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In this section:
The Swiss Rohners
The Humboldt Rohners
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The Rohner family was established in the Appenzell area of northern Switzerland by at least the 15th century. Living in and around the villages of Heiden and Wolfhalden, the Rohners were primarily farmers, though in hard economic times, the men sometimes served as mercenary soldiers.

Bernhard Rohner, born in 1743, fought in the Dutch army, leaving his son Johannnes Rohner, born in 1777, head of the family farm. In 1794, Johannes, while in town on errands, was recruited by a French officer and fought in the Napoleonic wars in Italy. While sailing to Naples, he and other Swiss mercenaries were captured by Turkish pirates and sold into slavery. Johannes refused an offer of fortune and freedom in exchange for conversion to Islam and despite increased hardships, retained his Protestant faith. Learning of their captivity, the people of their villages raised ransom money for Johannes and his compatriots, and after 9 years they were freed to return home.

Johannes married Elizabeth Zust and had nine children. The oldest of these, Johann Heinrich Rohner, took up the printing trade and moved to America with his wife and children in the 1840s.

next: the Rohners in America



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