I was recently asked by another researcher what Swiss surnames in my tree I was researching in Canton Bern, Switzerland that belonged to the early Anabaptist followers there. Below is an updated list of surnames and place names:
Gungerich/Gungery*, Schindler, Vogel, Muller, Rubeli*. See GAMEO. Christian Gungerich was an Anabaptist preacher that was imprisoned in Schwarzenegg prison when he escaped in 1669. He was re-captured and imprisoned in Waisenhaus Prison in the Canton’s capital Bern. He died there in 1671. He is my 10th great grand uncle. See Der Tauferlehrer Christian Gungerich (1591-1671) und der Streit um Seinen Nachlass for more on his relations. Also see Oberdiessbach Kirchenbuchen via Canton Bern archives, Mennosearch.com and the book Bernese Anabaptists and their American Descendants.
Vogt, Strubel known as Rubeli* in Oberdiessbach. See Langnau Kirchenbuchen via Canton Bern archives. Part of the Rubeli family emigrated to the German Palatinate in 1672 as religious refugees. See Mennosearch.com.
Dear Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Grandmother Kunigonde,
You have the most interesting name in my tree and your last name is not known to those of us researching you. You were the mother of my ancestor named Michael Kempf. He lived in a town named Hornbach. I have discovered that you were Roman Catholic and the historic church in Hornbach contains the bones of St. Pirminius. You must’ve worshipped there.
I didn’t know Kunigonde was even a name until I found you. I looked up the meaning and origin. It is from the Old High German and sometimes spelled as Kunigonda. The name dictionaries call it a two-element name. Kunni=the tribe, the clan. Gund=the fight, the battle. I really dig the two-element meaning of your name!
Apparently there was a St. Kunigonde and she was the daughter of King Bela of Hungary. She is the patroness of Poland and Lithuania where she is known as St. Kinga.
Was Kunigonde a family name in your family?
Did you know your third great grandson was named Heinrich Leies and he traveled across the ocean to the United States of America in 1848 with his family to have a farm in Wooster, Ohio? His brother Jacob Leies came three years later to the greatest city in the New World called New York City. Your fourth great grandson named Peter Leies joined the Union Army during the nation’s Civil War and died at a battle called the Battle of Antietam. He was only 21 and he was born in Nunschweiler, not far from Hornbach.
Anotherfourth great grandson followed Heinrich to Wooster, Ohio. His name was Johann Leies and Heinrich was his uncle. He was my ancestor. He ran saloons in Chicago and was a piano dealer. He had very religious sons. One became a Roman Catholic priest and died in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Did you know you probably have thousands of descendants across the ocean in America perhaps due in part to Heinrich’s emigration?
You are named in a book called the Rubenheim Register from Zwiebrucken. I would love to see that book. But, what can YOU tell me that the book doesn’t. What was Hornbach life like?
One of your thousands of descendants
Dear 9th Great Granddaughter,
Females rarely learned to write in my day unless they took a religious order. My good friend Sr. Marie Radegonde Belina is writing this for me. What an angel she is too to be able to translate English to our dialect and back to English for me. She was a half English/half French orphan the good Sisters took in.
Thank you for digging my name. I don’t know what you mean by “digging.”
What can I tell you about my life? I was born at a time of a long religious, political, and terrible war – The Thirty Years War. We would hear from the priests there was a peace and then another peace. But it would not end. Then a few years later there would be word of another peace.
We did not care about those far away princes fighting for power. We were more concerned with having food on our tables when the winter was through. Half the men in my family were gone and another quarter of my family uprooted themselves and were never heard from again. We just wanted it to end.
When I married, the war was coming to an end. My husband (your 9th great grandfather) and I lived near Hornbach at a time the entire surrounding area was almost devoid of citizens and buildings due to the many years of war. The country-side had been devastated due to famine, disease, and theft. The old town wall of Hornbach and our church were some of the few things left.
We were ruled by the Duke of Zwiebrucken.
Before the war, Hornbach was once surrounded by rich vineyards. Nobody came back to re-plant them. Instead, after the war, the Dukes invited people from the Swiss Cantons and from Tyrol to our area to farm. They were rumored to be excellent farmers.
