Thanks to my discovery of Beiträge zur Aargauergeschichte on e-periodica in Zurich, the Roland ancestral home is now known and the family of Melchior Roland and Anna Maria Lang has been identified.
I remember long ago, when I’d hear about someone talking about their Swiss ancestry, I’d think to myself that Switzerland being such a small place wouldn’t allow for too many people to claim that heritage.
Well, my husband now has two documented ancestors with origins in Switzerland – the Estermanns, about whom I’ve written in the past, and now he has the Roland family.
Melchior Roland was one of several Roland family members who lived in the town of Oberentfelden in the province of Aargau, Switzerland. He was a linen weaver by trade, as were some of the other Rolands.
Given that his first child was born in 1720, it is reasonable to estimate his year of birth as around 1695. The family of Jacob Roland and Catharina Brechbuhl lived in Oberentfelden in that time period and had several children born there, including a son Hans Melchior on 28 February 1695.
It seems to be a relatively safe assumption that this Hans Melchior is the father of Gaspar Roland as Oberentfelden had only a population of about 600 people in the 1700s and birth records survive from this town.
Melchior Roland married Anna Maria Lang c1719, probably in Obermiesau, as that was Anna Maria’s home. They had many children, although several died young.
1. Johann Caspar, born 29 October 1720
2. Maria Elisabetha, born 29 January 1722; buried 30 January 1725
3. Johann Jacob, born 28 February 1723, but baptized in Spesbach in the absence of the Miesau minister
4. Johannes, born 22 October 1724; married Elisabetha Catharina Laffer from Niedermiesau, 27 February 1748
5. Johann Ulrich, born 7 November 1725; married Maria Eva Molter, 7 January 1752
6. Catharina Elisabetha, born November 1726; died 24 August 1748
7. Johann Theobald, born c1728; married Maria Magdalena Krick, 16 July 1754
8. Maria Eva, born 28 February 1730; died 12 January 1741
9. Margaritha Catharina, born about December 1731; died 25 July 1738, aged 5 years, 7 months
10. Johann Nickel, born c1734; may be the man who died 26 December 1763; married Elisabetha Margaretha Krick, 21 February 1759
11. Anna Maria, born 29 January 1736; married Abraham Krick, 23 April 1754
12. Eva Rosina, born 30 June 1738; died 15 March 1739
13. Maria Magdalena, born 8 May 1740
14. Joh. Adam, born 19 August 1741
Melchior Roland had some social standing in town, as he was the burgermeister, or mayor, in 1741. That was the same year that Gaspar left for Pennsylvania. His youngest brother wasn’t born until August, so Gaspar never had the chance to meet him. His parents must have been quite sad.
I had commented in a previous post that Gaspar might have had his religious views already formed by the time he arrived in the colonies. I have changed my mind about that, though, because non-conformists to the official religion – Lutheranism or, in some areas, Catholicism – were not well tolerated.
For Melchior to have achieved the status of burgermeister, he would have had to be a respected community member and a regular church attendee.
That means that Gaspar’s religious beliefs would evolve during his new life in Pennsylvania and North Carolina.