Newsletter II

Ottawa, January 2007

The idea of a newsletter started some three years ago, when the Working Group decided that it would be useful to keep in touch with all the different Zollingers with whom we had been in touch during the year, and who had sent us information. At that time we sent out a kind of newsletter message to all those contacts where we had an E-Mail address. When the Web Site came into operation it seemed to make sense to add an information title, and use the newsletter format to provide some background on events connected to Zollinger family history research. And now, a year later, it seems to make sense to give that initial newsletter an update. We now feel that it would be useful to write a newsletter at the end of every year, which will give an overview of the progress made and the events that had taken place during the year which would be of interest to Zollingers. So even if you know the web site, it might be a good idea to visit it every January, in order to find out what is new with Zollinger family research.

The Data Base

During 2005 we had experienced a year of spectacular growth of our data base, thanks to being able to link into the Mormon Family research web site. It is quite clear that that kind of growth will never happen again, and we are now back to just adding one name at the time. This past year growth has happened more for Switzerland than the USA, as it seems that our Swiss contacts are less suspicious and thus less reluctant to provide information, which unfortunately is more and more becoming an hindrance to our work in North America. The assurances of privacy protection on our web site seem of little help.

The Data base tally at the end of 2006 was at follows:

Swiss File December 2005 16,526 Names
December 2006 18,393 Names
Growth 1,867 Names
USA File December 2005 9,062 Names
December 2006 9,362 Names
Growth 300 Names

Overall the two data bases combined grew by just under 2,200 names, which gives a growth rate of about 8 %. We now hope that this kind of growth rate can continue, and will try several new approaches to keep up this level for 2007. Two events were the main reason for the considerable growth of the Swiss file. One was that we have been able to link up with Swiss professional genealogist Fredy Dobler, who has been most helpful in providing us with new information, and will continue to do so. The other reason is that among the information that was provided by Fredy was the Marriage Register File from the Swiss National Archives (see details below). Both sources in their own way have added a substantial amount of information. The remaining information on both sides of the Atlantic came from personal contact with various Zollingers, who kindly helped by making information on their family available. We want to here thank them all for their support.

The Web Site

Our Web Site has now been running for a bit over two years, and according to the way the system is operating, it is moving up in the search engine hierarchy, and is therefore seen by more and more persons. The statistics on the visits are given below in a brief overview, based on more detailed statistical tables that we have put together.

Total Unique Visitors:

Jan. 2005
Dec. 2005
Jan 2006
Dec. 2006
Year 2005 Total
Year 2006 Total

Actual Visitors: (longer than two Minutes)

Jan. 2005
Dec. 2005
Jan 2006
Dec. 2006
Year 2005 Total
  Year 2006 Total

Pages Opened:

Jan. 2005 Dec. 2005 Average/month Jan 2006 Dec. 2006 Average/month
182 244 186 436 574 517
Year 2005 Total 2,360   Year 2006 Total 6,205  

The figures show a clear doubling of visitors, and a almost threefold increase in pages read. The accidental visits have remained about equal, with about 75% of visitors just clicking in and out. The reason for this is largely the existence of the "Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome", where a lot of surfers look for medical information , and then obviously find themselves in the wrong place, and click out again. It is very encouraging that serious visitors read an increasing amount of pages, and the number of visitors who bookmark the web site is also increasing: to date almost 100 visitors have book marked our web site. This all seems very encouraging, but there is one great disappointment: in spite of all these positive statistics there were very few contacts made on the basis of these web site visits. This was one of the main purposes of establishing the web site: telling people that we are there, and encouraging them to get in touch with us. And while lots of people read the web site with great interest, book-mark the site, and even check out the contact information, I can think of no more than half a dozen contacts that were based on a visit to the web site. I can't explain this situation, but wish it were different!

