Anna Köhl-Bruesch (1801-†1870) - farmer woman in the Hinterwalde

Anna Köhl, married in 1825 to Johannes Bruesch (1801-†1875).
Daughter of the relative Simeon Köhl (1760-†1845) and Ursula Hitz (1767-†1827).
Grandson of head guild master Bernhard von Köhl (1693-†1762) and Anna Wald (1728-†1796).

Children of Anna Köhl with Johannes Bruesch:

  1. Bruesch Ursula (1825-†1825), died shortly after birth.
  2. Bruesch Johannes (1826-†1894), marries Margareth Niggli (1825-†1872) of Malans in 1845, emigrated to the USA in 1867, 5 children.
  3. Bruesch Simeon (1828-†1854), marries in 1853 Maria Perl (1827-†1854) of Jenins, 1 child, died 1855.
  4. Bruesch Peter (1830-†1910), emigrated to the USA in 1871, no descendants
  5. Bruesch Elisabeth (1833-†1833), died shortly after birth.
  6. Bruesch Christian (1834-†1893), pastor and 1875-1893 town clerk of Chur, no descendants.
  7. Bruesch Elisabeth (1838-†1839), deceased shortly after birth.
  8. Bruesch Elisabeth Anna (1840-†1881), married Bartholome Wohlwend (1851-†1897) in 1872, 2 children.
  9. Bruesch Anton Ulrich (1843-†1843), deceased shortly after birth.

Husband: Johannes Bruesch
Children: 9
Occupation: farmer, housewife

Anna's childhood in Chur

Anna was born in Chur shortly after the turn of the century. After her birth, her father bought an apartment at the Schlafuzergasse (Lukmaniergasse 14) in Chur[3]. There she spent her childhood together with her younger brother, Simeon Köhl, and also experienced the famine of 1816/17. Her father worked as a master shoemaker with a small workshop right next to the apartment building and was able to provide well for the family. Her mother worked at home at the loom and earned some extra money. Ursula Hitz came from Malans, and Anna must have often visited her grandparents there and also met her future husband, Johannes Bruesch, a farmer's son of Johannes Bruesch and Elizabeth Reidberger from Jenins.

Lukmaniergasse 14-2--2022.jpg

Lukmaniergasse with house no. 14 (photo archive Markus Köhl)

The marriage with Johannes Bruesch

When Anna became pregnant, the couple married in early 1825 and moved to the estate "Hinterwalde", located on the outskirts of Jenins. Their first child, Ursula, was born in Jenins. The child was named after Anna's mother. Peter Köhl (Anna's brother), Konrad Nänni (Johannes sister's fiancé) and Frena Meisser (daughter of Peter Meisser from Davos/Pontresina) were registered as baptism witnesses. Unfortunately, the child died a few weeks after birth. But Anna soon became pregnant again and so the first son, Johannes, was born in 1826. He was named after his father. Anna's brother Simeon, Johannes' only sister, Elisabeth Bruesch, were registered as baptismal witnesses, as well as her fiancé Johann Konrad Nänni.

The bond between the families was very close. Johannes Bruesch traveled to Wilna (Ru) to attend the baptism of Chiathrina Köhl, daughter of Anna's half-brother Peter.

Anna had to accept another loss. Her mother Ursula died in Chur at the age of only 59. Shortly thereafter she gave birth to another son, Simeon, who received her father's name. One of the baptismal witnesses was Judge Johannes Lütscher, who was then to marry a Maria Hertner. Another son, Peter, was born. Also present at his baptism were notable personalities from Jenins, such as Judge Johann Wainzurle or Councilman Brunner.

Her brother Simeon must have often visited the family in Jenins and probably met Elisabeth Hertner there, daughter of former local councillor Christian Hertner. She soon became pregnant and the two were married in the Reformed Church in Mastrils. Johannes Bruesch was registered as godfather of the first daughter, also an Anna.

