History of the American Pfenningers
This account of the Pfenninger family was typed from a manuscript
written by Jacob J. Pfenninger.  He died in January of 1976
My grandfather, Henry Pfenninger, emigrated from
Switzerland to Casey County, Kentucky, in the year
1880.  My grandmother,
Barbara Pfenninger, came
over a little later with her five children:

  • Jacob, my father
  • Ida, who married a James Neal in Casey County
  • Henry, who left Casey County and was never
    heard from again
  • Theodore, no record
  • Albert, who lived his adult life in Louisville,
    Kentucky and reared a family. He died in 1945.

My father,
Jacob Pfenninger, was born in Rieti
Ducuten, Canton Zurich, Switzerland, September 3,
1863.  My mother,
Lena Schottlin, was born in Unter
Hollan, Canton Schaffhousen, Switzerland, November
3, 1863.  Her father, Henry Schottlin, was a tailor in
Hollan.  Her mother’s name was Melsine Rohm.

My parents met for the first time on board the ship on
which my grandmother Pfenninger and her five
children were coming to America.  My father and
mother came to Louisville, Kentucky, and were married
there on October 2, 1883.  They were made citizens of
this country in 1890.

To them were born eleven children:
  • Lena Barbara Hasken
  • Ida Durban
  • Alfred
  • Leona
  • Evelyn
  • Jacob John
  • Theodore G.
  • Emil H.
  • Alvin Herman
  • Henry
  • Emma Bell Durbin

My father died August 10, 1923, and my mother died
April 3, 1943.  Both are buried in Mt. Tabor Cemetery,
north of New Albany, Indiana.  My grandfather
Pfenninger was a locksmith by trade and my father was
a grey iron molder.  Both were highly skilled mechanics
in blacksmithing and woodworking.  Their skills were
important to the natives of Casey County.  Many of the
hand tools were brought from Switzerland and many
others they made.  Unfortunately, the Casey County
natives were poor and had no money to pay for their

We had a blacksmith shop and my earliest recollection
was helping my father operate the forge.

About the year 1892, my grandfather, Henry
Pfenninger, was murdered on a Sunday afternoon by a
band of drunken Casey County natives who wanted to
kill a “Dutchman”, as the Swiss emigrants were called.  
My grandfather Pfenninger is buried in the German
Reformed Church Cemetery on Tennessee Ridge, Casey
county, Kentucky.  My brother, Henry is also buried

My father knew nothing about firearms.  The county
abounded in small game, but we rarely had rabbit,
squirrel or quail unless some native hunter gave it to
us, which was rare indeed.  Shortly after the turn of
the century, some thoughtful relative in Louisville sent
my brother, Alfred, who was about 14 or 15 years of
age at the time, a single barrel muzzle loading shot
gun and he supplied the table with small game.  One
day Alfred was cleaning his gun when I stuck my
middle finger down the barrel and it got stuck.  He
suggested he fire the gun, but I took a dim view of this
procedure.  After some help from my mother, the
finger was removed from the gun.  Another lesson was

Wresting a living out of the soil, which was poor yellow
clay known as “crawfish land”, was a real problem.  
There was extreme poverty.  As soon as my older
sisters were old enough, they were sent to Louisville
where they were known as “Swiss domestics” and lived
with well-to-do families and were paid $2.00 to $3.00
per week, plus keep.  Fortunately, no one told us we
were poor and belonged to the “poverty group.”

The first school my older sisters and brother attended
was a one room log house.  For me, I went to a one
room school with weatherboard siding and wood
shingle roof.  My first teacher was Samuel Rector, a
wonderful man, who encouraged me to read “a story of
the Bible” and not to use tobacco or drink intoxicating
liquor.  McGuffy readers were in use at that time and I
still can recall some of the stories in those books.

My father and mother had education equal to our high
school.  My mother wrote in a beautiful hand using
German as a basis.  She spelled a word the way it was
pronounced.  My father had considerable talent in
drawing.  He had much pride and believed in putting on
a good front.  He was happy when he had a few dollars
in his pocket.  My mother could sew and knit.  She had
a Singer Sewing Machine, one of the few, and perhaps
the only one, in Casey County.  We had a small flock of
sheep.  The wool was bartered for yarn and jeans.  My
mother spent the evenings knitting stockings for the
family using four needles.  The jeans were made into
clothing.  A warm coat with outing flannel made an
excellent Christmas gift.  All the leather tops of shoes
were save and father made soles from yellow poplar.

My folks attended the German Reformed Church which
my father helped build.  At one time we children
attended a Sunday School class where we were taught
German.  This was  not successful as only the
immigrants wanted to keep up with the German
language.  The children preferred to speak English as
was taught in school.  Our parents spoke German to us
but we answered in English.

When I was 15 years of age, my father sold his land in
Casey County and on September 3, 1909 had an
auction sale which was advertised throughout Casey
County by sale bills (copy of which hangs in Pfenninger
Insurance Agency Office, New castle, Indiana).  It was
a great sale and people came from many miles.  For
the land and all personal property my father got less
than $3000.  He was a rich man.  A neighbor took us to
Mooreland, Kentucky, where we boarded a train for
Louisville, 120 miles away.  Many of us had never seen
a train and there was much excitement as we made the
train ride.  

Aftger a month in Louisville, my father saw some small
farms advertised for sale in the county near New
Albany, Indiana.  He and I took the street car to the
end of the line, then walked three miles on the
Charlestown Pike and there we looked at a small
acreage on which was a nice house and barn.  The
price was $2,500.  I urged my father to buy.  That was
about all the money my father had.  After he discussed
it with my mother, he bought and we moved in
October, 1909.  My younger brothers and sister
attended the township schools; my brother Alfred was
working as a carpenter in Louisville.  My unmarried
sisters were working as “Swiss domestics”.  As for me, I
hired out to a cattle buyer, fed live stock, and cleaned
out the stables, for which I received $3.00 per week
plus board.  It was a new life for the Pfenninger family.

When I was about twenty years of age I left the farm to
make my fortune in the city.  After working in a
grocery store, wallpaper store, and a five and ten cent
store I was sent to Indianapolis with a chain store
where I worked for some time before coming to New

My brother Alfred came to New Castle about 1910 and
married in 1912.  He was employed at the Maxwell
Motor company and built wooden bodies for their cars.  
About 1916 my brother Theodore and I came to New
castle and we were also employed at the Maxwell
factory.  Shortly after we came to New Castle Theodore
and I enlisted in the Indiana National Guard and spent
nine months on the Mexican border.  This was followed
by World War I, when we both enlisted and were
discharged in 1919.  I had the rank of Captain of
Infantry.  Theodore was a sergeant.

I was married to Freda R. Rinke on November 8, 1919.  
To us were born three children:

John Gerald         October 11, 1920
Paul Frederick     March 3, 1924
Jane Ann              December 9, 1934

I have been engaged in the Insurance business since
October 1, 1920.  In 1946 Paul became a partner.

(This account of the Pfenninger family was typed from
a manuscript written by Jacob J. Pfenninger.  He died in
January of 1976).
Lena Schottlin
(1863 - 1943)
I have found
articles that re-
port on Henry's
See Data Section
In the 1992 book the above account is followed by a series of lists of descen-
dants.  I have included scans of these pages in the
DATA section and on the
next page I will post my transcriptions of some of these lists.  I do this so that
the information is searchable on the internet.  That is very useful for other
genealogical researchers.
Pfenninger Family Summary  -  Page 3