Vreni Zollinger - Züger

Vreni Zollinger - Züger, Glarus, Switzerland


Among all the Zollinger family historians Vreni stands out for taking a very different approach to her research. She started out around 1992 by wondering about her relatives of the Zollinger side of her family, and wanted to find them and get to know them. One of her early goals was to organize a Zollinger Family Reunion, which she later on successfully organized, and of which there is a group photo in her book. Naturally finding these relatives required her to research into the family tree of her husband Friedrich Robert Zollinger, and so her research made her moved back through the generations, and then forward again along the different branches to the present day Zollingers. The result is a charming family history which focuses on the relatives living today rather then on a dry list of Zollingers long dead. And so her book is a photo album of Zollingers, with a life history of each family member, It is thus an alive book, and it celebrates all the Zollinger families around Switzerland as well as in the USA who can claim a common heritage. And thanks to Vreni they all met in Hombrechtikon on May 16, 1998.

Vreni's family name is Züger, and her roots are in the mountain village of Vorderthal, part of the Wäggital, where the construction of a large hydro dam further up the valley radically changed the quiet farming communities for ever. Vreni's parents moved to Uznach, where she was born in 1946. Her parents farmed an alp, and so Vreni grew up in a real Heidi type of life in the mountains, with cows and goats, with much hard work and with Swiss folk music. When Vreni reached school age, her parents took over a country inn near Benken, and Vreni continued to help with the inn, the farm and not least with the family folk band. Both her parents played the accordion, and Vreni and her sister were often asked to yodel to their accompaniment.

Vreni trained at the Swiss Hotel School in Luzern, and then at the Business School in Rapperswil. With those trade credentials she then worked in a meat product company at the nearby village of Bilten, and that is where she met her husband Fritz. Around that time she then decided to move to Näfels where she was able to leased a café, which she then managed for eleven years. In 1987 she and her family moved to Glarus, where her husband grew up.

Fritz Zollinger trained in business too, but then focused on the military, where he moved up the officer rank. But he also wanted to see Australia, and spent several years there, until his father fell ill, and he was called home by the family. That is when he took on a management position at the same firm in Bilten where Vreni worked. But the military continued to have a pull, and in 1986 Fritz was able to pursue an administrative career in the Swiss military.

With her ambition to build up the Zollinger family tree, Vreni was fortunate that a start was already made by a relative, a Peter Zollinger of Hinwil. But building from that base it was Vreni's hard work, determination and engaging personality that gathered more and more of the information, from town and church records to archives and museums. Her task became even more difficult when Vreni realized that a number of family members had emigrated to the USA. She was fortunate that she found a relative in Robert Zollinger living in New Jersey. Robert had already put his own family tree together, but he had not been successful to link it to his Swiss roots. With his contact to Vreni, he was then able to make that link, while at the same time providing data on the American Zollingers.

Although Vreni produced a substantial number of her family history book, these were strictly to be kept among family members. She in fact had to make a promise to numerous family members that the private family data would not be made public. And although Marcel and Leland were aware of the existence of the book through Robert Zollinger, they were unable to get a copy due to this obligation of Vreni. To her credit Vreni took her commitment seriously, and while she was happy to show Marcel her copy of the book during a visit of his to Glarus, she was most unhelpful when Marcel requested that she give him a copy. But life moves in mysterious ways, and only two years later a Swiss family researcher called Marcel with the information that he had found a "Vreni Book", and that he was making a copy. And now Marcel is in the process of making the customary six copies of this book, and they will join his little Zollinger library. For the time being though Marcel I will also honor Vreni's commitment, and not allow unrestricted public access to the book.

Among the many Zollinger contacts that Marcel has made over the years, he had the experience that it is more often than not the female family members of the family who are interested in Zollinger history, may that be because they "lose" their maiden name, or because they are interested in the roots of their new married name. And so Vreni fits well with a whole group of female Zollingers who have become the important genealogists in the family, and who have contributed immensely to the expansion of the record of the Zollinger family.

Reference: based on text in: Family Tree of the Zollinger of Grütrain, Hombrechtikon by Vreni Zollinger-Züger, Glarus, Switzerland, written by Marcel Zollinger, Ottawa, December 2004

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