Anna's family continued to grow: Daughter Elisabeth unfortunately died shortly after birth. Son Christian, however, was then a healthy and strong boy. The next child, Elisabeth, died again shortly after birth. Anna had now already lost 3 children. Another daughter was born: Anna Elisabeth. This time there were no complications. Son Simeon was allowed to enter the cantonal school in Chur thanks to excellent grades. During the week he now lived in boarding house with his relatives, the Köhl-Hertner family.

In 1841, Anna's brother Simeon sold the Walthier-Schwartz estate in Chur. Her father Simeon therefore now moved to Jenins. He was now 82 years old and was dependent on Anna's help. Simeon Jr. continued to live in Chur, closer to his blacksmith business and the schools.

Her husband's father, Johannes Bruesch, died after a long illness at the age of 72 from gall bladder fever as a complication of consumption (tuberculosis). As the only son, Johannes inherited the farm from his parents. In the same year Anton Ulrich was born, but he also died shortly after birth. Anna was now 42 years old, it should have been her last birth. Nani Elizabeth Reidberger-Bruesch (64) continued to live with the Bruesch-Köhl family on the farm and supported Anna with her 5 children, as did her father Simeon.

At the same time, her brother in Chur was struggling with financial difficulties. His blacksmith shop did not yield enough money, applications for secure employment with the city of Chur were not successful. So, with the support of his relatives, he decided to set up a Fourniersäge in Jenins. He sold all his goods, bought land in the sand and presented his new project to the town of Chur.



Jenins around 1950 (postcard Roger Zimmemann)


Hinterwalde farm (photo archive Roger Zimmemann)


Hinterwalde farm of the Köhl-Bruesch family (photo archive Roger Zimmemann)


Jenins schoolhouse, undated (postcard)

1845, Hinterwalde in Jenins

So now Anna and Johannes lived on the farm with their sons Simeon (17, canton school pupil), Peter (15, apprentice) and Christian (11), daughter Elisabeth Anna (5), Nani Elisabeth (66), and the newly married Johannes (19) with his wife Margareth Niggli (20), as well as their father Simeon (85), whose strength was dwindling more and more.

Son Johannes Jr. helped in the agricultural business. Simeon was a clever man and wanted to become a teacher. He had entered the cantonal school in Chur in 1842 and probably lived in Chur during the week thereafter. Peter began an apprenticeship as a confectioner.

In Chur, however, the business of Simeon Köhl did not go as desired. Simeon seemed unable to realize his project and went bankrupt. In the greatest despair, he asked his family for support. But the chaos was so big that Simeon did not return to Chur and decided to leave Switzerland. So Simeon left Switzerland in the middle of May 1845 and fled to the USA. He left his family penniless. 1 month after Simeon's departure, father Simeon Köhl died of old age in Jenins in the presence of his daughter and her family.

In 1846, however, Johannes seems to have had financial difficulties. Due to outstanding debts, he was removed from office and a debt collection was initiated. However, he settled all debts and was rehabilitated by the Jenins municipal council. At best, the debts were related to the bankruptcy of his brother-in-law Simeon Köhl and a letter of debt from Judge Lütscher of Jenins.

In November 1847, the Sonderbund War broke out in Switzerland. Johannes was recruited and fought in the Swiss army against the insurgents. The civil war ended after barely 4 weeks. Johannes dislocated his right elbow joint in a fall and received compensation of 40.-- for it.

Son Christian felt destined for higher things and also entered the cantonal school in Chur in 1848. Peter completed his apprenticeship as a confectioner and traveled to Limoges (FR) after its completion [83]. Son Johannes seems to have worked for a few years in Chur as a butcher. Simeon successfully completed the teacher's seminary in 1850 and received the cantonal teacher's license. He was then hired as a teacher in Lavin (Upper Engadine). There he probably met his future wife, Maria Perl of Lavin. Shortly thereafter he is mentioned as a merchant in Parma.

During this time Johannes seems to have given up his position as a court clerk in Jenins. In 1850 he is described in a document as a merchant. It could be that this had a connection with the activities of his son Simeon as a merchant in Parma.

