I put these Documents here for my grands. The Rychen family is your great grandmother Peggy Rychen Andrews family. I was very close to Peggy's father Albert Suter Rychen (Gran) and Maddeline Rychen (Nana). Gran grew up on a dairy farm owned by his father, Emil Rychen , where Nashville International Airport sits today. The family moved to Antioch Tn. Just a few miles away, Gran Later married, lived in lipsannie Mississippi before returning to Nashville Tn and moving onto McCrory Creek Rd, at which time, he began his plumbing bossiness in an old Dairy truck, where they raised their children until 1980, when the airport once again bought their property, for an expansion,and they settled at 116 Brookhaven trail in Smyrna until their deaths.Larry Rychen (Grans Nephew still owns the Plumbing Company in Smyrna Tn.)
The following info I found on the internet and is very familar with the stories that Gran told me.Here is an index for page numbers
Rychen....42, 74, 76, 140, 143,
Rychen family...............72, 74
Rychen, John...48, 72, 80, 164
Rychen, John Jr...................80
From 1869 to the early years of the 20
century, a number of
Swiss immigrants came to a remote site on the Cumberland
Plateau with the idea of creating a Swiss Colony, a community
composed almost entirely of German-speaking Swiss. They
gave to the area the inspiring name of Gruetli, the meadow
where, in the legend used by Friedrich Schiller in his Wilhelm
Tell, representatives of three cantons met in 1307 and formed
the league which grew, over centuries, into the Swiss confederation. This Tennessee settlement was to be explicitly Swiss; the
community was to be called Switzerland, and the city which
they hoped would rise within it was to be Bern. They expected
to have their own schools, taught in both German and English.
They came with high hopes, definite support of their home government, and fervent loyalty to their native land.
This book tells their story. It recounts the founding of the
colony in 1869-70, describes some of the prominent families,
chronicles the discussions of the Agricultural Society, and, to
some extent, follows the settlers and their descendants as they
moved away and assimilated into American society. Its core is
the master’s thesis of Frances Helen Jackson, The German Swiss
Settlement at Gruetli, Tennessee, accepted in June of 1933 by
the German Department of Vanderbilt University. Jackson visit -
ed Gruetli and was evidently taken by these remarkable people
who still, after more than sixty years in the Tennessee moun -
tains, preserved striking evidence of the European Swiss culture
of their ancestors. Her principal sources were the stories of the
people themselves. Had she not recorded them, they would be
largely lost to us today. Some families, however, still remember
stories she did not include. And there is the story of what has
happened to these families in the 70 years since she wrote. I
have added material from these other sources in footnotes and
sections labeled “Update” or “Addendum.
Inevitably, one asks, “Was the Colony a success?” Today,
when one visits Gruetli and finds as the only traces of the Swiss
community, a cemetery, four or five Swiss-built houses, some
foundations of long-gone homes, and a few people of Swiss descent, it is easy to conclude that the Colony was a fail ure. This
judgment, would, I believe, be inappropriate.
The immigrants came seeking economic prosperity and dignity for themselves and their children. If the Colony had immediately wilted and disbanded, one would be justified in calling it
a failure. On the day of the initial allocation of lots in 1869,
there were 41 purchasers present. The minutes of community
meetings report lots allocated to 81 persons by the end of 1869.
However, at the community elections on December 31, 1869,
only 31 votes were cast, presumably one per family. The map of
June 1, 1872 shows 80 landowners, 48 of them the same as in
the minutes. Apparently, 33 of the original assignees had indeed
left more or less immediately. Presumably, they foresaw the
sore trial of the 1869-70 winter, for which they would not have
time to build adequate shelter or provide themselves with food.
But after that winter, the inflow began again, and by the time the
map was made, these 33 owners had been replaced by 32 new
owners. An owner, however, was not necessarily a settler; on
the map, only about 36 lots had houses on them. Between these
two dates, the 1870 Census showed 137 people of Swiss origin
living in Grundy County in 43 households, a few outside the
Colony area. A decade later, the 1880 Census showed 321 people of Swiss origin (or born to Swiss parents) living in 68 households in Grundy County, mostly in the Gruetli area. Of these
households, 32 were new between 1872 and 1880. Evidently, the
word going back to Switzerland was encouraging more families
Twenty-five years after establishment of the Colony, we
There is a Swiss Colony in Grundy County, Tennessee, which seems like a part of a foreign country, so perfectly have they kept their native habits and customs, and
style of architecture in the building of their little cottages.
There are carvers there whose quaint work finds ready sale.
Market gardening is a feature of the colony, and those who
can talk English take the produce to town and sell it. Their
wines have taken several premiums, and it is a rare treat to
go through their well-kept vineyards. One of the remarkable phases of life there is the great age to which they attain, there being several centenarians among them and
nonagenarians not being at all uncommon. The mountains
surrounding them, while not so high or grand as their native
Alps, are sufficiently steep to keep them from being lonely
for the sight of their native hills, and none of them has ever
returned to Switzerland, although a number of them have
grown quite wealthy and could go if they wished.
These words probably provide the best assessment we have
of the success of the Colony. Another source tells us “Many
farmers owned twenty to thirty head of cattle and two horses.
Almost everyone had his own wine cellar.”
In 1891, they were
considering sending products to the World’s Fair in Chicago to
show the world what Gruetli could produce. While the dreams
of a Swiss city, to be called Bern, had not materialized, the
hopes for agricultural prosperity had largely come true. Moreover, the younger generation had been educated in both German
and English. When the mechanization of agriculture began to
induce massive, nationwide out-migration of farm labor, the
young Swiss were in a position to move into the American
mainstream. They found the hoped-for prosperity not by maintaining a narrow, ethnic enclave, but by assimilating into the
American mainstream. The Colony, however, enabled these
Swiss farmers to achieve this assimilation without going
through the demeaning experience suffered by immigrants to big
cities. In this sense, the Colony was a definite success. To document this success, we shall follow a few families down to the
present. I hope that other families not so covered will send me
material about their stories for future printings of this book.
The Swiss were good record keepers, and Jackson made use
of all the written sources she could find. Perhaps because the
The Coming Nation. No. 52. April 28, 1894, p. 3. Cited by Grace
Stone, “Tennessee: Social and Economic Laboratory,” Sewanee Review vol 46, 1938, pp. 43-44.
Grace Stone, p. 42.
6thesis was written for the German Department, extensive quotations from German primary sources were left untranslated.
Translations have been made for this volume and put in the main
text, while the German originals have gone into appendices.
Jackson’s photographs have been reproduced along with some
new ones. The text has been very lightly edited for smoother
reading or factual correction at a few points. The “brochure”
was translated for this edition by Jennifer Baggenstoss Boyd;
other translations are by the editor. I have added a few footnotes
and comments; they appear within square brackets. Where these
added passages express opinions not necessarily shared by Jackson, I have signed them Ed. An index, maps, and the music for
“Das Grütli” have been added.
Perhaps I should say a word about how I came to be inter -
ested in Gruetli. Since 1887, my mother’s family has owned
one of the summer cottages in Beersheba Springs. I grew up
spending summers there and remember Swiss Colony cheese as
a special treat. My wife, Joan, and I try to spend a few weeks
every summer in the cottage. In 2000, we saw at the Dutch
Maid bakery in Tracy City an announcement of a Swiss Reunion
to which all were invited. We went and were surprised to find
ourselves the only German speakers present. We were asked to
look at several old documents and became interested in knowing
more. I obtained a copy of the Jackson thesis and realized that,
with its long quotations in untranslated German, it was not accessible to many who would be most interested. So arose the
idea for this publication.
Pamela Parker Helms and Susan Parker Martin, daughters of
Frances Helen Jackson Parker, kindly gave permission to reprint
this material and added a most interesting page, “About the Author,” with a brief account of the life of their remarkable mother.
We are also indebted to the staff of the Special Collections section of the Vanderbilt Library for their help in copying the thesis, putting us in touch with the author’s daughters, and finally
lending the thesis to the University of Maryland so that the photographs could be scanned at no cost. Dola Schild Tylor has contributed a fascinating account of the reminiscences of her grandmother, Barbara Marugg, of her teenage years in Gruetli in the
1870’s. LaDora Mayes Rose, a Wichser descendant, offers
7vivid memories of childhood visits to Gruetli and a fascinating
account of the discovery of her family's history back the the
1300s in Schwanden, Switzerland. Jacob and Clara Suter, Oliver Jervis, William Ray Turner, Gayle VanHooser, John W.
Greeter, Albert J. Thoni, Lycinda Thoni Allen, Joseph Schild,
Stephen, Margaret, and Henry Stampfli, Dola Schild Tylor and
Herschel Gower have generously guided my efforts. Russ
Buchan of the Tracy City Business Council scanned the original
copy and put in all the German umlaut letters by hand. Birgit
Meade carefully proofread the text, including the German. Jackie Suter Lawley also proofread the English part of the text at a
late stage, and corrected some of the material on the Suter fami -
ly. John Baggenstoss handled printing. To all these contributors,
the Grundy County Swiss Historical Society and the editor are
most grateful. To them, as the Swiss of Gruetli would have said,
Hoch! Hoch! Hoch!
Clopper Almon, Editor
7303 Dartmouth Ave.
College Park, MD 20740
“Schild’s Store, 2 miles” said the sign where I turned off
the beautiful new highway about halfway between Beersheba
Springs and Monteagle on my first trip to Gruetli
This little .
road, which is practically impassable in wet weather, winds
around and finally comes to a group of about five or six houses,
in the center of which is Schild's Store. After talking to Mr.
Schild for a few minutes, I learned that this was the center of the
once-thriving Swiss Colony of Gruetli, and that the other inhabi -
tants of the village lived in homes which were scattered over an
area of approximately 20 square miles. I drove around to see
several of the families; and, had not Mr. Schild's daughter been
with me, I should never have found the way on those little roads
whose only objective seemed to be to get around the next tree.
But we did get somewhere and met the most unusual people
who were entirely different from the typical mountaineer. My
interest was immediately aroused to learn more about these people and how they happened to come to such an isolated spot. It
was then that I decided it would be worth the time and effort to
find the explanation of this ethnic phenomenon.
It is this explanation, -- the story of the founding, the
trend, and the present  condition of this German-Swiss
colony in Grundy County, Tennessee -- which I shall attempt on
the following pages.
My method of getting this information has been largely
through personal interviews with the Swiss who are still living
in the colony and also those who are at present living in Nashville and elsewhere. However, another source, without which
this work would have been impossible, is the record book which
contains the minutes of the Landwirtschaftsverein from 1873 up
[The sign now (2002) says “Colony Road” and turns off to the east of
Tennessee 56 1.4 miles north of its intersection with Tennessee 108 or
about 3.2 miles south of the intersection in Altamont. Schild’s store
stood just east of “the stagecoach inn,” which is still standing. ]
until 1917 when it finally disbanded, and which was generously
loaned me by its last secretary, Mr. Ernst Stämpfli, in Gruetli.
[This manuscript is now in the Tennessee State Library and Ar -
chives in Nashville.] Another work which has assisted me
greatly is the record book of the Swiss reformed church of
Gruetli in which the first twenty-five pages are devoted entirely
to the founding of the colony. Both of these manuscripts are
written entirely in German script and are the only extant official
documents of the colony. The latter is in the possession of Mr.
Chris Schild in Gruetli. [This document was carefully treasured
by Katie Wichser and passed on to her nephew Delbert Hargis
of Palmer, who preserves it with equal care. In 2003, he generously lent it briefly to the Tennessee State Library and Archives,where it was microfilmed.]
Chapter 1. Captain Plumacher and the Days before
[Interest in establishing Swiss colonies in Tennessee goes
back to the 1840’s. In 1844, the Swiss government, aware of the
problems of over population and pressure on the land, estab -
lished a commission to facilitate emigration of those who
wished to leave the country. The Commission gave cordial wel -
come to the representatives of the Tennessee Colonization Company which was “occupied with the founding of a colony in the
North American State of Tennessee.” The plan was to send a
small number of families in the fall of 1845 to try out the climate and look over the prospects. Announcement of the possi -
bility of emigration led to the application of 51 families. By
giving priority to those with agricultural experience who could
buy land with their own means and to large families, the commission chose five, namely those of:
Andreas Kron, Jr. 9 members
Joseph Vollmer, 6 members
Simon Schmidt, 3 members
Christian Brei, 3 members
Ciprian Fischer (a dyer), 3 members.
The decision of the commission was dated August 19,
Grace Stone, who discovered this source, believed that
they were bound for Gruetli in Grundy County. The 1850 Census finds the Kron family in Morgan county, which lies about
half way between I-40 and the Kentucky line north of Crab Orchard. I did not find any of the others in Tennessee at that time.
None of them appear in any land transaction in Grundy County
Faust, Albert B. Guide to the Materials for American History in Swiss and Austrian Archives. Published in 1916 by the
Carnegie Institution of Washington. Cited in Grace Stone,
“Tennessee: Social and Economic Laboratory, Sewanee Review, vol 46, 1938, pp 40-41.
prior to 1904. Though the incident is an interesting antecedent
of the Gruetli project, it seems safe to say that these settlers
played no role in the founding of Gruetli.]
The leading spirit in the undertaking which resulted in the
colony at Gruetli, was Captain E. H. Plumacher
a German by
birth but evidently Swiss in sympathies. In 1867, he was sent by
the Swiss government as Commissioner of Emigration to the
United States with the purpose of finding a spot for a colony.
Many have doubted the existence of this office by saying that it
was not natural for a government to send out representatives to
take away her own people, but in refutation to that I shall quote
from Albert B. Faust:
Especially severe measures were taken to arrest and
punish persons suspected to be emigrant agents, or to be in
any way stirring up a desire in the rural population to emigrate. The Swiss archives throw much new light on the
methods by which such men proceeded, the manner in
which they evaded detection, and the skill with which they
defended themselves when caught. (Approximately 1710-
1750.) . . . The embargo placed upon emigration was removed in the 19th century, when conditions of overpopulation, famine, failure of crops, hard times, etc., periodically
recurred in many districts. Paternal authority began to see
some advantage in emigration, provided the emigrants
prospered in their new abode. The complaints from the
governments of France, the Netherlands, and Prussia, in the
second decade of the 19th century, concerning the congregating of large numbers of Swiss paupers at the seaports,
hopelessly waiting for an opportunity to embark for America, brought about the beginnings of the regulation of emigration from Switzerland. The money for the trip had to be
vouched for before an emigrant was furnished with a pass.
The policy was adopted, neither to encourage nor to dis-
The information about Captain Plumacher has been given me mainly by his daughter, Mrs. Dagmar Bohr of
Beersheba Springs. A few notes were given me by Mr.
Martin Marugg of Tracy City.
14courage emigration, but to let it take its course, and to protect the emigrant as far as possible against the selfishness ofspeculators.
The business of transporting emigrants was left in the
hands of agencies, who were soon required to secure a license and obey the laws protecting the emigrant. In 1880,
the Federal Emigration Bureau was established at Bern, to
watch the licensed emigration bureaus, to distribute literature furnishing all needed information, to advise emigrants
personally, and to keep statistics of emigration.
Just how official Plumacher’s position was, is hard to determine, but we can tell approximately what he did after his arrival
in the United States. I quote from his Memoirs
We [Plumacher and J. B. Killebrew, whom Plumacher
describes as Comissioner of Agriculture, Statistics, and
Mines, but whose title was probably Secretary of the Bureau of Agriculture] conversed for some time in regard to
the best methods of attracting immigration to the South,
and I expressed the opinion that the best and cheapest mode
would be to recommend to the national government the appointment of some citizen of our state as Consul in a European port where he would be able to prosecute the good
work and devote himself to the propaganda, explaining by
word and letter the great advantages of Tennessee as regards soil, climate, geographical position, mineral wealth,
etc. etc. In this manner, the attention of European emigrants would be called to our state, and a steady current of a
good class of settlers would be the result. At the conclu-
Faust, Albert B. Guide to the Materials for American
History in Swiss and Austrian Archives. Published in
1916 by the Carnegie Institution of Washington.
An unpublished manuscript. It covers his life for ten
years when he was American Consul in Maracaibo. This
manuscript is in the possession of his grandson now. This
excerpt is taken out of the first ten pages of the book and
is the only mention of his interest in emigration.
15sion of our discussion the Governor suggested that should
such a course be adopted, I myself would be the most available person for this important mission, as during the presidency of Andrew Johnson, I was sent to Tennessee as Commissioner of Emigration from Switzerland and had founded
of Swiss citizens in our state; that I was well posted as to emigration matters in Europe and also knew thoroughly the State of Tennessee and could explain the advantages there offered to intending settlers. Here I will permit
myself to diverge from the main line of my story in order to
explain how I came to Tennessee.
On the very day of the impeachment [May 16] of President Johnson in 1868, when Washington was in a blaze of
excitement and wildest rumors were floating about, I, accompanied by Mr. John Hitz, Political Agent and Consul
General of the Swiss Republic, went to the White House to
pay my respects to the president as I was about to return to
Europe, and wished to than him for the kindness and assistance with which he had favored me in my official labors.
On the same day we had previously paid a parting visit to
the great Secretary of State, Mr. Seward, to whom I was indebted for the interest he had kindly taken in me, so from
Mr. Seward’s we went direct to the presidential mansion.
The Department of State in those days was located in a
most humble edifice, surrounded by ill kept, muddy streets
which were next to impassible in bad weather. Upon arrival at the White House we were at once ushered in and
that day will never be forgotten. In the president’s room
was sitting on the left General Arthur, at that time Collector
of the port of New York, and a most beautiful lady, so perfectly handsome that I can sincerely say that in the course
of almost a world wide experience, I have seen but few
such. The president was enjoying a little lunch, standing,
and not withstanding the great issues of the day, was as
serene and unconcerned as though nothing in particular was
in progress. He listened to all we had to say with great in-
I have not been able to find any records or authority for
his being connected with any other colony than Gruetli.
terest. Mr. Hitz told him that I had visited most of the
States and had now concluded my labors, after having
found many suitable points for colonization.
When Mr. Johnson learned that I had come to say
good bye, he asked me if I had seen his adopted state, Tennessee, and I replied no.
1He expressed much regret that I had not visited "one of
the finest states in the Union -- the pearl of the United
States in climate, richness of soil and mineral wealth." He
further asked if it was absolutely necessary that I return immediately to Europe and Mr. Hitz replied in the negative.
"Well then," said the president, "I will consider it a
personal favor if Captain Plumacher will go to Tennessee
before he definitely concludes his investigations and I will
give him recommendations to my friends. Nothing could
give me greater pleasure than to learn that Mr. Plumacher
has finally the same opinion of Tennessee as myself."
I could not resist the persuasions of the president, and
shortly afterwards started south well provided with excellent letters of introduction to the best people of Tennessee.
How I adopted the views of President Johnson has been
amply proven. I am a citizen of Tennessee by my own
choice and free will, and am proud to be called a Tennesseean.
I love the state and its noble people and do not regret
my choice of a new country, although I left behind me in
Europe a comfortable home, fine position, and a promising
public career . What I have done, I would do again and am
honestly proud to be a citizen of the great beautiful Tennessee. For President Andrew Johnson I have always preserved a great admiration. A man, who, like him, amid the
hardest trials and struggles of public life, can still find time
to devote his mind to the welfare of his State, is really a
On this visit to Tennessee he made the acquaintance of
Colonel John Armfield, and was invited to his summer home at
Beersheba Springs. Colonel Armfield had purchased the land at
Beersheba Springs in 1854 and had built the hotel and residences, promoting it as a summer resort.
Bentley, Blanche Spurlock, A History of Beersheba
1Captain Plumacher was so impressed with the location that
he thought it would be a fine site for the new colony, and so set
about making the necessary arrangements.
He aroused the interest of Mr. John Hitz, the Political Agent
and Consul General of the Swiss Republic, and Mr. Peter Staub,
Swiss but living in Knoxville at that time, and the three formed
sort of a silent partnership to buy up the land and have it sur -
veyed and ready for the settlers as they came over. Mr. Hitz and
Captain Plumacher were not able to take any part in the actual
buying of the land because of their governmental positions, but
the general opinion seems to be that they were the ones who ar -
ranged all the deals. In the meantime, Captain Plumacher
bought some land near Beersheba for his own future home and
built the residence which was known as 'Dan" until it burned and
was replaced by the present house in which his daughter resides.
After making these arrangements, Captain Plumacher seems
to have lost all interest in the colony and was not concerned with
its growth at all.
The present members of the colony do not
have any remembrance of him. He returned to Switzer land to
get his wife and son and daughter and bring them to their new
home. They arrived in America and were nicely settled before
the colony was ready for the settlers to start coming. Captain
Plumacher spent his time between Nashville and Beersheba
Springs, teaching German in the public schools of Nashville and
for one winter, that of 1870 and 1871, was professor of German,
French, and other Modern Languages in Cumberland University.
At this time he was seeking an American consular position in
one of the European countries. Unsuccessful in realizing this
ambition, he accepted the position as United States Consul to
[Dan is now, 2002, occupied by Plumacher’s great grandson, John
Bohr and his wife Frances. Ed.]
[The reason he “lost all interest” appears below. He had been unable
to deliver on time in his contract with the landowners. When it lapsed,
they declared the contract with him void and arranged a new contract
with Staub, not Plumacher, acting as Trustee for the colonists. I have
found no evidence that Plumacher involved Staub. Rather, the colonists
turned to their consul general, Hitz in Washington, and Hitz sought
Staub’s help. Ed.]
19Maracaibo in Venezuela. He held this post for thirty-three years
until he was forced to give it up because of increasing blindness
His family spent part of the period of his consularship in Europe, where his two children were educated, and the rest of the
time they resided at Beersheba Springs in the family home. In
about 1880, they moved to Beersheba permanently because of
the son's bad health. The son died of consumption shortly after,
and Mr. Plumacher returned home from South America for a
few months at that time, but was forced to go back to his duties.
Returning to Mr. Staub, who was getting control of all the
land, we find that he was succeeding and acquiring title to all the
property within an area of about twenty square miles.
give a short history of the land and of the early titles.
[This often quoted allegation against Staub is absolutely
without support in the Colony’s records or the deed books of
[Plumacher’s daughter, Dagmar Bohr, perpetuated her father’s memory but said not a word about her far more remarkable mother, Olga
Hünerwadel Plümacher. Not even her own son knew that his grandmother had written two substantial and significant books on philosophy
and published a number of articles in German. She also had a philosophical correspondence with Franz Wedekind (1864-1918), son of
one of her classmates and a major German poet and playwright of his
time. As a young man, Wedekind discovered in his “philosophical
aunt” a soul with whom he could communicate. Rolf Kieser, a professor of German at the State University of New York, was working on
Wedekind and found Olga’s letters to Franz in the Wedekind Archiv in
Switzerland. He came to Beersheba, where they were written, hoping
to find the letters from Wedekind. He found no letters but became fascinated with this extraordinary woman scholar, who from Grundy
County could participate in German philosophical debate. The result
of his interest is a book Olga Plümacher-Hünerwadel, eine gelehrte
Frau des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts (Lenzburg, 1990). Olga’s nephew
Arnold Hünerwadel came from Switzerland to visit his aunt, stayed,
married, and brought up a large family in Beersheba. Frances Jackson
would no doubt have been fascinated to know Olga’s story, so we may
safely assume that nothing was said to her about Olga’s books and phi -
20164Grundy County. Both sources show that Staub bought the
land as the settlers’ agent after they had arrived. He was called
to the rescue of the settlers. Moreover, he sold the land at what
he paid for it, but since he could not sell it all, he lost money on
the transaction. Please see Appendix D on Peter Staub’s land
transactions. – Ed.]
In the year 1835, the State of Tennessee made grants in
5000 acre tracts to Dr. Samuel Edmondson of McMinnville,
Samuel B. Barrell of Boston, Edmond Monroe of Massachusetts
and Joseph McEwen.
In 1849, 2000 acres were granted to
George and Gideon Gilley by the State. These grants were located on the Cumberland Plateau in East Tennessee and were
granted by Newton Cannon, then Governor of the State. The descriptions of these areas are all similar and to the lay mind rather
meaningless, but I shall give one of them, from Book W in the
State Files of Land Grants in Warren County, by way of explanation.
State of Tennessee No. 4934
To all to whom these presents shall come, Greeting.
Know ye that by virtue of Entry No. 4041 made in the office of the entry taker of Warren County and entered on the
[These were Mountain District purchase grants. A legislative act of
1827 had authorized the sale of grants of surplus land in the Cumberland mountains in 5000 acre tracts. The sale, at prices ranging from 1
cent to 12.5 cents per acre, yielded a little revenue and got the land on
the tax rolls. Samuel M. Barrell of Boston bought hundreds of thousands of acres of these lands, apparently purely as a speculator. See
Tennessee Land Grants, Barbara, Byron, and Samuel Sistler, (Byron
Sistler & Associates, Nashville, 1998). Some of this he sold to Edmund
Monroe of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Other Barrell land was sold for
taxes in 1861 and bought by Wm. C. Hill of McMinnville. Monroe
died intestate, and in 1866 his eight children appointed Massey Hill of
Coffee County their agent for the sale of a total of 552,812 acres in
Warren (including Grundy), Marion, Coffee, Franklin, Lincoln and
Cannon Counties. (Deed Record Book F of Grundy County.) As authority for the certificates he issued to the Gruetli settlers, Peter Staub
cited his deeds from M. Hill (presuamably Massey Hill) and Wm. C.
Hill. It was the messy title to the lands of the Monroe heirs that later
caused Staub trouble. Ed.]
2110th day of October 1835 pursuant to the provisions of an
act of the General Assembly of said State of Tennessee
unto Samuel Edmondson assignee of Stephen M. Griswold
a certain tract or parcel of land containing five thousand
acres by survey bearing date the 30th day of September
1836 lying in said County on Cumberland Mountain on the
head waters of the Collins River. Beginning on the beginning corner of his one thousand acre survey, a pine on the
turpentine branch (No. of his Entry 3165) running south
crossing Rains Creek at 560 Poles in all 980 Poles to a
hickory. Thence east 908 poles to a hickory, then north
crossing Eastleys Road at 260 poles. Rockhouse fork of
Fall Creek at 580 poles in all, 980 poles to a hickory. Then
west passing said Griswold's corner of his 720 acre survey
by virtue of said entry No. 3165 and on with his line 980
poles, to the beginning. With the hereditaments and appurtenances, to have and to hold said tract or parcel of land
with its appurtenances to the said Samuel Edmondson and
his heirs for-ever, In witness whereof Newton Cannon,
Governor of the State of Tennessee has hereunto set his
hand and caused the great seal of the State to be affixed at
Nashville on the 6th day of January 1837.
Luke Lea, Secretary
This property was neglected by the owners and finally
was sold for taxes and came into the hands of Wm. C. Hill,
James H. Hughes, and F. M. Moffett of McMinnville and J. M.
of Altamont. These were the men with whom Peter
Staub dealt. He paid different prices for the land, and bought it
in both large and small quantities, in as little as 100 acre lots to
6000 acre lots. From a study of the deeds in the Grundy County
[Following the spelling of the text reproduced in Appendix B, Jackson writes “a Mr. Boulin.” The deed books show no one by the name
of Boulin or Boulen as either grantor or grantee of a deed. On the other
hand, J. M. Bouldin is involved in many transactions. I have therefore
replaced both Boulin and Boulen by Bouldin in the English but let the
original stand in the German. Ed.]
22Courthouse, I have been able to deduce that the prices ranged
from $.40 an acre to $.90 an acre. A copy of one of the deeds is
interesting in its wording and in the restrictions which are included.
Containing 1551 acres part of a 5000 acre tract entered in the name of Greenwood Paine by entry No.___ and . . .
granted to Sam. B. Barrell by grant No. ___ which two
tracts of land he the said Peter Staub is to have and to hold
to him his heirs and assigns in fee simple forever, but in
trust for the purposes of settlement and by him to be disposed of to actual settlers in tracts of not more than 100
acres each, designating and reserving 200 acres for church
and school purposes, and we the foregoing named persons
by our attorney in fact and otherwise bind ourselves, our
heirs and representatives to forever warrant and defend the
right and title in and to the foregoing described tracts of
land. . . .
After the land had been bought there was nothing else to
do but to get the settlers to come over
, so they resorted to the
usual means of making projects known, that of the printed
broadsides (Broschüren). There is no record as to who was the
author of the broadsides which were to advertise the Cumberland Mountain project, but in all probability they were made by
Mr. Staub and sent to Switzerland, to other European countries,
From book F of records in the County Courthouse of
[Jackson no doubt accurately captures the “general opinion” around
the colony in 1933. The minutes of the early meetings of the colony,
presented in the next chapter, and the deed books in the Court House at
Altamont tell a very different story. The deed books show no purchase
of land by Staub before August, 1869. The minutes show that the
problem was that the land had not been bought and not surveyed before
the arrival of the colonists. The colonists complain in desperation to
Consul Hitz in Washington, who then calls in Staub to rescue the
colonists. Staub was negotiating with landowners in midsummer of
1869 in the presence of the colonists. Moreover, they recognized that
he had saved the whole operation. The question of whether he made
money on the colony is examined in Appedix D at the end of the book,
but the brief answer is definitely not. Ed.]
23and to the Northern States where they were posted on the street
corners, in public buildings, and anywhere else they might catch
the eye. Through the courtesy of Martin Marugg, I obtained one
of these old Broschuren. (See picture below.) The exaggerations and gross misrepresentations are evident on first glance.
The following are excerpts which will show, better than I could
possibly tell, the "ballyhoo" -- typical of much emigrant propaganda -- which induced these Swiss peasants to leave their
homes and come to the Cumberland Mountains.
The American Switzerland
To the Farmer!
The state where you should settle!
Great Facilities for Manufactures of every Kind in East
Below you will find a circular, which contains an exact statement of the advantages which the iron and steel industry must bring to East Tennessee. This large region of
land, the future home of a numerous, affluent population
will soon be crisscrossed in all directions by railroads, and
iron manufacturer will multiply the routes commerce. Iron,
which costs eight dollars per ton to produce in Pennsylvania, can be produced in East Tennessee for one dollar and
sixty cents. The coal and iron mines are hardly a mile away
from each other in an area of more than forty miles. The
time will come when this narrow valley and region of land
will be full of blast furnaces.
Coal, iron, lime, sandstone,
[No author of the brochure is indicated. Jackson presumed that Staub
had written it, but I think both internal and external evidence points
elsewhere. The first part of the brochure has a decidedly muddled
quality. Ostensibly a call to farmers, it begins with talk of the iron and
steel industry, which, in itself, was of no direct interest to farmers. Notice that the “large region of land” quickly becomes a “narrow valley,”
which hardly describes the Cumberland plateau. There is virtually no
organization in the writing. Plumacher, as we will see in the next chapter, had been unable to acquire land, have it surveyed, and ready to sell
to the colonists when they arrived. I see a link between this ineffectual
handling of practical affairs and the disorded thinking of this opening
of the brochure. The external evidence is that Plumacher’s account,
colony minutes and county deed books all agree that Staub was not involved before summer 1869. Moreover, it was Plumacher, not Staub,
who had gone back to Switzerland and whose job it was to write such
material. The second part of the brochure, probably the “circular” referred to in the first sentence, is from a different mind. Ed.]
25clay, different types of the best timber, excellent water
power, all of this lies unused and awaits capital and the enterprising spirit. The best market for the sale of all possible
products, iron and steel included, are now at hand. Iron and
steel from this region have been described as better than the
products of Pennsylvania by qualified iron experts and
businessmen. Still more railroads are under construction,
among them the Cincinnati and Chattanooga Line, which
cuts through this region. All of these railroads will contribute substantially to extracting the mineral wealth of this
part of the country.
The example of Pennsylvania shows how prosperous a
population can become through iron production. If Tennessee so wills, it can become a second Pennsylvania.
Your attention is respectfully requested to the benefits
of capital investment.
The massive riches, which are available from the
mines in east Tennessee, are of great significance. The
modest amounts of capital and labor required to develop the
agricultural and mineral riches of the state and the fertility
of the earth are certainly a considerable stimulus for the
emigrants. These same factors must bring considerable
wealth to those who settle here, for this region is among to
the richest in the land. The numerous railroads, which
stretch out their gigantic arms in all directions, as well as
the various steamship lines, establish an unbroken connection between the overpopulated old world and the still
sparsely populated regions of East Tennessee, where every
immigrant will find himself richly rewarded for his troubles
of coming here, through the exploitation of agricultural and
The climate and the soil of east Tennessee are exceptionally favorable for tea cultivation, and Tennessee tea is
already very often drunk. Many grow their entire household
requirement without much effort or cost. In a single season
three crops of tea ripen. In general, the introduction of a
successful tea cultivation will richly compensate those who
dedicate themselves to it. The tea plant is an evergreen
26bush with many roots, about 5 feet high, which thrives in
the mountains as well as the valleys and never needs protection from frost.
Along the East Tennessee and Virginia railroad
stretches a vein of splendid marble in eleven varieties, two
of them are equal to the famous antique Rosso and the
rough antique Italian marble in quality. The quantity is inexhaustible, the density is compact and the stone is totally
free from pores. Prof. Dickinson recently discovered an entirely new type of marble, which he named Zebra, because
of the peculiar division of the white and chocolate-colored
stripes. This marble can take the finest polish; it is pure
calcium carbonate. Blocks of whatever size can be cut in
these marble veins.
The wild grape grows rampant in rich abundance, just
as the peaches and pears grow to the best quality. People
here have grown peaches of 9 inches in circumference and
9 ounces in weight; Peanuts
grow in rich abundance. The
forests are full of game and wild turkeys.
This region is especially suited for northerners and immigrants. It is a firm stronghold of loyalty; and if I have
something to regret, it is only that it is so sparsely populated and so much valuable land lies waste.
The first impression, which the visitor of east Tennessee gets is that the state has made good progress in the reconstruction of the businesses, the train connections are
perfect, but are being further expanded and multiplied daily
with superhuman effort. All of these advantages, coupled
with the extraordinarily low land prices, (from 5 to 20 and
30 dollars per acre) are big attractions for the immigrants,
especially since property can be sold in parcels of from 1 to
100 acres, as the settler desires
. . . .
The normal German word for “peanut “is “Erdnuss.” The word used
here is “Pfaunuss.” “Pfau” is “peacock,” and I suspect “Pfaunuss” of
being Plumacher’s creative translation of “peanut.” Ed.]
[At this point, the format changes and the tone shifts from real estate
hyperbole to a more informative account, which I take to be “the circu -
lar”. It plainly says that the soil on the plateau is “stony, partly sandy,
The soil in the valleys is in general dark black clay of
the first class and where it is wooded, or shortly after it is
made arable, it is very rich and fruitful and is inferior only
to the western prairie lands. Land which has now been cultivated for half a century is partly very rich, but also partly
exhausted, because the cultivators never sowed grass and
they economized by using the most exhausting systems on
the land. Nevertheless, the property was very quickly made
productive again, by mixing a strong clay layer of primitive
clay and marl stone. It is not of importance towards which
direction the land lies, it is warm everywhere, the soil is
productive everywhere and rewards the farmer liberally for
his work. The soil quality of the high plateau and the mountain ranges is stony, partly sandy, consisting mostly of
sandy loam underlain by clay.
No part of the Union is so very favored by a beautiful
and healthy climate as this one. The biggest snow that fell
last winter was not deeper than 1½ inches in the valley and
on the plateau and mountains not deeper than 6 inches. The
big rivers have frozen over only once in 25 years, nevertheless the morning hours are cool, sometimes frosty, and during the winters always rather fresh. The spring begins quite
early, the summers are long; however, owing to the special
lay of the land, they are not excessively hot. Nowhere can
consisting mostly of sandy loam underlain by a layer of clay.” That is
pretty accurate. But did the colonists know that they were coming to
the plateau? In the lower right corner of the photograph of the
brochure are two passages not transcribed by Jackson. The first is
called “The City of Chattanooga”; the second begins with “To Farmers” in large letters followed on the next line by “The Cumberland
Plateau.” Unfortunately, the following text is too small and indistinct
to be read from the picture; but it seems likely that it made clear that
the farmland being offered was on the plateau.
I presume that the text down to this point is from Plümacher,
while the Circular is, as it later says, by someone who had moved in
from Pennsylvania. Ed.]
28the summer be more pleasant than on the mountain ranges
and the high plateau. The autumns are long and last until
late in December.
The inhabitants normally plow throughout the entire
winter. Here we have neither the cold, numbing winter of
the north, nor the paralyzing, exhausting heat of the south.
As for the products of the land, we are as favored as
any stretch of land in the Union. We can raise anything that
is grown in either the north or the south. The plateau bears
corn, oats and all vegetables of the best sort. Last summer,
within five miles of the place where I live, white turnips
were grown, whose circumference came to twenty inches;
the potatoes here are very big and of excellent quality. The
valley produces wheat, corn, oats, rye and clover in abundance.
This is a cattle-breeding land of the first class; our
mild climate requires little use of stables. While the
plateau offers plentiful free pasture, which stays green from
the first of April until the first of December, the valley
more or less yields grass pastures throughout the whole
winter. As a land for cattle raising, East Tennessee is in
some respects preferred over the prairies, and is not inferior
to the best. Before the war, a man here had 600 cattle.
