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Swiss Roots - Your Stories
Swiss Roots - Your Stories

Swiss Center Family Stories

Hans Georg Gerster (Castor) by Robert Castor
Our Emigrant arrived at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia on September 15, 1736 after a harrowing 12 weeks at sea. His name was eventually changed to "Castor", since the German pronunciation of Gerster with the umlaut sounds a lot like Castor. It was also spelled, Caster, Kester,  Carster,  Coster, but eventually the Pennsylvania family settled on Castor. Through 11 generations plus, we estimate that there are over 78,000 persons carrying Hans' DNA in the United States.

How we Arrived in America by Roy Chenaur
My great grandfather was Swiss born in Paris about 1856. His father was also Swiss. They were part of the Club Helvetica commune.
In 1870 my great grandfather was sent to the USA as most of the family had been wiped out and it was believed to be an opportunity to rebuild the family.
He first settled in the Iowa/Nebraska border area. He later moved to Washington State. He had 12 children and great many descendants of which I am one.

I Met My Swiss Cousins by  William Diessli
My wife, two daughters and I spent three weeks in Switzerland in 2010. We visited all the old family homes, churches and communities and enjoyed recreating pictures from my grandfather's photo album.
The sights were a real treat, but for me the highlight of the trip was the opportunity to meet my Swiss cousins. I had met my Swiss cousins from my grandmother's (von Gunten) side of the family on a previous visit and we met up again on this trip.
In addition, I met a third cousin from my grandfather's (Diesslin) side. Meeting my Diesslin cousins helped me fill in a lot of gaps in our family story. I even figured out how my grandparents met in Interlaken.
We returned to America with enough memories to last a lifetime and the feeling that our Swiss roots are not that far away. Suddenly the world feels like a much smaller place. 

Travels in Switzerland by Catherine Hvizdash  
Last year, our family (my husband and two kids) went to Switzerland on vacation for 2 weeks during the summer. We stayed in an apartment on a farm in Luetzelflueh, Bern. It was the greatest experience the kids had.
We were in the middle of the Emmenthal. The apartment was in the main farm house, the farmers were so nice, and we were able to help in the blueberry fields. They had a dog, a horse, and pigs. The kids had the best time exploring, running around the farm, and jumping into the hay. Now that is the only place they want to on vacation anymore.

Swiss Ancestor by John Moyer
My earliest Swiss ancestor in the USA was Henry Meyer. "Moyer Family History, Rev. A. J. Fretz, Harleysville, Pa.; News Printing House, 1896, page 520" says:
Rev. Peter Meyer, together with his three brothers, William, Jacob, Henry, one sister (name not known) and their mother (a widow) came to America about 1741 or later. The family were born and lived in Switzerland, but fled from the fatherland during the fierce persecution of the Mennonites by the Calvinists, or State (Reformed) church, to the Palatinate in Germany, were [SIC] they remained with friends in the vicinity of Kerbach for about a year, after which they emigrated to America. The mother married a second husband by the name of Nickey Schaafroth, but had no issue by this marriage. The sister was the oldest of the children. She married a man by the name of Schatz, but had no issue. Of the brothers, Peter was the oldest and Henry the youngest. Peter, William and Henry settled in Springfield Township, Bucks County, and Jacob at Centre Valley, Saucon Township, Lehigh County. They were all farmers and members of the Mennonite church. It is said that Peter was a minister in Switzerland. He was one of the early ministers of the Mennonite church in Springfield. Jacob was also a minister, and preached in the Saucon Mennonite Church.
The Mennonite Encyclopedia says that the Meyers came from Aargau. Someone suggested to me in email that it was Rheinfelden and villages near Rheinfelden.
Some other ancestors who lived in Switzerland were:
* Samuel Burgdorfer, born in 1684, Eggiwil, Emmental Kt, Berne
* Magdalena Eichelberger, Born in 1675 - Eggiwil, Bern
* Johannes Eymann, Born in 1666 - Oberdießbach, Bern, Schweiz
* Hans Lötscher, Born in 1601 - Erlenbach, Berne, Died about 1673 - Latterbach, Berne
* Marti Kammer, Born on 19 April 1573 - Diemtigen
* Steffan Eymann, born about 1535, Steffisburg, Berne

My Ancestors and Wife Are from Switzerland! By Marcus LaPratt
I am an American living in Michigan. I first met my Swiss wife in Spain in 2000. We met again in Venezuela in 2001. And again in Normandy, France in 2004. We were married in July 2006 and now live in Michigan. I recently discovered that my ancestors are also Swiss!
I have traced my ancestry to my great-great-great-great grandfather Henrici Petiprin (born in 1755 in Vendlincourt, Jura, Switzerland)!
I have a desire to learn if descendants of Henrici are still living in Switzerland. I wonder what it will be like one day to visit Vendlincourt where at least three generations of my family once lived in the 18th and 19th centuries. My curiosity continues. Somehow I knew that my wife and I had a connection that went deeper than simply meeting in Spain, Venezuela, and France before we married.

Maitannli - An Old Swiss Tradition Still Practiced in My Hometown by Angela Walther-O'Rourke
My sister was the recipient of a Maitannli on Mayday Eve. It is a beautiful tradition, which involves a lot of work on the male side. The village's bachelors (Stoellbuebe) go out at night and cut down "small" pine trees, from which they remove the bark and branches. They only leave a small x-mas tree on the top. Then the tree is decorated with flowers and ribbons and planted before the homes of girls they admire or they are dating on Mayday Eve.
The tricky part is to get the girl out of the house for that night or at least the period of set-up. Or be quiet enough so she doesn't hear it. Option 2 is very hard because usually the pine tree is set before the sweetheart's bedchamber window, so good luck with that! I never knew that tractors and forklifts are quiet equipment! My parents came out and watched the progress of the set-up, while providing drinks for the men. My brothers helped out setting up the tree. The reward for the boys is drinks and a dinner that the girl on the receiving end cooks for everybody who came out and helped. Lucky for them my sister is in culinary school!

Stähli DNA project by  Bruce Stahly

There are many clans of the Stähli family in Switzerland and in other places in Europe and in North America. Although the name is of Swiss origin, it seems to have originated independently in many parts of Switzerland, including Canton Bern and Canton Zürich. My own ancestors were living near Sigriswil, Canton Bern, in the mid 1600s.
There is a DNA project (using the y-chromosome as the basis for testing) that is attempting to sort out these various clans. So far there are participants from Switzerland, Germany and the USA, all with various versions of the surname. For more information about the study, and to see the current results, visit: