The Kuenzli Family

Joha ness C'John") Kuenzli was born in the German-speaking part ofSwitzerland on January 3, 1832 to Johness and Elizaa beth (Sauermann) Kuenzli. He was christened on May 21, 1832 at Oberdiesbach, District Hulstetten, Canton Bern, Switzerland, according 10 the Ku'enzli family Bible.

John and three brothers (Christopher Peter and Frederick) came to America but it has not been determined if they came at the same time. "Chris" later owned a vinQyard out Beaver Dam Road from New Philadelphia, in "'Liscarawas County, Ohio. He was married to Mary Schwab; he died in 1904 and is buned in New Philadelphia. They had no children. One, or possibly both, of John's other brothers (Peter and Frederick) headed farther west beyond Newe Philadelphia; one of them anglicized his name to "Kinsley."

Apassport was granted to John on April 16.1851; it is thought to have been issued under the spelling "Kinsli". On reaching the United States, he settled in Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. There he first met Maria ("Mary') Schrag. Aitrhough the two had lived within twenty mile.~ of each other in Canton Beni, Switzerland, they never met until arnving in the United States.

Mary was boni February 27, 1829 and baptized March 8, 1829 at Wyningen, District Burgdorf Canton Bern, Switzerland. Her passport was granted on August 31, 1652. Many years later a grand-daughter asked her why she decided to come to the United States and she explained that although she was young at the time, when some of her friends planned to come to this country where there was an abudance of work, she decided to come, too. Mary never saw her parents (Johann and Lucia Jordi Schrag) after leaving her native land. Mary settled in Pittsburgh with other members of the Sch rag family and worked for tailors there, as she had before lea ving Switzerland.

John Kite nzli and Mary Sch rag were married in Pittsburgh and travied by wQy of the Erie Canal to "'Liscarawas County, Ohio, prior to the birth of their first child, in November 1854.

When their eldest child was only six weeks old, Mary fainted while holding the baby iii her arms.

From this point on, she was considered to be in delicate health. However she went on to give birth to eleven more children and lived to the age of 89.

John Kuenzli was naturalized on September 24, 1856. lie and Mary first had a farm in Blicktown, an area across the Tttscarawas River to the west of New Philadelphia. Late,; John opened a meat market in New Philadelphia and moved his family into town about 1885, in a house he fuilt at 317 West High Street (now 315 West High Avenue). At one time or another three of his sons - Fred, will and Al - all worked at the meat market their father rail; the business was later taken over by Al.

Joh ii literally believed the Old World custom of the husband and father being the supreme head of the household. He is remembered to have used a Gerinan saying which, translated, meant, "While your feet are under my table, you will do as I say." A hard-working Swiss, Joh ii alwQys saw to it that his sons and jobs and were industrious. When the Civil War caine, John and Mary already had a large family. As was the custom iii that case. John paid a man to take his place in fighting the war. Although this freed John from active duty, in addition to caring for his own growing family he was also responsible for the family of his replacement.

John Kuenzli died in Tuscarawas County of heart disease on July 5, 1890 at the age of58. He was buried iii the Fair Avenue Cemetery in New Philadelphia on the family plot where three ofhis children who died at young ages (Godlieb, Clara and Marteila) had been buried. After her husband died, Mary Schrag Kuenzli continued to live iii the family house on High Street with her three daughters. Through the years, as the children grew up, married and moved to homes of their own, the Kuenzlis all werre fond of Ia mily get togethers for Grandma's birthday, a sons wedding anniversary, or any other special occasion. Mary Schrag Kuenzli died in New Philadelphia of "paralysis of the heart" on July 7, 1918 at the age of 89 years. She was buried in the family plot in the Fair Avenue Cemetery.

