Christopher SWITZER and Sarah Jane MILLER
an Irish Palatine Family, from Germany to County Limerick, Ireland to
Nepean Township, Ontario, Canada, in 1825
February 9, 2012:
My name is Susan Murphy Sahlgren, and I am a first cousin to Michael Ross Murphy who submitted our Murphy genealogical ancestry/history
to your site a few years back. I am now writing to you to submit my mother’s information that I just recently have put together.
The information was made into a video presentation for my mother, as she was quite ill at the time, so that she could watch it on TV.
Unfortunately, although she watched it a number of times and was thrilled to learn many things she hadn’t know about her grandmother
and other info about her roots, she passed away shortly after learning about these details. Her name was Elizabeth Alice Switzer,
and I noticed that you hadn’t yet much info on the Bytown.net site about the Switzer family, so, I would like to submit as much of
the info as I can, if I may, in order to help others searching out their family lines.
The little movie presentation I made had to be split into 3 parts to upload to YouTube in 3 ten minute parts. Here are the links
to these video parts. It’s simply entitled, “The History of the Switzer Family of Nepean, Ontario, Canada”:
PART 1 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JqnbbGDP9ZQ&feature=related
PART 2 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xRcDz1x32YQ&feature=related
PART 3 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ve7M_4_4xh0&feature=related
If you would like, I can write out the information/genealogy and submit it as well in written form to you, but feel free to link to these videos.
More info is provided for family searches below the YouTube videos as well.
My mother’s G G grandfather, Christopher Switzer arrived in Bytown in 1825 orginally from Courtmatrix, Limerick, Ireland. He brought his wife
Sarah Jane Miller and they came with five children and settled on lot 31 concession 2 Nepean. It was a 200 acre parcel of land and fairly
heavily treed when they began farming. They built a stone home and log barns. When the first Christopher passed away, the son Christopher took
over the farm. That farm burned down in the Carleton County fire of 1870, and they rebuilt a brick house and barns shortly after the fire.
When he passed away, his son Obadiah Switzer took over the farm and built another wooden frame house beside the brick one in 1888.
My grandfather was born in that house in 1903, as were his 13 brothers and sisters. The Switzers donated a corner of the farm to build a
wooden frame school house (Green Bank SS #11, but the year built is not known to me) and it was finally torn down between 1980 - 1990 or so.
It stood where the Greenbank Mac’s Milk/Gas bar is now located. This area was known to local folk as Switzer’s Corners (now Hunt Club,
Knoxdale, Greenbank Roads area).
I have a lot of information and details and many photos etc. Please let me know if any of this would be desirable for submission to
your web site.
Thanks so much,
Susan Murphy Sahlgren
February 15, 2012: (added some new photographs)
Genealogy from Hans Jacob Schweitzer of Assenheim, Palatine, Germany
to the Family of Christopher Switzer of Nepean, Ontario, Canada
Hans Jacob Schweitzer was born in 1620, in Assenheim, Pfalz am Rhein, Germany. He had six sons, two of which immigrated to
Courtmatrix, Limerick, Ireland in 1709. Their names were Michael Schweitzer born, 1681 and Christopher Schweitzer, born 1686.
Michael, his wife and two young sons and his brother Christopher, joined a stream of over 13,000 distressed souls that poured
out of the Rhineland in the spring of 1709. Michael had procured a passport signed by the court - Baronial Leiningen,
Schulthesis Christop Sterk, Johan Andreas Strebel (brother-in-law) and Johnny Kolb on May 4, 1709. The passport basically
stated that he was born in the Village of Assenheim, near Hochdorf, and that he should be given safe passage to seek his fortune
in Pennsylvania in the Americas.
It was April 1709 that the first parties of refugees had begun to move on the Great River. With local restrictions and fees
and tolls to be paid, the trip took 4 to 6 tedious weeks. By early June the immigrants where flocking into the Dutch City
of Rotterdam. A few Dutch ship owners where commissioned by the Duke of Marlborough, whom Queen Anne had made responsible
for transporting the displaced Germans to England. "Good Queen Anne" and her commissioners thought that surely all these convinced
Protestants would strengthen the anti-Roman feeling in Britain.
The sailing ships from Rotterdam landed at Deptford near London. Michael and his family were sent to Blackheath upon arrival in
England, June 2, 1709. Each family was presented with a 9 pound loaf of bread as "white as fallen snow" - a curiosity to the Germans
who were used only to dark bread.
On August 8, 1709, Michael and his family left in wagons to go to Chester to embark there for Ireland. The trip was about 120 miles.
From Chester, they sailed in schooners to Dublin. There was a total of 120 families that were chosen to go to Ireland. The trip
to Ireland took about 24 hours. Sir Thomas Southwell chose experienced husbandmen and some weavers to go onto his Estates in
the South of Ireland.
