top of page

Emigration to Norway

Ott Peter 1794 Sons
Wild Johann Heinrich 1820
Wild Markus 1839
Wild Markus 1824
Wild Kaspar 1790
Heftye Thomas Johannessen 1767
Ott Fredik Adam 1826 Bürgermeister Farsund 1870
Heftye Thomas Johannesen 1822_2
Heftye Johannes Thomassen 1792
Heftye Henrik Thomassen 1804
Heftye Thomas Thomassen 1860
Christiania Oslo 1895
Christiania Oslo 1650
Königreich Norwegen 1809
Christiania Oslo 1910
Farsund Harbour
Wild Markus 1824 Myren House

More than a hundred years ago, Norway, like Switzerland, was a country of emigration. At the beginning of the 19th century, according to estimates, one million Norwegians had already left their Scandinavian homeland for the United States of America. As in Switzerland, the desire to acquire fertile agricultural land and an active American recruitment of immigrants were decisive migration factors. 


Actual immigration of Swiss to Norway never took place on such a scale as was the case, for example, for emigration to North America. But despite the economically strained situation in Norway, the country attracted enterprising merchants from Glarus. It was always individual Swiss, especially those from Glarus, who came to Norway, acquired the right to practise a profession there, founded a family and thus became the progenitors of families that attained a certain importance in Norway and still have numerous descendants today. 


Glarus merchants traveled back and forth between Glarus and Norway for many years in the beginning and only later brought their families to settle in Norway. Melchior Tschudi, for example, received the Norwegian trading privilege in Kristiania (today Oslo) as early as 1811, but did not sell his house in Schwanden until 1835. The first merchants to come from Glarus to Norway were Hans Jakob Trümpy (1724-1792) and Adam Blumer, who both received citizenship in Bergen around 1758. At about the same time, the merchant Johannes Hefti (1730-1801) from Hätzingen also came to Tønsberg and received citizenship there. What all these immigrants from Glarus had in common was that they came from wealthy merchant families and had the corresponding trading skills. Export was nothing new for them. There were also linguistic similarities. Along with Danish, Low German was the language that had the greatest influence on Norwegian. Low German was a term for the West Germanic language used mainly in Northern Germany and the Netherlands. Low German has greatly influenced the development of Scandinavian languages and it is estimated that 40% of Norwegian vocabulary is of Low German origin. There is therefore reason to believe that the first immigrants from Glarus had no problems communicating with Norwegians, as they were traders with experience in trading with Germany and the Netherlands.


I was able to find the following Glarus trading houses and merchants in Norway:

(by clicking on the underlined persons you will be directed to the family tree of the person concerned)



Friedrich Ott(o) & Søn in Farsund


Probably prompted by Esajas Blumer (1668-1718) and Kaspar Wild (1685-1750), two wood merchants from Schwanden who were closely related to him and had trading establishments in Amsterdam, Captain Melchior Ott (1686-1779) from Nidfurn went to Horsens in Jutland in the second quarter of the 18th century and started a small business there with various Glarner articles, as well as cotton cloth. Later he and his sons Adam Ott (1717-1771), Balthasar Ott (1720-1757) and Samuel Ott (1730-1802) expanded the trade to Norway, where Balthasar also died in Bergen in 1757.


Fridolin (Friedrich) Ott (1749-1817), a son of Adam, began his career in Farsund, on the west coast of Norway, running a colonial and textile business under the firm of Friedrich Otto & Søn. His son Peter Ott (1794-1844), also a merchant in Farsund, became Danish Consul. His grandson Lars Olav (1881-1960) emigrated to America, where descendants still live today. In 1845 a small tannery was established in Farsund, where a grandson of Frederik Ott, Fredrik Adam Ott (1826-1909) was the manager. Frederik Adam had enjoyed a commercial education in Zurich and took over the company Friedrich Ott & Sohn from his father Adam Ott (1796-1826). Since the Ott's had sufficient financial means, they were able to buy up numerous estates of the Lunde family and thus expand their land holdings. In 1853, Fredrik Adam Ott(o) built a Swiss-style house in Kirkegaten 44b. Quite unlike the usual living conditions of the time, this must have been a stately house with 12 rooms and a kitchen, built on three floors with an area of 200 square metres.  The house narrowly escaped the town fire of 1901, protected by a garden full of fruit trees. Frederik Adam operated several ships, one of which he named "William Tell".  His mother was a daughter of the well-known chancellor and judge Søren Godfried Bøckman. In 1870 Fredrik Adam was elected mayor of Farsund for one year and also held the office of vice-consul of the Hanseatic League. He lived in Farsund until 1873, when he moved to Kristiania (Oslo), where he lived until his death in 1909. Frederik was very interested in literature and published several works on cultural history and fiction. Descendants still live in Norway today.



Samuel Otto & Co. in Kristiansand


Another son of Adam Ott, Samuel Ott(o) (1730-1802) settled in Kristiansand and founded the company Samuel Otto & Co. there in 1769, which later passed to the relatives Luchsinger and Blumer from Schwanden and in 1839 to the Wild family from Mitlödi. 


