Casper Zimmermann, Born, April 11, 1827, Schwaendi, Canton Glarus,
Most of the facts regarding Caspar Zimmermann's life were
known through cursory research in the courthouse at Kewaunee, Kewaunee
County, Wisconsin and by searching through papers that his family managed
to save. Since he was a Civil War Veteran, there were many papers relating
to that event, including his discharge and the ensuing pension records. He
also made a number of land transactions, which created records in the
Kewaunee County Courthouse. But before Caspar came to the United States,
there was a lot more to learn about him in his home town of Schwandi,
Canton Glarus, Switzerland.
Caspar's father was Hans Jacob Zimmermann, an agricultural worker. In the
records, Hans Jacob was #73. An explanation of the numbering system might
be appropriate at this point. In the record books, each family was
separately recorded starting with the names beginning with "A" and ending
with those beginning with "Z". Each families numbers began with "1" and
continued on. When a man married he was given a number, which was
distinctively his. By using this method, it was easy to keep track of
people, be it a first or second marriage. Women were likewise given
numbers, making the system a very useful tool for genealogists. When
researching in the village of Schwandi, it was only necessary to say that
you wanted the records for Caspar Zimmermann # 145, and they were produced
and could be copied
Caspar was the fifth child of Hans Jacob Zimmermann # 73 and his wife,
Rosina Hefti, #165. Before the birth of Caspar, there had been a son,
Balthazar, born February 8, 1821 and died February 20 of the same year; a
daughter, Dorothea born May 9, 1822 and died August 1 of that year;
another daughter, Dorothea, born June 8, 1823 and died April 9, 1826 and
another son, Balthazar born July 2, 1825 and died April 16, 1826. The
first child lived for less than two weeks, the second a few months and the
other two less than three years each.
Hans and Rosina had been married November 9, 1820 and in the first six
years of their marriage had produced two sons, both named Balthazar and
two daughters, both named Dorothea. It was common practice to give a
newborn child the same name as a child who had died, which might seem
strange to today's reader, but it was a fact of life back then and found
not only in Switzerland, but all over Europe.
After being married for six years, the couple still had no living
children. The mortality rate of children under the age of six was very
high. The use of folk medicines and the lack of doctors and antibiotics
were two of the causes, but there were others, such as poor nutrition,
which seemed to cause more deaths in young children than in any other age
group. (See mortality charts)
On April 11, 1827, Caspar, the fifth child of Hans Zimmermann and Rosina
Hefti was born. He is the first in his family to have been named Caspar,
although there are many Caspar's in his lineage. He was named for his
grandfather, Caspar Zimmermann who was #35 in the records. Caspar must
have been a healthier youngster than the ones before him, because he grew
up and married and had children. He was first of all, a Glarner, from
Glarnerland, someone from the Canton of Glarus in Switzerland, and this is
GROWING UP IN SCHWAENDI
Schwaendi is a small village created on another, higher slope of the
mountains that surround Schwanden which is located on the valley floor.
Schwandi is higher, but not remote and the road leading to it winds
between pastures and stone fences up to another level. If one stands on
the outskirts of Schwanden and looks up, the houses of Schwandi are quite
visible. The name "Schwandi" means higher, according to some people who
live in the area today, but it also is a variation of the German word for
swan, and there is much evidence of this, in the many appearances of a
giant swan on signs, banners and buildings in the valley.
PICTURE OF SWAN SIGN IN COLOR
This whole area is surrounded by the Alps. The term "Alps" is used to
denote the range of mountains that stretch across south-central Europe.
The term has another local meaning, however. The Swiss and their
German-speaking neighbors use it to denote the high Alpine meadows where
cattle are pastured in the summer. Alps with a capital "A" mean the
mountains and alps with a small "a" means the pastures.
A hot-air balloonist , who sometimes floats visitors over the Alps at a
spot near the 13, 548- foot-high
"Jungfrau" can indicate with the sweep of his hand, on a clear day, the
whole of Switzerland. One sees an inland island roughly the size of the
states of Massachusetts and New Hampshire combined.
The Canton of Glarus is a rural canton but the villages there are highly
industrialized. A very strong patriotic influence exists in that country
and each year, beginning with 1837, on the first Sunday in May, the
Glarners celebrate the Glarner Landsgemeinde (the canton's open-air
assembly). The capitol city, Glarus, population 5,600, towered over by the
Vorderglärnich, the 7,646 mountain, is the site for this celebration.
