Women’s History Month/52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: #12 ~ A Letter to and from 8th Great Grandmother Anna Mueller Rubeli~

This week’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge during Women’ History Month is 12. For my 12th challenge, I am choosing to write a letter to an ancestress.


Dear Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Grandmother Anna Mueller – Rubeli,

I am fascinated by your struggles, your family’s migration, and your the time period in which you lived.  Because you were born at a time of religious strife in current-day Switzerland, I am keenly aware that had you and your husband not made a life-altering decision for your family, you may have not survived. 

I think you may have been born in 1622 in Wattenwil, in the Canton of Bern but am unsure. Therefore, I am unsure of the names of your parents. I know positively that you married my 8th great grandfather Christen Strubel – Rubeli in 1642 in St. Alban’s Reformed Church in Oberdiessbach, Canton Bern.

I know you had 10 children, 8 of which survived to adulthood. My research told me that in the winter of 1672 you took your 6th youngest children with you to the German Palatinate because your Anabaptist faith made it dangerous for you to continue to live in the land of your birth.

Unfortunately, one of your daughters was again made to leave a country because of her faith later in her life. Did you know Madlena was sent to America in 1733 with other Mennonites living in Germany and also died in a foreign country like you?  Did you know your son Peter went back to Switzerland after your death and was imprisoned?  He was to be sent to America as well.

Thank you for choosing to leave.

What can you tell me about how the choice was made and about your life in the period leading up to your family’s flight before and after 1672, when I discovered that you, my 8th great grandfather, and your children Barbli, young Anna, young Christian, Hans (my 7th great grandfather), Nicholas, and Madlena appeared on a list of refugees kept by the minister of a Mennonite parish near Fischbach bei Dahn, in the German Palatinate?


One of your thousands of descendants

Dear 8th Great Granddaughter,

Our survival depended on our flight.

From the time of my childhood, believers had been practicing in secret. Authorities were always coming down from Bern to make sure we were attending THEIR church and having children baptized THEIR way.  My father would say it was only because the military companies of the nobles they rented to foreign countries were in such disarray did the authorities actually care.  

Your 8th great grandfather Christen was a very independent-minded man. His uncle was an Anabaptist preacher named Christian Gungerich who was imprisoned twice for practicing what wasn’t the approved religion. He had been executed in prison the year before we fled. My mother-in-law was not even allowed to keep one piece of furniture from his house.  The town officials took all his property with plans to sell it and keep all of the proceeds.

Then, a few months before we left our homeland, men from Bern came to Oberdiessbach and demanded all believing men in the town swear an oath as to their faith – or recant. When your 8th great grandfather refused we feared they would take my mother-in-law or one of your 7th great grandfather’s sisters to prison in Bern as ransom until the men of the family took that false oath. We knew then we could not stay in the canton and thought of perhaps going to Holland.  

We were hearing the stories from brethren that if you were able- bodied, the authorities in Bern were taking believers out of the prisons and selling them like livestock to Italian merchants as galley slaves. Leaders like Christian Gungerich, instead of being executed, were being whipped or branded to then be taken away on carts and left at the border with their wounds.

We believed our sons would suffer the fate of being sold to Italy. When winter came our house had already been seized by the authorities.  We were given a choice to leave or face branding or slavery. We were homeless.  It was not much of a choice.  Our survival depended on it.  

We hid for a short period of time in the Oberland, and left with the clothes we were wearing following another group of believers. On our way we were given help and encountered others suffering our fate. Most were very young, very old, or lame. Those that traveled with horses did so with the slow, old animals because the authorities had taken their faster valuable livestock. Some men and women traveled without their families. Of the very old, most traveled alone. Would I have the courage at their age I asked myself?

It took us about 4 weeks to make the trip to the Palatinate during the winter.

After we arrived at Fischbach, your 8th great grandfather, and your 7th great grandfather Hans worked daily as laborers on a farm. When we saved enough money, your 8th great grandfather, your many times uncle Peter, and many times uncle Nicholas purchased farmable land and built a small house near Otterberg, Germany and gave it the name Messerschwanderhof.

In 1889, a cruel king in France sent armies to burn the lands of the Palatinate. Before your 8th great grandfather and I could re-unite with our children and grandchildren, who were hiding on an island in the Rhine until the French left the valley, I died in that foreign land – hiding as I did when we left my homeland.  

Your 8th great grandfather wandered a bit before he made it home where his sons were beginning the rebuilding of their farmMy grandson Balthasar Rubeli, your 6th great grandfather, was born shortly before the firing of the farm. He became an important man in the village when he grew. He was a Gerichtsschoffe.

I hope my daughter Madlena and son Peter were sent to a welcoming place.

As we received kindness in our flight, please remember it.  Tell of how our children could have been ransomed by a corrupt government, and will you, as my descendants, show the same strength and sense of humanity to those like us in your time.  

Keep up your hunt for more like me in our branches.  They too are waiting for their stories to be remembered.  


Your Ahnfrau




Immigrant #29 ~ Great Great Grandfather Johann Leies, Chicago Saloon Owner and Piano Dealer ~

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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.


September 1848 Passenger Manifest of the Nicolas, which sailed from Le Havre, France


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.

Johannes Leies Baptism, dated April 25, 1843, Catholic Parish in Nuenschweiler


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.


Chicago City Directory, 1896


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.

