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Shaking Your Family Tree!

Valuable Heritage of Swiss Immigrants


Question: In 1876 my grandmother's baby sister was left in Switzerland with relatives because the mother died shortly after her birth and the father was in the process of immigrating to America and was unable to care for an infant. I want to locate her descendants, but I don't even know her first name or who she married.

My ancestor, Mary Magdalene Traschel Moench, was born in Bern, Switzerland, in 1871. She came to America with her father, John Traschel, when she was 5 years old.

How do I proceed?

Answer: Your search might be impossible except for the fact you are dealing with a Swiss lineage, and wonderful records are available.

Switzerland has unique citizenship laws. They are based upon a person's rights in a certain canton and hometown. Information on all Swiss citizens, regardless of their present residence, is located in a genealogical record center.

Hometown citizenship is inherited like the family surname, and genealogical information pertaining to birth, marriages and death are channeled back to the hometown of a Swiss citizen even though he or she might never have seen it. This information goes to the civil registrar's office where it is entered into "Burger Registers."

The Burger Registers have information on many families that immigrated to America. The civil registrar will issue you a "Familienschein" (family record) as far as all vital information was recorded.

Write to Bern's Genealogical City Register, and request a Familienschein (family certificate). It is located in the Staatarchiv in Bern, 3012, Switzerland. Be sure to send a No. 10, self-addressed envelope and two International Reply Coupons with your request.

Visit a LDS (Mormon) Branch Family History Library and study the enormous amount of Swiss information available. There is microfilmed material on hundreds of Swiss families compiled by Julius Billeter. One film has information on Trachsel and Trachsler families, which may be variant spellings of your family's surname.

For additional help consult "Handy Guide to Swiss Genealogical Records" by Jared H. Suess (Everton Publishers, Box 368, Logan, Utah 84321), and "In Search of Your European Roots" by Angus Baxter (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1001 N. Calvert, Baltimore, Md. 21202).

Q: As you suggested in an earlier column I discovered more information about my Civil War ancestor in the pension records of his sister-in-law's application. Great-grandpa was severely wounded in the Battle of Corinth, Miss. (Oct. 4, 1862), was left on the field, captured by the Union Army and paroledto a doctor at a Confederate Hospital in Iuka, Miss.

His name last appears on muster roll dated February, 1863, and his wife's pension papers say she received word that he died in October, 1864.

Where would records pertaining to his whereabouts from the time of his parole to the hospital in 1863 until his death in 1864 be located?

A: Write to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, 100 S. State St., Jackson, Miss. 39201, to learn more about his military service and date and place of death.

This archives should have information about the hospital where he was treated and its records, or can direct you to the proper repository.

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