Zürich Marriage Register

One of the key events of the year was that we were able to obtain the Marriage Registers of the Kanton Zürich for all Zollingers born between 1525 and 1880. This document and data base only exists thanks to a Mr. Schulthess, who spent years transcribing all marriage entries from the archive files onto a computer data base, and then making the file available to the Swiss National Archives. I want to here acknowledge our indebtedness to Mr. Schulthess, and thank him for his great work. Through Fredy Dobler we were then able to receive files containing a total of 3,753 Zollinger entries. Of these, 761 duplicates were identified, leaving us with 2,993 actual useful marriage records. These were then compared with our own data bank, and for each the reference was entered. Surprisingly few mistakes were identified, indicating that the data base has a high degree of accuracy. Of the 2,993 useful marriage entries, 2,452 already existed in our data base, and so the data base contains the names of 81% of the Zollingers in existence in the Kanton Zürich between 1525 and 1880! But when the information is more closely analyzed, it shows a much lower rate for female Zollingers, because many married outside the Kanton. For the male entries the figures are 1,476 names in the Marriage Register, and 1,390 in our Data Base, giving a figure of 94%! Our data base therefore has only 86 missing male Zollinger names, and it is estimated that about half of these are second marriages late in life.

The conclusion of all this marriage register work is that our Zollinger data bank is now almost complete for that time period, and we now even have a document listing the names of the missing ones, so that future searches can specifically locate these too. Through this list we will then be able to move even closer to a full and complete family tree of all Zollingers married before 1880! This is an incredible achievement, thanks largely to the diligent research of the authors of the many Zollinger family history books, to the dedicated Mormon researches, the lifelong work of Leland, and the numerous more recent contributions of many Zollingers.

The results of this work now also influences the direction of our future work: it will no longer be necessary to look through archives and old documents, instead we can now focus on those Zollingers who were born after 1880. Most of the older Zollingers living today would remember their grandfather, and the chance of finding him in the data bank is now very high. This means that we can with a great degree of confidence link every living Zollinger to the ancestors in the data bank with minimal actual research. And this is where we will focus our future work: contacting Zollingers by telephone, and asking them to cooperate in an effort to link them and their branch to the data base and their ancestors.

Family History Booklet

Our experience has been that people have many priorities which tend to be more important than to "waste" their precious time looking up family data. So when we ask our contacts to provide us with family information, we ask for a favour, and while there is commonly a lot of good will, there is also often little time or interest to follow through. To improve the level of cooperation we had to take a leaf out of some slick marketing program by trying to entice "customers" to buy our "product". In this case the approach has been to turn things around: instead of asking for a favour, we offer a "free gift". The gift is a family history booklet, with a slick cover, a family crest, a family tree print-out, and any additional information that is on file. All nicely presented and bound. And free! But like in all marketing, there is a catch: we can not produce the booklet unless we have a complete family tree. In other words: before we can give away a free booklet, we need some input from you. A bit cheap, but it seems to work.

The idea of the booklet first came up with the Zollingers from Jeannette, Pennsylvania, who with great enthusiasm provided the information on the different branches of that family. As a "Thank You" for their help we then provided each family with a free booklet. Since then Zollinger branches in Buchs ZH, Wädenswil ZH, and Arnhem, Holland have gone through the same process, and received their just reward. At the moment we are working on at least three more branches, and hope that our "cheap" marketing trick will help us to receive data on many more families. (see also "Free Family Tree")

Dutch Zollingers

Through a contact of a contact, all connected with the Swiss Genealogy Society SGFF, we were made aware of the existence of Zollingers in Holland. A search of the Dutch phone book provided some eight names, and a few calls led me to a Koos Zollinger of Groesbeek near Arnhem. He turned out not only to be a keen family historian, but also a typical reliable and conscientious Zollinger. It was a pleasure to work with him, and he has an interesting story. His ancestor Andreas Zollinger, born in 1798 in Fällanden, joined the Dutch army as a mercenary. Holland at the time had whole regiments of Swiss mercenaries, which even were under Swiss command. Unlike most mercenaries, he neither got killed, nor did he return home, but instead he decided to make Holland his new country. And so we have a whole branch of Zollingers descending from him, proud Hollanders and equally proud to be of Swiss heritage.

