Burkhalten, 3418 Rüegsbach, Switzerland
The Burkhalten farm in the Emmenthal Valley lies below the hill where
the "Burkhalter Kirche" was established around 1125 in nearby
Burkhalten means "castle slope." Burg is the German word for castle
and halde means slope. A burghalder lived on the slopes below the
castle. Rüegsbach had no castle, but there was a
castle at Burgdorf where the earliest written record of a Burghalton
(Burkhalter) is found in 1344. A tax record from 1393 mentions a Hens
an Burghalton (Hans Burkhalter) living at Rüegsau (about 18 miles
from Burgdorf). This may have been the old Burkhalten family farm which is the
oldest known Burkhalter farm and therefore recognized as the place
where the Burkholder name originated.
According to the unwritten law in the Emmental Valley,
the youngest son inherited the family farm and the other sons moved to
other farms nearby, but it continued to be
called by the family name. In
this case, they carried the name of Burkhalter, and it was spread
throughout the valley.
The Burkhalten farm is still in operation and owned by
the Pfister family. The oldest existing house was
built in 1750, and a larger one was built in 1900.