Some of my descendants married the descendants of the Swiss immigrants.
My husband Johann Kempf and I had a farm. We had 8 children: Matthias, Anna Christina, Michael, your 8th great grandfather, twins Kunigonde and Johann, Maria Katharina, and twins Regina and Anna Margaretha.
Michael was my second born son and he was trained to follow his father as a farmer.
I died before I could see Michael’s children be born.
I died before France took control of the Hornbach-Zwiebrucken area in 1680.
Yes, I heard about Heinrich and the others. Nunschweiler was very tiny in my day.
Heinrich Layes (that’s how Sr. Marie Gertruda spells the surname) left Germany at a time when liberal nationalists pushed for civil liberties here. The cost of the war I lived through and cost of that war on our people was ingrained in their minds.
In 1848, these forward thinking men had to flee their homeland for your country – a country that had established those ideals when those in power began to silence their democratic plans.
Keep shaking those female branches of my tree in Germany. You aren’t even close to finding all of my descendants in America.
Nuenschweiler – On today’s date in 1842, my third great grandparents Franz Jacob Bold andElisabetha Scheidwere married in the Catholic parish in Nuenschweiler, Rheinpfalz, Germany by Father Joannis Feibel. They were the parents of Emilia Bold Leies.
Elisabetha and Franz Jacob were from neighboring Rodalben. She was born there while he was born in neighboring Knopp-Labach.
Their Catholic marriage record declared that Franz Jacob was the son of Adam Bold and Margaretha Becker, married residents of Rodalben. It looks like the parochial vicar of Rodalben, Father Petro Bold, is mentioned in the Latin marriage record. He was the older brother of Franz Jacob. He also baptized Elisabetha Scheid, according to the baptismal record I found on film which is now available online at Family Search.
The marriage record also declared that Elisabetha was the daughter of Johann Jacob Scheid and the deceased Catharina Buchler, also of Rodalben.
Franz Jacob Bold, the head schoolmaster of the Catholic school in Nuenschweiler, was the son of farmers. His Bold grandparents were named Johann Adam Bold and Magdalena Helf. Elisabetha’s ancestry has been detailed here and here.
Franz Jacob Bold, for all intents and purposes, appears to have died in Germany around 1880, which lead to his wife’s immigration to America. She died in New York City in 1905.
Pictures of Nuenschweiler and Knopp-Labach can be found online here.
Recently I was contacted by two fourth cousins researching the immigrant Bolds. Thank you to B.R., a descendant of Alexander Bold, who pointed out that Elisabetha Scheid Bold and Franz Jacob Bold had another child that came to America and was named Ferdinand Bold. He and his family were part of a New York City tragedy that was absolutely horrifying to discover. Now knowing of this immigrant brother of Emilia Bold Leies, it makes sense that she named her second son John Ferdinand.
A descendant of Anna Bold Leies and Jacob Leies, P.A., informed me that there may be at three least cases of Bolds marrying Leieses in our lines. We plan to sort it out! This includes a possible case of one of the daughters of Anna Bold Leies, that I had vowed to find in a previous post, marrying her first cousin – a Bold!
TA also told me that Leies, on her side of the family, is pronounced LEESS. Not LE-AS as it is on our side and there are some Leies relations residing in Pennsylvania. Interesting indeed! Thank you for finding me!
Emilia Bold’s Youngest Brothers
Emilia Bold’s youngest immigrant brothers Richard and Ferdinand Bold seem to have traveled to America together when Richard was 17, arriving at the port of New York on November 25, 1871, on the Donau which sailed from Bremen, Germany. The strange thing about the passenger manifest I found listed Ferdinand as age 9. American records point to his age as having been 13.
In 1880, at B.R.’s direction, Ferdinand Bold was found marrying Mary Knaup (daughter of Anthony Knaup and Frances Nackes), a German-American born in New York City. According to that year’s Federal Census, he was working as a stationary engineer. The New York Marriage Index on Family Search says he was born in 1858 in Nenschweiler. To me, that is close enough to mean Nuenschweiler, where the majority of his siblings were born.
