Sissach, Switzerland The German Sector - Week 1
Nov 5, 2007
|Hello to All
Sissach Switzerland is the town I have taken as my family’s place of departure to America. For those of you who do not know the name Senn is Swiss and means "the head man of an Alpine dairy herd". Cattle were brought to mountain pastures for the summer and the herders milked the cows and made cheese.
In my genealogy research and with the assistance of other Senn researchers in the US I was provided names of people from Switzerland that we connected to my family tree. Official records are not available, however the family records are what we used to piece the ties together.
The family of record I believe came from Sissach are Hans Jacob Senn, his wife Elizabeth Frey, children Anna Marie (9), Jacob (7), Henrich (3) (Henirch is my ancestor). They left Switzerland in 1788 and sailed to Charleston, South Carolina. Kay and I spent two weeks in the area so I could just see the country, study the area around Sissach and get to see how the people live today. We have enjoyed a wonderful stay.
We stayed at the Zehntenhaus B&B in Zunzgen (about 2 miles from Sissach). The house was built around 1600 to store the tax (10 %) of the farmers’ harvest. Thus the name "Zehnten" means ten percent. The owners, Mieke & Rene Duveen-Paping, remodeled the home between 1983 and 1995 for the family to live in. After the children left home they opened the B&B plus they have a small gift shop and have child care. They are also starting a self sustaining spiritual community.
A little about cost. For 35 Swiss Francs ($29) each, we purchased regional travel passes which allowed us to travel any where in the Basel Region (bigger than Travis County) by bus, tram or train 24 hours a day for one week. We used this pass extensively as all the transportation is coordinated and is extremely efficient and punctual. Waiting fifteen minutes for a bus or train is considered a long wait. Usually we departed a bus or train and in a few minutes we boarded another bus or train. The bus or tram is generally within a few hundred feet of the train - not just the station but the train itself. Children of all ages us the bus and train to go to school at various towns as many schools are regional classes. They also go home for lunch between about 11:00 to 1:30 or 2:00 again taking the bus and train back and forth.
We also found most shops in Europe are closed on Sunday and do not open until afternoon on Monday and close between 12:00 and 1:30 other days for lunch. We have yet to see any store open 24 hours including McDonalds.
We were asked about cost in Switzerland compared to US. Three areas stand out: Restaurants, fuel and housing. Clothing and shopping in grocery stores, etc is about the same. One reason for the higher prices in the restaurant is that the minimum wages for a person starting to work in a restaurant is 3,200 Swiss francs per month ($2,700) plus tips. Most meals here are still only about 50% higher than in Austin. We also talked with a regional bus driver who drives a 25 mile route about 7 hours a day and earns enough to own a home priced about 500,000 Swiss francs ($425,000) and has the only income for his family. People are paid very well here and over 65% of the people in Switzerland are in the service industry.
We visited Bern and Basel this week, hiked in the mountains, enjoyed great Swiss cooking, did family research and enjoyed a wonderful time.
Bye for now:
Love to All
George & Kay