Schwandi was established about the year 1350, with another Zimmermann
ancestor being instrumental in its beginning and the growth of the
village. His name was Dietrich Zimmermann and he was mentioned as the
chairman of the Church in Schwanden. In the same year, Deitrich, was a
deputy or member of the parliament for Zurich. The next Zimmermann listed
was Wolfgang, in 1510, who was a Glarner Bittsteller- a petitioner- of the
Pope, because the group still confessed the Roman Catholic faith at that
Hans Zimmermann in 1525 defended the interests of the church in Schwanden,
the year the Reformation began in Switzerland. Uli Zimmermann, another who
bore the name, was presumed to have been a thief and he then fled the
All Zimmermanns of the Fatherland of Schwandi are descended from Heinrich.
who lived from the year of 1592 to 1672. He was a master carpenter,
married three times and had in all fourteen children. Only nine out of the
fourteen, four boys and five girls, grew up and married. We are out of
this family and the tribe has grown further in Switzerland and in America.
(This information from the book "Geschichte der Gemeinde Schwandi" by
Heinrich Knobel. Translated the title is "History of the Village Schwandi".
The book is written in the German language, but Amy Zimmermann Dettmann
translated the chapter about the Zimmermanns in the history of the village
Some other Zimmermanns lived in Schwandi and had families there including:
Bartli Zimmermann, born about 1575 and Thomas Zimmermann born in 1815. He
was a dealer and trader and a leader for civil rights for the farmers in
his area. One David Zimmermann, born in 1799 was called the 'lost' David
because he was a hiker and rambler in America. This book did not list the
dates of these comings and goings.
Johann Balthasar Zimmerman (1835-1896) had twelve children. Since he was
married to a dwarf, some of his children were also dwarfs. Johann and his
wife traveled around the world in a show with these tiny little
The church mentioned above was in Schwanden, which the residents of
Schwandi would attend. It had a loud bell which would echo through the
valley reminding all the people that it was the Sabbath. There is still a
custom, followed through the years, whereby the bell rings for ten minutes
straight just after 3 o'clock on Saturday afternoon signaling the
beginning of the weekend.
There is a large placque on the wall of the church next to the entrance
door. It is written in Swiss German, but a loose translation follows:
First built 1349, therefrom received the under projectiles of the Chortums
and a fragment of a spätischen Sacrament -häscjems. Jeitoger Lorcjembal
1753, Master Builder Jakob and Johann, Ulrich Grubenmann of Teufen.
From this time came the painted Holtz tables on the choir covers. 1950
rebuilt by Hans Leuzinger and Jakob Speich. This translation doesn't tell
much. Some of the words did not translate well, so it is incomplete.
There were numerous families of Schiessers also living and working in
Schwandi. One of them, Balthazar Schiesser, a farmer was married to
Sibilla Knobel, another well known name in Schwandi and Schwanden. One of
their daughters, Elspeth married Caspar and would play a large part in the
Zimmermann family history. PICTURE OF PAGE OF HIS HYMN BOOK AND
Schwandi was a tight knit community sheltered on all sides by the Alps.
Many of the families were agricultural workers, either owning land and
cattle or working as shepherds herding cows and goats and doing
cheesemaking connected with the cattle. Others were employed in the
textile industry, which was known world wide during the 16th through the
19th centuries. Cotton was shipped in to Schwanden from Italy and the
Swiss spun it, dyed it and printed it with intricate designs to be shipped
to numerous other countries. The designs were similar to what today we
call batik. Many of the designs incorporated the native flower, the
edelweiss, in the designs. To this day, this pretty, white flower is one
of Switzerland's most memorable emblems.
The building where the dyeing and printing was done is still there, in
Schwanden, located on the banks of the Linth River which runs through
Schwanden, but the building is no longer a factory. However, it is still
in use as a retail outlet for many kinds of domestic fabrics. Standing
inside the large structure, it is easy to imagine the workers mixing dyes
in one corner and other workers sitting at long tables, applying the
colored dye to the pieces of fabric. The molds over which the printers
worked were made from large slabs of wood, covering the entire surface of
the table. These molds were carved with very intricate designs and there
were numerous molds to be used. After the printing process, other laborers
looped the damp, printed fabric over supports hanging from the ceiling.
where it hung for a few days to dry completely. There were separate
buildings called drying towers. In another place, the shipping area, were
the workmen who packed the finished products and attached the colorful
labels to the packages of beautiful printed fabric to be sent to markets
outside of Switzerland; to China, Japan, Turkey and all over Europe and
even to Africa and North America.
