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Zwicki Family Crest (Wappenbuch Glarus)
Zwicki I is the commonly used crest
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Zwicki Family Crest (Wappenbuch Samuel Wild)

Occurrence in Glarus

Mollis / Glarus / Bilten / Kerenzen

About the Zwicki Family

The Zwicki family, about whom the genealogist J. P. Zwicky has written several treatises, is a long-established family that played a leading political role in Glarus for about 100 years from the end of the 17th century, but also contributed to the family's reputation with its 20 or so Protestant pastors, numerous scientists and officers, and several industrialists. The ancestral home of the Glarus Zwicki seems to be Mollis, where they are mentioned for the first time in 1357, after having been handed down as citizens of Weesen before. The progenitor of all present-day Glarus Zwicki is considered to be "Landesseckelmeister" (State Treasurer) Fridolin Zwicki (ca. 1500 - 1581), who as early as 1522 became a follower of the reformer Fridolin Brunner, who was active in Mollis at the time. During this time, bearers of this name are also said to have founded the lineage that remained Catholic in Uznach and Gommiswald, from which numerous doctors and officers then emerged. From Mollis, as descendants of the just mentioned Fridolin, today still flourishing lines in Glarus and Kerenzen as well as in Bilten, while in Netstal, Matt and Riedern resident families, of which individual members held higher municipal offices, have died out again. Furthermore, a family that is still flourishing today settled in Denmark at the end of the 18th century. In 1822, lines were established in Bessarabia and Yugoslavia, and in 1868, one in Bavaria; in the last century, numerous naturalizations took place in the USA as well as in the rest of Switzerland.

The Zwicki Family from Mollis

Apart from the progenitor Fridolin, in the first half of the 16th century, for example, a Haus and a Jost have been handed down; however, the family does not seem to have been very numerous at that time. Soon descendants of the progenitor who remained in Mollis made a name for themselves in various ways. The Zwicki family, who still form the most numerous civic family today (1929: 111 Tagwenrechte), confirmed a majority as craftsmen, farmers, employees, factory workers, etc., and thus contributed their share to the welfare of the community.


The grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the progenitor already distinguished themselves in the public eye, sitting in the government as "State Ensign" and "Seckelmeister" (Treasurer) and administering the Bailiwick of Locarno. Another great-grandson, also Fridolin Zwicki (1631-1707), who was called the rich man and who was considered the largest landowner in Glarus, initiated the social advancement of the family after he himself had served as bailiff in the Rhine Valley. His son, "Administrator of Armory" Johann Heinrich Zwicki (1651-1733), held the office of "Landammann" for six terms, namely 1696 to 1699, 1701 to 1704, 1706 to 1709, 1711 to 1714, 1716 to 1719 and 1721 to 1724, and in the intervening years he presided over the Protestant part of the country as "Landsstatthalter" (State Governor). In 1696 he is said to have been chosen freely; later he is said to have always drawn the golden ball when casting lots! He knew how to steer the country through various dangers in a quite critical time. He was already involved in the negotiations for the treason of 1683 and played a big role in the prehistory of the second Villmerger war as well as in the peace negotiations. In the Werdenberg dealings, he repeatedly urged restraint. His brother, Captain Melchior Zwicki (1655-1725), served as bailiff in Baden from 1709. Dr. med. Othmar Zwicki (1706-1755) led the bailiff's office from 1746 to 1749 and immediately afterwards administered the bailiwick of Werdenberg. Johann Heinrich (1697-1762) Kaspar Zwicki (1736-1777) served as Protestant "Seckelmeister" from 1736 and 1767 respectively. Governor Johann Melchior Zwicki (1750-1806) acted in the Helvetic as sub-state governor. Captain Johann Peter Zwicki (1770-1838) also sat in the government as governor. Dietrich Zwicki (1784-1845) served the country as "Pannervorträger" (Carrier of the State Ensign). In his younger years he had run a trading house in St. Petersburg. In addition, the Zwickis were always well represented in municipal offices. Thus, of the 54 Tagwen chiefs known to us from three centuries, 21 belonged to the family.


Among the senior officers, mention should be made of: Fridolin Zwicki (1681-1720), who was in imperial service and distinguished himself as a defender of Freiburg im Breisgau against the French. Balthasar Zwicki (1750-1823) served as a captain of the guard in Dutch service and distinguished himself as a colonel in the battle of Wollerau. Fridolin Zwicki (1758-1814) was responsible for the training of the troops of Protestant Glarus as a land major from 1791 and thus rendered outstanding services to the Glarus military. Johann Melchior Zwicki (1750-1809) was a colonel brigadier in French service and then commanded the third Helvetic auxiliary brigade. Philipp Heinrich Theodor Zwicki (1859-1934) became a brigadier colonel as an instruction officer. In 1906 he settled in Bern, where he held the local command.


