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Swiss Roots - Your Stories
Swiss Roots - Your Stories

Swiss Center Family Stories - 3

Joseph O Loretan Family History by  Veronica Jean Loretan
The history of the family of Jeanne Loretan began with the departure from Switzerland of her Grandfather, Thomas Loretan. He immigrated to the United States in 1906 with his wife Marie Theler and two young sons, Joseph Otto and John Joseph. Thomas Loretan worked as a "hufschmied" Blacksmith and lived in Greenwich Village, New York, with his family for many years.
Joseph Otto Loretan became the Deputy Superintendent for Curriculum in the New York City School System. He played a key role in changing U.S. textbooks by announcing to publishers that New York City Schools would only buy books that reflected the diversity of American culture. He also introduced a program in the Bronx allowing each child to learn a musical instrument of their choice beginning in the third grade at a cost of $1 a quarter. Upon his passing in 1966, he was knighted by the Italian Government for his work with promoting a Dante program and today a school is named after him in New York, P.S.102, "the Joseph O Loretan School." Joseph and his wife Veronica raised five children. Joseph Paul and Robert, the two eldest sons followed in their father's footsteps and became top-level educational administrators in the Northeast. Philip, Jeanne, and David's lives took them in different directions.
Philip A. Loretan, who passed away in 1998, at the age of 58 was very influenced by his parents who were strong advocates of the arts and believed in diversity of the American culture. In 1968, after receiving an MS and PHD in Nuclear Engineering from Iowa State University, Phil began teaching engineering at Tuskegee University in Alabama. Working with faculty, students and others concerned with the very poor in the area, Phil helped to bring running water into many homes, for 20 years, he was also the volunteer director of the South Macon County Sweet potato Cooperative, where he worked to help improve the lives of its low income members. He was coordinator of the Tuskegee University/NASA Centre for food and Environmental Systems for Human Exploration of space whose task was to provide NASA with the protocols for producing hydroponics sweet potatoes and peanuts for long -term human space missions, the sweet potato cultivar used in this work, bred at Tuskegee University, is being named the "Whatley-Loretan", so there is a variety of sweet potato bearing the name "Loretan".
David, the youngest of the five children has spent his life improving the lives of others working with the Mary Knoll fathers and Lay Missioners, fundraising for their overseas missions around the world.
We are very grateful for our Swiss-Roots, and proud to bear the "Loretan" name. Thank you Switzerland

My Father''s Homeland by  Doris Wuthrich Waldmann
My Father, Rudy Wuthrich came to America when his sister, who was already here, went back for a visit and returned to America with him.
He lived on a farm in the Emmental area. That farm is still in the Wuthrich family and a young man by the name of Rudy Wuthrich is living there.
He is a grandson of my father's brother, Simon.
We visited the farm a few years ago-beautiful house and barn attached which sits on a high hill or Mountain. The granary had a flower box on front of it and there was a beautiful garden with lots of vegetables. My Father was one of 10 children and only 2 came to America.
He only went back once during his life time. He died at 92 years of age and was an excellent mechanic. I am one of 5 children and the oldest in our family.

Waldmyer by  Hazel Hayes
My gr.grandfather Benjamin Waldmyer emigrated from Mumpf, Argau, Switzerland in 1832 to the U.S. and settled in Massachusetts. He started up a leather tanning business in Winchester, Massachusetts and was very successful before the business was sold to others. I am interested in any information relating to Waldmeyer/Waldmyer from the Mumpf area who may be in the U.S.
I have visited Mumpf some years ago and was able to see the house on the banks of the Rhine River that the family lived in. It was a thrill standing there and photographing the old family home. It was a shame that I didn't have more time to do further research with any descendants who might still be in the area.

Brand of Trachselwald by Edward Brand
My grandfather and his brother immigrated to the U.S. from Gondiswil, BE, in the early 1900s. They settled in Pine Creek, Washington, and acquired land there by taking advantage of the Homestead Act. My grandfather temporarily returned to Gondiswil to marry my grandmother. He brought her to Pine Creek, and a little later, my father was born.
My grandparents divorced when my father was very young. My grandmother ended up in Manteca, CA, because there were many Swiss people there. My grandfather and father moved to southern Wisconsin, and they eventually
settled in New Glarus. My father was told that his mother had passed. It wasn't until he was in his twenties that he was told his mother was alive and well and living in California. He discovered that he had a half-brother and half-sister there also. He and my mother moved to California to be near them for a couple of years but decided to return to New Glarus.

Coming Home by  Sylvia Kout
My father immigrated to America, from Ticino, when he was a young teenager in 1928. I always wanted to visit Switzerland with him. In 1977 me made a trip back to his home town. I got to see the house where he was born and meet relatives I didn't know I had. We looked into genealogy information at a place where historical records are kept. It was a very special time for me. We went on a little trek up a mountain hill to see the summer place his cousin was renovating. My dad picked me a bouquet of wildflowers. I took pictures of them and brought some back pressed in a book. I have them still, framed and under glass.
The night before we left for America we stayed in a hotel in Zurich. While checking out of the hotel I noticed the headlines on a newspaper, "Elvis ict tot." ("Elvis is dead."). We flew back on SwissAir on my 28th birthday.ΓΏ Sitting behind us, at the back of the plane, were a group of Swiss people who drank Grappa and yodeled for quite a while. It was a birthday I will never forget.
When we arrived in San Francisco I had the oddest experience. While we drove home, listening to the radio...the words of the songs seemed to not register in my brain. It was as if being immersed in another language for 3 weeks had an impact on me. May be if I had spent a summer, or even a year, in Biasca I would have really learned to speak my father's language.
My dad is gone now, and I miss him a lot. I feel so blessed to have been his daughter and to be part Swiss. I am very proud of my heritage. I am trying to put together as much genealogical information as I can to pass on to my son, nieces and nephews. This is the gift my dad gave to me and I want to share it with them.

My Swiss Heritage by  Thomas Rey
I knew from my grandparents that my family came to America in 1850 from the village of Fahrwangen in Kanton Aargau. They came by ship, landing in New Orleans. There was no Ellis Island in those days. From there they moved to Illinois and then Ohio.
My great-great grandfather was a farmer and, when the Civil War began, his two sons joined the Union Army for the duration. After the war ended, both gradually moved west, going to Missouri, Idaho, Washing, and finally the San Joaquin Valley of California. Years later I met a Swiss jeweler in La Jolla, California. We became friends and he wrote to the Staatsarchivar in Aargau, Herr Dr. Siegrist.
He greatfully wrote back and explained the current Swiss system of finding one's ancestors. Coincidentally, he happened to be a distant cousin and, even though he didn't have to, hand wrote a very complete family tree of the first mentioned Reys von Fahrwangen that went back to the early 1300s. However, there was a gap between his research and mine that spanned the years 1531 to 1745. However, he graciously told me where to find the remaining information. I just have to travel to Bern to get it. I will always be indebted to Dr. Siegrist for all the work he really didn't have to do to help me. Since then, I have been able to locate many relatives that I didn't know about. I'm still waiting for the Bern trip to complete my family tree