All four of our Great-Grandparent families –

  • Friedrich & Anna Maria (Ammann) Tschopp,
  • Conrad Emil & Clara Maria (Schoenfelder) Kellenberger,
  • Frank & Maria (Neshvera) Snobl, and
  • Joseph & Rosalie (Karban) Novak
- came to this country from central Europe, specifically Switzerland and Bohemia.

Flag of Switzerland
The flag of Switzerland

Switzerland, officially the Swiss Confederation, is a federal republic made up of 26 cantons, with its federal authorities in Bern. The Old Swiss Confederacy which dates back to the late medieval period resulted from a series of military successes against Austria and Burgundy. Swiss independence from the Holy Roman Empire was formally recognized in the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. Since the Reformation of the 16th century, Switzerland has maintained a strong policy of armed neutrality; it has not fought an international war since 1815, did not join the United Nations until 2002 and is frequently involved in peace-building processes around the world. It is the birthplace of the Red Cross, one of the world's oldest and best-known humanitarian organizations.

Flag of the Czech Republic
The flag of the Czech Republic

Bohemia was a duchy of Great Moravia, later an independent principality, a kingdom in the Holy Roman Empire, and subsequently a part of the Habsburg Monarchy and the Austrian Empire. After World War I and the establishment of an independent Czechoslovak state, Bohemia became a part of Czechoslovakia. In 1969, the Czech lands (including Bohemia) were given autonomy within Czechoslovakia as the Czech Socialist Republic. In 1990, the name was changed to the Czech Republic which became a separate state in 1993 with the breakup of Czechoslovakia.

Map of Central Europe showing family origins
Map of Central Europe showing family origins

Although some of the families and family members relocated at different times they did not move far from their own roots. Friedrich & Anna Maria (Ammann) Tschopp were in Fullinsdorf, Switzerland (the “T” on the map); Conrad Emil was in St. Gallen, Switzerland (the “K”) & Clara Maria (Schoenfelder) Kellenberger in Zwickau Saxony, Germany (the "Sc"); Frank & Maria (Neshvera) Snobl lived in Maly Ujezd in Bohemia (the “S”); and Joseph & Rosalie (Karban) Novak lived near Podebrady also in Bohemia (the “N”).

The maximum distance between any two of these locations is about 400 miles. That is roughly the distance from Cedar Rapids, IA to Louisville, KY, or Flint, MI.

Great-Grandparents Friedrich Tschopp and Anna Maria Ammann
Friedrich Tschopp Family
Friedrich & (3rd wife) Anna Tschopp with children
Theodor, Anna, Friedrich, Marie, Rosa, Reinhard, (infant) Hedwig (from 1905)

Great-Grandfather Friedrich Tschopp was born May 26, 1858 in Lupsingen, Switzerland to Ulrich Friedrich and Ursula (Biedermann) Tschopp. Lupsingen is not far from Fullinsdorf where Grandpa Tschopp would be born in 1891. Both are situated in the northwestern part of Switzerland near the German and French borders in the district of Liestal in the canton of Basel-Landschaft. The first written record of Lupsingen is from 1194 where it is referred to as Lubesingin. Its population in 1850 was less than 400. Füllinsdorf was first mentioned in 825 as Firinisvilla and in 1225-26 as Vilistorf. Its population in 1850 was less than 750.

Great-Grandmother Anna Maria Ammann was born May 4, 1863 in Roggwil, Switzerland which is south of Basel and west of Zurich near both Lupsingen and Fullinsdorf. The first recorded mention of Roggwil is from 854. Its population in 1850 was less than 1300. Currently part of the Inventory of Swiss Heritage Sites, Roggwil is home to the Gasthof Traube (a gasthof is a German-style inn/tavern) and Mammertshofen Castle.

Friedrich and Anna Maria Tschopp had six children: Marie (1883-1969), Friedrich (1884-1932), Reinhard (1886-1887), Anna (1889-1972), Grandfather Theodor (1891-1984), and Reinhard (1893-1973). Great-grandfather Friedrich was married twice more and fathered two more children.