The children of Simeon Köhl

After the escape of her brother Simeon, his children were placed in the orphanage in Chur. Anna and Johannes helped the family left behind as much as they could. They took in their eldest daughter and Johannes' godchild, Anna Köhl, and took care of her. Johannes helped Anna find an apprenticeship as a seamstress, signed an apprenticeship contract with seamstress Tanner for her Anna.

The younger brother of Anna, Peter, was also a frequent guest at Hinterwalde in Jenins. Johannes often stood up for Peter, took him in when there were problems at school, stood up for him when he was looking for an apprenticeship. Since Peter was slightly handicapped, the commission for the poor wanted Johannes to take Peter into his home in Jenins. Johannes' efforts helped Peter to get an apprenticeship. He later worked as a shoemaker in Chur.

Their help was recorded several times in the minutes of the Poor Commission. Probably the Bruesch family supported their impoverished relatives in Chur much more. However, no information on this could be found.


1: Protokoll der Armenpflege Chur, 1851, StAC AB II/P 06.08 S241

2: Kaufprotokolle StAC B II 2.0019.0xx, Sxx Nr. 4712 xxx.1889

3: Kaufprotokolle StAC B III/F12.003 S97

83: Bündner im Russischen Reich, Roman Bühler, 2003

Relocation to Chur

Johannes still lived in Jenins, was a merchant and served as curator and bailiff in Chur. Shortly thereafter, the couple moved to Chur. In 1853, it is noted in the residence register of Chur that grandson Johann Jakob and aunt Anna Catherina Rietberger live with Johann and Anna. Christian, who was still attending the cantonal school, may also have lived with his parents. Son Johannes probably took over the farm in Jenins.

In the same year his son, teacher and merchant Simeon, married Maria Perl from Lavin. Simeon had been working as a teacher in Parma since 1850[83] and the two were soon expecting their first child. But the happiness was short-lived. The mother died giving birth to the child, as did the newborn. A few months later, Simeon (26) also died. The background of this drama is unfortunately not known.

Shortly after Anna's son Simeon died, Nani Elizabeth Bruesch-Reidberger also died in Jenins at the age of 75. Johannes and Anna still lived in Chur. On 21.4.1855 is mentioned in the Liberaler Alpenboten: "Kreis Maienfeld: Frau Pfarrer Susanna Blech, hiesige Einwohnerin; Beistand : Altgerichtsschreiber Johannes Bruesch in Chur".

Son Johannes jr. managed the farm in Jenins. His family of 5 children included Johann Jacob (14), Anna (11), Margaret (9), Maria Barbara (6), Simeon(4). Maiden Elizabeth Anna helped on the farm and supported her brother's wife.

Christian successfully graduated from the cantonal school in 1855 and left Chur. He studied theology in Tübingen and Basel (1855-1858) and was elected pastor of Luzein in Prättigau in 1859, which must have made his parents proud. Peter had been working in France as a confectioner for several years. Grandson Johann Jacob, like his uncle, trained as a baker.

Sale of the Hinterwalde farm

In 1862 Johannes Jr. decided to sell the farm. The family gave up their purchase and the home they had owned for many generations and moved to Chur in March 1862. The Hinterwalde farm was then sold to the Zimmermann-Hertner family in 1863. Grandson Johann Jakob had completed his apprenticeship and was now working as a confectioner in Anglikon AG, Christian had been serving as a pastor in Conters for several years. In 1864, Johannes jr. then registered in Chur. Where the Bruesch family moved to is not known.

First trips to the USA

Johannes jr. presumably traveled to the USA for the first time in 1864. So far, no documents on his entry have been found. However, it is certain that grandson Johann Jakob traveled from Hamburg to New York on board the Saxonia in October 1866. Almost at the same time Christian Köhl, son of Simeon Köhl, wanted to emigrate to America. But he lacked the means and so he stayed in Chur.