Koos made me aware of a second Zollinger family in Holland, but in this case lacking the long history in his new country. The father of Edwin Zollinger had emigrated to Belgium, but returned to Switzerland after WW II. As an adult, Edwin then had the opportunity to be sent by his employer back to where he was born, and so he ended up settling in Tilburg, Holland. There he brought up his family, and is now a proud grandfather to five little Hollanders. Edwin has closer connections to Switzerland, he has a brother there, and speaks Swiss German. He too was very keen to provide information on his family, and he too now has a family tree booklet.

So welcome to the two latest branches of the grand Zollinger family, the two Dutch Zollingers!

An Italian Connection?

A bit of a mystery was provided to me by a keen Zollinger family researcher, Brent Madson from Logan, Utah. Some years ago he was on a trip through Europe, which included a visit to Verona, an ancient city in northern Italy. On a guided tour he was shown the grave of an early ruler of Verona dating back to 1227. Nothing special except hat the family crest shown on the monument was almost identical to that of the Zollingers! The person for whom the memorial was erected was an early ruler (Podesta) of Verona, who had the name "Mastino della Scala". Those were rough times, and he was murdered in 1227, but his brothers continued the dynasty for several generations, until the line came to an end in 1387.

The name "Della Scala" however was an aristocratic alteration of the initial name of the family, which was "Scaligeri". The word "Scala" in Italian refers to stairs (or ladders), and the English verb "to scale" has the same roots. But the name "Scaligeri" itself was an adaptation to the Italian language of the original name "Scalinger". Still, both the original name and the italianized form of the family name refer to the same root of the word "scale", linked to the family crest with the ladder. The ending of the word "inger" is not of Italian origin, but is very common in Germanic names. Is there a possibility that the fore-bearers of the rulers of Verona came from north of the Alps. There is a further hint for that possible origin: the second ruler, the younger brother of Mastino, was said to have surrounded himself with German mercenaries.

Is the name Scalinger linked to the name Zollinger? The argument has been made a number of times that the place of origine of the name Zollinger in northern Italy, probably on the basis of these facts. Or is it more likely that an early Zollinger moved to northern Italy, and "italianized" his name? And how does the family crest fit in? Many questions, no answers!

The earliest record of the Zollinger family crest is 1332 in the "Edlibach Book", more than a hundred years after the existence of the Scalinger family. The name Zollinger evolved from the earlier "von Zollikon" between 1450 and 1500, when the bearers of the aristocratic name lost their high standing, and with it the "von". Again the name Scaligeri/Scalinger was in use over two hundred years earlier. The possibility that a Zollinger moved to Verona and changed his name to Scalinger could thus be ruled out. Did a Scalinger from Verona move to Grüningen and change his name to sound more Germanic? Equally unlikely.

A remote possibility would be that an early aristocratic "von Zollikon" moved to Verona between about 1180 and 1220, where his high social standing helped him integrate with the rulers of the city. But the "von Zollikon" of the time did not have a ladder in their crest, they used a crest that is closely related to today's crest of the town of Zollikon. Gustav Zollinger discovered that same crest was used by a German aristocratic family called "Zollenkopf", which would indicate that this family had roots in Zollikon too. Was there a common movement of such aristocratic persons across Europe at that time, maybe as adherents to some ruler or as military leaders?

Is there a link between all these facts? Until we can find better documentation, I would tend to think that the whole Italian link is a series of coincidences. But should you visit Italy, and especially the very interesting old city of Verona, have a look at the monument of the "della Scala" family, and if the topic fascinates you, you could research the family tree of the "della Scala/Scalingers" going back a couple of generations from the founder of the dynasty, Mastino della Scala, to see where he came from.

Mormon Contacts

The early research into the Zollinger family was almost exclusively done by Mormon missionaries, who returned to Switzerland, in particular the sons and grandsons of the two original Zollinger emigrants. They pulled together an amazing amount of material, and I have been privileged to have access to this data through the web site . Equally helpful were my contacts with several Mormon genealogists, foremost among them Blanche Madsen-Zollinger and Katherine Nielson-Zollinger, who provided me with an enormous amount of Zollinger material. There were also numerous other LDS contacts who helped me with data on their own families. And finally, over the years many younger persons of that faith contacted me because they were interested in establishing their own family tree. With all those many contacts I am most grateful that I received their support and help, and in recognition of that help, I had decided last year to write a special section on the Zollinger web site paying homage to that important branch of the family. I had both those articles carefully checked by several of my LDS contacts, who all made some corrections, and then approved the text.

