Tag Archives: Switzerland

52 Ancestors –#52 What’s in a name – Amstutz

The VERY LAST, FINAL entry in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge!!

Okay, I know it is not the 52nd week of the year, but I’m working ahead so I can take two weeks off. For this final entry in the 52 weeks challenge, I chose to go back to the very first of Ken’s Amstutz ancestors to be mentioned in the John Amstutz Family History book by James O. Lehman. Since we don’t know much about that first in the line of ancestors named Johannes Amstutz, I’ll also take a look at the meaning of the name and the origin of the family.

Johannes Amstutz, 1673; Johannes Amstutz, 1705; and Johannes Amstutz, 1735

In the 17th century, the Amstutz family had its roots in beautiful Sigrisiwl, above Lake Thun in Bern Switzerland. The church records of Sigriswil only go back to 1671, and two years after they started recording births, we can read about Hans and Barbara Am-Stutz, who had one son, Johannes,born November 23, 1673. Hans would be Kenneth Ross Badertscher’s 9th great-grandfather (Our grandchildren’s 11th great-grandfather!)

Johannes (1673), Ken’s 8th great grandfather, married Verena Schroter in 1693. She was from an area north of Sigriswil, and that family probably lived in Sigriswil. Their children were Anna, Magdalena and Johannes (1705).

Johannes (1705), Ken’s 7th great-grandfather, married Susanna Duperret and they lived in the Alsace region, like Johannes (1823). Their children were Peter, Maria, Susanna, Johannes (1735), David and Ester.

Johannes (1735), Ken’s 6th great-grandfather, lived in Langnau, Switzerland in the Emmenthal Valley. (Ever hear of Emmenthal Swiss Cheese?)  He married Elizabeth Neuenschwander and the couple had three sons, Johannes (1771) (Ken’s 5th great-grandfather), Christian and Michael.  James Lehman notes that “The family probably lived for a while at La Sagne, Switzerland, several miles from the French border (between the border and Lake Neuchatel).”  He gives no documentation for that statement, however, as we have seen in the stories of  Johannes (1797) (4th great-grandfather), Johannes (1823) (3rd great-grandfather) and John L. (1848) (2nd great-grandfather), the family clustered in northwestern Bern, near the French border, with some even living in France for a time.

Sigriswil was the home of ten or more families named Amstutz, or Am-Stutz when Johannes (1673), that early entry in the chruch records, was born.  Lehman says that the name “Am Stutz or Amstutz means “on the steep” and first appears in the chronicles of the 14th century.”  Ancestry.com says: ” topographic name for someone living near or at the foot of a steep mountainside, German am Stutz ‘at the escarpment’.”

Members of the family moved north to the Jura Mountains and into Alsace, France in the 18th century. Lehman states that they probably were not Mennonites until they moved to the Jura and Alsace.

This information agrees with the online encyclopedia of all things Mennonite, in an article from 1953, so that may have been his source. Certainly the movement patterns of Ken’s Amtstutz ancestors follows the pattern described below–moving from Sigriswil into the Münster District although Ken’s family seemed to lag behind the general movement. See Johannes 1797 and Johannes 1823. However, when it comes to migrating to the United States, their travel in 1871 came near a peak of Amstutz families immigrating in 1881, when 16 Amstutz families went to the United States. According to Ancestry, 8 Amstutz families immigrated in 1871. An earlier wave, almost as high happened in 1854.

Note that the John Amstutz mentioned moving from Chatelet to Sonnenberg in 1819 is not Ken’s family, but an earlier Amstutz family who moved to Sonnenberg. Thus when Ken’s Johannes Amstutz and his son John L. Amstutz emigrated, they were following a well-trod path of Amstutz migration.

From Global Mennonite Encylopedia On Line
Article by Delbert L. Grz 1953

…It appears that no members of the Amstutz family were Anabaptists while living at Sigriswil. Members of the family figured in the migration from German-speaking Switzerland to French-speaking Switzerland. They settled in the district of Münster in the Bernese Jura in the first half of the 18th century. Here most of the family became Anabaptist. One Amstutz family has lived in the commune of Chatelat for more than 150 years. In 1743 members of the Amstutz family settled at Massevaux, Alsace. During the following three decades other members of this family located to the south in the commune of Florimont and across the French border in the district of Pruntrut, Switzerland. Another Amstutz family settled in the principality of Montbéliard. It is quite certain that none were Mennonites before arriving in these settlements but most of them joined after their arrival.

Most of the members of the Mennonite branch of the Amstutz family immigrated to America early in the 19th century. Some of the first of this family to immigrate were John B. Amstutz and his sister Anna in 1818, who settled in the Allen-Putnam counties, Ohio, continuity. Another John Amstutz left the commune of Chatelat near Münster in 1819 and became one of the early settlers of the Sonnenberg Mennonite settlement in Wayne County, Ohio.

The name Amstutz is one of the most frequent family names among the Swiss Mennonite settlements of Sonnenberg, Crown Hill in Wayne County, Ohio, and Bluffton-Pandora, Ohio.

 

Notes on Research
“Amstutz (am Stutz, Am Stutz, Stutz, Amstuz, Amstoutz) family. by Gratz, Delbert L. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1953. Web. 17 Dec 2015. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Amstutz_(am_Stutz,_Am_Stutz,_Stutz,_Amstuz,_Amstoutz)_family&oldid=119451

John Amstutz Family History by James O. Lehman, 1971. All of the information in this story comes from the research and compilation of family stories and excerpts from family letters in this mimeographed, twelve page work. While this is a carefully researched and compiled family history, I have not been able to confirm facts with primary documents.