Loyalty and (IC votion within the family were evidenced by many things, such as an occurrence after Mary's death. She had died without a will, so here house and property were legally to be divided equally among her eight living children. The "boys" got together and decided to settle the estate by signing "quit claims" to their shares of the house and property, signing everything over to their sisters. Even though all the boys had families (except Frank, who never married) and could have used the extra money the estate would have provided, this was their quiet by emphatic way of expressing their appreciation to the sisters who had not only cared for their mother for 28 years after their father's death, but had also helped raise their younger brothers and had so often been on hand to assist during illness, on the arrival of a new baby, or during some other emergency in the boys' families.


Tuscarawas County is located in east-central Ohio, a short distance from several major cities, with highway access to all parts of Ohio and surrounding states. Much of the county is located along the beautiful Tuscarawas River. The inhabitants of Tuscarawas County, before the white man began arriving in 1750, were the Delaware Indians. These Indians were a peaceful people that took little part in the Revolution occurring around them. Even though the Delawares tried to remain distant from the Revolution, the number and power of their tribes in the county and the rest of the state steadily decreased after the war. The area Indians were instrumental in creating mounds and trails that would be of interest and use to future inhabitants of the land. One of the greatest of these trails ran though Tuscarawas County and was known as the Big Trail. The Big Trail was used by the Indians in their journeys from the Great Lakes to the Ohio River. To a large extent, it followed the Tuscarawas and Muskingum Rivers for this route was level. The Big Trail was first used by the Indian hunting parties and later by the white traders and Moravian missionaries. During the Revolutionary War, the Big Trail became a path of danger to white men, but eventually it returned to a path of peace and progress. With the danger gone, more white settlers followed the trail to the fertile fields of Ohio. The trail widened and hardened. Today part of Big Trail is the well-traveled State Route 800, that runs north and south through the county. The first whites to visit the Tuscarawas Valley, in the mid 1700's, were the French, English and American traders. These persons were usually hardened men who drank heavily and taught the Indians to do the same. But it was not until Christopher Gist's visit to the valley, that daily records of a white man's travels were kept. Gist came to Ohio as an agent of George Washington and other Virginia gentlemen who had purchased land in the Ohio Valley. He was considered to be one of Ohio's greatest pioneers and an exceptional trail finder. Gist had arrived in the old Indian village of Tuscarawi on December 5, 1750. In 1761 a white man who was neither trader nor explorer appeared in Tuscarawi. The man was Rev. C. F. Post, the first Protestant missionary in the valley. He was given permission by the Indians to live among their people and teach them according to the ways of the Bible. Post returned to Pennsylvania, only to reappear in the County the following spring with John Heckewelder, a noted teacher and preacher. Heckewelder continued his preaching in Tuscarawas County, but Post was called to Pennsylvania to help make an Indian treaty. He never did return to the county, for Indian rebellion broke out, making it very dangerous for white men to live in the valley. The white man's troubles began in the valley in 1763 when the great Indian war chief, Pontiac, plotted with several of the Indian tribes to drive the whites out of the west. White people everywhere lived in terror. It looked as if Pontiac's scheme would succeed. But the British sent out several armies which in a short time put an end to the Indian's terrorizing. One of these successful armies was commanded by Capt. Henry Bouquet. This was the first army of white men to march through the territory that is now called Tuscarawas County. After conquering the Indians the army left the county. Not long after this turmoil ended, the Revolutionary War began creating conflict between the British, Americans, Christian and non-Christian Indians. It was at this time that the brutal massacre of over 90 Christian Indians occurred in the Ohio missionary town known as Gnadenhutten. These Indians were led by the founder of Tuscarawas County, John Heckewelder and his Christian minister friend, David Zeisberger. In 1770, David Zeisberger was summoned to the Tuscarawas Valley by the Delaware Indians. The Indians sent a message that told of a disease (smallpox) that was killing their people by the dozens. Their medicine men could do nothing to stop the disease and they wanted to know if David could come to their aid. So in March, 1771, Zeisberger set out for the Tuscarawas River. He reached the river near the old Indian town Tuscarawi (Bolivar). He followed the river south for about 20 miles where he came upon a place where a strong stream flowed into a large river bend. He decided to name this stream, Schoenbrunn, which means "Beautiful Spring". After Zeisberger had preached only one sermon to the Delaware Indians, the smallpox disappeared. Believing this was due to his sermon the Indians were very eager to have him live with them permanently. Zeisberger was quite pleased to accept the Indians offer of a large tract of land, including the site he had named Schoenbrunn, in return for his services as a minister. So on May 3, 1771, David and 28 of his Christian Indian converts landed at the spring and began constructing a village laid out in the form of an inverted T. The village grew rapidly, some of the surge in growth was created when John Heckewelder and over 300 of his Moravian followers moved to Schoenbrunn. Soon the Schoenbrunn Village became so crowded that it was necessary to build another village further south. Under the direction of Joshua, an elder in the congregation, the Gnadenhutten Village was built. Both the villages remained quite peaceful until the Revolutionary War in 1775. When the war broke out between England and the Colonies, most of the Indian tribes in the Valley favored the British. But the Christian Indians of Schoenbrunn and Gnadenhutten did as the American government suggested and remained neutral, a position that created endless problems and finally led to their destruction