The History of the Citizen Families of Engi (GL) and their Development

Public lectures by Martin Baumgartner : The Martis

The History of the Citizen Families of Engi and their Development
[Zur Geschichte der bürgerlichen Geschlechter von Engi und ihre Entwicklung]

Public lectures by Martin Baumgartner, teacher in Engi.
Self-published by the author, Glarner Newsprint Shop, Rud. Tschudy, 1923.

Translated by Sue Wolf

I. The Martis

Pastor Gottfried Heer has published the most that can be collected about the first representatives of our great families in his brochure: "On the Story of the Citizen-Families", and, indeed, on the basis of genealogist Kubli-Müller's information. Therefore, I do without this repetition. Heer has, it is true, talked more about the Glarner Martis and touched on the Sernftaler Martis only briefly.


The Martis in the Sernftal can be traced back, then, to one ancestor, which, however, is only considered as a coincidence. As Heer already remarked correctly, according to the tax rolls from 1525 and 1536, we find "Martis" in the Sernftal already at the beginning of the 16th century. The actual ancestor is councillor and lottery judge, Mathäus Marti, 1577-1659, to whom all present-day Martis from Engi, Matt and Elm can be traced back. His wife, Verena Bräm, is very probably the daughter of the ancestor of the Bräms, Mathias (of him later). Of their nine children, 6 sons and 3 daughters, 4 sons married and have together produced 40 children for the family tree, already a lot. Of the youngest of these sons, of Hans Marti (he was also a Tagwen** official and church steward) and, again, of the youngest of these, Jacob Marti, who was born in 1659, purchased citizenship from Elm in 1685 for 70 Gulden, and his only son, Hans, born in 1686, is the ancestor of the old Elmer Martis (not the present ones), who have become extinct now in Elm also.

**[Translator's Note: Tagwen – an ancient term, from at least the 6th century A.D., which is still used today in Canton Glarus to denote the commune of the citizens, i.e. those who have inherited or purchased the Tagwen rights (this may only partially coincide with the political commune). It is derived from Tage Wann, meaning the work someone could perform in one day in the commonly-held fields, pastures and forests. Over the years the number of Tagwen in the canton has varied considerably, with the present-day number being 29. Also its duties have changed – from jointly working on and enjoying the benefits of its common property, to administering all the commune’s public interests, to (today) administering and enjoying the benefits of its common property.]

The Martis came to Matt still earlier by means of Mathäus Marti, 1647-1693, also a grandson of the ancestor, who, on May 1, 1676, purchased a citizenship from Matt for himself and his descendants. He had 2 married sons: Fridli and Hans. The descendants of Hans, however, remained Englers.

So by 1750 the Martis from Engi already have increased to 55 families with 330 children altogether, and they have always multiplied very regularly up to today.

We can give the statistics for the Martis (see the table at the end).


We want to pay special attention to the emigration **. Until 1830 it was only very slight and directed mostly to other communes and neighboring cantons. Around the end of the 18th century was, above all, the great migration of children with whom the people from our valleys were affiliated, and they went to the western cantons of Switzerland. A good share of them came home again after the great famine was over, but others also, remaining there, found their home.

**Author's Note: according to G. Heer

Since the beginning of the year 1830 it was, above all, to North America that the excess in labor force were enticed-in spite of the troubles of so big a journey. The reason was, above all, poverty owing to loss of profit and overpopulation, then, in particular, bad harvests and the high incidence of potato disease, which caused deep discouragement.

The high point of the emigration to North America was reached in 1845-1847. There were, in the time from January 1845 to May 1847, 51 people from Engi alone! - In general, these emigrants have achieved something in North America. The majority settled in the United States, mainly in Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Dakota and Nebraska, and then still further west in Montana, Washington and California.

