I decided to take a minute to think about the Swiss. For many reasons. My Steiner match is the first person to make me think about this. Without many other Swiss matches, it seems less likely but my really close Elmer match (with a really late census record saying Ephraim’s dad was from Germany) brings it back to mind. Elmer is a Swiss name too. It’s a place name from Elm Switzerland.
The Elmer tree that runs to England seems really solid, but I began to stew on the Swiss and think that I gave them short shrift. When I look at my map of German matches a few are up north but a few are in the south west in and around the Rheinland-Pfalz area.
This from the article on Rheinland Pfalz:
“Certain colonies in the United States were settled by major groups of poor Palatines—then refugees in England—passage paid for by Queen Anne to reduce the number of impoverished families who had taken refuge in London. In 1710 the English used ten ships to transport nearly 3,000 Germans to the colony of New York. Many died en route, as they had been weakened by disease. They were settled in work camps along the Hudson River, where they developed naval stores for the English to work off their passage. Churches set up in both the East and West Camps provided some of the earliest population records in New York. In 1723 the first hundred heads of families were allowed to acquire land west of Little Falls, New York along the Mohawk River, in what was called the Burnetsfield Patent after the governor. This became Herkimer County. The Germans and their descendants were important in the defense of the Mohawk Valley during the American Revolutionary War.”
Note that the article mentions Herkimer County by name where Ephraim Elmer is from. These Elmers from New York live among Helmers, but keep their Elmer name rather than take on the more common name Helmer. It could be for differencing because they are English Elmers or it could be a direct reference to being Swiss Elmers from Elm Switzerland. It could also be a quirk of the family and have nothing to do with their origins at all.
I read in several articles that Swiss Mennonites left persecution in Switzerland and settled in the Palatinate, later Palatines made the journey mentioned above to England and then on to the Americas. This is probably the migration my Finks family made, so it’s not unfamiliar territory.
How would this connect to my Thompsons from Pennsylvania, well, like my Steiner match, many Swiss and German immigrants settled in Pennsylvania. One good reason I’ve been on the lookout for German Thomassons.
So there is my reasonable doubt about English-ness. They may just be close genetic relatives of Saxon ancestors or they could be a buried connection to my Pennsylvania family. Either way, I can’t afford to ignore the Swiss or Germans just yet.