Johannes Amstutz: 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.


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