At an auction in 1823, the company Samuel Otto & Co. purchased Georg Just Moe's land on the west side of Kristiansand. By this time the company was already well established in Kristiansand. In 1750 Samuel Ott bought the house on the corner of Holbergstrasse and Tolibodstrasse (Zollamtstrasse), where the Birkrems bakery was located in the years 1870-90. Here he ran a retail shop, apparently specializing in dry goods. In the late 1760s Melchior Ott joined the firm. They must have had a good start: Christen Pram reports in 1805 that Samuel Otto & Co did a considerable trade in dry goods and owned 10,000 "Riksdaler" (Reichstaler). At the beginning of the 19th century, the company moved to the corner of Markensstrasse and Østre Strandgate (East Beach Street), where they also bought up beach properties. At the end of 1799 a third member of the Ott family joined the firm, namely Hans Jacob Ott(o) (1768-1808). He married Elsbeth Blumer (1777-1808) in 1799. Both of them and their six-year-old child died only a few months apart in 1808. Elsbeth Blumer's brother Samuel Blumer (1767-1819) had joined the firm at this time and was one of the firm's associés. Samuel Blumer was a civil captain in Kristiansand for a time. He later retired from the firm, but kept the property in Østre Standgate for a while. He sold his share in the company to Kaspar Wild (1790-1855) and then moved to Switzerland with his four daughters. One of them, Barbara Blumer (183-1878), married the councillor Johannes Speich (1813-1852). One of their sons was Samuel Speich (1839-1878), who came to Kristiansand in 1856 together with Max Wild Jr. For a while he worked in the company, but later the sea called him and he became a captain. The present Speich family in Kristiansand are his descendants. Many people have confused Samuel Blumer with Melchior Blumer (1878-1958), who later became a merchant in Kristiansand. However, there is no family connection between the two. The confusion probably stems from the fact that Melchior Blumer worked for a time in the office of Samuel Ott & Co. Before discussing the later owners of the firm, the Wild family, I must mention another Glarner who was associated with the firm for a number of years. This was Rudolf Luchsinger (1782-1848), who came to Kristiansand as a young man around the year 1800 and worked in the firm as an assistant to Hans Jacob Ott. Later he became one of the managers of the firm. In 1821 Luchsinger was elected as a member of parliament in Chritiansand, but was unable to attend the meetings due to illness.



Samuel Otto & Co under Kaspar Wild (1790-1855)


As previously mentioned, Kaspar Wild bought Samuel Blumer's share of Samuel Otto & Co. in the late 1820s and became sole owner in 1839 when Luchsinger retired. Kaspar Wild was born in Mitlödi in 1790 and came to Kristiansand in 1810. He successfully managed the company. His business flourished, and by this time he was dealing not only in dry goods, but also in groceries, perhaps largely in grain and flour. As far as can be ascertained, the firm was still conducted as a retail store in the 1830s. The grain trade continued until 1855, but the most important part of the firm evolved into the lumber trade, shipping and shipbuilding. In 1833 the firm bought Vigelands Brug, where a large sawmill was built in 1840. The memoirs of Mrs. Othilie Speich contain some interesting comments about Kaspar Wild, his household and his business. Her father, Sven Stray Speich, started as a young man around 1827 as a volunteer in the business. For several years he received no salary. Wild's second-hand clothes were cut to fit him, and only occasionally did he receive new clothes. He ate with the other office assistants at Wild's table. The youngest of the helpers had to be at work every morning at 6.30, carrying in wood and putting it into the big stoves. But Sven liked to get up even earlier and get the watchman of the mill to pull a rope hanging out of his window every morning at four o'clock. The other end of the rope was tied to his wrist. In some ways Kaspar Wild was a gruff man. But that was only a façade - behind it was a good and warm person. When he visited his relatives in Switzerland, he always brought back many beautiful and useful things. When Sven had already been engaged for two years, Kaspar Wild said to him one day: "I don't like long engagements. It's time for you to get married. You can order furniture, but it has to be of good quality." He also gave Stray a raise. In 1852 Kaspar Wild left his companies to his half-brother Consul Johann Heinrich Wild (1820-1873) and his nephew Markus Wild (1839-1898), the youngest child of his brother Samuel Wild (1795-1871). These two young men had been working in the company long before. Kaspar Wild kept the Vigeland estate for himself. He flourished there and built a new house on the property. He had also built a beautiful house in his home village of Mitlödi. It was his intention to spend the summers at Vigeland and the winters at Mitlödi. Before he left Kristiansand, he established a bequest for the needy. He also gave large sums of money to all his employees and servants. When he returned to Switzerland and was far away from his familiar surroundings in Kristiansand, he soon became indolent and died at the age of 64 in Mitlödi. Johann Heinrich Wild was born in Mitlödi in 1820. He came to Kristiansand at an early age and began as a senior clerk in the firm of Samuel Otto & Co, of which his half-brother Kaspar Wild was manager. As already mentioned, he took over the company together with Markus Wild in 1852. Business continued as usual, but it appears that trading ceased and all interest was directed to sawmill operations, shipping and shipyards. There was a period of quite brisk activity in shipbuilding, as we shall see later. In 1855 the company bought back the Vigeland property from Kaspar Wild's estate. In 1846 Johann Heinrich Wild married a lady from Kristiansand, Mathilde Bennecke (1822-1861). She was the daughter of the merchant Steen Andreas Bennecke. They lived, as long as Kaspar Wild was in Norway, in the old grey house above the office. Later they moved to the corner house where Miss Sønderaai's school was in the 1880-90s. They were very happy, although they had no children and Mathilde was very sickly. About 15 years after her marriage she had to go to Modum and was taken from there to the Imperial Hospital, where she died in September 1861. Only for a few years she was able to enjoy the beautiful estate of Myrengad, which her husband had bought mainly for her sake and on which he had a fine house with a beautiful park built. Consul Johann Heinrich Wild married a second time two years later, Anna Rosina Ott (1838-1928), daughter of Peter Ott (1794-1844) from Farsund. She was thus a descendant of the founders of Samuel Otto & Co. Anna and Johann Heinrich Wild had a daughter, but only five years later Johann Heinrich was born in Kristiansand in 1873. The widow remained in Kristiansand, married Carl Friedländer (1827-1902), a native of Gothenburg, there four years later, and moved to Sweden. Johann Heinrich Wild was a warm-hearted and noble man. He was the head of the company, representing it mainly to the outside world. He followed the example of his half-brother by also making a bequest to the "Friends of the Old and Lonely" fund. Their daughter Anna Friederika (1868-) married Carl August Magnus Toren in Stockholm in 1891 and had three sons with him.