We are richly blessed with fruit. Apples, pears, peaches, plums, cherries and all sorts of small fruit grow in abundance. We grow splendid winter apples; our summer apples
ripen already in June. On the plateau and in the mountains,
the apples grow the best, in the valleys excellent peaches
are grown; these grow by the roads and in the corners of the
fences. It is seldom that we have a bad fruit harvest. The
last shipment of winter apples to the state of Georgia was
sold for $10 per barrel.
We have an abundance of splendid coal. The plateau
and the mountain ranges are interwoven with various productive veins. There is an inexhaustible supply of iron ore
here; limestone is found as well; sandstone and clay are
easily obtained; we also have different sorts of salt here.
The water is clear, clean and resembles crystal; it does
not form stagnating swamps, but flows off rapidly, where it
springs from the ground. In the valleys the riverbeds are of
loamy mud; on the mountains, they are mostly sandstone
mixed with some limestone. Water from the limestone is
very valued for healing purposes.
The Health Situation
I regard this area as one of the healthiest parts of the
entire country; and this view appears to be universal; for
when one travels through the land, he will find much that
grows only here out of health considerations. We have no
local causes of sickness of any sort. Health is generally the
rule and sickness is the exception.
Currently, East Tennessee and the bordering parts of
Middle Tennessee continue to claim a large share of the
emigrants; and the demand from the North, East and West
for land indicates that in the not too distant future a significant increase in population is to be expected. The programs
of the state, the various societies promoting immigration,
and the railroads continually circulate information across
the country and give real help to people who would like to
settle in Tennessee.
1 would like to say here that I moved here from Washington County, Pennsylvania and that the local people have
treated me friendly and kindly. And, so far as I know, other
northerners were treated with the same kindness and
30thoughtfulness as soon as they make arrangements to settle
here. The local people are not merely glad to see immigrants; they ardently wish that immigrants come here to
settle down. Every northerner, who conducts himself properly, will be welcomed by the people; he will be just as safe
and secure as in the states of Pennsylvania or New York.
To northerners with capital or with firm will and strong
arms I would like to call: " Come over here! Tennessee invites you and there is room enough here for thousands!"
Land costs from 5 to 35 dollars per acre, the average
price is usually $20 at a fair price. We have beautiful forests in abundance. Currently, the land prices are climbing
and all expectations are that in the future they will continue
to increase and at a faster rate. I don't want to draw comparisons with other regions, but I want to say to those who
wish to emigrate to a land where there are no long, harsh
winters to ruin your comfort and waste the earnings of summer, where an early spring envelops nature in its green
cloak, where a long summer gives the farmer enough time
to see his work rewarded: Come, see, and judge for yourself.
No one can form for himself an idea of the grandeur
and richness of the natural advantages which East Tennessee possesses. That is something one must see for himself
to believe. A population, good-hearted and friendly, with a
well-known sense of honesty and integrity, known for their
neighborly friendliness invites you to take up your residence among them and to help develop the resources of the
state, to profit from the rich mineral and agricultural treasures, with which a good and gracious Providence has so
richly blessed this eastern
part of Tennessee.
For those who have chosen to come from Europe and
make Tennessee your destination, the best way is to travel
on a steamboat or sailing vessel to Norfolk, V A,; then ride
the Virginia-East Tennessee train directly to Chattanooga,
The text says “western.”
31which is about 300 miles away and takes 10 hours by train.
From Liverpool, London, Bremen or Hamburg, one can
make the trip in 12 to 18 days.
As a result of this propaganda, we find them "biting" and
"falling for” this prospect of quick affluence. The lands seemed
cheap and the idea of one hundred acres must have seemed like
a great estate to some of the poor peasants who came over.
They had absolute faith in their own ability and felt that if they
could just get this land with so much promise, their troubles
would be ended. They came, and they came blindly, trusting in
their fellow man. They arrived, and found that all was not as it
had been pictured in the Broschüren. They were disappointed
but could not turn back, so they stuck it out. Though many died
in the struggle, their descendants who are left are happy and, although not exactly prospering, are making a living.
* * *
[Editor's Comment: The 25 percent of the American labor
force unemployed in 1933 was not making a living. Were the
first colonists in fact bitterly disappointed or was that a senti -
ment attributed to them sixty years later by descendants living at
the depths of the Great Depression and caught up in the massive,
nationwide out-migration of farm labor? The only recorded
complaint, as we shall see in the next chapter, was that when
they arrived in April, no one could tell them where their land
was to be. They had come in time to clear land, build shelter,
and plant at least a kitchen garden; but, because of administrative hold ups, they could not get started until mid August. Consequently, they suffered intensely during the following winter.
This suffering can justly be laid at Plümacher’s door, but only
because he was inept in getting business arrangements made.
Had he deliberately deceived the colonists in the brochure?
To be sure, it spoke of an iron industry that never developed, but
that was peripheral to the interests of the farmer colonists. I believe that he firmly believed that it would develop. Staub had
done well in the iron business around Knoxville and had no
doubt excited Plümacher’s imagination. The brochure spoke in a
vague and exaggerated way about railroads; but in fact, the rail
32line running from Tracy City to the coal mines near Palmer
came close to Gruetli. The stagecoach route from McMinnville
to Whitwell ran right through it. The soil was not worse than
much that I have seen in cultivation in Switzerland to this day.
It is sometimes said that the colonists were surprised to find the
land forested. But the brochure spoke of “beautiful forests in
abundance” and did not suggest that the land was cleared and
ready to plant. In short, while the tone of the brochure may have
been excessively sanguine, the actual facts relevant to farming
were not grossly wrong. Hence, I do not believe that there was
any intent to deceive. I can fault Plumacher for being ineffectual or for being excessively sanguine himself, but not for intentional deception. In evaluating his role, it should also be noted
that the receipts he gave were acceptable to Staub in payment
for the land; hence he must have dutifully passed on any monies
he had received. And there is no evidence that either he or
Staub made money inappropriately on the operation. Ed.]
33Log cabins built by the Schild family in 1869 and 1871
Chapter 2. The Founding of the Colony
Only two places in the world have the name Grütli.
original is on the west bank of Lake Lucerne in Switzerland and
its namesake lies on the Cumberland plateau in Grundy County,
Tennessee. Grütli or Rütli is a diminutive in the usual Swiss
form, a word which is related to the High German form Gereut -
lein or Reutlein, and is derived from the verb "reuten" or 'ausreuten' meaning “to root out" or “to clear.” A small clearing or
meadow is all there was to the first Grütli; and it was that which
gave to it the name which has clung for over six centuries.
The mythical emergence of the Swiss Grütli is told best in
Wilhelm Tell by Schiller,
and a short summary of his treatment
of the matter will help to clarify the rather confused legend. The
scene is described as follows: A meadow surrounded by high
rocks and wooded ground. On the rocks are tracks, with rails
and ladders, by which the peasants are afterwards seen descending. In the background the lake is observed, and over it a moon
rainbow in the early part of the scene. The prospect is closed by
lofty mountains, with glaciers rising behind them. The stage is
dark but the lake and glaciers glisten in the moonlight.
tallies, I think, with the actual description of Gruetliwiese.
Schiller spent a great deal of time studying about the country
and the people
and his descriptions are looked on as fairly accurate.
This spelling is used in Schiller’s Wilhelm Tell and is also
used by many of the Swiss. I have not been able to find any
preference for one or the other, but I shall use the first spelling
since that was the one taken to America. [By 2002, however,
virtually only the Rütli spelling was found in Swiss sources. Ed.]
Schiller's Wilhelm Tell - edited by Karl Breul - Cambridge
University Press, 1890. This legend was taken by Schiller , as
far as possible from Swiss historians.
Act II, Scene II, ibid.
He never saw Switzerland, however.
35The Rütli scene, in the Schiller version, takes place on a
moonlight night in the year 1307 when three men with their followers met on this picturesque spot to discuss the tyrannies of
the Austrian House of Hapsburg and to unite for common protection against the cruelties that were being perpetrated. These
men, Arnold von Melchtal, Werner Stauffacher, and Walter
Fürst from the cantons of Unterwalden, Schwyz, and Uri respectively, signed a pact to protect each other and revolt against the
Austrians, forming a republic of their own. This is as far as
Schiller carries the story of the Swiss federation. Historically,
this legend is not at all true,
but it is the story which gives us
the significance of the name Grütli, and that is all that is necessary to this immediate work. As a myth, it lives in the hearts of
the Swiss and to them means, the place where their own land
was first brought into rightful being. And so, when these few
Swiss families first gathered in the land where they were to form
a “new Switzerland" it seems no more than natural that they
should take the name which to them was a symbol of their union
and future growth. The song, “Das Grütli” or “Das Rütli”, well
expresses those feelings; they must have been sung it often their
meetings, so I give the text [and music] below.
In the Protokol der Gemeinde Switzerland,
we find the first
meeting of the people expressing this same feeling of union.
The following is the record of the first part of the meeting; the
German text is in appendix B:
In the introduction to his edition of Wilhelm Tell, Mr. Breull gives a
short summary of the historical founding of the Swiss Republic.
[The name Laager, which is now also connected with the area, has a
more earthy origin. It is an adaptation to English spelling of the German Lager, meaning deposit, and appears on the 1872 map in the expression Kohlen Lager, coal deposit, over the area now called Laager.
This manuscript I obtained from Mr. Chris Schild. It contains the
records of the Gruetli church including births, deaths, confirmations, marriages, etc. The first 23 pages are the story of the founding of the colony. There is no signature, so the writer of the Protokol is unknown. It is all written in German script. [Any information on its whereabouts now, 2003, would be much appreciated.
36Founding of the Community
For the dedication of Gruetli, the Swiss who had settled in this area came together on the afternoon of Sunday,
April 11, . The speaker took this name from a place
so significant for Swiss history. He drew attention to how
small was the number of those sworn comrades who gathered more than 550 years ago on this quiet mountain meadow and yet how great were the blessing and happiness that
sprang from that meeting. Austria’s power had to fall sacrifice to their true holding together. Life and property have
we risked through centuries for the noble cause of the Freedom our brothers in our fatherland now enjoy.
Now it is our turn to found a Swiss colony and to assure its prosperity. Not with powder and shot shall we attain the goal; rather before the peaceful weapon of the
farmer will fall the giants of the forest. Yet are unity,
courage, and endurance necessary; a genuine social and
democratic sense must inspire us; unselfish perception and
action must pervade us in order to reach our goal, to advance and preserve the colony. Unity and good faith must
prevail in our meetings. Then will the almighty Ruler not
refuse success to our efforts; blessings and health will grow
also from this Gruetli, and we will become useful citizens
of our adoptive fatherland.
The meeting was finished mit einem Hoch for the General
Consul Hitz, who had helped them with the founding of the Colony, and with the singing of the song Das Grütli. This pep-meeting (as we might now call it) seems almost pitiful. All of these
poor, homesick people were so horribly disappointed in the land
that they had found, that they hardly knew which way to turn.
They had been taken into a wilderness where they had expected
a "land flowing with milk and honey." The Broschüren had misled them, for no place in the world could have had the many at -
tractions that had been claimed for East Tennessee. But they
were here and had no money with which to return so the best
was made of the predicament.
3738“Das Rütli,” the complete words and music arranged for male
chorus. From Das Rütli, ein Liederbuch für Männergesang, 26
unchanged printing, J.J. Sonderegger, St. Gallen, 1888, In the
possession of the University of Maryland library. The two upper voices are written an octave above where they should sound.
Von ferne sei herzlich gegrüsset,
Du stilles Gelende am See,
Wo spielend die Welle zerfliesset,
Genähret von ewigem Schnee,
Gepriessen sei, friedliche Stätte,
Gegrüsset, du heiliges Land,
Wo sprengten der Sklaverei Kette
Die Väter mit mächtiger Hand.
Da blickten, in nächtlicher Stille,
Sie klagend auf Vaterlands Noth,
Und sahen, wie Jammer die Fülle
Vollbringe der Wilkür Gebot.
Hier standen die Väter zusamen,
Für Freiheit und heimisches Gut
Und schwuren beim heiligsten Namen,
Zu stürzen die Zwingherrenbrut.
Und Gott der Allgutige genickte
Gedeihen zum heiligen Schwur;
Sein Arm die Tyrannen erdrückte,
Und frei war die heimische Flur.
Drum, Grütli, sei freundlich gegrüsset;
Dein Name wird nimmer vergeh’n,
So lange der Rhein uns noch fliesset,
So lange die Alpen besteh’n.
40The Gruetli Song
Our hearts greet thee from far away,
Thou quiet seaside meadow
Where the lapping waves that gently play
Are fed by eternal snow.
Be treasured, thou quiet and peaceful plain,
Be greeted, holy land
Where fathers slavery’s heavy chain
Broke with mighty hand.
There, in the silent still of night,
They saw the Fatherland
Lie in pain and distressful plight
Under a ruthless hand.
For freedom and for home of yore
Together our fathers stood
By the holiest names in secret they swore
To topple the tyrant’s brood.
And God the all good in his mercy did grant
Success to the holy band.
It crushed with its arm the cruel tyrant
And freed the Swiss homeland.
So Grütli, thy fame forever grows,
Your name will never die
So long as the Rhein to the sea still flows,
So long as the Alps stand high.
41I shall go back a little to trace the first settlers on their trip
over and their arrival. I have not been able to find the exact date
on which the first party came nor who was in this first party, but
it was probably in the very early spring of 1869. According to
the Protokol records the first meeting was on April 11, 1869,
and from the contents this seems to be right after their arrival.
All records of those who made up this group seem to have been
lost and there is no one living who knows. On September 11,
1869, a group of three families sailed from Havre on the Cembria and after 10 days and 21 hours, they landed in New York.
The three families were the Amachers, the Reufs, and the
Schilds. One of the sons, Peter, in the Schild family was then
only 14 years old, and at present is the only one of the original
settlers who is living. I have talked with him, and he has been
very helpful and kind in giving me any information that he could
obtain. He says that their group was the first of the settlers, but
this is impossible since the records date back five months before
that. Mr. Emil Rychen, a son of one of the settlers, told me that
the settlers came over in sailing vessels, but this seems to be
contradicted by Mr. Peter Schild and also by Mr. Martin
Marugg, who both came over in steamboats and claim that very
few sailing vessels were in use at that time. This little group
landed in New York (as did many emigrant family groups) and
traveled from there to Chattanooga by train. They arrived in
Chattanooga in the evening and spent the night there, leaving
early the next morning by train for McMinnville. There they
hired teams and wagons and set out immediately for Cumberland Mountain. They came up the valley to Collins River in
Warren County and there met Consul Hitz who went with them
up the mountain. When they arrived at the site of their future
homes there was nothing to be seen except timberland and one
crude cabin which was to house all three families until they
could build their own homes. Their disappointment was, of
The immediate task of providing shelter was solved by cutting timber and building log cabins. Only two of these remain
today and they are the ones built by the family of Peter Schild .
42They are now used as tool houses and the family lives in a frame
The early life in the colony, and the trials which they endured are told in the written records of the church, a book now
 in the hands of Mr. Chris Schild. I believe the best way
to present these facts is to reproduce this historically valuable
document in full. I have given the first page above, where I told
of how the settlement came to be called Grütli. [The original
text appears in Appendix B. A translation by the editor follows
here. His comments are in square brackets. ]
On the 2
of May (1869), the draft of the statutes was
accepted and the following officers elected:
Heinrich Schwarz of Gruetli, President
Rudolf Wegelin of Beersheba Springs, Vice President
Jakob Schneider of Long’s Mill, Secretary.
This meeting was attended by Eugen [the text reads
“Emil”] Plümacher, whom the Swiss emigration office had
selected as director of the colony, since the project began
from him. He reported on difficulties his project still faced.
He indicated that still no share certificates were available;
on the other hand, however, we would soon have help. He
asked the colonists for patience and promised to do his utmost for the quick resolution of the colony’s organization
[Plümacher seems to have made virtually no preparation for the arrival of the colonists. In particular, the land
had not been acquired by an organization prepared to convey it to the colonists, much less surveyed and divided into
lots. Consequently, the colonists were unable to get to
work at once clearing landing, building homes, and planting, because they did not know where their land would
eventually be. Ed.]
43On May 31, the term of the contract between Col.
Hughes and Mr. Plümacher came to an end. According to
this contract, by this date there should have been 30 families settled on the colony’s land. The Gruetli Union took
notice that Col. Hughes was no longer willing to abide by
the contract, since Plümacher had in no way fulfilled his
obligations. This news moved the Union, in its meeting of
June 6, to send a request for help to our Consulate General.
The request had the desired result: to our meeting on July 4
came two officials of our Consulate General, Mr. Wermuth
and Mr. Peter Staub, accompanied by Col. Hughes, to investigate this situation. In order to make a conscientious
report to the Swiss State Council, Mr. Wermuth, First Secretary of the Consulate, wished to hear feelings and wishes
from the mouth of each and everyone.
All declared that the climate and situation (Lage) suited them well and that they believed it would be possible to
establish here their own free existence. Everyone wished
that the Colony should be formally organized (zu Stande
Kommen) quickly, so as to be able to start work.
Col. Hughes declared himself ready to conclude a new
contract with the colonists; and, thanks to the diligent efforts of the two officials, it was possible to achieve a contract very favorable for the colonists.
According to this contract, all 50-acre lots [adjacent]
to the street would be restored and each colonist would get
the right to purchase off-street lots for 1 dollar per acre.
[Precisely what this sentence means is not totally clear to
the translator. Most lots in the 1873 map had 100 acres, but
there are a few 50-acre lots in the neighborhood marked
“Gruetli” on this map. Probably, the only functioning street
was in this neighborhood and is “the street” referred to.
Perhaps on the basis of previous payments to Plümacher,
some colonists had been assigned land in this area and had
gone to work clearing ground or building a house. If so, the
sentence would mean that, although Hughes considered his
contract with Plümacher null and void, he was willing to
recognize the rights of these colonists to stay on these lots.
44Ed.] This change caused a new delay because the land in
question belonged to different owners, not all of whom
were happy with the reduced price. After many-sided efforts, it was finally possible to set the date for the first allotting of land for August 16. On this day, Mr. Bouldin and
Mr. Hill, the most significant providers of land, were
Minutes of the Community meeting of 16 August
(1869) in Gruetli. The meeting began at 10 o’clock in the
morning. The minutes of the meeting of the Gruetli union
of 6 June, 4 and 18 July were read and unanimously approved. The president reported on the course of affairs of
the colony. The board of the Union proposed that the community should constitute itself today, and elect officers
who, henceforth, would execute the decisions.
As today’s agenda, the board proposed:
1. Decision relative to taking possession of the land and its
2. Recognition of those entitled to participate in the allocation.
3. Choice of a board from among those so recognized.
4. Conclusion of a contract for surveying with Engineer
5. Payment of the survey costs.
6. Drawing of the lots
7. Decision relative to catching up on the mandatory labor
[Frohndienst-- unpaid labor required by the community
for public works. Ed. ]
8. Unforeseen matters.
The agenda were declared appropriate. Relative to
taking possession of the land, there was read the copy of
the message of July 10, from Mr. Wermuth [then] in
Knoxville to the Consulate General. According to this message, no lands other than those provided by Mr. Bouldin
45were available. However, agreement with the contract on
the one hand and expressions of satisfaction from both Hill
and Bouldin (who were present) on the other led to the decision to proceed with the definitive taking possession of
the land and – to the satisfaction of the citizens -- to its allocation today.
The allocation plan showed that, after subtraction of
the school land and the streets, 48 lots were available, and it
was immediately decided that everyone should come to the
allocation. There were 52 who wanted to participate [including 11 absentees], so 4 who were absent had to be refused participation. There were therefore 48 citizens entitled to participate in the drawing, whose names will appear
with their lot numbers below. On the recommendation of
Mr. Baur, the selection of the board was delayed awaiting
the arrival of the representative of the Consulate General.
The contract between Mr. Baur
and the board in the
name of the Community for measurement and division [of
the land] was read and approved. Relative to covering the
costs of this survey, it was decided: (a) to accept the receipts made out by Plümacher in place of payment, unless
they were declared invalid by the Consulate, and (b) anyone
not having such a receipt who wished to participate in today’s allocation should immediately pay 4 dollars towards
the survey costs. The remaining sum of 11 dollars [per lot],
should be paid to Mr. Baur within a month of completion of
the survey, which should be finished before the end of November. In case of non-payment, ownership of the lot in
question would revert to the Community.
[The 1872 map is signed “J. U. Baur, Ing.” There can thus be little
doubt that the surveyor is the same as the settler, Johannes Ulrich
Bauer from Zurich, who got lot 26 in the original drawing but had
traded it for lot 94 by 1872 when the map was made. Lot 94 is where
the store was, so we may safely deduce that the engineer is the same
man as the J. U. Bauer, storekeeper, who was murdered, as we find in
chapter 4, on November 30, 1874. He seems to have spelled his name
indifferently “Baur” and “Bauer”; I have used Baur consistently in the
English and kept whatever spelling the original uses in the German.
4Relative to catching up on mandatory labor, it was decided that anyone who took possession of his lot by 1 November (1869) and declared himself ready as of that moment to make up the labor should be allowed to do so.
Those coming later, however, will have to pay 1 dollar per
day [of labor] to have the work done for daily wages or on
a piecework basis.
Those absent, to whom it had not been possible to give
notice of today’s allocation, were to be informed in writing
and allowed to draw lots. They would then be allowed one
month to make the first payment on the survey costs and to
declare whether they would perform or pay for the mandatory labor.
On general demand, there was then a break until 2 o’-
The bridge of Colony Road over Ranger Creek, built in the
earliest days of the Colony, presumably by mandatory labor.
This picture is from the Jackson thesis. The upstream side of
the bridge, visible from the new bridge, has been modified, but
the downstream side shows the Swiss original, as shown in the
modern picture on the back cover.The meeting came together in the afternoon with the
depositing of the receipts from Plümacher and the payment
of the $4 towards survey costs, as decided in the morning.
17 citizens deposited receipts, 24 paid $4, and to 7 absentees, the above conditions applied.
The drawing took place with all order and decorum
and gave the following result:
6 Leonhard von Rohr, exchanged with Carl Ruodin for
4 Caspar Fuchs – withdrawn from the community –
now Anton Rockers
3 Jakob Lanz
14 Leon Stocker
16 Heinrich Lanz
12 Benedikt Studer
1 Jakob Fehr
24 Anton Heuggeller, sold to John Bahnholzer
5 Joseph Stocker, the elder
13 Caspar Schild
2 Rudolph Wegelin
30 John Stauffer, exchanged for No. 54
9 Conrad Bolli
38 Joseph Burri
39 Anton Stocker
19 Ulrich Weiss
18 Heinrich Schwarz of Long’s Mill
8 Georg Schwarz of Long’s Mill
21 Samuel Müller – now Mischen
10 Melchior Thöny
36 Hch. Bertschinger
31 August Werdmüller
34 Peter Kissling
23 Jakob Schneider
17 Carl Zehnter, now J. Heller
11 Joh. Rychen
28 Joseph Stocker
22 Jakob Bollinger
20 Heinrich Egli
32 Heinrich Wagner
4833 Joh. Kissling
25 Caspar Holzhauer, now Joh. Bahnholzer
26 J.U. Baur -- now Joh. Bahnholzer
15 Christian Hofstetter
7 Carl Stuodin [Ruodin?], exchanged with
Leonhard von Rohr for 6
35 Joh. Baumgartner
27 Jakob Fruttiger
37 Friedrich Seidel, sold to Hch. Bertschinger
29 Hch. Schwarz, the elder
50 Friedrich Born
46 Jakob Zurcher
42 Albert Gräuicher
41 Jakob Seier
43 Jakob Külling
45 Peter Schild
40 Jakob Schwarz
44 Zimmerli Concurati
[The list mentions 47, not 48, lots. Ed.] After the
drawing for the lots, there was a happy festivity with
“Hoch!” resounding for our esteemed Consul General Hitz
and for Consuls Staub and Wermuth, as well as for the land
providers, Bouldin and Hill in Altamont and Mr. Hughes in
McMinnville. Dismissal of the community.
[Additional land seems to have become available and a
further drawing conducted at a date not recorded. We have
only the result. Ed.] Index of the owners in the second district:
46 Joh. Zurcher
51 Friedrich Fawer
52 Carl Fawer
53 Christian Häberli
54 Melchior Zwald
55 Alcide Faigoux
56 Carl Stucki
57 Caspar Zopfi
58 C. Hohliger
59 Jb. Seier
4959 Christian Ruf
60 Christ. Amacher
61 Caspar Kreis
61 J. Rottach
62 Heinrich Scharrer
64 N. Werdmüller
65 Heinrich Werdmüller
66 Fried. Müller
67 Friedrich Born
68 Joseph Fluri
69 Fried. Kneubühl
70 Melchior Jnäbnet
71 Jakob Mäder
72 Joh. Scholer
73 J. Amstutz
74 Ulrich Zimmermann
75 Eduard Berger
77 the Huggenberger brothers
77 Fritz von Gunten
81 Wermuth, Chancellor of the Consulate General
82 Consul Staub
Minutes of September 9 in Gruetli. At the wish of
Consul General Hitz and Consul Staub, the community was
assembled outside the regular schedule to handle the following matters:
1) Constituting the community
2) Draft of a community constitution
3) Election of the leadership
4) Report of Consul General Hitz relative
to the conditions and safeguarding of the Colony’s land.
The Colony constituted itself as a political unit encompassing an area of 9090 acres and asked Consul Hitz to draft
community rules according to the below-stated purpose,
and to attend to incorporation.
Purpose: The community Switzerland, Grundy
County, Tennessee, intends, within the framework of the
50constitution of the United States and the state laws of Tennessee and the ordinances of Grundy County, to promote,
according to its ability, religious, moral, educational and
cultural purposes as well as through cooperative efforts to
insure the spiritual and material welfare of those settled in
On the suggestion of the Consulate, the elections were
conducted in a democratic manner. Every ten lot owners
(or fraction thereof) should elect a member of the Community Council. On the suggestion of the Community Council,
and executive board of three members was selected.
Election of the Community Council
District 1 Lots 1-10 Georg Schwarz
District 2 Lots 11-20 Heinrich Egli
District 3 Lots 21-30 Jacob Schneider
District 4 Lots 31-40 Heinrich Bertschinger
The Community Council proposed as officers:
President Heinrich Schwarz
Secretary Rudolph Wegelin
Schwarz thanked the Council warmly but asked to be let off
for substantive reasons.
Results of the election. With a large majority there were
President Joh. Kissling
Secretary Rudolph Wegelin
Consul Hitz now reported separately on the state of the
Colony’s affairs. He declared the lands in every respect assured except in a formal aspect as well as there being some
significant changes in the conditions of payment.
Of donated land there was no longer any talk, but every citizen now got a 100 acre lot for $50. The period of
payment could be extended only one year; by September 1,
1870, all lots should have been paid for, without, however,
51compensation for interest. Mr. [Peter] Staub was designated Trustee and was willing to take care of this difficult
business. On the other hand, it was expected that the
colonists would do their utmost to ease his task. The Consul’s concluding word was to recall to us, in an emotionfilled voice, the last words of the dying Attinghausen: “Be
united! United!” [Seid einig! Einig! – from Friedrich
Schiller, Wilhelm Tell, Act 4 Scene 2, line 2451.]
The evening had begun, and bright bonfires were lit.
The chorus gave the most respected Consul a greeting in
song, including in its object his elderly mother. “To the
worthy representative of our dear Fatherland,” began the
speaker, “whose call resounds to relieve the suffering at
home, whose help and material support those Swiss enjoy
who seek their adoptive fatherland in America!” Only to
him, emphasized the speaker, is due also the happy solution
of the affairs of this colony. He has made great sacrifices
of time and money for us. “We owe him the most heartfelt
thanks, thanks that we cannot express. Our thankfulness
must show itself in deeds. Let us unselfishly care for the
seed entrusted to us. The difficulties which a new settlement must bear are not yet overcome. Unity, courage, and
perseverance are necessary to reach the goal; true pulling
together will lighten our burdens and advance our cause.
This offering of thanks joyfully greets our Consul General.
May he accept it as a token of our gratitude for his great efforts. Make known your agreement in sounding forth your
Hoch to the worthy representative of our dear Fatherland,
Consul General John Hitz.” [Hoch literally means “high,”
but is used to cheer and to express strong approval of
someone. “Er lebe hoch” means roughly “May he live well,
happily, and prosperously!”]
Er lebe Hoch! Hoch! Hoch! Song: Er lebe Hoch.
With the voice of one deeply moved, the Consul expressed his thanks for the honor done him, but passed these
honors on to the government of which he was the servant.
He congratulated a people so far advanced in republican development as our dear Swiss fatherland. Though his salary
52may be much lower than that of a representative of a
monarchy, he considered himself fortunate to be the representative of the European republic, representative of a people whose highest power was the power of people. His
“Hoch” was to the fatherland, to its free government, as
well as to all true and worthy Swiss, both here and there.
“Hoch! Hoch! Hoch!” [In 1869, Switzerland was indeed
the European republic; France, formerly a republic, was an
empire under Napoleon III.]
The third “Hoch” was for Consul Staub, to thank him
for his many sacrifices for the colony. A heavy rain
brought the happy festivity to an end and sent the participants home.
Minutes of October 25 in Gruetli. Subjects:
1) Decision relative to the performance of street
2) Building a schoolhouse
3) Community constitution
4) Name of the City.
1) The Community Council moved that Mr. Baur be
released as road master and that the Council itself would direct the necessary works. Motion accepted. The Council
was given the charge to finish the bridges in Gruetli.
2) Relative to the schoolhouse, it was decided that
Council should have until the end of year to make plans and
cost calculations. To get the necessary funds, it should
have the City land measured out and hold an auction. The
name Bern was confirmed for the City.
“The City” refers to parcel of land, originally 200 acres but later enlarged to 600 or 700 acres, where it was hoped a city would develop.
Ownership of this land was originally entrusted to the community with
the provision that the proceeds from its sale should go towards school
and church buildings. Jacob Suter believes that this area was around the
Schild store and the stagecoach inn, which still stands, the area marked
Gruetli on the 1872 map. For reasons seen below, I think it may have
53The Community constitution sent by Mr. Wermuth
was accepted and the Board asked to take care of incorporation, and the Community was given the name Switzerland.
To help newly arrived settlers, it was decided to build two
block houses, in so far as the credit could be raised [erheblich sei, here translated “could be raised,” would normally
mean “was considerable” but here the more literal translation seems to make better sense.] Finally, every lot owner
was allowed to cut wood in the streets, but the stumps left
should not be more than one foot high. Meeting adjourned.
Community meeting 31 December 1869 in the lot of
Councilman Schneider. The president opened the
meeting and proposed the following agenda:
1) Reading and ratification of the minutes of 9 August and
25 October in Gruetli.
2) Motion of the Council relative to the building of a
schoolhouse in the city Bern.
3) Establishment of the sale price of future 100 acre lots.
4) Motion relative to the auction of the City lots.
5) Motion for the establishment of a cemetery.
6) Transfer of the plans of the first 5000 acres to the community. Notice relative to the end of the survey and payment of the costs.
7) Election of the city council and officers.
8) Unforeseen matters.
[1)] The minutes of September 9 were read and accepted without change. Those of October 25 were emended to
make clear that the Council was responsible for leadership
in the matter of work on the streets.
[2)] In accord with the Community decision on October 25 relative to the schoolhouse, the Council moved as
follows: There should be built on the place chosen in the
been the large undivided area on which the Swiss Memorial School
now stands. Ed.]
54city a proper frame house, 30 feet long, 24 feet wide, and
1½ stories high. There should be a 14 day period for turning in sealed bids for the construction of the entire building.
The management should then be given the right to award
the contract to the lowest bidder without further ratification
by the community
Heinrich Schwarz wished and moved that the construction competition should be open for us. He placed his
trust in the citizens that, through volunteer labor the wood
would be felled and hauled to the site, thereby sparing considerable expense. If that were not possible, then the authorities should have full power to execute their plan, and
that without delay, since the need for the school house was
pressing. Decision: The Council and officers were charged
to clear a part of the land designated for the school and to
open an access street with volunteer labor. For the construction of the school, they were to open a competition and
without further ratification by the Community to award the
contract to the lowest bidder. Should the first-named works
not be done by voluntary effort, then funds are authorized
for them also.
3) The president informed the community that Consul
Staub had recently purchased 5000 acres of land, and he
[the president] wished that the Community determine the
sale price, paying attention to some compensation to Consul Staub for the trouble and sacrifices connected with these
transactions. He pointed to the Consul’s magnanimous
treatment of us, up to this point without compensation. Jb.
Hehr moved that it be left absolutely to Mr. Staub to determine the sale price. He could not find it appropriate to determine a compensation; the Consul’s work could never be
equated with that a laborer.
The president feared that proceeding in that way might
lead to Consul Staub being regarded as a land speculator in
certain quarters, something he did not want happening in
the Swiss colony, since we are all convinced that such is
not the case. Indeed, it was the Consul’s wish that the
community should determine the price. Hch. Schwarz sup-
55ported the motion of Hehr because presently much dissension has arisen because surveyor and agent functioned in
one person. Mr. Staub works as Consul, and it is a boon
granted to the Colonists if the prices do not rise all too
Decision: Consul Staub should be warmly thanked for
his magnanimous way of dealing with us, and the price for
further sales should be left totally to him.
4) On the subject of the auction of the City lot, the
community council moved to survey a number of lots near
the schoolhouse and to bring them to auction. Mr.
Bertschinger reported for the council: For the execution of
the decision of the community, the council had turned to
Engineer Baur and received from him a plan that divided
all 200 acres into half-acre lots and laid out straight streets.
An investigation had shown that this plan was too expensive. Baur wanted 20 [dollars] for the plan plus one dollar
for each lot surveyed, and thus $400 for the project. This
demand had caused the Council to postpone this matter.
Hch. Schwarz found the demand exaggerated, thanked the
Council for the delay, and believed that this work could be
done without the engineer at a low cost. He thought that to
limit the division to four acre lots -- except in the most favorable places -- would to the advantage of any buyer.
Decision: The Council and Board were charged to conduct the division into lots according to this last proposal
and order an auction.
5) The Council and Board moved that an appropriate
place for a cemetery be prepared, and it was decided that,
since lot number 21 had reverted to the community and the
ground and location was appropriate, on resale about 10
acres in the back behind the street and up to brow of the
mountain should be reserved. To keep down costs, only
one acre would initially be cleared and fenced in.
This is not at all where the current cemetery is. The German says
“geklärt und eingefenst;” both words being Germanized English.
566) There were many complaints about the surveying of
the first 5000 acres. Boundary lines were inadequately or
faulty drawn and some lots were incorrectly located. It was
decided as follows: Owners of 100 acre lots would be given
a month to investigate their boundary lines. If, during this
period, no written complaints were to be made to the Council, it would be assumed that the boundaries were satisfactory and the Board charged to pay the survey costs.
7) The new elections, carried out according to the provision of the constitution for [annual] elections, gave the
following result for Community Council by district:
1. Jakob Lanz
2. J.U. Weiss
3. Jb. Schneider, who declined and in whose place
Mr. Bahnholzer was chosen on January 17.
4. Heinrich Bertschinger
5. Carl Zehnter
As members of the Board there were nominated:
For President: John Kissling and Jb. Hehr
for Secretary: Rudolph Wegelin and Hch. Schwarz
for Treasurer: Anton Stocker and Joh. Baumgartner
Results of the election:
For President: votes cast, 31; absolute majority, 16;
Mr. Kissling, 29; Hehr, 1; invalid 1. Mr. Kissling thanked
the community for its trust, and accepted with the wish that
the Community may have a happy and peaceful development.
Treasurer: votes cast, 28; absolute majority 15; votes
received: Stocker 17, Baumgartner 9, Bertschinger 2. Mr.
Secretary: votes cast, 31; absolute majority 16; votes
received: Wegelin 3, Bertschinger 2, Hch. Schwarz 26.
Under article 8 of the day’s agenda [Unforeseen matters], Jb. Hehr informed the citizens that he had been appointed road master by the Court in Altamont, and he asked
57that all citizens between the ages of 20 and 65 appear for
mandatory labor [Frohndienst] on the first Thursday in January. Anyone refusing he would immediately turn over to
Hch. Schwarz protested against such a procedure. The
construction of the streets should first be presented to the
citizens for approval. He earnestly emphasized that this decision of the Court was a response to the petition of only a
few citizens; he believed that if the Community sought a
delay it would be gladly granted. Improvement of the
streets is necessary, but one must not overburden the
colonists. Without prior knowledge of the citizens, one
should definitely not build roads. Schwarz from Long’s
Mill also complained of so much mandatory labor; during
1869, he and his brother had done 36 days of mandatory labor. He earnestly emphasized that if such harsh measures
were taken, he would again leave the mountain. The community asked the Board to request a postponement from the
Court in Altamont; and, if it is received, to then prepare a
street plan and to present it to the community for approval.
Finally, the president read a letter from Consul Staub
about the sad condition of the family Lager from Glarus,
and the citizens were advised that they could make voluntary contributions, payable to the Treasurer, to help the consulate alleviate the suffering of this family. Meeting adjourned.
Special meeting of the Community, February 7, 1870.
