AMERICAN WELTYS FROM
LAUPERSWIL, CANTON BERN, SWITZERLAND
LAUPERSWIL as seen from BAGISCHWAND
|This website summarizes recent results
of research into the Swiss roots of certain Welty families in the
USA. Some of these families are described in a book published in
1926 by S.H. Baumgartner. The book is entitled Brief Historical Sketches of Eight Generations -
Descendants of Ulrich Welty born 1728 and lists 3 main branches
descending from 3 sons. Although 2 of the men listed as sons can be
identified clearly in the church and municipal records of the time, they
were not brothers and were from different towns. This website is
mainly concerned with the identity of the ancestors of the "1st son"
Niklaus, listed as born in 1750 by Baumgartner. Niklaus Wälti was actually born in 1764
according to church records, and had father and grandfather both named
Peter Wälti from
The "2nd son" Ulrich, listed by Baumgartner as born in 1753, was actually born in 1750 and did have a father named Ulrich Wälti who was from Rüderswil (an adjacent town) according to church records. It is known from the y-DNA evidence (see below) that Niklaus and Ulrich did have a common forefather in some earlier generation, but he has not been identified. Click Wältis from Rüderswil for further information about ancestors of Ulrich. The "3rd son of Ulrich" in the Baumgartner book, Jacob, is probably a nephew of Niklaus, rather than his brother. A summary of major discrepancies in the early generations as given by the Baumgartner book is given here.
The descendants of Niklaus and Ulrich Wälti are well documented in the church records (until they left Switzerland ~1846), which correspond well to the information given by Baumgartner in 1926. One grandson of Niklaus, John Welty, was said to have had 84 grandchildren in America at the time of his death in 1898, and other branches were also prolific, so many Welty families living today share these patrilineages.
An interesting twist to the story has been recently revealed by analysis of the y-DNA of several men having the surnames Welty and Wälti. Details of the y-DNA project can be found here. The results of the analysis show that Niklaus b.1764 has a common male ancestor with a Peter "Welde" born ~1695. This Peter is documented in a ship's register to have arrived in America (not yet the USA) in 1727, around 120 years before the descendants of Niklaus. Also arriving in America in 1727, but on a different ship, was a Christian "Velte" b.1688, who is identified as a brother of Peter b.~1695 by one source (here). Living Welty families also descend from at least 3 sons of Peter b.~1695, including that of the famous author Eudora Welty, but it was not previously known that these families are related to the later-arriving Weltys descending from Niklaus. The identity of the common ancestor is not yet known, but the closeness of the y-DNA match indicates that he is likely to be within the first few generations before Peter b.~1695 (see here).
(1) In Switzerland, to be "from" a place means that you are a linear descendant, through the male side, of a man who was living in that place at the time the citizenship laws were in enacted in 1676 (even if subsequent generations of your family were born and lived somewhere else).
Last update: 26 April 2008