The origin

The Köhl family of Graubünden were originally nobles of Rogister and came from the principality of Jülich, west of Cologne, close to the present border of Holland and Belgium.

Arnold de Rogister came from Malmedy, a small town in the Principality of Luxenburg. His wife Gertraud van Külchen came from Grevenbroich, a small town in the Principality of Jülich. The father was a nobleman, craftsman and bailiff (official of the higher service) of the princely court of Jülich. The de Rogister-van Külchen family lived in Jülich. They were the parents of Julius and Johannes de Rogister.

Jülich in the middle of the 16th century

At that time, the Principality of Jülich belonged to the Holy Roman Empire and was Catholic. In the first half of the 16th century, religious disputes in the empire led to various regional wars (Schmalkaldic War 1547/48, Second Margravial War 1552 to 1554). In October 1542, imperial troops occupied Jülich and plundered the castle and noble seat. In addition, on May 26/27, 1547, almost the entire town of Jülich fell victim to a conflagration.[1]

The escape

According to the research of the historian and genealogist Anton Hercules Sprecher von Bernegg, the brothers Julius and Johannes de Rogister were expelled because of their religion (Protestant faith)[3]. The parents of the two brothers might have been of the Catholic faith. For an employee of the court, the Protestant religion would have been inappropriate. Therefore, it can be assumed that the two brothers joined the Protestant movement at a young age, which certainly led to tensions within the family and the community. Moreover, with the fire of 1547, the livelihood of the family may have been affected. Family tensions, economic difficulties and religious conflicts were thus present.

However, the question arises why they took their mother's name after their flight in Chur and why they considered themselves persecuted. Did they want to give up their family name because of the quarrel with their father, that is, to break with the family? Or were they wanted because of criminal offenses? An expulsion from the principality of Jülich would not entail persecution per se. Was it not an expulsion at all but an escape from criminal consequences? Perhaps in connection with her Protestant faith? In any case, it is certain that they left their family behind and did not leave their hometown voluntarily. They also fled to a distant place with a strong Protestant community to avoid being seized. And this took place before the escalation of 1575.

Therefore, the following thesis is more likely to be true:

The two brothers joined the Protestants (against the will of their family). For the father, a Catholic bailiff of the court, this was difficult to accept. A family quarrel might have escalated and the brothers might have been disowned by the family. The difficult economic situation after the fire of 1547 as well as the conflicts between Catholics and Protestants caused the brothers to leave their home. Or the brothers escaped arrest by fleeing.

Since they were afraid of being persecuted, their 700 km long journey along the Rhine across Germany probably took place without longer stops. Therefore, their escape probably took place in the same year as their arrival in Chur, i.e. around 1554.

Arrival in Chur

Around 1554, the two brothers left their hometown and settled in Chur shortly after their escape.

Chur had joined the Reformation from 1523 and was therefore a suitable place of refuge for the Protestant brothers. Chur was at that time the capital of the "Freistaat Gemeiner Drei Bünde", a kind of federal state, which had been founded with the general federal treaty of 1524 (this free state was dissolved only in 1803).

The two brothers go their separate ways

The older of the two, Julius, stayed in Chur, where he became a citizen in 1564[4]. The younger, Johannes, moved on to Bergün where he settled down, married and also became a naturalized citizen.[3]

Impressum und rechtliche Hinweise


The united duchies of Jülich, Cleves and Berg around 1540. Hatched the bailiwick of Essen, the condominium of Lippstadt and the duchy of Geldern inherited in 1538 with the county of Zutphen. (Putzger - Historical World Atlas, 89th edition, 1965)


The siege of Jülich Fortress around 1610. (Photo Jansen/Museum Jülich)


The bishop resided in the courtyard and overlooked the city, which he had largely dominated until 1464/65. Woodcut from the "Cosmographia" by Sebastian Münster, 1550 (Rhaetian Museum)


1: Geschichte der Stadt Jülich, Wikipedia, 2019

3: Sammlung Rätischer Geschlechter, Sprecher von Bernegg, Anton Hercules, 1847

4: Einbürgerungsbuch der Stadt Chur, Rathaus Chur, 1540, StAC ABIII P31.001