Bitschwiller-les-Thann, families: Olanie, Rebischung, Weisart, Haller, Stoerklen, Scherrer, Gstalter, Munsch. Haut-rhin, Alsace, France
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Bitschwiller Families related to


Cheryl L Morgan & Jean Pierre Gasser





during World War I




Brief history of Bitschwiller

The first mention of the village of was in 1250 as a possession of the Prince-Abbe of Murbach. In 1376 the hamlet was destroyed by Enguerrand De Coucy, a Norman and his mercenaries during the 100 years war.

In 1624 about 100 or so people lived in Bitschwiller. The periode la plus terrifiante or the terrifying times refers to the time of the Thirty Years War when the Swedish Army invaded Alsace. In the census of 1654, after the Thirty Years War, only 4 adults and 11 children survived: the Scherrer, Schilling, Schmidt, Schen and Haller families (4 of these family names are directly related to our Olanie line).

France retained Alsace in the Treaty of Westphalia of 1648 and the village was repopulated with Catholic immigrants from Switzerland and Germany during the 1650's (including our ancestors: Nicolas WELCKLE b. 1643 in Canton of Berne, Nicholas STORCKLIN b. 1650 in Biberswill and Bartheleme KHLOGNER b. abt 1650 in Fribourg, Brisgau). Between 1871-1918 and 1940-1945, the region belonged to Germany. During the first world war, Bitschwiller was shelled. Since 1944, Bitschwiller has been part of France.

The region is in the hills above the River Thur. Iron mining began in 1479 but fell into disuse. In 1735, the mines were reopened along with a metalworks. A foundry opened in 1739. The MUNSCH family arrived in Bitschwiller from about 8 miles up the mountains in Fellering. The GSTALTER's were a mining family and Pierre GSTALTER was born in Bitschwiller in 1780 where his father, also Pierre worked as a miner. Georges REBISCHUNG, a coach driver, moved to Bitschwiller around the time of the French Revolution and married Barbara FREYBURGER in 1779. Gangolphe Olanie moved from Lautenbach to Bitschwiller in 1789. He became a carpenter and raised a family. The industrial revolution came to Bitschwiller. In 1826 a weaving factory was opened -- the first in France. Steam engines soon appeared and steam locomotives began to be built in 1836. That is when the steam whistle - the Dampffifla was invented there. This was a time of growth -- the population of Bitschwiller quadrupled in the next few decades until in 1856 the population reached its peak of 3,379 inhabitants.

The Industrial Revolution was an important success in Bitschwiller in spite of the fact that the steam locomotives could not be built there because there were no tracks to deliver them to railway companies. Indeed, the first locomotive was transported to Paris by Oxen. In 1850, there were in Bitschwiller: 1 smelting factory, 1 mechanical engineering workshop, 1 factory making felt cloth, 3 spinning factories, 3 weaving mills. These various factories employed more than 1200 people. In 1859, the iron mines were closed but this did not seriously influence employment because there were few miners working. The first emigrants left Bitschwiller in 1845-46 and between 1852 and 1855. FX Olanie and his family left Bitschwiller in March 1863 -- 8 months before the railroad station was opened in Bitschiller.

Bitschwiller experienced a substantial loss in its population during the next twenty years. In 1883, there were only 2110 inhabitants in Bitschwiller due to problems linked to the war of 1870 and the fact that many people chose French nationality and so could not remain in Bitschwiller. On the other side, there was an economic crisis because the Alsacian facteries were competing with German ones.

Today the village has a population of 2,060. It is a the site of a network of hiking circuits and ski pistes. The church of Bitschwiller dates from 1838 and is famous for its Callinet organ. The local folklore band calls itself the Dampffifla after the steam whistle invented in Bitschwiller in 1836.