Among the pastors and scholars, the following made a name for themselves: The theologian and philosopher Fridolin Zwicki (1653-1734) published a eulogy on the Fatherland. Dr. med. Dietrich Zwicki (1664-1738) wrote medical treatises and provided documentation for the naturalist J. J. Scheuchzer. Dr. med. Fridolin Zwicki (1776-1741) is said to have invented the Glarus tea and received honorary citizenship of Zurich for his wound medicine. The Lutheran church was presided over by five Zwicki as deans, namely Johann Heinrich Zwicki (1679-1760), Fridolin Zwicki (1704-1777), Fridolin Zwicki (1715-1756), his son Kaspar Zwicki (1756-1837) and Kaspar Leberecht Zwicki (1820-1906), who published popular writings under the pseudonym Friedrich Bergmann and served the country as a school inspector. His daughter Charlotte Cornelia Zwicki (1872-1946) sang the song of her Glarus homeland as Nelly Bergmann. Pastor Johann Jakob Zwicki (1768-1806) became known as an education councilor and promoter of the Linth correction. Kaspar Zwicki (1863-1935) taught at the ETH as a professor of engineering and acquired Zurich citizenship in 1906. Dr. med. vet. Heinrich Edmund Theodor Zwicki (1890-1942) worked as a professor of animal breeding, hygiene and feeding science at the University of Zurich from 1928. Professor Fritz Zwicki (1898-1974), who worked mainly in the USA, became world-famous as an astrophysicist. Music director Johann Heinrich Zwicki (1874-1953) rendered outstanding services to singing in the canton of Glarus. Members of the Zwicki family are also known as engineers. In trade and industry Zwicki from Mollis have been active mainly outside the canton. Johann Kaspar Zwicki (1847-1911) took over the cotton weaving mill, bleacher and sawmill in Schindellegi. Fridolin Zwicki (1853-1941) operated the spinning and dyeing mill in Neugut near Wallisellen since 1886. Albert Zwicki (1866-1924) expanded the Schweizerische Schmirgel- und Schleifindustrie AG in Frauenfeld, and Jakob Walter Zwicki (1882-1956), who also made a name for himself as an art collector, held high positions in banking. One branch ran a ziger factory in Mollis for a long time.

The Zwicki family from Glarus

In Glarus, lines have been established mainly by state functionaries who settled in the main town for reasons of expediency. In the 18th century alone, four different families from Mollis settled here, but most of them died out again. Landammann Johann Peter Zwicki (1692-1779), who was also a citizen of Kerenzen, acquired the Tagwenrecht for himself and his son Fridolin (1718-1763) for 550 gulden in 1729, after he had already held the highest state office for one term. From 1736 to 1739 as well as from 1756 to 1759 he was at the head of the state of Glarus. In 1730, the bailiwick of Werdenberg was transferred to him. He is known above all as the founder of the Protestant Poor Relief Fund, for which he donated 4000 Guilders. At his death he left a fortune of 112,000 Guilders. Dr. iur. Johann Peter Zwicki (1692-1738) was in charge of the bailiwick of Mendrisio. Fridolin Zwicki (1702-1751) belonged to the government as a country ensign. Jost Zwicki (1745-1812) sat at Sargans Castle. Johann Heinrich Zwicki (1732-1799), a physician, served as Landammann from 1786 to 1789 and also chaired the last Landsgemeinde of the Ancien Régime on April 4-15, 1798, which passed the war resolution against France. Johann Heinrich Zwicki (1752-1798) also administered the state finances and was the last Glarus bailiff in the Rhine Valley. Fridolin Zwicki (1758-1814) presided over two Landsgemeinden in 1799 and was then elected Landammann in 1802. He officially remained in office until the first mediation Landgemeinde in 1803. Johann Peter Zwicki (1762-1820) served in Helvetia as sub-state governor and, on an interim basis, as government governor of the Canton of Linth, the Land of Glarus as Protestant State Treasurer and as State Ensign.  State Ensign and Administrator of the Armory was also Kaspar Zwicki (1765-1821), who also became known as salt director. Later, the Glarus Zwicki, who were never very numerous, did not distinguish themselves much in public.

The Zwicki Family from Bilten

Jakob Zwicki (1688-1754) from Mollis lived in Bilten. However, Fridolin Zwicki (1733-1813), choir judge and councilor, is considered to be the progenitor. Among his descendants is textile manufacturer Johann Friedrich Zwicki (1876-1946), who expanded the company founded by his father of the same name in Malans and acquired a shoe factory in Hameln (Germany) in 1930. No members of this family live in Bilten itself today.

The Zwicki Family from Kerenzen

This line was founded by Landweibel Johannes Zwicki (1725-1774), who was in charge of the Mayental bailiwick from 1750. Among the descendants, some of whom moved from Mühlehorn to Obstalden, the Appenzell chief justice and government councilor Fridolin Zwicki (1853-1911) is to be mentioned. Families also settled in Russia and Romania.



Historisch-Biographisches Lexikon der Schweiz, Band 7, pp 775-777

Tschudi-Schümperlin Ida / Winteler Jakob, Wappenbuch des Landes Glarus, p 97-98

Zwicky von Gauen Johann Paul, Geschlechterbuch, Band 3, pp 580-586; 6, 809-837, 957-962

Stucki Fritz, 50 alte Glarner Familien, pp 103-106

Heer Gottfried, Zur Geschichte Glarnerischer Geschlechter der Gemeinde Mollis, pp 3-23


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