French Family Association

The Official Website of the Surname French

Chart #195, the Schneebeli Family
of Affoltern am Albis, Switzerland

This website was developed only to determine if the Jacob French family was born in Switzerland. The following research shows that they were not. This research was completed in November 2015 on Mara French’s research trip to Affoltern am Albis, Switzerland. For more information on this line, refer to Jacob French of FFA Chart #195. This website was updated by Mara French on 11/21/15. Send any corrections or additions to


FFA Home Page

FFA Chart #195, Jacob French

Synopsis of Biographical Information



Synopsis of Biographical Information

As per references [1] through [11] in the Bibliography, no surname French existed in Affoltern am Albis, Switzerland. The French and Schneebeli families met somewhere between Germany and Pennsylvania. The Schneebeli families were Mennonites.


1659 Johan Jacob Schnebeli was born in Baldenheim, Alsace, France. He died in 1743 at Manheim Township, Lancaster County, PA.

1683 -- The earliest German Mennonites emigrated from Krefeld, Germany, to American – 13 families of weavers. Krefeld is on the border of Holland and Germany.

1694 Dec 31 – Jacob Snively born in Switzerland, son of John.

1700 -- In 1700 when Heinrich Schneebeli of Affoltern am Albis’s father died, he was still a minor (14 years old), and his inheritance was not taken into account.

1714 -- Jacob Shively (with its various spellings) immigrated initially in 1714 to Pennsylvania and there is another showing of Jacob Shively immigrating in 1731.

1717 – Caspar Wistar immigrated to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on 16 Sep 1717. The Schnebele (plus many other spellings) were from Affoltern am Albis, Switzerland.  They became "Palatine" Mennonites moving to or near Ibersheim, Germany. The little town of Ibersheim was destroyed during the 30 Year War. Anabaptists from neighboring Switzerland were asked to assist in the rebuilding of the town's farms in 1650. Thus, the Anabaptist movement thrived here as they suffered no persecution in the area. Caspar Wistar (1696-1752) was from that area - was not a Mennonite - immigrated to America in 1717 at the age of 21 - joined the Quakers in 1726 - and became a business partner of Jacob Schnebeli in Manhiem, PA.  Jacob came to this country about the same time....possibly 1718. The Schnebeli family came from Switzerland to the Manheim area in Germany. These Mennonites were very mobile, visiting Mennonite centers from Amsterdam to Bavaria, to the Rhine area and to the northeast - Lubeck. Interesting to note that Jacob Schnebeli came from Mannheim, Germany to Manheim, PA in 1717. He may have gone back more than once to bring others. Jacob Snevely, b. ca. 1702 in Switzerland, m. 25 Feb 1727 in Zurich, Switzerland, d. 3 Jun 1772 in Lancaster, PA, m. Elizabeth Huser. Another Jacob Snavely was born 1710 and d. 1781.

1718 -- Johan Jacob Snevely immigrated to America before Heinrich. He may have gone back to travel with the next group.

1727 – Jacob Snevely married on 25 Feb 1727 in Zurich, Switzerland, to Elizabeth Huser. The Schnebelis fled Affoltern because they were being persecuted for being Anabaptists...even hung.

1729 -- Heinrich Schneebeli born in Kronauer Amt, moved to Zweibrücken or Kurpfalz thru Mannheim, Germany, to Pennsylvania in 1729.

1731 -- Ship Lowther (Snow) of 1731, left from Rotterdam, stopped in Dover, England, and arrived in Philadelphia 14 Oct 1731 with Jacob Snevely [this may have been his second trip to Pennsylvania from Europe]. From Images of America: Greencastle/Antrim: by Boonie A. Shockey and Kenneth B. Shockey: “Jacob Snively was probably the first white settler in Antrim Township, Pennsylvania. He arrived in 1731 and purchased a total of 1,500 acres of land in 1734 and 1735”. This proves that a foreigner did not need to live in the New World for 7 years before obtaining property, even if you were a foreigner. The family also lived in Manheim, PA.

