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The Search for Swiss Roots
608-527-6565
The Search for Swiss Roots
608-527-6565

Swiss Emigration

Among the earliest Swiss immigrants to North America were German Mennonites, perhaps as many as several thousand, who began settling in the Pennsylvania colony during the late 17th century.
Between 1700 and 1776, about 25,000 Swiss immigrants settled in the United States.
Between 1851 and 1880, the average annual immigration was almost 2,500, with families moving into Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and other Midwest destinations. During the 1880s, the number jumped dramatically to almost 8,200 per year before slipping back to about 3,000 per year between 1891 and 1930.
In the mid-1850’s Swiss immigrants of the Mormon faith began arriving in the Utah territory. You can read a short history here.
As with all European countries, immigration was almost halted during the Great Depression (1930s) and World War II (1939–45). Between 1971 and 2000, Swiss immigration was steady, averaging a little less than 1,000 per year.
Almost all the earliest Swiss settlers to Canada were mercenaries, who had first been hired by either the French or the English to help protect their holdings. A significant number of Pennsylvania Mennonites of Swiss descent immigrated to Upper Canada (later Ontario) as early as the 1780.
Immigration to Canada continued small but steady. In 1871, the census showed just under 3,000 Swiss in Canada and about 4,500 10 years later. After WWII, many Swiss immigrants were professional who moved into urban centers. Provincial capitals had their own Swiss clubs and associations. The 2006 census recorded 137 775 of Swiss ancestry living in Canada.
Beginning in the 1930s, Swiss banks and insurance companies opened branches in Canada  as well as  multinational Swiss-based biochemical giants including  Ciba-Geigy and Hoffman LaRoche which isnow merged as Novartis.
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While not a complete list, you can download a Swiss Center's Tritt Library and Archives list of books focused on immigration and/or Swiss settlements.

Historian and author Dr. Leo Schelbert is emeritus professor at University of Illinois at Chicago and an expert in emigration history.
His essay on Swiss-American emmigration is a must read.
Public memory -- the root and substance of ethnic identity -- is created, sustained, and altered yet again by one's participation in festive culture.  Steven Hoelscher, of Louisiana State University, explores the identity formation process from the perspective of festival and commemoration. Swiss Public Memory Before the Great War.
In April, 1819, ten German and Swiss families embarked on a flatboat on the Aar River at Berne under the leadership of Jacob Tisher. After a tedious journey, they reached Wheeling and again embarked on a flatboat -- their destination being the Great Kanawa (sic) River. David Tschappat

Researcher Ernest Thode identifies three main categories of Monroe County Ohio Germanic immigration: 1) The rural Swiss who settled the northeastern townships, 2) The Palatinates who settled in the Miltonsburg area and 3) the Germans who settled in Woodsfield in the late 1840s.  The German and Swiss Heritage of Monroe Co. Ohio

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