The Ancestry of Johann Leies (so far)

The great grandmother of Johann was Margaretha Rubly.  It is in this part of Leies line that we descend from The Anabaptist Rubeli of Aeschlen bei Oberdiessbach, Switzerland, religious refugees to the German Palatinate in 1672.  I really enjoyed researching that part of the Leies family.

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

Uncle John

Chicago Marriage and Death Indexes



New York Passenger Lists/Manifests/National Archives


Google Books

Chicago City Directories

Numerous French and German personal genealogy databases
















My German Palatinate, Saarland, Lorraine, France, and Swiss Anabaptist Surname and Place Lists – POST UPDATED 12/30/18


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The German Palatinate

  • Nunschweiler: Leies/Lais/Layes/Leis/Leyes, Bold, Pfeiffer, Scheid (originated in Loutzviller, Moselle), Bauer, Burkhart, Conrad (originated in Schweyen, Moselle)
  • Knopp-Labach: Bold, Becker
  • Rodalben: Scheid (originated in Loutzviller, Moselle), Buchler, Becker, Hauck/Hocque/Hock/Hoque/Huekh, Bisser(in), Helfrich/Helferich/Helferig, Helf, Hoh
  • Vinnigen: Hauck, Kolsch (originated in Moselle)
  • Leimen/Merzalben/Leiningen: Reber, Helfrich/Helferich/Helferig (in Leimen before and after the Thirty Years War according to 850 Jahre Leimen.  See also Die Helfriche)
  • Mauschbach: Conrad, Steu/yer, Pfeiffer, Kempf, Burkhart, Ziegler
  • Grosssteinhausen: Pfeiffer, Kempf, Schaefer, Engel
  • Kirchenarnbach: Bisserin
  • Leichelbingen (Monbijou): Ziehl
  • Hornbach: Ziehl
  • Beidershausen: Stuppi/y, Muller, Rubli
  • Niedershausen: Stuppi
  • Oberhausen: Rubly/Rubli, Schwartz, Leyies/Leies/Layes/Leyies-Trauden/Traudi
  • Bechhofen: Rubli
  • Zweibrucken: Schwartz
  • Weselberg: Buchler/Bugler, Wilhelm
  • Weisbach: Leies
  • Contwig: Leyies/Leies/Leyies-Trauden/Leyies-Traudi/Traudi, Rubeli, Bevell/Buffel, Stein, Finck
  • Messerschwanderhof: Rubeli/Reubal/Ruble
  • Harsberg: Buchler/Bugler, Wilhelm
  • Thaleischweiler: Bauer, Matheis, Pfeiffer/Pfeifer, Simon, Ganter/Gander, Han, Becker
  • Martinshohe: Becker, Mueller
  • Massweiler: Moraux, Simon, Gander
  • Wachenheim, Alzey-Worms: Schuttler


  • Saarbrucken: Kempf, Ludt, Hufflinger
  • Burbach: Gans, Hufflinger

*My Kempf ancestors from Grosssteinhausen, RP are possibly descended from the Saarbrucken Kempfs in the Saarland.  

Moselle, Lorraine, France

  • Loutzviller: Bittel, Scheid(t), Conrad
  • Schweyen: Conrad, Stauder
  • Volmunster: Bittel, Ziegler, Zeigler Huber, Stauder, Stauder dit Le Suisse
  • Haspelscheidt: Fabing/Faber
  • Sarreguemines: Bittel
  • Roppeviller: Schaub dit Bittel
  • Bliesbruck: Stauder dit Le Suisse
  • Leiderschiedt: Weyland
  • Urbach: Faber, Champion 
  • Petit-Rederching: Faber, Faber dit Schoff Jockel
  • Bitche: Faber

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.
  • Oberdiessbach, Bern: Gungerich/Gundrich/Gungery, Schindler
  • Langnau, Bern: Strubel, Vogt

My DNA matches the Rubeli descendants that emigrated to Pennsylvania before the Revolution.  They used Ruble and Ruple in America.  See also this former blog post for sources and references on the Strubel/Rubeli:  The Anabaptist Rubeli of Aeschlen bei Oberdiessbach, Switzerland.

See also: My Anabaptist/Mennonite/Canton Bern, Switzerland Surname List

Links to my Palatinate Immigrants and Refugees on Ancestry.com

Christian Rubeli – Mennonite Refugee to the Palatinate

Anna Muller – Mennonite Refugee to the Palatinate

Emilia Bold Leies

Elisabetha Scheid Bold

Johannes Leies

Peter Leies – Palatinate Immigrant that died at Antietam


Thank you for visiting.










Immigrants #11 to 20 ~ The Anabaptist Strubel/Rubeli of Aeschlen bei Oberdiessbach, Switzerland

descendancy chart

4/20/18 – A genealogy angel (Hanspeter Jecker) from Switzerland sent me more complete, accurate, and voluminous data on the Strubel/Rubeli family that lived in Oberdiessbach, Bern in the 1600s.  Their origins were in Langnau where they were known as Strubel.  The data detailed an Anabaptist preacher (Tauferlehrer) 10th great grand uncle of the writer that was imprisoned twice by Bernese authorities named Christian Gungerich and the disbursement of his property upon his imprisonment and death.  For those related to me, our branch of the Leies family are now confirmed Gungerich descendants. 