In consequence of the disputes that had arisen between the
owners in the first and those in the second complexes, especially those of the two city complexes and the adjoining
street systems, Consul Staub called together a commission
to work out a peaceful solution. This commission consisted
of Engineer Baur, Jakob Hehr, and Edward Berger on the
one side and President Kissling, Bertschinger, and Schwarz
on the other. Consul Staub was named chairman. The following were the principal issues:
581. Should the constitution drafted by Consul Staub and
accepted by the citizens last October 25 remain in effect or
be declared invalid?
2. In what way can a peaceful solution of the affairs of
the City be achieved?
3. Is it not in the interest of the population to divide
the settlement into two school and street districts, each enjoying equal rights in the use of the City complexes?
After long and vehement discussion, the Commission
came to a unanimous proposal as follows:
I. The constitution should be changed only as necessary to allow incorporation, and Consul Staub was asked to
take over that task.
II. a) The two previous City complexes should be
united, abutting on that [already] laid out in the second
complex, with annexation of the parallel 100 acre lots designated No. 45, 46, 43, and 44, so that the whole complex
would total 600 acres.
b) 25 to 30 acres in the center of this complex
should, for the time being, be reserved for public buildings.
The sale of City lots should begin on either side of this
c) The street system inside the City is to be left to
the inhabitants thereof.
d) Proceeds from the sale of the City lot can, according to the stipulations of the donor, be used only for
church and school purposes.
e) The name Bern, attached to the first complex, is
[These lot numbers are missing from the 1872 plan; the general sequence of the numbers, however, suggests that they may have been in
the large, undivided rectangle on which the Swiss Memorial School
now stands. This area, then, rather than the area around the stagecoach
inn, may be where the City was to be.]
59III In view of its wide area and rapid development, the
Community should divide itself into two school districts
which should share equally in the proceeds from the [sale]
of the City lot for school and church. For the construction
of the first school houses, a credit of 200 dollars should be
granted to each district.
IV Each school community should assume the construction and maintenance of the streets and bridges necessary in its area, as well as that of county roads that run
V A contract is to be concluded with Engineer Baur
for the survey of the City lands.
VI The survey of the first 5000 acres is to be accepted.
VII A meeting should be called for February 7 to ratify
or reject this proposal.
Minutes of the meeting of February 7, 1870.
1) Reading and approval of the minutes of the community meeting of December 31, 1869.
2) Approval or rejection of the above-described Commission proposal.
3) Ratification of the agreement with Mr. Zürcher concerning his 100 acre lot No. 46, on which he has already
4) Ratification of the contract with Engineer Baur.
The president opened the meeting with a brief but
earnest introduction. He pointed to the disputes and mutual
misunderstandings which had arisen, and he urged the citizens to give the utmost attention to the important matters
before the meeting today. With the noble wife of Werner
Stauffacher, he called to the citizens especially today, “Oh
Werner, look not back, but to the future.” [Schiller, Wilhelm Tell, Act 1, Scene 2, line 525.] He hoped that the
parting words of our most esteemed Consul General were
engraved in most hearts: Be united! United! “Only unity
assures our continued existence, only unity advances our
prosperity, only a pure democratic sense leads us to the
goal. With these few words, I declare this meeting open.”
The minutes of the meeting of December 31 were read
and unanimously approved.
The above Commission proposal was read and the reasons behind it explained by Mr. Schwarz on behalf of the
commission. The report was supported by Mr. Eduard
Messrs. Schneider and Bollinger believe the owners of
the 100 acre lots in the first complex to be disadvantaged.
They wished especially that the so-called Poplar Spring be
kept free and open.
This wish also Consul Staub, in a way most gracious
way, was able to fulfill. He would sell the 200 acres in
question for 130 dollars, his cost of purchase plus survey,
to the first school community for subdivision in small complexes. The two concerned members declared themselves
satisfied and recommended approval of the commission’s
proposal, which, without further discussion was unanimously approved.
Until incorporation of the constitution, it was further
decided to choose a commission of five members, composed of the president, vice-president, treasurer, secretary,
and one owner with the charge to advance the welfare of
the community according to its means in every connection
through the sale of the City lot as soon as possible and also
seek means to get the school construction underway.
With a majority approaching unanimity, the following
members of the commission were chosen: President, Mr.
Kissling; vice president, Eduard Berger; treasurer, Anton
Stocker; secretary, Hch. Schwarz; fifth member, Ulrich
A discussion with Engineer Baur yielded the following
result. With the exception of the part reserved for public
61buildings (where, for the time being, he would just indicate
the roads), he would undertake to lay out the whole complex in one acre lots, mark each with four corner stakes and
two middle stakes, post the number on each lot, and lay out
the streets. He only asked that upon completion of the
work, it should be examined, and, if satisfactory, be declared accepted. He also presented a plan to the Community. For the conduct of this work he asked $250, $100 after
the first auction of lots and $150 after a year. In this
amount are included all survey costs already due in both
This contract was agreed upon and Mr. Baur asked to
survey a number of lots as quickly as possible.
Mr. Zürcher [owner of Lot 46 which the Community
wanted to include in the City] asked to keep the 20 acres
that lie along the western side of his 100 acre lot and on
which he had already built a house in consideration of the
15 dollars he had already paid for survey cost. The remaining 80 acres he was prepared to sell to the Community for
$50, the amount he had originally paid for the whole lot.
The citizens found this offer cheap and accepted the
deal unanimously. The 200 acres by which the City would
be expanded would be shared equally between the two
sides, and the Board was asked to present to the community
on July 4 a proposal for covering the questionable deficit.
The first community designated four acres as school land
on the north of the City; and the second community, four
acres on the south.
When the president asked if anyone had anything to
add, Heinrich Schwarz asked for the floor, and in a few
words, mentioned the many sacrifices which Consul Staub
had already made for the colony and which, as Trustee, he
would still have to make, the zeal with which he had again
this time striven to bring about peaceful relations. Moreover, up to this point, he had made all these sacrifices without compensation, so that the colonists owed him many
thanks. Also he would take as a true sign of gratitude that
unity through which alone the colony may bloom and pros-
62per. “Show him your recognition by joining in a mighty
Hoch. Herr Consul Staub lebe Hoch! Hoch! Hoch!
The Consul said that he enjoyed the days he was granted to spend with us. Though we lack the noble wine by
which spirits are made high on such festive occasions in
our motherland, he finds that here our souls are equally lifted and made happy with spring water. “I would bring to
mind again today the words of our representative and friend
Consul General Hitz, now in Switzerland: ‘Dear fellow citizens: Be united! United! United!’ He has once saved this
project, and you may count on his continued care. To him I
bring my Hoch!”
“Most of you still remember how, here on this spot, he
passed on the Hoch that you brought to him to the government of which he was the representative. I also am convinced that your government at home has not forgotten you,
that it has not withdrawn its protection from you. The prejudices I have often heard expressed are unfounded. The
fact is that a man without means but ready for hard work
can rise better here than in the dear motherland. But one
should not suppose that your government, which has helped
you to emigrate, would, once emigrated, [not] assure you
its protection in case of need. It has, dear fellow citizens,
already done so and will continue to do so. Trusting in
your Swiss government, may you say, when danger threatens, then here on this Tennessee mountain, you brothers
stand, one for all and all for one.
Also to you, dear fellow citizens, belongs recognition
for the firm will and perseverance which you have shown in
the colony project. I thank you further for the good fame
which your industry and character have brought to our fatherland among the local people here. Keeping trust together, feed here upon the true Swiss fodder, that is, on
pure freedom, education, song, and above all, community
life that advances spiritual development. As for the colony,
I must express my fullest satisfaction. Just remain united,
active, and persevering and you will harvest the fruits
which you are sewing. I, for my part, give you my firm as-
63surance to protect the colony as far as lies within my power. Finally, I bring my Hoch first to the Swiss government,
without which your colony would no long exist, secondly to
those dear lands and to the people living in them, and thirdly to all true Swiss hearts, wherever they may be. To the
Swiss government, to the lands and peoples, and to all worthy Swiss hearts wherever they may live! Hoch! Hoch!
And so, with beautiful love for the fatherland, brothers
reached out their hands to one another; and the president,
with thanks to all, closed the meeting.
From the foregoing records and from a little reading between the lines, it is not hard to see that the settlers in Gruetli
were very largely disillusioned. This disillusionment was met,
on the part of the leaders, by repeated reminders that the hardships of the Swiss on Cumberland Mountain were nothing more
than natural, that it was indeed comparable to the hardships encountered by their forefathers in the founding of their own Swiss
federation. And it would be hard to say what might have become of the colony if it had not been for the cohesive influence
of the idealists who urged its continued unity.
Of their subsequent hardships and pleasures and their adaptation to American customs and to the language of their new fatherland, I shall speak presently. But before going further into
the story of the colony as a whole, I shall give a short summary
of several of its outstanding families.
64Addendum: Church Crises
In the church records, the passage quoted above is followed
by lists of community members, baptisms, confirmations, communicants, marriages, and deaths. Then, starting on page 210,
come minutes of meetings beginning in 1886 that record two serious problems in the church. Curiously, Jackson makes no
mention of them.
The trouble began with a pastor, D. Neunschwander, alleged
to have made “certain utterances against the community at
Gruetli” not further specified. Neunschwander seems to have
lived in Belvidere and traveled to Gruetli for his pastoral duties.
In his absence, deacons Angst and Jenni and elder Jacob
Rutschmann called a meeting of the members on June 13, 1886.
After a lengthy discussion, it was unanimously decided to relieve the pastor of his duties. Since his contract had not yet expired, he was to be paid the rest of the contract whether or not he
came to Gruetli. This news was to be conveyed to the pastor by
Neunschwander did not accept this decision graciously. He
declared the meeting invalid, because only the pastor was al -
lowed to call meetings under the rules of the Indiana Classis of
which the Gruetli church was a member. (A classis is a governing board composed of ministers and lay representatives in the
Dutch, German, and Swiss Reformed Churches.) The congregation drew up a letter of withdrawal from the classis, but before it
was sent, a pastor, B. Warren, was found, who agreed to serve
for one year and persuaded the congregation to stay in the classis. The altercation with Neunschwander dragged on through
1887, with neither side admitting any impropriety. The Neunschwander affair was not the cause of any split within the community.
Warren seems to have been satisfactory except that his Ger -
man left something to be desired. In September 1890, following
the loss of the teacher, Rudolf Marugg, it was decided to look
for someone “equally adroit in both languages,” able to fill the
role of both pastor and teacher. Carl Nussbaum of New York
65was such a person and it was suggested that he be offered the
pastorship provided he would “familiarize himself with the Heidelberg Catechism and all other necessary matters” to be ordained in the Indiana Classis. (Nussbaum’s given name appears
variously as C. H., Carl, Charles August, and Christian August.
In 1892, he bought lot 54, formerly owned by Melchior Zwald,
at a tax sale for $10. He used the name Charles August for this
Now it seems that Nussbaum had been ordained in the New
York Synod but not in the Indiana Classis and that it was strongly suspected that he would be unwilling to join the Indiana York
Classis and was unlikely to take kindly to the suggestion that he
be ordained in the Indiana Classis. John Kissling accurately
foresaw the results of the offer to Nussbaum and proposed that it
might be better to vote on whether to have a war between two
factions or to live in peaceful community of citizens. His advice
was not heeded, and on the vote to invite Nussbaum, 23 members voted yes and 11 voted no.
Nussbaum preached his first sermon on Sunday, September
26, 1890, and Kissling’s prophecy began to unfold. Pastor War -
ren declared that he had nothing against the sermon, but that
Nussbaum must be ordained in the Reformed Church to serve
the congregation. Nussbaum replied that conscience would not
allow him to do so, since the canons of the Reformed Church
were not in conformity with the Heidelberg Catechism. He declared the choice of the community more important than the authority of a church, and that, to quote a certain Dr. Ellis, “Ordi -
nation … does not make one a learned, wise, or good man any
more than it makes him a Christian, nor does it endow one with
the virtues of humility, moderation, chastity, or even honesty.”
The battle was joined. The majority hired Nussbaum and
withdrew from the Reformed Church. A minority of 12 families
stayed with the Reformed Church and had occasional services
with visiting pastors. They were refused the use of the schoolhouse, as well as the use of the hymnals and communion equipment. In 1893, this minority group took the majority group to
court and won its case. They were given the hymnals and communion ware by the judge and the school authorities let both
66groups use the school. Which families were in which group is
not recorded. But the admonition of Consul Hitz “Seid einig!
Einig!” had been forgotten. Several not very authoritative
sources suggest that Nussbaum was influenced by Swedenborg.
On the morning of May 8, 1898, Alfred Rütschmann, a
young man in his early 20’s, was shot while sitting in the
kitchen of the Anton Stocker house (then owned by the Nussbaums) preparing a Sunday school lesson. The murder was never solved, but local suspicion thought it not unconnected with
the fact that Alfred’s father had delivered to Neunschwander the
news of his ouster.
David E. Clayton, The Forgotten Colony, 1971, unpublished. Clayton cites a conversation in 1969 with Rosemarie Stampfli for this story.
67Chapter 3. Some Prominent Families
The name Schild is likely to be the first one heard today on
the mountain in connection with the colony. This is probably
because the family has remained there, whereas most others
have taken the first opportunity to move elsewhere. As I have
mentioned before, the forebears of this family came over in September, 1869. In that original group was John Schild (b. ca.
1802 and his sons Peter (1830 – 1912) and Kaspar (1833-1905).
Peter was accompanied by his wife, Margarita Ruef, and seven
children. The oldest of the children was Peter Jr. (1854-1937)
who today (1933) has the distinction of being the only surviving
"original settler" of the colony still living in Gruetli. He is now
known on the mountain as "Uncle Pete." Young Peter's brothers and sisters were Margaretha (b. 1856), John (1858 – 1921) ,
John Henry (1862- 1943), Elizabeth (1864 – 1946), Rudolph
(1866- 1928), and Willie (1868 – 1903). Peter was fourteen
years old when his family came over, so he remembers the trip
and arrival quite well. When grown, he married Rosa
Leuzinger, and they had two daughters, Fannie and Margaret.
Fannie is now living in Gruetli with her parents and helping
them manage the farm. Uncle Pete, although now nearly eighty
years of age, is still active and works out on the farm every day.
He says he doesn't want to stop working because he is afraid if
he misses a day, he won't be able to go out the next day. He
speaks Swiss (Schwyzerdeutsch), High German, and English,
but seems to prefer English when speaking to Americans. He is
always eager to talk about the colony in its early days, and the
accuracy with which he remembers details is remarkable.
Elizabeth (1864 – 1926), sister of Uncle Pete, married Martin Marugg of Tracy City who will be mentioned under the
Marugg family. Another brother, John (1858 – 1921), married
Barbara Marugg, sister of Martin,, and they brought up a large
family which has figured prominently in Gruetli life. Their children are John (1886-1954), Chris (1887-1934), George Willie
(1889-1948), Anna Margaretha (1891-1974), Rudolph (1893-
1948), and Elsie Christina (1895-1916). Their second son,
68Chris, is now owner and manager of the little general store
which is the only place of business in Gruetli proper.
[Chris’s daughter, mentioned at the beginning of this narrative as Jackson’s guide, was Dola, who was 17 at the time. Seventy-three years later, she remembers “Miss Jackson’s” visit
vividly. She was then a student at the Grundy County High
School in Tracy City. She recalls that the School Board had
found it too costly if not impossible to run a school bus for the
Gruetli children and had instead provided them with an old car
to get themselves from the Swiss Colongy out to a highway
where they could catch a bus from Palmer or Beersheba. Every
trip over the Gruetli roads and fields was an adventure! Since
she was the only girl, Dola drove and the four boys pushed when
they got stuck. In the summer of 1933, immediately after high
school graduation, she went to Middle Tennessee State Teachers’ College in Murfreesboro. The next summer, her father became ill and she stayed home with him. He died in in November
of 1934; and, following his wishes, she married Louie Berry of
Tracy City. They ran the store and the little farm. The marriage
was unhappy, and after her mother remarried, she took a job
with the Lone Star Gas company in Dallas, and from Texas got a
divorce. In 1944, she came back to Tennessee to work for TVA
in Chattanooga as a statistical draftsman. When the man whose
job she had filled came home from the war, she took a civil service job in Okinawa, working for the Army Corps of Engineers
as a draftsman. There she met Richard Tylor, and they were
married in 1949. In 1956, they came back to finish college at
the University of Tennessee, where they both graduated in 1958.
In 1962, back they went to Okinawa, but Dola was now a budget
officer for the Signal Corps, while Richard continued with the
Corps of Engineers. They were joined there by Dola’s younger
brother, Roy, who married an Okinawan girl. In 1977, the
Corps transferred Richard to Winchester, Virginia. They are
now (2005) living in Winchester in a home filled with Okinawan
art, and both are in remarkably good health. Roy and his wife
are in Berryville, Virginia. Though life has taken Dola about as
far from Gruetli as one can get, she remembers her childhood
with deep gratitiude and affection. She has made a detailed inventory of the old markers in the cemetery at Gruetili that is
69available at the Tracy City library. Her lively rendition of her
conversations with her grandmother, Barbara Marugg Scild, is
included as an addendum to this chapter. Her genealogical
work has provided accurate data for the Schild and Marugg families. Her life is a beautiful example of how the children of
Gruetli entered mainstream American culture without forgetting
the virtues of their upbringing. Or, if you will, of how the
Colony succeeded as it disappeared.
A different and seemingly unrelated Peter Schild (1835 –
1915) and his family settled nearby in Beersheba Springs. This
Peter and his wife, Anna Fuchs (1838-1907), and several children came from Canton Bern to New York in January of 1871
and went straight to Beersheba. He seems to have found employment as a manager and caretaker of the properties of Martha
Armfield, widow of John Armfield. The family lived in the Otey
cottage, now known as Mountain Home, and was also given the
cottage known as Ten Pin in payment for services to Mrs. Armfield. There were a total of eleven children: Peter, Jr., Elisabeth,
Melchior, Alfred, (all born in Switzerland) and Mary, John Al -
bert, Lucy, Annie, Daniel, Mattie, and Betty Margaret. The
parents are buried in a small cemetery in Beersheba about 100
yards west of Tenn. 56 and 0.1 miles north of Big Don’s Market.
The story of this Schild family is being prepared by Joeseph
Schild, who may be reached at Joesfamily@mindspring.com.
The oldest son is known to have moved to Nashville and to have
worked at some time as a boilermaker for the N.C.&St.L railroad. I believe that it is he, not “Uncle Pete” from Gruetli, who
was a cousin of Melchior Thoni and with him, as we shall see
below, carved the evangelists and the angels on the reredos of
the altar in Christ Church Episcopal in downtown Nashville.
The Marugg family represents perhaps the most influential group of settlers in the colony. In 1869, Christian Marugg
(1829 – 1904) came to America seeking a place for a future
home. He traveled through twenty-eight states but did not find a
place that suited him until he met Consul Hitz and went with
him, on the recommendation of Captain Plumacher, to Cumberland Mountain. There he seemed to be satisfied and gave up
further search, returning immediately to Switzerland. There is
70no record that I have been able to find of his having bought, before returning to Switzerland, any property in Gruetli or of his
having made any arrangements to return to the colony. But in
1873 he arrived in Gruetli from Switzerland, bringing his family
with him. His family consisted of his wife, Anna Brosi
five children: Barbara (1857-1946), Rudolph (1859 – 1896),
Martin (1861 – 19410, George (1864 – 1943), and Christina
(1867 – 1894). Two of the sons have been particularly outstanding in the life of Gruetli. Rudolph married Anna Heer and was
the teacher in the school and a leader in the civic life of the village. Martin married Elizabeth Schild, younger sister of “Uncle
Pete,” and was a member of the Agricultural Society (Landwirtschaftsverein) and its secretary for many years. Shortly after the family's arrival in America, Martin established the
Marugg Company in Tracy City, a firm which still imports German and Swiss farming implements. This business has been unusually successful, and marks Mr. Marugg as one of the few financially successful men who have come from the colony. The
firm has an attractive catalogue, written in both English and
German, describing and illustrating all of the foreign tools.
Many of the settlers in Gruetli use these tools as they prefer the
implements which have always been used by their forebears.
Mr. Marugg also has a large American clientele with whom
these Swiss cast bells (Schweizer Gussglocken), German scythes
(deutsche Sensen), etc., are very popular. The daughter, Barbara, married John Schild, younger brother of “Uncle Pete.” I
shall have more to say about this family in the course of this
[Probably no one mentioned to Frances Jackson that Christian and Anna Marugg returned to Klosters, Switzerland about
1890, taking with them their two youngest children, George and
Christina. They intended to return to America, but only George
ever came back. Christina married in 1892 and had a son, Si -
mon Nett, in 1893 and a daughter, Anna in August of 1894.
Christina died two months later; and little Anna died at age five
months. The father died a year later in January 1896. Simon
Anna brought with her a notebook now in the possession of her great,
great granddaughter Sylvia Bryant. A page is shown in the addendum
to this chapter.
71was then brought up by his grandparents, until his grandmother’s death in 1907 when he was 14. He seems to have done
well, however, and lived to age 80. Dola Schild Tylor has a picture of him skiing.]
The Thoni and Rychen families are inseparably joined, both
by marriage and, in the early days, by business. In the month of
October, in the year 1869, Melchior Thoni and his wife, Elizabeth Schild,
came from the canton of Bern in Switzerland to
settle in Gruetli. With them were two of their children, Mel -
chior and John. Two other children, Margaret and Peter, had
died. The father bought a lot of one hundred acres and the two
sons, Melchior and John, joined to buy another lot adjoining. In
the allotment the two lots No. 9 and 10 fell to the two sons and
father respectively. In the same year John Rychen, also of Bern,
married Elizabeth Thoni, another child of Melchior, and the two
came to America and to Gruetli on their honeymoon and to
make their future home there. They bought lot No.11 next to
that of Elizabeth's father. Either late in the year 1869 or early in
the year 1870, John Rychen's mother came over from Switzerland, bringing his sisters and settling with John. His father had
died a number of years before and left his wife and children
without any money; the wife being very active had started a
laundry business on a small scale and it had prospered until she
had earned enough to bring her small family to America. Thus
the two families arrived here and started out together.
The following illustrations are carvings by Melchior Thoni.
The wall sconces are in the possession of John E. Baggenstoss
[Jackson gives his wife’s name as Anna, but according to Lycinda
Thoni Allen, who has thoroughly researched Thoni geneology, this
Melchior’s wife was Elisabeth Schild, an identification which could account for references to a Peter Schild (probably of the Beersheba
Schild family, which, like the Thoni family, came from Breinz) as the
cousin of Melchior the younger. Ed.]
In 1871, Melchior Thoni, son, married Elizabeth Rychen,
and in 1874 they moved to Sewanee where Melchior had the job
of building fires for the University. He spent his evenings carving, a trade which he had learned in Switzerland, and made
many very beautiful things. One of the most beautiful of these
is a table about three feet high which is elaborately carved, including the legs, and a very intricate design and picture in relief
on the top. This table is now in the possession of his son Frank
in Nashville. [In 2002, the table is in the possession of Delores
Krech Carter in Nashville. Ed.] Many small articles, such as picture frames, candlesticks, trinket boxes and little sets of shelves
were carved by young Melchior and sold in the summer at
Monteagle to the tourists. Melchior's children still have a few of
them which were not sold. In 1880, Mr. Tom Karl of Nashville
got in touch with Mr. Thoni and hired him to come to Nashville
to carve a "flyin' jinny.” And so the family moved to Nashville
where they have made their home ever since.
I now return to the Rychen family and trace them to the
present time. John and his bride Elizabeth Thoni were trying to
74make a living in Gruetli. To supplement what they made on the
farm, John spent his time in the winter carving the same kind of
little trinkets that Melchior Thoni was making in Sewanee. He
was very gifted and quick and in the summer there was always a
big supply ready to take to Beersheba to sell to the tourists. His
wife often helped him but the things which she carved were simpler, as she was not as talented as her husband. It was six miles
and Elizabeth with her son Emil always walked
over and back, leaving early in the morning and returning late at
night. The husband was not able to go with her because summer
was the time when it was most necessary to work on the farm.
Mr. Emil Rychen told me the little tale that his mother always
took him along and never any of the other children, so that after
a while he was called her pet, but she answered this with the remark that she always took him with her because she was afraid
the house wouldn't be there when she returned if she left him
[She must have gone down into the Big Creek Gulf and up through
Stone Door; on top of the mountain, it would have been much further.
75there. The little family lived there until 1880 and in the meantime five children were born: John, Emil, Emma, Lena and
When Melchior Thoni came to Nashville to carve the "flyin'
jinny," he sent for John Rychen to come down and help him.
John was not financially able to bring his family so he came
alone and left them in Gruetli. This little merry-go-round was
so successful that the two men decided to make one for themselves which they promptly did. John Thoni then came down
from Gruetli and the three men took the "flyin' jinny" or
Rösslispiel, as it is called in Swiss German, and traveled with it.
They followed circuses and were very popular with their merrygo-round drawn by a little spotted pony. In 1881, while they
made on the farm, they were in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, John
Rychen caught typhoid pneumonia and died after a few days.
They were too poor to take him back to Gruetli or to have his
wife come there, so he was buried by his friends in the shade of
a large tree. After this misfortune, the two Thoni brothers became discouraged with the "flyin' jinny" business and returned
to Nashville. Upon his return, Melchior Thoni got employment
as foreman of the Edgefield and Nashville (furniture) Manufacturing Company, which position he held for thirty years until his
death in 1926. While working as woodcarver for this concern he
is said to have also instructed at least two hundred other men in
his artistic handicraft. Thus he did all that was in his power to
carry on in this art which has always been so widely followed
among the Swiss.
[Update 2002. In 1947, Bill Holder, a reporter for the Nashville Tennesseean Magazine, after repeatedly encountering the
name of Melchior Thoni, made some investigation and found
Rosa Krech, his daughter, and H.J. Kleiser, who had learned the
woodcarving trade from him. He writes:
In the Swiss Alps, the boy Melchior Thoni tended his
father’s goats and cattle, herding them higher into the
mountains as the warm season approached. By the time
summer arrived, Thoni and the others had reached the cottages where they camped till fall, when they would begin
76the descent. To pass the long hours in the mountains, the
men who tended the cattle made simple carvings -- forks,
pen staffs, jewel caskets – which they usually decorated
with a little edelweiss, the national flower of Switzerland.
They called it “one-handed” carving, because they held the
wood in one hand and the knife in the other. During certain
times of the year, buyers came through the mountains and
these hand-carved trinkets were taken away to the big
tourist cities, where they were sold in the magazins. Melchior Thoni’s father noticed his son’s talent for carving
these trinkets and decided to apprentice him to a master
woodcarver, one Bauman. Melchior Thoni [had] mastered
his art when he came to America and Gruetli, from Breinz,
Canton Bern, in 1869 with his parents and brothers and sisters. He was 20 years old. …. In 1871,Thoni took a wife, a
Swiss maiden who had come over on the same boat, and in
January, 1873 Rosa was born; her mother used to tell her
that snow blew through the cabin wall onto the natal bed.
… [After moving to Sewanee], in one corner of the kitchen
of their little two-room flat, Melchior found room to set up
his treadle lathe and saw. He was also accomplished on the
clarinet and accordion, and sometimes he and his brother
John picked up a little extra money making music at student dances.
In 1880 or ’81, Melchior Thoni moved his family to
Nashville. Soon afterward, it came to the mind of Melchior
and his brother John to build a flying jenny, or carousel,
that would have horses and roosters and ostriches and
chamois and deer and even chariots. The men set to work,
and Melchior’s sensitive eye and hand soon brought life to
the wood under his chisel. But when the carousel was
done, a jealous rival woodcarver who had also made a merry-go-round claimed that Melchior had copied his animals
and brought suit in the federal court here for infringement
of patent. “Why, this man could not even draw these animals, much less carve them,” said the [accusing] woodcarver. “If I had a piece of chalk, I could show you,” replied
Melchior, and so the judge sent out for some chalk. When
it was brought, Melchior took a piece and drew a graceful
77leaping deer on the floor in front of the judge’s bench.
When the judge saw it, he dismissed the case.
…. [When he joined the Edgefield and Nashville company], Melchior was placed over all the wood carvers –
there were sometimes six or eight of them. Under his quiet
guidance, they were turning out woodcarvings that went all
over the Union. He was not only a supervisor but a worker
as well, and in all his 25 years there no job was too difficult
for him, and they say he could work as fast as fury when it
was his wish. Foreman Thoni went to work at 7 o’clock in
morning, and at 7:30 he hooked over the work of Kleiser
and the other woodcarvers, sometimes taking the tools in
his own hands to show them what he wanted. Thoni was
not a harsh overseer, but nothing fretted him so much as
botched work. When he had finished his round of the work
benches, he returned to his own bench and worked as the
rest. You could tell the wood on which Thoni worked, for
it was always covered with sketches of flowers, or birds, or
a bit of scrollwork, anything that came to his mind as he
carved. At noon, he ate lunch at his bench, and sometimes
he and his cousin Peter Schild conversed in their native
Swiss dialect. A half-hour later, he made another round of
No two pieces of work were alike in those days. Thoni
and his woodcarvers turned out mantles, newel posts, and
fancy stairways. In hardwood, the created the fine interiors
of such houses as the Druillard home on Demonbreun
Street, the B. F. Wilson home on Sixth avenue and the old
governor’s mansion on Seventh Avenue. Some of their
finest work went into fancy bar fixtures for saloons. Most
of these are no longer with us, but Thoni’s masterly hand
can still be seen in the altar at Christ Church [on the corner
of Broadway and 8
Avenue.], for it was he and his workmen who carved that splendid appurtenance of worship.
After the contract for this had been awarded to the E. and
N., Silas McBee, the architect for the church, who had designed the altar, walked into the carving room. He and
Thoni regarded each other with the look of those who think
they might have known one another in other times, and
78Thoni was seen to be in deep thought. Finally recognition
sprang to his face; the architect McBee had been a student
at the University in Sewanee when Thoni was there, almost
20 years before. The two clasped hands and had a great
time talking over university days.
…. The project also included the canopied bishop’s
chair, credence, pulpit, and choir rail, and many of finials,
moldings, and angelic heads and wings came from his expert hands. The principal figures – those of the evangelists
and cherubim and seraphim in the side panels of the reredos
– are mainly work of Thoni’s cousin, Peter Schild, and he
and Thoni brought them home with them after work and
carved into the night.
Melchior retired after 25 years, and carved only a few pieces
thereafter. He died in 1926.
After the “flyin’ jinny” venture, Melchior’s brother John
first had a dairy business in Nashville, Star Dairy, then acquired
a truck farm in the bend of Mill Creek just downstream from
where it is crossed by the Murfreesboro Road (U.S. 41) in the
southeast outskirts of Nashville. He and his wife Mary Magdelena had eight children who reached maturity: John, Jr., Anna,
Emil, Madeline, William, Edward, Walter, and Louis. The farm
was eventually taken over by his son John Jr. and worked with
his son John William; an adjacent farm was at one time owned
by John Jr.’s brother William, then by another family, and then
by John William’s brother, Carl. Herschel Gower, who grew up
some 200 yards away, remembers the luxuriant produce they
grew on this very fertile piece of bottom land. They had installed a hydraulic ram in the creek, so the current lifted a por -
tion of the water up to irrigate the farm, which produced all
manner of vegetables in great abundance. The water splashed
out into a trough where Mrs. Thoni washed bushel after bushel
of vegetables, especially turnip greens, until her hands were
swollen. Herschel remembers the Thonis as the most industrious people he ever knew. These great-grandsons had indeed realized the dream of their immigrant great-grandfather. When, in
1970, John William was ready to retire and the farm had become
The Nashville Tenneseean Magazine, November 14, 1947.
79surrounded by commercial developments, it was sold to developers so that the estate could be divided. John William and his
son John Pete, who was still working the farm, moved to the
In all, John Thoni had 26 grandchildren: from John Jr.: John
William, Margaret, Olga, Henry, Carl, Madeline and Virginia;
from Emil: Harold, Richard (who founded the Thoni Oil Company) and Elmore; from Madeline, Emil Spiechs; from William:
Elizabeth, William, and Amelia; from Edward: Edward Jr.,
Phillip, Charles, and Horace; from Walter: Anne, Walter Jr.,
John, Albert J. (one source of this information), and Herman;
from Louis: Caroline, Mary Martha, Helen, and Ruby.
Lycinda Thoni Allen, daughter of John Pete Thoni, son of
John William, has brought her professional computer skills to
bear on organizing the Thoni genealogy. She hopes to soon
have a website devoted to the family; until then, she can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Curiously, one thing she has
not been able to establish is how long the original Melchior
Thoni remained in Gruetli. He was, however, still there in 1880,
for he shows up in the census. One trait she notices among John
Thoni’s descendents is that they tend to own their own businesses, whether it be a farm, an oil company, a medical practice,
a computer consulting practice, or something else. A bit of
Swiss self-reliance? Ed.]
After the death of John Rychen, his family stayed in Gruetli
until about 1889, existing on what they could make on the farm,
and that was certainly very poor fare. A year or so before, John
Jr. had come to Nashville at the age of fifteen to learn the har -
ness trade, and if possible to earn some money to send home for
food. This case was typical in the Gruetli families. The chil -
dren left as soon as they were old enough to earn money that
their parents might have enough to eat. Through the influence
of his uncle, Melchior Thoni, John was persuaded to change
from the not very profitable harness trade to the dairy business.
He started out with only a few cows bought from his uncle and
gradually increased the number as his means permitted. Before
the family left to take up their home in Nashville, they sold their
one hundred acre lot with all the tools and house for $400, so
80that there was a little to start out on in their new home. The two
brothers joined in the dairy business and are still in the same location which they bought shortly after their arrival. Their busi -
ness, the Rychen Brother's Dairy, is located on the Couchville
Pike where each brother has his own home. The three daughters
are married and living in Nashville in their own homes. One of
them married a member of the colony, George Marugg, and the
other two married Swiss from other places.
Of the other families who were outstanding, I have been
able to find very little information, so I shall let them pass with
only slight mention. The Jenni and Kissling families were
prominent in the musical life of the colony and were united in
marriage probably because of this common interest. From the
map and the church records I have found that a Johannes and a
Peter Kissling came over from the Canton of Bern about 1870
and settled in Gruetli. Johannes bought four 100 acre lots and
Peter bought one next to these. Peter, who was probably a
brother of Johannes, brought a wife, Rosina, and two children,
Alfred and Rudolph. After arriving they had two more children,
Robert and Verena Ida. Johannes' family consisted, before their
arrival in America, of his wife, Margaretha, and two children,
Anna and John. Three more children, Albert, Heinrich, and Andreas were born after their arrival. In the list of members of the
church, the name of Samuel Jenni and wife Maria appears, but
there is no record of his having bought any land in Gruetli before 1873 when the map of the colony was made, so the most
likely conclusion is that he came to the colony after that date.
Mr. Martin Marugg said that Jenni came from Boston where he
had been leader of an orchestra. The two families were united
by the marriage of John Kissling, son of Johannes, to Margaretha Jenni, daughter of Samuel, on March 1, 1884, in Gruetli.
John Kissling is now dead but his wife is living in Nashville
with her children. More will be said of these families under the
discussion of the musical life in the colony.
81One of the later arrivals at the colony was the Suter family.
In 1883, in the month of February, Leonard Suter
America with five children. They settled in Pennsylvania where
they lived for two and a half years. In the Amerikanische
Schweizer Zeitung, they read of the Swiss settlement in Gruetli
and decided to move there. They bought a 100 acre lot [Number
59] with a barn from Mr. Ruef, and paid the price of $85 for it.
They lived in this barn for six years, since the entire colony was
poverty-stricken. When the son, Gotthard
, came to Nashville
as a young man to earn some money, he first worked for $15 a
month. He kept $2.50 for himself and sent the rest home for
food. Since then, he has built up a prospering bakery business in
Nashville in which he is assisted by his two sons. He has been
very helpful in giving me information about the colony.
I have written to the Amerikanische Schweizer Zeitung to get
copies of any articles which appeared in it on the subject of this
colony, but I have not been able to get an answer.
Update 2002. The Suter farm was actually purchased in the
name of Jacob Suter, Leonard’s brother, for $80, and tax records
[Leonhard Suter’s “Homeland Certificate” (Heimatschein) is in the
possession of his great, great granddaughter Jackie Suter Lawley. In it,
the president and members of the town council of Stallikon (District
Affoltern, Canton Zurich) certify that Leonhard Suter and his wife,
Barbara Widmer Suter, together with all their children “begotten in
lawful marriage” are citizens of Stallikon and will always be accepted
there. The Heimatschein does not necessarily mean that Leonhard was
living in Stallikon when it was issued. It means only that he or some
ancestor lived there. It shows that Leonhard was born in 1843 and
seems to say that he was a son of Rudolf Suter of Gamlikon. Stallikon
is a village about 4 ½ miles southwest of downtown Zurich; Gamlikon
is a mile or so south of Stallikon. In 2002, there were five telephone
listings for Widmer in Stallikon but none for Suter in either Stallikon or
Gamlikon. There are, however, dozens of Rudolf Suter listing in Canton Zurich, but only one Leonhard Suter. ].
[Gotthard was the second son. He married Lena Thoni and had three
children, Albert, Carl and Elizabeth. His second wife was Pauline
Angst; and his third wife, Lena Friedl.]
82show the Suter brothers sharing tax payments for several years.
Leonard later bought the property from Jacob.
