The Family History Page

This research is a work in progress. Much information is incomplete.
If you would like to add or change information, please write to cowley(at)addr(dot)com.

Special thanks to James Price for supplying the following information.

John Elias Waelchli

obtained from Odin's Acre at

Karin Field-Smith wrote:

John Waelchli, father of Fred was born in Canton Bern Switzerland on Jan 16, 1831. At 20 he immigrated to Hannibal Ohio. Fred was born in Ohio and subsequently became a New Church Minister, and was assigned a posting in Berlin, Ontario, near Toronto, later became Kitchener, because he was fluent in German. Fred's son Victor, my grandfather, your great uncle served in the trenches of Europe during the Great War, and later immigrated to the US.

If you do a google search of Waelchli it turns up many Swiss sites, and when Alia was there a few years ago she discovered many Waelchli's. And yes, the story of the Swiss tourist at the Grand Canyon is true.

The true authority on all this is Esther's sister Mary Griffin, 80 yrs old and sharp as a tack. No email but I can give you her snail address if you want it.

obtained from a newspaper clipping

"Mr. John Waelchli, who died at Allentown, PA on September 17th, 1905, at the age of seventy-four years, was born in Switzerland. (Canton Berne), on January 6th, 1831. The family was originally of Italian descent. He received a classical education at the College of Interlaken, but did not complete the course, as the College was closed and the faculty dismissed by the government on account of some political disturbances.

Mr. Waelchli for some time taught school in Switzerland, but in the year 1851 he emigrated to America and settled in Hannisbal, Monroe Co., Ohio, where he married Miss Mary A. Schaffroth, a Swiss lady, on September 13th, 1864. In 1869, with wife and two children, he removed to Allentown where he took up newspaper work, and before long became editor of the Welt Bote, a widely circulated German weekly. On the staff of this paper he worked almost to the day of his death, and during the whole thirty-six years of his editorial life he but once had a vacation..."

obtained from a newspaper clipping

"...he died of the effects of a stroke of paralysis sustained August 17 last since which time he has been confined to his bed, though remaining conscious to the end.

Deceased was born January 6, 1821 [note-this is the year recorded in this particular obituary] in Berne, Switzerland, and was a son of John and Anna Waelchli. He taught school in his native land and attended the college at Interlaken later teaching in the college and leading the choir which won in severe competitions. When 20 years old he emigrated to America and settled in Hannibal, Ohio where he taught school, clerked in a store and was the postmaster. While living here he married Miss Mary Schaffroth on September 13, 1864, and five years later removed to this city, becoming a reporter on the Lecha Bote and a little later the editor of the Welt Bote. He prepared the annual calendar issued by this paper.

Mr. Waelchli was a gentleman of the highest culture, intelligence and refinement. He was a botanist of wide information, was widely read, spoke five languages fluently and a member of the New Church (Swedenborgian) and an active member in the local congregation since it was organized here. He attended numerous conferences of the church, representing the local church.

He is survived by his widow and eight out of a family of ten children. the children are: Rev. Fred E. Waelchli, Berlin Canada; Mrs. E. S. Price, of Bryn Athyn, and Alma, attending a college at the same place; Laura, India and Fannie, at home; Homer, of Omaha; Noah, of St. Louis. Fred Waelchli, of Clarendon, Ohio, is a brother and surviving sisters are: Mrs. Anna Otto and Mrs. Lizzie Lane, of Wheeling, West Virginia. There are sixteen grandchildren...

Mary Ann Schaffroth

Mary Schaffroth, born to Johann (John) [1811-1863] and Elizabeth Stettler Schaffroth [1816-1863] who were originally from the area of Worb, Switzerland, married John on September 13, 1864. They met in the area of Hannibal, Monroe Co., Ohio, where John taught school in Mary's neighborhood. In 1869 their family (of two children at the time) relocated to Allentown, PA.

