I suppose I my first clue as to the origin of our family came from a copy of Johannes (John) Holliger’s Certificate of Baptism. (My cousin Neil Holliker, has the original).
This is a fascinating document that has survived. The first thing that I noticed are the ‘folds.’ You can see how Johannes folded it to fit in his pocket.
The certificate is dated 23 April 1833. This was a little ‘perplexing’ to me at first. Why was Johannes’ Certificate of Baptism dated April 1933 when he was born in 1803? For many years this bothered me. Then I learned why.
The church of Rein was a “Reformed” church. I once asked Max (Baumann), “Reformed from what,” and he just looked at me. I then dropped it.
Max went on to explain. In those days, the church pastor was more than likely the most educated man of the community. And as such, one of his duties was to record church and village activities. This was often done on Sunday afternoon and evenings. Significant events – births, deaths, weddings, etc. – we recorded in ledgers (registers) that in turn, were kept in the local churches. For the most part, those registers still remain in the local churches of Switzerland. Copies exist in the archives.
Baptisms were by tradition, were held the first Sunday following the birth of a child. This was because of the high mortality rate of kids in those days. On the above document, Johannes’ baptism is recorded as “The 17th of a ‘Winter month’ 1803.” In German, the Winter months are November, December or January. So… I looked up the 27th of December 1803 to begin with. That day is a Tuesday. The 27th of January 1803 is a Thursday. And, the 27th of November 1803 is in fact, a Sunday. Therefore I concluded that Johannes was born the week proceeding 27 November 1803 – and this creates a problem.
I am more inclined to believe Johannes was born in November…
The other things I pulled from this document were the names of his parents:
Father: Johannes Holliger of Rein, Switzerland
Mother: Maria Hirt of Lauffohr, Switzerland
His God Parents are also listed on the certificate.
I still couldn’t grasp the disparity of the dates on the certificate: Winter Month of 1803, and 23 April 1833. Then, as I talked with Max, it became apparent to me. Until Johannes decided to leave, he would have had no need of his Certificate of Baptism! These certificates, in those days, served not only as “Birth Certificates,” but also as Passports. And he would have had no need of such until he was about ready to leave Switzerland.
So, I imagine Johannes departed Rein in the Spring of 1833.