(Sources: J.P.Gasser, History of Bitschwiller Les Thann, 1995; N. Davies, Europe: A History, 1996; Pays de Thann, tourism Alsace leaflet, 1998)


  • Bitschwiller Photo's 1998
  • Homes,
  • Factories,
  • Graves

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    Bitschwiller Ancestors

                                                           |OLANIER  Gangolphe
                                         |OLANIER  Francois Xavier 
                                         |                 |              
                                         |                 |WEISART  Anne Marie
                   |OLANIER  Xavier 
                   |                     |                 |HALLER Jean Thiebaut            
                   |                     |                 |
                   |                     |HALLER  Francoise
                   |                                       |               
                   |                                       |STOERKLEN Francoise
    OLANIE  Agathe --
                   |                                       |REBISCHUNG Joseph
                   |                                       |
                   |                     |REBISCHUNG Jean Thiebaut
                   |                     |                 |               
                   |                     |                 |SCHERRER Anne Marie
                   |REBISCHUNG  Therese
                                         |                 |GSTALTER  Pierre
                                         |                 |
                                         |GSTALTER  Josephine
                                                           |MUNSCH  Catherine


    Some believe that the OLANIE family originated in la Bresse on the French side of the Vosges mountains. The first record we currently have of the OLANIER family is for Jean Francois OLANIER who died in 1717 in Lautenbach.
    OLANIER, Jean Francois, (abt 1680 -1717, Lautenbach) M. COURTOT, Jeanne
    -OLANIER, Gangolphe, (1700-1745 Lautenbach)
      M. 1722 in Lautenbach to  HOFFMAN, Catherine (b. 1700)
    --OLANIER, Jean (1723-1761 Lautenbach)   
      M. 1753 in Lautenbach to  KECH, Catherine (1731-1759 Lautenbach)
    ---OLANIER, Gangolphe (1756 Lautenbach-1815 Bitschwiller )
       M. 1788 in Ruelisheim to  WEISART, Ann Marie (1751 Ruelisheim -1833 Bitschwiller)
    -----OLANIER, Francois Xavier (1799-1862) Bitschwiller
         M. 1830 in Bitschwiller to HALLER, Francoise (1807-1842) Bitschwiller
    -------OLANIE, Francis Xavier (1839 Bitschwiller-1907 Oakland, USA) 
           M. 1861 in Bitschwiller to REBISCHUNG, Therese Marie (1842- 1877)
    --------OLANIE,  Agatha (1862 Bitschwiller - 1919 Seattle, USA)
            M. in Oakland to  LEWIS  Thomas John

    Gangolphe OLANIER from Lautenbach, married Ann Marie WEISART (1751 - 1833) from Ruelisheim, Haut-Rhin and settled in Bitschwiller where he worked as a carpenter. Gangolphe and Ann Marie raised 11 children:

    1. Franciscus Josephus OLANIER (23.10.1789)
    2. Walburga OLANIER (b. 10.4.1791- d. 18.12 1801, Bitschwiller),
    3. Catherina OLANIER (b. 12.8.1792)
    4. Marie Agatha OLANIER (b. 3.12.1793)
    5. Gangolphus OLANIER (b. 23.9.1795 - d. 13.1.1861). Gangolphe married Anne Marie CAVIN. Gangolphe and Anne Marie OLANIER lived their lives in Bitschwiller. They are thought to have lived across the main road from the Church. The original house is gone now but some of the rear buildings may still be of that period. Gangolphe and Ann Marie had 11 children including a daughter, Anne Marie OLANIE (25 March 1831, who married Joseph WOGENSTAHL (b. 30 May 1830) on 6 May 1854 in Bitschwiller. They came to America aboard the JP Wheeler on the E.F. Gabain from Havre arriving 15 May 1863 (ref: Germans to America-vol. 14, p447). They settled in Cincinnati. (info from Mark Fields, Franklin, Ohio). The tombstone of Gangolphus OLANIER and Anne Marie CAVIN is sealed against the wall in the Bitschwiller graveyard.
    6. Magdalena OLANIER (b 18.12.1797 - d. 13.3.1798)
    7. Francois Xavier OLANIER (b. 6.6.1799 - d. 26.2.1862) Our ancestor (see details below)
    8. Sans Nom OLANIER (b. 6.6.1799 - d. 6.6.1799) twin of Francois Xavier
    9. Johannes OLANIER (b. 24.5.1801 - d. 1867)
    10. Anna Maria OLANIER (b. 20.10.1802)
    11. Huberte OLONIER (b. 2.5.1806 - d. 30.6.1830 in Algeria)

    Francois Xavier Olanier , (1799 - 1862) (Franz Xaverius OLONIER) was born in Bitschwiller. At the time Bitschwiller was French but the birth certificate is written in German (or Alsacian). Xavier (as he was known) was a twin. His twin was either stillborn or died soon after birth. The date was the 18th day of Prairial of the seventh year of the Republic (this is the dating system used in the French Republican Calendar).

