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How The Durtschi Name Came To Be...

          In 1830 there were Turtschi families living in Switzerland's state of Bern in the towns of Spiez and Faulensee. Faulensee was just 2 1/2 kilometers down the beach from Spiez on the beautiful Thunersee Lake. Christian (13 Jan 1782 - 2 Oct 1854) and Elisabeth (29 May 1774 - 17 Feb 1838) Turtschi, while probably living in Thunersee, were having continual trouble with their mail and property records getting mixed up with another Turtschi family. No doubt, as an act of utter frustration, Christian changed his name to Durtschi in hopes of settling the problem. According to the LDS Church's family search web site, they had 9 children. Speculating a bit, they probably had four sons that lived long enough to have children of their own. As far as I can tell, all the Durtschis living in the world today stem from this single family.
          Family folk lore has it that sometime during the Dark Ages, a man came from some country far to the east and settled in this general location in Switzerland. The people asked him what his name was, and he gave them only a first name. Apparently, where he came from they were not using last names yet. When the townspeople found he came from a town called Turtschi in his native land, they used this as his last name. Interestingly enough, when my son, Jared Durtschi, went on a mission for the LDS Church to Hungary (1997-1999), I ask him to keep an eye out for 'Turtschi.' He never found it, but as he learned the Hungarian language, he related to me the sound that 'turtschi' makes means "big nose" in Hungarian. Is this coincidence or have we found the origin of that first Turtschi that started the name? We'll probably never know for sure.

(Hmmm, thinking of the family, it's rather odd we should mention big noses!)

Peter Durtschi, after reading the above forwarded the following in February of 2001:

        ...I grew up in the village of Uetendorf, Switzerland, about 5 kilometres or 3 miles from Thun. There are many Durtschis in Uetendorf, I guess, more than in any other place in Switzerland. Once my father told me that one man from Spiez (his family name is «Turtschi») did some genealogical research. He had two thesis:
        -Our ancestor(s) came from Turky to Italy, and the Italien people called them «turci», «turks». They kept this denomination when they came to the Swiss Confederation. -Our ancestor(s) lived in the southern part of what is now Switzerland (a canton or a state called «Wallis» or «Valais», the «Grisons» or «Graubünden» and the «Ticino» or «Tessin»). According to this thesis, these people were members of a clan that is called «Walser». They spoke and still speak a german dialect in a latin neigbourhood (today, people in the Grisons and the Ticino speak Italian or «Rumantsch», one of Switzerland's official languages). In «Walser»-German, «turtsch» means «tower» (similar to Latin «turris» for «tower». So our name could mean «tower». Then some families moved to the Bernese Oberland and the region around Thun, and their name changed to «Durtschi», and some moved to the French part of the «Valais», where they now were called «Latour» (as the French word «tour» means «tower»).

Who knows? After all, I don't care where I came from, but nevertheless it's fun to think about our roots. Maybe we just have big noses, and that's it?


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