They had the following children:

  • Rev. Fred E. Waelchli, Berlin, Canada
    [see photos: with father John and sister Lily | as a Reverand (painting) | with granddaughter Ingrid]

    Sent by Victor Odhner in January 2004 (copied it from the HCOdhner Newsletter (Digest) Vol 6, Issue 2):

      Rev. Fred E. Waelchli served in Baltimore before becoming pastor of the Berlin (Kitchener) society. In Baltimore, they lived in a second-story walk-up above commercial properties. I think that may also have been where they held church, but I'm not sure. That's where Constance was born, according to Roland Trimble who knew FEW at that time (and may have come into the church partly through him) and told me this when we lived in Baltimore in the 1977-1980 time frame. After Kitchener, FEW served in Cincinnati.

      The common thread of all three pastorates was German-speaking parishioners. Did you know that Baltimore was a German town? While living there, we followed their local tradition of having Sauerkraut with our Thanksgiving Turkey!

      The Baltimore Society of the General Church later built a little settlement in the town of Arbutus, south of the city. There is a Waelchli Avenue there, named after their former pastor. (There's also a Vera Avenue - I'm guessing that was after Vera Pitcairn, a daughter of Raymond and Mildred Pitcairn, I believe she died as a child; but that part is just my guess as to whom the street would have been named after.) That part of Arbutus was badly run down and overgrown when we drove through there. I wonder who the New Church residents were, and whether that group had a common thread with the current Baltimore and Washington societies.

  • Mrs. E. S. Price, of Bryn Athyn, PA
  • Alma
  • Laura
  • India
  • Fannie
  • Homer, of Omaha
  • Noah, of St. Louis

Other Waelchli names:

Wälchli spelling version

    Because of your website a second cousin from Finland contacted me. It turns out that her great-great-grandfather was from the Bern, Switzerland Waelchli family. I'm sure Jan Barnhart who is researching the Waelchli family for the historical society will contact you for another posting. He sent me her recent letter with the Finnish Waelchli line. This is his find so he needs to post it.

    Another interesting development to finding more Waelchli info, especially the Switzerland connections, you are looking for is to ALSO post using the Swiss Spelling of Waelchli which is Wälchli

    I also located all the Waelchli immigration records at the Ellis Island web site. I had missed Arnold and his family before, because they used the spelling "Walchli" with an umlaut over the letter A. The umlat is frequently replaced by the letter E following the A. Marti shows there as "Martha". Makes sense - I knew that "Marti" was only a pet name. I told Elina Yla-Narva that I was forwarding her message to you as she expressed a desire to contact Waelchli descendants.

    --Submitted by Corra Ward, September 2005, Texas, USA

Arnold Wälchli,

    born 1883 in Bern. His parents were Arnold Wälchli and Anna Maria Burri, also from Switzerland.

    My grandfather moved to Finland 1903 and married Hulda Tervala 1909. His younger brother Andreas also moved to Finland, but his sisters called Marie, Therese and Martha (?) had moved to America. My grandfather was in contact with his sisters (we still have a photo of Marie and her son Tom), but unfortunately the contact was lost after his death.

    Would it be possible that the Wälchlis mentioned on your website belong to the same family as brothers Arnold and Andreas Wälchli, who moved to Finland? They also had a brother called Hans, but our family did not hear anything of him after world war 1.

    --Submitted by Elina Ylä-Närvä, April 2005, Helsinki, Finland

Arnold Waelchli,

    born in Switzerland in [1855-1918]
    +Marie B. [1860-__]


    • Marie Therese [1879-__]
    • Therese
    • Marti (possibly Martine) [1893-1918]. Died from influenza epidemic.

    Marie Therese Waelchli came to Ellis Island in January of 1903. We believe her parents followed shortly thereafter. Marie Therese married Ernest Gilliard. He was chief engineer of the Pullman Automobile Co. in York, PA. I live near there and my research into the Pullman Co. lead to my acquaintance with Corra [Ward, granddaughter to Marie Therese].

    --Submitted by Jan Barnhart, June 2004
    (who researched the Waelchli name as found at the Yoe, PA, USA cemetery near his home)

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