Great-Grandparents Conrad Emil Kellenberger and Clara Maria Schoenfelder
Kellenberger-Schoenfelder Wedding
Wedding photograph of Conrad Emil Kellenberger and Clara Maria Schoenfelder (July 4, 1899)

Conrad Emil Kellenberger (Emil Konrad Kellenberger) was born June 9, 1866 in Sankt Gallen (St. Gallen), Switzerland while his wife Clara Maria Schoenfelder was born May 1, 1879 in Zwickau Saxony, Germany. Anton Schoenfelder and Pauline Schoenfelder (nee Guenther,) lived in Saxony, Germany. Theirs was a family of six: Ida, who died at the age of seven; Bernhard, twins Max and Mirna who died in infancy; Anton; and Clara Maria. Clara was born on May 1, 1879 and emigrated to US in 1880. St. Gallen is a Swiss town and the capital of the canton of St. Gallen. It evolved from the hermitage of Saint Gall, founded in the 7th century. It is home to the Abbey of Saint Gall, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Abbey's renowned library contains books from the 9th century. Zwickau is the capital of the Zwickau district situated in a valley at the foot of the Erzgebirge mountains. Zwickau is the center of the Saxon automotive industry, with a tradition over one hundred years old, including car makers Audi and Volkswagen.

Conrad Emil and Clara Maria Kellenberger had nine children: Grandma Selma Clara Pauline (1900-1985), Frieda Pauline (1901), Clara Mathilde (1902), Edward Conrad (1905), Rudolf John (1907), Paul Emil (1909), Conrad Emil (1912), Carl Anton (1915), and Alfred Richard (1917).

Great-Grandparents Frank Snobl and Maria Neshvera
Wedding picture (?) of Frantisek and Maria Snobl
Wedding picture (?) of Frantisek and Maria Snobl about 1884

Great-Grandfather Frank Snobl was born in 1862 and died in 1944. He was the son of John (1809-1905) and Marie (Hendrich) Snobl (1811-1907). He had three siblings.

Great-Grandmother Maria (Neshvera) Snobl was born in 1854 and died in 1938. They lived in Malý Újezd, a village and municipality in Mělník District in the Central Bohemian Region of the Czech Republic.

Frank and Maria Snobl had nine children: Jim (1886-1941), Marie (1888-1965), Anna (1890-1891), Frank (1891-1971), Bessie (1893-1917), Julia (1895-1962), Anna (1900-1993), Tommy (1901-1975) and Grandpa Joseph (1897-1959).

Great-Grandparents Joseph Novak and Rosalie Karban
Joseph Novak Family
Joseph & Rosalie Novak with children (rear) Anna, Jerry, Bessie, Marie,
(front) Rose, Helen, Julie, and Jennie (from about 1910)

Great-Grandparents Joseph and Rosalie (Karban) Novak lived near Poděbrady, a historical spa town in the Central Bohemian Region, Czech Republic. It lies on the river Labe 50 kilometers (31 mi) east of Prague. It obtained the status of a town from the king of Bohemia in 1472.

The history of Poděbrady reaches back to medieval times. A long-distance trade route running from Prague to eastern Bohemia and then on to Silesia and Poland passed through the then-forested landscape interwoven with a dense network of river branches. This important communication link intersected the River Labe to the west of the present town, at a place called Na Vinici. An ancient community and a small fortress originated near the ford. It is most likely that the position of this community is reflected in the present name of the town: Poděbrady – "pode brody" translates as “below the ford”.

Joseph Novak was born October 18, 1870 and died December 23, 1941. He and Great-Grandmother Rosalie had nine children: Marie (1890-1979), Anna (1892-1978), Jerry (1895-1982), Bessie (1897-1923), Grandma Rose (1899-1987), Jennie (1901), Helen (1906-1962), Julia (1909), and Libby (1912).