Gerber/Sägesser of Aarwangen, Kanton Bern

The Gerber/Sägesser family lived in the town of Aarwangen, Kanton Bern, Switzerland. Johann Ulrich Gerber (1794-1851) and Ursula Sägesser (1798-1853) had nine issue. Four of the nine emigrated Switzerland and one of those returned.

In 1855, sons Samuel (1828-1896), Friedrich (1834-1926)and Gottlieb 1837-1914) emigrated Switzerland for the United States. They were followed by married daughter Elise Gerber Müller (1840-????) and several nephews. Other, more distant, relatives also emigrated.

The sons first settled in Sauk County, Wisconsin, U.S.A. where they remained for about sixteen years before moving to South Dakota. The daughter lived in Ohio for awhile before joining her brothers in South Dakota. The nephews came to South Dakota as well and all the immigrant descendants of Ulrich Gerber ended up in Lincoln County there. The more distantly related Aarwangen Gerbers settled in Illinois, Nebraska, and Colorado.

Aarwangen, Bern, Switzerland

Aarwangen, on the River Aare, is in the northern part of the country on the Swiss plateau. This plateau lies between the Jura Mountains to the north and the taller and more famous Swiss Alps to the south. Aarwangen won't be shown on a standard atlas, in 1987 it only had a population of 3,481, but the Aare River will be shown as will be the nearby town of Solothurn.

Gerbers have lived in Aarwangen for a long, long time. The earliest recorded Gerber birth was circa 1542. That stretches back seven generations before Johann Ulrich Gerber, the great-grandfather of Helen Gerber McCarthy.

Lincoln County, South Dakota, U.S.A.

Lincoln County, formed in 1862, was part of the vast Dakota Territory created the year before. It was named for Lincoln County, Maine, the birthplace of a territorial legislature member, W. W. Brookings. Opened up for settlement by the Homestead Act in the same year that the county was formed, the first permanent resident didn't arrive until 1866. The number of claims filed each year in the Vermillion, South Dakota land office increased slowly until 1869, when a sudden surge ballooned the population to 712. This trend accelerated during the 1870s so that by 1880 there 6,000 residents in the county.

By 1910, Gerbers were concentrated in three of the sixteen townships in Lincoln County: Lynn, including the village of Worthing; La Valley; and Grant. By this time, there also were Gerber family members in the city of Canton, the county seat, and in the village of Lennox in Perry township.