The Linth River originates in the mountains near the village of Linthl 30
kilometers to the south of Schwanden. The Linth, while not a large river,
provided power for some of the manufacturing and played a minor role in
transportation. Since Switzerland has no coal or oil, there never was the
chance for the country to turn into an industrial nation with the
accompanying blights of the Industrial Revolution.
Factory employees worked from dawn to dusk, only by natural light because
there were no electric lights. The danger of using kerosene lanterns or
lamps was recognized by everyone. The presence of the various dyes and
other chemicals used in the process would have produced a great
conflagration. Daylight was their most precious commodity, but it meant
that workers were always going to work in the dark, with their work day
beginning with 7 o'clock and coming home again, also in the dark. The work
was tedious but it was a living.
Due to fire hazards, new regulations in 1824 prohibited night-time labor
in the textile industry. From early on, the people of Glarus had developed
methods for protecting themselves from the constant danger of fire, often
exacerbated by the "Föhn", a warm southerly wind. When the Föhn blew,
special rules and regulations immediately went into effect. Bakers,
smiths, metal workers and wagoners had to make sure their fires were
banked. Women were not allowed to do their washing, or butchers to smoke
their meat. Working by firelight was either forbidden or strictly
regulated. For the first time in 1811 a Cantonal law was passed requiring
fire safeguards in all buildings.
Since Caspar was registered as a 'printer', it seems fitting that this job
is described in more detail. Printers sat at long tables, and each was
required to put one color on the fabric as it was pulled past them on the
long table. The fabric was pulled loosely over the molds, made of wood,
with the intricate designs carved into them.The tool used by the worker
resembled a small dumbell, with the upper part being larger and heavier
and the lower part designed to be small enough to push the color into very
small spaces. (PICTURE HERE) One of the old tools was seen in Nafels
museum and it was quite heavy. This job, being very special, required a
great deal of dexterity and patience and could become tedious. As the
fabric was printed, it was pulled up to overhead slats where it dried for
several days and later rolled into bolts and from there it went to the
shipping department. There is a large museum in Nafels, a short train ride
from Schwanden. The large, imposing building was formerly the Freuler
Palace In 1992, restoration was completed to make it The Historical Museum
In this building, erected in 1595, as a dwelling for Kaspar Freuler and
his family, one will find an Alpine hut which serves as a reminder that
Alpine farming and cattle breeding have long been an important source of
income in Glarus. Portraits, documents and old weapons testify to the
former economic significance of service in foreign wars. A room displays
the old banners and military flags of the Canton of Glarus. One banner
that is always present is that of St. Fridolin, the patron saint of
The most interesting is the unique museum of textile printing on the top
two floors of the palace. There you will discover a wonderful world of
colors and designs, and a special audiovisual presentation on " Textile
Printing in Glarus". In addition, there are group pictures of the workers
who were employed there over the years. Names of these workers were not
included, but it is probable that Caspar and some of his relatives were
included in those pictures.
Another smaller museum in the village of Schwanden was called the
Pulverturm. That word means "powder tower" and the original usage for the
building was as a storage place for gunpowder for the Swiss Army. After
there was no longer a need for this storage, it was converted into a
museum, with all the family crests of the families who lived in Schwanden,
painted on the walls. Those included Zimmermanns, Schiessers, Knobels,
Heftis, Kunderts, Storis, Jennys, Zweitels, Blesis, Wichsers, Bublers,
Blumers and more. There was a large collection of old weapons here as well
as large wooden cabinets in which all of the early village records were
kept. A very complete history of the founding and settling of New Glarus,
in Wisconsin, U.S. A., was also noted there with records of every family
that had ever lived in the villages of Schwanden and Schwandi.