Samuel Otto & Co under Markus Wild Senior (1824-1903)


The second director of the firm in the years 1850-70 was Markus Wild (1824-1903). As mentioned, he had already worked in the company for some years when he took over the various companies in Norway together with Johann Heinrich Wild in 1852. After the death of Johann Heinrich Wild in 1873, he became the sole owner. At the same time he became Dutch consul. Marcus Wild was married to his cousin Sibilla Wild (1831-1895). To their great sorrow, they had no children of their own. They both loved children and took in several parentless orphans. They also supported university students. All in all, they were very helpful, both to their families and to those who needed urgent help. Together with some other women, Sibilla Wild founded an arts and crafts school in Kristiansand. Before that, there were hardly any opportunities for children to learn a trade there. In 1872 Wild and his wife left the house at 26 Vestre Strandgate to the school and in 1877 they donated their property to the school. In 1877 Mrs Wild was also involved in the founding of a children's home, which received the house in Skippergaten as a gift from Consul Wild in 1882. Sibilla Wild was also the driving force behind the founding of the Industrial Association for needy women. From her home she was accustomed to hard work and making a virtue of self-help, and so it was her avowed aim to educate others to self-reliance. In addition, she was also a gifted gardener and took great interest in the large garden at Myren. Mr. and Mrs. Wild loved large invitations. They gave lovely parties for both adults and children and often organized trips to Vigeland. In 1868, Markus Wild brought the skis, already known in Norway, to Glarus for the first time, so it is fair to say that Glarus is the birthplace of alpine skiing. Wild never forgot his home village. In 1877, when the helmet of the church tower had to be re-roofed, he bought Norwegian copper and donated it to the parish. In 1882, Markus Wild Senior transferred the company to his brother-in-law and cousin Markus Wild Junior (1839-1898) for health reasons. He suffered from bronchitis and vertigo. He kept the house in town and Vigeland, and Markus Wild Junior took over all other properties. Mrs. Sibilla flourished in Norway, but because of her husband she agreed to return to Switzerland. She was also convinced that her younger brother had the right to take over the management of the company. Before they left, Consul Markus Wild Senior presented large sums of money to all the employees in his company and on the estates, as well as to his domestic servants. He settled in Mitlödi in the new "Rothaus" built by Kaspar Wild. He returned to Kristiansand once more in 1898, when Markus Wild Junior. had died. He stayed for the summer to take care of the liquidation of the company. He died in Mitlödi at the end of May 1903. He served his community beyond death by bequeathing his father's house, where the kindergarten now stands, to the school community.


Samuel Otto & Co under Markus Wild Junior (1839-1898)


Max Wild Junior was born in Mitlödi in 1839. He arrived in Kristiansand in 1856 and worked in the company of Samuel Otto & Co. where his cousin, Markus Wild Senior, and his brother-in-law were the management. He was married to Margaretha Warth, a native of Schwanden. After a few years in Kristiansand, Marcus Wild Junior bought the Teien estate near Tønsberg, where he settled. It was a large, luxurious house that had belonged to the Walløe family. The first born son Kaspar (1865-1870) died while they were living at Teien. This hit them so hard that they could no longer bear to live there. They sold the estate, returned to Switzerland and moved in with Wild's parents in Mitlödi. However, after the death of Consul Johann Heinrich Wild, they returned to Kristiansand. In 1882 Markus Wild Junior took over Samuel Otto & Co. when Markus Wild Senior retired. It was a difficult time economically to take over these large properties and the business. Lumber prices were low, shipping was slumping, and the company had too many employees relative to the business. The timber business continued despite these adverse circumstances, both in the two mills and in the sawmills in Vigeland and Fiska. Markus and Margaretha brought four children to Norway and later had a daughter, the beautiful little Margaretha Sibilla (1885-1970). The young Wild family led a very quiet life. Margaretha Wild was a reserved person and Markus did not seem to like going to parties either. Times in the trade remained difficult. It is said that Markus Wild Junior planned to liquidate everything and open a banking business instead, and that it was a great disappointment to him when Søndenfjeldske Privatbank was founded, which left no room for him and his planned business. When his son Markus (1872-1898) became terminally ill, it was a great blow to him and Katharina. Gradually Markus sold his large, valuable properties, in 1897 also Vigeland, and only the small sawmill in Fiska and the shipyards in the city remained. His economic situation was, however, very comfortable. But he fell ill, contracted jaundice, and died in Kristiansand on May 20, 1898. He was a very esteemed person, to whom many honorary offices were given. He was a good and kind person and a good friend who found it difficult to say "no" when someone asked him for something. Consul Markus Wild Senior travelled from Switzerland to attend his funeral and immediately afterwards started the liquidation of Samuel Otto & Co. All the documents and books that had accumulated over the years were rowed to Fiska Island. He himself was present when everything was burned - it took several days. It was not until 1901 that the estate was finally settled. His wife Margaretha Wild remained in Kristiansand during the winter of 1898-99. In November 1898 the sick son Markus died, and after that she moved to Switzerland. This was the end of the old Samuel Otto & Co. It had long had a great influence on the economic life of the city, run by clever men who provided work for numerous people. The firm was unique in that it did not pass from father to son, but to half-brothers, cousins, and brothers-in-law, who came from their distant homes and took charge one by one. They quickly adapted to their new surroundings and were all shrewd and good businessmen who enjoyed a high reputation in the town. In order to prevent any possible conflict of interests, Kaspar Wild and R. Luchsinger signed a contract in 1837 which stipulated that in the event of disagreement between the two owners, the decision would be made by the one who had been a partner in the company for the longest time. In addition, the contract contained a clause as to the matters in which unanimity was required and the importance of one of the parties being able to decide in the absence of the other. This 1837 company agreement was followed by subsequent supervisors and seemed to have stood the test of time. Many of the employees worked for the company for years, and even after the end of the company, many residents of Kristiansand remembered the "Swiss" who ruled on the west side of the city.



Blumer & Tschudi in Tønsberg / Saline Vallø 


Treasurer Peter Blumer (1752-1812) probably also came to Norway through his brother-in-law, Fridolin Ott, and founded an import company for Swiss articles and colonial goods in Kristiania, which later exploited the Vallø salt works near Tønsberg as the Blumer & Tschudi company. When Peter Blumer and Melchior Tschudi (1788-1852) bought the salt works in Vallø from the Danish king in 1830, it was the third largest company in Norway after the copper mines in Røros and the silver mines in Kongsberg (owned by the Danish-Norwegian king). Melchior Tschudi's son Peter Tschudi (1812-1894) was one of the largest sailing ship owners in Tønsberg before he stopped trading the Blumer & Tschudi company in 1863, bought Vallø and later passed it on to his son Anton Tschudi. The Vallø salt works employed many Swiss workers who came from Glarus. The salt works owned a huge piece of land and needed good workers for its agricultural production. There were Glarus cheesemakers and farmers who contributed to the modernization of the Norwegian dairy industry with a lot of new knowledge and taught the Norwegians how to make proper cheese. This is a part of Norwegian history that is not very well known today.