Leonard had preceeded his family to America. His wife,
Barbara Widmer, brought the five children, John, Gothard, Barbara, Leonhard, and Ida, to America but came only as far as
Pennsylvania. When Leonard came to Gruetli, she remained
with the oldest son, John, in Pennsylvania, where she seems to
have contracted tuberculosis and died a few years later. John
then went to Wisconsin. The four children who came to Gruetli
were raised by Barbara Vollenweider. Her position in the Suter
household may have begun as a sort of au pair, but at some
point, presumably after the death of Barbara Widmer, her position moved up to wife, for her tombstone in the Gruetli cemetery
reads, “Barbara Vollenweider, wife of Leonard Suter.” She
seems to have written to relatives in Zurich telling them both of
her happiness in America and of her realization that they would
not meet again in this world. The reply has come down to us in
the old German “Sütterlin” script. The relatives wrote “Your last
letter first rejoiced us and then at the end brought us to tears.
For there we felt again the separation on this earth where you
wrote, ‘Farewell, until we meet again in heaven.’” This pain of
separation from loved ones must have been a constant presence
for the first generation of immigrants.
The daughters, Barbara and Ida, married Gruetli boys, Heinrich Zopfi and Emil Rychen, respectively. Barbara and Heinrich
had a daughter, Katie; Ida and Emil, six children.
Leonard Jr., the youngest son of the immigrant, remained
on the farm in Gruetli. He had six children. The oldest, Joseph
was at Pearl Harbor when it was attacked in 1941. He survived
and worked as a consultant in Orlando, Florida and Memphis,
Tennessee rescuing ailing hotels. He is survived by his wife,
Anna Mae and two children, Joseph Jr. and Carol Anne .
The second son, Jacob (Jake), worked for a year in Cleveland, was then in the Army Air Corps for three years, spent three
years with Ryan Aircraft in San Diego, and then returned to
Gruetli where he took over the family farm. He bought and operated a sawmill for ten years, and worked 27 years in life insur -
ance. He married Helen Lucille Bond of West Virginia and had
83two children, Mary Jacqueline and JohnVincent. This daughter,
now Jackie Lawley of Fairfax Station, Virginia, is currently
president of the Grundy County Swiss Historical Society. John
is an electrician with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at
Watts Barr. He has one son, John Jr. After Helen’s death in
1991, Jacob married Clara Stampfli Brock, widow of Harold
Morgan Brock of Cowan, Tennessee. More about Clara follows
under the Stampfli family in the Addendum to this chapter. In
the summer of 2002, Jake and Clara were living in the house
where he was born on lot #59 in Gruetli, now with all the modern comforts. Rows of Cynthiana grape vines extend away from
the house, producing the raw material for the excellent wine for
which Jake was well known locally. Jake and his daughter Jackie are my sources for this information on the Suter family. He
died October 31, 2002 while this book was being edited.
The third child of Leonard Jr., Carl, worked in the coal
mines, was then in the service in Alaska, and is now retired from
a mastics firm in Cleveland, Ohio where he worked many years.
He lives in Conyers, Georgia and has a son, Carl Jr. and had a
daughter Anna Lee (d). The fourth child, Anna Marie, died
young of appendicitis. The fifth child, Leonard Lee, was a sur -
veyor for state highway department and later for the Hens -
ley-Schmidt Engineering Co. in Chattanooga. He died in the early 1990’s and is survived by two daughters, Patricia and Linda.
The sixth child, John Allen, a mechanical engineer, worked for
Combustion Engineering Co. in Chattanooga. He is survived by
a daughter, Rhonda Lynn.
84Addendum: Barbara Marugg Comes to Gruetli
By Dola Schild Tylor
In the late 1930’s, my grandmother, Barbara Marugg
Schild, and I decided that I would write down some of her memories of coming from Switzerland to the Swiss Colony then being
settled at Gruetli in Grundy County, Tennessee. At that time,
Grandma was about eighty and living with her son Rudolph
and his wife Virginia in the valley of the Collins River near
McMinnville, but her heart and the rest of her family were in
Gruetli, where she spent every summer. So, when we had the
time, we would sit in the old wooden swing on the screened-in
front porch, and Grandma would reminisce, in no particular order, while I scribbled as fast as I could on an old lined tablet.
Now it is 1999, more than sixty years later, and I am 84 when I
decide to straighten out my messy notes and write so others can
read what Grandma told me that summer. I regret very much
that I didn’t continue this project during Grandma’s other summer visits to the mountain. I’ll put the story in the first person
with Grandma as the speaker, though only occasionally have I
been able to preserve her exact words.
I was born 1 October 1857 in Klosters, Canton Graubunden, Switzerland, the first child of Christian and Anna Brosi
Marugg. My younger brothers and sister were Rudolf (born 27
June 1859), Martin (born 14 April 1861), George (born 19 February 1864), and Christina (born 21 April 1867).
When I was fifteen, we all came to America on the ship
Silesia, from the port of Hamburg, Germany through Le Harve,
France to New York, where we arrived on 27 February 1873.
The crossing from Le Harve to New York took eleven days.
Then we came on by boat to Norfolk, Virginia. We arrived hungry but in the late afternoon. In the only eating place we could
find, meal time was over and everything had been eaten; but
mother found a plate with some cracker crumbs and something
that looked like thin jelly. She poured it over the crumbs and
gave it to us children. Later we learned that the thin jelly was
85called molasses. It was our first taste of what later became a staple food for us.
We came to Cowan by train, and then sat on tow sacks in a
freight car coming up the mountain to Tracy City. A man with a
wagon met us there and took us to old man Bauer’s place in
Gruetli. It was a log house; one room was the general store, and
in a smaller room they sold shoes. He let us use an abandoned
old, one-room building that had once been a store. Our only
piece of furniture was a stove. Our meal that first night in
Gruetli was potatoes, black coffee, soup and cornbread. The
potatoes were an old-fashioned red, oblong kind that takes a
long time to cook. We didn’t understand the kinds of wood
growing in the area, so the kind we gathered for the fire would
not burn. Later we learned that it was green chestnut. At mid -
night, the potatoes were still not cooked, but we could not wait
any longer, so we ate them half-done. The soup was made from
vegetables we bought from a farmer. The bread was made of
cornmeal and water.
Since we had no furniture except the stove, we had to sleep
on the floor. We sewed together potato sacks and filled them
with leaves raked in the forest. Father and each child had such a
bed. Each child was responsible for making and keeping up his
own bed, but as oldest daughter, I was responsible for fixing Father’s bed. The first night he said his bed was too thin. The
next day, we carried his potato sack into the forest and filled it
as full as we could. That night, Father complained that his bed
was too hard and lumpy in places. We children laughed and told
him he would have to shape it up to suit himself.
Mother was a cripple and in rather delicate health, so for her
we made a special bed. We cut a large tree in the forest and
from it made four stumps. The rest of the tree we sawed into
planks with a cross-cut saw. The four stumps were placed in
one corner of the room as bedposts. Two planks were placed as
bedrails and other planks placed crosswise as we now do with
the slats of our beds. On this platform was placed Mother’s
mattress – a potato sack filled with leaves and what wild hay we
could find. Over that was a blanket. Blankets were the only bed
coverings we had brought from Switzerland. Some of the neigh-
86bors wondered that Father would sleep on the floor like this –
Father, who in Switzerland had been president of the city!
Next, we made “chairs,” really just plain stumps, one for
each person. At first, we ate from the top of a trunk; but it was
very inconvenient because we couldn’t put our feet under it.
Then Father make a table using the same idea as Mother’s bed:
four stumps covered with planks. Some of the planks were
round on the edges so tin cups of coffee sometimes spilled. We
could not afford such waste, so Father whittled off the tops of
the planks until they were smooth.
The men of the Community Committee had decided to name
the Colony after a place in Switzerland called Ruetli, but
thought that it would sound better to start the word with the letter G, so it became Gruetli. Ruetli was the place where William
Tell shot the apple from his son’s head. [On this point, Grandma was a little confused; Ruetli plays a prominent but different
role in Schiller’s Wilhelm Tell. – Ed.]
One day in the summer of 1874, the whole family went to
Altamont to shop. Mother was riding, and she and Father were
quite a ways ahead of us children. Several miles from home, we
children met several men on horses. They were dressed in long,
black coats with short capes over their shoulders and lots of
shining buttons on the front. They wore queer looking hats
which caused us children to laugh and say gleefully to each other, “Here comes Napoleon. Here comes Napoleon.” We were
speaking German, of course. The men frowned and looked at us
meanly. One asked gruffly several times what we had said. We
pretended we could not understand, so after some short words
that sounded mean, they kicked their horses and rode on.
A few days later, four of these men rode into Gruetli just after dark. Two of them stayed a little back behind some bushes
while the other two rode up to the house next to Bauer’s store
and asked for old man Bauer. Agnes, the girl to whom they
were speaking, said Mr. Bauer lived in the next house and she
would go call him. As Mr. Bauer passed Agnes, he quickly
handed her a small box. As she slipped it under the bed, she
heard a pistol shot. She ran into the store and stumbled over the
body of Mr. Bauer sprawled out on the floor. One of the men
87jumped over the counter and pulled out the money drawer and
found only 15 cents. This made him very angry, and he threw
open many drawers and plundered all over the store but found
no more money. They had killed a man for 15 cents! One of the
killers was a wild bandit who later shot a mail carrier from his
horse to get what money he had in the mail pouch.
In Switzerland, children started to school when they seven
going on eight years old. The younger children had only little
reading books, and the older children studied subjects that
would be used in everyday living, such as arithmetic, reading,
geography, spelling and writing. We had eight-month school
In 1875, two years after settling in Gruetli, the family was
able to send the four younger children to school in Altamont.
As the oldest, I was to stay home and help Mother. The children
boarded with a family named Logan. [I can find no one named
Logan in Altamont in the 1870 or 1880 censuses, but in 1870
there was an Eli Logue, aged 62, shoe and boot maker, and his
wife, Nancy, aged 57. In 1880, Nancy was a widow. – D.S.T.]
Cristina, the youngest, however, would not stay away from
home unless I would go with her. So that is how I got my
American schooling – all two months of it, just long enough to
learn my ABC’s in English. While the others were in school, I
had to mend and care for their clothing, and every week I
brought a basket from home full of darning and patching. When
all my work was done, there was little time for school or play or
getting acquainted with the neighborhood children. Moreover,
the other children laughed and made fun of my efforts to converse with them in my broken English, so being a bit shy by nature, I stopped trying to play or talk with them. After two
months, Mother became ill, and Father took me home to care for
her. At home, only Swiss German was spoken, as it was in the
whole community, so I had no further chance to learn English
for several years.
The school in Altamont had rough stump and plank benches
and two tables made the same way as our table at home. There
were about 24 pupils. The had a reader, a blue-backed speller,
and a slate and slate pencil for writing. Sometimes in class they
88would write on the schoolroom floor with soft chalk; we had no
blackboards in those days. The younger children in the family,
especially Martin, played with the neighboring children and
soon picked up many English words and expressions. The teacher in Altamont could not speak or understand German, so Martin was our interpreter.
I delivered milk for Mrs. Logan to a house about a quarter
mile away. Along the road, I saw such beautiful wildflowers!
Nothing like those in Switzerland, but just as beautiful. One
day, I put down the milk by the roadside and picked flowers and
more flowers until my arms were so full they could hold no
more. Standing there in the warmth of the setting sun, I realized
that I was happy here, very happy in spite of the hard work and
hard times we were having.
One day while I was with the children in Altamont, Martin
said that I should cut the hair of our youngest brother, George.
George was 10 years old, and his hair was in what we now call a
long bob; it hung down to his shoulders. Martin gave me some
scissors and showed me a motion to cut the hair upwards, making the top hair shorter. I set to work, and soon George’s head
looked like an abandoned rat’s nest! I didn’t know what to do.
The more I trimmed, the worse it looked, and it looked horrible.
Poor George! Mrs. Logan told me about a Mr. Wes Brown, who
was a good barber. I took George and the scissors and went in
search of Mr. Brown. I found him in the village store and took
George to him and made a cutting motion around George’s
head, and said “Please” in my best English. Mr. Brown laughed
and said, “What?” “Please,” I said, and added “do for me.”
And he did. Soon George’s hair looked fairly good.
89Mother wanted a big house like the one we had had in
Switzerland, so in 1878 Father built a sawmill on the creek near
the house. He made a dam across the creek and used the water
to power two mills, a sawmill upstairs and a grist mill downstairs. There was one big stone for corn and another for rye. Father went to Louisville, Kentucky to get the stone for rye. We
cut trees from our own land and sawed the lumber for the house.
Under the house, Father dug a small cellar for milk and vegetables. This was an inexpensive way of preserving. Apples,
pears, peaches, huckleberries and beans we dried. We learned
about canning in America. We made jellies and figured out how
much we could have each day and still have enough for a year.
If we had a visitor, we got reduced rations for the next few days.
Each year, we had a 45-gallon barrel of molasses. Dried blackberries were very popular and did not last long. Huckleberries
were a delicacy we used in muffins or just ate them plain.
Sometimes there was meat only for Father and not for us chil -
dren. One hog would give us enough lard for a year.
The Marugg house in on Colony Road 1.8 miles east of TN
56. Picture from 2005. About 1875-76, the community built a church and used it
also for a school house. It was a log building with a ceiling and
weather boarding to make it good and warm. The community
donated two parcels of land, totaling 600 acres, for the benefit of
the school. Later, another 400 acres was given for the upkeep
and improvements of the school. This building was still in use
as the school until it burned in 1934. Grundy County had never
built a school house for the community, even though it had been
given 1000 acres of land for the support of a school. The County was also given a fund of money for the school. With all that,
the County would not put up a school for the community. After
the fire, school was taught in a private home and then in a
garage, while the people pleaded with the County for a school -
house. When it was finally built, my son Rudolph taught the
first county-school in Gruetli.
In Switzerland, flax and hemp were grown and made into
thread and cloth. Flax was used for dresses and hemp for aprons
and leaf sheets. Flax was also used for underwear, but it was
rough. Sometimes we could swap flax and hemp for cotton. In
America, the Sunday dress for girls was calico in summer and
linsey in winter. The dresses came just below the knees. We
had low-neck blouses and button shoes. Black shoes had red
buttons, and brown shoes had gold buttons. It was Christina’s
job to clean and shine the buttons every Friday. She had a little
box of polish in the shoe box. We brought all our shoes from
Switzerland and bought some in Nashville, but the new ones
were too narrow and made corns on the toes. One day, I fainted
in the field from tight shoes. Sometimes girls fainted at dances
because of the tight corsets.
I remember the day in 1874 that little Lizzie Schild decided
to run away from home because her mother wanted to pull her
loose tooth. Lizzie was the daughter of Peter and Margarita
Ruef Schild, and was later to marry my brother Martin. But
then Lizzie was 10 years old. She put on one hat, and wrapped
up another, some shoes and clothes in a red cloth. When she
told her mother that she was going to leave, her mother just said,
“Go ahead.” Lizzie went about a mile to a neighbor’s house, felt
tired, lay down under a shade tree and went to sleep. That day,
her father and brother just happened to be helping this neighbor
91with farming chores, so at the end of the day they brought a
sleepy Lizzie back home.
When it was time to do the laundry, we soaked the clothes
for a day in barrel-sized tubs made of hickory staves held to -
gether with metal bands. If the tubs got dry, they would fall
apart, so we had to keep them damp at all times. We washed
once every four weeks. Back in Switzerland, we had washed
only twice a year. There we had had a maid who helped with
the housework, cared for the children, cooked, and helped with
the field work.
Once people in Gruetli started a business making hats from
rye straw. The straw was cut at a certain stage and pressed flat.
Then it was soaked in water until it was soft, maybe overnight,
and then plaited. We used three straws in making a small plait
and five to make an average, wide plait. Then they were sewn
together on the hat form. The hats sold well at first in nearby
towns and even in Louisville, Kentucky. But they were so well
made and lasted so well that there was little demand the second
year. People began to undersell one another, and soon the hat
business became unprofitable and was abandoned.
Sometimes I think about childhood back in Switzerland.
Only in May would the snow begin to melt. You could rake the
snow off the ground and find pretty flowers blooming. About
the second day after the snow had melted, the teacher would declare a holiday and take us children up into the mountains to see
the flowers and the pretty rocks. The flowers grew very thick
and blanketed the mountain sides. They were mostly crocus and
daisies of rainbow colors. They were already blooming under
the snow and so were in full bloom when the snow melted.
When we were on the mountain in the midst of all the flowers,
the teacher had us line up in formation and sing songs. The
teacher or one of the older pupils would play a trumpet. The
music and singing could be heard in the village below and
would resound throughout the valley.
Father once told me that when he was a young man, his father had given him a filly to care for. Instead, he sold the young
horse. His father demanded the money and gave him a thrashing
to make him give it over. Father then ran away from home, over
92St. Moritz and into Italy. There he found a job as a school
teacher and had to learn Italian as he taught his pupils.
One evening, a girl friend and I went to a dance at the
Stocker house. There we saw John Schild and a friend all broken out with pimples or a rash. I said to my friend, “There are
two of the ugliest boys!” Well, wouldn’t you know, we married
those two boys! That night, John danced with me and walked
me home. I was 23 then. When John came to the house to see
me, Mother asked, “What’s up?” I replied, “The right one
For my wedding, I wore a black dress with the white lace
trimmings always used for weddings. I got the dress from New
York. I had a short white veil, white flowers, black shoes and
stockings, oodles of petticoats, a false back, and a hoop in the
skirt. After the wedding there was a big party with food and
music. We had made an arbor in the yard and covered it with
brush and trimmed it with flowers. WELCOME was written on
it. Here we served the food and drinks. There were doughnuts
and cake made from rye flower and beer we had brought from
Tracy City. That day was 29 November 1884.
John, my husband, was born 6 July 1858 in Brienz, Switzerland, son of Peter and Margarita Ruef Schild. He had gone to
Nashville when he was 14 and worked in a butcher shop. Two
weeks after the wedding, we moved to Nashville, but after a few
months I got malaria and was very sick. We moved back to
Gruetli, but I was sick until after John Jr. was born in March
In 1888, Father, Mother, George and Christina went back to
Switzerland on a visit. They were to stay a year or two. George
came back in 1891, but Christina married and she and our parents never returned to America.
Grandma left me with the impression that her mother
never returned to America, but I found a tombstone for her in
the Tracy City cemetery with a death date of 2 March 1907.
Did she return? The question remains a mystery for me. A brief
account of Grandma’s children has been given under the Schild
family elsewhere in this book.
Addendum: Greeter, Baggenstoss, and Stampfli Families
Three families – Greeter, Baggenstoss, and Stampfli – are
strongly associated with the Swiss tradition in Grundy County
but were not covered in this chapter, perhaps because they were
relatively late comers. Here are their stories, in order of their ar -
The Greeter immigrants from Switzerland were John J.
(1830 - 1896) and his wife Christine (1843 – 1932). They appear
in the 1870 Census under the name Gruter and in the 1880 Census with the name Greider. According to family tradition, they
took a lease on the Lovers’ Leap property in Beersheba Springs,
where they stayed for about a year. On August 6, 1880, they
bought for $1 plus the lease on “the Beersheba Place” a 620 acre
tract known as the “the Long Mill Farm” according to the deed
of that date. John Greeter seems to have been the first of the
Swiss to be primarily a sawmill owner and operator and to have
used his land principally for timber. From this business came
the Greeter Lumber Company in Altamont, a firm prospering
under the management of John’s great granddaughter, Joyce
Greeter Henley. The acreage also included the superb swimming hole in Firescauld Creek traditionally known as Long’s
Mill, as it is called in the minutes of the Swiss colony. The
Greeters shared it with grateful swimmers and carefully preserved its environment until it was acquired by the State and
blandly renamed “Blue Hole.” Fortunately, the state showed better judgment in naming the falls below the swimming place
“Greeter Falls” and providing good access to the pool below the
John and Christine Greeter had three sons, John George
(1868 – 1960), Fred, and Willie. Fred and Willie together
bought a nearby farm but never married. John George married
Anna Stocker (1871-1935), daughter of Leon (1832 –1887) and
Philomena Myers Stocker (1843- 1906), original settlers in
Gruetli. They had three sons, Harvey (1885 – 1989), Leo ( 1901
- ), and Werner (1903-1987). They stayed in the family business.
Most of these early Greeters are buried in the Altamont ceme-
94tery on Northcut’s Cove Road, about .2 miles from where it
branches off Tennessee 56 just north of Piney Creek.
Harvey married Grace Dykes (1890 – 1920) and had a
daughter, Harvey Grace Greeter (1920), who married Eugene
McGovern and had two children, Phillip and Donnie. After
Grace’s early death, Harvey married Ethel Robertson (1906).
Their son, John William Greeter (1932), graduated from the
University of Tennessee and returned to the family business.
After a few years, he formed his own company, Greeter Building Center and Ready-Mix Concrete in Monteagle. He and his
wife, Lois, live in Manchester and have two children, John Alan
(1962 – 2002) and Patricia Ann (1969). John William is the
source for this information on the Greeters.
Harvey’s brother Leo married Louise Schultz (1903 –1989)
and had a daughter, Mary Ann who married Robert Dalton and
had a daughter, Eveyonne. Harvey’s youngest brother, Werner,
and his wife Margarette had a daughter, Joyce, who married
Claude Henley. They are the current owners of Greeter Lumber
in Altamont as well as the related Henley Millwork in Decherd.
The Henleys have three children, Claudia, Joy, and Sam.
* * *
In the early 1890’s, Johann Baggenstoss left his home in
Rafz, Switzerland and with his cousin, Emil Segrist, sailed for
America. The family has been unable to locate the ship manifests or Ellis Island records that would document his arrival.
Since he was a baker by trade, it is assumed that he worked
aboard the ship as a cook or baker and therefore was not listed
as a passenger. Once in America, he worked in hotels from New
York to Louisville, Kentucky. Sometime between 1890 and
1895, he became ill. He knew of the Swiss Colony at Gruetli,
and went there to recuperate. There he met Louise Angst,
daughter of Jakob and Anna Demuth Angst, and they were married in 1895. The Angst family, also from Rafz, had come to
Gruetli in the 1870’s. Johann, by now John, later worked at the
Beersheba Springs Hotel as head chef. From there, he went on
to work in several hotels until he and Louise opened a bakery
and grocery store in Tracy City in 1902.
95John and Louise had six sons: John Jacob, Robert, Herman,
Fritz, Charles William, and Albert. All of them worked in the
bakery. John died in 1920, and the eldest son, John Jacob, became head baker at age 19. In the 1930’s, on the occasion of the
birth of the first girl in the family, the Baggenstoss Bakery took
the name of Dutch Maid Bakery, both in her honor and in the local tradition of referring to the Swiss as “Deutsch” or “Dutch.”
Originally, the bakery served primarily the coal miners. The
bread was sent out, unwrapped and unsliced, by train all along
the lines that were hauling coal out of the mountain. The demand was for white sandwich bread, and that is what was made.
During World War II, German and Italian prisoners of war were
kept at Camp Forrest near Tullahoma on land that is now the Air
Force installation. The bakery at Tracy supplied 10,000 to
15,000 loaves of bread a day to feed the prisoners. To meet that
demand, the bakery had to operate at full capacity, 24 hours a
day and press into service any truck that could be found to haul
the bread to the camp.
After the war, the bakery expanded. The water then avail -
able on the mountain for a major expansion was not of adequate
quality, so in 1950 the new facility was built at Decherd, where
there was good limestone water. Younger brothers Albert and
Herman kept the bakery at Tracy operating by making specialty
products – salt-rising and sour-dough breads and fruit cakes. By
1965, however, the bread business was completely changed by
new, very large-scale technologies that blew air into a spongy
dough and produced a very light, soft, cheap loaf, sold in wrappers perfumed to smell like fresh bread. Sadly, American consumers fell for this deception and bought this new product as if
it were comparable to the old. The Decherd plant was sold, John
Jacob retired, and the bakery retreated to the Tracy City location
under Herman and Albert. Other brothers moved away and the
grandchildren went into other lines of work. By 1992, when Albert was ready to retire, there was no one in the family who
wanted to take over the bakery, and a controlling interest was
sold to Lynn Craig. He had been in candy business and added a
line of candies to the products sold. After his death in 2001, the
business was taken over by his widow, Nelda, who is now, 2002,
96sprucing up the bakery to celebrate its centenary year. Otherwise, it operates today much as it did in the 1930’s.
John Jacob Baggenstoss had two children, John Eastman
and Mary Jean. After a career as a printing consultant, John returned to the mountain and bought the Marugg Company in Tracy City where he continued its traditional business of selling
scythes with blades imported from Austria and handles made on
the premises. John is the source of this information on the
Baggenstoss family. His daughter, Jennifer Hope Baggenstoss
Boyd, has lived in Holland; she traveled in Germany, perfected
her German, and translated the Broschure for this publication.
John’s sister, Mary Jean Caldwell, lives in Loudon, Tennessee.
Robert Baggenstoss, second of the six sons, had two chil -
dren: Martha now living in Chattanooga, and James is now in
Conway, Arkansas. Herman Baggenstoss married another Swiss
descendant, Elizabeth Bonholzer. Fritz married Sidney
Kennedy of Sewanee. Neither Herman nor Fritz had children.
Charles William Baggenstoss married Edwene Curtis of Tracy
City and they had three daughters: (1) Louise, who married
Jerome Bouldin – doubtless a descendant of the provider of land
to the colonists – and now lives in Tracy City, (2) Margaret,
who married Henry Beaumont and lives in Sewanee, and (3)
Ann, who lives in Tracy City. Albert Baggenstoss, youngest of
the six sons, married Pauline Brawley and had two sons, Ronald
(who was the first helicopter pilot for the Tennessee Highway
Patrol and now runs a filling station in Monteagle) and Freder -
ick, (a pharmacist is Monteagle.)
* * *
As late as 1910, we find (in the next chapter) the colonists
running advertisements in Swiss newspapers to attract new immigrants. Perhaps in response to these ads, two Stämpfli brothers, Ernst and Christian, arrived in 1913 with their wives. Ernst
and his wife Elise Stebler Stämpfli brought their eldest child,
Ernest. They bought from F.R. and Rosina Nussbaum for $575
lots 4 and 5 and the house on them built by Anton Stocker.
Josephine Stocker had sold the place in 1893 to the “Trustees of
the New Church” Peter Schresser, Jacob Hunziker, and Christian
Hofstetter. Presumably, the house came from the Church to the
97family of the pastor, Charles August Nussbaum. This house still
stands close by the cemetery and is now the home of the Swiss
The Stampflis planted in front of the house the horse chestnut trees now there from seed they had brought with them from
Switzerland. Ernst and Elise threw themselves into farming
with great energy and ability. Ernst, an avid hunter, also fol -
lowed good agricultural practices with crop rotation and composted manuring.
Stamfli’s agricultural practice was the subject of a story by
Herman Kunz in The Yellow Jacket, the Gurndy County High
School paper of April 22, 1932. The farm, it seems, had run
down by the time the Stampflis got it.
Mr. Stampfli, a man of small stature but very strong
and capable of hard work, started clearing off the land
which had grown up in small jack pines. He fertilized
heavily and planted leguminous plants to bring the soil
back up. He bought several cows and two mules with
which to get started. Then he very wisely rotated his crops
so as not to weaken the soil. … The farm is divided into
four parts. In one part, grass is planted; in another, Irish
potatoes; in another, corn; and in the rest, miscellaneous
crops. The next year, Irish potatoes are planted where
grass was, corn where potatoes were, miscellaneous crops
where corn was, and grass where miscellaneous crops were.
Mr. Stampfli has eight cows, nine calves, two mules
and forty chickens. From the milk, he makes very good
Swiss cheese which he has no trouble selling in the neighboring towns, where everybody likes it. He spreads fifty
loads of manure, along with two tons of commercial fertilizer, over his land each year. …
He grows sufficient hay and corn to feed his cattle and
mules through the winter. He grow mixed clover, red top,
timothy, tall meadow oats, and orchard grass for hay.
His potatoes, some of the fiest grown in this country,
form his biggest money crop. Very many farmers in this
98county buy their seed potatoes from him. The leguminous
crops that he grows to build up his land are cow peas, soybeans, and crimson clover, which he turns under in the
spring. In his home garden, about one-fourth acre in size,
he grows enough vegetables for his family in the summer.
In his orchard of one and one-half acres, he grows apples
and some other fruits.
He keeps the land well cultivated through the summer
in order to retain the moisture in the ground.
He is now well fixed. He has a new Ford and is able
to educate his children. His oldest son, who is in his last
year of high school, has been a great help to his father on
The masthead of the paper lists Earnest Stampfli as the
Joke Editor, so he is no doubt responsible for the following:
Sammy Flurry: How fast will your car go?
Mr. Tallent: It always stays about six months ahead of my
Elise Stampfli, besides being mother to five children, made
the cheese for which the family became well known. They also
made wine – “for the professors at Sewanee,” says their daughter Clara. Clara remembers a childhood with lots of work for all
the family. Swiss German was the language of the household.
A student at Sewanee in the 1940’s, remembers a visit to
Ernst Stampfli in hopes of buying some of the wine. Mr.
Stampfli gladly sold them cheese but denied having any wine,
though it was evident that he enjoyed a private stock.
The eldest son, Ernest, worked at the Agricultural Experi -
ment Station near Columbia, Tennessee, where he had been
sought because of the excellent practices of the farm in Gruetli.
He later worked with the Nashville Bridge Company. Now aged
90, he and his wife Letha live with his son Robert in Brentwood.
Jacob, the second son, was seriously wounded in the Normandy
invasion. He had a nursery in south Florida, where he died in
992001. He is survived by two daughters. The third son, Fritz,
graduated from the University of Tennessee, joined the Marine
Corps, served in the Pacific, and had a career in the military. He
died in 2001.
The fourth child, the vivacious Clara, the source of this information, married Harold Morgan Brock, a prominent, public-spirited citizen of Cowan, Tennessee. They had four children. Judith, the eldest, went to the University of Tennessee,
then worked at the Arnold Engineering Development Center in
Tullahoma, married James Mitchell and had four children. She
presently lives in Estill Springs, Tennessee. The second child,
Irwin, graduated from the University of Tennessee, earned a
doctorate in engineering, and now works in Orlando, Florida.
Kay, the third child, is a school teacher. She married Larry Car -
penter and has one child. The Brocks’ fourth child, Susan, married Nick Cammarona, had two children, and lives in Rye, New
The fifth child of Ernst and Elise was Minnie, who married
Elise died in 1932. A few years later, Ernst married Cleo
Leitzinger, who is remembered as the last cheese maker in the
Colony. She and Ernst had one child, Rose Marie, 17 years
younger than Minnie. Rose Marie became a teacher at the Swiss
Memorial School in Gruetli-Laager and lived in the family home
until her untimely death in 2000. She willed the family farm to
the Grundy County Swiss Historical Society, which is now taking steps to preserve it properly and make it a living memorial
of the Colony.
Christian (Chris) Stampfli, brother of Ernst, also arrived in
1913 with his wife Rosina (or Rose) Bracher. They bought from
Hermine Nussbaum lot 15 and the house on it. The deed for this
purchase, however, was not registered. Local legend has it that
the original owner, Christian Hofstetter, had worked one day
clearing ground for the present Swiss Cemetery, then went
home, hung himself in the barn, and became the first person to
be buried in the cemetery. His widow stayed on for a year, then,
in 1898, sold to Jacob Orth for $450 and left the colony. How it
came into the hands of Hermine Nussbaum is not clear from the
100record. Years latter, after the Stampfli’s had improved the property, a descendant of the Hofstetters tried to assert ownership of
it, but the statute of limitations had invalidated his otherwise
good claim. Christian and Rosina had four children: Hans,
Emil, Henry, and Martha. The first two boys moved to Florida
and played no further role in the Colony. Martha married Maynard Long and is living in Winchester.
Chris and Rose were divorced in 1926. On April 5, 1938,
Chris and his son Henry were married in a double wedding ceremony, Chris to Ethel Tate and Henry to Margaret Smith of
White county. Chris and Ethel were killed in an auto accident in
Henry, born in 1917, has spent most of his life farming the
family place on lot 15 in Gruetli and producing cheese, wine,
potatoes, corn and vegetables. He remembers that as a child he
had spoken only German at home and was completely lost on
his first day of school, which by then was all in English. When
military service took him to Germany in World War II, he visit -
ed relatives in Switzerland and remembered enough German to
communicate with them. He and Margaret had four children,
Stephen, Carolyn, Jeanetta, and Paul. After their divorce in
1965, he married Viola Lockhart, with whom he lives on the
farm where he has spent his life.
Stephen Stampfli, son of Henry and Margaret, left the
mountain at age 16 for Chattanooga, worked in restaurants and
factories, then became a trucker and “saw all 48 states, at least
through the windshield.” He has five children: Tina, Deirdre,
Christopher, Quentin, and Stephanie. In 1998, he and his third
wife, Linda Rippy, returned to the mountain and now live on
Highway 56, just north of the intersection with 108. His mother,
Margaret, lives with them and is the source of much of this information on the Christian Stampfli family. She recalls Rosina
Stampfli with particular affection; in her view, “No woman ever
had a better mother-in-law.” Stephen, a trucker turned farmer,
has been looking after the Stocker-Stampfli house, doing the
haying on the property, and giving the hayrides at the reunions.
101His sister Carolyn married Barry Higgenbotham, lived in
Chattanooga, and had two daughters, Theresa and Cindy.
Jeanetta is married to Bobby Layne and lives in Gruetli. They
have two daughters, Vanessa and Loretta. Paul has two daughters, Heather and Hope, and lives in Seattle, Washington.
* * *
Anna Brosi was born 1828, married Christian Marugg, and
came with him to Gruetli in the early 1870’s. With her, she
brought a notebook she had written in 1840 when she was 12.
The book, from which this page is taken, is now in the posses -
sion of her great, great granddaughter, Sylvia Bryant of Dalton,
Georgia. My serious interest in Gruetli began when Sylvia
asked me to read it for her. We hoped that it might be a diary,
or sketches of Anna’s own life. Instead, it appears to be a series
of “edifying” stories probably told, week-by-week, by a pastor
to a confirmation class. If one supposes the classes to have begun in September, then the stories about Christmas and New
Year come at the right time. It is probably summaries of the stories in Anna’s own words. Though it is not as personal as a diary
would have been, the fact that Anna brought the notebook with
her when she came to America in her 40’s indicates how impor -
tant it must have been to her. I expect that it fairly reflects an
important aspect of the soul life of those immigrants. The first
page is shown in a computer-enhanced facsimile on the following page. The script is a beautiful chancery style but is barely
readable by most Germans today. A key is given below.
102Key to the letters used in many Gruetli manuscripts. It is often called Sütterlinschrift for Ludwig Sütterlin (1865-1917) a
graphic artist who produced a special version of it, but the basic
forms go much further back. The chart above is from www.peter-doerling.de/Englisch/Sutterlin.htm.
103No. 1. Der Fluss
Sinnend stand ein Greiss am Ufer des Flusses und
sah wie die Wellen in ihrem Bett vorüberflossen.
Der Greiss sagte, “Fliesset nur zu, so … so
sind auch die Tagen und Jahren meines Lebens dahin geflossen in das Meer der Ewigkeit und kommen
nicht mehr zurück, so dachte er bei sich selbst. Dann
noch sagte er: ist auf der Erde nichts Unwandelbares. Indem sah er einen Felsen in dem Fluss
hervorragen. Ha sagte er: Dieser steht noch fest und
ist wohl viel älter als ich. Dieses ist mir ein
Bild des ewigens unverwandelbaren Glaubens
an dem Sohn des lebendigen Gottes. Dieser bleibe
mir und wenn auch der Tod mich aus dieser Welt
Wenn jeder Mensch seine Lebenszeit so betrachtete und benuzte wie dieser fromme Greiss, so wurde manchen anderen Menschen auf dem Sterbebett wenige schwer sein; leider sind aber…
weniger Menschen dass jetz mehr so sind …
No. 1. The River
In contemplation, an old man stood on shore of a river and saw how
the waves flowed by in their bed. The old man said, “Flow on, ye
waves, for so also have flowed the days and years of my life into the
sea of eternity and come not back,” so he thought to himself. Then he
added, “Nothing on earth is unchangeable.” Just then he saw a rock in
the river that stood out over the waves. “Ah,” he said, “yet is this rock
much older than I. It is for me a picture of the immutable faith in the
Son of the living God. May this remain with me though death snatch
me from this world.”
No. 2. Teaching
If everyone observed and used his lifetime as did this pious old man,
then to many it would be less difficult on their deathbed; unfortunately,
however, there are now fewer such people …
104First page of the notebook of Anna Brosi, written in 1840
when she was 12 years old.
105Addendum: Wichser Memories and Discovering
Ancestors in Switzerland
LaDora Mayes Rose
In 2010, to celebrate our thirtieth wedding anniversary, Jim
and I traveled to Switzerland, the native land of my great-grandparents, Fridolin and Barbara Wild Wichser of Gruetli. We
wanted to explore Switzerland, but also hoped to discover some
trace of my Swiss roots. With the exception of names, birth
dates and places of birth, I knew very little about the Wichser
and Wild family history before their immigration to America.
