13 - Village of Hirzel, Switzerland - Home of Two Famous People

Our June 2023 Hiestand-Haston tour group will visit the little mountain village of Hirzel, Switzerland on Monday, June 19.

The village of Hirzel, just a few miles on the mountainside southwest of Richterswil is famous for its beauty, as well as the homes of two extraordinary Swiss people.  Johanna Spyri, the author of Heidi, is known internationally.  Hans Landis is famously known as a great hero of Swiss Anabaptist/Mennonite descendants.  Landis was the last Anabaptist martyred for his Christian faith. 

Johanna Spyri - Author of Heidi

Hans Landis - The Last Swiss Anabaptist Martyr

Home of Anabaptist Leader Hans Landis who was Martyred in 1614

Hans “The Martyr” Landis was a notable Anabaptist and was probably the most famous Landis. He gained notoriety by being the last martyr in Switzerland to be executed for his religious beliefs. “In the Ausbund, (oldest hymnbook of the Swiss Brethren ) No. 132, is a song of 46 stanzas commemorating his death.

After several imprisonments and escapes Hans was imprisoned in the Wellenberg tower which stood in the Limmat River in Zurich, Switzerland. The the tower is where the Swiss authorities decapitated Landis on September 30, 1614, for his leadership of the “heretical” Anabaptists and his refusal to leave his congregation.

Wellenberg Tower

Our Hiestand Anabaptist ancestors were associated with Hans Landis.  He may have been considered to have been their pastor. 

In fact, the earliest known reference to a Hiestand being an Anabaptist is May 10, 1613, when Hannsmann Hiestand, from Wädenswil, was mentioned in a letter along with Hans Landis.[i] 

[i] Kent D. Hiestand, “History that Happened to Hiestands,” The Grand Chronicle of the Hiestand Family, accessed October 1, 2017, http://hiestand.tripod.com/~Hiestand/chronik/TIJDLIJN.HTML.

See the location of Hirzel in relation to Richterswil and Wadenswil.

Lone Linden Trees on the Hills of Hirzel

Legend has it that the farmers on Hirzel sold their souls to the devil in return for more land. The devil took the easy way out and just pushed the earth up from inside. When the farmers realised the extra land was steep and of no great use, they felt cheated on and planted a linden tree on top of every hill. With the linden trees, being the “trees of love,“ the devil would avoid the area in the future.

The Lone Linden Trees on the Hills of Hirzel

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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