Another fascinating ancestor whose life would make a great novel....or several!
John and Mary Gerber (Johannes Gerber and Anna Maria Ackeret) were Grandma Virginia's great grandparents. As I started researching him I found that he had had three other wives , was a Lutheran minister, and had lived in Africa for ten years...what was going on? I found a 20 page history of them in the BYU archives...you can look at it here...
Johannes was born in Bern, Switzerland in 1796, attended the University of Berne and became a Lutheran minister. He studied Greek, Latin, Hebrew, and spoke French, his native German, and English. He was also certified as a Doctor in Homeopathics. In 1824 he was sent at a missionary to Sierra Leone, Africa with his first bride, Magdalena Haug, who soon died in childbirth. Their daughter, Susanna, also died at birth.
He married again, and again lost a wife in childbirth, although the child, Maria Susanna Wilhelmina, survived.
In 1834, after ten years in Africa, he was sent to American with his third wife, Johanna, to "supervise the Protestant Lutheran and Presbyterian churches in America, covering the states of Alabama, Tennessee, Indiana, Missouri, and Ohio." He must have been a dynamo! He traveled amongst the small congregations, preaching "Prepare, for the kingdom of God is at hand."(I think he was on to something!) He and his wife had four children, although two died at birth. Johanna also died giving birth to the fourth child.
He hired an 18 year old Swiss immigrant, Anna Maria Ackeret, to care for his children, and soon married her! (He was 50) Her step daughter was only 4 years younger! They settled in St. Louis where he was a beloved minister and a successful doctor. Although he had preached for years he confided in his wife that he still felt something was missing in their Lutheran religion. He heard of the Prophet Joseph Smith, studied the gospel and was baptized, along with Maria, and his father on August 8, 1852. This is only the beginning of his exciting life! At one time John was the personal physician to Brigham Young...there's more to tell!