1738 Oct 30 The most likely immigration for Jacob French, listed as Jacob Frans, age 34, was on the Palatine ship “Elizabeth” from Rotterdam (Holland), to Cowes (England), then to Pennsylvania, with Capt. George Hodgson (British name). Only men are listed on the ship list, no women and no children. If this is the Jacob French of this line, his children would have been all under 21 years of age or born after 1717. There is quite a number of years (perhaps 10) between the last two children; the last being John French, b. ca. 1739, who was probably born in Pennsylvania. The ship lists the 43 men aboard, and indicates that there were 21 women and 6 children. Many of the men’s names have an (X) after them probably meaning that they signed their name with an X. Jacob is the only one who has a (J) after his name. Looking at the other names where (V) and (K) and (H) appear, it is obvious that those men signed their initial, as Jacob probably did. These men subscribed the oaths of the government upon arrival. The website shows that 95 passengers total were on this ship.

Lodwick Nicholas 34

Jacob Shilkneght 38

George Arnoldt 34

Johannes Mayer 27

Philip Jacob Leyderberger 34

Daniel Heyning 30

Christian Egan 17

Johannes Honether 36

Johannes Mester 43

Tobias Swartz 26

Bernard Wainmaker 40

Hans Jacob Kesler 25

Mathias Bartholomew 20

Conrath Nydagh 19

Nicholas Hodele 36

Johannes Harley 25

Hans George Fritz 30

Conradt Kenner 22

Hans Georg Petery 33

Laurentz Rous 23

Geo. Adam Mayer 19

Philip Besa 16

John Lodwick Potts 29

Henry Keaghler 28

Matheas Poriger 39

Jacob Frans 34

Jacob Kern 18

Johannes Yeites 21

Hans Jacob Bener 38

Conradt Fogleman 35

Andreas Rodenhauser 34

Hans Adam Kinsler 25

Mathias Chris 50

Christian Lesch 41

Hans Geo. Windlinger 32

Michl Deyne 29

Martin Dageaback 23

Ulrich Rodobush 24

Mathys Deolar 31

Christian Creytz 26

Elias Berniger 24

Lodowick Fansler

Geo. Adam Yeagold

43 [men] 21 [women] 6 [children] 64 [persons]

1743 -- The marriages between these two families between 1743-1790:

John Schnebele m. Louisa French in Pennsylvania in 1743
Magdalena Schnebele m. Jacob French in Pennsylvania
Mary Snavely m. George French in Pennsylvania
Margaret Snively m. David French in Pennsylvania

1747 -- The following men were naturalized in 1747 along with George French including their immigration date? or birthdate?:

1719 Snively -- Hans Schnebele, 1714 Jacob Schnebele, 1718 John Schnebele, 1714 Jacob Saveley, 1714 Jacob Snively

1748 -- Jacob French named his property "Lubec" as seen in a survey of 48 acres near Greencastle, PA bought by Jacob French. Lubeck is a city in the north of Germany.

1769 -- From the Frederick County Land Record Abstracts, Liber M, page 49

446-467 John Snabley recorded 28 August 1769, ....between Jacob French for 52 pounds sells parcel called Huckleberry Hall containing 53 acres. Signed in German Script, Jacob French before Thos Prather, and in German Script, Daniel Snider.  Receipt.  Magdalena wife of Jacob French released dower rights. Alienation fined paid. John Snabley was Jacob's brother-in-law.  John Snively/Snabley was a gunsmith as well.


The following sources prove that the French family did not originate in Switzerland.

[1] “Das Knonauer Amt”, a 1” thick book (446 pages) written in German about the town of Affoltern am Albis (next to a chain of hills called Albis) in the Kanton of Zürich, Switzerland, and the following villages around it: Aeugst, Bonstetten, Ausen, Medingen, Kappel, Kronau, Maschwanden, Mettmenstetten, Obfelden, Ottenbach, Rifferswil, Stallikon, Wettswil. Written by various researchers in 2005. ISBN 3-906258-00-9. You may purchase this book for $25 from, which includes postage within the U.S.