Son Anton Tschudi (1848-1914) was born in Tønsberg. His father Peter owned the farm Valløe in Sem outside the town of Tønsberg. His sister Clara was a well-known writer and his brother Oscar was a judge. Anton Tschudi was mainly involved in buying and selling land in Aker, now part of Oslo. In 1898 he bought the 400-acre farm Øvre Høybråten, which was parcelled out in 1905. Solemskogen near Maridalsvannet was bought in 1897 and parcelled in 1903, and he also parcelled Økern. Tschudi was also active in Bærum. In 1912 he bought Vestre Haslum, which was soon divided into 360 parcels and sold. The area was nicknamed Tschudimarka. Tschudi had a considerable influence on the suburbanization of Oslo, both on its pace and character. This is mainly due to his tendency to sell his plots cheaply to workers and craftsmen. The lots were typically 1 to 2.5 acres in size and suitable for building single-family homes. In contrast to the surrounding block settlements - especially around Høybråten - the plots sold by Tschudi are still characterised by single-family houses. The disadvantage of the cheap plots was the lack of communications and infrastructure. The lobbying for transport links lay with the residents; Høybråten received a railway station in 1920, Haslum a tram station in 1924. Solemskogen lacked transport links and especially water drainage, which posed a threat to the water quality in Maridalsvannet and was therefore disapproved of by the municipality. The parcelling was stopped by the authorities after 153 out of 274 plots had been sold, and the municipality later tried to buy out or expropriate several plots. Thus, Solemskogen was never fully suburbanized. In Bærum, the municipality was concerned about the "neglect" of Tschudimarka. Two streets were named after him, both in 1925, Anton Tschudis vei in Haslum and in Risløkka. Anton Tschudi himself lived in Frogner, in the 1900 census in Skovveien near Uranienborg and in the 1910 census in Svoldergaten near Filipstad. With his wife he had six children born between 1890 and 1901: four sons and two daughters (Ralph, Waldo, Vera, Peter Fridolin, Knut Anton and Alice); Vera married Gerhard C. Kallevig. Anton Tschudi died in Oslo in 1914.



Jacob Trümpy & Søn in Bergen


It was Hans Jakob Trümpy (1724-1792) who first came to Bergen and was granted citizenship here in 1757. Before that he worked as a merchant in Altona and married Helena Valentinsen (1750-1798) in Bergen in 1773. One of his children was named Caspar Trümpy (1775-1823), who married twice and had a total of 12 children. Caspar was a captain on merchant ships. His third son (the second child from second marriage) was named Hans Jakob (1805-1874). He was not only the father of 16 children, but also the founder of the prestigious shipyard J. Trümpy in Bradbenken. Hans Jakob married Anna Paasche (1812-1876) in 1835 and their first child was the later master shipbuilder Kaspar Trumpy (1836-1894). Like his father Hans Jakob, Kaspar learned his trade at Westervelt in New York. His younger brother Herman (1837-1910) later advanced to become a successful shipbroker in Livorno, while brother Alfred August (1841-1911) contributed valuable ideas as an engineer in his father's company. Kaspar, for his part, married Anna Harmens (1840-1913) in 1862 and had 11 children with her, three of whom died in infancy. His son Johan, born in 1879, later also chose the profession of shipbuilder and ran a highly respected yachtyard in Annapolis, Maryland, which is now run by his grandson Johan Harmens Trumpy.


Tschudi Shipping Company in Lysaker


There is another branch of the Tschudi family from Glarus, Peter Tschudi (1817-1876) who came to Norway around 1840. They first worked for Blumer & Tschudi in Vallø. Peter Tschudi's son Henry Tschudi (1858-1939) became a captain and then, together with his Norwegian partner Camillo Eitzen, founded a shipping company in Tønsberg in 1883. The company is still successfully run by the fourth and fifth generations (Felix Henry Tschudi *1960) and is one of the largest shipping companies in Norway ( Today the head office is located in Lysaker, Norway. The group's main business areas are shipping and maritime services and logistics. The group has significant operations in northern Norway and the Arctic, including Sydvaranger mining companies, companies owning ports/terminals, real estate and aggregates in Kirkenes (Tschudi Kirkenes Group), and handling and other logistics companies for the North Sea routes.



Thomas Johannesen Heftye & Søn in Kristiania


Johannes (later Johannes Thomassen) Hefti (1730-1801) enjoyed considerable prosperity for the time in his home community of Hätzingen and was involved in agriculture and timber exports, which he allowed to flow through the Linth and the Rhine to Holland. In time he realized that the Norwegians delivered cheaper than the Glarner and therefore, enterprising as he was, he drove at the end of the 18th century with his sons Thomas (1767-1827), Fridolin (1774-1825) and Heinrich (1780-) to Norway and began from there to do business, but returned from time to time back home to Hätzingen. He received in 1769 trading privileges in Christiania. His two sons, Thomas and Heinrich, settled definitively in Christiana (Oslo) at the beginning of the 19th century and founded a banking house with the money earned from trading. The two sons called themselves "Heftye" in Norway. 


