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 (

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: 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, 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,

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:

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/, 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. 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, 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 ~

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.








Heinzen – Gentinetta Update (Helen Kirsch Ferraro’s Swiss Ancestry)

The genealogy angels continue to shine on the Heinzen – Gentinetta branch with Christmas gifts of information from Valais, Switzerland. Earlier and more detailed posts on the Heinzen and Gentinetta ancestry of Helen Kirsch Ferraro are here and here. It turns out that two x great grandmother Anna/Annie Heinzen Kirsch was actually the OLDEST child of Josef Anton Heinzen and Regina Gentinetta. We knew she had at least one younger brother, Leo, mentioned in my previous posts. We now know that she had at least one other brother named for his father Josef, b. 1874, and three younger sisters. Respectively, they were Cresenzia b. 1864, Anna Maria b. 1866, and Regina b. 1870. Yes, Anna had a younger sister named Anna Maria. Anna was also Anna Maria but she had the middle name Aloisia.

Again, it was confirmed that Anna Heinzen’s grandfather Francois Joseph Gentinetta, mentioned in previous posts, was born in Bognanco, Italy. Two very different looking Heinzen family crests were also included in the correspondence received this week to add to the previous crest we received. It is not known which family crest belongs to which branch of the Heinzen in Brig, Valais. More research continues…


Happy New Year!

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.