In the year 1855, in that first very bleak time for our valley, the emigrants went to South America, especially Brazil. No fewer than 230 people from Matt and Engi, among them a great number of alms recipients and such, for they were afraid that they would be a burden on the commune, had abandoned their canton on June 3, 1855 in 20 wagons, as they hoped to found a hopefully plentiful existence in distant Brazil. A very bleak report came from these emigrants to the old homeland, in which we noticed with fear that they were kept and dealt with no better than slaves. Many of these families were never heard from again. Nobody knew the lot of these poor people. Many had also died already on the journey from illness and privation. It is therefore understandable when, in the same letters that arrived from the unfortunate people in Brazil, in more than one case the public assistance official would be accused of being "a seller of souls". The cost of the trip for this large group of "Brazilianers" must have been defrayed by the commune, which money, again, must have been raised through an extra poor-tax and, above all, through the cutting down and selling of whole forests. On the distributing of the families of these Brazilian emigrants from 1855 who struck out, the Martis numbered about 30, the Blumers 55, the Baumgartners 42, the Hämmerlis 10, the Luchsingers 35, the Altmanns 6, the Bräms 3, the Wysses 0, the Gigers 18, and the Norders 12 people.

Afterwards no more people emigrated from our commune to Brazil. Understandable! In comparison, the numbers of those going to North America mounted year by year, so that the number of the first year, according to my statistics, amounted to only about 250, but the last amounted to 850. In the statistics, naturally, the children and children's children who were born in the new homeland were not included.

I want to now mention in passing the fate of a Marti family in North America. In Chicago, where Johannes Marti (a brother of old Kaspar Marti im Mattbrunnen) emigrated with his wife, Maria Blumer (a sister of old councillor, Fridolin Blumer-Coran) and 4 children, the husband, wife and 2 children from this family died of cholera on the same day, July 16, 1854!

An Engler Marti, Adam Marti, born in 1836, grandson of school official, Adam Marti, or, in order that you understand it better, a sibling of Sebastian Marti of the Wartstalden (grandfather on the mother's side of Sebast. Hämmerli), rose to the high position of Grand-Commander [governor] in the state of Minnesota. The highest office! His family isn't known to me. For 10 years he lived in St. Paul.

About 300 people from the Marti family moved to other cantons and settled mainly in Toggenburg, above all in the communes of Brunnadern, Nesslau and Mogelsberg, where today a pair of Marti families lives, then also in the canton of Basel, in the commune of Wintersingen. Engler Martis moved to other Glarner communes, most of all to Sool, where a few families even purchased citizenships, then to Glarus and Ennenda, where today the descendants of farmer, Jost Marti, live in the Swiss-house as settlers.



I now speak of the offices which the representatives of the Engler Martis would have held since 1595. Of the 24 councillors, who represented the Tagwen of Engi in the councils from 1595 until in the 1880's, we have heard of 9 from the Marti family. Some of these had distinguished themselves through special merits. These are as follows:

1. Mathäus Marti, 1577-1659, the ancestor of the family, at the same time also the sixth judge.
2. Johannes Marti, 1654-1728 (Nr. 15 on the family tree), a grandson of the first.
3. Fridolin Marti, 1660-1743 (Nr. 16 on the family tree), at the same time a charity official and church steward, likewise a grandson of the ancestor.
4. His son, Jost Marti, 1690-1758 (Nr. 30 on the family tree).
5. Mathäus Marti, 1705-1793 (Nr. 51 on the family tree), at the same time Tagwen official. He was the father of Johannes Marti, captain of the wagoners.
6. Tagwen official, Johannes Marti, 1746-1834 (Nr. 84 on the family tree), son of Captain Johannes im Gigerhof.
7. Tagwen official, Adam Marti, 1758-1835 (Nr. 101 on the family tree). His only daughter was buried alive with her fiance, Fridolin Winteler from Mollis, by the Elmeli avalanche (in March 1817). [see Accidents & Events].
8. Jacob Marti, 1776-1844 (Nr. 152 on the family tree), a son of councillor, Johannes Marti. About him it says in the Book of the Dead: "For nearly 40 years this person, as godfearing as honest, as wise as steadfast, as courageous as open and true, a man with great unselfishness to his home commune in everything about himself, served to fill positions, excluding that of school official. He was a venerable figure from a better time. In him the commune lost a true, untiring advisor."