The Rubeli family were religious refugees that fled to Germany from Switzerland in early 1672.  They were forced to leave Canton Bern because of their belief in the Anabaptist faith.  They emigrated to the part of Germany that was called Pfalzfgrafschaft bei Rhein (the present-day Palatinate or Pfalz Region).  Christian Rubeli and his wife Anna Muller were my 8th great grandparents and they brought their 6 youngest children with them, including, my 7th great grandfather, Hans Theobald Rubeli, who was only 10 years old, to the village of Fischbach to receive aid from earlier Anabaptist migrants.

Data and Sources Concerning the Origins of the Family

A book is written about the farm the Rubeli lived on outside Otterberg in Germany called Messerschwanderhof claims Christian Rubeli was born in Langnau, Bern, Switzerland.  His father may have been Peter Rubeli and his mother may have been a Gungerich.  This is a link to the website where Christian Rubeli’s family lived on their farm after he settled down in Germany:  Messerschwanderhof.  The buildings you can see on that webpage were most likely built after his death.  Because new research continually comes out to aid those researching Mennonite ancestry, I wrote this post using the following sources:

Der Tauferlehrer Christian Gungerich von Oberdiessbach (1595-1671) und der Streit um Seinen Nachlass by Hanspeter Jecker.

Der Messerschwanderhof by Herman Karch, Section on the Rubeli (translated to English);

Langnau and Aeschlen bei Oberdiessbach Reformed Church Records;

Bernese Anabaptists and Their American Descendants by Delbert L. Gratz;

Palatine Mennonite Census Lists 1664-1793;

History of the Bernese Anabaptists by Ernst Muller, Minister in Langnau;


Emigrants, Refugees and Prisoners Vol 1-4, by Richard Warren Davis;

Contwig Reformed and Catholic Church Records;

Nunschweiler and Weisbach Catholic Church Records;

French and Swiss History; and

The Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online (Gameo.org).

The Family in Switzerland

4/20/18 – The information under this subheading has been updated to reflect new information in the article published in Mennonita Helvetica by Hanspeter Jecker: Der Tauferlehrer Christian Gungerich von Oberdiessbach (1595 – 1671).  New data is reflected in this post with bold text in PURPLE.  

At the suggestion of a distant cousin, I found the Rubeli family in Bernese Anabaptists and Their American Descendants, because they were listed among the names of Anabaptist families living in Aeschlen bei Oberdiessbach in the Thun area of the canton in the second half of the 17th Century.  Christian Rubeli was born in 1620. (sources: Mennosearch.com and Emigrants Refugees and Prisoners). 4/20/18 – Christian was born Christen Strubel in Langnau, Bern.  His father was Peter Strubel and mother was Barbara Gungerich.  

Der Messerschwanderhof, if I am understanding the translation to English, and perhaps something happened in the translation, Peter Rubeli, supposed father of Christian, perished in the Thirty Years War.  First of all, it could be very likely that the rich men of the canton sent a Rubeli or Rubelis as mercenaries to fight for a foreign power in the Thirty Years War.  That is what the Swiss did, and that’s how the rich men in Switzerland kept their money… So I checked the dates of the 30 Years War because I planned to write the Bernese archives about Swiss mercenary rolls to see if it was possible to get any military data regarding Peter Rubeli.  So I looked up the Thirty Years War.  I then realized that given the dates of the Thirty Years War, there was a problem with what was in Der Messerschwanderhof.   There are two things that I think aren’t accurate with that if that man was our Peter Rubeli.  1.  The Anabaptists refused the oath and were against violence, and that was a main reason for their persecution; and 2.  If Peter Rubeli, Christian’s father, did perish in the Thirty Years War, he wouldn’t be there to have the children the book claims descend from him and also probably couldn’t buy that house.

SO! there are three things we can surmise from what is in Der Messerschwanderhof:

-Christian’s father was not Peter or one of these Peters.  Gungerich is not the last name of his mother either.

-Christian’s father bought the house in 1630 and was not in the war.

-Christian’s father did perish in the war and it angered his children who then trended to follow the anti-State religion – Anabaptism.  This makes for a better story. 

You cannot take the translation of the book literally.

4/20/18 – Peter Strubel/Rubeli was Christian’s father and he bought the farm in Oberdiessbach from his father-in-law Hans Gungerich when his brother-in-law died.  Peter Strubel/Rubeli WAS STILL alive in 1630. 

At this time, the only information I have on Christian Rubeli’s wife is that she was named Anna Muller, the church record of St. Alban’s in Oberdiessbach states she married Christian Rubeli on December 2, 1642, and she was obviously in the baptisms of her children, including the baptism of my 7th great grandfather Hans (Theobald) Rubeli pictured below.

The baptism of our Hans Rubeli from St. Alban’s, Aeschlen bei Oberdiessbach, Canton Bern

The Rubeli – Muller Migration

In 1671-1672, persecution of the Anabaptists in Switzerland was at it worst.  In November 1671, 200 persons had come to the Palatinate from Switzerland, including cripples, and elderly people ages 70-90.  They arrived destitute, having walked, with bundles on their backs, and their children in their arms.  In January 1672, 215 Swiss came to the west of the Rhine, and 428 came to the east of the Rhine.  (sources: Gameo. link, History of the Bernese Anabaptists.

