Saturday, August 1, 2009


Today is Confederation Day in Switzerland.

OK. So what?

Well, sometime between 1835 and 1850 my great-great-great grandparents and their son and daughter emigrated from Switzerland to Franklin County, Missouri, some 60 miles west of St. Louis. They farmed, raised their families, attended the nearby Lutheran church, buried their dead, and carried on their lives year after year, decade after decade. That past is silent now, but speaks volumes about their faith, their tenacity, and their stubbornness. Once they settled, they didn't move far - descendants still call Franklin County their home today, although my branch of the family married there and immediately moved to the "promised land" of Oklahoma in 1910. But it's always fascinated me that these stalwart people would uproot themselves from their ancestral home in the valleys of the Alps, lock stock and barrel, and plop themselves down in the middle of the frontier, barely to budge since.

I think they came from Kanton Glarus, because the Jenny surname is fairly common there, but I have no reason to prove that. All references are just to Switzerland, no canton and no community. There's no evidence they ever went back to visit. The two children married a brother and sister of the Jung family from Alsace. The naturalization records of another Jung brother stated he arrived in 1838 as a citizen of France, so it's possible both families came over about the same time, and could have come together. Ann Jenny's 1910 death certificate and another brother's 1926 death certificate list their parents as being from Germany and both of them born in Germany, but Alsace got bounced back and forth between France and Germany quite a bit during those years, so that comes with a grain of salt.

I've researched a lot of my other branches much further back than five generations. Still, this is my paternal line, from which I inherit my surname, and I'm the last male carrying that surname. The family homestead still stands, maintained by another line of descendants, and they've done an admirable job preserving the heritage.

One of these days, however, I hope to find out more about where they came from in Switzerland, and why. And, if health and wealth bear me out, to go back and visit someday.