Swiss Family Holliker: Johannes – Rein – Community

This is actually the crest of Rufenach, Switzerland.  The municipality of Rufenach absorbed Rein some time ago.  They sit about 2-3 miles apart.

This map is oriented North.  The pin, “A,” denotes Stilli, where Max lives.  Rein is just to the South of Stilli.  And of course, to make this all more confusing, there are two communities of Rein:   Vorder Rein und Hinter Rein.  ‘Vorder’ in German is ‘front;’ ‘hinter’ is ‘behind.’  Well, okay.  Johannes was raised in Vorder Rein.

Rein is a farm community.  The farmers in the area all live in town and farm the surrounding fields as is the custom in Switzerland.

I don’t imagine the communities of Rein, of the early 1800s, were much larger than they are today.  Very small communities.  The church is located in Vorder Rein, and was the focus of the society in the days of Johannes.

Often the church pastor was the most educated man of the community.  It fell upon him to record the activities of the community: births, deaths, marriages, baptisms, etc.  These events were recorded in “registers,” and kept within the churches – usually in the basements.  I have been in a couple of these churches now, and have seen these registers.  Fascinating.  They are written in “old German,” but once you become familiar with the language, they can be read quite easily (especially if you can read “new German.”)

In the days of Johannes’ youth, Swiss communities held “moral juries” to conduct community business.  Things like conflict resolution, village business, and so forth, were discussed and resolved at these moral juries.  And it often fell to the village pastor to record the proceedings, again in registers kept in the church basement.  It is from these registers that today we have an appreciation of what life was like in those days.  It is through Max’s work with these registers that I have the insight into Johannes’ life in Rein before came to America.

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