Renewed relocation to Chur

In May 1868, Peter Bruesch and his sister Elisabeth moved to Chur to Reichsgasse 46. Their parents were to follow 1 year later and also move to Chur, first to Karlihofplatz 5 and then right next door to Reichsgasse 65. Anna had grown up nearby, at the Schlafuzergasse (Lukmaniergasse 14). She and Johannes now lived together again with their two children Peter and Elisabeth. Peter worked in Chur as a baker, Elisabeth took care of her infirm parents. That the Brueschs moved to Reichsgasse was probably no coincidence. Right next door in house No. 67 (Süesswinkelgasse 6) lived Christian Köhl with his small family. At the same time, his sister-in-law Elisabeth Hertner-Köhl and her daughter Anna moved into house No. 63 (Reichsgasse 52). So the 3 families lived only a few meters away from each other.


Residences of the Bruesch at Karlihof from 1868-1873 (StAC, E 0229.002)


Karlihof with view to Reichsgasse (picture archive Markus Köhl)

Anna's death and the farewell to Chur

In 1869 her son Christian was appointed pastor of Haldenstein and now moved there. On June 4, 1870, Anna died of old age in her apartment at Reichsgasse 65 in Chur. Her husband Johannes, son Peter and daughter Elisabeth were able to accompany and care for her until the end. Anna was survived by all her siblings. Her son Christian was certainly present, as were many of her grandchildren. Johannes was probably already in the USA. Anna was buried by her family in the Daleu Cemetery.

Widower Johannes Bruesch continued to live in Reichsgasse. His daughter Elisabeth cared for the old man. Shortly after the death of the mother, Peter and grandson Jakob traveled to the USA, the other children of Johannes were to follow them. It now became quiet in the apartment on Reichsgasse, but only for a short time. In 1872, his daughter Elisabeth became pregnant and married the child's father, Bartholome Wohlwend from Davos. The widower now made way and moved in with his son Christian in Haldenstein. He died in December 1875 at the age of 74 in his son's home in Haldenstein and was carried to his grave by his Christian and buried in Haldenstein.


Daleu Friedhof in Chur (Aufnahme Stadt Chur)

The children of Anna Köhl

Johannes Bruesch emigrated to Baltimore (Verginia USA) around 1864. His children followed him, stayed in the USA and have descendants until our time

Simeon Bruesch (1828-†1854) attended the cantonal school in Chur and worked for a short time as a teacher in Lavin near Zernez. There he married Maria Perl (1827-†1854), a citizen of Lavin, in 1853. The couple moved to Parma where Simeon was active as a merchant. Maria Perl died shortly after the birth of their first child. Simeon also died in the same year. The orphaned child died the following year.

Peter Bruesch (1830-†1910) trained as a confectioner. After completing his apprenticeship, he probably emigrated to Limoges (Limousin, France) around 1846. He worked there at Frères Lutcher, pâtissiers suisses. The Lütscher family were also Swiss emigrants from Haldenstein[83] and related to the Lütscher of Jenins. Shortly after the passing of his mother Anna, he traveled with his nephew Jakob Bruesch on the SS St. Silesin from Hamburg to the United States in 1870 and settled in Gordonsville, Orange, Virginia. He lived for many years (certainly from 1880) in the home of his niece Margaret Bruesch, even after her death, and died in 1910 in Salem Town, Virgina. He never married and had no descendants.

Christian Bruesch stopped working as a pastor after the death of his father and was elected town clerk of Chur. From 1877 he lived in the Villa Schönfels, which he bought in 1888. The restless town clerk of Chur died of a heart attack in Chur in 1893.

Elisabeth Anna Bruesch (1840-†1881), married Bartholome Wohlwend (1851-†1897) in 1872. Elisabeth lived with her parents in Jenins and in Chur until her marriage. After their marriage, the couple lived in Chur on Reichsgasse for a few years, then also spent a short time in the USA and then lived in Pontresina. Elisabeth died at the age of only 41. The couple had 2 sons.

Brüsch- Johannes.jpg

Johannes Bruesch


Christian Bruesch

Impressum und rechtliche Hinweise