Several Schneebeli families still live in this town as verified by my research trip to Affoltern in November 2015. The book talks mostly about Affoltern since 1790. The Schneebeli family who married into the French family in Pennsylvania took place about 1720-1750, and they are therefore not mentioned in this book. The surname French does not appear anywhere in this book.

Two men named Schneebeli are listed. It is noted that the name of the first Schneebeli in America was also named Jakob.

Š      Jakob Schneebeli (1755-1804). Färber. Präsident des Distriktgerichtes Mettmenstretten. 1799 Kommandant helvetischer Truppen in Aegeri. Als einer der Anführer der Ämtler Zuzüger beim Horgener Bockenkrieg von 1804 in Zürich enthaupter. Denkmal beim Bahnhof Affoltern von 1876.

Dyer (as his profession, which was a medieval occupation for mixing different components to form inks, dyes, and stains that could add tint to clothing, furniture, fabrics, etc.). President of the District Court Mettmenstetten. 1799 commander of Swiss troops in Unteraegeri. As one of the leaders of the newcomers Ämtler Horgen Bock War of 1804 in Zurich Decapitator. Monument at the Affoltern Train Station from 1876.

Š      Heinrich Schneebeli (1849-1890). Geboren in Ottenbach. Privatdozent für Physik an ETH und Universität Zürich. Mitbegründer der Kabelfabrik Cortaillod, fruchtbarer Fachschriftsteller, gestoren in Zürich.

Born in Ottenbach. Associate Professor of Physics at ETH and University of Zurich. Co-founder of the cable factory Cortaillod, prolific professional writer, administrative manager who died in Zurich.

The most information I got from this bookstore in Affoltern was that there are many people living now in Affoltern that are named Schneebeli. That is the current spelling. She was not supposed to tell me that as Swiss people are very tight. She looked up the name on her client computer and found many with the name Schneebeli but no French. There are no public phone books in Affoltern. Only certain offices have that information. No buildings are old. No churches are old either. Photo taken in November 2015.

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:Mara:Desktop:IMG_8252.jpg

[2] Die Schnewli von Affoltern a. A., self-published family tree book, by Ernst Albert Lincke, 1939. From the Regional Library in Affoltern. The Schnewli family who immigrated to America are noted on pages 56-61. The Schnewli family lived in Affoltern since the 13th century. The index shows their name was spelled Schneebeli, Sneweli, Schneeli, Snewli, and Schneeweli. Anna, Anna Barbara, Barbara Bertha, Christina, Dorothea, Elisabeth, Elise, Katharina, Margreth, Maria, Pauline, Rosina, Susanna, and Verena were the earliest. The surname French is not in the index.

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:Mara:Desktop:thumb_IMG_8254_1024.jpg 

[3] Spelling of Schneebeli:

I think the name Schneebeli was spelled Schnäbeli previously as they both sound EXACTLY the same. They probably replaced the umlaut a with the 2 e’s so it would be easier to write. Yes, the word for “snow” is schnee and snowball is schneeball. Beli doesn’t mean anything in German. Sometimes the Germans add on the letters “li” to words to give them a sweet connotation, but they are not in the dictionary. I hear words such as Tschussili and gelli, but the correct words are Tschuss and gell. Tschuss means “bye” in certain areas and gell means “isn’t that so?” in certain areas. When I talk with my close friends, we say tschussili and gelli, but the formal Germans would think we’re just being silly. 

Savely, Shively Snabley Schnebele Snively, Schebley, Schnebley

[4] Cemetery in Affoltern am Albis was plowed down about 30 years ago, which would be in about 1985. The only gravestones there are from 1985 and beyond. I did not go there on my November 2015 trip because I received this same comment from many people. There is nothing visibly left from the time period 1650-1730 related to the Schneebeli family, and the French family never showed up in books or when talking to the locals.