With that data, I suspect that Christian, Anna Muller and 6 of their younger children, including our 10 year old Hans Rubeli, were part of the 215 Swiss Anabaptists that arrived west of the Rhine in January 1672 – because the data in Emigrants, Refugees and Prisoners and Mennosearch.com, says Christian “was called Christen Roling when he was listed as a Swiss Anabaptist refugee in April 1672 at Fischbach, Germany.  He was age 52 and his wife Anna Muller was 50 years.  They had 8 children, 6 with them, with the oldest 20 years.”  Fischbach was west of the Rhine River.  The following are the children of Christian and Anna that came to Germany:

Barbli- 20, Anna-16, Christian-14, Hans (Theobald)-10, Nikolas-8, and Madlena-3.

Source: Emigrants, Refugees and Prisoners, Mennosearch.com.

Eventually, our Hans married a lady named Anna Liesbeth, who may also have been a refugee, they had at least 6 children somewhere near Biedershausen, Germany.  If you are a Rubeli researcher reading this, there is misinformation on this website you may be familiar with:  Rubli.  As you can see, Hans Theobald was only 10 when he got to Germany, he didn’t marry his future wife Anna Liesbeth in Switzerland, bring her to Germany and have my 6th great grandfather, Balthasar Jakob, the Gerichtsschoffe.  Hans and Anna Liesbeth were already there in Germany.

In my search, Has and Anna Liesbeth had Balthasar near Biesdershausen in 1690.  I found Hans Theobald RUBELI listed as a resident of the Contwig area of the Palatinate with his wife Anna Elisabetha on June 27, 1695 in the Catholic Parish.  They are not Catholic residents.  The nearest big town to Contwig is Zweibrucken.  In 1720 in the Reformed Church records of Contwig, Hans Theobald is listed as a “common man” and the name is spelled Rubli.  Contwig is also a couple of miles from Nunschweiler, birthplace of Johann Leies and Emilie Bold.  Hans Theobald’s children appear in the local Reformed Church records, while Balthasar appears in both the local Reformed and Catholic records.  The name changes to Rubly, Rubli, Ruble, and Rubel in the early 1700s in Germany.  Balthasar married Anna Elisabetha Stuppi, and their daughter Anna Margaretha Rubly (as it was spelled in the Nunschweiler Catholic Church records) married Johannes Leyes, making them the 3rd great grandparents to Anne Leies Ferraro.  Sources: Contwig, Weisbach, and Nunschweiler church records.

3rd line, 1st word, spelled Rubly in Nunschweiler

The Children Left in Switzerland

Christian and Anna’s oldest son Peter Rubeli didn’t accompany them to Germany according to the Fischbach refugee list.  According to Emigrants, Refugees and Prisoners, “he was a Mennonite of Aeschlen bei Oberdiessbach when he was to be sent to Pennsylvania on April 17, 1709.  He was in jail at the orphanage at Bern with his wife Margaret Engle.  Ulrich Rubeli, their second oldest son, stayed and married Anna Russer.”  However, Der Messerschwanderhof tells that Peter’s wife Margaret spent some time in the Palatinate with him and went back to their valley in Switzerland because she missed its beauty.  He went after her and they were caught, and were sentenced to be sent to America. Der Messerschwanderhof said they made their escape back to the Palatinate but also states they escaped from being sold as galley slaves which causes some confusion for a reader.  An Anna Rubeli had been imprisoned as well and she was sent away in 1711 to Holland on a ship called the Thuner.  Source: History of the Bernese Anabaptists.  I do not know her relation to our Christian and Anna, or if she was the daughter named Anna that may have returned to her homeland as well.   There are numerous other Rubeli shipped away too, of which I can’t establish a connection to our Rubeli at this time.

What Became of Christian and wife Anna

Back in Germany, Christian and his son Nikolas moved to near Otterberg and lived on a farm where a farm had had been continually in existence since the year 1195.  (Source: Messerschwanderhof).  Der Messerschwanderhof implies that Christian, Anna, and Christian’s father Peter moved to Otterberg, Germany where they lived there as early as 1688 and another date of 1682.  Other farm sources: Otterberg and Messerschwanderhof website.  The surname is spelled on those websites as Rubel and Reubal.  I believe a father of our Christian Rubeli would have been too old and doubt that.  Der Messerschwanderhof says that Louis XIV burned the Palatinate in 1684.  That year may not accurate.   He burned parts of it more than once, in 1674, 1688, and 1689.  Messerschwanderhof was burned down, and the French killed or stole the Rubeli cattle, and it is believed the people that survived the devastation fled to a small island in the Rhine River where they lived in huts and survived on frogs and snails (Source: Der Messerschwanderhof).  Because of the French actions, October 6, 1683 saw the first wave of Mennonite settlers from the Palatinate arriving in the Philadelphia at the invitation of William Penn.  They founded a new settlement called Germantown.  Source: GAMEO.org.

Contrary to what is written in Der Messerschwanderhof, after the burning, our Christian Rubeli didn’t run off or sail to America because the farm was lost.  If you want to accurately take what is in Der Messerschwanderhof though, in 1698, with the payment of protection fees to the sovereign, their youngest son Nikolas Rubel (as they spelled it) went back to the farm and began the rebuilding of the lower part of the Messerschwanderhof.  I tend to believe this part of the book since his descendants continued to live on the farm for hundreds of years.