The writer of this obituary is none other than Pastor Jacob Heer. This councillor, Jacob Marti, had truly, as I gathered from the Tagwen records, performed for the commune in an extraordinary way. His marriage to Barbara Wohlwend, daughter of councillor, Peter Wohlwend from Matt, remained without descendants, that is, their only daughter, Barbara, died at the age of two months.

9. and last Marti councillor was Tagwen official, Joh. Christof Marti, 1783-1838 (Nr. 156 on the family tree). A son of his, Sebastian, died in 1831, at the age of 23, as a seminarian [in the teacher-training institute] in Hofwil.


In addition to these 9 councillors, the Martis are represented also by 3 judges. The first I have already mentioned, the ancestor as lottery judge. The second was the also-mentioned councillor, Jacob Marti (with the announced obituary). He held the honorary position of marriage judge. Likewise the third: President Johannes Marti, 1818-1911, im Gigerhof, who was perhaps still known by the older people. He migrated with his family to America. Afterwards he got married over there in 1890 for the second time to Elisabeth Baumgartner (sister of the still-living old innkeeper of "The Ox", Joh. Heinrich Baumgartner). This judge, Johannes Marti, died on May 6, 1911 in Monroe [WI?] at the age of 93. His 9 children are all in America, except for his son, Adam, who works today as a professor at the canton school in Trogen.

[Tagwen Official]

Then the Martis in Engi produced 23 Tagwen officials from 1595-1850, about which one, however, has to understand well that the position of Tagwen official, next to councillor, means the highest position to be filled in a commune, and, in the correct sense of the word, was an official of the full citizens of the commune. A Tagwen official corresponded to the present-day notion of president, administrator and works manager, all in one person. Indeed, until 1820 they even took the Tagwen minutes themselves.

[Church Steward]

It was analagous to the church steward, for which job 13 of the Martis from Engi were also heard of. They were both president and administrator of the church. The director and administrator of the commune and the church stand by far, just in regards to work and time, in no relation to the office today. The Tagwen official submitted an accounting annually, which no half-page of the Tagwen books required, and usually showed a turnover of only 200-300 Gulden Then, in a year on the average, there were no more than three or four minutes that needed to be written. Then he would just arrange only the most important items in writing, and the details of this writing caused, no doubt, these councillors, Tagwen officials, and church stewards the most effort of thinking. This was understandable, for the fewest of these had frequented the school, since in Engi, before 1779 especially, no one passed exams, and previously only the studious and, above all, the better-placed children frequented the school in Matt, where the clergyman at that time functioned as schoolmaster.

[Charity Official]

Among the Martis are found also 8 charity officials, or charity masters. That was an administrator of the donation of goods, or, as it should actually be called, "good donations", out of which the poor are supported, which again was a cause of the church. The church was, therefore, at the same time also public assistance, which the charity official had to select. The executive committee of this public assistance was named "Standstill" and, no doubt about it, because this Standstill "stood still" almost every Sunday, for the service of God, and had to listen to and take care of plaintiffs, marriage disputes, tax problems, etc. They also had, if I may say so, the low jurisdiction in the church among themselves. All marriage and family disputes, disorderliness, and others were taken care of by the Standstill, and only in weighty cases would the matter be brought to the Cantonal Commission. So a disorderly person would be put on a pillory publicly on a Sunday by the church and even whipped soundly. The latter was carried out by the so-called disciplinarian, who also must be a member of the Standstill, and had to chastise the delinquents with the rod. To be sure, the last disciplinarian was also a Marti, and, indeed, Tagwen official and inspector of weights and measures, Jacob Marti, 1775-1856 (Nr. 134 on the family tree), father of butcher, Mathäus Marti im Hugenten.