That year, Ferdinand and his wife resided at 218 Sullivan Street with his mother-in-law Frances Knaup, sister-in-law Teresa Knaup, and brother-in-law John Knaup. The census sheets before and after theirs reveal it to be a neighborhood made up of immigrants from Germany and Ireland.
In November of 1880, according to the Naturalization Index, Ferdinand became a naturalized citizen of the United States.
The Bolds and the Grand Street Tenement Disaster
In 1881, according to many newspaper articles, Ferdinand, wife Mary, their baby Joseph, and his wife’s family lived at the corner of 5th Avenue and Grand Street on the top floor when the tenement suddenly caved in. It was a three floor building and Ferdinand’s family lived on the top. It became known as the Grand Street Tenement Disaster and was nation-wide news. Below are samples of some news clippings about the tragedy.
Ferdinand’s wife’s mother and brother were killed. She herself was badly injured but survived. The news clippings I found about the collapse described some pretty horrific details. Some of them were in Chicago newspapers. Imagine how great great grandmother Emilia Bold Leies and her other Chicago siblings must have worried when they read the news there!
Below is an image found on Google images, Amazon, Abe Books, and eBay from an engraving Harpers Weekly made and printed and is called “Grand Street Tenement House Disaster.” Originals are for sale out there on the internet. Ferdinand Bold may be in the image.
It is a miracle baby Joseph survived. The following spring, Ferdinand sued James O’Brien, the owner of the building, for $1,100.00 damages. He was awarded $426.00. Current inflation makes that a little less than $10,000.00.
A coroner’s jury was held and found James O’Brien and the owner of the adjacent building, Julius Levy, grossly negligent in the deaths of 9 tenants of the building, however, a grand jury found no criminal negligence on their part!
Ferdinand and Mary went on to have 3 more children after Joseph: Theresa, Frederick, and Albert Joseph. Unfortunately, Ferdinand passed away young in February, 1893.
Wife Mary evidently re-married around 1895 to a Mr. Brennan because the 1900 Federal Census names her as Mary Brennan, widowed, and having been married 5 years. Mr. Brennan had already died. She was raising her children and his three children as well.
Ferdinand’s children Theresa and Joseph worked in a stationary factory and never married.
Ferdinand’s sons Frederick and Albert both married. Three grandchildren of Ferdinand served in the military. Frederick’s two sons, Frederick James and Joseph Aloysius joined the New York National Guard while Albert’s son Walter Albert was an Army Veteran of World War II, adding to the number of descendants of Elisabeth Scheid Bold that joined the United States Military in some fashion. Joseph Aloysius died in an automobile accident shortly after signing up for National Guard duty.
All World War I and World War II draft records that I could find for Ferdinand’s children and their descendants describe them as tall individuals, medium build, with brown hair, brown eyes, and a light complexion.
I do not know where Ferdinand is buried.
Richard Bold was born in 1854 in Busenberg, a few miles from Nuesnchweiler, Germany. A few years after he arrived at the Port of New York in 1871, I found him in the 1878 Chicago Directory, working as a barber. At the time of the 1880 Federal Census, he was living with his older brother Alexander and his wife and family, still working as a barber.
I found a news clipping stating that on May 31, 1882, Richard Bold was appointed to the Police Department. His brother Alexander was also a policer officer at this time. In 1883 he married another German immigrant, Louise Ruf, daughter of Louis Ruf and Henrietta Gerber. Later clippings regarding Richard Bold state he was a patrolman at the Larrabee Street Station. Grandma Ferraro lived on Larrabee.
The Haymarket Massacre and the Bolds
On May 3, 1886, labor demonstrators across the country rallied in support of an 8 hour work day. A peaceful demonstration in Chicago turned deadly when Chicago police officers attacked and killed picketers at the McCormick Reaper Plant.
The following day, on May 4, 1886, the Haymarket Massacre took place in Haymarket Square. It too started as a peaceful labor demonstration organized by a few anarchists in support of that 8 hour work day and in support of the laborers the Chicago police had killed the day before. One of the speakers at the Haymarket Square that evening was a lay Methodist Minister from England, a known activist.
