Harold Schiffman
Zerchers came from Zürich (Switzerland) after
Zercher means “person from Zurich” in Pfälzisch
‘Zercher’ became the family name of several
different families who emigrated to Hassloch
from Switzerland after 1648
When Opa ‘Keller’ came to St. Louis, his name
was Friedrich Zercher—he changed it for some
reason after he got to St. Louis
Sounded funny in American pronunciation?
After 1648, Peace of Westfalia ended the religious
Cujus Regio, ejus Religio (Whoever the ruler was, his
religion [Protestant or Catholic] became official)
People who didn’t accept that religion had to leave
Many parts of Europe were devastated by the 30
Years War and 100 years war, so they recruited
people to resettle in their territories
Our Zercher ancestors would have been Protestant
refugees from some Catholic canton in Switzerland
Hassloch was a Protestant ‘island’ in a larger Catholic
For some time there was some mystery about the Keller name and
whether it was Keller before Frederick and Barbara Hauck Keller left
Germany. Catherine may have discovered this when she discontinued her
compilation of the history of the Keller and Weis families, and Mathilda
and Merl Schiffman came across some evidence when they visited
Germany in 1971 and asked Cousin Heinrich Denzer (from the Weis side
of the family, see below) to phone the town clerk in Hassloch and see if
they could locate records. When they arrived the next day in Hassloch
the clerk excitedly told them that there was no Keller family that fit the
description they had given (names, birthdates), but there was another
family named Zercher with the same first names and birthdates. This
was somewhat disturbing, and since Mathilda felt that Grandpa Philip
Keller had not wanted anyone to go to Hassloch to look up family (he
conveyed a sense of debt or obligation owed to someone there) Mathilda
felt that the name may have been changed to hide something, or anyway
was connected with Grandpa's perception that there was a black mark
against the family name. Leon Scherrer indicated to me much later that
Tante Emma had also told him of once finding some letters in a dresser
when she was a child with the Zercher name on them, but couldn't figure
out what it meant.
Friedrich Zercher came to St. Louis in 1893.
No record of his arrival in America
Barbara Hauck Zercher and Elisabeth (10),
Philipp (8), Adolph (6) and Emma (2) arrived
at Ellis Island on the S. S. Colombia on June
15, 1894. Her sister Mary and her child were
also with them.
They took a train from NJ to Buffalo, then on
to St. Louis. But they mistakenly got off the
train in East St. Louis and there was confusion
until they got reunited with Opa.
Born in Trier
Germany on Sept.
14, 1858, the
son of Elisabeth
Bach Weis and
Joseph Weis.
Trained as a sculptor at the Cathedral in
Trier, then left to come to America to avoid
the Prussian draft
Sometime before 1884 he met Katarina
Roser in St. Louis and they were married in
that year
Founded a marble works—Weis & Jennett
Marriage License of
Josef Weis and ‘Katie’
Roser, in St. Louis, on
17th of September,
Married by Justice of
Peace because Josef
was Catholic and
‘Katie’ was Protestant
Katarina Roser was the
daughter of Magdalena
Reinacher Roser and
Christian Roser and
was born Oct. 29,
1864 in Tutschfelden
bei Kenzingen (Baden)
Tutschfelden is also an isolated Protes
Tutschfelden is a Protestant hamlet surrounded by
mostly Catholic towns (also a relic of 1648)
Seems like Katie Roser
didn’t like to have her
picture taken very
much because there
aren’t any of her as a
girl or young woman
except the family
picture back in
Katie Roser left Germany after her mother
died and her father remarried.
Other sources indicate she left on Sept. 10,
1882, and arrived in October 1882.
She went first to Indiana, to stay with an
‘Aunt Imhof’ and then on to St. Louis.
Worked in a boarding house, where she met
Josef Weis
A sister, Luisa, also came to St. Louis later
and married a Kümmerle, also from
Dear Mathilda, Merl, Gordon, Harold.
I received your letter along with the birthday greetings, and I’m glad that you have
not forgotten me. I wanted to write for so long but kept putting it off until now. I
always ask your Mother, how you are doing, and am always happy, when I hear
that you are doing well, and are all healthy. We are having cold weather now,
winter has arrived; last week it was so nice and warm. I think your children have
been looking forward for a long time now to Christmas, and are hoping for nice
gifts. Herewith I send you a check, so buy something for the children and
yourselves, and I hope that you’ll have good times for the Holidays, and hope this
writing finds you in good health. I continue to be healthy, so far, and can still do
my own housework, although sometimes it is difficult for me, with my 76 years,
now thank God, it’s still possible, [taking it] slowly. Now I wish you all a merry
Christmas and a good, blessed New Year, and take care until we meet again.
Grandma, Greatgrandma
St. Louis,
December 17. 1940
Catherine Weis.
Keller family home on
Missouri Avenue, near
the corner of
Pestalozzi Street.
Grandpa built this
house for the family,
and they lived in the
upper apartment
Claudia and Harold visit,
October 2007
Joseph William Weis, born June 20, 1985
Friedrich H., born Nov. 28, 1886 (died March
18, 1894 after a short illness)
Mina Katherine Weis Keller, born April 22,
Gustav Adolph Weis, born Oct. 3, 1890
Karl Johann (Carl John) Weis, born Sept. 14,
Frank Christian Weis, born Dec. 24, 1899
Born Dec. 5, 1884 in Hassloch
married Friedrich Wilhelm (later Frederick
William) Wilking on August 28, 1907
Also known as Lizzie or Lizette. Was an
excellent seamstress
Died September 4, 1908, after giving birth to
Arnold Philip Wilking on (date?).
Arnold married Martha Brumby of Louisiana
on November 3, 1937
Arnold Philip, (born July 4th, 1940)
Myrtle Angele (born February 20, 1943)
◦ Now known as Myrtle Blanton
Richard Bruce (born August 22, 1950)
Philip was taken to a German-medium
church-sponsored school but refused to
answer the questions put to him by the
principal (Arnold Wilking’s grandfather)
He then entered the public school, and
advocated strongly for English-medium for
all his siblings—the language of opportunity.
Mina and Philip(p) may have attended the
same public school (Clinton), but also their
families attended the Ebenezer Church
One of the few
pictures we have of
Grandma Keller
alone, i.e. not in a
family context
Mina was known as
‘Minnie’ in English
Wedding took place on
September 10, 1910
The first three…
The first five…
Mathilda, in College
Edna, aged 16
 Lillian,
high school
High School
Graduation picture
Family home at 526
Sheffield Avenue,
Webster Groves.
Grandpa designed and
built this house
Maid carrying platter of hot food
Butcher tempting cat
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