According to Emigrants, Refugees and Prisoners/Mennosearch.com, our Christian Rubeli was living at Messerschwanderhof in 1691.  If that is accurate, what year was the farm really burned, and what year was it really re-built? 

Given the age of our Hans Theobald, and the possible dates of the burning of Messerschwanderhof, I surmise there is a possibility that he was living there when the French rolled through.  This could explain why Hans ended up near Biedershausen in 1690 and then near Contwig in 1695, where the children he and Anna Liesbeth had after Balthasar were born.

Mennosearch.com relates that descendants of Nikolas Rubeli, Christian’s brother, emigrated to Pennsylvania, settling in York and Mifflin Counties before the Revolution.  My DNA likely matches so many PA Dutch descendants because of these various portions of my Palatinate ancestry.

Finally, my research hasn’t discovered when Christian, Anna, and their son Hans Theobald and wife Anna Liesbeth died.  According to the GAMEO.org, Otterberg Germany has its own Mennonite cemetery that they have kept through the centuries.  I wonder if Contwig has the same…




Immigrants 6 and 7 ~ Auguste Eckebrecht, domestic servant and Anna Liesbeth N.N., religious refugee

Immigrant Auguste Eckebrecht was the only sister of Fritz Eckebrecht, my great great grandfather, and two years his senior.  Anna Liesbeth was my 7th great grandmother and a religious refugee.  Her last name is not known.

Auguste was born in 1846 in Schwarzburg, Thuringia, Germany.  She came to America with her family in 1866 aboard the Jenny that had sailed from Bremen in a journey across the Atlantic that took approximately 3 months.  At the time of the 1870 Federal Census, Auguste lived as a domestic servant in the home of a grocer Adolph Kate and his young wife Emilia.


By 1876 she had married Charles Wolder or Wolter and they had a child that didn’t survive to adulthood.  In the above snipping tool “snipped photo” you can see Auguste is showing you her wedding ring.  She put her hand in that position on purpose.  She was married in this photo that Eckebrecht descendants believe was taken between 1872 and 1875.  I was unable to find the name or the sex of the child she had in 1876 or to trace her husband.  He has proven difficult to find.  Auguste Eckebrecht passed away in Chicago in 1916 and was buried in Rosehill Cemetery.  She was the only sibling of Fritz Eckebrecht that did not have any children that survived to adulthood.

Anna Liesbeth N.N.

Anna Liesbeth was born in Switzerland and immigrated to the Palatinate in Germany around 1675-1685 as a religious refugee.  She and her husband Hans Theobald Rubeli were part of the Anabaptist migration to the Palatinate.  Previous Anabaptist congregations that had already settled in the Palatinate set up shelter for the refugees when they had to leave their Swiss homeland with nothing but the clothing on their backs.  Their possessions had been seized by the cantonal governments.  They were forced to leave their homeland if they refused to take the oath to the state church.   If they stayed and practiced their faith, they were hunted down by Taufer hunters, imprisoned, beheaded, burned, drowned, and in the most extreme circumstances that forced the greatest number to flee their cantons, they were sold as galley slaves to the Venetian Empire.  The former punishments just drew more followers.


I found a church record in the Massweiler area of the Palatinate that references a surname Vetter after a person named Anna Liesbeth.  However, I am not sure they are the same woman, or why an Anabaptist refugee would be mentioned in a Catholic church record.  I suppose it is possible.  She was the mother of Balthasar Jakob Rubly, the Gerichtsschoff and 5 other children born in Germany.  She was my 7th great grandmother.  Since I do not positively know her last name, I do not even know her birth or death dates.

These two women are parts of separate lines in my German grandmother’s ancestry.  One went to Germany and another left Germany.




New York Passenger Lists

United States Federal Censuses

Cook County Birth and Death Indexes

Photo from Frank Eckebrecht

Weisbach Catholic Church Registers

Massweiler Catholic Church Registers

Contwig Catholic Church Registers

Aeschlen bei Oberdeissbach Evangelical Reformed Church Register List of Taufers (Anabaptists) living in the vicinity

Palatine Mennonite Census Lists

Bernese Anabaptists and Their American Descendants

History of the Bernese Anabaptists

Rubli-Ahnen in Dachsen ZH und Zürich,  Rubeli aus Oberdiessbach BE und Gampelen BE, sowie Rubly und Ruble in Deutschland, im Elsass und in Amerika (dort auch Ruble, Rublee, Rubley, Ruple, Ruplely, Rupley, Rublier, Rupple, Ruppley, Robblee,  Robilyrd, Roblee, Roblyer)

Emigrants, Refugees, and Prisoners: An Aid to Mennonite Family Research

~Next immigrant:  Carl Johann Eckebrecht, and his colorful descendant ~


My 2017 Genealogy Resolutions

Happy New Year!  Feliz Anno Nuovo!  Frohes Neues Jahr!

new years.PNG

Will it be this year?  Will the USCIS fulfill my request for Angelo’s Board of Special Inquiry hearing file in 2017?  Will it happen this year?

