzerland on December 7, 1851. He was the son of Hans Heinrich Brandley and Anna Meier.
Theodore was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints by Carl G. Maeser on August 1, 1868.
He attended public school and apprenticed in the baker trade and worked in this profession until coming to America.
During his life he served on five missions: 1. Swiss and German mission in 1869. 2. Swiss and German mission in 1876. 3. Northern States and Manitoba, Canada mission 1884. 4. Swiss and German mission 1888. 5. A colonization mission to Stirling, Alberta, N.W.T." 1899.
Theodore married Marie Elizabeth Nagely July 10, 1872, soon after the arrival of both families to America. They moved to Richfield, Utah. Here he received his second mission call. To his missionary calls his answer was always, "I'll go."
In 1882, he married Margaret Keeler. They made their home in Richfield where Theodore was active in civic and Church affairs. He had been a delegate to the Utah State Constitutional Convention where he helped write the constitution of Utah.
At the time he was called to colonize to Canada, he was manager of the Richfield Co-op. He had just opened a furniture store, was Mayor, Bishop and Patriarch.
His wife, Marie, had died in 1892, and Margaret, who was not at all well, felt she could not take the hardships of pioneer life. Thus, it was decided she and her family would remain, at least for a while, in Richfield. Arrangements were made for their care.
After selling his business, Theodore left Richfield on April 29, 1899, for Stirling, accompanied by his sons Theodore, Henry, Joseph and Albert, and his daughter, Anna. Eliza Zaugg, who had been caring for the family for the past four years, also accompanied them. Her brother, Paul, and 21 others made up the emigration party. They travelled by rail, and on May 5, 1899, they arrived at the Stirling siding. The next day, they went to the townsite and started the task of laying out a new town.
A few days after their arrival, Theodore opened a small store in one corner of their tent and soon after, a post office. The Church then built them a small, two-roomed house for $165.
The Church had single men as well as families from Utah and Idaho to assist in the work on the canal. They began to arrive by train and overland. It was Theodore's responsibility to meet the train every night, extend a welcome to all, then provide a place to sleep and breakfast for all new emigrants. At times, there were as many as 25 men who arrived at the same time.
Their new home was often filled with incoming families, railway officials and Church officials. It was his new wife, Eliza, who attended to the needs of all.
From the Norma Wooley biography we read how well this was carried out.
"We arrived in Stirling in the middle of June 1899, with the rain pouring in torrents about us, but Brother Brandley was there with a covered democrat wagon to meet us when we arrived at the station. He invited the whole bunch to come and stay at his home until the menfolk were able to get the tents erected. Imagine having nine people come to your home sleep and eat for several days. They treated us royally and naturally a strong bond of friendship and affection arose between mother and Sister Brandley."
Along with these many responsibilities, Theodore was bishop of the Ward, sub-contractor for a section of the canal and when the canal was completed, he contracted to build a 12 mile section of the railroad running west.
In 1902, he was made a counselor to Heber S. Allen, President of the Alberta Stake. In August of 1903, the stake was divided into the Alberta Stake and the Taylor Stake. Heber S. Allan was made the president of the Taylor Stake with Theodore Brandley and J. Williams Knight as counselors, a position Theodore held until 1920, when he was released because of ill health.
In the fall of 1903, Theodore built a new five bedroom home located on his farm just east of town. He and Eliza were blessed with five children. Their first daughter, Eliza, died at birth. Other children were Alma, Theodora. Noel and Delight.
Theodore Brandley writes in his journal: My wife, Eliza Zaugg Brandley, had a very trying time in taking care of our family and so many strangers, but managed matters in a very satisfactory way, showing great faith, courage and endurance.
Johann Theodore Brandley has gone, but evidence of his labour and planning are still with us. The Church he loved continues to grow and a new chapel will be erected this year. The home he built still stands, a fine memento to great workmanship. The fields he farmed are still being farmed and produce abundantly. We who live here and enjoy the good things of life thank him and others for the sacrifices they made.
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