“My Name Is Paul Koelliker Too”


Paul E. Koelliker

Several years ago my wife and I visited Switzerland hoping to learn more about our family history. When we arrived in the town of Glarus, about 30 minutes from Lake Zurich, we found that our hotel reservation had been lost. The hotel clerk felt very bad for us, and he tried to find another place for us to stay. After making several unsuccessful phone calls, he said, “Oh, wait a minute. There’s one other small hotel not too far away. The owner has been in the United States. I’ll call there and see if he’s back yet.” So he did. We learned that the owner had just returned that day, and his hotel was completely empty.

The little hotel was right at the base of the Alps, on the shore of a beautiful lake. During a pleasant dinner, the proprietor said, “I know a Paul Koelliker. He lives in Glarus.” The next thing I knew, our new friend was on the phone talking to Paul Koelliker in Glarus. The man on the other end asked him if I was from Salt Lake City. When I replied that I was, he said, “I’ve met that man before.”

And then the memory came back to me. Twenty-five years earlier I was sitting at my desk at the Church Office Building in Salt Lake when my phone rang. Speaking English in a heavy German accent, the caller said, “My name is Paul Koelliker. I see in the phone book your name is Paul Koelliker. I’d like to meet you.” I went with my father and my grandfather to meet him, and we had a nice visit. He gave me some names of our ancestors, but we were unable to connect them to our family line, and we hadn’t seen each other again until my trip to Switzerland.

Early the next morning we went to his office. Not only does this Paul Koelliker live in Glarus, but he is the head of the archives for the canton of Glarus. When I told him we were trying to find our family roots, he said, “I think I can help you.” He took us into the archive and showed us books organized by family. He said, “I can’t let you photocopy any of this; you’ll just have to write it by hand.” So for the next seven hours, we wrote as fast as we could.

We returned from our trip to Switzerland with the names of hundreds of our ancestors and later completed their temple work. We knew there were many more names waiting in the archive at Glarus. Our family feels the spiritual urging that those names are waiting for us. I know the Lord will help us find our ancestors if we will just act on the promptings of the Spirit.