Although the Wichsers were not among the first settlers in
Gruetli in 1869, community records indicate that David Wichser
purchased a 100-acre parcel of land within the Swiss colony settlement in the early 1870’s. During this time, David Wichser
cleared a portion of the 100-acre lot, built a home, and planted a
vineyard. It is documented in the Gruetli Community Church
records that in 1874 a son, Johann Jacob, was christened; and in
1875 also a daughter, Barbara, was also christened. The 1880
U.S. Census record lists David Wischser of Gruetli (born 1845
Schwanden, Switzerland) as the head of a household of six. Today, the old house is gone but the property and a new house remains in the family with the current address of 186 Wichser Rd.
Like David Wichser, his older brother Fridolin Wichser also
sought opportunities in America. He left Schwanden, Switzer -
land with his eldest child, Jakob (aged 8), who was able to help
him with work and ensure that Barbara would join them in
America with the other children. Fridolin seems to have come
to Gruetli about 1877, for his daughter Katie told a reporter for
the Nashville Banner (June 9, 1972) that he walked 6 miles each
day to work in a sawmill near Tracy City for 40 cents a day. After two years, he he sent for his family. Barbara Wild Wichser
arrived in New York on October 8, 1879 along with children Tobias, Fridolin, and baby Anna. Tobe was an active six-year-old
and had much fun exploring the ship. Barbara recalled with
gratitude the kindness the captain of the Canada had shown to
Tobe. Barbara had been seasick for most of the voyage. While
she was sick, her jewelry was stolen from their steamer trunk,
106which held all of their clothing and possessions. Upon arrival in
America, she and the children traveled by train to Knoxville,
where they were united as a family. The 1880 U.S. Census
records Fridolin “Fred” Wichser (born 1844 Schwanden,
Switzerland) and family residing in Knox County, where he
worked as a dairy hand. While there, another child, Barbara,
was born in 1882.
In 1881, the wife of David Wichser (also named Barbara)
became ill. They decided to relocate to Knoxville so that they
could be closer to relatives and medical care. David Wichser
gave or sold his 100-acre farmland to his brother, Fridolin.
Fridolin Wichser and his family moved to the Swiss settlement
in Gruetli. During the next few years, two more children were
born to them: Katrina (Kate) in 1887 and Rosina (Rosa) in 1889.
Tobias (Tobe), Barbara, and Kate lived their entire lives at this
homestead built by their uncle David Wichser.
Jakob, the oldest son, moved to Davidson County but is
buried in Gruetli. Fridolin Jr. married Elizabeth Flury, a Gruetli
girl, and moved to California. Anna married Roman Lee Olgiati,
also of Gruetli, and their oldest child, Peter Rudolf (Rudy), became the mayor of Chattanooga for whom the Olgiati Bridge
there is named.
The youngest child of Fridolin and Barbara, Rosina (Rosa),
married Robert Andrew Hargis. They had five children; two
died in infancy; three survived. Delbert Hargis, the keeper of the
invaluable Church Records book of the Swiss Colony, married
Carlene Givens of Laager. They have two sons, Jack and
Dwight. Dwight Hargis lives on the land once worked by his
great-grand father Fridolin Wichser. Hilda Hargis married Paul
Henderson of Tracy City and moved to Los Angeles, California.
Dorothy Hargis married Roy Wince Mayes of Tracy City, and
moved to Cleveland, Ohio in 1949. Teresa and I are their
daughters. Teresa and her husband Charles Robert Mingle Jr.
reside in Willoughby Hills, Ohio. Jim and I live in North Easton,
Massachusetts, on the south shore of Boston.
As a little girl, I had visited during the summers with my
great-aunts Barbara and Kate Wichser at their farmhouse in
Gruetli. There, on the back of a wooden door, hung calendars
107with pictures of Switzerland, the majestic Alps, wooden houses
with colorful flowers cascading from window boxes, green pastures with goats and cows on the mountainside, clear blue skies
and lakes, smiling rosy-cheeked children, farmer markets selling
cheeses and fresh produce, and churches with high steeples and
bells ringing and resounding among the mountains.
The calendar photographs had been gifts from friends who
had visited the Swiss “homeland”. Often my aunts would share
stories about their parents and other Swiss neighbors in the
Gruetli-Laager area. So that I would not forget our time together, they would often give me one of their Swiss calendars to take
back home to Ohio. There, I often recalled my aunts Kate and
Barbara and dreamed of Switzerland as I turned the calendar
pages. I remembered their laughter, their smiles, their sense of
humor. They always called the candy dish the “salt-block” in
reference to the block the animals loved to lick. I would recall
bringing in the cows, gathering eggs, filling buckets with well
water, grinding corn, picking huckleberries along the creek,
reading the comics from the Nashville Banner. I could see the
grape vines, the flowers along the walkway to the screened-in
porch, chicks behind the stove, the picnic-style kitchen table
covered with printed oilcloth, visitors driving down the lane to
buy cheese and eggs, a lamp with dangling crystals that made
rainbows on the wall when the sunshine from the window
caught the dangle just right, an old-fashion radio, a delicate
Swiss house music box that played a cheerful tune, an enormous family Bible, rocking chairs, the fresh air of the mountain
and the goodness of the people who lived there. It was a simple
way of life and a good life. Without knowing it, they instilled in
the heart of a child the desire to discover her heritage.
With these memories we set out to explore Switzerland and
my ancestry there. Imagine how thrilled I was to see, after all
these years, that the Swiss calendar photographs I remembered
were vividly accurate! Special memories filled my heart with
great joy. In search of ancestors, we went first to the Land Ar -
chives for the canton of Glarus. The archivist gave us a phone
number for Ernst and Trudi Güttinger in Schwanden, a town
about five kilometers south of Glarus, which itself is about 70
kilometers by rail southeast of Zurich. We understood that this
108couple was responsible for a small museum housed in a Pulverturm. When we called them to inquire if they could help us in
our search, Trudi, speaking in English with a German accent, offered to meet us at the Schwanden train station. She was excit -
ed. Before ending our conversation, I shared with her the names
and birth dates of my great grandparents.
Jim and I arrived at the train station in Schwanden surrounded by breath-taking green-forested mountains, pasture land, and
a glacier on a distant mountain. There stood the church steeple
where, I now know, my great-great grandfather Johann Jakob
Wichser had the responsibility to ring the bell. Along a swift
winding river, there were mill factory buildings where my great
grandfather, Fridolin Wichser, had once worked in the textile industry.
Ernst and Trudi met us at the station. Trudi popped out of
the car, greeted me with a kiss and stated: “My husband has
found your family! Now, come with us. We must show you!”
We also greeted Ernst, who spoke only German and the univer -
sal language of a smile, hug, and handshake. Both Ernst and
Trudi were radiant and could not wait to share with us “the discovery”.
The ride was short, but on the way, Trudi explained that the
Dorfmuseum, housed in a Pulverturm (Powder Tower) built in
1756, is Ernst’s retirement project. There he and Trudi maintain
records, collect artifacts, memorabilia, photographs, and the like
that depict Schwanden’s history.
On entering the museum, we were in a square, block-style
room filled with history – my history! On the walls, I saw paint -
ed our family crests, Wichser and Wild, which I did not know
we had until that moment. I saw other crests of family names
that I recognized from Gruetli, such as Laager, Fluri,
Luchsinger, Boniger, and Streiff.
Ernst quickly opened a book of Wichser and a book of the
Wild family history for us to view. In the Wichser book, he
showed me who my great, great, great, …, great, grandparents
were dating back to the 1300’s. Then, he showed me the Wild
family. He explained as Trudi interpreted that my great great
109grandfather Tobias Wild was the engineer responsible for building, between 1823 and 1838, 80 fountains to supply water to
Schwanden. Tools he had used to bore through logs were hanging on the wall of the museum. To build the fountains, 70 men
and 30 horses were needed to move, meter by meter, the stone
cut from the face of the Glärnisch mountain several kilometers
away. Tobias Wild was the engineer and foreman for these
projects. Within the last few years, a fountain honoring influential families in Schwanden history was erected. Ernst wanted to
take us to the fountain to show us that the Wild crest was included on this honorary fountain. My feelings of pride and respect
for my family’s accomplishments were overwhelming.
The museum has a display highlighting the important role of
the textile factories. Carved wooden models with intricate designs, hand tools, and printed fabrics were tangible evidence of
my great grandfather’s trade. With the arrival of industrialization, there was less demand for handcrafted textiles because machines could produce the textiles faster and cheaper. Another
contributing factor to the poverty of the mid 1800’s was a potato
famine. The famine adversely affected one of the primary
sources of sustainability for family farms. It was during this
time that Fridolin and Barbara Wild Wichser sought a change
for their lives and a better life for their children.
Ernst and Trudi had no knowledge of the Swiss Colony in
Gruetli. They did have displays about New Glarus, Wisconsin
and New Bern, North Carolina. They were very interested in
hearing more about Gruetli. I could recall many of the family
names in Gruetli, but of course many they did not recognize because they came from other parts of Switzerland. A common
bond of Swiss heritage drew the settlers together.
Our visit with Ernst and Trudi lasted only four hours. The
knowledge and insight into our family history was priceless.
Perhaps our experiences will inspire other Gruetli decedents to
pursue their Swiss heritage. As this vibrant, yet unassuming
couple walked us down the platform toward the express train to
Zurich, we promised to return. We embraced each other. We
too, had a common bond. We had discovered our ancestry, our
fatherland. As the train slowly pulled away from the platform,
110tears filled our eyes and we blew good-bye kisses. We will not
forget the beauty of discovery and how our lives are interconnected and blessed by those who came before us, those who we
presently know, and those whom we have yet to meet.
Addendum: The Stocker Family
At the original, 1869, drawing for lots, four 100-acre parcels
went to men named Stocker
One was Anton Stocker, who .
built the house that is now the home of the Swiss Historical Society. The Agricultural Society met in this house. Anton had no
descendants. A second Stocker was Leon. The third was Josesph Stocker; and the fourth was described as Josesph Stocker
the Elder, presumably the father of the second. The younger Josesph Stocker and his wife, Maria Akermann Stocker, were newly weds. Their son, Joseph Jacob Stocker went to Illinois to
learn the trades of blacksmith and wheelwright. He returned and
set up shop in Tracy City and married Katie Katherine Anderegg, whose family, also Swiss, ran a meat market in Tracy.
Joseph Jacob's main work was blacksmithing, but any spare time
was devoted to building wagons. He was so busy as a smith that
he could build only about one wagon a year. In mid life, his
health was deteriorating because of the heat and fumes in the
smithy, so he gave up his shop and in 1908 bought the old Ster -
ling Savage homestead on the headwaters of the creek which,
farther downstream, forms Savage Gulf. (When going north on
TN 399, Stoker Road turns off to the right a mile past the Savage Gulf Ranger Station road. The house is at the end of the
road.) He built a blacksmith shop, but mainly farmed.
This farm passed to his three sons, Joseph, Edward, and Alfred. When Edward moved to Whitwell and Joseph to Chat -
tanooga, Alfred (1906 – 1998) bought their interest and worked
the farm his whole life. The main cash crop was potatoes, but
they also kept cows. Once, one of the dairy cows fell in a hole,
broke a leg, and had to be killed and butchered. Alfred was tak -
ing potatoes over to the work crews on the railroad being built to
The name is pronounced “Stoker” and some have adopted this spelling.
111Palmer, so he took along some meat as well. The next time he
went, the cook saw him coming and called out, “You got any
more of that old cow? She was so tough you had to step on the
gravy to spread it.”
Katie Katherine A. Stocker Joseph Jacob Stocker
Alfred married Norma Mae Sitz, who, at 95 in 2010, is still
living alone on the farm; she is the source of most of the information on the Stockers. She and Alfred had three sons who
reached maturity, Donald, James and Russell. Donald ran a
sawmill on the property. James graduated from the University of
Tennessee and has worked in Chattanooga. Russel lives nearby
and works for Bowater. In 2010, Donald's youngest child, Joe
Davis Stoker, accepted the presidency of the Grundy County
Historical Society. Joe had found that he had his great grandfather's ability as a smith transformed into the ability to work with
computers. He is in the information technology support service
at the University of the South in Sewanee.
Norma Sitz Stocker has been the subject of an oral history
account by Jackie Layne Partin available on the Internet.
112Addendum: Families from the Map, Deeds and Censuses
The narrative story given above may be usefully supplemented by a more systematic account of the families in the
Gruetli settlement. The five most important sources for such a
study are (1) the 1869 land allocations reported in detail in
Chapter 2, (2) the 1872 map by J. U. Baur, (3) the Grundy
County Deed books, (4) the 1870, and (5) the 1880 Censuses.
This appendix compares all five sources to see who came and
who left – and when.
The Census identifies the place of birth of each person, so it
is easy to identify the Swiss immigrant families. Appearance of
a family in the Census is good proof that it was really there, but
omission does not mean that it was not there. For example, we
know that Ulrich Zimmermann was allocated a lot and received
a deed in 1869 and had a son baptized in 1874. But the family is
not in the 1870 Census. Moreover, the matching of names in the
1870 Census with the real names of the family is not always certain. For example, “Melchior Thony” appears as “Mellico
Damy” and “Peter Kissling” as “Batey Kepling.” I was startled
to find “Crosser Almon” in the list, a metamorphosis of Caspar
von Almen. In 1870, the census taker complained that he could
not converse with the people. By 1880, the colonists could
speak English well enough to get their names spelled fairly well.
Table 1 below lists in alphabetical order, in the third col -
umn, everyone (except Peter Staub) who appears on the June 30,
1872 map. An asterisk (*) in the column labeled “69” indicates
that the person was allocated a lot in 1869. A double asterisk
(**) in this column indicates that that lot was among those the
person held at the time of the map. The “Deed” column indicates that a deed from Staub to the landowner is recorded. The
“Lot” column indicates the lot or lots held by the person according to the map. The “size” columns indicate the size of the family by that name in the 1870 and 1880 Censuses.
Of the 78 names on the map, there were 30 families present
with a total of 104 persons in the 1870 Census. These were the
ones who went through the terrible winter of ’69-70 for which
113they had only the scantiest preparation. Only 9 of these families
had recorded deeds to their place. There was not, in fact, much
correlation between having a deed and being present. Two families were in the 1869 allocations and present in the 1870 Census
but had left by the time the map was made. They were Carl
Zehnter (2 persons, in the Census under the name Senter) and
Friedrich Seidel (8 persons, in the Census under the name
Sidell). They are counted in the total of 104 given above.
By 1880, there were 29 families left from those on the map.
17 of these were the same as those in the 1870 Census, 13 fami -
lies present in the 1870 Census had left and 12 had arrived – or
”appeared,” that is, they may have actually been there in 1870
but had been missed by the Census taker. Still only 10 of these
29 families had recorded deeds to their place. Of the 26 assignees who had recorded deeds, 13 appear in one census or the
Table I. Families on the 1872 Map
69 Deed Map Lot
Almen, Caspar v. 20 1 4
** * Amacher, Christian 60
** Amstutz, Joseph 73
** * Banholzer, Andreas
26 8 7
* Bauer, Joh. Ulrich 42, 94 1
** * Baumgartner, Joh. 35 4
** * Bergen, Eduard von 75 3
Bertschinger, Heinrich 36, 37 1
Bess, Sam 76
Big, Wilhelm 58b 4
Bill 99 4
Samuel 1 1 1
** Bollinger, Jakob 22 4
* Bühler, Heinrich 67 2
Bur, Joseph 78
Bürli, Joseph 101 4
114Dietrich, Johs. 96
** Faigaan, Alcide 55
Fanner, Ulrich 31
** * Fawer, Carl 52
** Fawer, Fritz 51
* Fehr, Jacob 93 1 4
** Flury, Joseph 68 2 10
** Früttiger, Jakob 27 1
* Fruttiger, Johs. B
* Hitz, Johs. 81
** Haeberlin, Christian 53
Hauser, A. E. 84 1
* Hess, Jacob 61
** Hofstetter, Christian 15 5 8
** * Holliger, Caspar 58a
* * Holzhauer, Caspar 92, 95 2
Hunsinger, Grofsman v. 62 1
Hunziker brothers 78a 1 8
** * Jnäbnet, Melchior 70
** Kissling, Johs.
47,48,49 7 11
** Kissling, Peter 34 3
* Kneubuhl, Friedrich 69
Lahmann, Jb. 40a
** Lanz, Heinrich 16
** * Lanz, Jacob 3 2
** * Mäder, Jakob 71 9 9
Michel, Jakob 18 7
** Müller, Friedrich 66
** Müscher, Jos. 21
Niolegger (Hydegger?), widow 32
Oertli, Leonhard 87
* Ott, Charles A
** Richen, Johannes 11 3 7
115* Rohr, Leonhard v. 7 1 8
Roth, J C
* Ruch, Jakob 86 4 6
** * Ruf, Christian 59
** Schild, Caspar 13 2 5
Schild, Johs. 41
* Schild, Peter 79, 80 5
** Schneider, Jakob 23
** Scholer, Johs. 72 6
** Schwarz, Jakob 40
Spiess, Johs. 88
Springer, Carl 97, 98
** * Stocker, Anton
9 8 8
** Stocker, Jakob 14 2 7
Stocker, Jakob 17 2 1
** * Stucky, Carl 56
** Studer, Benedikt 12 3 7
Johs. 9 5
Thony, Melchior, Father 10 5 3
Werdmiller, Heinrich 65
** * Werdmiller, Niklaus 63, 64 2
* Wermuth, John
** Wigelin, Rudolf 2
** Wyss, Ulrich 19
Zimmermann, Ulrich 74
** * Zopfy, Caspar 57 4
** Zwald, Melchior 54 4
In addition to these families shown on the 1872 map, the
1870 Census shows the following families or persons of Swiss
origin in Grundy County. My guess of the standard spelling of
the name is given in parenthesis.
116Table II. Swiss Present in 1870 but not on the 1872 Map
Name Family Size
Bernard, Sophia 1
Brown, John (Baur) 2
Egly, Christian 4
Grancer, Joseph (Grenzer) 6
Gruter, John & Christine
Isaccs, Joseph 1
Josi, Ulrich 3
Luther, Barbery 1
Nichols, Jacob (Michel) 1
Petenger, Ferdiner 1
Ploomingstine, Rudolph (Blumenstein) 1
Reace, Barbera 4
Senter, Henry (Zehnter) 1
Shearer, Henry 1
Sterker, John 2
Wetmeuller, Nicholas (Werdmueller) 1
The “Gruter” family were later known as “Greeter” and are
described above in this book. Christian Egly may well be a relative of Heinrich Egli, who received lot 20 in the original drawing, but he did not move onto that lot since it was occupied by
1870 by Caspar von Almen. The Ulrich Josi family was still
present in 1880. The large Joseph Grancer family does not appear again in the 1880 census and seems to have moved on.
The new arrivals by the 1880 Census make an impressive
list of 31 families with many names already familiar to readers
of this book such as Jenni, Angst, Marugg, and Wichser. Attendees at the 2003 Swiss Celebration included also descendents of
the Boon, Siegrist, and Werner families, who appear here. Some
of the names on the list are young men boarding with families.
The von Rohr family, for example, had five boarders. Two of
them, John Schweizer and William Wentz, are on this list; the
117other boarders were two young Studders and John Kissling, Jr.
The large Peter and Anna Schild family in this list settled in
Beersheba. Most of the others were connected with the colony.
Speaking with Selmer Neskaug in the 1930’s, “Uncle Pete”
Schild recalled the arrival dates of some of these settlers. These
dates are shown in the third column of Table III. Unlce Pete
also recalled arrivals during the decade of the 1870’s of families
with the names of Ackerman, Duobman, Hodel, Jiegen, Burtich,
Hitz, Margidant, Dribb, and Furrer, names I do not otherwise associate with the colony.
Table III. New Arrivals between 1872 and 1880
Name Family Size Arrival
Angst, Jacob 7 1875
Baur, Reinhard&Anna 7
Boon, Adam 4
Bosh, Wendelin 2
Brandli, Albert 3
Budduker, Ferd. 5
Grossmann, Peter 2
Heer, Henry 6
Hineinger, Max 8
Genni (Jenni) Samuel 3
Laager, Burk &Regula 2
Leizinger, Henry 3
Marugg, Chr. 7 1873
Marugg, Martin 1 1873
Moritz, Carl 4
Reed, Christian 7
Reeder, Henry 8
Roast, Alexander 4
Rohner, Herbert 1
Ruch, Fried. 1
Schaffler, Albert 5
Schlageter, Ignatz 7
Schmidle, U. & Verina 7 1875
Schonemann, Jacob 3
118Schweizer, John 1
Sereeting, Chr. 1
Siegrist, Henry 6
Siegrist, Solomon 4
Speis, John 4
Stocker, Leo 8
Uheishaufet, Henry 2
Weidemann, John 5
Wemp, Wm 1
Werner, Samuel 1
Wichser, David 6 late '70's
Wirtz, Joachim 1
Woda, John 6
It is particularly the strength of this list that convinces me
that the news going back to Switzerland after 1872 was quite favorable to Gruetli. The people who stayed after the substantial
initial exodus were happy with what they had found and encour -
aged others to join them. These people must have known fairly
well what they would find, and they seem to have stayed and become pillars of the Colony.
119Chapter 4. Agricultural Life
In studying the life of the colony, it will be advisable to divide the subject into its several phases. The agricultural aspect
of the colony will be considered first, since that is the most vital
part of life, to a people who are essentially agrarian. I shall, in
the following chapter, discuss the educational, religious, artistic,
and social interests of the colonists.
My main source of information as to their agricultural activity is the record book containing the "Protokolls" of the Landwirtschaftsverein.
This society dates back to practically the
beginning of the colony but the first few pages of the record
book have been lost, the first extant Protokoll being dated Sep -
tember 8, 1873. The regular form for the minutes of a meeting
is used fairly uniformly throughout; minor variations being due
to changing secretaries. The book is written in German script
and, since some of the secretaries did not have a mastery of written High German, there are frequent mistakes in spelling and
grammatical usage. Many combinations of English and German
words appear, as they did in the church records. However, in
spite of these mistakes and the mixture of languages and the
probable advent of American-born secretaries, the German
script form was adhered to for almost fifty years after their arrival, a fact which seems remarkable to me by way of illustrat -
ing the persistence of their Old-World culture.
Probably the most coherent method of making this material
known is to take it chronologically, rather than to try to group it
under headings as to subject matter. I shall mention only the
[The subject of this chapter was treated in greater detail three years
later in a master’s thesis at the University of Tennessee, Agricultural
and Social Aspects of the Swiss Settlement in Grundy County, Selmer
R. Neskaug, 1936. This thesis contains a complete translation of the
records of the Agricultural Society. Ed.]
[The original manuscript of these Protokolls is now in the Tennessee
State Library and Archives. Ed.]
120meetings which are outstanding and omit the many perfunctory
September 8, 1873 -- The club decided to spend from $35 to $40
for a Putzmühle
to be the property of the club. Mr. Werner and
Mr. Baur were appointed to investigate the prices.
November 3, 1873 -- Evidently plans for a fair (Ausstellung)
had been made in the meetings of which the minutes were lost
because in this meeting it was announced that a fair had been
held on October 11. It did not say what kind of a fair it was but I
presume that it was agricultural. The admission brought in
$3.50 but the costs were $13.50 so the affair was rather discour -
aging. They decided not to buy a Putzmühle because of the cost.
January 5, 1874 -- Thirty-six of the children in the school had
sent letters about the colony to Consul Hitz. He returned these
so that the parents might see them and file them in the library.
February 1, 1874 -- Seed was received from the government in
Washington for distribution among the farmers and was distributed in the meeting. This occurred practically every year and
sometimes oftener so I shall not mention it again.
April 4, 1874 -- The financial report of the year is given, -showing a handling of about $50 during the year. Mr. Baur was again
appointed to investigate the Putzmühle matter.
July 5, 1874 -- Plans were made for a Cattle and Produce Fair to
be held on September 4 and 5. [English translation is here combined with the German]
1) Die Ausstellung soll 1 Uhr N. M. den 4ten Sept. eröffnet und
4 Uhr N. M. den 5ten Sept. geschlossen werden.[The Fair should
open at 1 p.m. on September 4 and close at 4 p.m. on September
I have asked several members of the Colony the
meaning of this word and no one was able to explain it.
It seems to be some kind of a small mill, possibly one
used to clean wheat.
1212) Alle Ausstellungs Gegenstände müssen bis 11 Uhr V. M. auf
dem Ausstellungsplatze an die betreffenden Comiteen
abgeliefert werden. [All objects to be exhibited must be delivered to the appropriate committee on the fairgrounds by 11
3) Aussteller von Vieh haben die Zahl und Varietät derselben,
bis zum 1ten Sept.an den Berechtiger der Gesellschaft
anzumelden. [Exhibitors of cattle must inform the qualifying
judge of Society of the number and variety of the same by September 1.]
4) Aussteller welche sich nicht durch freiwillige Beiträge
betheiligen und auf Preise rechnen, haben eine Gebühr von 50
cts. per Artikel zu entrüsten. [Exhibitors who do not make a voluntary contribution towards the prize money must pay 50 cents
per article exhibited.]
5) Nur im County gezogene Produkte und gehaltene Zucht oder
Nutz Vieh, sind zu Preisen berechtigt. [Only products raised in
this county or breeding or use animals kept here are entitled to
6) Preise werden ertheilt: [There will be prizes for the best:]
für die 2 vorzüglichsten Hengste [2 stallions]
˝ den ˝ ˝ Esel [2 asses]
˝ die 2 ˝ Zuchtstuten [2 mares]
für die 2 vorzüglichsten Bullen [2 bulls]
˝ ˝ 2 ˝ Kühe und Kälber [2 cows with calf]
˝ ˝ 2 ˝ Rinder [2 cows]
für die 2 vorzüglichsten Eber [2 boars]
˝ ˝ 2 ˝ Mutterschweine [2 sows]
˝ ˝ 2 ˝ Ferkel [2 piglets]
für das beste Paar Hühner [pair of chickens]
“ “ “ “ Truthühner [pair of turkeys]
“ “ “ “ Gänse oder Enten [pair of geese or ducks]
122für das beste Pack Weizen [bag of wheat]
“ “ “ “ Rogen [bag of barley]
“ “ “ “ Hafer [bag of oats]
“ “ “ ½ bushel Corn in Aehron [corn on the cob]
“ “ “ “ Kartoffeln [potatoes]
“ “ “ “ Süsskartoffeln [sweet potatoes]
“ “ “ ½ bushel Rüben [beets]
“ den besten Bündel Tabak [tobacco]
“ “ “ “ Hanf oder Flachs [hemp or flax]
für die 3 besten Display von Garten Früchten
[3 best displays of garden fruit]
für das beste Asortment von Aepfeln [apples]
“ “ “ “ “ Birnen [pears]
“ “ “ “ “ Steinfrüchten [plums or cherries]
“ “ “ “ “ Trauben [grapes]
7) Als Preisrichter für Produkte sind ernannt die Herren:
[Judges of products will be]
P. H. Roberts, Pelham
Adam Goelz von hier [from here]
für den Viehstock, die Herren: [for livestock]
Alex Kinderd, 5th District
Capt. W. W. Henry, llth District
Chr. Marugg, 2nd District
und sollen dieselben ihre Arbeit Zwischen 11 V. M. und 1 N.
M. des ersten Tages vollenden; auch sind sie ermächtigt
Preise für untergeordnete Artikel zurück zu halten und solche
für Artikel von besonderem Werth, welche nicht auf der
Liste vorgemerkt sind, zu ertheilen.
[The judges should complete their work between 11 a.m. and
1 p.m. of the first day. They are authorized to withhold
prizes in announced categories and to award prizes for articles of special value not in categories on the list.]
8) Von 5 Uhr N. M. des ersten Tages bis 9 Uhr V. M.
des zweiten Tages wird die Ausstellung vertagt.
[The exhibit will be adjourned from 5 p.m. of the first day
until 9 a.m. of the second.]
123 9) Von 11 Uhr V. M. bis 3 Uhr N. M. ist Gelegenheit zu
öffentlichen Vorträgen und versammlung Landwirtschaftlicher Interessen gegeben.
[From 11 a.m to 3 p.m there will be opportunity for lectures
and meeting devoted to agricultural subjects.]
10) 2 Uhr N. M. Preisvertheilung durch den Präsidenten.
[Prizes will be awarded by the President at 2 p.m.]
11) Eintrittsgebühr "ad libitum."
[Entrance fee by voluntary contibution.]
Beschlossen: Den von H. Muller angebothenen Platz mit
Scheune für die Ausstellung zu benutzen und das Mitglied
Zimmermann mit der Einrichtung derselben, gegen Billige
Entschädigung für Zeit und Arbeit, zu beauftragen. Samstag
den 18te zur gemeinschaftlichen Arbeit am Ausstellungsplatze umzusetzen.
[Resolved: to use the place with a barn offered by H. Muller
and to contract with member Zimmermann for the erection of
the stalls with modest compensation for time and labor. [All
members] should come to the exhibit place on Saturday the
to work together.]
Beschlossen: Das Comittee beantragte Program unverändert
[Resolved: the committee should keep the program unchanged.
Beschlossen: Herrn Baur die Wirtschaft auf dem Ausstellungsplatze, gegen billige Vergütung in Verhältniss zur Einnahme, zu überlassen.
[Resolved: to turn over to Mr. J.U. Baur the sales (conces -
sions) on the fairgrounds in exchange for modest compensation in relation to income.]
The Putzmühle arrived and cost $39.50.
August 2, 1874 -- Further discussion of the fair took place. Eugen Plumacher was nominated for membership.
124August 16, 1874 -- It was announced that the members of the
Landwirtschaftsverein should distinguish themselves at the fair
by wearing colored ribbons.
September 6, 1874 -- Financial report of the fair was given. The
amount taken in was $132.10 and $104.15 was paid out, making
the net profits $27.95. They decided to set up the Putzmühle in
Muller's barn. Christian Marugg was appointed to attend to this.
October 4, 1874 -- In this meeting, a talk by the president and
discussion by the members was made in an attempt to regulate
the farm products. They were trying to reach some agreement
as to what each individual should plant, how much of it, where
he should market it, etc.
November 1, 1874 -- The treasurer was instructed to subscribe
to the Tennessee Post for three months and to the Garten und
Ackerbau Zeitung, the Wisconsin Herold, and the Agriculturisten for one year. This subscription was paid by the club and the
papers were for the members' use. A request for reimbursement
of the Musikgesellschaft for their music during the Ausstellung
was made. Nothing was decided on this point, however.
January 3, 1875 -- The murder of J. U. Baur on the night of November 30, by an unknown person
caused the omission of the
December meeting. Election of officers.
This murder of J. U. Baur was never explained in the Protokoll, however, Uncle Pete Schild gave me the following information on the subject. Mr. Baur owned the community store
and had made a little money out of it, which they believed he
kept in his store. On this night three men went to the store to
rob him; he resisted, and was shot. The men were frightened
and ran away without getting any money. They were never
caught and prosecuted but everyone seemed to know who did it.
The names, as given me by Uncle Pete and Mr. Jeff Fults,
lawyer, of Tracy City, are W. H. Hampden, Web Purdam and
Meyers. According to Mr. Fults, W. H. Hampden was later sent
to the penitentiary for robbing the mails.
125April 6, 1875 -- The advisability of trying to introduce breeding
sheep was discussed.
Mr. Henry of Tracy City offered his Airshire Bull as a breeding bull. President Hauser was instructed to
accept the offer if the price of $3 a calf was satisfactory.
May 2, 1875 -- Upon further discussion of breeding sheep it was
decided that a community pasture should be built in which each
member could keep his sheep upon payment of $10. Those not
members of the club could do the same upon the same payment.
Each member must take care of his own sheep after the month
of October. On the last Saturday in May all members must meet
to build a fence forming a pasture for the breeding bull on the
property of Mr. Hauser.
October 3, 1875 -- A loan was made by the club treasury to Jakob Schönemenn, who needed some money at this time. The
amount was $15 at 6 per cent.
January 2, 1876 -- Mr. Staub presented the colony with two
acres of land for school and farming purposes (Schul und Landwirtschafts Zwecke).
May 7, 1876 -- Plans were made for another fair which were lat -
er given up because of the expense and the difficulty.
July 2, 1876 -- A Committee composed of John F. Hauser, John
Kissling and Carl Moritz was appointed to arrange for the fourth
of July festivities.
August_6, 1876 -- A description of the celebration on the fourth
of July reads as follows:
At the first meeting of the year, the officers were always elected, so I shall not mention it again.
These discussions were always very indefinite as far as the minutes
recorded. No decisions were made except in rare instances. This is by
way of explanation of the rather insufficient sentences stating that
"there was a discussion," etc.
126The committee for the celebration of the Fourth of July reported
that parents and children and all that assembled at 9 a.m. at the
new schoolhouse formed a procession and marched with music
to the festival square. There the Declaration of Independence
was read by Henry Weishaupt, followed by music and song,
then a speech by Hauser, more music and singing, and then a
talk about local matters by John Kissling.
An invitation from several prominent Swiss in Washington
to a convention of Swiss to be held in Philadelphia on August 26
was read before the club.
May 6, 1877 -- The monthly dues of the club were reduced from
ten cents to five cents, and the entrance fee from $2 to $1.
February 2, 1878 -- Because of very poor attendance at the
meetings the members decided to hold meetings every two
months in the future instead of every month as in the past.
May 5, 1878 -- A decision was made to dispose of the Putzmühle that had been bought in 1874 and bids were made by various
persons. Those listed were Caspar and Peter Schild and Jakob
July 7, 1878 The Putzmühle was sold to Caspar and Peter Schild
April 3, 1881 During the previous year the membership of the
club had fallen to four and they had ceased to function. On this
date they had a complete reorganization with the membership as
Old members: John Kissling, Caspar Schild, Peter Schild, Jacob
New members: Jacob Ruch, Jr., Anton Stocker, Joachim Wirz,
Jakob Hunziker, Joseph Wasmer, Z. Luchsinger, R. Marugg, R.
Leutzinger, Rutschmann, Jacob Angst, R. Baur
127The meetings were to be held every two months on the first Sunday in the month. The dues were to be ten cents a month with
fifty cents entrance fee. Furthermore $15 was to be taken out of
the present treasury and with it the treasurer was to buy grape
vine plants to be distributed among the members.
June 5, 1881 -- After the business meeting, beer was served to
the members at the expense of the treasury. Great hilarity
March 12, 1882 -- The treasurer was instructed to subscribe to
the following papers: The Amerikanische Schweizerische
Zeitung and Helvetia.
December 3, 1882 -- The library
was to be taken from Caspar
Schild's to Marugg's in Gruetli proper and R. Marugg was to be
librarian. The members decided not to subscribe as a club to
any magazines or papers in the future.
August 12, 1883 -- A report was made that the attendance at the
meetings was very poor and discouraging.
January 13, 1884 -- In an effort to increase attendance a fee of
ten cents was placed on all absentees.
July 27, 1884 -- A trip was made by the members visiting each
other's vineyards. They decided that the best grapes for the district were the Martha seedlings and those not to be recommend -
ed were the Brighton, Schiller and Louisiana.
January 25, 1885 -- A cabinet was built for the books in the library by Ignatz Schlageter.
In all the meetings during 1885 and 1886 the chief topic seems
to have been the cultivation of grapes. No decisions resulted
from these discussions as far as the minutes record, but we real -
I have not been able to find out what this library was or what ever became of it. There are no traces of it in Gruetli today so in all probability it was burned. The books which it contained were probably refer -
ence books on farming subjects.
128ize that grape growing was their main interest during these
April 25, 1886 -- Martin Marugg and Max Hinsinger were taken
into the club as members. Upon the suggestion of Mr. Marugg
the club decides to have a fair in the fall.
August 27, 1886 -- The secretary reported, after asking the
members of the club, that the general opinion indicated it as advisable to postpone the fair for a year.
During the winter of 1886-1887, the members were very much
interested in cures for blights of all sorts on their farming produce. Many articles were read at the meetings and some of the
members wrote away for advice on the subject.
February 27, 1887 -- A "Tanzkränzchen" was held in Angst's
This prevented the regular meeting.
November 2, 1890 -- John Kissling announced that the need for
a bone-meal and saw mill (Knochen und Sägemühle) was felt
greatly in the colony. They decided that a joint stock company
was probably the best plan to satisfy this want. They elected a
committee to consider this and in the meantime announced a
general meeting of all the citizens to be held in Mr. Angst's
house and discuss the subject.
Angst owned the large house which is now one of the few remaining
buildings in the center of Gruetli. It was built in the very early days of
the colony and has been used as hotel, dance hall, town meeting place,
etc. It is a large two-story frame building.
No further mention is made of this. In many of these meetings discussions came up which were referred to committees and never mentioned again in the minutes. In all probability they were dropped and
never thought of again. I am including them because they show the
trends of thought of the colonists and their efforts, although often futile, of improving their position.
129During the winter of 1890-1891, the club discussed every agricultural means of making a living which was open to the farmers
of the colony. The discussion of raising hops seemed to be most
February l, 1891 -- Jakob Angst suggested that a sick benefit
fund (Krankenunterstützungskasse) be started among the members of the club. Mr. Kissling agreed but thought that this
should be a community affair and not merely within the club.
No further discussion of it appeared in the minutes so the matter
was either dropped or taken out of the hands of the club.
August 3, 1891 -- Mr. Kissling suggested that the club send an
exhibit to the World's Fair in Chicago as proof of what they
were able to raise in the colony. This seemed to meet with the
approval of the members and a committee was appointed to find
out the regulations for the exhibits and to arrange the exhibit.