Since the Martis also produced some greatness in the area of the military of times past, it is necessary, and probably of interest, if we ourselves also sketch a picture about it in brief outlines. The entire group of men fit for military service from Matt and Engi constituted a company. On some Sunday of the year the company had to set out on exercises at the common land, at the so-called review. Especially in the Sernftal they felt no great interest in this review; the men frequently simply stayed away. The pronounced fine failed to achieve its effect since they would not pay. Each company put forward a captain, a lieutenant, a standard-bearer and 4 sergeants. The selection of these officers was an affair of the Tagwen. A true democratic setup, don't you think? They would be appointed, like the councillors and Tagwen officials, by the so-called "common Tagwen". In the company the group of men was divided again into a squad of about 25 men, at the head of which stood the squad-master or corporal. The officers, which also included the standard-bearer and the sergeant, had not a little justifiable pride about their position. -The Martis from Engi produced altogether, among these military of olden times, 3 captains, 3 lieutenants, 2 standard-bearers, 3 sergeants, and 2 master riflemen. The following Martis had achieved the rank of captain of the Tagwen:
1. Church steward, Hans Marti, 1714-1766, im Gigerhof (Nr. 52 on the family tree), father of councillor, Joh. Christof Marti.
2. Mathias Marti, 1736-1803 (Nr. 87 on the family tree), grandfather of communal recorder, Niklaus Marti (the latter father-in-law to teacher, Emil Bäbler).
3. Tagwen official, Johannes Marti, 1763-1850, known as "captain of the wagoners".

[Officials, 1840- ]

The Martis were, therefore, doubtlessly always a highly regarded family. If we were to enumerate the dignitaries by office since the 1840's, we would infer from them only that this family, from its reputation, had not a little to lose. Namely, we find the following:
A cantonal councillor (election of June 3, 1923), 4 communal presidents, 3 communal councillors, 1 communal administrator, 2 works managers, 3 communal secretaries, 1 school councillor, 3 teachers, 1 veterinarian and 1 consul (the latter, Fridolin Marti, son of the old innkeeper of "The Sun".


It is also interesting, how the forenames have been handed down in each particular family. Even until in the 1870's and 1880's it was still a strict tradition with us that in a family the names of the children were given in succession as follows: to the first son the name of the grandfather on the father's side, to the second the grandfather's on the mother's side. To the first daughter the name of the father's mother, to the second the grandmother on the mother's side. Then the following children were named after the father's and mother's siblings. I have met very few examples from our families, until in the 1870's, which broke from this rule. Today, of course, it has also changed in this respect, and a beautiful, honorable custom is, in part, going to be lost. Even so it happens that, in all our families, particular names are represented especially frequently. Of the names of the family heirs in the Marti family, the following stand in first place: Jakob - 75 representatives (15.5%), 2. Mathias - 63 (13%), 3. Johannes or Hans - 56 (12%), 4. Mathäus - 51 (10.5%), 5. Fridolin - 42 (9%), then follows Kaspar and Heinrich - each 16, Jost - 15, Sebastian and Samuel -12. These are the so-called Marti names.


Still some numbers concerning the heading, marriages, with other families from Engi. Of the 528 wives of Martis from Engi, 260 came from Engi and were distributed among the civic families as follows: the largest share fell to their own family, the Martis themselves, namely 101 (36.6%); 61 (22.1%) to the Baumgartners; 42 (15.2%) to the Blumers; 30 (10.85%) to the Hämmerlis; 15 (5.43%) to the Altmanns; 9 (3.3%) to the Luchsingers; 8 (2.9%) to the Gigers; 5 (1.8%) to the Bräms; 4 (1.45%) to the Wysses, and 1 (0.4%) to the Norders. This compilation is, to this extent, important, as it is able to give us information about the intermixing of the families' blood among one another.


Thirteen Martis, about whom the news of their death was reported and was registered, perished in foreign military service. Doubtless there were more in actuality, but their fate is unknown. On the other hand, a lot returned, healthy or disabled, as retired soldiers in our valley.

In 1678, Hans Marti, 18 years old, died in service to the French. He was a grandson of the ancestor and stepbrother of Mathäus Marti, who purchased a citizenship in Matt in 1676.

On Oct. 20, 1709, Hans Marti, who was in service to the Dutch under First Lieutenant Paravicini, died of a wound received in the bloody battle of Mons on Oct. 11.