in 1782. During the war, the Delaware Christian Indians were not safe from the British or the other Indian tribes, as both parties wanted them out of the county. Finally the Delawares could no longer resist the pressure of the forces working against them and they left the area. Their church was pulled down and they sadly marched south to a safer territory. Two years later, Zeisberger, thinking the danger had passed, led his people back to Schoenbrunn, where they found the village in ruins. So the Delawares set to building a new village across the river. This new village never did thrive and in 1781, a large band of renegade Indians appeared in the village inhabitants midst and forced the Delawares and Mohicans to flee to a point near where Sandusky, Ohio now stands. Zeisberger and Heckewelder were taken to Detroit and kept there all winter by the British. That spring, they were tried as American spies, but since nothing could be proven against them, they were freed. The people of Schoenbrunn never returned to their village. Zeisberger on the other hand, returned to the Tuscarawas Valley in 1798, with another band of followers. This group established a mission at Goshen, a few miles south of New Philadelphia. It was at Goshen that Zeisberger died and was laid to rest November 7, 1808. The people at Gnadenhutten settlement were not as fortunate as those at Schoenbrunn. The history of Gnadenhutten was much like that of Schoenbrunn before the Revolution. But once the war began the troubles there did likewise. The inhabitants were made to pay for the pillaging that the British Indians had done along the American frontier in Virginia and Pennsylvania. The frontiersmen were horrified and determined to avenge their losses caused by the Indians by wiping out the town of Gnadenhutten. Many frontiersmen believed the Christian Indians were savages who merely used Christianity to cover their murdering and stealing ways. In March of 1782 a small army of white men lead by Capt. Williamson acted as friends to the Christian Indians of Gnadenhutten and tricked them into giving up their weapons and tools and gathering together in the church. A trial was held and they were charged with murdering white settlers, stealing their goods and burning their buildings. Over 90 Christian Indian men, women, and children where sentenced and put to death. Heckewelder returned to Gnadenhutten, gathered up the bones of his people and buried them in a single large grave. This spot may be visited today in the cemetery at Gnadenhutten. Another spot that encountered devastation around the time of the Revolution was a place called Fort Laurens. In 1778 the American Congress decided to build a chain of forts in the west to stop the British and Indian raids. Fort Laurens, named in honor of Henry Laurens, President of the Continental Congress, was one such fort. The spot chosen for the fort was on the west bank of the Tuscarawas River about a mile south of the present village of Bolivar. The fort was built in the shape of a rectangle with diamond-shaped bastions at each corner. Problems began at the fort when McIntosh, the general who was instrumental in the construction of the fort, decided to leave the fort with several men from the fort's army and travel east to pick up supplies. One hundred men were left under the command of Colonel Gibson. It was not long before the fort was surrounded by Indians who remained around the fort for six weeks, making it impossible for the soldiers to go out and hunt. Because it was winter, many of the men grew ill from lack of heat and food. They were not even safe when the Indians sent word that they were leaving because a party of Indians remained behind to ambush the soldiers who traveled outside the fort walls. Supplies finally reached the fort, but by that time the men were ill and discouraged and wished to leave. So in the summer of 1779 the fort was abandoned. Today no traces of the fort is to be found. The site of the fort has, however, been purchased by the state and is now a state park containing a museum. As one travels ahead in time we come to the spring of 1817, when about 200 German peasants left their country to seek religious freedom in America. Joseph M Bimeler, the leader of these people, purchased 5,500 acres of land in Tuscarawas County, land that later became the site of their village that they named Zoar. Unsuccessful at democratic living, the village people organized a communal settlement. Everything belonged to the community. All crops raised were placed in a great community barn, all the cows were also kept in one barn and a group of women were appointed to do all the dairy work. As years passed, Zoar became a wealthy community and in time the residents owned over 9,000 acres of land, a large hotel, a tannery, an iron mill, a saw mill, a flour mill, a cabinet shop, blacksmith shop, bakery, cider mill, a large herd of cattle, horses, sheep, hogs, and money in various banks. Towards the latter part of the century, however, the young people of the village began to grow tired of their communal life. They wished to be free to do as they pleased, to earn money of their own, buy their own clothes, and own their property. So in 1898, the community was dissolved and the property divided among many of the people. Many buildings and relics of community days are still found in Zoar today- a village that represents the simplicity and charm of an earlier time. Something must be said for the importance of the Tuscarawas River. Because of the county's location along the river, there is an abundance of fertile soil and many diversified industries. The river provided Tuscarawas County citizens with resources to construct a canal, that began to be built in 1825 and was named the Ohio & Erie Canal. The canal began in Cleveland, passed through Tuscarawas County, and later met the Ohio River at Portsmouth. The canal was a means of transportation for people and goods. The towns located along the canal flourished. When the railroads began to appear in the county, business on the canal steadily decreased and the canal was finally abandoned. Today some of the canals in Ohio have been restored and are in operation for all to enjoy. After reading this brief summary, one can see that Tuscarawas County is rich in history and various cultures. If you wish to receive more detailed information on the history of Tuscarawas you can contact the Tuscarawas County Convention and Visitors Bureau at 125 McDonald Dr. SW, New Philadelphia, Ohio 44663, (216) 339-5453> or the Tuscarawas County Public Library in New Philadelphia at (216)364-4474.

