The History of the Glarus Families, especially of the Sernf Valley

by Gottfried Heer : The Luchsingers

The History of the Glarus Families, especially Those of the Sernf Valley.
A Medley of Pictures from Past Days.
Zur Geschichte glarnerischer Geschlechter, derjenigen des Sernftales insbesondere.
Allerlei Bilder aus vergangenen Tagen.

By Gottfried Heer, 1920
Translated by Sue Wolf, 1999

Click on image to see a larger reproduction.

While the Elmers are represented most strongly even today in Elm, the Beglingers likewise find themselves most numerous in the commune of Mollis as their hometown, the Bönigers, as far as I know, all possess citizen rights in Nidfurn, the former hamlet of Bönigen having now grown together with it, the Luchsingers1, each and everyone, have left their home commune, that is, among all those enjoying the full citizenship rights of Luchsingen today not a single "Luchsinger" exists; other families, above all the Heftis, Speichs and Kläsis, have succeeded them. They are all the more numerous in other communes, to which they have dispersed, so that, according to the tax records of 1876, they represented the eighth place among the Glarner families in regard to the number of the head-taxpayers, and in regard to the assets they were paying taxes on they moved to the sixth place. In 1876 in the entire canton they numbered 182 head-taxpayers, with cash assets they were paying taxes on of 3,633,000 Francs. Only the Heftis (311 head-taxpayers), the Zweifels (276), the Jennis (250), the Leuzingers (227), the Höslis (204), the Dürsts (197) and the Stüssis (197) were more numerously represented at that time. In regard to assets only the Jennis (11,180,000 Fr.), the Trümpis (7,000,000), the Blumers (5,062,000), the Heers (4,963,000) and the Tschudis (4,786,000) went ahead of them. In 1876 the Luchsingers were most numerously represented in Schwanden, with 75 head-taxpayers and cash assets they were paying taxes on of 207,000 Fr., in Mitlödi (23 taxpayers and assets of 19,000 Fr.), in Engi (20 taxpayers and assets of 23,500 Fr.), in Nidfurn (16 taxpayers and assets of 23,000 Fr.), and in the capital of Glarus (15 taxpayers and assets of 1,713,000 Fr.). In Sool and in Bilten they were represented with 8 head-taxpayers each. But I have reported thoroughly about the Luchsinger family twice already (the Historical Yearbook of Canton Glarus, no. 23, pgs. 28-41 and no. 24, pgs. 3-22)2. Therefore, I must limit myself in these pages surely to the Luchsingers of the Sernf valley, but about these there is not too much to report.

The first documented report of the existence of the Luchsingers in the Sernf valley occurred in the year 1504. In this year in Zürich a great shooting [match], that was not only intercantonal but international took place, lasting no fewer than 5 weeks - from August 12 to September 16 - and a great crowd of people from everywhere were brought together in Zürich's walls. Thus, for example, 110 people showed up at the festival from those of the confederation of friendly Rottweil, among them the mayor, Heinrich Fryberger with his family, from Ravensburg there were even 180 of them. But marksmen and pleasure-seekers also showed up from still more distant places, in spite of the travel difficulties of that time. We encountered there people from Worms, Mainz, Frankfurt, Koblenz, Köln, "opposite the Bernhardsberg", even from Venedig3.

As with other occasions of this kind, a so-called "raffle drum" was also connected with the free shoot of 1504, that is, a sort of lottery, in which, in exchange for a certain investment from those who "had luck", fairly considerable gifts could have been won. The list of those who participated in this "raffle drum" can be found, well preserved, still today in the Zürich city archive. Among them, according to information of Mr. Kubli-Müller4, we also meet 500 Glarner men and women, above all from the Middleland and Näfels-Mollis. Many a family obviously went to the festival with "child and bastard" and also had participated in the "raffle drum". In comparison, the Sernf valley is represented by only one participant, be it now because the inhabitants of the Sernf valley had little interest for such a thing or had little superfluous money at their disposal or because the trip was too much trouble for them and they saw themselves prevented from participation by their farm work.

The only Sernf valley resident who tried his luck in the lottery had registered himself as "the young Hans Luchsinger from the Sernf valley". As he called himself the young5 Hans Luchsinger, it is thereby well attested to that right there in the Sernf valley an older Hans Luchsinger (perhaps the father) was also found, since only by this means was this distinction, being named as the young, noted. These both, Hans Luchsinger the young and the old or older, are shown to us in this way as the first representatives of the Sernf valley Luchsingers. Twenty-one years later, in 1525, we find displayed then, in the previously (pg. 6) mentioned tax rolls (excerpt from the unfortunately burnt Anniversary Book): Fridli Luchsinger, who in March was obliged to [pay] a Plappert "for milk on his property in the Wyden, [which] was adjacent to Moschingen6, [and] on the other side to Ueblebach and to the common land, and in May a pound of grain and 2 Plapperts for milk on his property in the Wyden, which [grain] went into 2 loaves of bread [for] a loud priest and 2 loaves to the sacristan, and [which property] was again adjacent to Moschingen, on another side to Ueblebach, [and] on the third side to the Weidg... [already missing in Heer's text : original document unreadable] and to the common land".