52 Ancestors: Johannes Amstutz (1797) #51 Recycling Names of Triplets

The fourth Johannes Amstutz in Ken’s ancestral line of great-grandfathers (his third great-grandfather)  was economical in the use of names.  Naturally, he named a son Johannes (AGAIN!) but there’s more to the story.

[In fact there may have been even more ancient Johannes Am-Stutz’s, but the John Amstutz Family History only goes back to the one born in 1705.]

Swiss chalet, photo by Dennis Jarvis from flickr.com, used with Creative Commons license.

Swiss chalet, photo by Dennis Jarvis from flickr.com, used with Creative Commons license.

Johannes Amstutz 1797-1965 and Elizabeth Burkhalter Amstutz 1795-1865

After his parents died, and he had lived with his grandfather for four years, Johannes (1797) married Elizabeth Burkhalter. The wedding took place September 20, 1818.  Elizabeth’s family came from Ruderswil, Switzerland, near Langnau, where other ancestors had lived.The couple moved to Laianie bei Bellelay, Switzerland, six miles from the French border, according to the John Amstutz Family History. Unfortunately, although his place is the official place of birth of the children, it cannot be found on today’s maps of Switzerland. “bei” means ‘near’ in German, and Bellelay is the site of a former monastery, farther than 6 miles from the border. So it apparently was a hamlet that no longer exists.

The couple had two daughters, Anna and Elisabeth (named for Johanne’s mother and for his wife). Then came the next in the string of Johannes’, born on MY birthday, March 4, 1823 [but a few years before me!]

When Johannes was two years old, his mother, surely already stretched thin with three children born within four years, gave birth to triplets.  The little girls, born January 17, 1825, were named Barbara, Katharina and Maria. If having triplets to care for along with three tots was slightly overwhelming, think how much worse it was when a few months later the girls became seriously ill.  All three died in the fall of the year they were born.

But soon another girl was born, named Maria. And then another, named Katarina, and another named Barbara. Whatever else this family did with resources, they definitely did not waste names.

Finally, they had another son–Samuel.

When the eldest, Johannes (1823) married in 1847, he and his bride lived with his parents until his son named–guess what?–John Louis–was born in 1848. I have already told the stories of Johannes 1823 and John Louis.

How Ken is Related

  • Kenneth Ross Badertscher is the son of
  • Paul Badertscher, who is the son of
  • Ida Amstutz, who is the daughter of
  • Abraham Amstutz, who is the son of
  • Johannes Amstutz (1823), who is the son of
  • Johannes Amstutz (1797)

Research Notes

John Amstutz Family History by James O. Lehman, 1971. All of the information in this story comes from the research and compilation of family stories and excerpts from family letters in this mimeographed, twelve page work. While this is a carefully researched and compiled family history, I have not been able to confirm facts with primary documents.

Johannes Amstutz-52 Ancestors #50 A family divided

At this time of year, we treasure gathering family together.  How sad, then, to contemplate a family  where the children were scattered among relatives due to the early deaths of their parents.

Johannes Amstutz (1771) and Anna Gerber

Last week, I wrote about my husband Ken’s 2nd Great Grandfather, Johannes Amstutz who was born in 1823.  In the long line of Johannes Amstutzes, Ken’s 2nd Great Grandfather was the one who first emigrated to America.  That immigrant’s grandfather, also a Johannes, was born to Johannes Am-Stutz (1735) and Elizabeth Neuenschwander of Lagnau, in the Emmenthaler valley of Switzerland.  The family probably lived  in La Sagne, between the French border and Lake Neuchatel,  when he married Anna Gerber.

We don’t know a lot about the couple, but according to the John Amstutz Family History by James O. Lehman, Anna Gerber came from Langnau, located in the Emmenthal, which is where Johannes (1771)’s mother came from. The couple lived in Moutier, north of Bern. They probably married about 1796.

Switzerland map

Amstutz 1771-1823 Switzerland locations

Their oldest son was born May 3, 1797, and named ( what else?) Johannes. Seven children followed in the next 17 years: Elisabetha, Christian, Nicklaus, Samuel, Michael, Anna and Katharina.

Shortly after Katharina was born both the father and mother died, just a few weeks apart.  The children, from the baby Katharina to 17-year-old Johannes were split up as they went to live with relatives.

Johannes (1797), the oldest of this unfortuante group of siblings, went to live with his mother’s father who lived in La Jaux (according to records), but Lehman notes that probably was “La Chaux-de-Fonds between the French border and Lake Neuchatel.”  There are a dozen towns called La Chaux in Switzerland, so it is difficult to pin down the exact location. La Chaux-de-Fonds is a city, rather than the rural small towns the Amstutz family generally lived in. Today La Chaux-de-Fonds is a UNESCO World Heritage City because of its long history of watch making.

Johannes only lived with his grandfather for four years before he got married and struck out on his own….our story for tomorrow.

(This week marks the wrap-up of the 52 Ancestors 2015 at Ancestors in Aprons.  Because I take time off over the holidays, I will be providing three Amstutz family stories in one week.)

How Ken is Related

Kenneth Ross Badertscher is the son of

Paul Badertscher, who is the son of

Ida Amstutz, who is the daughter of

Abraham Amstutz, who is the son of

Johannes Amstutz (1823), who is the son of

Johannes Amstutz (1797), who is the son of

Johannes Amstutz (1771), who is the son of

Johannes Am-Stutz (1735)

Notes on Research

John Amstutz Family History by James O. Lehman, 1971. All of the information in this story comes from the research and compilation of family stories and excerpts from family letters in this mimeographed, twelve page work. While this is a carefully researched and compiled family history, I have not been able to confirm facts with primary documents.