Joh n and Mary Schrag Kuenzli had twelve children, all born in Tuscarawas County, Ohio.

Mary ("Maime") Kuenz ii, born November 11, 1854. Because of her mother's delicate health, Mamie helped raise her younger brothers and sisters. "Aunt Mamie," along with her two sisters, continued to help raise and care for youngsters in successive generations. The three were affectionately referred to as "The Aunties." Mamie never married; she and her sisters became Christian Scientists. She was the eldest of "The Aun ties" and was the last of them to die; she passed away in New Philadelphia on October 7, 1943 at the age of 88 years.

John Kuenzli, born March27, 1856. John and his brother Frank had a restaurant and tavern in New Philadelphia, where a young lady named Dorothy Blanche Stevens worked as a waitress. She became the wife of John Kuenzii 012. February 26, 1902. Around 1910, John moved his wife and young sun to Stark County (where they operated a restaurant and tavern) and in 1919 to Akron, Ohio, where John worked at the Firestone rubber mill. He died on August 9,

1940, wheii he was 84 years old. John aud Blanche had one child, Johii Edward Kuenzli, Jr,

born Jail uary 20, 1903.

Frederick C Kuenzli., born September 10, 1857. Fred had the Kuenzli sense ofadventure, and the wide open spaces of the West called to hini. After General Custer's reginleilt was wipe out by the Indiaiis at the Little Big Horn, the U.S. Arnky was recruiting men to build its strength. The Kuenzli men were all businessmen, and the solid bonus offered to Army recrui.L~ helped lead Fred to his decisiozi to eulist for one term.

