Emigrants of Chur

Many people from Chur tried their luck abroad. Emigration was officially encouraged by the city of Chur. Those wishing to emigrate could submit an application to the city administration and received a support contribution. Large waves of emigration followed during extreme famines, such as in 1816/17, between 1845-1855 and 1880-1885.

Church records, official records and letters tell of arduous work, of harassment, of homesickness and struggle for survival, of the sad lot or early death of the majority of these emigrants. Some were successful and remained in their new homeland, others returned to Switzerland disappointed.

Members of the Köhl family also emigrated. To be mentioned here are

  • Anton Köhl (1775-†), emigrated to America with his family.
  • Simeon Köhl-Hertner (1808-†1869) who fled to America after bankruptcy from his creditors in 1845.
  • Anna Dorothea Köhl (1805-), 3 children, emigrated to America in 1851.
  • Peter Köhl (1842-†1892), emigrated to Indianapolis USA in 1866.
  • Sebastian Köhl (1838-1871), emigrated to America in 1871. The family returned in the same year, Sebastian died on the return trip.
  • Christian Köhl-Riedi (1837-†1922) emigrated to America with his family in 1874. After the youngest son Simeon died, presumably during the crossing, the family returned to Chur.
  • Dorothea Köhl (1798-†1864), emigrated with her husband Christoph Gengenbach and one child to America in 1832 and settled in Baltimore. Descendants of the Gengenbach still live in Baltimore.
  • Jacob Georg Köhl (1865-†1943), emigrated to San Diego, USA and tried his hand at farming. He failed, but remained in the U.S..
  • Christian Köhl (1802-†), emigrated to Russia (Riga, now Latvia) and Vilna (now Lithuania) in 1830 as a confectioner[69]
  • Peter Köhl (1795-†1851) emigrated with his family to Vilna in Russia, worked there as a confectioner and established his own confectionery in 1845[69]
  • Peter Köhl (1794-†), son of city watchman Peter Köhl, emigrated to Odessa (Russia, now Ukraine) around 1820 (According to the 1820 tax book). At the same time Hartmann Köhl (1780-†1849) - confectioner from Bergün opened his confectionery there.[69]
  • Elisabeth Köhl (1778-†), sister of Jeremias Köhl married a Camenisch and emigrated to Ljubljana (today Ljubljana, Slovenia).
  • Elisabeth Köhl (1797-†1869) married Nicolaus (Nuot) Robbi and emigrated to Grondo (Russia, today Hrodna Belarus).
  • Köhl Anna Dorothea (1831-), married Samuel Vallzigari and moved to Varese (Italy).
  • Also several children of Anna Köhl-Bruesch (1800-†1870) - farmer's wife in Hinterwalde emigrated. 1850 Simeon Bruesch to Parma, where he worked as a teacher. Peter Bruesch to Limoges (Limousin, France) and America, where he worked as a confectioner respectively. In 1871 Johannes Bruesch traveled to the USA with his children. The family has descendants in the USA to this day.

Agents of emigration businesses offered appropriate travel arrangements to those willing to leave the country. From Chur, the journey went via Basel to one of the major ports of emigration such as Le Havre or Hamburg. This trip took about 2-3 days. Then it was 8-10 days by ship across the Atlantic to New York or one of the other destination ports.

Impressum und rechtliche Hinweise


69: Bündner im Russischen Reich, Roman Bühler, 2003, , Verein für Bünder Kulturforschung,


Advertisement of a travel agent (KB Chur, Freier Rätier, 12.9.1883)