At 10:30 pm, when, according to the data at the Illinois Labor History Society, 176 Chicago Police Officers carrying Winchester repeater rifles were trying to disperse the remaining crowd of 200, an unknown individual threw a dynamite bomb at the police, killing seven of them, and four civilians, and injuring many others. Gunfire immediately following the blast also resulted in some of the deaths and injuries. Source: Wikipedia.
It is unknown who fired the first shot following the bombing and some reports said in the chaos the Chicago police ended up firing on each other. A historian believes that in less than 5 minutes, 176 Chicago police officers had gotten what they desired because Haymarket Square was emptied of everyone, except for the casualties. Sources: Wikipedia, Chicagocop.com., and Chicagology.com
The next day, Marshal Law was declared in Chicago and the front page of the entire Chicago Tribune was dedicated to “hellish event”. Source: newspapers.com.
Eventually, in actions led by irrational fear of the foreign born (including several Germans), eight accused anarchists were illegally rounded up, tried and convicted, and hung – including the lay Methodist minister from England. One commit suicide the evening before the handing. Later some were pardoned. Sources: Wikipedia, Illinois Labor History Society, and Chicagocop.com.
I suppose, with the fact that 176 Chicago police officers were there that night, Police Officer Alexander Bold (then assigned to the Des Plaines Street Station) was likely there. See Chicagocop.com – on duty police officers of the Des Plaines Street Station were at Haymarket that evening. Patrolman Richard Bold MAY have been there as well.
In 1887, a list was printed in the newspaper of the contributions each police officer in the city made towards the “Haymarket Monument Fund.” Richard Bold contributed .25 to the fund as part of the Larrabee Street Station. According to Wikipedia, that monument had been damaged in the early 1900s and later destroyed in demonstrations against the Vietnam War. A new monument dedicated to the event now stands in front of the Chicago Police Headquarters.
In 1888, I found Richard Bold on the Chicago Voter Registration stating he had lived in Chicago for 15 years and was naturalized. Perhaps he lived in NYC for two years with his Bold relatives there.
In 1889, Richard Bold appeared in list of Chicagoans in the paper who had contributed to the fund for the Chicago’s World Fair. He contributed $20! He never lived to see the Fair though.
He passed away in 1890 from influenza complications. Below is his death notice.
Richard had a son named Richard, born shortly after his death. He didn’t live to his first birthday. I have no idea who the other child is of Richard that is mentioned in his death notice.
Richard Bold is buried in St. Boniface Cemetery, burial place of his sister Emilia Bold Leies.
This all makes me wonder when did Emilia Bold get here and who did she come with, or was she like her siblings and came alone or as a teenager without an adult?
B.R., fourth cousin
T.A., fourth cousin
New York Passenger Manifests
Family Search Busenberg Catholic Church Records
New York City Marriage Index and Death Indexes
Social Security Death Indexes
World War I and World War II Draft Cards
United States Veteran’s Burial Cards
United States Naturalization Indexes
New York National Guard Enlistment Cards
Cook County Marriage and Death Indexes
Illinois Labor History Society
Chicago Voter Registration, 1888
Nueschweiler, Germany Catholic Church Confirmation Records via microfilm
My great great grandfather Johann Leies was born in Nuenschweiler in the German Palatinate in 1843 to farmers Johann Adam Leies and Elisabetha Margaretha Pfeiffer. He came to America in 1867 and became a naturalized citizen of the United States that same year in Wayne County, Ohio. Before moving to Chicago and running a saloon, he worked as a farmer, a carpenter, in beer and wine dealing, and married a childhood friend from Nuenschweiler in Wooster, Ohio – Immigrant #24 ~~ Great Great Grandmother Emilia Anna Bold Leies~~and had their children, Alexander, my great grandfather, and John Ferdinand.