After serving a five-year term, Fred came home to New Philadelphia for a visit, during which he met his fi~ture wife, Ida Wilhelmina Gin tz. Fred had already re-eulisted for another five year term ill the army; after ten years of service in the south and west he returned to New Philadelphia in 1886 and lie and Ida were married iii 1887.

In the mid-i 880s, Fred - together with his brothers Al aud Will - took over the Kuenzli Meat Market which that father had founded on West High Street. He continued in this business until his death.

Iii 1898, Fred aud two of his brothers - Frauk and Charles - were overcome by a bit of "wanderlust" and made a trip to the Yukon to search for cold. Fred later told his daughter Mae, that ifhe hadn't joiiied his brothers oil this expedition he would probably have re-enlisted iii the Army - which he had liked - aud go ne to fight iii the Spanish-American War

Years later Fred would tell Mae that the most memorable part of this ~Lkon expeditioii, and the closest the brothers had come to disaster was climbing a pass over a mountain range -the infamous Chilkoot Pass. To accomplish this, steps had been cut iii the ice aud the heavily laden men ascended in a continuous single file. As one man took his foot from a step, the next man would step into it. The group with which the brothers were traveling were ready to cross, but Fred was ill so the brothers decided to wait uiitil the following morning. A big suow-slide caine Oil the day they had originally plaimed to travel, and niany of those in the crossing were killed or injured.

Fred became homesick for his fain ily aud left the Yukon after about eight moizth's absence, without fiuding any great riches. (His two brothers remained in the Yukon soniewhat longer) Upon returniug to New Philadelphia he returned to his work as a meat dealer and became a charter member of the Philadelphia Lodge ofElks. He died April26, 1920. Fred's obituary in the Ohio Democrat and 'PLines said he had "held an enviable place iii the ranks ofNew Philadelphia business men for 32 years His death removes from the city oiie of its steadiest and most industrious business meil."

Fred and Ida had three children, Mary Catherine Kuenzli (born February 21, 1888); Carl F Kuenzli (boni June 29, 1890; died November 14, 189m; and Helen Wilma Kueiizli (bvorn April 19, 1892)

Godlieb Kuenzli was born July 10, 1859 in New Philadelphia. He died there January 19, 1862, after choking to death on a hickory nut shell which had slipped aud caught part wQy down his throat. The family had tried everything to get the shell out, but to no avail. After a bug ago Ti izing time, Godlieb died in his mother's arms. One of "The Aunties" said iii later years that her illother had never gotteil over this heartbreaking expericilce.

Godlieb was the first of the family to be buried in the Kuenzli family plot iii the Fair Avenue Cemetery iii New Philadelphia. This plot later held his parents and other family menibers.

Emma Kuenzli, known to later generations as 'Auntie," was born October 15, 1860. She married Fred Leisy, a Canton, Ohio, butcher and moved to Can ton, in Stark County. Emma and Fred were divorced after about ten years of marriage; they had 120 children.

Emma then returned to New Philadelphia where s/ic lived with her mother and two sisters in the Kuenzli family home on High Street. There she worked with her sisters, caring for their mother unter her heath, and helping care for successive generations ofKuenzii children. Emma, along with her sisters, was a Christian Scientist. She was the first of "The Aunties" to die, on April29, 1932, at the age of 71.

Minnie Kuenzli was born September 9, 1862. It is thought that her name was originally supposed to be Minna, a more truly Swiss name. "Aunt Minnie" never married and lived in the Kuenzli family home until her death. She is remembered as a very pleasant and quiet woman, but she also possessed the Alpine rock-ribbed determination which could be quite surprising when you first ran in to it.

Minnie, at one time, worked in her brother Will's bakery as a clerk, and later worked in the "Tea Store" on South Broadway. She also worked with her sisters rendering lard from her brother Al's meat market. Minnie died on December 3, 1940, at the age of 78 years.