All of the Palentine men were issued muskets, although Irish tenants throughout the country had been disarmed. Later the
Palentines where to be enrolled in a Militia unit of their own - The German Fusiliers, or "True Blues" (this was the origin
of the telling phrase "true blue"). The first village built by the Germans was at Courtmatrix, which they planned in a square
around a commons.
Michael was listed as a freeholder at Courtmatrix in 1715 and 1720 and served as Vestryman for the Church of Ireland in Rathkeale
for some of the time between 1741 and 1770.
His occupation was listed as “vine-dresser” and “husbandman” of Assenheim, Pfalz, Am Rhein, as well as at Courtmatrix, Limerick, Ireland.
He was listed as a Lutheran in the Board of Trade lists, London, England in 1709.
As the Rathkeale Church of Ireland Registers began in 1742, and as no other records have been found between 1710 and 1742, it has
been impossible to verify if Michael had other children than the two sons he arrived in Ireland with. Also it has been impossible
to find offspring of his first two sons. It is possible that they had larger families as there are many Switzers unaccounted for.
There is a Christopher Switzer buried in Kilcooly Church of Ireland cemetery who was born in 1716. He could be a son of Michael.
If so, the "Tipperary Switzers" are descended from Michael.
Michael Schweitzer’s cottage built in Courtmatrix, Limerick in 1709 is still standing.
Michael and Christopher’s father, Hans Jacob Schweitzer had been elected to the Assenheim Village Court in 1658 in an appointment
for life. His son Dieter was on the Court in 1712 when the "new" Town Hall was built - this is witnessed by his name being carved
in one of the vertical timbers, along with the names of the other Jurors and the Mayor. The building of this new Town Hall was
three years after Johann Michael Schweitzer and his brother Johann Christopher Schweitzer had left Germany and immigrated to Ireland.
Hans Jacob Schweitzer’s other son Dieter later (1758-1787) became the Mayor of Assenheim.
This is the Town Hall in the village that our ancestors had lived in at Assenheim, Germany over 300 years ago. Built in 1712, the
builders of it carved their names along the length of one of the beams.
One of his sons was Johann Jacob Schweitzer. He was born in 1656 at Assenheim, and he died in 1746. He became father to
Michael Schweitzer who was born in 1681 at Assenheim, Pfalz am Rhein, Germany. Michael, along with his brother Christopher
Schweitzer left Germany after a terribly cold winter that destroyed their grapevines. He immigrated to Courtmatrix , Ireland
and died there in 1768. His son Martin “Ye Elder” became known with the anglicised version of the Schweitzer name “Switzer”.
Martin “Ye Elder” Switzer was born in 1712 in Courtmatrix, Limerick, Ireland, and died in 1787.
Martin’s son Adam Switzer was born 1751 in Rathkeale, Limerick, Ireland and also died in 1793, Rathkeale, Limerick, Ireland.
Adam married Barbara Dolmege / Dulmage(sp?) and they named their first son Christopher. He was born in 1776 at Rathkeale,
Limerick, Ireland, but decided to leave Ireland in 1825 for Canada and immigrated to Nepean, Ontario along with his wife
Sarah Jane Miller and their five children. Christopher Switzer died in 1862 in Nepean, Ontario, Canada and is buried in the
Union Cemetery in Bell’s Corners along with his wife Sarah Miller. One of his children who arrived with him would later
inherit the family farm. His name was also Christopher Switzer and he also married a Sarah, but with the surname Elliot.
This cottage is the ancestral home of the first Christopher Schweitzer in Ireland. It is located in Courtmatrix, Limerick.
Built by him in 1709 it is now over 300 years old. The Switzer family lived here until the 1960s until it became abandoned.
As of 2000, the home was still unoccupied and overgrown. In July of 2004, a distant Irish relative, Gary Switzer purchased the
property and has lovingly restored it with extensive renovations, and this is how it looks today.
To read more about the Switzer Cottage at Courtmatrix, please go to this Facebook link:
The Switzer Family Immigrates to Nepean, Ontario, Canada
Christopher Switzer (b. 1776-d.1862) and wife Sarah Jane Miller (b. 1784 - d. 1866 no photos available) sailed to Canada in 1825,
originating from Limerick, and then Dublin Ireland. They arrived in Canada with five children, Adam (b. 1805 – d.1866),
Maryann (b. 1807 – d. 1893), Christopher Junior (b. 1810– d. 1887), Emily and Joseph (b. 1817 – d. 1906), although genealogy
records show that there were two other children born in Ireland that did not sail with them to Canada, Letitia (b. About 1823 – d. ?)
and George (b. About 1825 – d. ?).
