Genealogical Research: Uri/Switzerland
The canton of Uri is one of the 26 cantons of Switzerland and a founding member of the Swiss Confederation. It is located in Central Switzerland. The canton's territory covers the valley of the Reuss between the St. Gotthard Pass and Lake Lucerne. The official language of Uri is German, but the main spoken language is the Alemannic Swiss German dialect called Urner German. Uri was the only canton where the children in school had to learn Italian as their first foreign language. The population is about 35,000 of which 3,046 (or 8.7%) are foreigners. The legendary William Tell ( Swiss national hero) is said to have hailed from Uri. The historical landmark Rütli (Birthplace of Switzerland) lies within the canton of Uri.
Uri consisted originally of 4 large parishes : Altdorf, Bürglen, Silenen (episcopate Konstanz, since 19th century Chur) and Andermatt/Ursern (episcopate Chur). Since about 1400 the "Landleutebuch" (book of citizens, based an church records) has been kept: the citizenship was defined as citizenship of Uri, not the individual villages (as it is today, since 1883 for Uri). Today, The canton of Uri has 20 political communities, the inhabitants are called municipalities (as of February 2009). Main town is Altdorf.
Uri's national emblem is a head of a bull with a nose ring. Whether it's on a seal, a flag or a coat of arms, the national emblem of Uri is always the same.Uri's coat of arms has a yellow (golden) background with a black head of a bull with a hanging tongue. Originally it had a yellow (golden) nose ring, but in time changed into a red nose ring.
According to a written record, the ring was granted by the pope to the people of Uri as an honorable symbol due to its reclamation of the area from wildness, as well as the successful acceptance of Christianity after the «savage» morals of the inhabitants. The coat of arms pertains to the aurochs (a long-horned wild ox, the ancestor to the domestic cattle), which was primarily seen by the settlers at this period. On the other hand, the land was called «Ur», which equals wildness; likewise «Ur» also indicates water or banks of the lake.
The oldest design of Uri's coat of arms was a triangular shield. It appeared on the first seal, which was used immediately after King Henry promised the right to rule on May 26, 1231. The oldest banner still in existence was used at the battle in Morgarten in 1315 and shows the current coat of arms. Canton Uri's colours - yellow and black - match the colours of the Holy Roman Empire (of German Nation) 1157(1254)-1806.
Quelle: Staatsarchiv Uri
The "Landleutebuch" with it's 34 volumes is the most helpful source for Uri genealogical research from the late 16th century until 1929: it deals with approximately 280 families; about 100 families, already extinct in 1840, were not included. Another limitation is that (with few exceptions) only married people have been included. The "Landleutebuch" (including film from LDS) is kept at Uri State Archive. We try to create family trees, however it is quite difficult to read old German handwriting. Volunteers are welcome.