Heinzen Familie von Ried-Brig, Valais, Switzerland Part II

Heinzen Familie Continued (The Gentinetta). ~~

Great great grandmother Anne Marie Aloyse Heinzen was born on September 2, 1862 in Lingwurm, Brig, Canton Valais, Switzerland to Anton Joseph Heinzen and Regina Anna Gentinetta. Valais is a heavily Catholic Canton in southern Switzerland bordering Italy and France. The Canton is half French speaking and half German speaking. She was born in the German speaking region of the canton and at the foot of the Simplon Pass that connected the region to neighboring Piemonte, Italy. Anne Marie Aloyse Heinzen was baptized Catholic.

The economy of Brig has since the mid-1200s depended on the proximity to the Simplon Pass for lodging, trade, transport, and customs duties. Napoleon constructed a carriage road through the pass in 1801-1805 making travel easier and tourism started to grow. Following the construction of the railroad in the mid-1870s, tourism boomed and hotels near the Pass flourished. Cesar Ritz, also born in the Canton, studied to be a sommelier at a local Brig hotel and was fired. It was around this time Louis Kirsch, from Hannover, Germany, went to Brig to study how to become a chef. Louis met Anne Heinzen and they fell in love and she decided to go to America because Louis got a job in Chicago. On March 25, 1885, Anne arrived at Castle Garden on the ship St. Laurent which had sailed from Le Havre, France. She had paid her own passage and said she was headed to Chicago. On September 9, 1886 Louis and Anna married before the Justice of the Peace….maybe because of their different faiths. He was a Lutheran. They had two children: Helen Anne Marie Kirsch (m. Carmine Ferraro) and Albert Victor Kirsch (m. Elva Witzigerrenter and they had two children). Louis and Anne raised their children Lutheran. Albert worked as a pressman and later a foreman at a printing company. He was not a fan of his sister’s husband.

By the time of the 1900 Census, Louis had become naturalized.  Of and on, Anne’s brother Leo Heinzen lived with them. On Leo’s World War I Draft Card from 1917 he said he was a cook by profession. His height was listed as medium, build was stout, and he had brown eyes and black hair. Since we do not know what Anne looked like we can imagine she MAY have looked like her brother Leo. Leo married Olga Tunieno in Battle Creek, Michigan in 1920. She was older than he and they had no children. Together they ran a magnetic healing business. Yes dear cousins, he was a magnetic healer.

After the children of Louis and Anne moved out they ran a boarding house in their Chicago home and Anne became a dress-maker. Louis Kirsch passed away from a heart attack in 1925 and her daughter Helen died in 1927, leaving 9 grandchildren for Anne to help raise. A few of them lived with her in the early 1930s. In her old age Anne moved in with her son Albert and his wife and died at age 86, in 1948, in Downers Grove, Illinois.

Anne Heinzen’s Gentinetta Ancestry

Anne’s father’s ancestry is still a little hazy and we have not yet received Heinzen census records. It is a mystery what her father did by profession while her mother’s family, the Gentinetta, seemed to have gone back and forth from Brig and Glis, Valais and Bognanco, Verbano-Cusio-Ossola, Piemonte, Italy and were referenced in books from Valais more than the Heinzen. It probably was not odd to travel back and forth since the villages were roughly twenty miles apart and they both spoke a Germanic dialect. Anne’s mother was Regina Anna Maria Catharina Josepha Philomena Gentinetta, daughter of Francois Joseph Gentinetta (born in Bognanco) who was the son of Francois Joseph Gentinetta. That is not a typo.

According to the scans of the Gentinetta church records from the Catholic parish in Glis from the State Archives of Valais, Anne’s grandfather and great grandfather had married citizens of Valais. The priests in the early 1800s misspelled it as Jeantinetta but spelled it correctly when Anne was born. The Brig and Glis 1829 census records from Valais show a Franz Tschentinetta (they can’t spell Gentinetta yet) born in 1795. The next census record from 1837 Glis states Franz Gentinetta (spelled correctly) was a citizen of Bognanco, Kingdom of Piemonte, his children were born in Bognanco and Intra, Kingdom of Piemonte to a woman born in Valais. His profession was soldat = soldier. This MAY be one of our Francois Joseph Gentinettas (grandfather or great grandfather of Anne) since we know both men married citizens of Valais according to the parish records. The State Archives of the Canton of Valais sent this scan for Gentinetta coat of arms from Milan:



