The Swiss Family Holliker: Johannes – Certificate of Baptism

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.

On his tombstone his death is recorded as 30 December 1881. You can then see he lived 78 years, 4 days. Crap!

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.

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2 Responses to The Swiss Family Holliker: Johannes – Certificate of Baptism

  1. Neil Holliker says:

    Evangelical Reformed Church

    The words Evangelical and Reformed come out of the European Reformation against the practices of the Roman Catholic Church. Evangel refers to the Gospel. The reformers taught that the Bible, Scripture itself, is sufficient to lead men to God and salvation. And men are made right with God by their faith in Christ and His Gospel. Sola scriptura, only by Scripture, and sola fide, only by faith, were two of their principles.

    In Germany, Martin Luther (1483-1546) led the Reformation movement, a former Roman Catholic monk himself. In Switzerland, Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531) was the principal early reformer against the teachings of the Catholic church. As groups of believers formed new churches they adopted names that might have Evangelical, Reformed, or both titles in their names.

    Today there are many denominations around the world that still have Evangelical or Reformed in their names. The early reformers adopted creeds or statements of faith which outlined their beliefs. Today’s Reformed denominations usually refer to one of the early creeds as a part of their belief system.

    About two miles from our house is a Reformed Presbyterian Church. They are solid believers in the Lord and during most of their services there is at least one reading from one of the early creeds or confessions.

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