They arrived in Canada in 1825 and built a limestone house and log barns on their farm on the 200 acre parcel of land that
Christopher purchased, located on Lot 31, Concession 2, Nepean, the location of which was between Woodroffe Avenue and Greenbank Road,
and ran the full length of Knoxdale Road. This area became known to the locals as “Switzer’s Corners.
The Switzer’s original limestone home and barns burned down in the great Carleton County fire of 1870.
Christopher Switzer junior (b. 1810 - d. 1887) and Sarah Jane Elliot (b. 1818 - d. 1893) and their sons and daughters.
No photo of Hannah was available.
In 1862, when the original settler Christopher Switzer died, his son Christopher junior inherited the farm. Christopher
married Sarah Jane Elliot in 1838 and they had 13 children, Mary Ann (b. 1838 – d. ?), Robert (b. 1840 – d. 1921), Hannah
(b. 1842 – d. 1914), Rosanna (b. 1844 – d. 1916), Ruhannah (b. 1845 – d. 1906), Christopher (b. 1847 – d. 1932), Sarah Jane
Victoria (b. 1850 – d. 1922), Albert (b. 1851 – d. 1927), Augustus Cicero Barsalom (b. 1852 – d.1920), Rachel (b. 1856 – d. ?),
Obadiah Chrysostom (b. 1857 – d. 1942), Abner Ezra Israel (b. 1860 – d. 1938), Henry Alexander (b. 1862 – d. 1885)
In the early 1870’s, Christopher junior ( b.1810 - d.1887) built a new brick home in front of the ruins of the burned limestone
cottage and lived there until his death in 1887. Upon his death, his son, Obadiah Chrysostom Switzer inherited the farm and
built a new wooden frame home for his bride, Emily Lillian Fussell in 1888, beside his parent’s brick house, where his mother
still resided until her death in 1893 at age 75.
Emily Lillian Fussell (b.1862 – d. 1918) and Obadiah Chrysostom Switzer’s wedding photo was taken on May 22, 1888.
Emily Lillian Fussell was born in Battersea, England at 44 Meyrick Road in 1862, and for unknown reasons her father, in
September of 1876, signed the care of Emily, then aged 8, and her younger sister Edith, 7 over to Miss Maria Rye of “Rye House”,
Peckham, England, where she ran a home for “distressed little girls”, usually between the ages of 5 and 12 who were in the
workhouses. Miss Rye arranged for the girls to immigrate to Canada. The girls were just two of an estimated 100, 000 “Home Children”
who were taken from Britain to Canada between the years 1869 to 1930. On May 31st, they sailed out of Liverpool England aboard
the SS. Sardinian and arrived in Canada June 11th at Quebec City. Emily was a British Home Child.
The girls were placed with different families in Ottawa but they did stay in touch over the years. Edith Fussell married
William Jolley and had five children. They moved to the USA in 1907.
This Switzer family photo was taken about 1907. My grandfather, Harold Stanley Switzer is seated on the floor cushion in
a sailor suit and was about 4 years old at the time this photo was taken.
Emily and Obadiah had 14 children in all. Their names were: Eva Lillian (b. 1889 – d. 1915), Christopher Samuel (b. 1890 – d. 1985),
Charles (b. 1891 – d. 1928), Emily Elizabeth (b. 1893 – d. 1974), Ernest Obadiah (b. 1894 – d. 1974), Ivan Albert
(b. 1896 – d. 1971), Alfred Henry (b. 1897– d. 1900), Eunice (b. 1899 – d. 1960), Hannah Maude G. (b. 1901 – d. 1951),
Harold Stanley (b. 1903 – d. 1985), Henry Alexander (b. 1904 – d. 1976), Frederick Augustus (b. 1905 – d. ?), Robert Gordon
(b. 1908 – d. 1974), and Edith (b. 1909 – d. 1909). Many family members are interred at the Union Cemetery in Bell’s Corners, Ontario.
Sometime after Obadiah Switzer away in 1942, the farm was purchased by the City of Ottawa, but land donated by Obadiah to
build Green Bank School # 11, (situated where Mac’s Milk on Green- bank Road now sits) still belonged to the Switzer family.
This piece of land was known to old day folk as “Bully’s Acre”. When the old school was demolished in the late 1980’s, Fred Switzer,
the only remaining son of Obadiah and Emily, donated it to the City of Ottawa.
Today the land has many present day uses. A section of modern day Hunt Club Road runs the full length of the original farm’s acreage.
About 25 acres accommodate Ben Franklin Park and The Nepean Super Dome. 100 acres is “greenbelt” being used for experimental
agriculture and the remaining 75 acres contain housing developments.
... Susan Murphy Sahlgren
E-mail Susan Murphy Sahlgren and Allan Lewis
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