In the late 1700's and early 1800's, machines were being invented to do
parts of the printing, dying and other processes involved in this textile
industry, which had previously all been done by hand. As the century
progressed, more machinery was produced, the end result being that the
residents of Schwandi, who depended on the factory for their livelihood,
were out of work. No longer was their wonderful homeland able to provide
them with the wherewithal to earn an honest franc, so it was necessary to
Agriculture in this area was not the same as we envision it, There were no
large fields of grain or corn, only pasture lands Each farmer owned only a
few cows, which were raised for the milk, much of which was made into
cheese. The cows were moved from one small pasture to another during the
summer months. Each cow wore a large bell, hung from a wide leather strap
around its neck. The only time the bell was silent was when the cow was
reclining and chewing her cud. The reason for the bells was to keep track
of the animals. If one was missing, it could be tracked by the sound of
the bell. Goats, small, surefooted animals, also wearing smaller bells,
were kept by the farmer, for their milk which was used primarily for
cheese. Each farmer would have a few pigs and some chickens for eggs and
ducks and geese to keep them in food over the winter. Everyone had room
for a large garden where fresh vegetables were raised with certain types
to be stored for the winter months.
There was a complete lack of haying machinery, so the hay was cut by hand
with a scythe and dried and toted to the barns also by hand. To augment
the hay production on the lower slopes, hay makers went up the mountain to
make hay on a higher level. Men usually worked in twos or threes and took
advantage of the hottest days of summer. After the hay was dried
sufficiently, it was made into large bundles, in a sort of loose net and
brought down the mountain on the backs of the workers. It was a daunting
experience, but it was a way of life and it was done, generation after
Switzerland had been contributing emigrants to America as early as 1820. A
large group of French Swiss settled in what would become Lafayette County,
in southwestern Wisconsin. In 1844, the Glarner Nicklaus Duerst and F
financed by the Canton of Glarus, traveled to America, specifically
Wisconsin, to search for a good spot for his fellow Glarners. He was led
to Wisconsin by the many posters and fliers being sent to European cities
looking for people to colonize those Wisconsin lands. It is true that the
Indians still inhabited the area at the time, but the fact that they did
not own the land, in the sense that it had not been purchased by them, led
the European leaders to follow up on the rights to buy it for themselves.
In the early 1800's the main industry for the the 35,000 people of Glarus
was the weaving of Turkish cloth, which was used to manufacture the
peculiar Turkish headgear. With the Turkish-Balkan war raging, there was
no export market and thus poverty and famine overtook the people of Glarus
and it was a contributing factor to their emigration.
Duerst was sent ahead to find a suitable place. The Canton of Glarus,
realizing that their homeland could no longer provide bread, work and
earnings for all of its people, was preparing to help finance the passage
and cost of the land for anyone willing to emigrate. The place Duerst had
found was in Green County, near Madison, Wisconsin's capital city and
would be called New Glarus.
It was a huge step for the natives of Glarnerland to make. Each would have
a plot of 20 acres, chosen by a lottery, plus some money to buy seed and
oxen and other necessities to keep them in food and clothing until their
first harvest. They all realized it would mean that they would probably
never come back to their homeland to see their parents and friends. It was
a most difficult decision, but by the year 1845, there were 193 men, women
and children ready to go to North America, specifically, Wisconsin.
Many of these emigrants were natives of the village of Schwanden. Being a
small town meant that everyone knew what was happening and were sharing in
the joy for their neighbors and also experiencing sorrow at possiblly
never being able to see them again. The ones who would emigrate, applied
for their passports and on April 16, 1845, they left Glarus in Switzerland
for a place unknown to them, but with promises of opportunity, riches
beyond their dreams, and a place where they could own their own land. The
fact that it would be named for their home area certainly must have been a
very comforting condition.
They sailed aboard the three masted, 88 berthed ship named "Superb" from
Nieuwediep and after the rigorous journey settled in New Glarus on August
15, 1845. The settlers were happy to be in their new home, but missed the
mountains that surrounded their home in Switzerland and said "Here, there
was a feeling that the whole world could look in on them."
CASPAR ZIMMERMANN/ELSPETH SCHIESSER
As discussed earlier, the Zimmermann and the Schiesser families both lived
in Schwandi. Caspar's father worked in the agricultural business and
Elspeth's parents, Balthazar Schiesser and Sibilla Knobel were also
farmers. They all attended the church in Schwanden. They either rode to
church in a horse-drawn carriage or they might have walked, depending on
the weather. When Caspar and Elspeth ) married in September of 1847, just
two years after the large group of their neighbors and friends left for
North America, Caspar continued to work at the textile printing factory,
and Elspeth cared for the house and the children. Just a word of
explanation --The name "Elspeth" was spelled interchangeably as "Elsbeth".
