"The American Cousins Tour Neftenbach"
Bob Frazee's Story
A work in Progress - Robert Frazee, (c)2014
[A note to the reader: One purpose of this page is to place names on the Sprenger family whom we met.
There were so many people in such a short time I wanted to find a way for everyone to refesh their
recollection of who was with us on this day's expedition.]
Friday, 12 September 2014
Fran (Lenth-Sprenger) and I flew from Minneapolis and spent two days in Iceland before taking an early flight from Reykjavick to Zurich.
We picked up a car in Zurich, and with two GPS systems, found our way to Flaach
In Flaach we stayed at the Gasthaus zum Engel.
We went to dinner at the Wirtshaus Obermulhle
Dinner on the patio with Ron and Muriel Isaacson and Gary and Becky Roberson was a treat.
Grapes, soon to be in bottles of wine, hung within arms reach over our heads.
Switzerland is a lovely country, and every family grows flowers in their windows
Photo 2 :
On Friday morning we took the local bus to Neftenbach. Following Paul's instructions to the letter, we waited patiently at the designated bus stop and saw our bus drive right by on the other side of the street.
We concluded we were standing on the wrong side of the street waiting for a bus going in the opposite direction of our destination.
Fortunately it stopped a block up the road and we were able to run fast to catch it before it took off. After we got on and struggled with the
correct fare, the bus traveled about a
block, stopped and changed drivers, and then made a U-turn and then stopped at the place where we were originally waiting. Such was the start of an exciting day.
Becky and Gary Roberson Schultz-Sprenger rode in the front of the bus - it was like being in the first car of a rollercoaster.
Riding a local bus is like Mr. Toad's ride through London. At least the electronic screen tells you when your stop is comng up.
When our bus arrived, on time, in Neftenbach, we are met by Hansueli Sprenger
Photo 5 :
After a short walk we finally arrived at the "famed" Sprenger winery, Weingut zum Frohhof. Fran, a wine lover who came from a tea-totalling family, was impressed that there was actually a winery in the family.
Fran's brother, Charlie Lenth-Sprenger, Boulder, Colorado, arrived before us and she was glad to see him.
Hansueli and Maya Sprenger had everything arranged so we could taste six different kinds of their wine. Three reds and three whites. I developed a passion for the white wine.
Bob Frazee and Charlie Lenth-Sprenger enjoy the wine.
Fran Lenth-Sprenger discussed the day's schedule with Paul Sprenger over a glass of wine.
Becky Siems Roberson (wife of Gary Roberson-Schultz-Sprenger) talks with Maya Sprenger.
Everyone listens when Hansueli describes the different varieties of wines.
Fran Lenth-Sprenger with Hansueli as he explains the wine making process. Besides having his own vineyard, he takes grapes from other local growers and makes them their wine because he has the wine making facilities. When other farmers bring their grapes to him, he presses the
grapes, ferments the grape juice as it changes to wine, stores the wine in casks for aging, and then bottles
the finished product. Once bottled the finished wine is returned to the growers. All the wine is
As we head for the wine cellar we pass Hansueli's Harley
I learn later that Harley Davidson is the biggest seller of motorcycles in Switzerland.
Hansueli explains the process of storing wine in oak casks as it ages.
A Sprenger Family Photo in the Wine Cellar.
Back Row: Charles Lenth-Sprenger, Muriel (Isaacson) Schultz-Sprenger, Mary (Gwin-Lenth) Lenth-Sprenger, Fran (Frazee) Lenth-Sprenger, Hansueli Sprenger, Donna Sprenger, and Glen Sprenger.
Kneeling in Front Row: Gary Roberson-Schultz-Sprenger and Jay Sprenger.
Photo 10 :
While everyone tours the winery Adolf Sprenger visited with his daughter-in-law, Maya Sprenger.
Photo 13 :
Doris Sprenger, Adolf Sprenger, and Maya Sprenger
Doris is the stepmother of Hansueli, the second wife of Adolf Sprenger
Adolf is the father of: Armin Sprenger, Hansueli Sprenger, Sonja Walder Sprenger and Marlies Heid Sprenger
Maya is the wife of Hansueli Sprenger
Photo 14 :
We were sorry to leave but we had a full day ahead of us.