In Aug. 1720, Jacob Marti, born in 1681, classified in the company of Major Bachmann, lost his life in service to the French.

In 1729 Andreas Marti, born in 1682, likewise under Major Bachmann. The last two were both grandsons of the ancestor.

On Dec. 22, 1735, Jacob Marti, born on Feb. 13, 1703, also a grandson of the ancestor, in service to the Kaiser, and, likewise a little brother of his, Fridolin Marti, born on May 13, 1712, both under company captain, Marti from Glarus, died in the battle of old Preisach.

A brother of the last, Sebastian Marti, born in 1708, lost his life in 1730 at Diessenhofen in Alsace, in service to the French, in the Diesbach regiment.

On June 5, 1746, Hans Rudolf Marti, born in 1699, died also in service to the French. He was the son of Sergeant Samuel Marti im Gufel by his second marriage, who was buried alive with his family by an avalanche in 1720.

On Sept. 16, 1793, Johannes Marti, born in 1765, a brother of the father of Mathäus Marti im Geissberg, died at Ghent in Flanders under the commendable Swiss Guard of the United Netherlands.

On Jan. 17, 1818, Jacob Marti died in Paris in the hospital as infantryman of the 7th French guard-regiment. He was the husband of Anna Barb. Marti, daughter of the Bühl Mathes. She married again in 1822, to Joh. Jak. Baumgartner, known as "Chalcher", and moved with him to America in the 1840's.

Two other Martis died in service to the French, but the particular circumstances about them are not known.

The first, Mathias Marti, born in 1834, died on July 19, 1860 as a soldier in service to the Dutch, and, indeed, at Pontia Hobewann in Java, an island in the South Indian ocean. He was a brother of wrestler [?], Dietrich Marti, and his ground [?], Afra Baumgartner, born Marti.


Since time immemorial the population of our valleys were exposed to the dangers of the mountain world. Yet earlier as much as today, when they found a road and footpath in poor condition, they rebuilt it with no shoddy construction. We wish now to report, as much as possible in chronological sequence, the natural events and accidents which brought our forebears serious grief, of course, here only those which concern the Marti family. G. Heer mentioned in his pages 79 of both events, which, I presume, are familiar.

1. The avalanche accident at Gufelstock on Sunday, on the 7th of February, 1720, in which the 10 members of the family of Sergeant Samuel Marti im Gufel, a brother of the ancestor of the Matter Martis, were buried alive. The father and 4 children (all little girls) lost their lives at the same time. The mother, Kath. Fluri from Schwanden, and 4 children were dug out alive. In my opinion, this house of Sergeant Samuel Marti, stood im Speicher and the avalanche broke loose above in the Riesenen. Then, just in the year afterwards, according to public Tagwen records, warning signs were put in the forest above the Speicher and the Knolligen repeatedly. **

**Note: G. Heer had used this event as the basis for his well-known Trümpi chronicles. The contents of the Book of the Dead in Matt says: "On the 7th day of February, 1720, on Sunday at 12 o'clock, an avalanche came in the Gufel near Engi, took up the house of Samuel Marti, and tossed the above-mentioned suddenly over in a heap, including everybody in it: he, the father of the house, lost his life along with 4 little daughters, namely, Salome, Rosina, Katharina and Elsbeth. On the 9th of February the dead were buried, except for the little daughter, Katharina, whose body couldn't be found at that time. On the 17th of February this little daughter was also found and buried the following day. -This Samuel Marti had 10 people in his own house, but God worked a great miracle for them, for the mother of the house, Katharina Fluri, together with 4 children, survived, although nearly all were also somewhat injured, but not fatally. **

The second event, mentioned by Heer already, concerns the avalanche accident im Elmeli on March 5, 1817, where Barbara, born on Nov. 4, 1798, the only daughter of the councillor, Adam Marti, died, as well as her fiance, Fridolin Winterer from Mollis, and a Maria Stauffacher from Matt, born on Aug. 17, 1774, the second wife of Josef Hämmerli, inspector of weights and measures (who, by the way, got married 4 times!). Winteler's corpse was found first on May 22,1817. -About this councillor's daughter it says in the Book of the Dead: "She was the pride and joy of her parents, a blossoming person, and an honor to the village."