Uncle John wrote a lot about this immigrant grandfather of his and even visited the Catholic church in Nuenschweiler to obtain a transcribed copy of his grandfather’s baptism. The village is about 6 miles from the current day border of Moselle, Lorraine, France. Johann was born at Huber Hof near Nuenschweiler. Huber Hof was the name of his great grandfather Michael Conrad’s farm. Hof originally meant temple or hall in Old Norse. It later was used for courtyard and eventually for a collection of buildings on a farm. Source: Wikipedia.
When Johann was born, the farm had already been inherited by his grandmother Gertruda Conrad. Information on his estate came from a great source: Intelligenzblatt des Rheinkreises, Volume 7, or Google Books! Johann was the oldest of at least four children. The baptismal records of Nuenschweiler are missing a few decades which means there may have been more siblings.
Like me, Uncle John did not know the date or location of Johann’s arrival here, although he left a great trail for the researchers that would come after him. He thinks he may have entered the country in New Orleans.
I wondered why did Johann go to Wooster, Ohio when I read Uncle John’s research. This past summer when I found a relation of ours (Union Soldier Peter Leies, 1841-1862, born in Nunschweiler, Germany and killed at Antietam), I began looking for more Leies family members in the Civil War. That led me to two other first cousins of great great grandfather Johann that were drafted during the Civil War in Ohio – Henry and Anthony Leies. They were brothers. From what I can tell, they were only drafted and didn’t serve. Their parents were Heinrich Leies and Barbara Buchheit from Nuenschweiler and all of them had been living in Wooster, Ohio. Heinrich was the oldest brother of Johann’s father making them aunt and uncle to Johann.
Not only is it apparent at this point in my research that the Heinrich Leies family paved the way for the other Leieses to come to America, but they got here even earlier than our first direct American ancestor Johann Schuttler in 1849. Heinrich Leies, wife Barbara, and their sons arrived in New York City in 1848.
I do siblings when I count the immigrants in my tree. Do Heinrich and family count since he was the sibling of Johann’s father? Definitely.
Back to Johann. Do you think he lived with Uncle Heinrich or a cousin when he got to Wooster? It is very likely. Johann would only have been about 5 years old when his Uncle Heinrich and Aunt Barbara left Nuenschweiler. Both his Uncle Heinrich and Aunt Barbara were two of his baptismal sponsors, as you can see on the parish record below.
Uncle John had a copy of a letter his grandfather wrote to his cousin Johann Leies (a different Johann!) in Massweiler, Germany in 1910 that he translated from German and distributed to his family before his death. One detail from his life in Germany is written in the letter. He stated that “When I was 18 years old I worked in Pirmasens near the church not far from Loewenbrunnen for a Jew called Wolf. He had a bone mill at Nuenschweiler; his son’s name was Alphonse. He went to America.”
Important facts about Johann’s years in America were listed in the letter to back home in 1910 in this order:
“I have been in America for 43 years. I worked as a farmer and carpenter for two years;
Then I worked 7 years in the wine and beer industry in Wooster, Ohio;
Then we moved to Chicago. Here in Chicago I have dealt in beer and wine for 8 years;
Then for four years in other types of work;
Then for 22 years in the piano business with my son.”
At the time of the 1880 Census in Wooster, Ohio, Johann’s cousin Henry Leies was running a saloon. I can’t help but think that Johann may have been working there at some point before he moved to Chicago in the “wine and beer industry.”
The paper trail on Johann picks up in Chicago in 1880 where he is running a saloon according to the census. I would love to know the name of his saloon – his beer and wine business. I couldn’t find anything on newspapers.com regarding his saloon. By the mid 1890s, the hard-working and diligent Johann owned his own piano dealing shop – John Leies Pianos. Later he brought his son Alexander into the piano dealing business and they became known as John Leies & Son Pianos.
Johann remarried in 1896, two years after the death of Emilia Bold. His second wife, Carolina Sickel, was born in New Orleans. The 1910 Federal Census stated that her father was born in France, and that her mother was born in Germany. She had been put into a home before Johann died in Chicago in 1922. You can see his Find-a-Grave Memorial here.