Photo 14 :
Traveling by bus we left Neftenbach and headed to Sternenberg to visit Heurutiff, a mountain farm dedicated
to maintaining the cultural and landscape of Switzerland. We met Muffel (Hans) Gaberthuel at an old country chruch.
Photo 15 :
At the church we meet Muffel (Hans) Gaberthuel who has a farm in the mountains. Muffel, a passionate conservationist, talked about his
efforts to maintain the Swiss countryside and Swiss landscape.
Photo 16 :
Muffel is a talented person. He has many passions, and one of them is to beautify the Swiss
countryside. One of his current projects is mowing designs into grass growing on the
The weather didn't dampen our spirits. Switzerland was so green and we know why.
Photo 18 :
After a long drive down a steep and narrow country road we arrive at Muffel's home. The road to his home was so narrow it could
only accommodate one vehicle in most places and yet it is maintained by the government. In Minnesota this would be considered
Photo 19 :
Muffel raises llamas and sheep. We often think of cows as being the stock of choice but Muffel explained
that the hills are too steep for cows but are perfect for llamas and sheep.
Photo 20 :
Muffel lives with Brigitta Zbinden
Photo 21 :
Brigitta gave everyone a hearty welcome as we arrived and got out of the rain.
Photo 22 :
Fresh apple juice was waiting for us as we came in out of the rain.
Ron Isaacson, Becky Roberson and Gary Roberson enjoy the apple juice.
Photo 23 :
Brigitta had prepared a hearty lunch with lots of wine.
Photo 24 :
Muffel is an artist and skilled photographer. Among his many accomplishments is photographing wild animals. He let me use his
fish-eye lense for this photograph.
Photo 25 :
After lunch we went outside to see the garden and livestock.
Fran (Frazee) Lenth-Sprenger views the garden.
Photo: 537 :
Muffel told us about his herd of sheep - but we must move on.
Photo 25 :
Established in 1138, the first Abbot was a hermit. It no longer functions as a Monestary but serves as a Seminar Hotel. There are a few monks in residence but they pay rent to remain there. Although the Monestary is no longer a religious institution, the Church still belongs to the local parish. Saint Idda of Toggenburg who lived in one of the cells in the 1200's is buried here.
Photo 26 :
The main altar. After having spent three weeks in Italy this summer it was hard not to compare the quality of the workmanship and building materials. It's not the artist's fault that they didn't have marble for altars or statutes or Michelangelo or Raphael as painters, but they did a remarkable job creating the same religious themes and inspirations.
Photo 562# :
Photo # 587 :
The churches were massive and beautifully done.
Photo # 555 :
The original Chapel of St. Katharina was very plain and 90 monks prayed here five times a day. Having been destroyed and rebuilt several times some of the original art work is visible on the windows.
Photo # 557 :
Statues were carved in wood and placed on sparcely decorated walls.
Photo # 579 :
Our English speaking guide told us how the alters were wooden, painted to look like marble.
Photo # 585 :
Saint Idda of Toggenburg is buried in the church. The pillar on the altar on which her icon is painted is wood, painted to look like marble.
Photo # 592m :
Saint Idda was wrongfully accused of being unfaithful to her husband and lived out her life in a cell in the monestery. This altar tells her story.
Photo # 606 :
A wooden desk was found in a flea market in London and the buyer recognized the inlaid pattern as the seal of Fischingen and the desk belonging to the library in the Abbey.
Photo 28 :
Photo 40 :
Photo 22 :
A trip to Switzerland wouldn't be complete without visiting a dairy farm. These are not ordinary cows, they are award winning cows. It's no easy task maintaining a herd which wins awards year after year.