It was that way in Switzerland and continued in the United States.
There was also a cottage industry, by which any resident of Schwandi, or
Schwanden, could do some of the weaving at home. A loom would have been
needed. Raw material was taken home in large quantities and turned into
woven goods, which would then go to the printers to be finished. It is
possible that Elspeth and her family did some of this kind of work, to set
aside money necessary to travel to 'Nord America'.
PICTURE OF HIS HEIMATSCHEIN -- CERTIFICATE OF CITIZENSHIP .. # 126
The first child born was John Jacob, born November 14, 1847. He was
followed by a daughter, Sibilla, born December 26, 1849. Then came Rosina
born May 26, 1851. These three children were born in Schwandi. Sibilla
lived for 1 month and 17 days and died on February 12, 1850. Rosina lived
one year, 3 months and 21 days. She died on September 18, 1852. When the
family emigrated to the United States, they brought with them their only
living child, John Jacob, almost seven years of age. This son died on
April 14, 1856, two years after their arrival. At that time there was no
mandatory requirement to record births, deaths and marriages, so the
record for the death of this child was never found.
PICTURE OF REISE-PASS #12065 DATED 24 Feb. 1854 --good for 12 months. Good
for three people, Kaspar, Elsbeth and son, Johann Jakob.
Elspeth had a close relative, a cousin, Peter Schiesser, who went to North
America by himself, soon after the group from Switzerland left for New
Glarus. His plan for success did not lie in that direction and he did not
go to New Glarus, although he may have passed through to say hello to many
of his old friends. Instead, he went to a place along Lake Michigan named
Ahnapee, in Kewaunee County where there was still plenty of land yet to be
sold. Peter was very active in buying and trading plots of land and in the
organization and administration of the county and he kept in touch with
his relatives in Schwanden and Schwandi. It did not take too long before
he persuaded several of the Schiesser and Zimmermann families that they
would be able to buy land in Wisconsin, and they would also be able to
make a very good living.
Peter Schiesser was the eleventh child of Gabriel Schiesser #248 and his
wife Ursula Schiesser #320. There were a total of 13 children in the
family, including a set of girl triplets. They are as follows:
1. Kaspar Born April 10, 1808 Died 1826
2. Elsbeth Born June 10, 1809 Died August 9, 1809
3. Heinrich Born August 18, 1811 Died October 27, 1811
4. Heinrich Born October 30, 1814 Died March 26, 1853
5. Regula Born June 22, 1817 Died August 22, 1817
6 Gabriel Born November 1, 1818 Died July 18, 1898
7. *Regula Born November 18, 1821 Died February 17, 1822
8. *Ursula Born November 18, 1821 Died December 4, 1821
9. *Salome Born November 18, 1821 Died May 14, 1822
10. Regula Born September 21, 1823 Died October 18, 1823
11. Peter Born June 16, 1825
12. Regula Born September 17, 1826
13, Ursula Born February 15, 1829
Of the first 10 children only two grew to adulthood, Heinrich and Gabriel.
It is not known for certain how many of this family came to the United
States, besides Peter.
From her obituary dated February 28, 1 It is known that Peter's sister,
Ursula, born February 15, 1829, married Matthias Zimmermann in 1849, in
Schwandi. Matthias was born about 1826. The couple came to the United
States in 1864, where Matthias ran a very well known butcher shop in the
Town of Ahnapee, later Algoma. A typical advertisement in the Algoma
Record looked like this:
Keeps on hand a good supply of all kinds of fres Meats, Ham, Salt
Pork, Sausages, etc. All of which will be sold at the lowest prices.
Cash paid ] for hides. Shop on Steel Street, Ahnapee, Wisconsin.
Matthias and Ursula had one son, Matthias died in Sturgeon Bay in _______.