William Kuenzli was born November 4, 1864. He married Mary Catherine Krohn on March 24, 1887. Will's father John Kuenzli, gave the newly-weds $100 for a wedding trip and to flirnish their home. The trip was a train ride to Canton, Ohio, to visit Will's sister Emma Kuenzli Leisy. The newly-weds then set up housekeeping in an apartment over the Kuenzli meat market.

Will's varied business career was conducted in New Philadelphia. In his youth and at the time of his marriage he worked in the family meat market, first with his father and later as partners with his brother Albert. Four years after his marriage, he entered the hardware business, managing a store on East High Avenue. Bus~ness there was not too prosperous, so he later sold his share in the store.

At one time, Will started a handle factory, making hatchet handles, with his brodier-inlaw, Jacob Krohn. From 1898f to 1905, Will owned a bakery on West High Avenue. His wife worked there with him until their son was born, and his sister Minnie Kuenzli, worked there as a clerk for awhile. He also employed two fine German bakers; one of these later bought the business. After sell mg the bakery. will entered in to an insurance partnership and ill 1908 purchased a drug store and entered the insurance business.

In November 1918, Will a Democrat was elected Mayor ofNew Philadelphia by a vote of 1,121 over 970 for his Rep ublican opponent. The Ohio Democrat and TLmes called it a "record vote." Will's two-year term (1919-1920) encompa&sed a serious influenza epidemic during which he took charge oforganizing food and care for the many seriously ill people in "'Liscarawas County, as the County Health Director was away in Chicago taking a post-graduate course. During the epidemic, the situation became so severe that all schools, theatres, churches and all forms of amusement were closed, and public meetings were forbidden, and a number of emergency hospitals had to be set up in New Philadelphia and elsewhere in the county.

Though defeated in his attempt at a second term, Will Kuenzli was appointed Public Safrty Director for 1922-1923 and beca inc a Justice of the Peace in 1925. He died on February 21, 1929, at the age of 64.

Clara Kuenzli was born 072 July 15, 1866 and died that same day.

February 6, 1898

Dear Ida and Babes,

Well this is Sunday and I have just had my Dinner. Nothing very extra either. People in this country don't eat dinner till 6 o'clock and call dinner lunch. It rained here all day yesterday and last night and I didn't get around very much. Mailed Wilma and May a Valentine last night but I did not mark the boxes. The little one was for Wilma but if they have them say nothing about them.

I am going to the Golden Gate Park this afternoon to kill time. W'as out to Presidio this morning to see Vic Bucy but he had left there last Thursday. He has reinlisted and gone on a two months Furlough. He is visiting some relatives here in California. As I was told he does not intend coming home. From what his comrads told me he is getting along first rate. Got a letter from C and F last night but won't know anything till I get a reply. From the tone of their letter they are more anxious than I am. This is no yellow streak only speaking but I might be sorry sometime I didn't have. I have a nice place to stop here, good room but it's close to

13. I think I will go to Stockton next week to see (blank)and Uhlman. Not till the later part as I have information to gather first of week. San Francisco is the finest city I was ever in. No end to fine Buildings, nice streets,and clean. I want to get this in the mail yet.

So good bye

Love to all


How is everybody? Tell Em M. to mail me a paper.

San Francisco, Cal. February 14, 1898

Dear Ida and Babes,

Your letter of the 5th received a few days ago. I have been down to Stockton to see W. Uhlman and F. Winger, which I met and found them OK. Left Stockton Sunday evening and got to Frisco this morning. It is a nice night ride, 130 miles, fare 25~. I could have got a bed for 25~, but I took a cabin which cost $1.00. I wanted to know who my Bunkey was. So I slept by myself but I didn't sleep much. Every time the Whistle Blew I would jump up to see what was going on, and that happens pretty often. You ought to be in this country, you would not get cold. yesterday at Stockton was a regular Ohio 4th of July, 97 in the shade. The only trouble I have is to keep cool.

Glad you were pleased with the dresses. The green one was intended for Pud. Tell Wilma not to mind about a Baby. I will bring her an Indian or Chinese baby when I come home. There are plenty of Chinese kids here and cute ones.