Secondary Genealogical Sources
Compiled and edited by Albert Bernhardt Faust and Gaius Marcus Brumbaugh and published between 1920 and 1925, Lists of Swiss Emigrants in the Eighteenth Century to the American Colonies is a two volume work focusing on the Canton of Zürich in Volume One and the Cantons of Bern and Basel in Volume Two. Starting with Baron Christoph von Graffenried’s expedition to establish New Bern in North Carolina in 1710 and actually going beyond the Colonial era into the 1790s in a handful of instances, it is a remarkable work.
The general rationale for inclusion in the book is that one’s Swiss ancestor lawfully left Switzerland during this period of time. This means that they paid the Abzug, or immigration tax to the respective Cantonal authority, and proceeded to go directly to North America. However, it is possible to an ancestor who paid the Abzug, went directly to North America, and not have said ancestor included in the book. If your ancestor fled in the middle of the night, so to speak, to avoid paying the tax, they will not be included in this book. Additionally, if they are not from the Cantons of Zürich, Bern, or Basel, they will not make an appearance herein either. Also, notably light are entries regarding Swiss Anabaptists and Mennonites.
First published in 1856, Israel Daniel Rupp's Collection of 30,000 Names is an indispensable resource for studying ancestors from Pennsylvania. The book consists of a series of ship manifests. It is arranged chronologically based on the date of a particular ship's arrival at the Port of Philadelphia. As the majority of Swiss settlers arrived at the Port of Philadelphia during this time period, this work will be of considerable assistance to the applicant in proving their Swiss ancestor arrived in North America prior to 5 March 1798.
In 1710, Baron Christoph von Graffenried of Worb in the Canton of Bern, founded New Bern in the Colony of North Carolina. It was the only explicitly Swiss colony founded in North America during the Old Swiss Confederacy. The Baron's account was first published in German in 1714 and it details the high points and low points of his colonial venture in the Carolinas. The journal also includes helpful historical and biographical details about the Swiss settlers who formed the backbone of this venture.
Compiled by Victor T. Jones, Jr., for the February 1997 issue of the North Carolina Genealogical Society Journal, this list represents a multi-faceted effort to record the names of the first settlers who journeyed with Baron Christoph von Graffenried to found New Bern in 1710. Unfortunately, the manifests for the ships that carried the first settlers to New Bern do not exist nor does a later set of records, which were based on said manifests. The list Jones produced contains a wealth of historical and biographical details about these initial settlers and his bibliography provides a great starting point for further, more detailed research.
Given the proximity of Georgia to the Swiss colony of New Bern in North Carolina and the intermarriage of early German settlers with later Swiss arrivals, it does not come as a surprise that there were a number of Swiss settlers residing in the Colony of Georgia prior to the American Revolution. First published in 1949, E. Merton Coulter and Albert B. Saye's A List of the Early Settlers of Georgia includes the names of Swiss settlers and a number of other interesting details, including their date of arrival, occupation, general comments, etc.
Annette Kunselman Burgert was the author of Eighteenth Century Emigrants from the Northern Alsace to America. This book is not available in digital format, but the DSS Governor owns a copy. He will be happy to check a reference for a prospective member if he/she believes their Qualifying Ancestor arrived in North America from Switzerland via Alsace. Please contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Following the devastation of the Thirty Years' War, Alsace was depopulated and the area needed to be rebuilt. Settlers were promised tax incentives, exemption from military service, special privileges, etc. There was a surplus population in Switzerland and widespread poverty. To this end, many Swiss settlers moved to Alsace. As the area was a safe haven for those who adhered to the Reformed faith, it does not come as a surprise that, at this point, a number of Swiss Reformed and French Huguenot families intermarried. In this book, if an Alsatian man or woman was of Swiss birth or ancestry, this fact was sometimes noted in the Alsatian parish registers. These books are now in the care of the Bas-Rhin Departmental Archives and can be accessed here:
Using Burgert's book and the Alsatian parish registers, one can then trace the ancestral line of a particular person or family back to their native parish in Switzerland. For example, the Liebengut family resided in Langensoultzbach, Alsace before coming to Pennsylvania in 1733. Ulrich Liebengut was born at Melchnau in the Canton of Bern and his wife, Anna Henni, was born at Steffisberg in the Canton of Bern. These facts are noted in both Burgert's work and in the parish register of Langensoultzbach. Turning to the parish registers in the care of the Bern Cantonal Archives, one can locate the Baptism records of Ulrich in Melchnau and Anna in Steffisburg.