    When Francois grew up he worked as a carpenter. He married Francoise HALLER, daughter of Thiebaut HALLER in 1830 and they had five children: Francoise OLANIER (1831), Joseph OLANIER (1832-1845), Pierre OLANIER (1835-1835), Xavier OLANIER (1839-1907)*our ancestor, and Marie Anne OLANIER (1841 - 1841)

    Sorrow seemed to follow the OLANIE family with two children dying as infants and Francoise, the mother, dying at only 35 years of age when Xavier (our ancestor) was but 3 years of age. Three years later, another son, Joseph OLANIER died and then their grandfather Thiebaut HALLER that same year in 1845. After Grandfather HALLER died, his house at 6 Rue de la Chapelle, Bitschwiller, was divided among his two children. Thiebault HALLER, the son, took the first floor while Francois OLANIE (husband of the deceased Francoise) took the ground floor. Francois quickly remarried to Catherine LUTTER (a servant) and raised Francoise and Xavier in the house at Rue de la Chapelle. This house still exists and is occupied by descendants of Thiebault HALLER (Jean Pierre and Paulette GASSER). The Chapel has been replaced by the Church which is next door to the house and the church bells can be heard to toll throughout the day and night.

    Xavier OLANIE trained as a modeleur and worked in the factory in Bitschwiller. The iron mine closed in Bitschwiller in 1859. Xavier meanwhile fathered a child (Jules) out of wedlock in 1860 with young Therese REBISCHUNG. After she became pregnant again, Xavier and Therese married on 22 June 1861. Agatha Marie OLANIE (our ancestor) in 4 January 1862. Xavier's father died the next month in February 1862 and he inherited one half of the house at Rue de la Chapelle. By the next spring, the OLANIE family obtained passports and left France for the New World.



    The HALLER family had been in Bitschwiller since before the thirty years war. Adam HALLER ( born abt. 1640) was a carpenter as was his son Jean Adam HALLER (abt.1670 - 1736). His grandson, Jean Thiebaud HALLER (1774-1846), had become more prosperous and was a proprietiere. Indeed, Jean Thiebaud HALLER was thought to have built the house on 6 Rue de la Chapelle. In 1856 he paid 48 Francs in taxes. At that time men earned 2-3 Francs per day and women made 1.5 Francs per day. Jean Thiebaud HALLER left his house to his daughters' family (the OLANIE's) and his son (Thiebault HALLER).
    HALLER Adam (b.abt. 1650) Bitschwiller
    M. HORNLER,  Marie (b. abt.1650) 
    -HALLER Jean Adam (abt.1670 - 1736) Bitschwiller
     M. 1699 in Willer to  TSCHAEN  Agathe (abt.1674 - 1740) Bitschwiller
    --HALLER Gangolphe (1700 - 1747)Bitschwiller
      M. 1733 in Willer to  GLOCKNER  Elizabeth (b. 1709) Thann
    ---HALLER Jean (1736 - 1799) Bitschwiller
       M. 1762 in Willer to  WELCKLE  Anne Marie (b. 1740) Bitschwiller
    ----HALLER Jean Thiebaud (1774 - 1846) Bitschwiller
        M. in 11 Germinal An IV to  STOERKLEN  Francoise (1771 - 1844) Bitschwiller
    -----HALLER Francoise (1807-1842) Bitschwiller
         M. 1830 in Bitschwiller to  OLANIER  Francois Xavier (1799-1862) Bitschwiller
    ------ OLANIER  Xavier (1833 - 1907)
           m. 1861 in Bitschwiller to  REBISCHUNG  Therese (1842-1877)