It is the start of a new year and time to make our firm oaths of intent to better ourselves in the coming year.  So I ate the lentils to ensure wealth this year.  In the genealogy world that means I resolve to spend less money on genealogical research.  I resolve spend more time sorting and organizing records (yeah right!), maybe have the cash to join a genealogy society or two, including one that concentrates on Italian-American research, and going forward this year in my family history research I prudently resolve to do the following:

In my Swiss German line ~ ~

Finish reading the books I already have on Bernese Anabaptists from Masthof Press before I try to get my hands on more.  Gerichtsshoffe Balthasar Rubli’s parents were banished from the Emmenthal Valley in Canton Bern by the Swiss government sometime between 1675 and 1689.  They left with no possessions and walked for two weeks with the clothes on their backs with hundreds of other refugees towards the promise of religious freedom in the German Palatinate where they raised Balthasar, my 6th great grandfather.  He left the Anabaptist faith and married into a Catholic family.

The story of the persecution of the Rubeli or Rubli appear in these two books:

The Rubeli are also in the Palatinate Mennonite Census of the late 1600s and early 1700s. My ultimate goal is to find the first Swiss Anabaptist in this line.

In my German lines ~~

For Johann Schuttler, my first American ancestor, I am proud he made wagons for the Union Army.  I resolve to never again ask a descendant of his son if they took an Ancestry DNA test, knowing Johann’s second wife, and the son’s mother, was 7 months pregnant when Johann married her, and knowing they had to swear out an affidavit to have him buried in the Schuttler cemetery plot when he died.  Now I know why I never heard from that researcher again!  I just wish I could find the names of Johann’s parents and will not pay a researcher in Germany to do that.

If possible this year, I resolve to fill out more family in the line of the Schultheiss (Mayor) Johann Valentin Helfrich. He was my 8th great grandfather.  His family appears in their own section in this free history book downloadable from the town of Leimen:


Valentin’s ancestors appear in another German language publication called Die Helfriche im Grafensteiner Amt that a distant cousin was nice enough to email to me in spurts because neither his nor my email could support it in all in one email.  Valentin descends from a German Junker.  That is a minor nobleman –  something like a squire.  Junker Helfrich was born around 1430 and is my 15th great grandfather.  The book says he was from Leinengen, Germany.  I offered to translate some of the book for my distant cousin.  I don’t know what I was thinking.  It takes me at least two hours to translate one page and there are about 75 pages in the book!

In another German line I resolve to begin research on Marie Louise Koppel, my 3rd great grandmother, mother of the Fritz Eckebrecht from Thuringen.  I would like to work on her ancestry, not the Eckebrechts which dear cousin Frank already researched.  She owned a mill according to Frank.

She is the woman seated in the center in this photo:


In my French lines ~ ~

There is a 9th great grandfather of mine named Gall Budel.  He was a miller with a first name I have never encountered before.  There is an odd rumor floating around the French-speaking internet that he was also Maire or Mayor of Haspelschiedt, Moselle, France.  I cannot confirm that and resolve to research that.

In my Italian lines ~ ~

I resolve to request the pension record of Angelo Ferraro and to figure out a way to push for Francesco Antonio Ferraro’s military record for his service in the Bourbon Army.

I resolve to continue to search for descendants of Angelo and Filomena in America while waiting for Caserta and Napoli records to go on Antenati.

I resolve to continue to add more ancestors in my Farindolesi and Pennesi tree because it is so simple to do with the records Antenati has online for Pescara.

Speaking of the Farindolesi tree, because my combined trees approach 3000 individuals, and I don’t believe it has been done before with the any of these Italian lines, I resolve to work towards preparing at least one of my trees put into the next new thing in genealogy sites on the world wide web, my own database.  I think it will make researching easier for those that ask me which Antonio Cirone in my tree is theirs because I have at least 5 Antonio Cirone in my tree.  I have used these databases when I work on trees for my relatives, but, none of my ancestors are in one of those.

Finally, when I get the genealogy attention deficit disorder problem I usually get every two weeks or so, while working on any resolutions above, I resolve to finish my cousin’s tree and finish the other tree of a relative who descends from the Soderini of Florence are the subject of this book that I was able to find used for a cheap price:


Yes, his ancestors were right there with the Medici.  Happy ancestor hunting!










Grandma Had Mennonite Ancestors?! Yes.

For an update to this blog post, please see this newer post: The Anabaptist Rubeli of Aeschlen bei Oberdiessbach, Switzerland.

Grandma had Swiss Anabaptist/Mennonite ancestors from the Emmenthal Valley of Bern, Switzerland. Grandma’s and Uncle John’s German Palatinate ancestry trails back to peoples from another area of Europe – the Swiss Mennonites. Or Anabaptists. They were persecuted and exiled from the Bern Stadt by the government.  The Rubeli or Rubly line that married into the Leies line in 1751 were part of the large number of ethnic Swiss Anabaptist refugees that fled their homes in the late 1600s and early 1700s and settled in the German Palatinate. Notably, Anna Margaretha Rubly, 5 x great grandmother, was the daughter and granddaughter of the Swiss Anabaptist Rubeli/Rubly that were exiled from the Swiss State of Bern because of their faith. Balthasar Jakob Rubly, her father, was an important man in his village and an important piece of the Anabaptist ties.  Anna Margaretha married Johann Leyes in 1751. Johann Leyes’s mother, Anna Ottilia Schwartz, may have also been the daughter and granddaughter of Swiss Mennonite refugees from the Emmenthal Valley of the Bern Stadt.  More on the the Anabaptists below.

You can see the changes in the Leies name in this capture.  Simply click for a larger image. I would not be surprised if the Stuppi were Anabaptist too.

