Northeast Switzerland

The Story of Wigoltingen

Wigoltingen lies halfway between Weinfelden and Frauenfeld in the valley of the Thur. All three of these towns within a radius of ten miles served as homes of the Freienmuth family at one time or another.

Map of SwitzerlandThese places are very near the shores of Lake Constance, which is on the border between Switzerland and Germany. From here are seen distant views of the Zurich uplands and Morsburg Castle at Winterthur to the west. To the south through a flat valley flows the Thur and beyond are the heights of Gabris and Rigi. Weinfelden lies to the east of Wigoltingen and southwest can be seen the vine-covered Ottoberg hill and the town of Ottoberg surrounded by orchards. Twenty-two church towers can be counted from the minister's parsonage in Wigoltingen gleaming among the valleys and hills and on the fruitful terraces of the lake ridges. To crown the view rise the stone cliffs and majestic spires of the Santis Mountains in the Canton Appenzell to the south. They rise to a height of about 9000 feet and are the foothills of the Alps. All of Canton Thurgau presents this rolling landscape of farms, orchards and vineyards and here and there nestled gristmills, which seemed especially to interest the Freienmuths.

Map of Canton ThurgauThe first record of the Freienmuth family is found in the story of Canton Thurgau and Puggekosen, which states that the Freienmuths held property in Wigoltingen in 1420. A Heinrich Freienmuth bought civil rights in Zurich in 1551 and from him descended Hercules Freienmuth who still lived in Dublin, Ireland in 1810. In 1562 there are two Freienmuths on the list of taxpayers on land. Taxes received from the heirs of Kleinhans Freienmuth at Wigoltingen were 8 kreuxer (a coin less than a cent in value) from a corner of wheat, and they got taxes from Hans Freienmuth for some newly-broken land near Emdweise, which lay to the left of the old road to Lampers-weil.

Both Freienmuths and Spiris were known in the community of Wigoltingen since 1598. The Spiris (or Spiry) came originally from Jungholtz. These names were found in the marriage register that marks the first appearance of some of these names. Freienmuth was also spelled with a Y then, or Freyenmuth.

The lives of the Freienmuth family were necessarily interwoven with the activities of Wigoltingen and the author's preface (Gottleib Amstein, a minister at Wigoltingen who published his book, "Die Geschichte von Wigoltingen" [The Story of Wigoltingen] in 1892) credits Johannes Jacob Freienmuth, who was a municipal magistrate in Wigoltingen and who died in 1855, with much of the material for his book.

This Freienmuth kept a day book for nearly half a century which contained valuable contributions about the life of the community. Freienmuth had also previously assembled and copied much legal material from the records in the archives of Meersburg, Constance and Zurich; church records and histories and legends of Thurgau. A biography of Councilman Freienmuth read on New Year's Day 1845 before the community welfare society supplied additional facts.

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