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Schifferli Family Migration

Crest of Tegerfelden Switzerland

From Tegerfelden, Switzerland in 1833 to Ohio

(Extracts from The Hauenstein & Schifferly Families of Ohio,
by Clerice Fisher, (Richland, WA: Fisher, 1991)

Often we ask ourselves where our ancestors came from and what led them to make the long and often perilous journey to the United States.  The following information, compiled by Clerice Fisher, provides some answers for one set of individuals including my direct ancestors, Jacob and Barbara Schifferli of Tegerfelden, Switzerland.  I am indebted to Mrs. Fisher for her research and for uncovering this story.  It is probably fairly representative of the stories of others of my ancestors who came to the United States from their respective countries of origin.

Gaining permission to emigrate: "Switzerland of 1833, when our ancestors left, was a land of people devoutly religious and steeped in traditions.  Their religion was their life, and their life was religious, in the true custom of God-fearing people.  Certain foods were served and eaten for certain occasions, and there were traditions or customs for what you wore, what you said and to whom, which relative's name must be given to your child, when they were to be baptized, who took them to be baptized, and many other situations which have slowly ceased to be observed by the descendents of those who came to this new land with it's more relaxed social customs.

So for whatever reason, probably economic, our ancestors decided to leave for North America in 1833.  Thus they applied for permission from the proper authorities in their country.  A copy of the emigration request is very formal.  The first page, like the title page of a book, states, 'Most respectful request from five inhabitants of the parish of Degerfelden for approval from you to emigrate to North America.'  The second page give the date, 30 January, 1833, and the five surnames: Wetter, Deppeler, Hauenstein, Schifferli, Schmied.

Then, 'Highly esteemed gentlemen:  The undersigned five citizens from Degerfelden are destined to emigrate to North America with their families in the hope and firm believe of bettering their existence there, and of affording a more promising future than would have been their lot here.  They undertake this distant journey, in no way rashly or haphazardly, but rather, encouraged by the relatives and friends already living in North America and prospering.'

The third page continues:  "In view of the present ordinance of the cantonal government, the undersigned herewith take the liberty to request the cantonal government for their kind authorization for this intended emigration, and await so much the more for your gracious compliance inasmuch as they have the honor to prove beforehand, in the enclosed municipally certified declaration of wealth, that they have the means which are sufficient to cover the expenses for the trip.  They furthermore set forth, in accordance with the law, these possible hindrances to this journey, such as: (a) an excessive accumulation of emigrants on the sea coast at LaHarve, and (b) the Asiatic Cholera, which has broken out among the emigrants -- since then already eased.  the respectful petitioners nevertheless await favorable compliance with their urgent request, and make use of this occasion to express to the supreme government their distinguished and grateful esteem.'  Then follow the signatures:

Andreas Wetter, District Magistrate's son
Jakob Deppeler, Farmer
Johannes Hauenstein, Cooper
Jakob Schifferli, Hedgeman
Johannes Schmied, Carpenter

The attached Certificate of Wealth lists each family with the names of family members, their year of birth, and the assets of the family. 

  • Andreas Wetter, the District Magistrate's son, and his family, had 15,000 pounds.

  • Jakob Deppeler and his family had 2100 pounds.

  • Johannes Hauenstein and his wife, Verena, with a grandchild, Heinrich, had 1800 pounds.

  • Jakob Schifferli and his family had 2250 pounds.

  • Johannes Schmied and his family had 2370 pounds."

(pp. 10-11)

The Voyage to America:

"The usual way was for a family to travel from their home village to the seaport by their own ox- or horse-drawn wagon.  They would then sell these before boarding the ship."

"The Schifferli family names appear on the passenger list of the ship 'Fredonia', which sailed from LeHavre, France, at the mouth of the Seine River, arriving in New York on June 28, 1833.  This was a 406 ton sailing vessel and carried the family of Jacob Schiefferly (age 50), his wife, Barbara (age 50), and their children: Jacob (age 18), Barbara (age 17), Jonne (age 14); the family of John Hauenstein (age 55) and Verena (age 55), and a child, Henry (age2).  Also on this passenger list we find the names Jonne Hauenstein (age 20) and David Shifferly (age 24).

Judging from the information available on other sailing vessels of that period, a 406 ton ship would be about 100 feet in length and about 25 feet at its widest point, be that in the middle or on one end.  The total passenger list for the 'Fredonia' was 185 persons, plus crew, and the necessary cargo.  Event with two or possibly three decks, that translates into crowded quarters for the journey.  Remember too, that whales, which were more common in those days measured from 50 to 100 feet in length..."

"Some journals or family stories from that period called them 'sail boats', and by today's standards that is exactly what they were.  There were rarely more than 100 feet in length until the introduction of the steam engine which totally revolutionized ocean travel...  A story handed down in the Schifferly family says their trip across the ocean took six weeks.

(pp. 14-15)

The trip to Ohio:

We do not have the specific story of their journey to Ohio, but "One report tells that after landing they traveled from New York, up the Hudson River to Albany, a distance of 150 miles, taking 21 hours.  From Albany to Buffalo, 165 miles, was made by canal, on a boat pulled by a team of horses.  This took six to seven days.  From Buffalo they could again travel by canal to Perrysburg (OH).  From there they could travel to the Bluffton (OH) area.  However, our families went to Wayne County (OH), in eastern Ohio, so exactly what route they took is unknown.  Some families purchased a wagon and team, and traveled overland to their new home.  No matter what route they chose, it was a long trip from New York to Ohio in 1833."

"There were at least two main routes that could be taken between Wayne County (OH), and their destination in the Putnam/Allen County (OH) area.  They could travel through Ashland, and use the Marion Pike, which was reportedly the only piece of 'good' road all the way.  This would take them from Marion to Kenton, and then they would use the Kenton and Kalida road.  There was also a northern route, which went through Fort Findlay.  All remaining stories of that journey describe the roads as 'intolerable', or 'dreadful'.  Some say they had to cut a couple part of the road through the brush and spoke of driving the team and wagon through mud.  Charles Dickens made the trip in the 1840's and said he felt as if he were 'riding on a stairway'."

(pp. 18-19)

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