October 21, 2017


George W. and Kate Etters with family.

Johannes Etter set out from Bern, Switzerland on March 23, 1735 with other emigrants with thier destination Purrysburg, South Carolina. He did not stay in Purryburg but finally settled in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania. Today there is a large number of both Americans and Canadians who trace thier roots back to this immigrant pioneer.

Joan Magee a descendant of Johannes Etter wrote 3 books on this man and his family. She has done extensive research and the books describe what life was like in Bern before he left. She describes the reasons why he immigrated and other family members lives and how they were impacted by his emmigration. They are must read books if you want to learn of the early history of the Etter family.

While I do not at the present time know if he is our ancestor DNA evidence is adding to the evidence that he is related to our Etters family. Hopefully soon we will be able to find the missing links. I recently had a DNA match that traced his Etter line back to Peter Etter son of Johannes. Other DNA matches go to Gerhard Etter another son whose family left Pennsylvania and migrated to Virgina then Tennessee and then a branch went to Indiana.

Johannes Etter and his family were from a small county village about 35 kilometers from Bern, Switzerland. Oberried is on the Middleland plateau of Switzerland. It is locatded in a highly productive agricultural area known as Seeland(Lakeland). It is the center of production of fruit and vegatables for the Swiss market. When Johannes was born in 1685 the Etter family had lived in Oberried for many centuries. Going back to 1428 taxpayer records show 22 citizens two of which had the surname Etter.

His father was Heinrich Etter and his mother Elsbeth. They had 7 children in thier eleven years of marriage. One of the daughters died and then the father and two years later Elsbeth dies leaving 6 orphans. Johannes was 8 years old at this time. Heinrich came from a large family and had several brothers who helped with the orphans one in particular Jakob was a schoolmaster and records show that he was on legal documents for the children and they no doubt received a good education from him. Niklaus was another uncle who records show helped with thier welfare.

If we find that we are descended from Johannes Etter I will complete this Etter origin information but now will shift to what we do know about our family. Henry Frederick Etters married Rachel Alice Cline on 27 November 1871 in Pierce county, Wisconsin. Henry's father on the marriage document is John and mother is Louissa. It has Syracuse NC as his birthplace but there has never been a Sycracuse North Carolina. So one would assume they meant New York but I can find no record of a John or Louisa or Henry Etter in Syracuse, New York. Is it possible it is Syracuse, Indiana? There is a Etter family that has lived there and I have Etter DNA matches that have lived there.......

Henry and Rachel have a son Orville who was born in 1873 in Plum City, Pierce county, Wisconsin. Shortly after this Henry and Rachel split up and Rachel remarries. Henry vanishes. Orval marries Anna Wilhemina Rodewald on September 26, 1894. They make thier home in Rock Elm, Pierce county, Wisconsin. Their son George Washington Etters was born August 14, 1895 in Elmwood, Pierce county, Wisconsin. They have another son RB Etters which was born July 28, 1900 in Durand, Pepin county, Wisconsin.

George writes in his autobiography "My folks lived on a forty acre farm at Elmwood, Pierce county, Wisconsin. We came to Sawyer county in 1899. Dad bought 160 acres at fifty cents an acre near Beauchen Lake. Dad built a house and barn out of pine logs." Other children of Orval and Anna were Thomas, Benjamin, Cora, Nora, Ester and Amy.