Monday, October 3, 2011

The Six Zweifel Brothers (2) - New Glarus

Part 2 - Becoming Americans
If you missed Part 1 of the story, go here . . .

In the middle of the 19th Century, six brothers, the sons of Johann Heinrich and Ursula would join the growing migration from Canton Glarus, Switzerland to New Glarus, Wisconsin. There is still some speculation as to the exact date or dates the brothers came over and what ship or ships they might have traveled on. What we do know is that all, except one, were recorded in the church records at New Glarus by 1854 and all seemed to settle in the town of New Glarus or the Town of Washington in northern Green County, Wisconsin.

A typical Wisconsin pioneer log house. The Zweifel
brothers may have encountered and lived in houses
similar to these when they first arrived.
Adam Zweifel

Adam was the third son of Johann Heinrich Zweifel and Ursula Zweifel and the oldest of the six who came to America. He was born in 1819 in Linthal. He married Verena Durst (b.1826, d.1965) in 1847 and already had four children by the time if his immigration. Verena was the daughter of Johannes Durst and Magdalena Legler. Of all of the brothers, his passage to America seems to be the most verifiable. Adam, Verena and their four children were listed on the passenger manifest of the ship Cotton Planter which sailed from Antwerp, Belgium and arrived at New York on June 10th 1853. Family history recorded that one of their children died prior to their departure in Linthal and another on the voyage. Ships records, however, list all four of the children and there is no death notation for any of them. While the death on board cannot be fully verified, it does seem certain that none of the children died in Switzerland. One other discrepancy is that the ship's records list the family as being from Germany, but because all of the names and ages are so accurate, it seems likely that this is Adam Zweifel from Linthal.

Adam purchased a farm on Section 24 in the Town of New Glarus in November of 1853. Adam and Verena started a family and raised 10 children on the farm. Verena died in 1865. In 1871 Adam married Louisa Figi (b.1824, d. 1898). Born Loiusa Holsi, she was a widow with seven children, four of which were still at home at the time of her marriage to Adam. He formally adopted her youngest child, Margaretha. Adam would live out his life on the farm and die at the age of 80 in 1900. Adam and Verena's eldest son, Heinrich apparently left New Glarus for parts unknown after a family squabble. All of the rest of the children, except one daughter, moved on to Iowa. The farm was purchased by John Zweifel, the son of Adam's brother Bernhard. Adam is buried in the New Glarus Cemetery.

Part of the Ship's Manifest of the Cotton Planter listing
Adam Zweifel and Family on lines 222 - 227.
Fridolin Zweifel

The fifth child of Johann and Ursula, Fridolin reportedly came to America in 1854. He was born in 1823 in Linthal. He married Regula Oswald (b.1836, d.1906) in either 1854 or 1855. She was the daughter of Fridolin Oswald and Maria Stussi who were reportedly from Canton Bern, Switzerland. It is unclear if Fridolin and Regula were married in Switzerland or Wisconsin. Additional information on Regula's family history has yet to be found. There is a Fridolin Zweifel listed in two passenger manifests. One is from the ship Rotunda (from LeHavre, France) which also lists Regula Zweifel and Albrecht Zweifel (see Albrecht below). The ship arrived in 1854 and the ages of the three seem correct. If Fridolin and Regula were married in Switzerland, it would have been just a few months before their departure. There is also a single man named Fridolin listed on the ship Mecadonia, which also arrived in that same year. There were a number of Zweifel's listed on that ship's manifest but Fridolin is grouped with a David Zweifel and his age is off by a few years so that record seems suspect.

Fridolin raised a large farm in the Town of Washington, just south of New Glarus and right next to his brother Bernhard's farm. He accumulated over 200 acres in three purchase made in 1860, 1864 and 1869. Fridolin and Regula had 11 children over an 18 year period. He died in 1879 and per a doctor's note, his death was caused by his refusal to undergo surgery for a hernia. After Fridolin's death, his eldest son Johannes wanted to buy the farm but Regula would not let him. She insisted on owning the farm and having her children run it for her. After a court battle, Johannes left and cut off contact with the family. Eventually, Regula moved to Monroe and most of the children quit the farm. She finally sold it to her son Fridolin in 1901. He in turn sold it to his son, also named Fridolin, and it remained in the family until 1967. Fridolin is a direct ancestor of this writer and more information about his family is found in part three of this report.

A contemporary view of the Fridolin Zweifel farm on Sections 4, 8 and 9 in the
northwest corner of the Town of Washington, Green County. At the top of
the map, between the two roads, is the beginning of Bernhard Zweifel's Farm.
Peter Zweifel

The sixth child of Johann and Ursula, Peter came to America in 1854. He was born in 1824 in Linthal. There was a Peter Zweifel listed on the ship Mecadonia which sailed from LeHavre, France and arrived in New York in 1854. He is listed with two others (see Jost, below) and his age is correct so it could be this Peter. He married Barbara Zweifel (b.1839, d.1897) in 1869. She was many years younger than him and the daughter of Jakob Zweifel (d.1865) and Margaret Zweifel. It is unclear how Peter was related to his wife but her family was noted to be from Linthal so he was probably a distant cousin. Peter fought in the Civil War. He enlisted in Monroe in August of 1862, fought for the duration of the war and was mustered out in June of 1865. At his enlistment, he was noted to be 37 years old, medium build and a farmer from New Glarus.