Thomas Hefti (1767-1827), who called himself Thomas Johannessen Heftye in Norway, came to Christiania in 1791 and received trading privileges and citizenship the same year. He became a citizen of Christiana in 1791. He was a shipowner, importer, merchant and money changer. He was one of the directors of the "Rigsbanken", the forerunner of Norges Bank. Together with his son, he founded the banking house Thomas Johannesen Heftye & Søn in 1818. The bank played an important role in Norway's financial life for 100 years. His son Johannes Thomassen Heftye (1792-1856) was about 25 years old when he founded the bank together with his father. Like his father, he was a member of the Stock Exchange and Trade Committee in Norway for several years, and in 1831 was even its chairman. In 1810 he married Anne Christina Hasler (1798-1862) and was, among others, the father of Thomas Johannessen Heftye (1822-1886), who grew up in Filipstad and studied in Leipzig. In 1848 he joined his father's family business. He was heavily involved in the organizational life of the time. He was one of the founders of the Norwegian Ramblers' Association in 1868, which owned the rural areas of Sarabråten, Frognerseteren and Tryvannshøyden. These were developed as recreational areas during his lifetime; the latter two areas later became public property. He was also a member of the board of Akers Sparebank, Norges Forsvarsforening, Christiania Theatre, the Society for the Preservation of Ancient Norwegian Monuments and Christiania Kunstforening from 1873 until his death. He was also involved in politics. From 1855 to 1856 and 1879 to 1886 he was a member of the Kristiania City Council and from 1869 to 1877 a member of the Aker Municipal Council. During the term 1880-1882 he was a deputy in the Norwegian Parliament. The reason he moved from Aker to Christiania after 1877 was that Frogner, where he lived, was incorporated into the city in 1878. His villa is now used as the British Embassy. Heftye was made a Knight of the Swedish Order of the Polar Star in 1860, a Knight of the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav in 1864, a Knight of the Danish Order of Dannebrog in 1866, and a French Legion of Honour in 1867. He was also Commander of the Austrian Order of Francis Joseph from 1867 and of the Swedish Order of the Vazarite from 1877. He died in Kristiania in October 1886.


Another son of Thomas Johannessen Heftye was Henrik Thomassen Heftye (1804-1864). He obtained a theological degree in 1829, but then joined the family business. From 1852 he was director of Norges Hypotekbank and from 1853 to 1858 a member of the board of Storebrand. He was also involved in the art scene and was co-founder and treasurer of the Christiania Kunstforening in 1836. In 1862 he wrote his will, in which he donated sums to philanthropy. His donations were used, among other things, to found what is now Heftye Kindergarten (Heftyes barnehage). He died in February 1864 in Aker. 


Thomas Johannessen's daughter, Elsbeth (Bertha) Heftye (1807-1888), married Mogens Thorsen (1790-1863), the largest shipowner in Christiania, in 1826. Mogens and Bertha became known for the foundation they established, Mogens Thorsens og Hustrus Stiftelse, which provided housing for single women. The family is still present in Norway today and has been entrusted with important offices in the past, such as Thomas Thomassen Heftye (1860-1921), who was a Norwegian officer, engineer, sports official and Liberal Party politician. He is best known as Norwegian Minister of Defence from June to October 1903 and March to April 1908, and as director of Telegrafverket. He was killed in the Nidareid train disaster in 1921.


David Hefti & Son in Kristiania


Also in the first half of the 19th century, David Hefti (1764-1821) and his son Fridolin (1796-) went from Hätzingen to Kristiania to operate an oil mill and soap boiling plant. Little is known about this business. David married Johanna Bölling, née Wilder, after the death of his first wife in Christiana in 1804. The second wife bore him a son David Christian a year later, but he died six months later. David died in Oslo on October 5, 1821, and his son Fridolin was still in Norway in 1820. It is quite possible that there are still descendants of this family in Norway.



Andreas Heftye (1835-1901) in Frogner


Another Hefti could be found in Frogner. Andreas' parents Andreas Hefti (1805-ca. 1885) and Elsbeth Hefti-Legler (1813-1885) emigrated from Luchsingen to Nebraska in 1871. When and why Andreas Hefti (1835-1901), who also called himself Heftye in Norway, came to Norway is not known.  He worked as «Schweizer» which mean he was specialized in cattle breeding and the improving of milk production. He lived in the Christiania district Frogner inside the city limits. 1861 he married Grete Martine Johannesdatter (1836-1904) in Ostfold. With her he had 6 children, three of whom emigrated to America: Anna Heftye (1867-), who married the Norwegian Gustav Adolf Sparre (1868-) in 1892, and still has descendants living in the USA; Aksel Frithjof Heftye (1873-1920), who died single in Chicago in 1920 and Elise Margrethe Heftye (1876-1949), who married the Norwegian Karl Anton Aamot (1872-1953) in 1896 and still has numerous descendants living in the USA.

Johann Heinrich Disch (1805 - 1876) in Ringerke

(Source: Astrid Røste Nyhus, published in Heftet Ringerike 2008, 47 ff. (article originally in Norwegian / translation by Patrick A. Wild)

The Royal Society for the Welfare of Norway (Norges Vel) was behind the initiative for Swiss immigration from the middle of the 19th century. As conditions in Norwegian agriculture were far from satisfactory and the country lacked skilled labor, Norges Vel took the initiative to recruit workers from outside. Switzerland had long been known for good livestock and cheese production in cooperative farms, something Norges Vel was aware of after sending representatives there to study conditions. The company also contacted a Swiss company, Blumer & Tschudy, which had purchased Vallø Saltverk near Tønsberg and was willing to provide labor from Switzerland to Norwegian barns and dairies. In total, about 100 people should have come from Switzerland to work as cattle breeders and cheese makers by about 1870. In addition, some of them brought their families to Norway.


Most of the Swiss were placed on larger farms and dairies in eastern Norway. Some came to Trøndelag, while Sørlandet and Vestlandet did not receive many, and probably none came to northern Norway. 


In connection with the arrival of the Swiss, the occupational name "Sveitser" also arose as a synonym for cattle breeding. One difficulty, at least in the beginning, was the language. In addition, herd care and milk processing were traditionally women's occupations in Norway, and many livestock owners probably did not find it so easy to leave their cattle to foreigners, who were almost exclusively men.


How long the Swiss stayed in Norway varied. Some returned after a short time, while others started a family here and settled permanently. This was also true for those who had family from Switzerland with them. Some also emigrated to other countries, especially America.


The Disch family from the mountain village of Elm


Elm is one of the highest communities in Switzerland and is located in the canton of Glarus. Here the nature is magnificent with steep valley sides, which are cultivated far up to the alpine pastures and which are situated above towards the high and pointed mountain peaks. In this valley came the first representatives of the Disch family, who migrated in the 17th century over the mountains from Grisons. Since the best soil was already taken, they had to make do with the land deep in the valley, in Steinibach and Hinter-Steinibach.


