The common interests of both the United States and Switzerland extends far into the past. In the 16th Century, Swiss soldiers were the first to send their impressions of the colonies back to the Swiss 'Pilgrim Fathers.' Swiss ideas about people's rights entered into the colonists' structure of the U.S Constitution. And, in turn, writers of the Swiss Constitution looked at the U.S. Constitution as their model and example in 1848, when Switzerland became a republic.
In 1993, an exhibit, “The Sister Republics — Switzerland and the United Stated from 1776 til today” was developed with the joint cooperation of the Library of Congress and the Swiss State Library in Bern, Switzerland.
The exhibition was first shown in the Swiss State Library in Bern, then Geneva, Basel, and was to be shown in Zurich, then at the Barengasse Museum, near Zurich, then many other smaller museums. And it was about the time we were going to be in Europe and Switzerland. I had planned to complete a story when we returned.
The problem was, we got to Europe, but we toured Germany, Netherlands and the British Isles, with Lorna’s sister, Ellen Ritt Bellm, and her husband, Walter Bellm, but we didn’t get to Switzerland to see the exhibition.
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As I was filing my veterans' information that I had recently used in some previous columns, I found some of my writings about the Sister Republics that I had never used, and I immediately saw the name of Albert C. Iten. This reactivated my interest in the Sister Republics and the sad story of Leroy "Lee" Iten.
Paul Fehrmann, now deceased, of Basler Electric Co. of Highland, sent me a translation of a letter written in 1993 and a newspaper article that was sent to him by a Basler Electric business acquaintance Albert C. Iten of Engerotch Ag in of Steinhausen, Switzerland. I wondered if Albert C. Iten of Switzerland was a relative to Lee Iten of Highland.
Lee Iten was the only Highland resident was killed by enemy fire in World War I. Highland’s American Legion Post is named for him. I have Iten family genealogy that came from Alan Landmann, formerly of Highland but now of Washington, as well as information from Roy Worstell.
“The Iten family, originally from Unteregern, Canton Zug, Switzerland, came to Highland in 1852 with their two young sons. The sons were Clemenz Iten, born April 18, 1850, and his brother, Frank Joseph Iten, born March 31, 1852. Both were born in Unteregern, Switzerland."
So that was the early clue that Swiss genealogist can follow, another would be the ship’s registry.
“The Iten family settled northwest of Carlyle, in Clinton County. But in 1854, the father and mother were stricken by cholera, and both died. They had a daughter while living in Clinton County, and she also died of cholera. The two sons, Clemenz and Frank Iten, were taken by Mr. and Mrs. Gallus Rutz Sr. and raised with their five sons.
“The oldest son, Clemenz Iten, in 1878, married Salome Arbergast, and they had four children: George Iten; oldest daughter married Joseph Kilwein; their second daughter married Adolph Kaeser; and the youngest daughter was Laura Iten.
"Clemenz Iten died April 5, 1904 in New Baden.
“The youngest son, Frank Joseph Iten, married three times. His third wife was Amelia Weidner Fricker Iten, and she was the mother of Leroy ‘Lee’ Iten, who was born on Nov. 30, 1893.
"Lee was killed Oct. 8, 1918, in Benny Woods, St. Mihiel, France in World War I. Lee Iten was originally buried in France, but re-interred in Highland City Cemetery on June 26, 1921."
Lee Iten’s World War I information will be in the Highland Home Museum in the War Veterans Cabinet. If you have a parent, grandparent, uncle, yourself or other relatives who lived at one time or their life time in the Highland area and were in service during war time, they can also have space in the archives of the museum.
Do you have any information that might help us trace the family tree do see if Lee and Albert Iten related? If so, call me at 618-654-5005.