Monday, November 4, 2013

Swiss genealogies on Family Tree at

Example from collection of Julius Billeters notes that are found on film at the Family History Library.
Julius Billeters notes 
Since most of the Swiss genealogies are the result of Julius Billeter's research, the same inherit problems I found in my research, will be found in most genealogies on Family Search Family Tree. It is estimated that Julius Billeter research resulted in the submission of over 1 million names during his career as a genealogist. The genealogies are submissions made pre 1960’s, and many of the genealogies on Family Tree are unchanged from those submissions. Family Tree has the largest collection of Swiss genealogies in the world. For those of us with Bernese ancestry it just became a lot easier to create an accurate genealogy. Now with the click of the mouse one can view the same parish registers that Julius Billeter used to compile all those genealogies.

The Stettler’s of Bolligen on the Family Tree is the result of research conducted by Julius Billiter in the 1920’s, 1930’s and 1940’s. Ernest Stettler and others paid Julius Billeter money over the years to gather genealogies of particular families. Billeter sent them over 15,000 names over the years. Now we have a snap shot of the research on the FamilyTree that is a result of the submissions made to the church as a result of Julis Billeters research. I have gone through my various lines adding sources, and I found errors, omissions, and duplication of submissions. I have added over 100 new people to the genealogy.

The problem is twofold; how Billeter recorded the information and how it was submitted to the church. The family group sheets which were started in the early 1940’s contained no place to enter the death or marriage place of children. On Family Tree rarely is there a death place, and the marriage place is not recorded or the place can be a gemeinde, not a kirchgemeinde. When I started researching 6 months ago I had the Maurer family from Zollikofen. Every records says they were born and married in Zollikofen; however, I could find no entry in the catalog referring to Zollikofen. Zollikofen is a gemeinde in the kirchgemeinde of Bremgarten, so all the births, deaths, and marriages will be recorded there. Anyone who lived in Zollikofen or had a hiemat there will be found in the church books of Bremgarten.

While all the dates are quite accurate, the place names are based on the hiemat or community from which they originate from. The Frauchiger family from Eriswil who were living in Busswil bei Melchnau as early as 1740 are still recorded as being born in Eriswil, or Wyssachengraben which is a gemeinde of Eriswil, in the 1850’s. People moved around often, yet this is not reflected in the genealogies. One would think that they lived in one gemeinde for centuries without change. Typically they did not live far from there hiemat.

This article focuses on Bern canton. With the Church books of Bern Canton online now it is possible to compare, correct, and source the genealogies on Family Search Family Tree. Filmed copies of the church books were made available in the early 1990’s at familysearch (before computers); thereafter, digital copies of the church books were made available on CD. Now the church books are online, 500 thousand pages worth.

Summary of original genealogies on Family Tree
  • Perhaps we should call it, Billeter's genealogy
  • people are recorded as being born in there hiemat exclusively
  • marriages are associated with a persons hiemat rather than where it took place
  • most deaths and many marriages have no place name attached
  • errors or omissions exist, but only will be discovered by reviewing the church books
  • Deaths records are marginalized, valuable information can be found in death records
  • Getauft and geboren dates are interchangeable

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