The oldest and first of the Disch family to come to Ringerike was Johann Heinrich Disch. He was born in Elm in 1805 as one of eight siblings. He grew up in Elm, but what he did until he was 32 years old has not been handed down. In 1837 we find him in Zizers in the neighboring canton of Graubünden, where he married 25-year-old Barbara Elmer (1812-1840) that same year. They had three children, but only their daughter Anna, born on June 4, 1839, survived. Barbara died in childbirth as early as 1840. The following year Johann Heinrich had found a new wife, Zedonia Züst (1817-1847), a native of Langwies in the canton of Graubünden. This marriage produced three sons: Balthasar (1842-1937), Johann Heinrich Jr. (1843) and Johannes (1845). Zedonia did not reach an advanced age either, she died on April 1, 1847, only 30 years old. The widower was now left with two small children, and he had to try again for a wife. Already in September of the same year, he married 19-year-old Ursula Henschel (1828-1858). Their first child was stillborn in 1848. 


Emigration to Norway


Johann Heinrich's father, Balthasar Disch (1773-1850), and another son, Werner (1800-1881), had already gone to Norway to work for Blumer & Tschudy on Vallø in the late 1830s.


In 1848/49 Johann Heinrich and Ursula also went to Vallø. They must have left the children from the earlier marriages with relatives; they probably came to Norway only around 1860.


Now life should become more confident for the couple, with new possibilities. However, this did not happen as hoped. Several children were born only a year apart, but died shortly after. Son Werner arrived in 1849 and was only 8 days old. Elisabeth born in 1850, died after 3 days. Another Elisabeth in 1851 was 14 days. Johann Heinrich died in 1852 in the same year. Then came two healthy children, Marie born in 1853 and Henrikke Vilhelmine in 1855. But the worst was yet to come.


The emigration abroad and the many births must have weighed heavily on the young mother. She gave up trying to live longer and took her own life. Not only that, but the two daughters mentioned above had to follow her to their deaths. In the church book for Shem in 1858, the pastor made the following addition to the deaths: "Both children killed the mother in a fit of madness, whereupon she herself fell into a well, from which she could be rescued, but died shortly afterwards". There is no information about how the children were killed.


Johann Heinrich had now, after 10 years in his new homeland, lost his wife and six children, in addition to the as already mentioned two spouses and three children in Switzerland. Nevertheless, the ordeal for the sorely tried widower was not yet over. But there was still a ray of hope: A daughter from the last marriage lived, Johannne Cathrine, who was born in 1857 and thus became motherless only one year old.


Further move to Ringerike


After the tragedy, Johann Heinrich lived in Vallø for another five years until he was employed as a cheese master at Ringeriges Ysteri near Veien in Heradsbygda in 1863. Now the eldest children had also grown up and come to Norway. In the dairy, daughter Anna (1839) joined her father as a housekeeper and son Johann Heinrich Jr. (1843) became his father's helper in the dairy. Son Balthasar (1842-1937) had several jobs as a cattle farmer in Ringerike, including Nærstad and Gussgården, before moving to other farms in eastern Norway. Balthasar died on Vallø at the age of 97.


The daughter Johannne Cathrine also came to Ringerike with her father. She was 6 years old at the time. In the 1865 census, she is listed as a "foster child" of farmer Helge Henriksen on the Bråten farm near the dairy. Johannne Cathrine was baptized at Norderhov Church on June 2, 1872, and in 1878 married Edvard Kristian Danielsen, born in 1857, of Danielsplassen on Hurum in Hole. He was a versatile craftsman and worked as a carpenter, blacksmith, woodcutter and butcher. They lived for a time on Vaker and later on Brastad before buying the Løkka (Øver-Daniels) estate around 1882. Their first child, Dorthea Betzy, was born in 1878, and by 1899 they had 7 more children.


One of the sons, Daniel Bernhard, died at the age of 20 in an accident at Hønefossen on May 12, 1916. He was a mill worker at Hønefoss Bruk and he and his brother-in-law Fingar Olsen Hønenhagen, 22 years old and married to Daniel's sister Karen, were killed when a dam in the large waterfall broke. The pipes in a so-called "clean water pond" were clogged, and some of the workers had to clean the pipes. Daniel and Fingar were not involved in this work, but when the grinding stopped because of the cleaning, they went up to check. Suddenly, one of the sides of the pond exploded, and the masses of rocks and sticks swept the two men to their deaths. The cleaning crews stayed on the other side and made it. Daniel was soon found in the mill area. Fingars' body, on the other hand, was not found until July 27 at the very bottom of Geithus. Ringeriges Blad had full coverage of the incident. Edvard Kristian Danielsen lived until 1934 and Johannne Cathrine died in 1942.


The Swiss innkeeper Joseph P. Oechsle had been employed at Oppen gård since the early 1860s. He and Anna Disch became a couple and were married in 1867. Then Joseph left Oppen and had taken a new job in Tingelstad. Later he also worked in Trøgstad, among other places. They had two children. When Anna died is uncertain, but Joseph was still alive in 1900 and at that time, 74 years old, was still working as a "farmer and farmhand" in Romerike.


As for the son Johann Heinrich Jr., he eventually had to leave the dairy as his father's helper when the economy deteriorated. He had a job at the Ile Farm in Romerike for a while, but later traveled to Canada. While still at Ringeriges Ysteri, he met Helle Nilsdatter from Oppenhagen. She was the daughter of the famous "Hagasmeden" Nils Bjørnsen, "Bjørnser'n", and also aunt of Anette Berga, who was known for "doing something". Oppenhagen was not far from the dairy on Veien, and "Hagan", as the place was popularly called, was a meeting place for many people, both in connection with the forge and in their free time. Several young people lived there, and one of Hele's brothers was a violinist. The Swiss immigrants were an exotic element in the rural environment and probably became popular where young people gathered. Eventually, Helle and Johann Heinrich Jr. became a couple. They did not have a daughter together, Anne Bolette, in 1868. Helle was unable to emigrate with Johann Heinrich Jr. because his widowed father was ill and in need of care. An unmarried sister was also ill with arthritis. After visiting Helle when their daughter was two years old, Johann Heinrich Jr. returned to Canada and settled in Quebec. His marriage to Helle in Norway ended, and in 1874 he married Marie Ruel, a Canadian, in Ile de Saint Laurent, Quebec, and all traces of him end there.


