Leland (Le) Zollinger

His full name is Leland Hale Zollinger, and he was born on the 26th of February 1929 in Loveland, Larimer County, Colorado. He was the fifth of eight children born to Genoa Samuel Zollinger and Ellen Bernice Howe. Leland has now been retired for quite a while, but he spent his career as an educator with a focus on statistical research, and he holds a doctorate in statistical techniques. He now lives in the mountains near Asheville in North Carolina, where he has a large house surrounded by the orchards which he had planted over the years in backbreaking work, the tending of which takes up much of his time. During the many frosts, hurricanes and snowstorms, the orchard also causes Leland many sleepless nights.

An interest in Zollinger genealogy was sparked one day while a young Leland was in the U.S. military service. He was shown his bunk at an air force base to which he had just been transferred to, and when he turned to the person occupying a bunk next to him, he said, "Hi, my name is Zollinger!", to which that person replied, "So is mine." That encounter developed into a livelong friendship with Arlin Zollinger from Goshen, Elkhart County, Indiana. It was also the beginning of an lifetime of devotion to the quest of discovering the roots and branches of the Zollinger family, which Leland started by trying to establish how he and Arlin might be related. After almost 50 years Leland has carried together over 12,000 entries in his computer database, and he has by now to a large extent documented all the large Zollinger branches in Switzerland, Germany and the USA. He has written thousands of letters (with less than 10% answered), and made hundreds of phone calls. He also visited numerous Zollingers in their own homes all across the USA, and has taken their pictures to preserve a record of those old-timers, most of whom are now by gone. He has also attended a number of Zollinger family reunions, has visited Switzerland more than once, and has in the process accumulated thousands of documents on Zollingers everywhere.

During his 41 year educational career he did not have the time to compile and analyze all the data that he had collected, but once he was retired he was able to work on genealogy more energetically. Many loose ends still need to be tied together, and much new information needs to be collected by contacting hundreds more families. Leland has not been able to keep up with the great advances of technology, and especially effort-saving advent of E-Mail. His old Macintosh computer is still going strong, but it has less hard disk space than a CD ROM, and so he appreciates that a new generation of genealogists is now able to help him in his task, being assisted by modern communications and data storage systems.

In spite of all this lifelong devotion to Zollinger Family History, Leland has never been able to complete his two initial tasks: to link his own family back to Switzerland, and to find the connection to the person who started all this: Arlin Zollinger. His own family traces back to the earliest immigrants to Pennsylvania, but most of these were from persecuted religious minority groups in Europe, who suffered prolonged persecution. Leland's forebearers too were most likely driven from Switzerland, and for two generations they made their home in the German Rhineland. And because these groups were refugees there, only minimal records of them exist, and that two generation link between Pennsylvania and the Zürich Highlands remains missing. As for Arlin, he does trace his own line back to Switzerland too, but it turned out that he is from a totally different branch of the family.

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