Peter served with the Company B of the 31st Wisconsin Infantry Regiment. They were organized at Prairie du Chein and trained at Camp Utley in Racine. In 1863 they headed to Kentucky. They initially performed a number of rear-duty operations that ranged from guarding prisoners in Wisconsin to protecting rail lines and bridges around Nashville and Chattanooga. Later they finally saw action at the siege of Atlanta. In the summer of 1864, they spent almost a month dug-in about 1/4 mile from the southern defenses and were under constant fire. After Atlanta, the 31st continued with Sherman on his march to the sea where the Company was engaged in foraging for supplies, building corduroy roads and a number of small battles in Georgia and South Carolina and then the Battle of Bentonville in North Carolina. They ended the war by participating in the “Grand Review” at Washington, D.C.

Map showing the starting positions at the Battle of Bentonville, North Carolina. The
31st was assigned to 20th Army Corps. The 20th's 1st Division was commanded by
General James Robinson. His position can be seen in the center of the map. There was
fierce fighting for three days but this would be the last major battle of the war.
Peter farmed 120 acres on Section 21 in the Town of New Glarus. Although he married rather late at age of about 42, he and Barbara raised six children on the farmstead. In 1898, he sold the farm to two of his sons and moved into town where he was listed as a capitalist in the 1906 village directory. Peter's children would all settle in the area.

Albrecht Zweifel

The seventh child of Johann and Ursula, Albrecht reportedly came to America in 1854. He is a bit of a mystery as there seems to be little information about him. Swiss records indicate he left Linthal but are unsure about his destination. Zweifel ancestors in New Glarus do not remember him and he was not recorded as a member of the church. He does seem to be recorded as dying and being buried in New Glarus in 1857. There is no record of him at the cemetery but records that early are often incomplete. There was an Albrecht listed as holding a mortgage for Adam Zweifel. There was also an Albrecht Zweifel on the voyage of the ship Rotunda, which sailed from LeHavre, France and arrived at the Port of New York on May 17, 1854. He is listed as being from Switzerland and is of the right age, though the handwriting of the age is hard to make out. On that voyage, he is listed along with a Fridolin Zweifel and Regula Zweifel.

Jost Zweifel

The eighth child of Johann and Ursula, Jost came to America in 1854. He was born in 1827 in Linthal. He married Verena Zopfi (b.1834, d.1887) in 1854, reportedly, in Switzerland. She was the daughter of Johannes Zopfi and Anna Streiff. There was a Jost Zweifel listed as a passenger on the ship Mecadonia which sailed from LeHavre, France and arrived in New York in 1854. This Joist is grouped with a Peter Zweifel and Verena Zweifel. Jost's age is correct so at first glance, this might seem to be two brothers and a wife, however, Verena's is listed as only eight years old when she would have actually been 20. Her name is spelled correctly so it might be possible that the age is recorded wrong but that cannot be verified. Jost fought in the Civil War. He enlisted in Monroe in September of 1862. Family stories say that he was so angry over the outcome of an election that he abandoned his family and joined the army. They did not hear from him until he returned three years later. At induction, he was noted to be a 34 years old, middle-sized, grey-eyed, light-haired, fair-complexion, 5'-11" tall and a farmer from New Glarus.

Jost joined the 9th Wisconsin Infantry Regiment in October of 1862 where he served in Company B and F. The unit was known as the German regiment because it contained many veterans of the German Army. They were experienced, well trained and very disciplined. The regiment expected to be thrown into the war in the east but instead, ended up as part of the "Southwest Expedition" into Kansas, Missouri, Indian Territory as well as engagements in Mississippi and Arkansas. They spent most of the war performing the arduous task chasing small bands of guerrillas and Indians. Jost did see action in a number of small campaigns including such interesting locales as: Ferre Noire, Prairie D'Ane and Poison Shrimps. His final battle would be at Jenkin's Ferry, where he was wounded in April of 1864. The battle was fought on mud soaked fields and in flooded swamps as the Union Army was trying to build a pontoon bridge to retreat across the Saline River in what would be the last battle of the Arkansas campaign. Jost was taken prisoner and held until July of 1865. It is reported that he was shot through the lung and never fully recovered from his wounds. When he returned home, he was so malnourished that his family did not recognize him. Despite this, he went on to live another 30 years.

