Jacob Zollinger Life History Part 1

I was given a binder of information from my mother’s side of the family and in this binder I found a very valuable and precious life history.  I loved reading it so I want to share it with all of you.  I scanned it and converted it to text so that it could be searched.  I have pages 9-22 so there may be more out there that I don’t have.  I will publish it in parts to keep it at a manageable reading length.  Enjoy!

Origin of the Zollinger name

The Von Zollikon of Lutikon owned many Large possessions which in 1488, fell into the hands of an old woman. She made a dona­tion of goods to the church of Hombrechtikon for the salvation of her soul. The many who had been living on these estates then became rentors and not owners as before, having to pay fees to the church. In 1432, Johns de Zollikon de Gruningen, had many possessions in Itzikon near Gruningen and a cousin, Johannes de Zollikon de Lutikin, in 467, lived on the farms in Lutikon.

 Later the name changed and the noble (Von de) disappeared. The following surnames then came into use in the 15th cen­ary: Zollicon, Zollingcon, Zolliker, Zoll­yker, Zolligker, Zolliger and Zollinger. Here in Lutikon, my llth great grandfather was born in 1486 and in 1500 the surname Zollinger was found in Hombrechtikon, the birth place of my 9th great grandfather, Jacob Zollinger, in 1540.

 No mention is made of nobility, knight-food or noblemen after 1268. “However, the -record states that a Herman Von Zollikon, citizen of Gruningen, possessing a large area of the hills of Zollikon then called Zollikerberg, sells this forest area to the monastery of Oetenbach in 1449.

 In 1408, the town of Gruningen became, by purchase, a part of Zurich, the people became ordinary citizens and there were no more Von Zollikon in Gruningen after that. That is to say, nobility passes andthe name changed. The noble (Von de), meaning the noblemen of the housed Zollikon, disappear.”

In his book, ” A Guide To Genealogical Research,” Archibald F. Bennett indicates that the surnames now in use were derived from five different sources: 1. Patronymics or Sire names, 2. Place or locality names, 3. Occupation, trade or professional names, 4. Descriptive or nick names, 5. Names of animals and natural objects.

In our historywe have an example of a locality name. The name Usteri was taken from the town of Uster. The oldest ancestor of Elizabetha Usteri, my great grandmother, was Hans Von Usteri, born in Uster about 1460. After he had moved to Zurich the people called him Hans of Uster. He took the name of Usteri from the town of Uster where the family originally came from.

The following are surnames of people of Swiss descent, living today, whose surnames were derived from one or another sourcethat is mentioned above:

Fuhriman – teamster                        Schmidt-blacksmith

Kaufman – salesman                         Kuhfuss – cow foot

Hauptman – headman                         Spuhler – Singer

Schiess – sharp-shooter                    Ech – corner

Rinderknecht – cow servant                 Vogal – bird

Stauffer – a steep place on the mountain        Niederhauser – of the lower houses

Hockstrasser – an elevated place

Theurer – expensive article

Baumgardner – tree gardner

My progenitors,from my llth great grand­father, who was born in Lutikon, Zurich, Switzerland, down to my great grandparents, Johannes and Elisabetha Usteri Zollinger, are a matter of record on proven pedigrees and on family group records. Johannes and Elisabetha were the parents of seven children, Jacob Zollinger, my grandfather, being the youngest.

In the history which follows, given by my grandfather, Jacob Zollinger,then in his ninetieth year, I have made some insertions such as dates, names of individuals and places not before mentioned. I have also, when I thought necessary, altered his word­ing to give better connotation. In doing so I have exercised the greatest of care to con­vey the meaning intended. Other facts and experiences remembered by his son, Lawrence D. Zollinger, are also added. Every effort has been made to present exact historical information and wherever possible the words of grandfather, Jacob Zollinger, are quoted as they came from him. They will be found set apart in quotation marks.


My parents, Johannes and Elisabetha Usteri, were a very religious people. My mother came through a line of very prominent people who lived in the town of Zurich for 400 years. Three of her ancestors were ministers of the gospel, four were professors of theology and five were university pro­fessors. Other relatives were merchants, members of the city council, millers, doctors captains and a poet. My grandmother was a very prayerful woman and every time she came to see us she always told my mother to always attend to her prayers.

My early life on the farm


My parents taught us children to work and to be obedient. We had to go to school five and one half days a week and also had to take some lessons from the minister that didn’t interest me at all. In my early youth I had little time to play as I always had to help at home. At the age of twelve I attended school only one day a week and spent two hours with the minister and the rest of the week was spent helping my father on the farm milking cows, feeding cattle and other work that a boy of my age could do. My father kept cows because they were the most profit­able animals. With them he did all the work on the farm as well as selling the milk which they produced.

At the death of my grandfather, Heinrich Zollinger, my father inherited part of his father’s farm, Then he purchased two thirds of the Zollinger home which was at this time more than one hundred years old. We shared our large house in Urdorf with my sister’s family. The other half was occupied by our cousin and her family. The church and the cemetery were just over the wall from our house. I remember there were two large walnut trees growing in the corner of the church yard. Buried in this area were all the suicides. On the west side of the wall was a row of prune trees. My chums and I would pick up the ripe fruit on our side of the wall but were afraid to get the fruit on the other side.

My father bought more land and from his farm he sold cattle, grain, potatoes, peas, prunes and apples. From a grape vineyard located on a sunny slope, which produced excellent quality grapes, we made and sold wine. The produce from the farm, at first, had to be transported to market, a distance of six miles, by father and the older girls, on their heads.

My mother thinking there wasn’t enough money coming in, began weaving silk for a large firm in Zurich. The girls were also taught to weave and there were also some men who kept the looms in good repair. As a

rule no one outside of the city was allowed to do this kind of work, but as no one ob­jected, the business became a profitable one. The woven silk material was sold in 35 yard lengths.


One of the things I liked to do was to go swimming on Sundays with my chums.  On one particular Sunday, as soon as the preacher said amen, out the door we went to the river near by to swim. This was of course against the wishes of my mother. She was always quite strict with me and had told me to stay home that Sunday. When we boys were prepar­ing to leave the swimming hole a group of younger boys came to swim. One of these boys, a cousin of mine then eleven years old, also had the name of Jacob Zollinger. He got too far down in a whirlpool and was drowned. When the news of his death reached the near­by town of Dietikon by the river, my parents who happened to be there on business, think­ing it was I, became very much alarmed. As you may guess they thought it was I who was drowned. However, they were very much re-leaved upon returning home to find me safe and sound. I got a good slapping from my mother.


Not everyone could afford a wedding wit all the old fashioned customs.  When my eldest sister, Anna, was married to Hans Ulrich Haederli, they put in their order to the cabinet maker to have him make them a wardrobe, bedstead, chairs and table. They then engaged the miller who had four fine horses to go after their furniture. On the way back the wardrobe fell off and was broken. The cabinet maker who was along went back and took his wife’s wardrobe to replace the one broken. Anna Barbara, next to the oldest of my sisters, rode in the wagon with the newly weds, south to the city limits, the groom throwing money to the children who followed. The young couple then paraded to the hotel. A sucession of parties were given in their honor which began at the hotel and then moved from house to house for a period of three days. Almost a year later, Anna Barbara was married to Konrad Meyer, October 12, 1857. She died 7 weeks later, December 5, 1857 at the age of twenty-two. My brother Johannes was one month old when he died.”


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