But then a strange thing happened. Over the past year all contacts with Zollinger members of the LDS church have dried up, and today I do not have a single contact with all the persons I had worked so well with earlier on. Have they suddenly lost interest in their family research? Unlikely. That makes me suspect that I, as a non-LDS, might have said something, maybe in the web site text, which might have affronted that group, and that may be the reason why they have broken off contact. That would be very unfortunate, and I would very much like to apologize for any offence, and only wish that I could re-establish these contacts. This all the more so because as complete and accurate the older information is on that part of the Zollinger family tree, as poor is the record on the many branches of Mormons alive today. So there is still a lot of work that needs to be done.

The Working Group has put together a "Zollinger Phone Book", which contains 98 Zollinger entries for Utah, of which only 45 are in the data base. Similarly there are 77 Idaho Zollingers, of which less than 40 are on record. This means that I have over 100 LDS families (not counting those in California, Oregon and elsewhere), whom I have not been able to enter into our data bank. It is now our plan to call these families in order to try to get the missing information. But there seems another obstacle: of all the Zollingers we have been in contact with, the Mormon contacts seem far more worried about identity theft, and therefore much more reluctant to provide information. Other segments of the US population we have been in contact with do not seem to react that way, and tend to be less suspicious and thus more cooperative.

Whatever the reason, I would love to re-establish my contacts, and to continue to work on the many Mormon branches that are still missing from the database. But for that I need your help and cooperation.

In my own cause.

Finally a few remarks about my own work. I am in contact with literally hundreds of Zollingers, and keep an extensive address list. But as my age progresses, I find that my memory dims. I sometimes have a hard time keeping the different Zollingers apart, and have caught myself writing to the wrong person, or mentioning facts where I clearly got mixed up between different individuals. So be patient with my poor memory, it is not always easy keeping everybody and everything straight.

On the same note, I do get many greetings, notes and even invitations from my Zollinger contacts. Please appreciate that I can not always answer them, nor is it possible for me to send Christmas cards to all these contacts. The cards I do get are certainly all appreciated, but unfortunately this has to remain a bit of a one-way-street. That is why I want to thank you all here for the kindness you have shown.

The type of work also has its own dynamics in relation to contacts. When I make a new contact, there is often a lot of excitement and good will. Help is offered, and promises made. And then the demands and pressures of every-day life take over, and things get forgotten. Then, after some waiting, I can't help but make contact again, in order to remind the person of the promises. And that may repeat itself, until I live up to my name as "Mister Pester", as my calls may start to border on pestering. I don't mean to do that, but I often have no choice. But when I finally find that even pestering does not work, I do have enough sense to then drop the issue.

Once a working relationship is established, there is usually a flurry of E-Mails, as we gt to know each other. And while I very much value and cherish every Zollinger contact in its own right, my primary goal is still to get family history information. I therefore tend to keep up the contact until the data on that branch is complete, but once the main reason for the contact is no longer present, I have to move on. Do not be surprised if at that point the contact dwindles, and may come to a stop altogether. That is simply because time constraints do not allow me to keep corresponding with all the Zollingers I have been in touch with. This may look to the individual as if I was a "friend" only as long as I wanted information, and that I then drop the friendship as soon as I have what I want. The nature of my work is such that I follow my goal of building the family tree, and my frequent contact is mainly for that purpose. But then I have to move on, make new contacts and start new correspondence. That does not mean that I dropped you, it only means that I have achieved my goal, and am now pursuing research on other family branches. And you can anytime continue to send me E-Mails, ask questions or send up-dates. And every year you can go to the web site and read our latest newsletter, and that way you can keep informed as to what has happened to the Zollinger family tree, and our family history research.

Marcel Zollinger
OTTAWA, 10 January 2007.

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