Johann Heinrich''s last year


As already mentioned, the business at Ringeriges Ysteri ended in 1868. At the time, Johann Heinrich was an elderly man at the age of 63. As a skilled worker, he probably did not have much difficulty finding a new job. He was apparently in good health and soon he was employed as a cheesemaker at Vaker Farm.


Now it also seemed that Johann Heinrich would no longer have to be lonely in his old age. At Vaker he met the maid Ingeborg Johannne Olsdatter. She was born in 1838 and was thus 33 years younger than he. These two began a relationship despite a large age difference, and on October 9, 1871, Ingeborg gave birth to a son named Johann Vernhardt. He was baptized on December 4, and on the same day Johann Heinrich and Ingeborg Johannne were married, it was their first marriage and his fourth.


But the trials were not over yet. A short week after the baptism, Johann Vernhardt died at the age of two months. Life had to go on - for a short time. In the spring of 1873, Ingeborg Johannne gave birth to a stillborn boy. On May 16, she died of puerperal fever, and Johann Heinrich was a widower again at the age of 68.


After that, it seemed to get hard for the old fighter, with no social security or relatives to take care of him. In the end, he had to get back on his feet alone. The last three years of his life he worked as a foreman, the last year at the Nøkleby farm. The sources do not say anything about how he, as a professionally proud expert, had to experience being dependent on public maintenance. Johann Heinrich Disch died in Nøkleby on December 11, 1876, at the age of 71.


According to the obituary he left: "...some clothes..." and nothing else. There is no longer any oral tradition about Johann Heinrich, what happened to his dramatic life. But perhaps it has been possible to give a little insight into the strenuous life of a man who wanted to build a new future in a country far from the steep mountain valley in the canton of Glarus where he was born.

Johann Jakob Altmann (1763 - 1845) in Trondheim

(Source: Hege Altmann Unhjem - on of the descendants)

Johann Jacob Altmann (1763-1845) received citizenship in Trondheim 01 Nov 1790 as a merchant. His first wife, Katharina Freuler, died in Trondheim 10 Nov 1790. When they married in Glarus in 1786, they must have come to Norway between 1786 and 1788. Katharina Freuler (1759-1790) was the sister of Cleopha Freuler (1745-1788) who was married to Johann Jacob Altmann's father, Fridolin Altmann. Cleopha Freuler was first married to Fridolin Jenny (1726-1774) and they had a son, Conrad Jenny (1767-1839), who also moved to Norway. (I’ll send you attachment of Cleopha Freuler's descendants later) He was a companion of Johann Jacob Altmann in Trondheim.


Both were merchants who traded in consignments, (especially goods from the homeland such as Glarus cloths, Schabzigger, slate boards and slate tables) purchasing directly from the producers of the goods or through trading agents for resale to retailers and did well. Johann Jacob left a relatively large fortune to his two surviving sons when he died in 1845. They also worked together merchant Samuel Steimann born in 1775 in Canton Glarus, Switzerland, died 1839 in Trondheim. He was married to Anne Elisabeth Holst, born 1762 in Trondheim, died 1850 in Trondheim. They had no children and the entire fortune was created by will in 1846 as Anne Steimann's legacy, for the benefit of humanitarian and social conditions in Trondheim town.


Johann Jacob married for the second time to Ingeborg Johanna Granberg in 1797. The first two children died early. Martha Cleopha died of adult hydrocephalus, after being ill for several years. Regulina Johanne perished in a shipwreck 4 Dec 1840 on the way from Trondheim to Levanger (a little north of Trondheim) together with many others. Ingeborg Johanna died 6 days after giving birth to her last son, Johan Jacob, in 1808. Johan Jacob also died 10 weeks later. Johan Jacob Altmann never remarried and lived and ran a business in Trondheim until his death in 1845.

His son Fredrik Andreas (1804-1892) was a yachtsman and probably transported goods on behalf of his father. Around 1832 he moved north from Trondheim to Tromsø and settled there as a farmer. He was a respected man and was elected mayor of Karlsøy in 1856.


Johann Jacob Altmann and his children have left a large number of descendants in Norway to this day. 


Johannes Knobel (1838 - 1910)

Abraham Knobel (1814 - 1889)

David Knobel (1831 - 1914)

David Knobel (1836 - 1881)

(Source: Freddy Kristiansen family tree on MyHeritage)


Johannes Knobel (1838-1910) came from Switzerland to Sarpsbourg in Eastfold in 1855 at the age of 17, together with a number of other Swiss. They had been asked by the Agricultural Society of Norway to come to Norway to teach the Norwegians about rational stable management. In 1860 he married Annette Vilhelmine Helgesdatter (1833-1910) with whom he had 5 children. One of the sons, Abraham (1851-1939) was a bank accountant, merchant and farmer in Sarpsborg. In 1886 he married Louise Wilhelmine Bergmann (1867-1919) with whom he had 8 children, descendants of whom still live in Sarpsborg today.


Johannes died in Sarpsborg in 1910. He owned one of the Alvim farms. One of his sons, David Knobel (1868-1939), bought the Valaskjold farm (part of the Tune vicarage west of the Østfold railroad line). He named a loop that he leased for building plots Enenda in memory of his family's home town, Enenda in the canton of Glarus. Johannes Knobel's father, Abraham Knobel (1814-1889), also moved to Sarpsborg a little later with his wife and married the Norwegian Bolette Christine Johansdatter (1858-1896) after his wife's death. His uncle David Knobel (1831-1914) also moved with his family to Rygge, Ostfold, around 1857, where more children were born. After the death of his wife, David remarried the Norwegian Laura Aronsdatter (1852-1896), with whom he raised a son and a daughter. 


