Schindler's of Glarus Canton, Switzerland

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Surnames/tags: Schindler Switzerland
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Schindler Name Study > Schindler's of Glarus Canton, Switzerland

Schindlers of Glarus Canton of Switzerland and their history as a free family during the reign of the Habsburgs and participation as democratically elected officials following Glarus' independence.


Schindler Roots

The earliest known ancestor of this Schindler family is from Mollis in Canton Glarus of present day Switzerland. There, documented in the year 1289, is an Ulrich Wighus, the Upper (translated from German). The title "Upper" seems to have been used to distinguish him as the patriarch of the family, where successive generations were referred to as "Middle" and "Lower" in what appeared to be a sizable family with multiple generations at that time. The younger family members would later refer to themselves as Wiggisser. It may not be clearly provable that Schindlers are in fact directly descended from Wighus or Wiggissers, but one governor of Glarus from the 15th century did identify himself as Rudolf Wiggisser sem Schindler (Wiggisser called Schindler), as successive generations began adopting the Schindler name following some sort of patriarchal negotiation.[1]

Historically, in previous centuries, the Glarus region was controlled by the Säckingen Abbey, and in 1173 the rights to the Imperial bailiwick of Säckingen Abbey had in turn been granted to the Habsburg Dynasty, laying the foundation of Habsburg territorial sovereignty over Säckingen, and thus including the Glarus valley.[2]

In 1310 a medieval document (scroll) was created called the Säckingen Urbarium documenting fief ownership and taxation.[3] Families listed in the document were divided between 12 families of lesser nobility (free Comrades in Arms), 34 free land-owning families of the Abbey of Säckingen (including the “Wigkisere from which the present generation of Schindlers descend”), and 59 other families called “Horige” (serfs).[4]

There is no known connection of Ulrich Wighus of Mollis to any nobility (particularly since there were other pre-existing noble families listed in the Urbar), however it would be interesting to know if he was any relation to the Wighus lesser nobility of Zillisheim, located in the Alsace region of present day France near the Swiss and German borders, These nobles are documented from the 13th and 14th Centuries in relation to the commune of Mulhouse becoming one of the 10 Free Imperial Cities under Rudolf I of Habsburg. [5][6] (Mulhouse was to later join the Swiss Confederation between 1515 and 1798 gaining its independence as a free and independent republic.)[7]

Glarner Independence and Democracy

By the early 14th Century, following the death of Habsburg emporer Rudolf IV, the Habsburg Dynasty attempted to reconsolidate its power by attacking rebellious Swiss cantons that had formed the alliance now known as the Old Swiss Confederacy. [8] In 1352 Glarus had joined the Confederacy and in 1387 had declared its independence from the Habsburgs. In 1388 Glarus defeated the Habsburgs in the celebrated Battle of Näfels, winning against tremendous odds. Glarus did not attack the Säckingen Abbey directly and retained the image of the medieval founder of the Abbey, St. Fridolin, as the patron saint of Glarus.[2] The original banner of St. Fridolin, on exhibit in Näfels, was allegedly used in the Battle of Näfels.[9]

The changes in the Wighus family name could reflect the changing politics and status of the generations. The name Wighus (Anglo-Saxon) literally means "war-house," as in fortress or castle, while Schindler (in German) is a more modest, professional name meaning “one who makes shingles.”

2013 Landsgemeinde in Glarus.

In 1387 the citizens of Glarus held their first recorded "Landsgemeinde" (direct election) and setup their own government.[10] This democratic practice by Swiss cantons may have evolved over previous centuries originating with the Germanic “thing” (assembly) first depicted in a relief of the Column of Marcus Aurelius (193 CE). [11] [12]

The earliest Celtic roots of a unique federal society had been documented by Cicero, and the Celts as a threat to the Roman Empire documented by Julius Caesar.[13] The Latin name for Switzerland is "Helvetia" and the formal name for Switzerland common to all languages is the Latin "Confoederatio Helvetia" referencing this Celtic tribe. In 58 B.C. the Helvetii and other Gauls had attempted to migrate south, but were routed back to their homeland in the Alps and were allowed a certain degree of self-governance after being defeated by Julius Caesar.[14] Cicero mentions the Helvetii as one among several tribes of foederati i.e. allied nations who were neither citizens of the Republic nor her subjects, but obliged by treaty to support the Romans with a certain number of fighting men.[15][16]

Descendants of the old Swiss families, including Schindlers, may find Celtic origins in their Y-DNA test results. One Schindler descendant, with ancestry traceable to Ruti, Glarus, has been Y-DNA tested belonging to haplogroup R-Z46512, a subclade of R-DF27, thought to be "Celtiberian," i.e. Celtic people with ancient origins in the Basque region of Spain near the border with France. The R-Z46512 haplogroup has recently been identified as an ancestor of the 'Rox2' yDNA Cluster marking a sudden expansion thought to have occurred around the year 700 AD, with descendants concentrated around the areas of Ireland, the British Isles, and Scandinavia, based on hobbyist yDNA results.