    The STOERKLEN family arrived in Bitschwiler around 1700 from Roderen. They originated in Bibersweil Switzerland around 1650. They married into the HALLER family in Bitschwiller.
    STOERCKLIN Nicolas (abt 1650-1706) Bibersweil,CH
    m. 1686 in Roderen to GRUNENWALD, Barbara (1650-1702) Mitzach/Bitschwiller
    -STOERKLEN Jean Pierre (1683-1735) Roderen/Bitschwiller
     m.1713 in Willer to OLINGER Barbara (1677-1757) Bitschwiller
    --STOERKLEN Jean Pierre (b. abt 1720) Bitschwiller
      m. 1748 in Willer to SCHMID Catherine (b. 1721) Bitschwiller
    ---STOERKLEN Nicolas (1751-1821) Bitschwiller
       m. 1771 in willer to ERHARD Francoise (b. 1747) Bitschwiller
    ----STOERKLEN Francoise (1771-1844) Bitschwiller
        m. HALLER Jean Thiebaut (1774-1846) Bitschwiller
    -----HALLER Francoise (1807-1842) Bitschwiller
         m. 1830 in Bitschwiller to OLANIER Xavier (1839-1907) Bitschwiller/Oakland,USA



    The REBISCHUNG family were originally from Husseren a few miles up the Thur Valley from Bitschiller They moved down the valley to Mitzach around 1620 and lived there until around the time of the French Revolution in 1789. Georges REBISCHUNG born around 1760 became a coach driver and married Barbara FREYBURGER of Bitschwiller. They settled there and had a child, Joseph REBISCHUNG in 1780. Jean Thiebaud REBISCHUNG (1805 - 1866), Josephs' son was a day laborer in the 1840's even though he was known as a proprieter and owned his home near the HALLER family on the Rue de la Chapelle. Jean Thiebaud REBISCHUNG married Josephine GSTALTER whose brother was the Mayor of Bitschwiller in 1861. By 1800, the textile industry was established in Bitschwiller and Therese REBISCHUNG worked in the factory as a tisseuse when she married Felix OLANIE.


    REBUSCHON  Antoine (abt1600 - 1665) Husseren
    m.  OHLINGER  Christine (b. 1600)
    -REBUSCHON  Mathieu (abt1620 - 1701) Mitzach
     m. abt 1657 to MUNSCH Anne (abt 1620 - 1685) Mitzach
    --REBUSCHON  Blaise (abt 1658 - 1699) Mitzach
      m. 1683 in St Amarin to  WEBER Maria (1654 - 1714) Mitzach
    ---REBUSCHON  Amarin (b abt 1690) Mitzach
       m. 1714 in St Amarin to GRUNENWALD Anne Marie
    ----REBISCHUNG  Josephus (d. before 1761) 
        M. 1747 in at amarin to Welcker Catharina (d. before 1772)
    -----REBISCHUNG  Georgius (abt1753 -1818) Bitschwiller (coach driver)
         M. 1779 in Willer to FREYBURGER Barbara (1750-1806) Bitschwiller
    ------REBISCHUNG  Joseph (1780-1853) Bitschwiller
          M. 1803 in Bitschwiller to  SCHERRER, Anne Marie  (1779-1828) Bitschwiller
    --------REBISCHUNG Jean Thiebaud (1805-1866) 
            M. 1827 in Bitschwiller to GSTALTER  Josephine (1807-1864) Bitschwiller
    ---------REBISCHUNG  Therese (1842 Bitschwiller - 1877 Oakland USA)
             m. 1861 in Bitschwiller to OLANIER Xavier (1835-1907)
    ----------OLANIE,  Agatha (1862 Bitschwiller - 1919 Seattle, USA)
            M. in Oakland to  LEWIS  Thomas John



    SCHERER ancestors can be traced back in Bitschwiller to around 1530 when Stephen SCHERER was born. Balthasarus SCHERER (1615) was a counsillor which represented Bitschwiller in the low valley of Saint Amarin's council. He lived during the Thirty Years War which wrecked such devastation on Alsace. He was considered a rather wealthy many for his times and after the Thirty Years War in 1654 still owned 2 beef cattle, 3 milk cows, 2 heifers, 1 calf and 1 horse. The SCHERER family was one of the five remaining families in Bitschwiller after the war. In 1674 Balthasarus was considered a wealthy man of the village. He became annoyed with the high taxes in Bitschwiller and considered demolishing his home in Bitschwiller and rebuilding it in Thann to take advantage of the lower taxes there. Obviously he decided to stay in Bitschwiller. His son, Fridolin SCHERER born about 1644 (just before the end of the Thirty Years War in 1648) was murdered between Bitschwiller and Thann in 1697. The SCHERER family married into the REBISCHUNG and the GSTALTER families.


