Our Swiss Beginning: In the desire to cronicle the history of our family in America, it seems appropriate to start with a description and background of the family of our common progenitor, Hans Rudisuli. The following was researched and written by Pastor Weiser following his examination of many Swiss church and census documents.

First of all, we are fairly sure that the name orginated from "Rudi's Ulrich", where Ulrich may have been a resident of the village of Ruthi, located about 6 kilometers from Frumsen, or he may have been related to a Rudi (Rudy or Rudolph) as a member of his family or employed in some other capacity. We have no knowledge of when this name originated, as the existing records as we now know them start in the early seventeenth century. However, since there were quite a good number of people having derivatives of this name when our records began, it is possible that the name had been in use for several centuries. The spelling of the name is almost always "Rudis-Uli" in the early 17th century and later simplified to "Rudisuli".

The first families so named apparently came from the village of Frumsen, located along the Rhine River as it flows north and within eyeshot of the principality of Lichtenstein and it's capital, Vaduz. Today, all the principal groups of this family can be shown to have their roots in this town. Frumsen is part of the church parish of Sax, a nearby town, and within the Kanton St. Gallen. Sax and Frumsen were in Kanton Zurich in the 1600's because the rulers of Zurich took over the principality of Sax-Forstegg from 1615 until 1798.

In order to clarify the ancestry of Hans, the records of Frumsen were examined. The oldest surviving Sax Evangelical Reformed Church register there was begun by a new pastor, Hans Jacob Freytag, who began his ministry on 5 December, 1638. He calls it clearly as a "new" register, so that there was an earlier, and presumably lost record. In addition, there are census lists of the population which survive from 1635, 1637, 1640, 1643, 1646, 1650, 1671, 1678 and later. There is also a set of lists of persons who have left the parish, written in 1657, which is of direct pertinence to our inquiry.

From these documents, it becomes clear that Hans Rudisuli, who later migrated to Germany and finally settled in the town of Michelfeld, whence his grandsons and great grandsons came to Pennsylvania, was baptized as an infant at Frumsen on 20 April, 1643, the son of Thomman and Ann Torgklerin Rudisuli. In the census records for several years we can gain insight into the growing size of this family, and if we wished, into the other families of this name living in this village which had 329 souls in 1678.

Source: The Rudisill Genealogy by Edward L. Rudisill
Picture Source: Alvin & Janice Rudisill from 2001 Trip!

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Thomman Rudisuli & Anna Torklerin: Census records of 1650 indicate that Thomman Rudisuli and Anna Torklerin had the following children: Andres - born 1633; Matheus - born 1635; Thrina - born 1638; Ursel - born 1639; Anna - born 1640 (died in infancy); Anna - born 1641; Hans - born 1643; Thomman - born 1644; and Barbel - born 1649. The death register at the Sax Evangelical Reformed Church lists the death of Thomman on 16 October, 1653, and of Anna Torgklerin in Frumsen on 24 March, 1679. No records have been found which names the parents of either Thomman or Anna, or either of their birth or marriage dates. It is estimated that they were married about 1630-1632, and that Thomman's birth was about 1605 and Anna's birth about 1605-1610.

The family name, "Torgkler", was not found in the registers for Sax or Frumsen and it is likely she came from some nearby village. It is believed that Anna Torkler came from the area of Berneck, a village located about 25 kilometers to the north along the Rhine. There were a number of families by that name in Berneck and nearby St. Margrethen in the 1500's. The name "Torgkler" comes from the word "torkel", a wine or cider press, and the people who operated them were called torklers. There are vinyards in Berneck, so that the name Torkler has a relationship to this area. The surname was spelled "Torggler" in the 1600's.

The search for Anna's family was concentrated on the parish baptismal records of the Reformed Church of Berneck, which appears to be the primary depository of data for that area, including the hamlets of Aue and Hasloch where eight or nine Torkler bearing families resided in the time frame of Anna's birth. Pastor Weiser found two Anna Torklers, one baptized 25 December, 1606, and the other baptized 28 February, 1603. Since our Anna had her last child in 1649, it virtually rules out the Anna who was born in 1603, as she would have been 46 years old at that date.

Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that our Anna was born to Jacob Torggler and Verena Nollin, baptized 25 December, 1606, and had Balthazar Zellweben and Anna Engsterin as her sponsors. There does not appear to be any marriage or burial records for this area until 1658 and it is doubtful if they exist today. Anna's siblings were: Johannes - born 1604; Jocob - born 1605 (probably died at birth); and Jacob - born 1608.

The list of emigrants from Frumsen which Pastor Freytag submitted in 1657 contained the following: "Thomman Rudisuli's children serving in Swabia, going to the Brunnsbach church, moved there 24 November, 1651: Andreas - 24; Matheus - 22; Thrina - 19; Ursel-19; and Hanss - 14." Since the list was dated 1657, the ages of the children agree with those listed for the family of Thomman and Anna Torklerin. If Pastor Freytag's chronology is correct, then Hans actually departed Switzerland at the age of eight years.

History tells us that the movement of many Swiss people into what is now southern Germany was occasioned by the lack of sufficient nourishment in Switzerland and the potential opportunity in Germany caused by the Thirty Years War which depopulated that area.

The Frumsen-Sax area is still a quiet rural community today, and will undoubtedly remain so because there are no large cities nearby to cause the growth of bustling suburbs or industrial plants. With the exception of the neat little Evangelical Reformed Church of Sax and the Gastof Schlossi, one is hard pressed to find any other activity except farming.

The church itself is quite interesting. It consists of three major components: a bell tower, the chancel and the nave, all built at different times. The bell tower was originally constructed in the 11th or 12th century as a fortification and observation post for the area. It was incorporated as part of the church when the chancel was built adjacent to it in 1615. The present nave was completed in 1667, but there is no knowledge of a prior nave which must have existed.

The graveyard is on both sides of the church and is meticulously maintained. It contains many Rudisuhli headstones. However, these are relatively recent monuments, as the Swiss and German custom is to dig up the old graves whenever the graveyard is full to make room for the current generations. For years, the ancestral bones were stored in the lower portion of the bell tower, but were recently removed to provide room for a parish activity room.

The church is well attended and efficiently administered by an attentive staff. Visitors are warmly welcomed and provided with copies from their excellent records upon request.

Text Source: The Rudisill Genealogy by Edward L. Rudisill
Picture Source: Alvin & Janice Rudisill from 2001 Trip!