Yet, these two events which concern the Martis unfortunately do not stand alone.

On July 20, 1736, Tagwen official, Fridolin Marti, born on Nov. 22, 1685, fell to his death from a cherry tree im Holderbergli. He was the grandfather of councillor, Adam Marti, who was mentioned a little while ago, and of a Leonhard Marti, owner of the outer Höfli, who is named as grandfather on the mother's side of old councillor, Fridolin Blumer. Because of him, the name "Leonhard" is found in the Blumer family.

In 1751 Tagwen official, Mathäus Marti, born on June 7, 1696, grandfather of old Mathäus Marti, of Bühl, drowned and disappeared in the flood of the Sernf, that runs along the highway from Matt to Engi. His corpse was never found.

On Oct. 26, 1785, Mathias Marti, born in 1724, was killed at the "narrows" by a rock. He was the grandfather of Geissberg Mathes.

On Oct. 11, 1802, Mathias Marti, son of Andreas, died "in his 43d year of age. This man liked to go with a bundle of straw out on the Eggen mountain or forest behind his house, and, presumably, he must have stumbled, as he was found dead afterwards." (Book of the Dead)

On May 21, 1807, Johannes Marti, born on May 5, 1778, drowned. He was the husband of Regula Blumer, who then, in 1810, married George Elmer from Matt. This Joh. Marti was a brother of councillor, Christof Marti. With him also drowned his half-sister, Katharina Marti from Matt, born on Jan. 26, 1791, daughter of his mother from her second marriage with Tagwen official and singing society treasurer, Fridolin Marti from Matt. She was his third wife, and he, from all three marriages, possessed 15 children. The corpse of this man was never found. That of the girl, on the other hand, was found the same day near Netstal in the Linth. Where the two stepsiblings had the accident is not stated, but only the remark "as they wanted to return home from work".

Also, Jost, the only son from the short marriage of this Johannes Marti, drowned likewise on Nov.1, 1811, at five years old. It is not stated in what way.

Two further victims of the Sernf are to be listed, which concern the Martis from Engi before 1850.

On May 12, 1820, a little daughter, Salome Marti, born in 1809, a sister of the father of teacher, H. Marti, drowned in the Sernf.

On May 3, 1832, Ursula Marti, 10 years old, sister of Jacob Marti [from] Sitli, fell from the footpath above the Engi bridge and drowned.

On Jan. 16, 1836, Jakob Marti, born on Dec. 4, 1791, father of Sebastian Marti im Bergli, lost his life in an avalanche up the Mühlebach. With him also was Adam Luchsinger (see later).

On March 20, 1840, Mathias Marti, born in 1801, husband of Margreth Dürst, father of printer, Heinrich Marti-Bordermann in Ennenda, had a fatal accident im Plattenberg.

The 15th of March, 1858 was again a day of fear for our commune. The boys, Adam and Johann Christof, sons of Sebastian Marti im Wartstalden and brother of the mother of Sebastian Hämmerli [from] Altstafel, "at 6:30 in the evening, while they were taking care of the cattle in the stable, were buried alive by the Waldstalden avalanche, which came in the dust and tore away the stable. In the evening no excavating was done, because it was always drifting, and the people believed that they were dead. The next morning they were dug out. The older, who died another day, lives still and can say that his brother lived for about 3 hours." (Book of the Dead)

Since 1850 there were still various accidents in the Marti family to report. We will bring forward no more of these now, on the one hand, since they still exist in the recollection of the generation living now, on the other hand, as, in this way, painful wounds of direct relatives won't be torn open.

Translator's Notes

1. I have left all descriptive phrases untranslated, such as "im Speicher". They are used to distinguish between people of the same first and last names, which occured frequently in this area because of inbreeding.

2. All comments in brackets [] are mine. I have also added headings for ease of reading.

Return to Baumgartner Index Page / see also Heer's notes on the Martis and Noms de famille Suisses: Marti.

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