    SCHERER Balthasar 
    m. TSCHAEN Elisabeth
    -SCHERER Fridolin (abt 1644-1697) Bitschwiller
     m. 1673 in Thann to WEICHMANN Catherine (abt 1655-1735) Bitschwiller
    --SCHERER Jean Thiebaut (1689-1732) Bitschwiller
      m. 1717 in Willer to WALTER Odile (1689-1733) Bitschwiller
    ---SCHERRER Jean Thiebaut (b. 1723) Bitschwiller
       m. 1741 in Willer to WERLE Bitschwiller
    ----SCHERRER Jean Thiebaut (1748-1833) Bitschwiller
        m. 1772 in Willer to WELCKLIN Barbara (1746-1811)
    -----SCHERRER Anne Marie (b. abt 1779)
         m. 1803 in Bitschwiller to REBISCHUNG Joseph (1780-1853) Bitschwiller



    The GSTALTER's were miners and coal burners. They were in Willer or Bitschwiller since before the French Revolution and probably worked in the mines there. Josephine GSTALTER (1807 - 1864) married Jean Thiebaud REBISCHUNG. Return to Top

    The ancestry of the GSTALTER family is difficult to find as the members of the family are miners or charcoal burners. We have been contacted by GSTALTERS from Hungary. Perhaps the family originated there. We have no proof of a link as yet. We did find at the mining museum at St Marie Aux Mines that the miners wore uniforms which are hungarian in origin. Is it possible that the GSTALTER family settled in the Thur Valley after the Hungarian invasion of 926!

    In the 18th century, mining families led a semi-wandering life. They lived in a precarious accomodation in the forest, near the galleries of mines they exploited or near the forests they cut to make coal. They moved as and when the veins or forests ran out. Generally those families were set outside the villages. They could only marry people of their social circle. Their assimilation to the local population was very slow. After the mines were closed, around 1850, the miners became workers in the metallurgical industry and the women found jobs in the textile industry which was expanding at this time.

    Our line traces from Pierre GSTALTER, a miner. His son, also Pierre (1780 - 1848) also became a miner. Young Pierre was born in either in Bitschwiller or Willer but lived in Bitschwiller. His daughter, Josephine GSTALTER married Jean Thiebaut REBISCHUNG in Bitschwiller.

    GSTALTER Pierre
    m. 1772 in Willer to  HINDERHOLTZ Catherine (b. 1741) Willer
    -GSTALTER Pierre (1780-1848) Bitschwiller
     m. to MUNSCH Catherine (1783-1859) Bitschiller
    --GSTALTER Josephine (1807-1864) Bitschwiller
      m. 1827 in Bitschwiller to REBISCHUNG Jean Thiebaut (1806-1880)



    The MUNSCH family were millers and came from up the Valley in Fellering. They arrived in Bitschwiller around 1743 with the birth of Antoine MUNSCH whose daughter Catherine MUNSCH married Pierre GSTALTER.
    MUNSCH Gaspard
    m. 1666 in Guebwiller to NEGLERIN Eva
    -MUNSCH Jean Thiebaut (b. 1668) Fellering
     m. 1690 in Oderen to SCHMID Barbara (b. 1668) Fellering
    --MUNSCH Gaspard (b. 1695) Fellering
      m. 1718 in Fellering to ARNOLD Agathe (b. 1700) 
    ---MUNSCH Antoine (b. 1721) Fellering
       m. 1740 in Oderen to EHLINGER Anne Marie (b. 1717) Mollau
    ----MUNSCH Antoine (1743-1815) Bitschwiller
        m. BELTZUNG Catherine (b. 1748) Bitschwiller
    -----MUNSCH Catherine (1783-1859) Bitschwiller
         m. GSTALTER (1780-1848) Bitschwiller

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