A Confederate Captain's map of Jenkin's Ferry. Union forces put up a spirited defense
as they tied to construct a pontoon bridge to cross the Saline River. Fighting took
place in knee deep water, a result of recent rains that flooded the swampy lowlands.
Jost (listed as Jacob in the land record) and Verena bought land on Section 17 in the Town of New Glarus in 1855. They then sold the land a year later. It is unclear where Verena and her young children lived during the war but she bought the farm back in 1864. At that time, Jost was missing and assumed dead. They farmed the 280 acres and raised a total of 10 children. Verena died suddenly in 1887 and a year later, Jost married Katherina Schuler (b.1837, d.1914). She was the daughter of Johann Schuler and Anna Setz of Bern, Switzerland and the widow of Heinrich Zweifel. She was the mother of ten from her first marriage. In 1904, they sold the farm to Jost's son, Johannes. Johannes would split the farm between two of his sons. Jost and Katherina lived out the rest of their lives in New Glarus where Jost was noted to be a weather forecaster. No one is exactly sure how he did this but it was noted that his predictions were quite accurate. Jost is buried in the New Glarus Cemetery. Some of Jost's children stayed in the area and some moved on, including two daughters who went west to Oregon.
Barbara Zweifel, the fifth born child of Jost.

Bernhard Zweifel

The ninth child of Johann and Ursula, Bernhard came to America in 1853 or 1854. He was born in 1829 in Linthal. There was a Bernhard Zweifel listed as a passenger on the ship Mecadonia which sailed from LeHavre, France and arrived in New York in 1854. This was the same record that lists Fridolin, Peter and Jost, though Bernhard is not grouped with any of these other Zweifel names. His age is correct so it could be this Bernhard. He married Barbara Kundert (b.1836, d.1922) in 1860. She was the daughter of Thomas Kundert and Elsbeth Voegeli from Ructi, Glarus. Bernhard farmed in the Town of Washington right next to his brother Fridolin. He bought 135 acres in 1860 and and additional 40 acres in 1872. His son, Thomas took over the farm in 1904 and ran it until 1955. Bernhard and Barbara had six children and after selling the farm, they lived a quiet life of retirement in the Village of New Glarus. They are buried in the New Glarus Cemetery.
Map of the Town of New Glarus (top) and northern half of the
Town of Washington (bottom). The farms of five Zweifel brothers
can be seen. From the 1873 Atlas of Green County, Wisconsin.
The Six Zweifel brothers would come to America in the middle of the 19th Century and settle in the vicinity of New Glarus, Wisconsin. They would fight, marry, farm and raise families in the young state.

The next generation, the children of the Fridolin Zweifel, can be found here . . .


  1. Catherine Schuler, Jost's second wife was not from Switzerland. She was born in Metten, Germany. Catherine's first husband was Henry Zweifel. She is my great-great-grandmother.

    1. Barbara,

      Thanks for the comment, I know some census records listed her from Germany but I followed the info in the Zweifel history from Alice Zweifel listed her as being from Bern, I am curious to know how Henry was related to the six brothers?

    2. Wow, this is very interesting. My ancesters are Zwiefels from Linthal, Glarus! Hans Zweifel born about 1496. Had six kids. Named Fridli, Jakob, Rudolf, Hans and Bernhard and the oldest I don't know her name, but she married Franz Glarner.

    3. Jennifer,

      I am sure they are all related. I have good information back to Bernhard (b.1555). Maybe he is the son of Hans? Alice Zweifel, who compiled this branch of the family mentioned other Zweifels in New Glarus but never connected them. There also seem to be Zweifels from Linthal who settled elseware in America. Contact me thru one of my contact buttons and we can share info.

  2. Alice Zweifel traced my Henry Zweifel also back to the 1500's. Henry Zweifel was the first husband of Catherine Schuler. Jost was her second husband. And no, Henry and Jost were not closely related. P.S. I also have a copy of Alice's book of the brothers . . . . why didn't you ask her for permission to use her info?

    1. At the end of Part 3 of this series I cited the Alice Zweifel book as a source and her work did clarify for me exactly which Zweifel's living in New Glarus were the brothers. I also gleaned some information on the families, from her writing, and used it here. However, I have also found information (some of which matches hers) at, (part of and In addition, I have my own database of census records of the brothers (and their families) as well as some birth, marriage, death and land acquisition records. I used to find their farms and did my own research into the records of their voyages to America. I used and the New Glarus website to get cemetery information. I also had information from my Great Aunt about my Great-Great-Grandmother, Mary Zweifel and her mother Regula Oswald. I guess what I am saying is, that while I appreciate the work of Alice Zweifel and did rely on it to help write these reports, I also found large amounts of the same information, and new information through other sources. I do not know Alice or how to get a hold of her but by listing her as a source, I have fulfilled my obligation to give research credit where due.

  3. My ancestor is Claire Zweifel Patton, her father is August{e} Zweifel and that's where we have gotten lost. Any connection to you?

    1. Nivette,

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I would need a bit more information to try and determine if we are related. For example, was Claire or August from New Glarus, Wisconsin? Can you give me any dates of Claire and August's birth and death, etc. Maybe, if I had more I could do a little digging and see what I might find.