Swiss Americans - American Swiss

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Swiss Americans are Americans of Swiss descent.

Swiss emigration to America predates the formation of the United States, notably in connection with the persecution of Anabaptism during the Swiss Reformation and the formation of the Amish community. In the 19th century, there was substantial immigration of Swiss farmers, who preferred rural settlements in the Midwest. Swiss immigration diminished after 1930, although limited immigration continues. The number of Americans of Swiss descent is nearly one million. The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs reported the permanent residency of Swiss nationals in the United States as 80,218.

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The first Swiss person in what is now the territory of the United States was Theobald (Diebold) von Erlach (1541-1565). The history of the Amish church began with a schism in Switzerland within a group of Swiss and Alsatian Anabaptists in 1693 led by Jakob Ammann, a native of Erlenbach im Simmental.

During the late 18th and early 19th centuries, a flow of Swiss farmers formed colonies, particularly in Russia and the United States.

Before the year 1820 some estimated 25,000 to 30,000 Swiss entered British North America. Most of them settled in regions of today's Pennsylvania as well as North and South Carolina. In the next years until 1860 about as many Swiss arrived, making their homes mainly in the Midwestern states such as Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin. Approximately 50,000 came between 1860 and 1880, some 82,000 between 1881 and 1890, and estimated 90,000 more during the next three decades.

In spite of Swiss settlements like Highland (Illinois), New Glarus (Wisconsin), New Bern (North Carolina), Gruetli (Tennessee) and Bernstadt (Kentucky) were emerging fast, most Swiss preferred rural villages of the Midwest and the Pacific Coast where especially the Italian Swiss were taking part in California's winegrowing culture, or then took up residence in more industrial and urban regions such as New York City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Chicago, St. Louis, Denver, or San Francisco. As the lifestyle and political institutions of the United States were compliant with those of their homeland most Swiss had no problems starting a new life in their part of the New World and became attached to both countries.

Along with the Swiss Immigrants came their traditions. By the late 1800s sufficient numbers of Swiss had arrived that Swiss Vereins (Clubs) were established to provide camaraderie and sharing of customs and traditions of the Heimat (Homeland). The William Tell Verein of Oakland and the Helvetia Verein of Sacramento, founded in the 1890s, were examples of clubs formed during this period. Much later, the West Coast Swiss Wrestling Association was established to preserve the Swiss tradition of Schwingen (Swiss wrestling) on the Pacific coast of the United States.

Of Swiss immigrant involvement in the Civil War, David Vogelsanger writes, "More Swiss participated in the American Civil War than in any other foreign conflict except the Battle of Marignano in 1515 and Napoleon's Russian Campaign of 1812."

Swiss immigration diminished after 1930 because of the depression and World War II, but 23,700 more Swiss had arrived by 1960, followed by 29,100 more between 1961 and 1990, many of whom were professionals or employees in American branches of Swiss companies who later returned to Switzerland.

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Swiss Americans by numbers

Swiss Americans by percentage of total population

Communities settled by Swiss immigrants

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Swiss American historical societies

  • Beech Island Historical Society, a historical society in South Carolina dedicated to the preservation of Historic Beech Island, including the early Swiss settlement led by John Tobler.
  • Grundy County Swiss Historical Society, a historical society in Grundy County, Tennessee, site of former Swiss colony of Gruetli.
  • Highland Historical Society, a historical society centered in Highland, Illinois, site of one of the oldest Swiss settlements in the United States. It was founded in 1831 by Swiss pioneers from Sursee, Switzerland.
  • Orangeburgh German-Swiss Genealogical Society, a genealogical society focused on the early Swiss and German settlers of Orangeburg, South Carolina.
  • Santa Clara Utah Historical Society, a historical Society dedicated to the preservation of an early Swiss Settlement in Utah.
  • Swiss American Historical Society - focuses on the involvement of the Swiss and their descendants in American life, aspects of Swiss American relations, and Swiss history.
  • Swiss Heritage Village & Museum - begun in 1985, it is currently the largest outdoor museum in northern Indiana. It is located in Berne, Indiana.
  • Swiss Mennonite Cultural and Historical Association - consists of descendants of the Mennonites who immigrated to the USA from Ukraine in the 1870s.
  • The Swiss Center of North America includes an extensive list of Swiss clubs.

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Notable people

Source of the article : Wikipedia



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