 The Swiss Anabaptists

The Anabaptist Brethren were a radical offshoot of the Swiss Reformation.  It grew in Zurich in the year 1525. They flourished in response to what the earliest Anabaptist leaders, Catholic priests, felt was a corrupt Church. Its early preachers and teachers, Catholic priests, renounced riches, renounced praying to the Saints and Mary, ate meat during Lent, and married. The largest difference between that and other reformed faiths in the Swiss States was that they didn’t believe in infant baptism. They believed in the baptism of older children and adults. Hence the name Anabaptists or Re-Baptists. The other threatening parts of their creed were pacifism, including the avoidance of military service, and the refusal to take oaths, were what probably scared the Swiss States. But, pacifism in Switzerland would make sense because Switzerland was neutral, yes? Yes. However, the Swiss States stressed equal participation of all during times of war and their noble lords required those on their lands to be used as mercenaries for a fee to feed the armies of Europe. This hurt the noble lords’ pockets. Anabaptism was born when Switzerland was not yet a country. Each Swiss State, or the later geographic divisions in present-day Switzerland called Cantons, had their own “state religion” as a result of the split during the Reformation. A growing religious movement that avoided military service and would not take oaths was a threat to these sovereign states.


 Anabaptist Persecution

The first Anabaptists were burned at the stake, imprisoned and starved to death, exiled, or drowned. Some had powerful friends that gained their release from imprisonment. When they were released, a few Anabaptists would continue to preach against the state’s church. Having been expelled from Zurich Stadt, they went about other Swiss States and German speaking areas of Central Europe converting new believers. Bern Stadt enlisted hunters to go fetch Anabaptists for a bounty. Yes, they had Anabaptist hunters. Bern would capture and torture the Brethren into recanting. If they recanted they could stay in Bern Stadt. After 10 days if they didn’t renounce Anabaptism they were exiled from Bern Stadt  and escorted to the borders. If the men returned to the Bern Stadt they were beheaded and if the women returned they were drowned. This only caused the populace of the secluded, remote, and independent- minded Emmenthal Valley in the Bern Stadt (where Grandma’s ancestors had to leave) more sympathetic to their cause. The killing of Anabaptists actually just swelled their numbers. The people of the Emmenthal Valley would continue to aid and hide Anabaptists.   Because of the region’s sympathies, many non-Bernese came to the Emmenthal and etablished an Anabaptist settlement near Lake Thun. Since their methods at eradicating the Anabaptists weren’t working, Bern Stadt then tried a new form of punishment after imprisonment and exile. If the Anabaptist was exiled and returned the women were put in the pillory and the men sold to the Italian City-States as galley slaves. This helped empty the over-crowded prisons and fill the State’s pocket.

An artist’s Rendition of Swiss Anabaptists being taken as slaves to be sold to Italy

 Our Rubeli of the Emmenthal Valley

When the galley slave sentence began to be enforced the Rubeli family appeared in the list of names of Anabaptists living in the Emmenthal Valley near Oberdiessbach in 1670, according to the History of the Bernese Anabaptists and Their American Descendants by Delbert L. Gratz. I think they may have been part of the Anabaptists from outside the Valley because the surname is not native to the area. Bern Stadt forbade Anabaptists from owning land. The Schwartz were living in a nearby village according to this same publication in my possession. The persecution and the fear of slavery had become too much for the Anabaptists and they began to trickle out of the Bern Stadt to other German-speaking areas of Europe. *

The Rubeli family lived in Aeschlen bei Oberdiessbach, of the Emmenthal Valley, Bern Stadt (present-day Canton Bern) before the exile. They made their way to the German Palatinate to escape from their homeland where they were no longer permitted to own property. Obviously it is impossible to know their route but many Swiss “faith refugees” skirted through France’s southernmost border with Switzerland into Alsace and then to Palatinate because Alsace began to kick some of them out. What is known right now is that the oldest in the Leies ancestral line to emigrate with his children and their families to a farm outside Otterberg, Rheinpfalz was a Christian Rubeli, our 8 x great grandfather. The emigration included his children, and most importantly, his son Hans Theobald Rubeli – our ancestors.

Oberdiessbach, Switzerland Baptismal Record of Hans Theobald Rubeli (Balthasar’s Father). It states he was born in Aeshlen bei Oberdiessbach.

 Flight to the Palatinate

The Swiss Anabaptists had been invited to the German Palatinate by the ruling prince. The Palatinate had been de-populated during the Thirty Years War (1618-1648). He promised religious freedom and the pacifistic Anabaptists, with their superior farming abilities, seemed to be an attractive fit for his domain. The Rubeli appear on records around 1688, near Otterberg, Rheinpfalz. Hans Theobald and Anna Liesbeth have their son Balthasar about 1689 near Biederhausen, Rheinpfalz. Christian, a Hans and Christian’s brother Peter appear on Mennonite Census lists compiled and translated by Hermann and Gertrud Guth. These were then published by a Pennsylvania Mennonite couple and sold by a Pennsylvania company, Masthof Press in Morgantown. The Schwartz too appear in the census lists. This is another book that is proof of their origins.