No mention is made of this later so there is no way of knowing
whether or not this plan was carried out.
September 6, 1891 -- Mr. Marugg announced that he had investigated the prices of the necessary equipment for the canning of
fruit and vegetables. He believed that two or three of the members should get together and buy this equipment in order to serve
the community and further their own interests. The club considered the plan very good and appointed a committee to investigate the possibilities.
March 6, 1892 -- Mr. Angst said that he believed that the formation of an immigrations committee would be advisable. He
thought that this club should be the one to become interested in
this. A committee was appointed for this. Mr. Angst brought up
again the matter of the society for aid to the sick (Krankenverein). Mr. Kissling was requested to write to his son Paul in Nashville for a copy of the constitution of the Swiss Aid Society
(Schweizer Unterstützungsverein) of Nashville.
130April 3, 1892 -- The constitution of the sick aid society was received from Nashville and read before the club. A committee
was appointed to revise it to the needs of the colony.
June 5, 1892 -- Upon the death of one of the oldest and most revered members, and for many years president of the club, John
Kissling, the following necrology was written into the minutes:
Obituary for John Kissling
John Kissling, born in 1827 in Schwarzenburg, Canton Bern,
was for many years active as a teacher in his homeland. About
20 years ago, he came to America with his rather numerous family and became one of the founders of this Swiss colony. Mr.
Kissling was a striving and enterprising man who avoided no
sacrifice to create a good work. He has contributed much to the
improvement of this colony. Despite his large family, through
hard work he attained comfortable circumstances. He is survived by his wife and many children, grown and self-supporting.
To this long-time, diligent member of this Agricultural Union,
of which he was president until his death, the present members
dedicate this memorial in the minutes.
In the name of Agricultural Union by its secretary,
December 4, 1892 A discussion of the cultivation of hops consumed the entire time of the meeting. They decided to raise
them with the purpose of sending samples the following year to
April 1, 1894 -- A letter and package had been received from
Consul Hitz. This contained some Swiss pictures which he
wished to present to the club. They were accepted with thanks.
No copy of this revision was ever recorded, so we cannot tell
whether or not it was made or ever used.
131September 2, 1894 -- They announced the jubilee to be held on
September 22, 1894, in celebration of the 25th anniversary of
the founding of the colony.
November 2, 1902 -- A discussion was held of protesting against
the dropping of German in the School.
1906 - Year's report -- This report was so unusual that I am giving it in full.
The past year was normal for the Society. No member died
and none withdrew. One, however, was lost by his moving
away, which is not to be lamented, since this same member was
the worst scalawag that ever inhabited this Colony. In less than
two years he drank away one of the most beautiful farms here.
We can thank our lucky stars that the Society is free of such a
subject. It is this same Leonhard Oertli, son, who crowned his
work when he stole the last cash from his wife and vamoosed.
February 7, 1909 -- The meeting was given over to the discussion of the recent State prohibition law. The following was put
in the minutes:
The new state law prohibiting drinking was discussed. It was
pointed out that such a law in no way reduced the burden of
drunkenness and, moreover, the State would cause itself enormous losses in revenue. Such laws should be put to the people
for approval, namely those laws that affect the livelihood of so
many and are unworthy of a republic.
January 2, 1910 -- The club decided to subscribe to the Ementhaler Blatt and also to insert an advertisement for German settlers to come to the colony. This was considered necessary because the colony was getting into the hands of so many Ameri -
1911 - Year's report -- The following excerpt seems to be the
gist of the report:
It is absolutely necessary for the Germans here to hang firmly
together; otherwise, in a few years the English element will displace the German. Already many of the most beautiful farms
132are in American hands, farms that were created by German dili -
gence. We absolutely need new blood from the old country;
only then can we successfully compete with the English.
1914 - Year's report -- The world war earned the following paragraph in this record:
Of the world war which has broken out in Europe it is hard to
get much understanding, since mainly the industries and factory
employees are affected. How long this fearful murder will continue cannot be foreseen, since none of the powers at war will
give in so long as resistance is possible.
The last record is that of the year 1917, showing the decline in interest until it is not surprising to see that no more
meetings were held. The club had served its purpose and its day
was over. In the beginning of the colony, the settlers knew little
about the land and the products which might be raised on it, so it
was to their mutual advantage to discuss, and compare notes on,
farming problems. That was the reason for the club, but by 1917
most of the original members had either died or moved away,
and their children and grandchildren, having already learned
from them, no longer needed these monthly meetings to be able
to run their farms profitably. Thus, we witness the disappearance of one of the most important phases of the earlier life of the
* * *
Addendum: Economics of Agriculture in Gruetli
Two remarkable letters from the Agricultural Society to the
U.S. Commissioner of Agriclture in the fall of 1872 give us a remarkable picture of farming at Gruetli. They are best read
against a background of conditions in the rest of the state. Fortunately, we are well informed on them also. In the same year, the
Tennessee Legislature created the Bureau of Agriculture; and
the following year, under the leadership of its first Secretary, J.
B. Killebrew, the Bureau produced Introduction to the Re-
133sources of Tennessee, an amazing 1193-page survey of Tennessee climate, geology, soils, forests, agriculture, mining, transportation, public schools, population, and manufacturing. Statewide surveys are followed by individual county accounts. Near
the end of the state-wide chapters appears “Chapter XXI. A
Word to Immigrants.”
Here Killebrew lays it on the line to would-be immigrants
looking for cheap land .
Let it be understood, once for all, that the productive
improved lands of this State, favorably located with respect
to markets and transportation, cannot be bought for one
dollar nor five dollars per acre. Good lands, upon which an
industrious, hard-working man may grow rich are to be
found in every direction of the State, but these lands are
worth from eight to fifty dollars per acre, according to improvements and location. Good unimproved lands may be
bought for half this price. Good soils are, in the end, the
cheapest. An acre of land that will produce fifty bushels of
corn is far cheaper at thirty dollars than an acre that will
produce ony twenty bushels, though the latter may have
cost only ten dollars. The work required to cultivate each is
just the same, which may be set down as fifteen bushels of
corn. In the first instance, the farmer witll make thirty-five
bushels, in the latter five bushels. So that, although the
higher priced lands cost three times as much, the profits are
seven times as great. But the expenses do not stop here.
The cost of improvements and the demands of the family,
are as great on the poor soils as on rich, and this expense
will, unless a rigid economy is practiced, in nine cases out
of ten eat up the profits and leave nothing to the tiller of
Killebrew goes on to give an example of a profitable farm
on land costing $30 per acre. The yield of corn is assumed to be
40 bushels per acre; of wheat, 15 bushels per acre; of oats, 30
bushels per acre.
Average yields in the state are given as 23
Resources of Tennessee, page 385.
Resources, page 387.
134bushels per acre for corn, 7 to 9 for wheat, 16 for oats, and 9 for
How do these yields compare with Gruetli experience?
On October 30, 1872, the secretary of the Agricultural Society in Gruetli sent a letter to the Commissioner of Agriculture in
I take pleasure to acquaint you of the Agricultural Society of New Switzerland, a swiss Colony in Grundy County, Tennessee, which was started on the 6
of August, 1871,
counting now 20 members and enjoying a healthy and
The Cumberland mountains, having here for a long
time been regarded by their native inhabitants as entirely
unadapted for farming purposes, except herding cattle, raising fruits, potatoes, and a few vegetables, begin now to attract the attention of immigration and will soon change a
wild aspect into a lovely landscape of producing farms, aided by industrial and commercial enterprises.
The erroneous notion of former days has been sufficiently disclosed during the four years since the Colony
[was] founded and first of their settlers commenced to clear
the timber for farming purposes. We have now to show
samples of winter wheat, Rye and Oats, of vegetables and
fruits, grapes, etc. of our own raising which will compare
favorably with similar products grown anywhere in the U.S.
and hope in time by a more practical … knowledge of the
peculiarities of land and climate to even surpase them.
The letter goes on to request advice and appropriate seed. A
reply written November 14, 1872 from Frederick Watts, Commissioner of Agriculture, was received enclosing reports of
1867- 1872, a list of Agricultural Societies and a History of the
Department. It also acknowleged receipt of 8 quarts of Fultz
and Silver bearded oats which had been planted.
Resources, pages 95 -97.
Copies of this hand-written report are in the Tennessee State Library
135Then on December 1, 1872, the Secretary of the Society in
Gruetli sent a “report” to the Commissioner in Washington. It
reports in detail on the climate, temperature and rainfall month
by month. It describes the soil as
very light, mixed with a red and on some places yellow or
blue clay as underground. The grain of humus reaches from
3 to 5 inches, and by a depth of from 4 to 6 feet gravel of
sand and limestone is predominant. …. Certain is that the
land in general requires regular manuring and considerable
labor to be kept in good condition and raised to its full capacity.
Then the report turns to individual crops.
Wheat was of fine quality, averaging 20 bushels per acre.
Only one specie of red wither wheat, the name of which I
could not ascertain, has yet been tried. … further experiments are necessary to establish [the] most profitable seed.
In some localities, rust was observable.
Oats is also doing well, but was somewhat spoiled this
year by want of rain in season. The same [has] been mostly
raised for food of cattle, only a small quantity was threshed
out, and I am therefore unable a to give an average on the
Rye grows magnificently, about 14 bushels per acre.
Buckwheat also thrives exceedingly well and reaches a
height of between 3 and 4 feet.
Thus, the Gruetli wheat yield, 20 bushels per acre, was
above even Killebrew’s assumed 15 bushels per acre on $30
land, not to mention the state average of 7 to 9 bushels per acre.
Gruetli rye yield at 14 bushels per acre was more than 50 per -
cent above the state average of 9. Oats probably also outperformed state averages, though precise numbers are missing.
Only of corn was the report unenthusiastic.
136Corn did tolerable well, bringing an average of about
20 bushels per acre, although the cool nights seem to make
its production somewhat uncertain til a specie may be
found which is more able to resist the cool droughts and is
better adapted to the climate The cut worms do also considerable damage.
At 20 bushels per acre, the yield was just below the state average of 23. This tone is important, however, because it shows
that the report was intended to be accurate, not just a uniform
eulogy of Gruetli.
Clearly the Gruetli farmers were defying Killebrew’s law
that only expensive land was profitable. They knew of that “er -
roneous opinion” and wanted to correct it. Their land had cost
them 50 cents per acre unimproved, not the $15 which Killebrew indicated as the cost of good unimproved land. Yet their
wheat yield was 30 percent above the yield on the good land and
their rye yield more than 50 percent above the state average.
What was the secret of the Gruetli miracle? The secretary
knew. “Certain it is,” he wrote “that the land in general requires
regular manuring.” It seems to have been an integration of dairying and field crops, manuring and other good agricultural practices. Killebrew’s model farm for an immigrant had not included any milk cattle. Cows and their manure played a key role in
the Swiss approach to farming.
These comparisons throw a new light on Pluchmaher' savvy
as a site selector. Did he perhaps recognize that Swiss farmers
could induce superior yields out of this land they could easily afford while purchase of the good land that Killebrew would have
had them buy would have put them deeply in debt or been quite
impossible for them?
Killebrew and Plumacher, incidentally, later became good
friends. Plumacher’s memoirs begin with a visit to Killebrew,
for it was he who suggested to Plumacher that he take up work
as a U.S. Consul.
If Gruetli’s agriculture was profitable, one may well ask
why it gradually disappeared beginning in the 1920’s. In the
first place, as the children of the Colony realized that they had
137other opportunities, they chose professions they preferred to
farming. By 1911, members of the Agricultural Society complain that many of the farms created by German diligence have
fallen into “English” hands. These new owners may not have
kept up the labor intensive Swiss practices, and Killebrew’s law
then went to work and productivity declined. In the second
place, Gruetli’s demise should be seen as part of the general outmigration of farm labor. Killebrew reported that 72.6 percent of
Tennessee’s population was supported by agriculture.
that share is about three percent.
These developments could hardly have been foreseen by the
founders of the Colony fifty years earlier. In the context of its
own time, the Colony was remarkably successful.
Resources, page 406.
138Chapter 5. Educational, Religious, Artistic, and
Education had one of the foremost places in the minds of the
Swiss who came to America. They had hardly arrived and provided shelter for themselves when they began planning for the
building of a school house; in fact that was the first community
affair, after the building of roads, which occupied them. All the
members of the colony worked together to put up the little white
frame building which stands today as witness to their good
workmanship. Each man in the colony gave several days work
or money, or both, in order that the building might be finished as
soon as possible. It contained one large room with plain wooden
benches. Later another room, opening into the larger one, was
added. Since the earliest days, the building has been used as a
schoolhouse during the week and a church on Sunday. It is located about three quarters of a mile from the center of the settlement and is on the same lot that the cemetery occupies.
From the very outset, English was the spoken language of
the school on three days a week, and German was spoken on the
other two. This means that all class work was conducted in
these languages on their respective days. The same teacher handled both and it was usually some member of the colony who
was fitted for it. Who the first teacher or teachers were, I have
been unable to find out, but sometime during the seventies, Mr.
Rudolph Marugg took up the work which he carried on for a
great many years. Mr. Suter and his wife Lena Friedli have told
me some interesting tales about the punishments Mr. Marugg inflicted on the children who were all very much afraid of him and
dreaded the things he could do to them. Some of them were
made to stand in front of the class and hold their hands in the air
until they became so tired they couldn't do it any longer. Another frequent punishment was to make them either sit on a warm
stove or on a board through which nails had been driven so that
the points were sticking upward. During recess the children all
had to bring in wood to keep the stove-fire going and if anyone
misbehaved during this period his punishment was to kneel on
139the sharp edges of several pieces of wood which were laid in a
row for his benefit.
As to how many pupils there were in the school, I am not
able to say. Of course it must have varied, but in the early eight -
ies Mr. Emil Rychen, who was then a pupil of Mr. Marugg's,
said that there were about seventy. This partially explains the
severe punishments for it must have been a real task for one man
to manage seventy children.
Mr. Rychen also told me that on Wednesday afternoon Mr.
Samuel Jenni came and taught singing for two hours. The children looked forward to this because they loved the German
songs which were sung to the entire exclusion of English. I
have tried to get hold of some of the books used in the school
but have been able to locate only two. These were lent me by
Mr. Martin Marugg and are called Das Singvögelein by P. W.
Bickel, published in Cleveland, Ohio, and Sammlung von Volksgesängen für den Männerchor, Liederbuch für Schule, Haus und
Verein collected by J. Heim and published in Zürich. These
books contain the familiar German songs and also many of the
beloved Swiss songs of all types.
Gradually the County Board of Education began to make
complaints against that use of German in the school, to which I
have just referred, so that they were finally forced to abandon
the practice. None of the settlers are definite as to when German
was actually dropped but it seems to have been about 1900, in
the minds of those with whom I have talked. That it ever became necessary for them to drop it seems unfortunate to me.
That the school authorities of the county were not farsighted
enough to realize the advantage of the children's learning another tongue aside from the English which they all had to learn, is
one of the misfortunes of the colony.
The church life of the colony has been rather irregular because of the fact that the settlement has never been large enough
to support a regular church and pastor. In the early days church
services were held once a month, according to Mr. Emil Rychen,
by a preacher who would come there especially for the service.
On the other Sundays they held Sunday school, led by prominent
members of the colony, such as Mr. Martin Marugg or Mr.
140Jakob Angst. These services were all held in the little school
house, and still are, with the difference that they have only Sunday school and no church service. The preacher usually came
from Belvidere, a Swiss colony in the vicinity of Winchester,
Tennessee, and preached in German, which was the only language known to many of the Swiss.
This church was in the beginning, and still is, a branch of
"The First Reformed Church (German) of the United States of
North America," and embodies all of its beliefs. It is Protestant,
and from all I can discover, differs very little from the Protestant
churches of other denominations. The constitution of the
Gruetli church is given on page 300 of the church records, but it
contains nothing of interest except the statement of what the
church is and regulations of the yearly meetings and how the officers shall be elected. The influence of the church, or I might
say, the interest in the church, seems to have died out around the
beginning of the 20th century, for it was then that they stopped
recording births, baptisms, confirmations, and marriages. Since
then there have been no entries to fill in the many empty pages
of this record book.
Music played a large part in the life of the colonists. We
have already seen how nearly every gathering of a business nature was either begun or concluded by a song and how important
music was in the school. I shall now add material which will
show even more conclusively what an important part of the social life music was.
When Mr. Staub was still connected with the colony, he presented the members with a set of brass band instruments. A
band was immediately organized under the leadership of John
Kissling with weekly rehearsals. Sam Jenni, who was older, and
who, we might think, should have been the leader, played the
cornet in the band. Mr. Martin Marugg also played cornet, but
who the other twelve or fourteen players were, it is impossible
now to say. Mr. Marugg told me of this organization and said
that they rehearsed each week at a different house so that the fun
might be shared by all families. In going to rehearsal they had
to carry their instruments with them, climbing fences and walls
before reaching their destination. With this treatment, it was not
141long before the shiny new horns were full of dents and scratches,
reminiscent of uncomfortable falls and thorns. This band, after
its frequent and jolly rehearsals, would make public appearances
at all community affairs.
For dancing, which was one of the chief amusements, there
was another group of musicians. These were Sam Jenni, violin;
Kaspar Zopfi, bass; and Martin Marugg, accordion. Mr. Marugg
said that they played for all the dances in the colony and al -
though they were not frequent, they were protracted affairs. Every year on the fourth of July and on New Year’s there was a big
dance and, once in a while, one was given in between these
dates. The dances began at four in the afternoon, and lasted until dawn the next morning, when the poor musicians received the
sum of two dollars each, for their services. Some of the individ -
ual dances lasted from thirty to forty minutes. After one of
these long dances, Sam Jenni would pull a long bow and shout
"Scho’ wieder ein Thaler" (one more dollar), and although it did
not actually mean that they would receive another dollar, it
might have meant that they had earned another dollar.
Mr. Suter told me that they often had dances on the first of
August, which was the anniversary of the founding of the Swiss
Republic, but that this celebration gradually shifted over to the
fourth of July which was so near. He said that the dances were
all held in Angst's Hall, which is a large frame house in the center of the colony and next to the little general store. The four
Schild brothers, Chris, Rudy, John and George Willi, ran it as a
hotel for several years. The popular dances of the colonists
were the mazurka and the schottisch, although in the early
nineties some Americans came up from the Sequatchie Valley
and introduced the quadrille which became very popular.
Another group which, according to Mr. Suter, also played
for dances consisted of Kaspar Zopfi, first violin; John Kissling,
second violin; Bals Luchsinger, bass fiddle and Sam Jenni, cornet. This group often went to Sewanee to play for dances for the
students, walking the twenty-four miles each way.
Woodcarving stood out as another artistic interest of the
colonists. The many beautiful examples of their work are scat -
tered all over the United States by now, after their sale to the
142tourists. However, a few families, who were financially able to
keep some of the pieces, have them today. These have already
been discussed under the Thoni and Rychen families.
On the fourth of July each year, as part of their celebration
they had a big rifle-club festival (Schützenfest). Mr. Suter, as
one of the boys who mended the targets, told me of the regulations of the game. The targets were placed 300 yards from the
shooters. There were six targets, three of which were raised
while the other three were being mended by boys hiding behind
a stone wall to protect them from the shots. When a bull’s eye
was made, one of the boys waved a red flag. The score was kept
by a man standing next to the shooters. They used Stutzer rifles
which had been brought over from Switzerland. The winner of
the day was named the "Schützenkönig."
Saturday night was always a "get-together" time for the
colonists. Everyone met in the general store where they sat
around, drank wine, sang and visited. The men played the favorite Swiss game of "Yass," which is played with regular cards
and is sort of a cross between bridge and poker. If this gathering
was impossible because of weather conditions, then it was held
on the following day, Sunday, at the same place, in the after -
noon. I imagine these gatherings took the place of our “calling,"
since the houses were all so far apart, and telephones, good
roads, and automobiles had not yet appeared with their simplification of the visiting habit.
One year, on the first of August, instead of having the regular dance, the colonists held a big picnic to which they all wore
their native costumes. This must have been a picturesque and
gala affair, and my only regret is that Mr. Suter, who told me of
it, was not able to give me any of the details. I have asked other
living colonists but no one has been able to fill in any more information.
Wine was always the favorite drink of the colonists, who to
this very day are proud of each year's vintage. In the earliest
days they used the wild grapes but that plentiful supply soon diminished as the lands were cultivated, and they started growing
their own grapes. In the summary of the Landwirtschaftsverein's records, we saw how interested they were in the cultivation
143of various varieties. They usually made just enough for their
own consumption, although the family of Tony Stocker owned
the Tavern (Wirtschaft) which was in the same building that I
have already described as Angst's dance hall. Who Mr. Stocker's customers were, it is hard to say, but I rather imagine that
they were principally the summer visitors to the mountain,
since, as I said before, the colonists made their own supply.
Gruetli in 1886
(The following passage is translated from Geschichte und
Leben der Schweizer Kolonien in den Vereinigten Staaten von
Nord-Amerika, Severin Adelrich Steinach, published by its author in New York, 1889, pp 163-164. The discussion of Gruetli
begins with the story of its founding, which adds nothing to
Jackson’s account. The account of the situation in 1886, however, adds some details and is quite precise about dates. Ed.)
In 1886, the settlement had 400 inhabitants; 70 were native
and the others Swiss. They raise corn, rye, wheat, potatoes,
fruit, vegetables, and grapes. Nearly every settler has his own
wine in his cellar, and farmers with 20 to 30 head of cattle and
two horses are numerous. Besides agriculture, many engage in
some industry. Those from the far highlands do wood carving
and find for their beautiful wares profitable sales in nearby
Beersheba Springs, Monteagle, Sewanee, and Tullahoma. A
shop making wagons with a branch in Tracy City employs a
large number of workers.
For the development of Gruetli and the cultivation of the social life, a number of societies have been founded. The earliest
were for furthering of the whole community. A School Society
was formed that built a beautiful school and ensured good instruction. The school directors are: John Kissling, Jacob Kuch,
Jr., Jacob Angst, Joseph Stock and John Scholer. The schoolmaster is Rudolf Marugg. In a spacious church, Pastor Warren
leads the service. A Consumers Union has built a shop where
the colonists can buy the items they need but do not produce
themselves at cost. At beginning of 1888, this shop was acquired
by Christian Marugg and sons, who established a book-printing
shop next to it.
144An Agricultural Society with 20 members supports the acquisition of agricultural equipment gives advice on the promotion of agriculture.
An Immigration Commission, founded 30 March 1884 with
John Kissling as president and Rudolf Marugg as secretary,
stands by new arrivals with advice and help (mit Rath und That).
Sociability and enjoyment of life are served by a mixed chorus with John Kissling and Samuel Jenny as directors, as well as
by a brass band, led by Samuel Jenny and provided with instruments by Peter Staub of Knoxville.
A Shooting Club (Schützen Verein) that goes back to 1871
has 31 members and brings Swiss life to the colony in a very
Opposite page: The Union Sunday School in front of the
Gruetli School, about 1911.
The group was studying the writings of Mary Baker Eddy,
founder of Christian Science. Identifications were provided
many years later by Kate Wichser. Youngsters in the front row
from left: Herbert Nussbaum, Corwin Hargis, Tom Kilgore, Annie Siegrist, Elsie Siegrist, Preston Hargis, Peter Heer, Dewey
Heddrick, Jap Hargis, and Albert Schlageter. Adults in the back
are Lula Letney, John Schild, Daisy Heddrick, Kate Wichser,
Minnie Kummer, Fannie Schild, Eda Marugg, Maude Hargis,
Margaret Schlageter, Frankie Hargis, Sallie Hargis, Annie
Schild, Bob Heddrick, Rose Wichser, Elsie Schild, Maggie
Schiesser, Henry Schiesser, Katherine Siegrist, Emil Siegrist
(the teacher, with beard), Rudolph Schild, Abe Schiesser, Jim
Turner, Herman Schlageter, John Fults, Chris Schild and John
McClure. Standing on the porch is Tom Morgan. The schoolhouse stood for several years after the picture was made until
two pupils made to “stay in” reportedly burned it. Another
building then erected at the same site fell into disuse and has
been removed. Today the site is marked by a flagpole and a
stone near the Gruetli cemetery. (From a newspaper clipping
given the editor by Terry McBroom.)
147For help in all undertakings of the societies, where women’s
hands often have outstanding success, there is a Women’s Club
(Frauen Verein), and to it the colony is indebted for many beautiful services. The beneficent influence of its activity came
clearly to light at the dedication of the schoolhouse in the spring
of 1884 and at the Youth festival in September 1884.
A great, extraordinary event for the colony was the visit of
the chief envoy (Gesandten Oberst) E. Frey from Washington
in 1883. Mr. Frey visited the Gruetli Colony in the company of
several friends, including Mr. Werner from Tracy City and
Christian Ruoff from Sewanee. He visited various farms, where
he found friendly reception. The Sunday school children, assembled in the school greeted him with songs, after which Mr.
Frey praised them appropriately and encouraged them on to new
efforts. The next day was devoted to sociability and merrymaking with music and banqueting. Mr. Frey expressed his joy that
the colony had made so much progress in such a short time.
Since 1881, the number of inhabitants had doubled and instead
of log huts (Blockhütter) there now stood beautiful residences, a
schoolhouse, a church, a post office, and other institutions of
The postmaster is C. Marugg, and the societies meet with
him. Jacob Fehr is county treasurer. H.S. Heer and R. Marugg
are justices of the peace. Farms are owned by C. Hofstetter , H.
Flury, P.Schild, Caspar Zopfi, J. Kissling, J. Furrer, Jacob Fehr,
and many others.
J. Kissling, besides his farm, operates a sawmill; Grossmann, a woodcarving shop; Marugg and Fehr, an inn and winery. P.C. Favel, from the Canton of Waadt, experimented in
growing grapes and making wine as early as 1845. He planted
European grapes but was not successful. However, Anton Stocker, Benedikt Studer and Hege in Beersheba Springs had good
success with native grapes. J. Fehr and C. Marugg even received praise for their fine wine at the agricultural exhibit in
New Orleans in February 1886.
The climat seems advantageous for health, for there have so
far been few deaths in the colony. Among the deceased, howev-
148er, should be mentioned Anton Stocker from Willisau, born in
1828, who was among the first settlers in 1869 and died in 1884.
* * *
One collection of German books that has come down to us
shows that someone was an avid reader of murder mysteries in
German. Someone had a subscription to Die Welt, a general interest quarterly for German speakers in America.
A quick inventory of the books in the Stocker-Stampfli
house in the summer of 2003 showed the complete works of
Goethe in six large volumes, the letters of Horace in German
verse translation by Wieland from the Latin, a guide to the United States for immigrants from Germany, several Bibles, both in
English and German, a phrase book and guide to French pronunciation for German speakers, a little book on arithmetic, a book
on growing hops, and several books on religious instruction.
The most unusual was certainly Die Seherin von Prevost with a
title page that may the translated as:
The Seeress of Prevost
the Inner Life of Man
the Raying in of a Spiritual World into Ours
related by Justinus Kerner
with 8 lithographs
Stuttgart and Tubingen, J.G. Cotta Bookstore
149Chapter 6. Conclusion
In looking back over the results of this study, the first thing
which stands out in my mind is the influence which Captain E.
H. Plumacher had in the starting of the colony. Without his having, discovered the spot, and without his having interested Mr.
Staub and Consul Hitz in the project, there would never have
been a colony on Cumberland Mountain. Whether or not his
idea was a wise one, or whether or not the Swiss would have
been better off in Switzerland, is a moot question. As to the part
Mr. Staub played in the founding, there seems to be one general
opinion among all who belong to, or are connected with the
colony, and that is that he was a first class swindler, who bled
the people for all he could get out of them (through the land
deals) and then tried to smooth things over by presenting the settlement with a set of band instruments.
The hardships of the colonists in the first years are unbelievable. That they were alone in a God-forsaken spot, added to
their misery and in spite of all their cries of "Seid Einig!," the
reports of members of the colony, that in the earlier years, they
often went hungry throughout entire winters, was eloquent evidence of their sufferings.
In every community of considerable size, there are likely to
be some families that stand out in various fields. The Schild
family, which is one of the largest, is noteworthy for having
stayed in Gruetli when nearly everyone of the other eighty or
ninety families, with the exception of perhaps fifteen, have left
the mountain. The Marugg family represents one of the best educated and most influential families. The Thoni and Rychen
families, inseparably bound through marriage, I have mentioned
for their accomplishments in woodcarving. And finally the
Kissling and Jenni families, who also being united by marriage,
were the leaders in the musical life of the colony.
[See the note on Staub’s land operations which follows this chapter.
150The agricultural interests were naturally of prime importance, and the minutes of the Agricultural Society, which I have
given in outline form, show the trends of thought and the efforts
of the settlers to make their community a successful one. The
difficulties they had in trying to raise all the crops that had been
promised in the "Broschüren,” their efforts at introducing new
products were in most cases futile.
That which I have said in this study as to the education
which they so generously fostered, their church which they support today (now only in Sunday school form), their music which
has always been a necessary outlet for their spirits, and their
community gatherings which have been their biggest help in
feeling at home in a new fatherland, helps us to know these people more intimately, to understand their difficulties, and to real -
ize the uniqueness of the colony of Gruetli, in the sparsely settled mountain districts of Tennessee.
The cemetery at Gruetli, from the thesis.
151Appendix A. German Text of a Brochure
die Amerikanische Schweiz.
Der Staat, wo man sich niederlassen sollte.
Grosse Facilititten für Fabrikanten jeder Art in Ost-Tennessee.
Anliegend findet sich ein Circular, welches eine genaue
Darlegung der Vortheile enthält, welche die Eisen- und
Stahlfabrikation in Ost-Tennessee bringen muss. Dieser grosse
Landstrich, die zukünftige Heimath einer zahlreichen,
wohlhabenden Bevölkerung, wird bald nach allen Richtungen
von Bahnschienen durchzogen sein und die Eisenmanufaktur
wird die Handelswege vervielfältigen. Eisen, welches acht Dollars per Tonne in Pennsylvanien zu produziren kostet, kann in
Ost-Tennessee für einen Dollar und sechszig Cents produzirt
werden. Die Kohlen- und Eisenminen sind kaum eine Meile
von einander entfernt, auf einem Areal von mehr als vierzig
Meilen. Die Zeit wird kommen, in welcher dieses enge Thal
und dieser Landstrich voller Hochöfen sein wird. Kohle, Eisen,
Kalk, Sandstein, Thonerde, verschiedene Arten des besten
Nutzholzes, vortreffliche Wasserkraft, alles liegt unbenutzt und
wartet auf Kapital und Unternehummungsgeist, die besten
Märkte für den Verkauf aller möglichen Fabrik-Artikel, Eisen
und Stahl eingeschlossen, sind jetzt vorhanden. Eisen und
Kohle dieser Gegend sind von erfahrenen, tüchtigen Eisenkennern und Fachmannern für besser erklärt worden, als die Produkte von Pennsylvanien. Mehrere Eisenbahnen sind jetzt im
Bau begriffen, darunter die Cincinnati und Chattanooga Eisenbahn, welche diese Region durchschneidet. Alle diese Eisenbahnen werden wesentlich zur Hebung der Mineralschätze in
diesem Theile des Staates beitragen. Das Beispiel Pennsylvanien's zeigt, wie wohlhabend eine Bevölkerung durch die
Eisenproduktion werden kann. Wenn Tennessee will, so kann es
ein zweites Pennsylvamien werden.
Ihre Aufmerksamkeit wird achtungsvoll auf diese
Vortheileder Kapitalanlage gelenkt.
152Die ungeheuren Reichtümer, welche aus den Minen Ost-Tennessee's zu haben sind, haben eine grosse Bedeutung. Die
geringe Kapitalanlage und Arbeit, welche erforderlich ist, die
Agricultur- und Mineral- reichtümer des Staates zu entwickeln
und die Fruchtbarkeit des Bodens sind gewiss bedeutende
Reizmittel für den Emigranten; dieselben müssen Denen, welche
sich in jenen Regionen niederlassen, bedeutenden Wohlstand
einbringen, denn die Gegend gehört zu den reichsten des Landes. Die zahlreichen Eisenbahnen, welche ihre gigantischen
Arme nach allen Richtungen ausstrecken, sowie die verschiedenen Dampferlinien, stellen eine ununterbrochene Verbindung
zwischen der übervölkerten alten Welt und den noch dünn
bevölkerten Regionen von Ost-Tennessee her, wo jeder Einwanderer sich für die Mühe, welche er sich machte, hierher zu kommen, durch die Ausbeute der Agricultur- und Mineral-Reichtümer reich belohnt finden wird.
Das Clima und der Boden von Ost-Tannessee sind der TheeCultur äusserst günstig und Tennessee’r Thee wird bereits
vielfach getrunken. Viele ziehen ihren ganzen Hausbedarf ohne
grosse Muhe und Kosten. In einer einzigen Saison reifen drei
Theeerndten. Die allgemeine Einführung einer erfolgreichen
Thee-Cultur wird diejenigen reich entschädigen, welche sich
derselben widmen. Die Theepflanze ist ein immergrüner,
wurzelreicher Strauch, ungefähr 5 Fuss hoch, welcher auf Bergland eben so gut gedeiht als im Thale und niemals des Schutzes
vor Frosten bedarf.
An der Linie der "Ost-Tennessee und Virginia- Eisenbahn"
entlang, zieht sich eine Ader vortrefflichen Marmors mit elf Varietäten, zwei derselben sind dem berümten Rosso antique und
dem rauhen antique Mamor Italiens an Güte gleich. Die qüantität ist unerschöpflich, die Dichtigkeit ist compakt und der Stein
gänzlich frei von Poren. Prof. Dickinson hat kürzlich eine ganz
neue Marmorart entdeckt, welche er Zebra nennt, wegen der
eigenthümlichen Vertheilung der weissen und chokoladefarbigen Streifen. Dieser Marmor ist der feinsten Politur fähig, er
ist das reine Kalk-Carbonat. Blöcke von irgend welchem Umfange können in diesen Marmorbrüchen gebrochen werden.
153Die wilde Traube wuchert in reicher Fülle, ebenso
wachsen Pfirsiche und Birnen der besten Qüalität. Man hat hier
Pfirsiche von 9 Zoll Umfang und 9 Unzen Gewicht gezogen;
Pfauennüsse wachsen in reicher Fülle. Die Wälder sind voller
Hochwild und wilder Truthäne.
Dieser Landstrich eignet sich besonders für Nordländer
und Einwanderer. Er ist eine feste Burg der Loyalität und wenn
ich Etwas zu bedauern habe, so ist es nur, dass derselbe so dünn
bevölkert ist und noch so viel werthvolles Land wüst liegt.
Der erste Eindruck, welchen der Besucher von Ost-Tennessee erhält, ist, dass der Staat gute Fortschritte in der Reconstruktion der Geschäfte macht, die Bahnverbindungen sind vollkommen, werden aber täglich mit übermenschlicher Anstrengung noch weiter ausgedehnt und vermehrt. Alle these
Vortheile, verbunden mit den ausserordentlich niedrigen Landpreisen, (von 5 bis 20 und 30 Dollars pro Acker) sind grosse
Verlockungen für den Einwanderer, zumal Ländereien von 1-
100 Ackern, je nach Wunsch des Ansiedlers verkauft
werden. . . .
Der Boden im Thale ist im Allgemeinen dunkelschwarzer
Lehmboden erster Klasse und da wo er bewaldet, oder kürzlich
erst urbar gemacht wurde, ist er sehr reich und fruchtbar und steht nur dem Prairielande des Westens nach. Ländereien, welche
jetzt ein halbes Jahrhundert lang bebaut werden, sind theilweise
sehr reich, theilweise auch erschöpft, weil ihre Bebauer niemals
Gras säen und überhaupt nach dem schlechtesten, das Land am
meisten erschöpfenden Systeme wirtschaften; dennoch sind die
Ländereien sehr rasch wieder ertragfithig gemacht, indem sie
eine starke Thonschiehte, vermischt mit primitives Thon und
Mergel haben. Es ist nicht von Bedeutung, nach welcher Richtung hin das Land liegt, überall ist es warm, der Boden ist allenthalbenproduktiv und belohnt den Ackerbauer liberal für seine
Arbeit. Die Bodenbeschaffenheit des hochplateaus und der
Bergkette ist steinig, theilweise sandig, grösstentheils aber
besteht sie aus Sandlehm, mit einer Thonschicht als Unterlage.
154Kein Theil der Union ist so sehr durch ein schönes und gesundes Clima begüinstigt, als dieser. Der grösste Schnee,
welcher im letzten Winter fiel, war im Thale nicht tiefer als 1-2
Zoll und auf dem Plateau und der Hügelkette nicht tiefer, als 6
Zoll. Die grossen Ströme frieren kaum einmal in 25 Jahren zu,
dennoch sind die Morgenstunden kuhl, manchmal frostig und
während des Winters immer ziemlich frisch. Der Frühling beginnt ziemlich bald, die Sommer sind lang, doch infolge der
eigenthümlichen Lage des Landes nicht übermässig heiss. Nir -
gends kann der Sommer angenehmer sein, als auf der Hügelkette
und dem Hochplateau. Die Herbste sind lang und dauern bis
spät in den Dezember. Die Landleute pflügen gewöhnlich
während des ganzen Winters. Wir haben hier weder den kalten
erstarrenden Winter des Nordens, noch die lähmende, erschlaf -
fende Hitze des Südens.
