10 - The Wilderness Trust in Richterswil

That the Hiestands Have Been Members of for Many Centuries

On Sunday morning, June 18, 2023 we will worship – like our Anabaptist ancestors worshiped – in a Swiss forest on the hillside behind the town or Richterswil.  They met in secret there because they could be imprisoned or martyred for worshiping where they could be discovered.  We will worship there to remember what they endured for their Biblical faith.  The forest we will gather in has 100s of years of Hiestand-connected history.  Our guide, Ross Baughman, will tell you that story.

For 100s of Years Hiestands Have Been Partial Owners of the Wilderness Trust

From the earliest years of the community of Richterswil, perhaps predating the Swiss Confederation, “Richterswil included about 300 acres of wilderness trust land within its borders that were kept, profited from and passed on through the sons of their elder-most families.”[i]  The trust consisted of a forest on the north face of the old castle site and extended to the shore of Lake Zürich.  It is essentially a multi-family socialist venture that has endured for many centuries.

[i] J. Ross Baughman, A Lake Beneath the Crescent Moon, 41.

Although the trust is much older, the written charter of June 3, 1645 “spells out how each male descendant from these clans could automatically become a society member and share in the annual profits every April, provided that he was a blood descendant, not adopted, and remained a resident of Richterswil.”  When no male descendants remained for a family, the number of clans in the trust decreased and each remaining family gained from the shrinking pool. 

“From its beginning, the Richterswil Wilderness Trust enshrined nicknames for each of the clans that belonged to it, primarily as a way to distinguish them from others of the same name not considered close kin.  At the beginning of the 19th Century, a list transcribed in the trust record offered a ‘Cookiebaker’ Hiestand family.”[i]  In June of 1941, the secretary of the corporation “reported that a number of the old family nicknames had fallen into disuse because members had moved away or the inherited male lines had ‘ended up in oblivion.’”  The “Gogg” Hiestands was on the list of those family nicknames.[ii]

[i] J. Ross Baughman, A Lake Beneath the Crescent Moon, 75.

[ii] J. Ross Baughman, A Lake Beneath the Crescent Moon, 216.

Today the trust is known as Allmendkorporation, the Allmend Corporation. On April 27, 1999, the Allmend Corporation recorded 75 males as full members, including one Hiestand.  In the year 2000, twenty-one families remained in the trust, including Bachmann, Baumann, Lehmann, Strickler, and Hiestand.[i] 

[i] J. Ross Baughman, A Lake Beneath the Crescent Moon, 41.

1:34 Video

Share this with Hastons or related family members who might be interested in the June 14-27, 2023 Hiestand-Haston European Heritage Tour.


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