Irish Influence

After the fall of the Roman Empire, there was a period where Irish (and Scottish) Christian missionaries returned to their ancestral homeland on the European continent, spreading Christianity, creating monasteries and possibly providing the spark for the European Renaissance, according to some historians.[17] Legend has it that one of these missionaries was an Irish monk named Fridolin, later known as Fridolin of Säckingen, who was on a mission to seek out relics of St. Hilarius and build a church for them. According to legend, St. Hilarius appeared to Fridolin in a dream and commanded him to proceed to an island in the Rhine River. Upon reaching the island of Säckingen, he recognized it as the island in his dream and prepared to build a church there. The emperor Clovis allowed him to establish a monastery on the island where Fridolin was later buried. Other legends provide strong ties of Fridolin to the land of Glarus.[18]

One may find the given names of “Fridolin” and “Hilarius” used often among the old families of Glarus, allegedly including some of the earliest traceable Schindler ancestors. [19]

Links for More Information

For more details on the history of Glarus please see Canton of Glarus. There is also in depth information in English on Patrick Wild's website about the history and ancestral families of Glarus: History of Glarus. Special thanks to Patrick Wild for translating information regarding: The Urbar from the Abbey of Sackingen and the Families from Glarus.

Notable Schindlers from Glarus

The New Glarus Colony and its Immigrants in the United States


  1. Blum, Dr. JJ. Yearbook of the Historical Association of the Canton Glarus 13-19. Second Lecture January 23, 1877. Glarus: Kommissionsverlag Tschudi, 1877.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Historisches Lexikon der Schweiz (HLS), Schwabe AG, Basel, ISBN 3-7965-1900-8 (2002–)
  3. Wikipedia contributors, "Urbarium," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed September 21, 2019).
  4. Schuler, Johann Melchior. “Geschichte des Landes Glarus.” Glarus: Druck and Verlag von Friedrich Schulthess, 1836, p 540.
  5. Sitzmann, Edouard. “Geschichte des Dorfes Zillisheim.” Sutter, 1883, p. 47-49.
  6. Wikipedia contributors, "Free imperial city," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed September 21, 2019).
  7. Wikipedia contributors, "Mulhouse," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed September 21, 2019).
  8. Bryant, Greg. “Medieval Movements and the Origins of Switzerland.” ECO-NET, "RAIN" (1991). RAIN: Journal of Appropriate Technologies. 99.
  9. Wikimedia Commons contributors, "File:Fridolins-Banner.jpg," Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, (accessed September 21, 2019).
  10. Wikipedia contributors, "Canton of Glarus," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed September 21, 2019).
  11. Wikimedia Commons contributors, "File:Germanische-ratsversammlung 1-1250x715.jpg," Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, (accessed September 21, 2019).
  12. Wikipedia contributors, "Landsgemeinde," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed September 21, 2019).
  13. Tatum, W. Jeffrey. “A Caesar Reader: Selections from Bellum Gallicum and Bellum Civile, and from Caesar’s Letters, Speeches, and Poetry.” Mundelein, Illinois: Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers, Inc, 2012.
  14. "Exploring the Celtic History of Switzerland" 2000. (accessed September 22, 2019).
  15. Cicero. “Pro Balbo: a translation.” London: W.B. Clive & Co. 1890.
  16. Wikipedia contributors, "Helvetii," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed September 22, 2019).
  17. O’Sullivan, Domhnall. “Gallus and the Irish monks: grandfathers of European culture?” (accessed September 22, 2019)
  18. Vita Fridolini, auctore Balthero monacho, in the following works: COLGAN, Acta Sanct. Hiberniæ (Louvain, 1645), I, 481 sq.; MONE, Quellensammlung der badischen Landesgeschichte (Karlsruhe, 1845), I; ed. KRUSCH in Mon. Hist., Script. Rer. Merowing., III, 351-69; Acta SS., March, I, 433-441. POTTHAST, Bibliotheca historica medii ævi (Berlin, 1896), II, 1322-23; Bibliotheca hagiographica latina, ed. BOLLANDISTS, I, 478; WATTENBACH, Deutschlands Geschichtsquellen, I (7th ed., Berlin, 1904) 155; HEFELE, Geschichte der Einführung des Christenthums in Südwestl. Deutschland (Tübingen, 1837); LÜTOLF, Die Glaubensboten der Schweiz vor St. Gallus (Lucerne, 1871), 267 sqq.; LEO, Der hl. Fridolin (Freiburg im Br., 1886); HEER, St. Fridolin, der Apostel Alemanniens (Zürich, 1889); VON KNONAU, Nochmals die Frage St. Fridolin in Anzeiger für Schweizergesch. (1889), 377-81; SCHULTE, Beiträge zur Kritik der Vita Fridolini, Jahrbuch für Schweizergesch., XVIII (1893), 134-152.
  19. Wild, Patrick. “Schindler Familie (F26943)” (accessed September 21, 2019).


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