Ursula lived to be ____________ and died in Algoma. She was a life-long
member of St. Paul's Church.__________
Peter married Barbara Kuhn. The baptism of one of his children, Ernestine,
born December 16, 1859 is recorded in St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran
Church in Algoma. She was baptized on January 18, 1863 and her sponsors
were Caspar Zimmermann and Barbara Zimmermann. Barbara has not been
identified, but Caspar is the one married to Elspeth Schiesser. It is
known that Peter had another child, Balthazar (Paul) but records for his
baptism have not been found.
ANOTHER FORM LABELED -
Aufenthaltsanzeige für Familien außer der
Heimatsgemeinde/ This contains
the birth dates of Caspar and Elspeth and the date of their marriage as
well as the birth date of the son, Johann Jakob.
The trip over -- others from Schwandi or Schwanden who also came. There
were numerous other families on the passenger list. There were two
families of Strief's, two of Hefti's, a family named Marti, another family
of eight, named Luchsinger, two families of Schiessers, and a family named
Zweifel. There were two more with Italian-sounding names, Benino and
Martilo, also from Switzerland
THE ZIMMERMANNS IN THE UNITED STATES
Caspar and Elspeth settled in Ahnapee Township in early 1855. Their next
child, Elspeth, was born in that Kewaunee County community on March 8,
1955. She now was the only living child they had, although Elspeth had
given birth to three children, previously.
When Caspar and Elspeth left their homeland of Switzerland, Caspar had one
living brother, Hans Jacob and one living sister, Dorothea. Hans Jacob
Zimmermann was married to Anna Knobel on May 8, 1851, before Caspar left.
Hans Jacob and Anna had five sons, three of whom died in infancy. Their
5th son, Abraham, followed his Uncle Caspar to the United States, but his
parents never left their homeland.
Caspar's sister, Dorothea Zimmermann, married David Schiesser on May 12,
1859. This couple had 5 children, but four of them died in infancy. The
one who grew to adulthood was named Gabriel Schiesser. He married and had
a family in Schwanden, but never left Switzerland, nor did his parents.
THE SCHIESSERS FROM SCHWANDI
Balthazar Schiesser, a farmer in Schwandi and his wife, Sibilla Knobel,
were the parents of nine children. Six were daughters and three were sons.
Daughter - Elsbeth born March 10, 1816. This first child died on August 5,
Son - - - - - Heinrich born November 12, 1818.
Daughter - Sibilla born October 5, 1820: died two weeks later.
Daughter - Sibilla, born October 6, 1822. This practice of naming the
current child after one who had died was common all over Europe.
Daughter-- Elsbeth was born April 19. 1825.
Daughter - Magdalena, was born June 4, 1827.
Son - - - - - Fridolin, born 19 April, 1830,
Daughter - Ursula, born December 12, 1834.
Son - Balthazar, named for his father, born July 5, 1836.
The records show that Elspeth born in 1827 married Caspar Zimmermann, the
subject of our story, Sister Sibilla born in 1822, married Johann
Zimmermann. Another sister, Magdalena, born in 1827, married Kaspar Knobel
and the sister named Ursula, born in 1834 married Heinrich Zimmermann. It
is not known which of these emigrated to the United States, but it is
interesting to note that three of the Schiesser sisters married
FOR CASPAR - HIS NATURALIZATION PAPERS DATED 8 MARCH 1856
LAND PURCHASES 1857 AND FORWARD.
On August 31, 1859, Balthazar Zimmermann was born to Caspar and Elspeth.
He was baptized with that name and confirmed, but he later adopted the
English version of the name and was called "Paul" He was now the only son,
with an older sister, Elspeth.
All transferred to a document named "Caspar Zimmermann"
John Johann Jacob & Wilhelmena Pawlitzke Zimmermann
On his confirmation certificate, he was called Jacob
Zimmerman. He was confirmed on 21 March 1875 at St. Paul's Church in
Algoma, Pastor Ed. Jonas.
On his marriage certificate he was called Johann Jacob Zimmerman.
Witnesses were Fridolin Zimmerman, his brother, and Karl Pawlitzki, his
wife's brother. The pastor was Christ F. Doehler.
His bride's name was spelled incorrectly (as Pawerzki) as was her father's
name and her brother's name(a witness.). Wilhelmines mother's name was
also mispelled--it should have been Juliane Weicht, instead of Johanna
1900 Census showed John and Minnie and 6 children, all living. Her mother,
Juliane Pawlitzki 72 lived with them.
John was 41 years, 9 months and 16 days old when he died on January 12,