Was die Produkte des Landes betrifft, so sind wir so sehr
begünstigt als irgend ein Landstrich der Union. Wir können
Alles bauen was im Norden und im Süden gezogen wird. Das
Plateau trägt Korn, Hafer und alle Vegetabilien der besten Art.
Im letzten Sommer wurden innerhalb fünf Meilen des Ortes, wo
ich wohne, Weissrüben gezogen, deren Umfang zwanzig Zoll
betrug; die Kartoffeln sind hier sehr gross und von ausgezeichneter Qualität. Das Thal produzirt Waizen, Mais, Hafer, Roggen
und Klee in Fülle.
Dieses ist ein Viehzüchterland erster Klasse, unser mildes
Clima erfordert wenig Stallung. Während das Plateau reichlich
freie Weide bietet, die vom 1. April bis zum 1. Dezember grün
bleibt, gewährt das Thal mehr oder weniger drei ganzen Winter
hindurch Grasweide. Als ein Land für Viehzucht ist Ost-Tennessee den Prairieen in mancher Hinsicht vorzuziehen und steht
selbst dem Besten nicht nach. Vor dem Kriege hielt ein Mann
hier an 600 Stück Rinder.
Wir sind reich mit Obst gesegnet. Aepfel, Birnen, Pfirsiche,
Pflaumen, Kirschen und alle Arten kleineren Obstes gedeihen in
155Fülle. Wir ziehen vortreffliche Winteräpfel, unsere Sommeräpfel reifen bereits in Juni. Auf dem Plateau und den
Bergen gedeihen die Aepfel an besten, im Thale werden ausgezeichnete Pfirsiche gezogen, dieselben wachsen an den
Strassen und in den Ecken der Einzäunungen. Es ist selten, dass
wir eine schlechte Obsterndte haben. Die letzte Sendung von
Winteräpfeln nach dem Staate Georgia wurde zu $10 per Fass
Wir haben Ueberfluss an vortrefflichen Kohlen. Das
Plateau und die Bergkette werden von verschiedenen ergiebigen
Adern durchzogen. Es finden sich hier unerschöpfliche Lager
von Eisenerz, Kalk ist ebenfalls gefunden worden, Sand- und
Thonstein werden mit Leichtigkeit erlangt, such haben wir hier
verschiedene Arten von Salzen.
Das Wasser ist klar, rein und chrystallgleich; es bildet nirgends stagnirende Sümpfe, sondern fliesst rasch ab, wo es aus
der Erde quillt. Im Thale sind die Flussbette lehmig, auf den
Höhen steinig mit Kalk untermischt, letzteres Wasser wird zu
Heilzweeken sehr geschätzt.
Ich halte these Gegend für einen der gesundesten Theile des
ganzen Landes und diese Ansicht scheint allgemein zu sein;
denn wenn man das Land durchreistt, wird man Viele finden,
welche nur aus Gesundheitsrücksichten hierhergezogen sind.
Wir haben keine lokalen Krankheitsursachen irgend einer Art.
Die Gesundheit ist im Allgemeinen die Regel und die Krankheit
Gegenwärtig erhalten Ost-Tennessee und die angrenzenden
Theile von Mittel-Tennessee ihren reichlichen Antheil von der
Einwanderung und die Nachfragen aus dem Norden, Osten und
Westen, bezüglich des Landes mehren sich und deuten an, dass
von dort in nicht ferner Zeit ein bedeutender Zuwachs der
Bevölkerung zu erwarten steht. Die Gesetzgebung des Staates,
156die verschiedenen Einwanderungs-Gesellschaften und die BahnCompagnieen verbreiten beständig jede Information über Land
und Leute und gewähren solchen Personen thatsächliche Hülfe,
welche in Tennessee sich niederlassen wollen.
DIE OEFFENTLICHE MEINUNG
Ich will hier bemerken, dass ich von Washington County,
Pa., hier eingewandert bin und dass die Bevölkerung mich
dessenungeachtet sehr freundschaftlich und liebenswurdig behandelt. Und so viel ich weiss, werden andere Nordländer mit
derselben Frömmlichkeit und Zuvorkommenheit behandelt,
sobald sie Anstalten treffen, sich bleibend hier nieder zu lassen.
Die Bevölkerung sieht Einwanderer nicht nur gern, sie wunscht
sogar sehnlichst, dass Einwanderer kommen und sich hier
niederlassen. Jeder Nordländer, der sich hier anständig beträgt,
wird der Bevölkerung willkommen sein; er ist hier eben so sicher, als in den Staaten Pennsylvanien und New York. Nordländern und Capital oder mit Willenskraft und starken Armen
möchte ich zurufen: "Kommt hierher! Tennessee ladet Euch ein
und hier ist Platz genug für Tausende."
Land kostet von 5 bis 35 Dollars per Acker, der Durchschnittspreis ist gewöhnlich $20 bei reellem Werthe. Wir haben
schöne Waldungen im Ueberfluss. Gegenwärtig steigen die
Landpreise und es sind alle Aussichten vorhanden, dass sie in
Zukunft noch mehr und noch schneller steigen werden. Ich will
keine Vergleiche nit anderen Landstrichen anstellen, aber ich
will Denjenigen, welche nach einem Lande auszuwandern wünschen, wo kein langer strenger Winter den Comfort zerstört und
die Einnahmen des Sommers aufzehrt, wo ein baldiger Frühling
die Natur in seinen grünen Mantel hüllt, wo ein langer Sommer
dem Landmanne genügend Zeit gibt, seine Arbeit belohnt - zurufen: Kommt, seht und urtheilt dann selbst.
Niemand kann sich eine Idee bilden von der Grossartigkeit
und dem Reichthume der natürlichen Vorzüge, welche Ost-Tennessee besitzt; das muss man selbst gesehen haben, wenn man es
glauben soll. Eine Bevölkerung gutherzig und freundlich, mit
einem anerkanntem Sinn für Ehre und Rechtlichkeit, bekannt
157durch ihre nachbarliche Freundschaft ladet Euch ein, unter ihr
Eure Wohnsitze aufzuschlagen und ihr zu helfen die Resourcen
des Staates zu entwickeln, die reichen Mineral und Agriculturschätze zu heben, mit welcher eine gütige und gnädige Vorsehung diesen westlichen Theil von Tennessee so reich gesegnet
(There follow excerpts from several papers and magazines;
namely, New-Yorker Tribune, Philadelphia Press, Harpers
Monthly Magazine, and Philadelphian Blatt, which contain
similar descriptions of East Tennessee.)
Diejenigen, welche von Europa kommen und Tennessee zu
ihrem Bestimmungsorte erwählt haben, schiffen sich am Besten
auf einem Dampf- oder Segelschiffe für Norfolk, Va., ein;
fahren dann mit der Virginia-Ost-Tennessee Bahn direkt nach
Chattanooga, welches ungefähr 300 Meilen entfernt ist und eine
Eisenbahnfahrt von 10 Stunden erfordert. Von Liverpool, London, Bremen oder Hamburg kann man die ganze Reise in 12 bis
18 Tagen machen.
The stagecoach inn in a picture from 1908. Tradition says it
was built by Christian Marugg, but firm facts are wanting.
158Appendix B. GermanText of the First Pages of the
I shall leave all mistakes as they appear in the original, giving notes on those which are not easily understood.
Gründung des Vereins.
Zur Weihe des Grütli versammelten sich Sonntags den 11
April,  Nachmittags, die in hiesiger Umgegend niedergelassenen Schweizer. Der Sprecher fasste diesen Nahmen, von
der bedeutungsvollen Seite, und erwähnte, wie klein die Zahl
der vor mehr als 550 Jahren, auf dieser stillen Bergwiese ver -
sammelten Eidgenossen war, und wie dennoch viel Segen und
Glück derselben entspross, Oestreichs Gewaltherschaft musste
ihrem treuen Zusammenhalten zum Opfer fallen. Gut und Blut
wagten sie Jahrhundertelang, dem hehren Gut der Freiheit, und
heute noch erfreuen sich unser Mitbrüder daheim im Vaterlande
derselben. Auch an uns ist nun, die Gründung einer Schweizer
Colonie zu fördern und ihr Gedeihen zu sichern. Nicht mit Pulver und Blei müssen wir das Ziel erringen, unter den friedlichen
Waffen des Landmans fallen die Riesen des Waldes, allein dennoch ist Eintracht, Muth und Ausdauer nothwendig, ein ächt social demokratischer Sinn muss uns beseelen, ein uneigennütziges Sinnen und Handeln muss uns zu Grunde liegen, um
unser Ziel zu erreichen die Colonie zu fordern und zu erhalten.
Eintracht und Vertragssamkeit muss bei allen unsere Versammlungen vorherschen, dann wird der Allmächtige Lenker unsere
Schicksale, unseren Wollen das Gedeihen nicht versagen, da
wird Segen und Heil auch dieser Stätte für die Nachwelt entspriessen, und Werden wir auch nutzliche Bürger unsere AdotivVaterlandes werden.
Unter dem 2ten Mai (1869) wurde der vorgelegte Statutenentwurf angenommen und zur leitenden Behörde erwählt:
Heinrich Schwarz in Grüli Präsident, Rudolph Wegelin in
Bersheba Spring Vicepräsident, und Jakob Schneider Zur Long-
159mühle Aktuar. Dieser Versammlung wohnte Herr Emil Plü-
macher welcher vom schweizerischen Auswanderungsverein als
Direktor der Colonie erwählt, indem auch das Projekt von ihm
ausgegangen, bei; er referite über die Schwierigkeiten welche
seinem Projekt noch bevorstehen, zeigte an, das noch keine
Acktionzeichnung zu Stande gekommen, von anderer Seite,
aber, werde ihm Hülfe schnell zu Theil werden.
Er bitte die
Colonisten um Geduld mit dem versprechen sein möglichstes
zur schnellen Erledigung der Colonieangelegenheit zu thun. Am
31 Mai ging die zwischen Herr Col. Hughs und Herr Plumacher
festgesetzte Vertrags frist zu Ende; laut welchem mit diesem
Tage, 30 Familien permanent auf dem Colonieland sollten angesiedelt sein. Der Grütliverein brachte in Erfahrung, das Herr
Col. Hughes, nicht mehr Willens den Vertrag zu halten, indem
Plumacher in keiner Beziehung seine Pflichten erfüllt, diese
Nachricht bewog den Verein in seiner Versammlung vom 6 Juni
eine Bittschrift an unser hohes General Consultat zu richten, und
ihn um Hülfe zu ersuchen. Diese hatte den gewünschten Erfolg,
zu unser Versammlung am 4 Juli langten zwei Abgeordnete unseres Tit. hohen General Consultats, Herr Wermuth und Herr
Peter Staub begleitet von Herr Col. Hughes an; um diese Angelegenheit zu untersuchen. Um den hohen schweizerischen
Bundesrath eine gewissenhafte Berichterstattung zu machen,
wünschte Herr Wermuth, erster Sekräter des Consuhats aus dem
Munde jedes einzeln, Stimmung und Wünsche zu vernehmen,
bereits mit Einmuth wurde von allen erklärt, das ihnen Clima
und Lage wohlgefallen, und das sie glauben, es sei möglich sich
eine freie eigene Existenz zu gründen, von Allen wurde gewün-
This sentence is so confused that an entire revision of it
is necessary for understanding. "Dieser Versammlung
wohnte Herr Emil Plumacher, welcher vom schweizerischen Auswanderungsverein als Direktor der Colonie
erwählt wurde; bei, er referierte über die Schwierigkeiten
welehe seinem Projekt noch bevorstehen, er zeigte an,
dass noch keine Aktionszeichnung zu Stande gekommen
sei, von anderer Seite jedoch werde ihm schnell Hilfe
160scht, es möchte die Colonie schnell zu Stande Kommen, um die
Arbeit beginnen zu können.
Herr Col. Hughes erklärte sich bereit mit den Colonisten
einen neuen Vertrag abzuschliessen, und dem eifrigen Bemuhen
der beiden Herrn Abgeordneten gelang es, einen für die Colonisten sehr günstigen Vertrag zu erzielen.
Laut diesem Vertrag, wurden alle 50 Acker Lots der Strasse
nachgeschenkt, und für die im Hintergrund anstossenden ein
Verkaufsrecht für 1 Dollar per Acker jedem Colonisten
eingeräumt. Diese Abänderung verursachte einen neuen
Verzug, indem die ausgewälte Länderei, verschiedenen Eigenthümern zugehörte, welche sich die billige Kaufsümme nicht
gefallen lassen wollten, und vielseitigen Bemühungen gelang es
endlich, die erste Verlossung auf den 16 August anzuordnen, an
welchem Tag Mr. Buolen und Hill, die bedeutensten Landschenker, der ersten 5000 Acker, beiwohnten.
Protokoll der Gemeinde Versammlung vom 16 August
(1869) im Grütli. Vormittags 10 Uhr. Die Protokolls des
Grütlivereins vom 6 Juni, 4 und 18 Juli werden verlesen und mit
Einmuth ratiefiezirt. Hierauf referierte der Präsident über den
Gang der Colonieangelegenheit bis zur Gegenwart. Der Vorstand des Vereins beantrage, das die Gemeinde sich heute konstituiren solle, eine Behörde erwählen, welche von nun an, die
Beschlüsse zur Ausführung zu bringen habe.
Als heutige Tagesordnung schlage der Vorstand vor:
1. Beschluss betreff Antritt der Landerei, und Verloosung
derselben am heutigen Tage.
2. Aufnahme der zur Verloossung Berechtigten.
3. Wahl eines Vorstandes aus derren Mitte.
4. Abschluss eines Vermessungsvertrags mit Ingenieur
5. Anzahlung an die Vermessungskosten.
1616. Ziehung der Loosse.
7. Beschluss betreff Nachholen der Frohndienste.
Die Tagesordnung wurde gefällig erklärt. Zu betreff Antritt
der Länderei, wurde die uns zugesandte Abschrift von Herr
Wermuth datirt Knoxville den 10 Juli, welche derselbe an das
Tit. hohe General Consulat richtete, verlesen, aus der sich ergab,
das laut Vertrag, von keinem andere Land die Rede sein könne
als das von Mr. Buolen uns zugemessene. Die Uebereinstimmung mit dem Vertrag einerseits, die befriedigenden Aeusserungen, von den beiden beiwohnenden Herrn Buolen und Hill anderseits, bewirkten den Beschluss definitive Besitzname des
Landes zunehmen und zur Befriedigung der Bürger, dieselbe am
gleichen Tage zu verloossen. Der Verloossungsplan zeigte, das
nach Abzug des Schullandes sowie der Strassen, noch 48 Loosse
zur Verfugung stehen, und wurde beschlossen das sofort alle zur
Verloossung kommn sollen, definitive Anmeldungen waren 52,
deshalb musste auf 4 Auswärts wohnende verzichtet werden, 48
Bürger wurden zur Ziehung berechtigt, derren Nahmensverzoichnis bei der Verloossung folgen wird. Auf Antrag von Herrn Baur wurde die Wahl eines Vorstandes neuerdings verschoben, bis nach der Ankunft unsers Tit. hohen General Consultat. Der zwischen Herrn Baur und dem Vorstand Nahmens
der Gemeinde abgefasste Vertrag für die Eintheilung und Vermessung wird verlesen, im Wortlaut angenommen. In Bezug
Deckung der Vemessungskosten, wurde beschlossen.
The word “Loose" (for Lose, plural of Los meaning lot, as in
"drawing lots,” or as a prize in a lottery) is used in this record in
its meaning (rare in German speaking countries) of a parcel of
land. Here and there the English "lot" takes its place. Verlosung (here spelled variously) is the "allotting process" or the
giving out of the colony's lots, not the holding of a lottery or the
"raffling off" as it would seem to mean, from the angle of pure
German usage. [Another report describing writing the lot numbers on pieces of paper which were then drawn by the colonists.]
162a) Die von Plumacher ausgestellten Quittungen, an
Zahlungsstatt anzunehmen, bis das hohe Consulat
derren Kraftslossigkeit erkärt.
b) Jeder, auf den obiges nicht Bezug habe, und an
heutiger Verloossung theil nehmen wolle, habe sofort 4 Dollar an die Vermessungskosten zu
Der restierande Betrag von 11 Dollar, soll nachdem die Vermessung beendigt, welches bis Ende November geschehen soll,
innert [= innerhalb] Monatsfrist an Baur bezahlt werden, im Unterlassungsfall würde Verzichtleistung angenommen und die
Gemeinde würde neuerdings über die betreffenden Lots verfü-
In Bezug der Frohndienste wurde beschlossen, wer bis zum
1 November (1869) Besitz von seinem Lot nehme, und als dann
bereit sei, die Frohndienste nachzumachen, sei es bewilligt,
später Ankommende dagegen, haben für jeden Tag 1 Dollar zu
bezahlen, um die Arbeiten im Tagelohn oder Akkord ausführen
Für Auswärtige denen man keine Kenntniss von der Verloossung geben konnte wurde verfügt, die Loosse zu ziehen, ihnen schriftliche Mittheilung zu machen, und sie aufzufordern innert Monats frist die erste Anzahlung an die Vermessungskosten
zu machen, und zu erklären, ob sie die Frohnen nachholen oder
bezahlen wollen. Wer diese Pflichten innert Monatsfrist nicht
erfüllt wird Versicht angenommen. Auf allgemeines Verlangen
Unterbruch [= pause, break] bis 2 Uhr. Der Anfang am Nachmittag Wurde gemacht, mit dem deponiren der Plumacherischen
Quittungen, und Einzahlung der laut vomittäglichen Beschluss
zu zahlenden 4 Dollar. Von 17 Bürgern wurde quittungen deponirt, 24 machten die Anzahlung von 4 Dollar, und für 7
Auswärts wohnende gelten obige Bestimungen
Die Verloossung ging in bester Ruhe und Ordnung vor sich
und es erzeigte sich folgendes Resultat:
6 Leonhard von Rohr, durch Tausch mit Carl Ruodin No.7
4 Caspar Fuchs – von der Gemeinde zurückgezogen –
163 Anton Rockers
3 Jakob Lanz
14 Leon Stocker
16 Heinrich Lanz
12 Benedikt Studer
1 Jakob Fehr
24 Anton Heuggeller, durch Kauf an John Bahnholzer
5 Joseph Stocker, älter
13 Caspar Schild
2 Rudolph Wegelin
30 John Stauffer, Vertauscht an No. 54
9 Conrad Bolli
38 Joseph Burri
39 Anton Stocker
19 Ulrich Weiss
18 Heinrich Schwarz zur Longmühle
8 Georg Schwarz zur Longmühle
21 Samuel Müller – Gegenwärtig Mischen
10 Melchior Thöny
36 Hch. Bertschinger
31 August Werdmüller
34 Peter Kissling
23 Jakob Schneider
17 Carl Zehnter -- Gegenwärtig J. Heller
11 Joh. Rychen
28 Joseph Stocker
22 Jakob Bollinger
20 Heinrich Egli
32 Heinrich Wagner
33 Joh. Kissling
25 Caspar Holzhauer – Gegenwärtiger Kaufre Joh.
26 J.U. Baur -- Gegenwärtig Joh. Bahnholzer
15 Christian Hofstetter
7 Carl Stuodin [Ruodin?] -- Tausch Leonhard von Rohr
35 Joh. Baumgartner
27 Jakob Fruttiger
37 Friedrich Seidel. Kauf -- Hch. Bertschinger
29 Hch. Schwarz, älter
50 Friedrich Born
16446 Jakob Zurcher
42 Albert Gräuicher
41 Jakob Seier
43 Jakob Külling
45 Peter Schild
40 Jakob Schwarz
44 Zimmerli Concurati
Nach der Verloossung war eine fröhliche Heiterkeit, wo
schallende Hoch ertönten unserm hochgeachteten Herrn General
Consul Hitz, Consul Staub, Wermuth, sowie den Landschenkern
Buolin, Hill in Altamont und Mr. Hughes in McMinnville. Entlassung der Gemeinde.
Verzeichnis der Besitzer im zweiten Bezirk.
46 Joh. Zurcher
51 Friedrich Fawer
52 Carl Fawer
53 Christian Häberli
54 Melchior Zwald
55 Alcide Faigoux
56 Carl Stucki
57 Caspar Zopfi
58 C. Hohliger
59 Jb. Seier
59 Christian Ruf
60 Christ. Amacher
61 Caspar Kreis
61 J. Rottach
62 Heinrich Scharrer
64 N. Werdmüller
65 Heinrich Werdmüller
66 Fried. Müller
67 Friedrich Born
68 Joseph Fluri
69 Fried. Kneubühl
70 Melchior Jnäbnet
71 Jakob Mäder
72 Joh. Scholer
165 73 J. Amstutz
74 Ulrich Zimmermann
75 Eduard Berger
77 Gebrüder Huggenberger
77 Fritz von Gunten
81 Wermuth, Canzler des G. Consulats
82 Consul Staub
Protokol vom 9 Sept. in Grütli. Auf den Wünsch von Herr
General Consul Hitz und Consul Staub wurde die Gemeinde
ausserordentlich versammelt um folgende Traktanten zu erledi -
1) Constituirung der Gemeinde.
2) Entwurf einer Gemeinde verfassung.
3) Wahl einer leitenden Behorde.
4) Referat von Herrn General Consul Hitz, betreff Bedingungen und Sicherung des Colonie Landes. Die Gemeinde konstituirte sich als eine politische Gemeinde umfassend einen
Flachen-raum von 9090 Akern, und ersuchte Herrn General
Consul Hitz über nach benannte Zweck-bestimmung, uns ein
Gameinde-reglement zu entwerfen, und für die Incorporation zu
Zweck: Die Gemeinde Switzerland, Grundy County, Tennessee bezweckt innerhalb der Schranken der Bundesverfassung
der Vereinigten Staaten, sowie der Staatsgesetze von Tennessee,
und Verordnungen des County “Grundy” - religiöse sittliche,
Schul und Volksbildung nach Kräften zu Fordern, sowie auch
gemeinsames Wirken, die geistige und matterielle Wohlfahrt,
der in ihrem Umkreis Angesiedelten zu sichern. Die Wählen,
wurden auf Vorschlag des Consulats, in demokratischen Sinn
eingeführt. In 10 Lotbesitzer wälten ein Mitglied in den
Gemeinderath, oder als den ein Bruchtheil. Zur Vollziehungsbehörde, wurde auf Vorschlag des Gemeinderathes, ein Vorstand
von 3 Mitgliedern erwälht.
166Wahl des Gemeinderathes:
1 Districkt Lot No. 1-10 Georg Schwarz
2 Districkt “ 11-20 Heinrich Egli
3 Districkt “ 21-30 Jacob Schneider
4 Districkt “ 31-40 Heinrich Bertschlinger
Als Vorstands-Mitglieder wurde vom Gemeinderath vorgeschlagen - -
Zum Präsident - - - - - Heinrich Schwarz
Zum Acktuar - - - - - - Rudolph Wegelin
Zum Schatzmeister - - Jakob Schneider
Schwarz verdankte innig dem Gemeinderath den Vorschlag,
bittet aber um Entlassung mit wesentlichen Gründen.
Wahlergebnis. Mit entscheiden grosser Mehrheit.
Zum Präsident - - - - -Joh. Kiessling
Zum Acktuar - - - - -- Rud. Wegelin
Zum Schatzmeister - -Ant. Stocker
Herr General Consul Hitz referirte nun getrennt über
den Stand der Colonie-angelegenheit, erklärte nun die Landerei
in jeder Beziehung gesichert, allein in formaller Beziehung
sowohl, wie in den Zahlungs bedingungen, seien wesentlich
Von geschenkten Land sei nun keine Rede mehr, sondern
es werde nun jedem Bürger ein einhundert Acker Lot, um 50
Dollar zu theil, sowie die Zahlungs frist, nur ein Jahr verschoben
werden konnte, bis zum 1 Sept. 1870 seien alle Lots zu
bezahlen, jedoch ohne Zinsvergüterung. Herr Staub sei als
Trustye bezeichnet, sei willig dieses wenn auch schwierige
Geschäft zu besorgen, dagegen sei such von den Colonisten zu
erwarten, das sie ihm bestmögliche Erleichterung verschaffen.
Sein Schlusswort war, mit bewegter Stinme, uns die Worte des
sterbenden Attinghausen ins Gedächtnis zurückzurufen: Seid
167Der Abend war eingebrochen, und es wurden helle
freudenfeuer entzundet, der Gesang-verein brachte den
hochgeachteten Herrn Consular ein Ständchen, zu welchem
Kreis sich auch noch die betagte Mutter des Dem würdigen
Vertreter hochgeachteten Herr General Consul gesellte. Dem
würdigen Vertreter unsers theuern Vaterlandes, dessen Ruf erschalt wenn es gilt daheim im Vaterland die Noth zu lindern,
dessen Hülfe und matterieller Unterstützung sich Schweizer erfreuen, welche in Amerika ihr Adotiv [Adoptiv] -vaterland
suchen. Nur Ihm, betont der Sprecher, ist auch die glückliche
Losung hiesiger Colonieangelegenheit zu verdanken, grosse
Opfer an Zeit und Geld hat er für uns gebracht. Zur innigsten
Dankbarkeit sind wir Ihn verpflichtet, zum Danke den wir nicht
auszusprechen vermögen, unser Dankbarkeit muss sich durch
die That erzeigen. Lasset uns in uneigennützigerweise, pflegen
die Saat, welche uns überlassen, noch nicht beseitigt sind die
Lasten, welche eine neue Ansiedlung zu tragen hat, Eintracht
Muth und Ausdauer sind erforderlich um das vorgesetzte Ziel zu
erreichen, treues Zusammenhalten trägt wesentlich zur Erleichterung und Forderung bei, diese Dankopfer wird unser
hochgeachtete Herr General Consul mit Freuden begrüssen, wird
sie als Entschädigungs für die grosse Mühe annehmen, gebt eure
Zustimmmg kund, in dem ihr erschallen lasst Euer Hoch: dem
würdigen Vertreter unsers theurn Vaterlandes Herr General
Consul John Hitz
Er lebe Hoch! Hoch! Hoch! Gesang: Er lebe Hoch.
Mit bewegter Stinme dankte Herr Consul für die ihm abgestattete Ehrenbezeugung, wies dieselbe an die Regierung zurück,
derren Diener er sei, beglück-wünschte ein Volk, das in republikanischer Beziehung. so weit vorgeschritten, wie unser liebes
Schweizer Vaterland. Wenn seine Besoldung auch viel geringer
als diejenige eines Vertretters eines monarchischen Staates,
glücklich schätze er sich Vertretter der europaischen republik zu
sein, Repräsendant eines Volkes, dessen höchste Gewalt die
168Sein Hoch gelte dem Vaterlande und seiner freien
Regierung, so wie allen treuen biedern Schweizerherzen, hier
und dort. Hoch! Hoch! Hoch! Das dritte Hoch wurde Herrn
Consul Staub gebracht, um Ihm seine vielen Opfer für die
Colonie bestens verdankt. Ein starker Regen, machte dem
frölichen Feste ein Ende, und mahnte die Theilnehmer zur
Protokoll vom 25 Oktober in Grütli. Traktanten:
1) Beschluss betreff der Ausfuhrung der Strassen-arbeiten.
2) Erstellung eines Schulhauses.
3) Gemeinde Verfassung.
4) Name des City's.
Der Antrag des Gemeinderaths. Es sei Mr. Bauer als Roodmeister [road master] zu entlassen, und habe der Gemeindrath
die nöthigen Arbeiten zu leiten, wird angenommen, und dem
Gemeinderath der Auftrag ertheilt, die Brücke im Gruetli zu
In Betreff des Schulhauses wurde beschlossen der Gemeinderath habe bis zur Jahreswende Plan und Kostenrechnung
vorzulegen, um Geldmittel zu erhalten, solle er das City land
ausmessen lassen, und eine Versteigerung anordnen. Dem City
wurde der Nahme Bern besigelegt.
Die von Herrn Wermuth eingesandte Gemeindeverfassung,
wurde angenommen, und der Vorstand beauftragt für Incorporierung zu sorgen, und der Gemeinde der Nahme Switzerland
gegeben. Zur Erleichterung von neuen Ansiedlern wurde
beschlossen 2 Blockhäuser zu erbauen, insofern der Credit erheblich sei. Es wurde schliesslich jedem Lotbesitzer gestattet, in
den Strassen Holz zu fallen, jedoch dürfen die Stöcke höchstens
1 Fuss hoch, gelassen werden. Entlassung.
169Gemeindeversamlung den 31 Dezember 1869 in Gemeinderath Schneider's Lot. Der Präsident eröffnet die Versammlung, und schlug als Tages Ordnung vor:
1) Verlesen und Ratification der Protokolle vom 9 Aug. und
25 Okt. in Grütli.
2) Antrag des Gemeinderathes, betreff Erbauung eines
Schulhauses in City Bern.
3) Feststellung des Verkaufpreisses, der kunftigen einhundert Acker Lot.
4) Antrag betreff Versteigerung der City Lot.
5) Antrag für Erstellung eines Friedhofes.
6) Uebergabe des Plans der ersten 5000 Acker an die
Gemeinde .Anzeige betreff Beendigung der Vermessung,
und Zahlung der Kosten.
7) Wahlen des Gemeinderathes und Vorstandes.
Das Protokoll vom 9 Sept. wird verlesen und ohne Einsprache ratifiziert, dasjenige vom 25 Okt. wird dahin vervoll -
ständigt, das in Bezug auf das Strassenwesen, dem Gemeinderath die Leitung der vorzunehmenden Arbeiten obliege.
In Vollziehung des Gemeindbeschlusses vom 25 Okt. betreff dem Schulhausbau beantragte der Gemeinderath. Es möchte
auf der hiezu ausgewählten Stelle in City, ein ordentliches
Fremhaus [frame house] erstellt werden, von 30' Länge, 24' breite und 1½ Stock hoch. Ueber das Ganze möchte eine 14 Tägige
Frist zu verschlossen Eingaben für die Forderungen gestattet
werden, und sodann den Beforderungen das Recht eingeräumt
ohne Ratifications vorbehalt der Gemeinde, dem Mindestforder
die Zusage zu ertheilen.
Heinrich Schwarz wünscht und beantragt, das dahin
abgeändert, dass uns für die Erstellung Concurenz eröffnet
werde. Er setzt das Vertrauen in die Bürger, dass durch frei -
170willige Arbeit, das Holz gefällt und geführt werde, wodurch bedeutende Kosten erspart würden, sollte es als denn nicht
möglich sein, so solle den Behörden unbedingte Voll-macht zur
Ausführung ertheilt warden, und zwar ungesäumt, indem die Erstellung eines Schulhauses dringend notwendig sei. Beschluss:
Der Gemeinderath und Vorstand wird beauftragt, auf dem zur
Schule ausgewählten Lande, durch freiwillige Arbeit ein Stück
und eine zugängliche Strasse zu öffnen. Ueber die
Erstellung des Hauses Concurenz zu eröffnen und ohne Ratifications vorbehalt der Gemeinde, dem Mindestforderer die Zusage
zu ertheilen; sollten erstere Arbeiten nicht freiwillig geleistet
werden, so ist denselben ebenfalls Credit bewilligt.
Der Präsident gibt der Gemeinde Kenntnis, dass Herr
Consul Staub neuerdings 5000 Acker Land angekauft, und er
wünsche das die Gemeinde den Verkaufspreis bestimme, bedacht auf eine Vergütung an Herrn Consul Staub, für die viele
Mühe und Opfer welche damit verbunden. Er weisst hin auf die
grossmüthige Handlungsweise gegen über uns, in dem dasselbe
bis dahin ohne Entschädigung besorgt worden. Jb. Hehr
beantragt, es möchte Herr Staub unbedingt uuberlassen werden
den Verkaufspreis zu bestimmen, er könne nicht geeignet finden, ihm eine Entschädigung zu bestimmen, sein Wirken könne
niemals dem eines Arbeiters gleichgestellt werden.
Der Präsident befürchtet, es könnte daraus von ungewisser
Seite, Herr Consul Staub als Landspeculant bezeichnet werden,
was er auf der Schweizer Colonie nicht sein wolle, wir alle seien
ja überzeugt, des er dasselbe nicht sei, sein Wünsch wäre die
Gemeinde möchte den Preis bestimmen. Hch. Schwarz unterstützt den Antrag von Hehr, weil schon gegenwärtig viel Zwiespalt entstenden, weil Vermesser und Agent in einer Person
fungiert. Herr Staub wirkt als Consul, und den Colonisten ist zu
gönnen, wenn sich die Preisse nicht allzusehr steigern.
A German version of the English "to clear." The German
should be either "ausroden" or "ausreuten."
This numbering follows the original; no explanation is given of the omission of 1) and 2).
171Beschluss: Es wird Herr Consul Staub, seine grossmüthige
Handlungsweise gegen uns innig verdankt, und ihm unbedingt
überlassen, die fernern Verkaufspreise zu bestimmen.
4) Ueber die Versteigerung der City Lot beantragt der
Gemeinderath, in der Nähe des Schulhauses eine Anzahl Lot
vermessen zu lassen, und auf eine Versteigerung zu bringen.
Herr Bertschinger als Referent zeigten: Zur Vollziehung des
Gemeindebeschlusses habe sich der Gemeinderath an Herrn Ingenieur Baur gewendet, und von demselben einem Plan erhalten,
der alle 200 Acker in ½ Acker Lot eingetheilt, und die Strassen
in gerade Richtung [gelegt hat], eine Untersuchung habe gezeigt,
das diese Ausführung mit zu grossen Kosten verbunden, gleichwohl haben sie eine Kostenrechnung verlangt, für den Plan habe
Baur 20, für jedes einzelne Lot 1 Dollar verlangt, was eine Ausgabe von 400 Dollar verursacht hätte. Diese Forderung habe den
Gemeinderath veranlasst, diese Angelegenheit zu verschieben.
Hch. Schwarz findet die Forderung ebenfalls übertrieben, er verdankt dem Gemeindrath den Verzug, und glaubt diese Arbeit sei
mit wenig Unkosten ohne den Ingenieur auszuführen, wo die
Lage nicht äusserst günstig, glaubt er es sei Vortheil nach Belieben der Käufer, bis auf 4 Acker grosse Lots abzugeben.
Beschluss: Der Gemeindrath und Vorstand wird beauftragt, im Sinne des letzten Antrags, die Eintheilung
vorzunehmen, und eine Versteigerung anzuordnen.
5) Der Gemeinderath und Vorstand beantragt, es möchte
an geeigneter Stelle ein Friedhof hergestellt werden, und wurde
beschlossen: Da No. 21 wieder der Gemeinde zurückgefallen,
und Boden und Lage wohl geeignet, so möchten beim
Wiederverkauf circa 10 Acker im Hintertheil der Strasse nach
bis an den Abhang vorbehalten werden. Zur Verringerung der
Ausgaben für den Anfang 1 Acker geklärt und eingefenst [ =
cleared and fenced in] werden.
6) In betreff Vermessung der ersten 5000 Acker wurden
viele Klagen laut, betreffs mangelhafter Beziehung der Gränzlinien, sowie unberechtigtes Verlegen einiger Loose. Zum
Beschluss wurde erhoben:
172Es wird den Besitzern von einhundert Acker Lot, eine
monatliche Frist eingeräumt, um ihre Gränzlinien zu untersuchen, werden innert derselben keine schriftlichen Klagen, dem
Vorstand eingereicht, so wird Zufriedenheit angenommen, und
der Vorstand beauftragt, den Beschluss betreffs Tilgung der
Vermessungskosten zu vollziehen.
7) In Vollziehung der laut Constitution vorzunehmenden
Erneuerungswahlen, zeigte sich folgendes Wahlergebnis in den
1. Distrikt Jakob Lanz
2. “ J. U. Weiss
3. “ Jb. Schneider, welcher
ablehnte, und an dessen
Stelle am 17 Januar Mr.
Bahnholzer gewält wurde.
4. “ Heinrich Bertschinger
5. “ Carl Zehnter
Als Vorstandsmitglieder wurden vom Gemeindrath vorgeschlagen:
Zum Präsident : Herr Joh. Kissling und Jb. Hehr
“ Aktuar : Rudolph Wegelin und Hoh. Schwarz
“ Cassier : Anton Stocker und Joh. Baumgartner
Präsident: Zahl der Votanten 31, Absolut Stimmehr 16. Herr
Kissling Stimme 29, Hehr 1, ungültig 1.
Herr Kissling verdankt der Gemeinde das Zutrauen, und erklärt
sich zur Annahme, mit dem Wunsche die Gemeinde möge eine
glückliche, friedliche Entwicklung haben.
Cassier: Zahl der Votanten 28, Absolutes Stimmen mehr 15.
Stimmen erhielten: Herr Stocker 17, Baumgartner 9,
173Mithin erwählt Herr Stocker.
Aktuar: Zahl der Votanten 31, Absolutes Stimmen mehr 16.
Stimmen erhielten: Herr Wegelin 3, Bertschinger 2, Hch.
Unter Artikel 8 der Tagesordnung zeigt Jb. Hehr der Bürgerschaft an, dass er von der Court Altamont zum Roodmeister
bestimmt, und er biete dass alle Bürger, welche das 20 Alters -
jahr eingetreten und nicht über 65 alt sind auf dem ersten Donnerstag im Januar in Frohndienst [erscheinen]. Säumige werde
er sofort der Court überweisen.
