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Swiss Roots - Your Stories
Swiss Roots - Your Stories

Swiss Center Family Stories - 4

The Waldburger Story by  Frederick Waldburger
I have done genealogy for some time putting together the history of my paternal family side. But I have not written the story for others to be witness to. So from the beginning is where all things must start.

My Great Grandfather Johann "Hans" Waldburger son of Hans Waldburger and Ursula Ziegher Waldburger of Buchen-Luzein, along with 3 brothers and 4 sisters left for America in the 1880's. The names are Fred, Johann, Peter, Jann Christina [married Kasper], Margaret, [Married Fehr] Ursula, [Married Lutzke] and Eva [Married Gerbig]. It doesn't look like all arrived at one time. Mother Ursula came to America later after her husband Hans died, 1876 in Switzerland. She Ursula died at her daughter Ursula Lutzke's home October 15, 1905.
My Great Grandfather Hans was born January 21, 1862. He declared his Intention for USA citizenship on October 26, 1888 in Ramsey County, Minnesota. He was granted that citizenship September 23, 1897 in Ramsey County Minnesota. The Certificate of Naturalization was given testimony by William Johannes and August Luick. He married Elizabeth Caduff March 1, 1890 in Ramsey County Minnesota.
The wedding certificate is witnessed by brother Peter Waldburger and Sister Christina Waldburger Kasper. He was granted a homestead April 1899 in Town of Birch, Lincoln County Wisconsin.
The homestead was cut over forestland, hilly and rocky. There were other Swiss families close by including his brother Peter across the road. It must have been a real tough go. They had five Children, John 1891, Eva 1893, Sara 1896, Fred 1898, and Elsie 1898. Fred born January 13, 1898 is my Grandfather. Great Grandfather Johann Hans died at January 28, 1902 at the age of 40. One story is he was pulling a load of logs in this yard and had a brain hemorrhage, fell of the load and died. From my Aunt Elaine as told to her by her father Fred is the story that he Hans, was returning from Merrill with the Horse & Buggy had the brain hemorrhage and fell out of the buggy in the yard as my grand father at age 4 watched from the window. One of my prize possessions is a single photo of him in his Swiss Army uniform. My Aunt Elaine his grandaughter, has the original. His mother Ursula was buried next to him in the Merrill Memorial Cemetery.
County, Wisconsin to John [Hans] and Elizabeth Caduff Waldburger. My grandfather Fred watched as his father Hans died in the Homestead yard when he was four years old. At the time there were five brothers and sisters, John born December 4, 1891, Eva born December 12, 1893 [Married Harkner], Sara born December 12, 1896 [Married Josten], Fred born January 13, 1898, Elsie born December 28, 1898 [Married Yanda]. It was a severe existence for a widow with five children, living in northern Wisconsin on a cut over homestead. My great grandmother took in wash and mending from the local logging camps. And I am sure did subsistence farming.
When the family was evidently grown my great grandmother Elisabeth's home burned, and she moved to Merrill. My aunt Elaine thought she was about 13 when she died March 25, 1946 at age 82. She lived a number of years in Merrill having sold the homestead in 1927. It would be interesting to know the when and direct results of the house fire. My grandfather started at an early age working in the logging camps. He was a small man that could hold his own with larger men when it came to work.
I do not know of his education only that he went to the rural Chat school, which was close to the homestead. It was told to me that when he started school he only spoke Swiss. I have early pictures of him at the log camps. He was quite the hunter and fisherman. He married my grandmother Blanche Gleason July 2, 1925 in Lincoln County, Wisconsin.
They had three children, Elaine born February 2, 1926 [married Gleason], Lois born August 11, 1927 [married Wildfang then Brooks], and Fred Jr. born January 26, 1931. My grandfather was for at time in business with his brother John as a Tin Smith, building and installing furnaces. The business The Waldburger Furnace Shop was in Merrill. Evidently there was a problem as my grandfather dropped out and went into business with his Brother in Law Joseph Harkner. That was a small live bait and sport shop in Merrill. Evidently that did not provide for two families so my Grandfather went to selling bait from his home garage. I have his self-made tin bait storage containers. During the depression and after my grandfather made a good part of is income from Animal Bounties. He was known far and wide for his success Trapping and Hunting wolves, Coyotes and Large cats. My grandfather always wanted a farm, so in the late 1940's my grandfather and grandmother purchased a small farm in the town of Birch. He did farming along with the Trapping and hunting until 1955. He had a heart attack then Pneumonia and died October 29, 1955 at age 57