Written in Latin above, in the margin next to Johann’s baptism, is his date of death in America. Uncle John knew his grandfather often sent money home to the parish in Nuenschweiler. The priest back home either received word of his death from a relative in Nuenschweiler, a relative in Chicago who wrote home, or from Uncle John himself when he visited. In turn, the church books of Nuenschweiler were photographed by the Latter Day Saints. I would like to think it was from Uncle John.
Uncle John wrote a fantastic report on this grandfather of his. Email me if you wish to have a copy.
One of Johann’s ancestors was named Hans Adam Schwartz, born around 1650. According to the Contwig Reformed Church Records I found, he was a Gerichtsschoffe or Court Alderman in the Zwiebrucken area of the Palatinate. He was our 7th great grandfather. His daughter Anna Ottilia married our 6th great grandfather Jakob Johann Wenceslaus Layies-Trauden. Leies was spelled as Layies at that point in the church records.
Johann also had ancestors born in France like his wife Emilia. The earliest known of them was Jean Michel Conrad, born December 3, 1697 in Shweyen, Moselle. I would like to point out that in 1697, parts of the Palatinate were under French rule. His baptism from the Archives of Moselle is below. Thank you cousin G. Pfeiffer in France for sharing and emailing many Conrad records to me.
Like some of the ancestry of Emilia Bold, going back to the 1400s in this part of Europe, there are two parts of Johann’s ancestry that “claim” to be able to trace back to the 1400s, and even to the 1300s in a town in the present-day Saarland. In the 1300s the region of present-day Saarland was part of the Holy Roman Empire. Emilia’s Helfrich line isn’t a myth right now like Johann’s pre-1600s ancestors are for American researchers. Maybe those trees on Geneanet are correct, but I can’t prove it!
Johann’s 1910 letter stated he had a photo album of his family back in Germany. If that album still exists, it must be a treasure.
Wayne County, Ohio Historical Society
Nuenschweiler, Germany Catholic Church Records
Hornbach Catholic and Protestant Church Records
Intelligenzblatt des Rheinkreises, Volume 7
Cousin G. Pfeiffer, France
Baptemes Loutzviller 1691-1723, Archives 57
Contwig, Germany Church Records
Weisbach and Massweiler, Germany Catholic and Reformed Church Records
Zur Familie Trauden/Layes von Oberhausen, by Johannes Becherer via L. Broschart in Koblenz, Germany
United States Federal Censuses
Ohio Birth and Marriage Indexes
Chicago Marriage and Death Indexes
New York Passenger Lists/Manifests/National Archives
Chicago City Directories
Numerous French and German personal genealogy databases
I share DNA with the descendants of the Hauck family and Helfrich family that emigrated to Pennsylvania before the Revolution.
Anyone in America that has the surname Leies in their tree and has ancestors that immigrated to NYC and Wooster, Ohio is my DNA cousin. They can all be traced back to Wenceslaus Layes-Trauden who lived the Zweibrucken area in the 1690s. His origin is unknown.
*My Kempf ancestors from Grosssteinhausen, RP are possibly descended from the Saarbrucken Kempfs in the Saarland. I am working to prove descendancy from the Bailiff Hufflinger who lived in Saarbrucken in the 1400s which French researchers on Geneanet seem to think is a possibility.
Moselle, Lorraine, France
Loutzviller: Bittel, Scheid(t), Conrad
Schweyen: Conrad, Stauder
Volmunster: Bittel, Ziegler, Stauder, Stauder dit Le Suisse
I have DNA matches with the Conrad family that emigrated to Germantown, Pennsylvania. I share DNA matches with the Stauders the emigrated to Ohio from the Palatinate.
Bernese Anabaptist Refugees to the Palatinate
Aeschlen bei Oberdiessbach, Bern: Rubeli/Strubel (from Langnau), Muller – Rubeli and Muller migrated to Fischbach, RP and lived in Messerschwanderhof and Contwig. The Rubeli were related to the Gungerich Anabaptists of Diessbach. See: Mennosearch.com and Der Tauferlehrer Christian Gungerich von Oberdiessbach (1595-1671) und der Streit um Seinen Nachlas by Hanspeter Jecker.