Thursday, October 24, 2013

Gemeinde, Kirchgemeinde, Switzerland

I have found a few very useful websites in sorting out the community where people lived as well as a description of the gemeinde or community of each place in Switzerland. As an example I will focus on the gemeinde and kirchgemeinde of Melchnau in Bern Canton. The gemeinde of Melchnau was 4 square miles and the kirchgemeinde was 10 square miles and included the gemeindes of Busswil, Gondiswil, and Reisiswil. To determine which surnames that belonged to each gemeinde, hiemat, or community go to the website, Register of Swiss Surnames. In german is its called, Familiennamebuch der Schweiz. The kirchgemiende of Melchnau is where the church records were kept for the 10 square mile area. The parish registers are on film, CD, and online at familysearch. While baptisms may have taken place in the hiemat or community, the marriages would have taken place in the parish church in Melchanu. Or as I have learned they may have went to a nearby parish church or kirchgemeinde to get married.
To get an idea about the gemeinde or community where they lived go to the website, Historisches Lexikon der Schweiz; type a place name in the search box (Melchnau, Busswil, Gondiswil, and Reisiswil), and then click the link to the place. It will come up in german. Copy the text into Google translate and in seconds you will have an English translation. These communities or gemeindes were in the district of Arawangen but now in the district of Oberaargau. Wikipedia provides details about each place.