Marleta Childs
P. O. Box 6825
LUBBOCK, TX 79493-6825

     During the research process, genealogists sometimes unearth material that was previously unknown, even to historians. Ernest Thode reveals such an unexpected discovery in his new book, SWISS PIONEERS OF SOUTHEASTERN OHIO: THE RE-DISCOVERED 1819 SETTLEMENTS OF JACOB TISHER, BARON RUDOLPH DE STEIGUER, & LUDWIG GALL (PLUS JOHN JOSEPH LABARTHE IN LOUISIANA).

     While seeking information about his wife’s ancestor, Jacob Tisher, Thode came across a 989-page book published in Germany in 1822. The volume, whose title translates into English as MY EMIGRATION TO THE UNITED STATES IN NORTH AMERICA IN THE SPRING OF 1819 AND MY RETURN HOME IN THE WINTER OF 1820 by Ludwig Gall, recounts the story of an unlikely immigration of an assortment of Swiss, ranging in social class from nobility to the poor, to the U. S. in 1819.

     Sponsored by a private commission, Gall led a group that ultimately established a Swiss settlement in Ohio. After his settlers had dispersed and he set up an immigration society in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Gall returned to Switzerland.

     In the same year, other groups of Swiss were coming to the U. S. to live in the Buckeye State. Jacob Tisher led a congregation of pioneers who wound up in Belmont and Monroe counties, where a substantial Swiss presence still exists. Baron Rudolphe de Steiguer (who used the French version of his Swiss name, Rudolph von Steiger) led a company, which included the Stalder kin of his paramour, who formed a wilderness colony in Athens County.

     Thode’s volume also touches upon two Swiss men whose goals were located in other states. The family of John Joseph Labarthe, a Swiss merchant and trader, eventually settled in Louisiana and assimilated into the culture there. Samuel Reichenbach, a Swiss emigration commissioner, was preparing to buy land in Arkansas Territory, but he died in 1820.

     To add a human dimension to the pioneers’ travails both in Europe and their new American home, Thode interweaves stories about their common beginning (although they went their separate ways); the war, famine, and marriage laws that drove them out of Switzerland; a noble humanitarian movement that helped them to immigrate; their connection with various historical figures (Daniel Boone, Francis Scott Key, Aaron Burr, and Karl Marx, for example); ways they survived the American wilderness; and their religions. As a result, the author underscores how people’s decision to move to and live in unfamiliar surroundings was (and still is) influenced by a variety of factors, including military conflicts, poverty, disease, extreme weather (famine, for instance), social class, romance, religious beliefs, legal status, opportunity for employment, and availability of land and transportation.

     The author also furnishes genealogical data about many individual settlers as well as providing passenger lists from the ships that brought them to the New World. A few of the additional surnames to those already mentioned are Aberhardt/Eberhard, Fankhauser/Fankhouser, Finsterwald, Gysi/Gysy/Guise/Guyse/Guisi, Hugi, Marti(n), Nusperli/Nisperly/Nusperly, Rugsegger/Resecker, Schneider, Spittler, Tschappat, and Weibel.

     Thode is to be commended for bringing to light and sharing this previously hidden aspect of American history and genealogy. A copy of SWISS PIONEERS OF SOUTHEASTERN OHIO: THE RE-DISCOVERED 1819 SETTLEMENTS OF JACOB TISHER, BARON RUDOLPH DE STEIGUER, & LUDWIG GALL (PLUS JOHN JOSEPH LABARTHE IN LOUISIANA) will be a welcomed addition to library holdings.

     The 124-page book has soft covers, interesting pictures on the front cover, a foreword, illustrations, and a full name and place index. To the book’s price of $20.00, buyers should add the cost for postage and handling charges. For U. S. postal mail, the cost is $5.50 for one book and $2.50 for each additional copy; for UPS, the cost is $7.50 for one copy and $2.50 for each additional book. The volume (item order #8593) may be purchased by check, MasterCard, or Visa from Clearfield Company, 3600 Clipper Mill Rd., Suite 260, Baltimore, Maryland 21211 (for phone orders, call toll free 1-800-296-6687; fax 1-410-752-8492; website

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