Balthasar Jakob Rubly and the Palatinate

In conclusion, for now, on Grandma’s Anabaptists, they had to assimilate in the Palatinate. By the time Anna Margaretha Rubly (as they were in Germany) married Johann Leyes in 1751, her father Balthasar Rubly, grandson of Christian Rubeli and son of Hans Theobald and Anna Liesbeth, was a Gerichtsschoffe.   In “American” – that is a Justice of the Peace. An alderman. A respected village elder appointed by someone in a position of power to mete out justice as you would see in a type of small claims court. Why is that important besides he had a neat job and awesome name?  Because Balthasar probably had to TAKE AN OATH of some kind to a state or a ruler. He was now no longer considered a practicing Mennonite and would have been banned.



According to the Online Global Online Anabaptist Encyclopedia, in the early 1700s the Palatinate fell into the hands of an Anti-Mennonite ruler.  They were strong Catholics. Taxes were levied on the Mennonites because they were considered religious dissidents. They were not permitted to purchase more lands for their sons when their families grew. If their population grew too numerous they were shipped to America to keep their numbers down. Because they were superior farmers, it caused jealousy. The law looked the other way if a non-Mennonite allowed his livestock to graze on their fields. Religious meetings were restricted to twenty people and they were not permitted to try to convert the rest of the local populace. Eventually, of their own free will, Mennonites made their way to William Penn’s lands because of his promise of religious freedom. Oh and by the way, the Swiss Mennonites are credited with bringing the potato to the Palatinate, according to the Swiss Mennonite Cultural and Historical Association. Many Swiss faith refugees and their descendants lost their dialect and culture and assimilated into the Palatinate, speaking the language – Plattdeutsch. Maybe Balthasar assimilated to protect his property and family. No doubt he would have been a friend to them.

*For readers descending from Ulrich Wirth – his Swiss Anabaptist ancestors also fled the Bern Stadt but lived on the other side of the Rhine in Alsace, France. His sons, most notably the fifer/drummer, if they were still Mennonites, would have been banned from the Brethren when they fought for the good guys during the Revolutionary War.



As previously noted, there is the possibility that the mother of Johann Leyes, Anna Ottilia Schwartz, was also a Swiss Anabaptist living in the Palatinate. Johann Leyes’s cousin also married a Rubly, and still another of his cousins married a Schwartz. While researching these newly discovered Anabaptists I came across a comment in a book noting how common the use of the name Anna was in the 1600s and early 1700s in Switzerland. Not only did Wenceslaus Layies – Trauden have a daughter name Anna, so did his son Johann Jakob Leyies-Trauden that also married an Anna Ottilia. Anna Margaretha Rubly had a sister named Anna Eva.   I don’t know where Wenceslaus Layies – Trauden came from.  He too was not from the Palatinate.

If you would like to read more about Anabaptist history online the Global Online Anababaptist Encyclopedia has numerous articles on the places referenced in this posting and they have recently been expanded and updated.  Another interesting site is the Swiss Mennonite Cultural and Historical Association.

In case you hadn’t noticed the new tagline photo at the top is a panorama of a view the Emmenthal Valley in Canton Bern. 

I hope you enjoyed reading about this new discovery.  It was fun and enlightening to find.  Because the Anabaptist discovery is still so fresh, the amount of Anabaptist/Mennonite genealogical information available so ridiculous, AND the number of Rubeli/Rubly descendants researching their roots so plentiful, it is fruitless to apprise readers of the noteworthy events surrounding their origins, survival, and flight to the Palatinate in a couple of paragraphs. The unfortunate side of the abundance of information, in this age of the internet, is possible misinformation. One must work through what may be false information out there already on the Rubeli/Rubly.   However, the sharing and swapping of information and records among the descendants and distant cousins of the Swiss refugees to the Palatinate is wonderful and if it wasn’t for some of them the writer would be lost. 

Until I locate the birth of 8 x great grandfather Christian Rubeli and records pertaining to his parents, I will not prognosticate or copy what has been said on the world-wide web about his potential ancestry. As I stated above, he may not have been from the Emmenthal Valley originally, let alone from Bern Stadt. There are two fantastic tales alive out there pertaining to Christian Rubeli’s ancestry. Until someone shows me proof or, I find that proof, I don’t want to include them.  It is my opinion alone that the Anabaptist pacifism and refusal to take oaths is what caused the harsh persecution they faced in Switzerland.  cinziarosagenealogy@comcast.net.








The Rubeli/Rubly of Switzerland and the Rheinpfalz


I am looking for other descendants of Hans Theobald Rubeli born around 1660 in Aeschlen bei Oberdeissbach, Bern, Switzerland. Hans Theobald Rubeli and other members of his family emigrated to the Zweibrucken area of the Rhineland Palatinate, Germany in the late 1600s. Families that left Switzerland during this time period were usually fleeing religious persecution~~~ which I have yet to prove for Hans Theobald Rubeli’s family.

My Rubeli Ancestry in the American Leies Line


Hans Theobald Rubeli and his wife Anna had at least one son named Balthasar.  Balthasar used the name Rubly in Germany and was a Gerichtsshoeffe in or near Becchofen, Rhineland Palatinate. A Gerichtsshoeffe is a type of appointed justice of the peace.

The German Palatinate – Site for Religious Refugees During the 1600s


Members of this clan may emigrated to America before the Revolution.   I am trying to establish the connection between the American branch and Hans Theobald and his son Balthasar. Please comment or leave me a message at cinziarosagenealogy@comcast.net.


~~~~It makes me sad to think that Uncle John never knew he had Swiss ancestry when he studied in Switzerland as a young man. – A