Among the 241 baptized people of the Matt church in the years 1595-1617 the Luchsingers accounted for but only 3 children, and stood thereby only in the 19th place among the families of the entire church commune of Matt-Engi. In the canton tax rolls of 1763 they number 8 taxpayers in Engi7 and stand thereby in 6th place in Engi itself and in 8th place for Engi-Matt. In 1876 20 taxpayers are found in Engi itself, promoting them to 5th place, only surpassed by the Martis, Baumgartners, Hämmerlis and Blumers. In comparison, they seem since then to have fallen into retreat: while in 1876 they numbered 20 among the 283 taxpayers of the Engi commune, consequently amounting to 7% of the overall number of taxpayers, in 1915 they owned among them only 10 out of the 288 full citizenship rights from Engi, consequently only 3.5%. About the reasons for these hasty regressions I must indeed restrain myself from every conjecture.

The coat of arms of the Luchsingers shows a lynx. When I allowed, in those days, in the Historical Yearbook of 1887 (pg. 41), the thereby announced derivation of the Luchsingen name still as one not entirely unlikely to be valid, so I confess today that I can't advocate this opinion any more. The preference for coat-of-arms animals had suggested that interpretation. Therefore, indeed, the Otts have also put an otter on their coat-of-arms and the Martis a marten, although the family name of Ott, as is, of course, very obvious, is derived from Otta and that of the Martis goes back to Martin and has nothing to do with a marten. So also Luchsingen does not mean the place of the lynxes, but the home of the Luxes, as Benzingen means the small estate of the Benzes, Fischligen that of the Fischlis, Zusingen that of the Zusos. We still encounter the name Lux, which today is admittedly presumed dead in the canton of Glarus, in 1542 in the closest vicinity of Luchsingen, while Fridolin Brunner was spending this 1542 as pastor, [the] church land register from Betschwanden mentions to us a Lux Streiff [streak of light] from Adlenbach.

1 The first mention of the Luchsingers is found in 1289 (see also page 8). Regarding an earlier mention of a Werner from Luchsingen (about 1274) see note 2 at the bottom of page 53.

2 Concerning Konrad (Kunz) Luchsinger, about whom I spoke in detail in the above-quoted places, I must add in amendment that, having already become a full citizen of Zurich in 1501, he no longer lived in Glarus at the time when Zwingli was pastor of Glarus. On the other hand, he remained in close contact with his Glarner homeland, since his brother and other relatives lived here (Yearbook for Swiss History, vo. 9, pg. 299). By this means he came to know anyhow about Zwingli's work in Glarus and therefore to champion his appointment to the great cathedral in Zurich.

3 [Venice in Italy] Zürich Handbook for the year 1882, pgs. 219-236.

4 Yearbook of the Historical Society of Glarus, no. 36, pgs. 63-96.

5 From Glarus were participating, among others, old Rudi Luchsinger, young Rudi Luchsinger and youngest Rudi Luchsinger, possibly father, son and grandson.

6 The "Wyden house" and Möschingen are today surviving names for localities in the vicinity of the common land in Engi.

7 The ancestor of all present-day Luchsingers from Engi is Councillor Hilarius Luchsinger, cantonal official David's son, who later in 1597 became cantonal sergeant-at-arms, then in 1604 cantonal official in Werdenberg. From his second marriage with Barbara Zopfi from Schwanden originated 2 sons, Fridli and David. The first, Fridli, was church steward and councillor in Engi and had 6 married sons, the second, David, bought the full citizenship right from Glarus in 1638. The first-named church steward and councillor, Fridolin Luchsinger, and his wife, Anna Brunner from Netstal, are the forebears of all the Luchsingers in Engi.
A grandson of his, David Luchsinger, who emigrated to Glarus, is Pastor and Dean David Luchsinger in Glarus, who had been deacon and pastor in Glarus for 48 years, and died on July 4, 1735. Also, his son, Hans Peter Luchsinger, was a pastor (in Buchs, Werdenberg). J. K-M.

a [note added by translator] This is likley a typographical error in the original book : the surname Ott is usually derived from the given name Otto - and this is also to be assumed from the context here.

Return to Heer Index Page / see also Baumgartner's notes on the Luchsingers

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