Photo 36 :
Hannes Walder (senior dairy farmer) is the husband of Sonja Walder-Sprenger (see photo 6)
They have 3 children: Isabelle Walder, Erich Walder (dairy farmer) and Mirjam Michel-Walder (living in France)
Daniela Walder-Durst (at right) is the wife of Erich Walder. They have 4 children: Robin, Luca, Loris and Silias
Photo 29 :
Gary Roberson, (son of Alberta Roberson Schultz (deceased) - grandson of Evalina Schultz-Sprenger) and Erich Walder (son of Hannes and Soja Walder-Sprenger) discuss a common interest, dairy farming. At the moment they were discussing how to get proper feed so dairy cows can get the best milk. Gary doesn't speak German and Erich doesn't speak English but they both understand cows.
Photo 30 :
Erich Walder's sons, Silias and Loris Walder.
Photo 32 :
Charles Lenth-Sprenger (in background) with Paul Sprenger and Erich Walder, who runs the dairy farm with his father, Hannes and Sonja Walder-Sprenger
Photo 31 :
Bob Frazee admires the awards given to the cows for their milk production.
Photo 34 :
The Sprenger white wine was the perfect thing for relaxing after a long day. The two bottles I bought didn't last long. We were lucky because Ron Isaacson brought some parmesan cheese all the way from Wisconsin.
Photo 38 :
Dinner on Friday night in Flaach was at the Gasthaus zum Alten Post.
Photo 38 :
This is where Ron learned that when traveling in Europe
having a credit card with a "chip" comes in handy.
SATURDAY - A FREE DAY TO EXPLORE
Photo # 2234:
Saturday was a free day to move from Flaach to Zurich. We took the opportunity to visit the Rheinfalls.
For most of Switzerland the Rhein River is the border between it and Germany except in the Canton of Schaffhausen where the beautiful Rheinfalls is found.
Finding the falls was not as easy as you might expect. First you have to cross this beautiful, but one lane bridge.
Photo #2220 :
We then found ourselves in Germany - another country added to this journey.
Photo # 684 :
The Canton of Schaffhausen is on a small peninsula which juts into Germany. The Rheinfalls is Europe's largest plains waterfall and the best view of the falls is in Schaffhausen, not the Zurich Canton which would have been closer to Flaach..
Photo # 717 :
SATURDAY NIGHT DINNER WITH PAUL AND IRIS SPRENGER
Photo #2298 :
We arrived in Zurich just shortly before Ron and Muriel and Gary and Becky
Photo #2306 :
It has become a tradition for Paul and Iris to host a dinner at their home for the American Sprengers. Muriel Isaacsonn Schultz Sprenger visits with Jay Sprenger on the deck overlooking Lake Zurich.
Photo # 2307 :
Susan Lenth and Bob Frazee often call themselves "the outlaws" as opposed to "in-laws".
Photo # 2311 :
Paul Sprenger visits with Fran Frazee Lenth-Sprenger and her brother Charles Lenth-Sprenger
Photo #2317 : Paul pours the wine and makes sure everyone is comfortable.
Photo #2324 :
Iris prepared a great buffet for our dinner
At Winery Frohhof The Americans Meet Their Swiss Cousins.
1. Glen Sprenger, son of Robert Sprenger (deceased);. 2. Donna Sprenger, widow of Robert Sprenger;
3. Gary Roberson, son of Alberta Roberson Schultz (deceased) - grandson of Evalina Schultz-Sprenger;
4. Becky Siems Roberson, wife of Gary Roberson;
5. Mary Gwin-Lenth - daughter of Frances Lenth Sprenger;
6. Ron Isaacson, husband of Muriel Isaacson;
7. Jere Gwin-Lenth, husband of Mary Gwin-Lenth;
8. Susan Lenth, wife of Charlie Lenth;
9. Charlie Lenth - son of Frances Lenth-Sprenger;
10. Fran Lenth Frazee - daughter of Frances Lenth-Sprenger;
11. Bob Frazee, husband of Fran Lenth Frazee;
12. Muriel Isaacson - Daughter of Evalina Schultz-Sprenger;
13. Jay Sprenger - John Jakob Sprenger > Hans Jakob Sprenger;
14. Hansueli Sprenger ;
15. Maya Sprenger;
16. Iris Sprenger; and
17. Paul Sprenger