Swiss Americans

  (Redirected from Swiss-American)

Swiss Americans are Americans of Swiss descent.

Swiss Americans
Schweizamerikaner (German)
Suisses américains (French)
Svizzero americano (Italian)
Svizer american (Romansh)
Total population
905,079 (2019)[1]
0.28% of the U.S. population
Regions with significant populations
New York, Pennsylvania, California, Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, Colorado, Indiana, Missouri, Washington, Arizona, Utah, Texas and Oregon
English · French · German • Italian • Romansh
mostly Christianity (Reformed, Catholic and Lutheran)
Related ethnic groups
Swiss people, Swiss diaspora; European Americans

Swiss emigration to America predates the formation of the United States, notably in connection with the persecution of Anabaptism during the Swiss Reformation and the formation of the Amish community. In the 19th century, there was substantial immigration of Swiss farmers, who preferred rural settlements in the Midwest. Swiss immigration diminished after 1930, although limited immigration continues. The number of Americans of Swiss descent is nearly one million. The Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs reported the permanent residency of Swiss nationals in the United States as 80,218 in 2015.[2]


Swiss emigrants to the USA totaled 104,000 according to the 1890 census.

The first Swiss person in what is now the territory of the United States was Theobald (Diebold) von Erlach (1541–1565).[3] The history of the Amish church began with a schism in Switzerland within a group of Swiss and Alsatian Anabaptists in 1693 led by Jakob Ammann, a native of Erlenbach im Simmental.

During the late 18th and early 19th centuries, a flow of Swiss farmers formed colonies, particularly in Russia and the United States.

Before the year 1820 some estimated 25,000 to 30,000 Swiss entered British North America. Most of them settled in regions of today's Pennsylvania as well as North and South Carolina. In the next years until 1860 about as many Swiss arrived, making their homes mainly in the Midwestern states such as Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin. Approximately 50,000 came between 1860 and 1880, some 82,000 between 1881 and 1890, and estimated 90,000 more during the next three decades.

In spite of Swiss settlements like Highland (Illinois), New Glarus (Wisconsin), New Bern (North Carolina), Gruetli (Tennessee) and Bernstadt (Kentucky) were emerging fast, most Swiss preferred rural villages of the Midwest and the Pacific Coast where especially the Italian Swiss were taking part in California's winegrowing culture, or then took up residence in more industrial and urban regions such as New York City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Chicago, St. Louis, Denver or San Francisco. As the lifestyle and political institutions of the United States were compliant with those of their homeland most Swiss had no problems starting a new life in their part of the New World and became attached to both countries.[4]

Along with the Swiss Immigrants came their traditions. By the late 1800s sufficient numbers of Swiss had arrived that Swiss Vereins (Clubs) were established to provide camaraderie and sharing of customs and traditions of the Heimat (Homeland). The William Tell Verein of Oakland and the Helvetia Verein of Sacramento, founded in the 1890s, were examples of clubs formed during this period. Much later, the West Coast Swiss Wrestling Association was established to preserve the Swiss tradition of Schwingen (Swiss wrestling) on the Pacific coast of the United States.

Of Swiss immigrant involvement in the Civil War, David Vogelsanger writes, "More Swiss participated in the American Civil War than in any other foreign conflict except the Battle of Marignano in 1515 and Napoleon's Russian Campaign of 1812."[5]

Swiss immigration diminished after 1930 because of the depression and World War II, but 23,700 more Swiss had arrived by 1960, followed by 29,100 more between 1961 and 1990, many of whom were professionals or employees in American branches of Swiss companies who later returned to Switzerland.[6]


Distribution of Swiss Americans according to the 2000 Census

Swiss Americans by numbersEdit

According to the 2000 United States Census,[7] the 15 cities with the largest populations of Swiss Americans are as follows:

  1. New York City – 8,108
  2. Los Angeles, California – 6,169
  3. San Diego, California – 4,349
  4. Portland, Oregon – 4,102
  5. Madison, Wisconsin – 3,898
  6. Phoenix, Arizona – 3,460
  7. Seattle, Washington – 3,446
  8. San Francisco, California – 3,381
  9. Chicago, Illinois – 3,008
  10. San Jose, California – 2,661
  11. Columbus, Ohio – 2,640
  12. Monroe, Wisconsin – 2,582
  13. Houston, Texas – 2,226
  14. Dallas, Texas-1,865
  15. Salt Lake City, Utah – 2,105
  16. Indianapolis, Indiana – 1,939

According to the 2007 American Community Survey,[8] the states with the largest populations of Swiss Americans are as follows:

  1. California – 117,700
  2. Ohio – 86,147[9]
  3. Pennsylvania – 73,912
  4. Wisconsin – 61,134
  5. Illinois – 42,194
  6. Indiana – 41,540
  7. New York – 40,113
  8. Florida – 39,001
  9. Texas – 37,258
  10. Washington – 36,697
  11. Oregon – 33,234
  12. Utah – 30,606
  13. Missouri – 25,809
  14. Michigan – 25,533
  15. Arizona – 24,485

Swiss Americans by percentage of total populationEdit

According to the 2000 United States Census[7] the highest percentage of Swiss Americans in any town, village or other, are the following:

  1. Berne, Indiana – 29.10%
  2. Monticello, Wisconsin – 28.82%
  3. New Glarus, Wisconsin – 28.26%
  4. Boys Ranch, Texas – 23.30%
  5. Monroe, Wisconsin – 18.91%
  6. Pandora, Ohio – 18.90%
  7. Argyle, Wisconsin – 17.84%
  8. Sugarcreek, Ohio – 17.29%
  9. Elgin, Iowa – 15.79%
  10. Monroe, Indiana – 14.35%
  11. Baltic, Ohio – 12.91%
  12. Brickerville, Pennsylvania – 11.52%
  13. Albany, Wisconsin – 11.51%
  14. Belleville, Wisconsin – 11.25%
  15. Blanchardville, Wisconsin – 11.21%
  16. Shipshewana, Indiana – 10.89%

only cities, towns and villages with at least 500 people included

According to the 2000 United States Census[7] the states with the highest percentage of people of Swiss ancestry are the following:

  1. Utah – 1.28%
  2. Wisconsin – 0.91%
  3. Idaho – 0.87%
  4. Oregon – 0.76%
  5. Indiana – 0.64%

Communities settled by Swiss immigrantsEdit

Swiss American historical societiesEdit

  • Beech Island Historical Society, a historical society in South Carolina dedicated to the preservation of Historic Beech Island, including the early Swiss settlement led by John Tobler.[12]
  • Grundy County Swiss Historical Society, a historical society in Grundy County, Tennessee, site of former Swiss colony of Gruetli.[13]
  • Highland Historical Society, a historical society centered in Highland, Illinois, site of one of the oldest Swiss settlements in the United States. It was founded in 1831 by Swiss pioneers from Sursee, Switzerland.[14]
  • Orangeburgh German-Swiss Genealogical Society, a genealogical society focused on the early Swiss and German settlers of Orangeburg, South Carolina.[15]
  • Santa Clara Utah Historical Society, a historical Society dedicated to the preservation of an early Swiss Settlement in Utah.[16]
  • Swiss American Historical Society – focuses on the involvement of the Swiss and their descendants in American life, aspects of Swiss American relations, and Swiss history.[17]
  • Swiss Heritage Village & Museum – begun in 1985, it is currently the largest outdoor museum in northern Indiana. It is located in Berne, Indiana.[18]
  • Swiss Mennonite Cultural and Historical Association – consists of descendants of the Mennonites who immigrated to the US from Ukraine in the 1870s.[19]
  • The Swiss Center of North America includes an extensive list of Swiss clubs.
  • The Descendants of Swiss Settlers was founded in 2019. The Society honors the legacy and achievements of Swiss men and women who settled in the United States and its antecedent Thirteen Colonies from Switzerland prior to March 5, 1798, which marks the end of the Old Swiss Confederacy.[20]

Notable peopleEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Bureau, U.S. Census. "2019 ACS 1-Year Estimates – People Reporting Ancestry – Table B04006". Retrieved March 9, 2021.
  2. ^ "EDA, Auslandschweizerdienst: Auslandschweizerstatistik 2015 nach Wohnländern" (PDF). Retrieved August 28, 2017.
  3. ^ "Swiss Americans – History, Modern era, Swiss in British North America". Retrieved March 17, 2015.
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on August 1, 2009. Retrieved June 26, 2009.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ Vogelsanger, David. "Foreword: A Forgotten Chapter of Our Military History." Swiss American Historical Society Review 51, no. 2 (2015): 5–8. The whole issue is dedicated to the Swiss in the Civil War.
  6. ^ "Swiss Americans – History, Modern era, Swiss in British North America". Retrieved August 28, 2017.
  7. ^ a b c Laura Yax, WSCS, ASD. "Census 2000 Gateway". Retrieved March 17, 2015.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  8. ^ Bureau, U.S. Census. "American FactFinder – Results". Archived from the original on February 11, 2020. Retrieved August 28, 2017.
  9. ^ Data Access and Dissemination Systems (DADS). "American FactFinder – Results". Archived from the original on February 12, 2020. Retrieved March 17, 2015.
  10. ^ [1] Archived April 25, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ ""John A. Sutter Jr. Founder and Planner of City of Sacramento ... Was born in Switzerland, October 25, 1826. He was the son of John A. Sutter..."". Retrieved August 28, 2017.
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on September 3, 2006. Retrieved September 6, 2006.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ "Swiss Historical Society". Retrieved March 17, 2015.
  14. ^ "Highland Historical Society". Retrieved March 17, 2015.
  15. ^ "OGSGS Main". Retrieved March 17, 2015.
  16. ^ [2] Archived February 3, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ "Swiss American Historical Society". Retrieved March 17, 2015.
  18. ^ "Willkommen". Archived from the original on February 18, 2012. Retrieved March 17, 2015.
  19. ^ "Index Page SMCHA". Archived from the original on November 10, 2001. Retrieved August 28, 2017.
  20. ^ "Descendants of Swiss Settlers". Retrieved February 4, 2021.

Further readingEdit

  • Schelbert, Leo. "Swiss Americans." Gale Encyclopedia of Multicultural America, edited by Thomas Riggs, (3rd ed., vol. 4, Gale, 2014), pp. 319–329. Online
  • Schelbert, Leo, ed. American Letters: Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Accounts of Swiss Immigrants (Camden, ME: Picton Press, 1995).
  • Tritt, D. G., ed. Swiss Festivals in North America: A Resource Guide (Masthof Press, 1999).

External linksEdit

Articles about the Swiss in the United StatesEdit

Research linksEdit