Samuel Henri Geiser was born 24 December 1884 near Corgémont, Jura. He received his early education in a German-speaking Mennonite school. Until his marriage to Marianne Gyger in 1911 he farmed with his father near Lajoux (Freiberge). He next joined a farming partnership with others near St. Ursanne, but was able to rent his own farm eventually, located between Tavannes and Tramelan. Three daughters and four sons were born to Marianne and Samuel. Eventually the couple was able to purchase a farm in Châtelat where he was to spend the greater part of his life, and from where he also served as a minister and elder of the Kleintal congregation, one of the largest Mennonite congregations in Switzerland.
In due course Geiser became a self-educated scholar. His interest in church history was originally motivated by the reading of a copy of Martyrs Mirror which he found in an old Mennonite home. This interest led to the gathering of historically valuable documents, letters, lectures, Bibles, devotional literature and materials which are no longer available today. There is scarcely an old Anabaptist or Mennonite home in the Jura, Emmental, Basel, or Neuenburgergebiet which he did not search thoroughly for documents and books. The largest part of this collection is housed in the archives of the Conference Mennonite Suisse/Konferenz der Mennoniten in der Schweiz (Swiss Mennonite Conference) in Jean Gui (Corgémont) and constitutes the core of a truly unique historical library.
It was this library which made possible the writing of his volume Die Taufgesinnten Gemeinden (1931), which is indeed the work of a scholar rather than that of a "mountain farmer." In 1971 he published an enlarged and revised edition, which places Anabaptism more into the context of general church history, under the title Die Taufgesinnten Gemeinden im Rahmen der allgemeinen Kirchengeschichte He also wrote significant articles for the Mennonitisches Lexikon. In 1972 the theological school of the University of Zürich conferred an honorary doctorate upon him.
In later years he sold his house in Brügg-Biel, where he spent the final years of his life, to the Swiss Mennonite conference as a retreat center and meeting place for the Mennonite congregation founded there in 1966. Samuel Geiser died 28 May 1973.
Schowalter, Paul. "Samuel Geiser." Mennonitische Geschichtsblätter 30, n.F. 25 (1973): 91-92.
Cite This Article
Zürcher-Geiser, Isaac. "Geiser, Samuel Henri (1884- 1973)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1987. Web. 2 Mar 2015. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Geiser,_Samuel_Henri_(1884-_1973)&oldid=91865.
Zürcher-Geiser, Isaac. (1987). Geiser, Samuel Henri (1884- 1973). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 2 March 2015, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Geiser,_Samuel_Henri_(1884-_1973)&oldid=91865.
Herald Press website.
©1996-2015 by the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. All rights reserved.