The description says the Gentinetta family was lured to Valais for trade in the 18th and 19th century. There is a brief description of Gentinetta men that were prosecutors, councilmen, and magistrates. There is no way to tell at the moment how the mother of Anne Heinzen was related to these men. It also says a branch went to Luzerne. The coat of arms depicts what they call progressive lions on a red and blue background. Again, there is also no way to tell right now if this coat of arms belonged to either Francois Gentinetta.

Here at this link, is another mention of the Gentinetta family, pretty much reflecting the facts stated in the coat of arms scan. Gentinetta also appears in Cognomi Italiani, which also references Bognanco, the same coat of arms, and Brig-Glis, Switzerland.

Most importantly, was this google book from the courts of the Canton mentioning that the first Gentinetta to ever go to live in Valais was Lorenzo Gentinetta in the first half of the 19th Century. The book also stated that brothers Francois and Maurice Gentinetta were in 1872 determined by the courts in Canton Valais to not be citizens of Glis, Brig or any other Valaisian commune, despite the fact they had resided there for over 5 years, that they were citizens of Bognanco-Dentro, were recognized by the Ministry of the Interior of the Kingdom of Italy as Italian nationals, and therefore, could not invoke any part of the constitution of Valais in any litigation or any rights. So after 100+ years or more of the Gentinetta going back and forth between the countries, they were still not considered Swiss citizens.

The following is an internet translated excerpt from the French language publication:

Lorenzo Gentinetta, ascending direct of the petitioner and native of Bognanco, is fixed in Valais in the municipality di Glis, during the first half of 18 century. His son Jean-Laurent, of Glis in 1754, was married in 1780 with a national of this municipality; of other descendants of the same family are also married, later in the same commune. Members of the family Gentinetta are inhabitants perpetuals in led registers of the municipality of Glis, residing in 1846; the communal authorities has several of them in acts of origin; several, in addition, have served or serve terms in the militias of the canton of Valais, or pay the military tax.

So if they were members of the militia of the Canton, Franz/Francois the soldat = soldier, may have been a member of the militia. There are three things the soldier Franz may have been as a soldier. 1. Valais militia – which could only draft 300 or less men; 2. In the army of the Kingdom of Sardegna-Savoy-Piemonte; or 3. A Swiss mercenary contracted out to Italy and that is why his children were born there.

Hopefully the archives can shed light on the soldat.  Research from Switzerland is different. The Latter Days Saints were not permitted to retain most vital records or genealogies in Switzerland. They were not permitted in any part of the Canton of Valais. Everything must be obtained by writing Switzerland. On the other hand, the genealogical records from Verbano-Cusio-Ossola, Italy are being digitized for online access by the Italian government and would include information on Anne’s Gentinetta grandparents and great-grandparents. The Heinzen – Gentinetta Familie von Ried-Brig is a work in progress.


~~~I urge you to view beautiful pictures of the Simplon Pass and Brig online~~~ Mr. Heinzen from Switzerland emailed a photo of the valley surrounding Brig from above. It is in a format that cannot be uploaded.


7 thoughts on “Heinzen Familie von Ried-Brig, Valais, Switzerland Part II

  1. Karina Gentintta February 22, 2016 / 4:41 pm

    I am a Gentinetta and I understand from my father who is now passed, that his grandfather (my great grandfather), Joseph Gentinetta immigrated to Argentina where subsequently I was born. There was a Swiss colony in San Geronimo Norte in Argentina and that is where he went. Hence, there are now Gentinetta’s in Argentina. What is intriguing is that Joseph Gentinetta got his Gentinetta last name from his mother not father. Apparently, he must have been illegitimate and bore his mother’s name. There is a lot of questions about this and whether his illegitimacy caused him to want to leave Brig. I’m always fascinated to know they why and who. So thank you for this information. Karina Gentinetta

    Liked by 1 person

    • AC February 22, 2016 / 5:07 pm

      This is fascinating.


    • AC February 22, 2016 / 5:07 pm

      Thank you posting this information


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