Jean Charles Naegeli by  Charles Naegeli
My ancestor Jean Charles Naegeli was born on 21 July 1877 in Berne, Switzerland. He was the son of Jean and Marie (Miller) Naegeli. Prior to coming to America at the age of 25 he resided in Chaux de Fonds. He arrived in this country on January 12,1903 (departure from Havre on January 3) aboard La Bretagne. His destination was Canton Ohio.
In America he married Alice Pillot daughter of Desire Pillot and Flavia Octavia Tournoux. There is a close family relationship with the Saunier's also. Their heritage was French. Jean Charles spoke French and maybe a little German. His father's main language was German; his mother's French.
He was a watch engraver at Dueber-Hampden in Canton, Ohio and also at Joseph Fahys Watch Works in Sag Harbor, Long Island, NY. He must have learned his trade in Switzerland. He was a Catholic.
I have photograph on a cabinet card dated at about 1890. I believe it his image, He is about 13 in the photo. Jean Charles had four sons John N, Charles Lewis (died at 1 year), Walter P, and Robert Charles.
My father was Robert Charles. My name is Charles Robert. I was born on September 9, 1948. La Bretagne the French passenger ship that brought Jean Charles to the New World was launched on September 9, 1885. I am determined to find more about him and his life before America.

My Heritage by  Bill Burgi
My Father was born in the small village of Egnach, Thurgau, Switzerland in the Eastern Section, back in 1915. He was very proud of his Swiss Heritage and took his (3) kids back several times to make sure they they knew and remembered this beautiful country. The modern Swiss Burgi family came from 13 children of my Great Grandfather. Only one died as a child and 11 of the remaining children stayed in Switzerland. My Grandmother with her 3 children came to America in 1927. Her husband and baby died in the influenza of 1918. There is an annual Burgi Family Reunion held in Zurich which my wife and I will be attending this year. We live in the USA but post our Swiss flag every August 1st. We attend "Swiss Days" in Heber, Utah every year. We are very proud of our Swiss Heritage.

From Winkelried to Jeffersonville, New York by  Katharina Litchman
When I am not working in New York City, I live near Jeffersonville, Sullivan County in upstate New York. This little town has an old Swiss heritage. The original settlers arrived around 1830 and called the village Winkelried. Arnold von Winkelried known for his action at the battle of Sempach, July 9, 1386, the Swiss defeat of the Austrians under Duke Leopold III of Austria.
He is a Swiss hero and credited with the legend: the Swiss could not break the close ranks of the Habsburg footsoldiers. Winkelried is reported to have cried: "I will open a passage into the line; protect, dear countrymen and confederates, my wife and children" before opening a breach in their lines by throwing himself into their pikes, taking them down with his body such that the confederates could attack through the opening. He fell dead but he had breached the enemy ranks, and his compatriots rushed to victory.
The village was renamed Jeffersonville after the village’s first hotel later on, but still today, there are streets and family names that remind you of the Swiss settlers and there is a plaque dedicated to them including the first German newspaper Volksblatt

Aurigeno, Ticino by  Allen Cofiori
My grandparents came from Aurigeno in Ticino and emigrated to California. They lived in San Francisco and Redwood City. Their name was Cofiori. Ellis Island records show Carlo Cofiori coming to the US in 1900 and my grandmother Domenica Grossini Cofiori coming in 1906 with three children. The Ellis Island records spelled their name as Cofiore and showed their place of origin as Aregeno (sp?) Tissin, Swiss. I also have a letter from the Municipal Authority of Aurigeno, Switzerland that was a response to an inquiry I made in 1973 regarding my grandparents. From municipal records there were not very many references for my grandfather, Carlo Cofiori, since he was not born in Aurigeno but in Modena, Italy.
Carlo arrived in Switzerland toward the end of 1800 and was involved in house building in the Maggia Valley. There he met my grandmother, Miss Domenica Grossini. They had three children, Mary, Aldina and Alfredo. Domenica Grossini had a brother named Giovanni. He married in Aurigno and had many children however two survived. One of his children was Vittorio Grossini, who in 1973 was the secredtrary of the Aurigeno municipality, and Maria who married a Dellagana.
From this information and accounts of my family the Cofiori's lived in the Redwood City area of California and with others with Swiss-Italian ancestry worked in logging camps near La Honda. From other history books in the early 1900's redwood was being logged in the coastal mountains and taken to the port in Redwood City where the logs were then transported to mills near to San Francisco by boat on the SF Bay.