A little later, Johannes Knobe's brother David Knobel (1836-1881) also moved to Skjeberg. However, he returned to Switzerland and was known there as "the Norwegian". Two of his sons born in Norway emigrated from there to America.

Andreas Kundert (1807-1888)

Johann Heinrich Kundert (1826-1890)

(Source: Karen Marie Bye family tree on MyHeritage)


Andreas Kundert (1807-1888) emigrated from Leuggelbach to Vallø, Vestfold, Norway in 1847 and stayed there for a while before moving on to Moss and the area around Moss. He was one of several Swiss who were hired by the Agricultural Society in Norway to teach farmers in Norway how to run their barns rationally (hence the word "Schweisser" for barn smoker).


The trading company Blumer and Tschudy (see above) opened a cheese factory in Vallø. They needed qualified workers from abroad. One of them was Andreas Kundert, who was to have the greatest influence on the development of dairy farming in Norway. Kundert was a pioneer of modern dairy farming, and by training teachers he was able to teach farmers throughout the country.


He also recruited in his old homeland. The following advertisement appeared in the official gazette of the canton of Glarus on March 7, 1857: Wanted: For the agricultural society in Norway, around 30-40 strong young men who understand the farming community well. If you think you are suitable, please register with Andreas Kundert in Leuggelbach within 8-14 days. His residence is with Mr. Mathias Kundert, the church bailiff in da.


Andreas Kundert bought the farm Kjølberg Nordre together with his son-in-law Johann Heinrich Kundert (1826-1890).


Kaspar Johansen Kundert (1848-1898) and Anders Hansen Kjølberg (1844-1908), son and son-in-law of Johan Heinrich Kundert respectively, founded Kjølberg Teglverk in 1875 with Kaspar Kundert as managing director.


Bjørn Trumpy (1900 - 1974)


Bjørn Trumpy was one of the pioneers in Norwegian particle physics, cosmic radiation, earth magnetism and nuclear physics. In addition, he was active in trade union politics, worked for six years as director of the Bergen Museum and made a great effort to build up the University of Bergen. Trumpy was the university's first rector.


The father's family actually originated from the canton of Glarus in Switzerland, but immigrated to Bergen around 1770. In addition to his military career, his father was the author of military articles and other writings and active in a number of humanitarian organizations. Bjørn Trumpy was born in Bergen, grew up in Kristiania, but spent his youth and took the art exam in Tromsø in 1918.


After being inspired by a lecture on X-rays, Trumpy decided to study physics, but initially took the chemistry line at the Norwegian University of Technology (NTH) in Trondheim. After graduating as a chemical engineer in the spring of 1922, he was an assistant at the college and received his doctorate in 1927 on a job in spectral physics. He spent 1928 in Göttingen and the following year in Copenhagen with Niels Bohr. In 1931–32 he was a laboratory engineer at NTH and in 1932–35 a lecturer in physics at the Norwegian Teacher Training College in Trondheim. During these years he did important scientific work in spectral physics which was cited internationally.


In 1935, Trumpy came to Bergen as a professor of earth magnetism and cosmic physics at the Department of Geophysics, Bergen Museum. In 1952, this was changed to a professorship in physics at the University of Bergen.


Trumpy wrote about 100 scientific articles on topics in atomic and molecular physics, cosmic radiation, earth magnetism, and nuclear physics.


In Bergen, Trumpy became important for the development of several disciplines, including nuclear physics and radiation physics, and together with engineer Odd Dahl he was important for the construction of a high-voltage plant at Haukeland Hospital. Among other things, he was co-founded the Department of Atomic Energy at Kjeller and was a member of the department's board. In the years 1957–67, Trumpy was a member of the Dutch-Norwegian Joint Commission for Nuclear Research, for which he was honored with the Oranje-Nassau Order's Commander's Cross in 1965. He also held important positions within the Norwegian Atomic Energy Council, the Norwegian Research Council and the Norwegian Committee for Space Research, in addition to being a representative on the CERN Council in Geneva. He made an important effort to start studies of cosmic physics through launches of rockets with registration instruments from Andøya.


From 1943, Trumpy was director of the Bergen Museum for six years and helped prepare the plans for the University of Bergen. He became the university's first rector after the opening in 1948.


With Trumpy, the newly started university got a good leader. He was always willing to take on new tasks and was good at capturing younger people and inspiring them to work in research. Trumpy was a very outgoing person and an excellent speaker. If necessary, he did not hesitate to oppose the politicians, and he made a significant effort to build up the new institution in the post-war period. During his six years as principal, he helped lay the foundation for an important development in Norwegian higher education. The number of students at UiB was 408 in the first year of study, and 50 years later it has increased to more than 16,000.


Bjørn Trumpy was a member of the Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences in Trondheim from 1931 and of the Norwegian Academy of Sciences in Oslo from 1936. In 1951 he was appointed commander of the Order of St. Olav.


Useful Links for Norway

Link to Heftyeslekten, a website about the Heftye family in Norway (in Norwegian)

Link to All Naturens ande Drag, a website about the Ott family in Norway (in Norwegian)

Documents about Emigration to Norway

Link to the article "Streiflichter über die Schweizerische Einwanderung in Norwegen" by Daniel Enersen 1986 (German)

Samuel Otto & Co.
Kaspar Wild
Markus Wild Senior
Markus Wild Junior
Blumer & Tschudi
Jacob Trümpy & Son
Tschudi Shipping Company
Thomas Johannesen Heftye & Son
David Hefti & Son
Andreas Heftye
Johann Henrich Disch
Friedrch Ott(o) & Son
Bjørn Trumpy
Johann Jakob Altmann
Johannes Knobel
Andreas Kundert

Walter Zürcher, Swiss shipowners around the world (German)


Many Swiss settled abroad in the 18th and 19th centuries, established trading posts and later entered the often risky shipping business. This comprehensive book describes the history of almost all shipowners and shipping companies in Switzerland from the 19th century to the end of the 20th century, but especially that of the Glarus merchants who successfully opened branches, especially in Norway. A very readable non-fiction book,written by a Glarner from Mühlehorn.


You may still find what you are looking for on Amazon

bottom of page