Hch. Schwarz protestirt gegen solche Handlungsweise,
Strassenrichtungen sollen vorerst der Bürgerschaft zur
Genehmigung vorgelegt werden. Er betont ernstlich, das dieser
Courtbeschluss, nur auf Ansuchen einiger Bürger erfolgt, und
glaubt wenn die Gemeinde um eine Zeitfrist nachsuche, so
werde dieselbe gerne ertheilt. Strassenverbesserungen seien
Bedürfnis, aber zu viel könne man den Colonisten nicht aufbürden. Ohne Vorwissen der Bürger, solle man strenge darauf hal -
ten, Strassen zu errichten, Schwarz zur Longmühle beschwert
sich ebenfalls, gegen soviele Frohndienste, und weisst nach das
im laufenden Jahr 1869, er und sein Bruder 36 Tage Frohndienst
geleistet, er betont ernst, den Berg wieder zu verlassen, wenn so
hart verfahren werde.
Die Gemeinde beauftragte den Vorstand, ein Bittgesuch um
Aufschub an die Court Altamont zu richten, und hernach wenn
ein solcher ertheilt, eine Strassenrichtung zu ermitteln, im Inter -
esse beider Gemeinden, und den Plan der Gemeinde zu
Genehmigung vorzulegen. Schliesslich wurde durch das Präsidium, noch ein Schreiben von Herrn Consul Staub verlesen,
woraus die traurige Lage der Familie Lager von Glarus er -
sichtlich, und es wurden die Bürger gemahnt, die in letzter
Gemeinde freiwillig gezeichneten Liebesgaben, an den Cassier
zu bezahlen, um dasselbe gesamt dem Consulat zur Linderung
der Noth, benannter Familie einzusenden. Entlassung der Versammlung.
174Ausserordentliche Gemeinds Versammlung den 7 Feb.
1870. In Folge entstandenen Zwistigkeiten, der Besitzer der er -
sten und zweiten Complexe, hauptsächlich von den zwei City
Complexe und dem Strassenwesen herrührend, berief Herrn
Consul Staub am 1 Feb., eine Comission zusamen, um eine
friedliche Lösung der betreffenden Streitobjekte zu erzielen:
Dieselbe bestand aus den Herrn Ingenieur Baur, Jakob Hehr und
Edward Berger einerseits. Herr Präsident Kiessling,
Bertschinger und Schwarz anderseits. Zum Vorsitzer wurde
Herr Consul Staub ernannt. Zur Frage kamm folgendem Haupttraktanten:
1) Soll die von Herrn General Consul Hitz entworfene, und
am 25 Okt. letzten Jahres von den Bürgern angenommen Verfassung beibehalten, oder als ungültig erklärt werden?
2) Auf welchem Wege kann eine friedliche Lösung der
City angelegenheit erzielt werden?
3) Liegt es nicht im Interesse der Bevölkerang, die Ansiedlung in zwei Schul und Strassenbezirke zu theilen; dennoch aber
jedem Bezirk, gleiches Nütznissungsrecht von dem betreffenden
City Complexen zu kommen zu lassen?
Nach ziemlich langer, heftiger Discussion, gelang es einen
einmüthlichen Commissional Antrag zu erzielen, welcher also
I Die Gemeinde Constitution, soll nur in so weit abgeändert werden, als notwendig um dieselbe inkorpiren lassen [=
inkorporieren zu lassen ], und wird Herr Consul Staub geboten,
dasselbe zu übernehmen.
II a) Die beiden bisherigen City Complexe sollen vereinigt
werden, anstossend an das im zweiten Complexe ausgelegte, mit
anschluss der parallel laufenden 100 Acker Lot No. 45, 46, 43
und 44 bezeichnet so dass der Complexe 600 Acker gross.
b) Für öffentliche Gebäulichkeiten, wird im Centrum desselben ein Complexe von 25 bis 30 Acker einstweilen vorbehalten;
von welchem aus der Verkauf von City Lot auf beiden Seiten
175c) Das Strassenwesen inmitten des City gebiets, ist Sache
der Bewohner derselben.
d) Der Erlös der betreffenden City Lot, darf nach Bestimmung der Schenker, nur für Kirche und Schulzwecke bestimmt
e) Der Nahme Bern, welcher dem ersten beigelegt, wird
III In Betracht des weitn Umfangs, und der raschen Ansiedlung, theilt sich die Gemeinde in zwei Schulbezirke, wovon jeder aus dem Erlös der City Lot, die gleichmässige Nutzniessung
für schule und Kirche zu Theil wird. Zur Erstellung der ersten
Schulhäuser wird jeder Gemeinde, ein Credit von Zweihundert
IV Jede Schulgemeinde übernimmt die Erstellung und Unterhaltung der in ihrem Gebiet nöthigen Strassen und Brücken,
sowie die durchlaufenden Countyrooden [= county roads].
V Mit Herrn Ingenieur Baur, ist ein Vermessungvertrag des
City Landes abzuschliessen.
VI Annehmen der Vermessung der ersten 5000 Acker.
VII Veranstaltung einer Gemeindeversammlung auf den 7
Feb. zur Ratification, oder Verwerfung vorstehenden Antrags.
Protokoll der Gemeindsversammlung den 7 Feb. 1870.
1) Verlesen und Ratification des Protokolls vom 31 Dez.
2) Ratification oder Verwerfung des vorstehenden Comissions Antrag.
3) Ratification der Abkunft mit Mr. Zürcher, betreff
seinem schon bebauten 100 Acker Lot No. 46.
4) Ratification des Vortrags mit Herrn Ingenieur Baur.
Der Präsident eröffnet die Versammlung, mit kurzer aber
ernster Einleitung, er deutet die entstandenen Zwistigkeiten auf
176gegenseitige Missverständnisse, und ersucht die Bürger, den
heute so wichtigen Verhandlungen alle Aufmerksamkeit zu
schenken, alle Parteileidenschaft, und ins besonders persönliche
Angriffe zu unterlassen, mit Staufachers edler Gattin, rufe auch
er heute besonders den Bürgern zu: Sieh vorvärts Werner und
nicht hinter dich, er hoffe die scheidenden Worte unsers
hochgeachteten Herrn General Consuls, seien noch in den meisten Herzen eingegraben, Seid Einig! Einig! Einig! Nur Eintracht
sichert den Bestand, nur Eintracht fördert das Gedeihen, nur ein
rein demokratischer Sinn führt uns zum Ziele, mit diesem wenigen Worten erkäre ich die Versammlung eröffnet.
Hierauf wird das Protokoll vam 31 Dez. verlesen und mit
Der vorstehende Comissional Antrag wird verlesen, und die
Beweggrunde dazu durch den Referent Schwarz erläutert.
Nachher von Herrn Eduard Berger unterstützt.
Herr Schneider und Bollinger, glauben die Besitzer der 100
Acker Lot im ersten Complexe im Nachtheil, wünschen haupt -
sächlich, dass die sogenannte Pappelspring frei und offen behalten werde.
Auch diesen Wunsch, wusste Herrn Consul Staub auf sehr
verdankenswerthe Weise zu erfüllen, indem er die betreffenden
200 Acker um 130 Dollar, Ankauf und Vermessung, in begriffen
an die erste Schulgemeinde, zur Auslägung kleinerer Complexes
kaufweise abtrat. Damit erklärten sich die beiden Antragsteller
befriedigt, und trugen auf Ratification das Comissional Antrags
an, welches ohne weitere Einsprache mit Einmuth zum
Beschluss erhoben wurde.
Bis noch Incorperirung der Constitution, wurde ferner
beschlossen, eine Comission von fünf Mitgliedern zu erwählen,
bestehend aus Präsident, Vice-präsident, Quäster, und Acktuar,
und einem Beisitzer, mit dem Auftrag, das Wohl der Gemeinde
in jeder Beziehung nach Kräften zu fördern, durch den Verkauf
von City Lot so schnell als möglich, auch Mittel zu suchen, um
der Schulbildung Eingang zu verschaffen.
177Das Wahlergebniss war folgendes: Mit Einmuth gränzender
Mehrheit wurde zum
Präsident gewählt: Herr Kissling
Vice-präsident : Eduard Berger
Cassier : Anton Stocker
Aktuar : Hch. Schwarz
fünftes Mitglied : Ulrich Zimmerman
Die Unterhandlung, betreff Vermessungs Contrakt, mit Herrn Ingenieur Baur, zeigte folgendes Resultat. Mit Ausnahme,
dass für öffentliche Gebäulichkeiten ausgelegten Complexes
durch welchem nur die Rooden für einstweilen zu bezeichnen
sind, verpflichtet sich Baur, den ganzen Complexe in 1 Acker
Lots auszulegen, jedes derselben mit 4 Eck und zwei Mittelpfählen zu bezeichnen, und mit No. zu versehen, sowie die
Strassen-richtung genau zu bezeichnen, nur verlange er nach
Beendigung der Arbeit Untersuchung, und bei befriedigter Erf'ullung Annahmserklärung. Ebenso stelle er der Gemeinde
einem Plan zu, für die Ausführung dieser Arbeiten, verlange er
Zweihundert und fünfzig Dollar, Einhundert nach der ersten
Lotversteigerung, und Einhundert und fünfzig nach Jahresfrist,
mit dieser Forderung seien imbegriffen, alle Vermessungskosten
in beiden City Complexe, die schon verfallen.
Dieser Vertrag wird ebenfalls zum Beschluss erhoben, und
Herr Bauer, ersucht, so schnell als möglich, eine Anzahl Lot zu
Herr Zürcher wünscht, dass die Gemeinde ihm als
Entschädigung 20 Acker von seinem 100 Acker Lot, der westlichen Gränze entlang, auf der das Haus stehe, um 15 Dollar als
Vermessungskosten, welche er für das ganze Lot schon bezahlt
überlasse, die übrigen 80 Acker, sei er bereit, für das darauf haftende Capital von fünfzig Dollar, der Gemeinde zu überlassen.
Die Bürger fanden das Anerbieten für billig, und
genehmigten den Ausgleich mit Einmuth. Die 200 Acker, um
welche das City vergrössert wurde, werden von beiden Theilen
gleichmässig getragen, und der Vorstand ist beauftragt, über die
Deckung des fraglichen Defiecits, am 4 Juli der Gemeinde einen
Antrag vorzulegen. Die erste Gemeinde bezieht 4 Acker als
178Schulland, an der Nord, die zweite an der Südseite des City
Complexe. Auf die Einfrage des Präsidenten, ob noch jemand
etwas weiteres beizufüigen habe, verlangt Hch. Schwarz das
Wort, und erwähnt mit wenigen Worten, der vielen Opfer,
welche Herr Consul Staub, der Colonie schon gebracht, welche
er als Trustye der Gemeinde noch zu bringen habe, und mit
welchem Eifer, er auch diesmal sich bestrebte das friedliche
Verhältniss wieder zu erstellen. Bis dahin, habe er alle Opfer
ohne Entschädigung dargebracht, wofür Ihm die Colonisten zu
ässersten Dank verpflichtet seien. Auch er werde Eintracht,
durch welche die Colonie blühen und Gedeihen werde, als Zeichen der ächten Dankbarkeit hinnehmen. Eure Anerkennung
beweisst Ihm, indem ihr einstimmt in ein kräftiges Hoch. Herr
Consul Staub lebe Hoch! Hoch! Hochl Herr Staub freut sich
über den Tag, wo ihm vergönnt, unter uns zu weilen, wenn auch
fehle der edle Rebensaft, der bei solchen Festen, in unserm Mut -
terlande, die Gemüther erheitere, er finde hier beim Wasserquell
die Gemüther heiter und begeistert. Er bringe auch heute uns
die Worte unsers nun im Schweizerlande weilenden Vertreters,
und Freundes, Herr General Consul Hitz in Errinerung: Liebe
Landsleute Seid Einig! Einig! Einig! er hat dieses Projekt schon
einmal gerettet, und ihr dürft auch ferner, seiner Vorsorge auch
Ihm bringe ich mein Hoch.
Der grösste Theil von Euch, errinert sich aber noch, wie er
hier auf dieser Stätte, das ihm erschallende Hoch zurückwies,
weil es nicht Ihm, sondern der Regierung gebühre, derren
Vertreter er sei. Auch ich bin überzeugt, dass eure Regierung
daheim Euch nicht vergisst, dass dieselbe Euch Ihren Schutz
nicht entzight, unbegründet sind die Vorurtheile, welche ich
schon oft aussprechen gehört. Thatsache ist es, dass dem Unbemittelten, aber thätigen Manne hier noch eher möglich sich empor zu schwingen als in dem lieben Mutterlande, allein dennoch
kam man eurer Regierung nicht zumuthen, dass sie die Auswanderung befördern helfe, wer aber einmal ausgewandert ist, kann
versichert sein von ihr Nöthigenfalls beschützt zu sein. Euch
liebe Landsleute ist es schon ertheilt worden, und wird Euch
ferner zu Theil werden. Vertraut Eurer Schweizer Regierung,
lasst ihr sagen, wenn Euch liebe Brüder Gefahr droht, hier auf
179den Tennessee Berg stehen Eure Brüder, Einer für Alle, und
Alle für Einen.
Auch euch liebe Lansleute gebührt Anerkennung für den
festen Willen, und die Ausdauer, die ihr bei diesem Colonieprojekt an den Tag gelegt hat. Ich danke Euch ferner für den guten
Ruf, den ihr eurerm Vaterlande durch euern Fleiss und Charakter, unter den hiesigen Einwohnern erworden. Haltet treu
zusammen füttert eure Herzen mit ächtem Schweizerfutter, das
da ist, reine Freiheit, Volksbildung, Gesang und überhaupt Vereinsleben, dass die geistige Fortbildung erhöht. Was die Colonie
anbetrifft, so muss ich gegenüber dem Aufschwung derselben,
meine vollste Zufriedenheit aussprechen, bleibt nur Einig,
Thätig und Ausdauernd, so werdet ihr ernten die Früchte, die ihr
gesäet, ich meinerseits gebe euch die bestimmte zuzicherung,
nach meinem Kräften die Colonie zu bewahren. Schliesslich
bringe ich mein Hoch, der Schweizer Regierung, ohne deren
Hülfe eure Colonie nicht mehr bestehen würde, zweitens dem
lieben Ländli, und dem Vö1klein das darin lebt, und drittens
allen treuen Schweizerherzen, wo sie immer sein mögen.
Die Schweizer Regierung, das ländli und Völkli, so wie alle
biedern Schweizerherzen, wo sie immer zu finden leben Hoch!
Mit dem schönen Vaterlandsliebe: Brüder reicht die Hand
zum Bunde, wurde die Versammlung beschlossen, und unter
Verdankung vom Präsident entlassen.
Appendix C. German Texts from Minutes of the
August_6, 1876 -- A description of the celebration on the fourth
of July reads as follows:
Comite für die Feier des 4 Juli berichtet, Eltern und Kinder
sowie alle die sich versanmeln sich morgens um 9 Uhr am neuen
Schulhause wo ein Zug formiert wird und dann mit Musik nach
dem Festplatze marschiert, dort wird die Unabhängigkeits Erklärung durch Henry Weishaupt verlesen, darauf Musik und
180Gesang, dann Rede von Hauser, Musik und Gesang, hierauf
Rede von John Kissling über Lokalangelegenheiten u. s. w.
June 5, 1892 -- Upon the death of one of the oldest and
most revered members, and for many years president of
the club, John Kissling, the following necrology was
written into the minutes:
NEKROLOG für JOHN KISSLING
Joh. Kissling, geb. 1827 von Schwarzenburg, Canton Bern, war
mehrere Jahre in seiner Heimath, als Lehrer thätig. Vor zirka 20
Jahren reisste derselbe mit seiner ziemlich zahlreichen Familie
nach Amerika und wurde hier einer der Grunder hiesiger
Herrn Kissling war in jeder Beziehung ein strebsamer und unternehmender Mann, der keine Opfer scheute, wo es galt, ein
gutes Werk zu schaffen und zur Verbesserung hiesiger Colonie
viel beigetragen hat.
Der Verstorbene hat sich dann auch, trotz seiner zahlreichen
Familie, zu einem in guten Verhältnissen lebenden Manne emporgearbeitet. Seine überlebenden Kinder und Gattin, sind
meistens erwachsen und stehen in selbstgeschaffenden Verhält -
Als vieljähriges, fleissiges Mitglied hiesigen Landwirt -
schaftlichen Vereins, dessen Präsidentschaft er bis zu seinem
Tode inne hatte, erweisen Ihm, die jetzigen Mitglieder diesen
Nachruf im Protokol.
Namens der Landwirtschaftlichen Vereins, dessen Secretär
1906 - Year's report --
Das abgelaufene Jahr war für den Verein ein Normales. Durch
den Tod hat der Verein kein Mitglied verloren noch durch Aus -
181tritt; blos ist ein Mitglied durch Wegzug verlohren gegangen,
was übrigens nicht zu beklagen ist, da derselbe Mitglied der ärgste Lump war, der jemals die Colonie bewohnt hat; hat er doch
in weniger als 2 Jahren eine der schönsten hiesigen Farmen, versoffen. Es ist also nur zu beglückwünschen, dass der Verein von
einem solchen Subjekt befreit wurde. Es ist diess Leonhard
Oertli, Sohn, der seinem Werk noch die Krone aufsetzte, indem
er seiner Frau noch die letzten Baarmittel gestohlen hat und ver -
February 7, 1909 -- The meeting was given over to the discussion of the recent State prohibition law. The following was put
in the minutes:
Es wurde über das vom Staate angenommene Gesetz betr.
das Getrtränke Verbots discutiert; Es wird hervorgehoben,
dass ein solches Gesetz, keinen Falls die Laster der Trunksucht vermindert und dem Staat noch überdiess enormen
Verlust seiner Einkünfte verursacht.
Auch sollten solche Gesetze unbedingt vor das Volk zur Abstimmung gelangen, wo es um so viele Existenzen handelt,
und einer republikanischer Regierung unwürdig ist.
1911 - Year's report -- The following excerpt seems to be the
gist of the report:
Anregung zum festerm Zusamenhalten des Deutschtums ist
unbedingt notwendig, das wir sonst befürchten müssen dass
nach paar Jahren das Englische Element das Deutsche verdrängt.
Schon sind bereits mehrere der schönsten Farmen in
Amerikanischen Händen, die mit deutschem Fleisse hervorgebracht wurden. Wir brauchen unbedingt neuen Zuwachs aus der
alten Heimath, nur dann können wir mit Erfolg, dem Englischen
1914 - Year's report -- The world war earned the following paragraph in this record:
182Von dem in Europa ausgebrochonen Weltkrieg hatten wenig zu
verspüren, da hauptsächlich nur die Industrien und Handen (factory employees) in Mitleidenschaft berührt worden. Wie lange
dieses furchterliche Morden noch währen wird, ist nicht abzusehen, da keine der kriegführenden Mächte, so lange noch Widerstand möglich ist nachgeben will.
183Appendix D. Land Transactions of Peter Staub
In the summer of 1869, with his own funds, Peter Staub purchased large tracts of land in Grundy County which he then sold
in 100-acre lots to the settlers. From the minutes of the Colony,
it appears that Plumacher had not been able to acquire the land
and have it surveyed into lots. The desperate settlers appealed
to John Hitz, the Consul General in Washington, and Hitz called
Staub to the rescue. He provided the funds and the business
acumen to make the deals work. The early colonists certainly
thought very highly of him. Jackson, however, reports that in
1933 people in the colony thought Staub a “first-class swindler.”
I have heard it said that he sold them land he did not even own.
Which view of Staub is correct?
Peter Staub was born in 1827 in Bliten, Canton of Glarus,
Switzerland. He came first to Rahway, New York, in 1854 and
then moved on to Knoxville shortly before the war. He became
successful in the iron foundry business, built the first “opera
house” in Knoxville, and was elected mayor of Knoxville in
1874 and 1876. He was killed in a runaway horse carriage acci -
dent on May 8, 1904.
The deed books in the courthouse in Altamont show that, in
1869, in six transactions he bought 14,575 acres of land in
Grundy County for a total of $9,000, or at an average price of 62
cents per acre. The previous history of this land through purchase grants to Samuel M. Barrell and sale to Edmund Monroe
and Wm. C. Hill has been told in the text and footnotes in Chapter 1. From both the minutes of the colony and the deed books it
is clear that Staub did not – as was suspected in the colony in
1933 -- buy up all the land before the colonists came. Indeed,
there is no evidence of his having bought any land before August 31, 1869. There is every reason to believe that his initial
negotiations with the owners were in front of the assembled
colonists on July 4, 1869, as recorded in the minutes.
By the end of 1872, deeds had been recorded in which he
sold 3,250 acres for $1675 in 33 transactions at an average price
of 52 cents per acre. All but one of the transactions were at 50
cents per acre. The one exception was lot A on the edge of the
184Colony at $1.00 per acre to Charles Ott, who is not otherwise
mentioned as involved in the Colony. Staub evidently discriminated against non-Swiss, but this transaction is quite significant
in showing that the market price of the land in 100 acre lots was
well above what the colonists paid.
Many of those who had entered the drawing, and some of
those on the map, had not paid the full price to get the deed, or
many deeds went unrecorded. We know that some of the deeds
were, indeed, unrecorded, for there was no deed in 1869 or 1870
to John Kissling. In 1887, however, Staub, then the U.S. Consul
in St. Gall, signed a statement attesting that in 1870 he had given Kissling a deed for lots 47, 48, and 49, a deed that seems to
have been destroyed by fire without having ever been recorded.
Such a statement is hardly the act of a “first-class swindler.”
(This payment has been counted in the total sales mentioned
Based on other evidence of families living in the Colony after 1875, I think it is safe to say that Staub received at least another $850 for 1700 acres. That estimate brings his total receipts to $2525. As an upper limit of his receipts we can sup -
pose that all of the 91 lots on the 1872 map shown as belonging
to someone other than Staub had sold for $50 each, except the
one to Ott for $100. On that assumption, Staub had gotten back
$4600 of his $9000 investment.
Had he sold land that did not belong t him? Sadly, it seems
he had. Apparently the title to some of the lands he thought he
had bought was not good. In 1884, some of the Monroe heirs
brought suit and forced Rosina Staub, Peter’s wife, to pay
$3166.60 for a half interest in 6333 acres. The price must have
been arrived at by presuming that Peter had paid 50 cents an
acre for a half interest, so now he had to pay another 50 cents for
the other half. This transaction is recorded in Book O, page 359.
Staub paid this sum, so far as we can tell, without recourse to the
people to whom he had sold the land at half the price it eventual -
ly cost him.
In 1890 and 1901, he sold a half interest in some 1120 acres
for $2600. In 1903, he granted a 100-foot right-of-way through
his lands to the Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis railway for
185$1. In 1903, he also sold 1200 acres to James and T.B. Northcut
for $1000 and 1040 acres to William Webb for $2000. Thus, by
the end of his life, he had receipts of at most $10,200 – and
more probably about $8125 -- against an outlay of $12,166.60.
Relative to the question of whether the colonists were
trapped into buying land at unfair prices, it should be noticed
that only 17 of the 48 lots allocated on the first day were paid
for by receipts from Plümacher; all other sales were to people
who still had their money in their pockets and knew perfectly
well what they were getting for it. Indeed, some or all of the receipts from Plumacher may have been for payments made in
Staub gave the school district 403 acres for a school, precisely the land where the school and athletic fields now are. As
late as 1876, we find Staub giving the colony another two acres
of land for school and church purposes.
Without him, the colony would never have gotten started. It
is really a bit hard to see how such a negative opinion as Jackson
reports could have been justified. I join the early colonists in a
Hoch! Hoch! Hoch! for Peter Staub..
186About the Author
Frances Helen Jackson was the daughter of George Pullen
Jackson, musician, musicologist and professor of German, and
Inez Wright Jackson, kindergarten teacher and potter. When
Frances was only ten and her brother eight, their mother died in
the 1918 flu epidemic. Their father’s childless sisters stepped
into the breach to help rear the children.
The family placed a premium on education, music, and social service, making it no surprise that Frances would excel in
all three areas. She began studying harp in high school and later
continued her studies at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music,
and then with Alfred Holy in Vienna, Austria and with Carlos
Salzedo. As a young woman, she played solo harp; and, for her
entire adult life, she taught harp. For twenty-two years she was
principal harpist for the Nashville Symphony. The first Nashville symphony, which went out of business in the depression,
had been founded by her father.
Frances received her BA from Birmingham Southern and
her MA in German from Vanderbilt. Her father, then head of the
German Department, was both advisor and mentor to his daughter for her master’s thesis. For many years she taught both German and harp at Nashville’s Ward Belmont Preparatory School
Frances married Fitzgerald Parker in 1935. A banker and
lawyer by profession, “Bud” loved languages, music and the
out-of doors. He played the violin and sang in a choir. It was he
who gave Frances the nickname “Sally” which somehow suited
her and by which she became more widely known than by her
real name. The home in which he and Sally reared their three
daughters resounded with singing and music-making for fun and
was full of “play” with foreign language.
In addition to her music and teaching career, Sally had a remarkable volunteer career as well. She was active in the Nashville Symphony Guild, serving as its president. She served on
187the Board of the American Symphony Orchestra League
(ASOL) for ten years during which she held several offices and
organized the ASOL Women’s Council and served as its inaugural president. To this day the ASOL annually awards the
“ASOL Sally Parker Education Award” to a US orchestra.
During the last ten years of her life, Sally undertook the
hobby of wheel throwing pottery. This she added to a lifetime of
creative craft projects including sewing almost all of her own
and her three daughters’ clothes. She had begun selling her pot -
tery at craft shows when she died of cancer at the age of six -
Frances Jackson Parker, also known as Sally, was a musician, teacher, volunteer, craftswoman extraordinaire. On top of
all that, she was a great mama to the three of us.
Pamela Parker Helms
Susan Parker Martin
Carol Parker Thomas (Deceased)
Allen, Lycinda Thoni..........80
Almen, Caspar v................114
Altamont......22, 49, 57p., 165,
Amacher, Christ..........50, 165
Angst, Jakob....95, 127, 129p.,
Attinghausen, Werner von..52,
Baggenstoss, Charles William
Baggenstoss, Jennifer Hope 97
Baggenstoss, John Eastman.97
Baggenstoss, John Jacob.....96
Baggenstoss, Mary Jean......97
Baggenstoss, Pauline Brawley
Bahnholzer, John.......48p., 57,
Barrell, Samuel B..........21, 23
Bauer, Joh. Ulrich.............114
Baumgartner, John49, 57, 164,
Baur, Joh. Ulrich. 45p., 49, 53,
56, 58, 60pp., 121, 124p.,
161pp., 169, 172, 175p.,
Beersheba Springs........11, 14,
18pp., 43, 70, 75, 123, 144
Bergen, Eduard von...........114
Berger, Edward.......50, 58, 61,
166, 175, 177p.
Bern.....4, 15, 53p., 59, 72, 81,
131, 169p., 176, 181
51, 56pp., 114, 164, 172pp.
Bolli, Conrad...............48, 164
Bollinger, Jakob. . .48, 61, 114,
Born, Friedrich......49p., 164p.
Bouldin, J. M.......................22
Brock, Harold Morgan......100
Brosi, Anna.................71, 102
Brown, John (Baur)...........117
Burri, Joseph...............48, 164
church 12, 23, 36, 43, 53, 59p.,
81, 120, 139pp., 151, 186
City 53p., 56, 59pp., 68, 125p.,
169p., 172, 175pp.
Concurati, Zimmerli....49, 165
Dutch Maid Bakery.............96
Egli, Heinrich 48, 51, 164, 167
Faigoux, Alcide...........49, 165
Faust, Albert B....................14
Fawer, Carl..........49, 115, 165
Fawer, Friedrich..........49, 165
Fehr, Jakob..........48, 148, 164
Fluri, Joseph................50, 165
Fruttiger, Jakob...........49, 164
Gilley, George and Gideon..21
Grancer, Joseph (Grenzer).117
Gräuicher, Albert.........49, 165
Greeter, Anna Stocker.........94
Greeter, Ethel Robertson.....95
Greeter, Grace Dykes..........95
Greeter, John Alan..............95
Greeter, John George...........94
Greeter, John J.....................94
Greeter, John William.........95
Greeter, Lois Bradley..........95
Greeter, Louise Schultz.......95
Greeter, Mary Ann..............95
Greeter, Patricia Ann...........95
Gruetli.....4, 11p., 14, 16, 36p.,
43pp., 50, 53p., 64, 68, 71,
75p., 80pp., 128p., 141,
Grundy County 2, 11, 22p., 35,
Gruter, John & Christine
Grütli.......35pp., 43, 159, 161,
Gunten, Fritz von.........50, 166
Güttinger, Ernst and Trudi 108
Haeberli, Christian......49, 165
Hargis, Carlene Givens.....107
Hargis, Robert Andrew......107
Hargis, Rosina Wichser.....107
Hauser, A. E......................115
Hehr, Jakob55pp., 171, 173pp.
Heller, J.......................48, 164
Henley, Joyce Greeter.........94
Heuggeller, Anton.......48, 164
Hill, W. C. 22, 45p., 49, 161p.,
Hitz, John..18p., 37, 42, 49pp.,
63, 70, 121, 131, 150,
165pp., 175, 179, 184
Hoch XE .............................52
Hofstetter, Christian.....49, 97,
100, 115, 148, 164
191Hohliger, C..................49, 165
Holzhauer, Caspar.......49, 115
Hughes, J. H......44, 49, 160p.,
Hughes, James. H................22
Hünerwadel, Arnold A........20
Hunsinger, Grofsman v.....115
Hunziker, Jacob...........97, 127
Jenni, Samuel....118, 140, 142
Jnaebnet, Melchior......50, 165
Killebrew, J. B...133p., 136pp.
Killebrew, J. G....................15
Kissling, John...48p., 51, 57p.,
61, 81, 126, 129pp., 141p.,
144p., 148, 150, 164, 173,
178, 181, 185
Kissling, Peter.............81, 115
Kneubuehl, Friedrich...50, 165
Kreis, Caspar.......50, 165, 168
Külling, Jakob.............49, 165
Lanz, Heinrich.....48, 115, 164
Lanz, Jakob....48, 57, 164, 173
Layne, Jeanetta Stampfli...102
Leutzinger, R.............118, 127
Long’s Mill43, 48, 58, 94, 164
Luchsinger, Bals........127, 142
Maeder, Jakob.............50, 165
mandatory labor.......45, 47, 58
Marugg Company..........71, 97
Marugg, Christian.......70, 123,
Marugg, Martin 14, 24, 42, 68,
71, 81, 118, 129, 140pp.
Marugg, Rudolf.......71, 127p.,
139p., 145, 148
Mayes, Dorothy Hargi.......107
Mayes, Dorothy Hargis.....107
Mayes, Roy Wince............107
McMinnville.21p., 42, 49, 165
Mingle, Teresa Mayes.......107
Moritz, Carl...............118, 126
Mueller, Friedrich.......50, 165
Müller, Samuel............48, 164
Neskaug, Selmer R............120
New Bern, North Carolina.110
New Glarus, Wisconsin.....110
Nichols, Jacob (Michel)....117
Oertli, Leonhard........115, 132
Olgiati, Peter Rudolf.........107
Olgiati, Peter Rudolf (Rudy)
Olgiati, Roman Lee...........107
Plumacher, Eugen H............19
Plumacher, Eugen H......18pp.,
24p., 27, 137, 184, 186
Plümacher, Eugen H........14p.,
18pp., 43p., 46, 48, 70, 124,
150, 160, 163
Plümacher, Olga Hünerwadel
Prevost, Seeress of............149
Putzmühle.......121, 124p., 127
Rohr, Leonhard v...............116
Rohr, Leonhard von.........48p.,
Rose, LaDora Mayes......106p.
Ruodin, Carl..........48p., 163p.
Rychen....42, 74, 76, 140, 143,
Rychen family...............72, 74
Rychen, John...48, 72, 80, 164
Rychen, John Jr...................80
Schild.....12, 36, 42p., 68, 125,
Schild, Anna Fuchs.............70
Schild, Barbara Marugg......85
Schild, Caspar.....48, 116, 127,
Schild, Dola...................69, 72
Schild, Elizabeth...........68, 71
Schild, Fannie..............68, 147
Schild, John.................68, 147
Schild, Peter. . .49, 68, 79, 116,
127, 148, 165
Schild, Peter of Beersheba. 70,
Schiller, Friedrich..4, 35p., 52,
Schlageter, Ignatz......118, 128
Schneider, Jakob.....43, 48, 51,
54, 57, 61, 116, 159, 164,
167, 170, 173, 177
Scholer, Joh.................50, 165
school23, 46, 53pp., 59pp., 71,
121, 126, 139pp., 151, 187
Schwarz, Georg.....48, 51, 164
Schwarz, Heinrich.....43, 48p.,
51, 55pp., 61p., 159, 164p.,
167, 170p., 173pp., 177pp.
Seier, Jakob.................49, 165
Seward, Sec. of State...........16
Stampfli, Ernst and Elise
Stampfli, Margaret Smith..101
Stampfli, Rose Marie........100
Stampfli, Rosina Bracher. .100
Staub, Peter.......19p., 22p., 44,
49p., 52p., 55p., 58p.,
61pp., 126, 141, 150, 160,
165pp., 169, 171p., 174p.,
177, 179, 184
Stauffer, John..............48, 164
Steinach, S. Adelrich.........144
Stocker, Anton....2, 48, 51, 57,
61, 97, 111, 116, 127, 144,
148p., 164, 167, 173p., 178
Stocker, Joseph....48, 111, 164
Stocker, Joseph Jacob........111
Stocker, Katie Katherine
Stocker, Leon.48, 94, 119, 164
Stocker, Norma Mae Sitz. .112
Stocker, Philomena Myers. .94
Stoker, Joe Davis...............112
Studer, Benedikt. 48, 116, 148,
Suter, Barbara Widmer........83
Suter, Helen Bond...............83
Suter, Jacob (Jake)..............83
Suter, Leonard Jr.................83
Switzerland...4, 14, 16, 19, 23,
35p., 50, 53p., 63, 70, 72,
74, 143, 150, 166, 169
Thoni family........72, 143, 150
Thoni, Albert J....................80
Thoni, Anna...................72, 79
Thoni, Edward Jr.................80
Thoni, Elizabeth............72, 80
Thoni, Emil...................75, 79
Thoni, John.................72, 79p.
195Thoni, John Jr......................79
Thoni, John William............80
Thoni, Madeline (Spiechs). .79
Thoni, Margaret.............72, 80
Thoni, Mary Martha............80
Thoni, Melchior72, 74, 76, 80,
Thoni, Melchior Jr...............72
Thony, Melchior Johs........116
Thony, Melchior, Father....116
Tracy City..............14, 71, 144
Tylor, Dola Schild.................8
Uncle Pete...................68, 125
Wagner, Heinrich........48, 164
Wegelin, Rudolf.....43, 48, 51,
57, 159, 164, 167, 173p.
Weishaupt, Henry......127, 180
Weiss, Ulrich. 48, 57, 164, 173
Werdmueller, N...........50, 165
Wermuth, Consul....44p., 49p.,
54, 160, 162, 165p., 169
Wichser, David..........106, 119
Wichser, Fridolin and Barbara
Wichser, Fridolin Jr...........107
Wichser, Johann Jakob......109
Wichser, Katrina (Kate)....107
Wilhelm Tell....4, 35p., 52, 60
Wirz, Fritz.................131, 181
yields of crops...................136
Zehnter, Carl..48, 57, 164, 173
Zimmermann, Ulrich....50, 61,
116, 124, 166, 178
196Zopfi, Kaspar......49, 142, 148,
Zürcher..................60, 62, 176
Zurcher, Jakob.............49, 165
Zurcher, Joh.................49, 165
Zwald, Melchior. .49, 116, 165
197198Peter Staub is depicted in the early records of Gruetli as the benefactor,
indeed, as the savior of the colony. A Swiss immigrant, he became mayor
of Knoxville, and the above portrait hangs in the city hall there. He was
somewhat maligned in the original text reprinted here, but further
research, now included in the book, has fully justified the high regard in
which the Gruetli settlers held him.
Location of the Rütli meadow (arrow) on Lake Lucerne
The Gruetli or Ruetli meadow in Switzerland, looking north. Painting by
Johann Heinrich Bleuler, 1834 or 1835. The Swis s Colony at Grue t li --
Bridge t o a Ne w Land
From 1869 to the early years of the 20
century, over fifty
families of Swiss immigrants came to Grundy County,
Tennessee with the express purpose of creating a Swiss
Colony, a community composed almost entirely of Germanspeaking Swiss that would preserve their culture in a new
land. They gave to the area the inspiring name of Gruetli, the
meadow where legend says representatives of three cantons
met in 1291 and formed the league which grew, over
centuries, into the Swiss confederation. They came with high
hopes, definite support of their home government, and fervent
loyalty to their native land. This book tells their story.
Today, most physical evidence of the Colony has vanished.
Fortunately, this bridge, built with community labor in the
earliest days of the settlement survives to symbolize the
Colony, itself a bridge for those Swiss families into
Today, most physical evidence of the Colony has vanished.
Fortunately, this bridge, built with community labor in the
earliest days of the settlement survives to symbolize the
Colony, itself a bridge for those Swiss families into