[5] Schneebile Flower Shop, or Schneebile Blumen: I talked with the owner and she mentioned Heinrich who is outlined in [1], but said she never heard of a family named French.

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:Mara:Desktop:thumb_IMG_8265_1024.jpg Description: Macintosh HD:Users:Mara:Desktop:thumb_IMG_8264_1024.jpg Description: Macintosh HD:Users:Mara:Desktop:thumb_IMG_8266_1024.jpg

[6] History Research Center in Affoltern: they do only research not for the public to see. However, an employee approached me in the parking lot. He was from Ghana named Nana who was interested in the website of Chart 195 and 30. He is going to send me the address of the Archives in Zurich. But, City Hall also gave me that address. Nana told me that Affoltern is by far NOT the smallest city in Switzerland nor not even the smallest in Zurich County. He named several others that are smaller. Affoltern has 11,000 people. It is not exactly an attractive town.

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:Mara:Desktop:thumb_IMG_8253_1024.jpg

[7] Regional Library (Regionalbibliothek) in Affoltern: Most information was gathered here in their historic room on the second floor.

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:Mara:Desktop:thumb_IMG_8263_1024.jpg

[8] Die Eigenart der Zürcher Auswanderer nach Amerika, 1734-1744, by Andreas Blocher, 1976. Translated to “The Peculiarity of the Zurich emigrants to America”. From the Regional Library in Affoltern.

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:Mara:Desktop:thumb_IMG_8262_1024.jpg

This book shows that Schnewli family moved in 1729? from Affoltern am Albis, Switzerland, to Mannheim, Germany, before immigrating to America. No surname French is mentioned in this book. This Schneebeli family was called Ruetsch; this name could have been his mother’s name, but I didn’t investigate it further as I was only interested in the connection to the French family. The book more or less talks about the family in Switzerland, as very little research was done after they left Switzerland for Mannheim, Germany, where they may have met the French family. I would imagine they moved from Mannheim to a coastal town in Germany (such as Lübeck) or in Holland (such as Rotterdam), and then migrated by ship to England or Ireland before their final destination, which was Pennsylvania. They may have met the French family in Pennsylvania, but at least we know they did not meet the French family in Switzerland.

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:Mara:Desktop:IMG_8255.jpg

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:Mara:Desktop:IMG_8256.jpg
Description: Macintosh HD:Users:Mara:Desktop:IMG_8257.jpg
Description: Macintosh HD:Users:Mara:Desktop:IMG_8258.jpg

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:Mara:Desktop:IMG_8260.jpg

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:Mara:Desktop:IMG_8261.jpg

Several of these men with the surname French were Mennonites as they were not allowed to fight in the French and Indian War for more than 6 days, and their names are listed as such in another section of this website.

Where do Mennonites come from? Mennonites are descendents of the radical wing of the 16th century Reformation in Europe known as Anabaptists. Out of the ferment of this revolutionary time, the various peaceful Anabaptist streams were brought together by a former Dutch priest named Menno Simons. So influential was he in his ministry that not only the Dutch groups but also the Swiss groups adopted his name, hence the term "Mennonites." See the video.

The Swiss Mennonites were among the earliest to come about the beginning of the last century (early 1700s), and settled in the neighborhood of Philadelphia and at Pequea and other points in what is now Lancaster County. They were orderly, honest, peaceable and advocates of non-resistant or peace principles.

[9] Affoltern City Hall, Gemindeverwaltung, Marktplatz 1. They seemed to keep all their material very private, and I had better luck in other places.

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:Mara:Desktop:IMG_8250.jpg


[10] Affoltern Information Board in the large center plaza of the city.

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:Mara:Desktop:IMG_8248.jpg

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:Mara:Desktop:IMG_8248.jpg

[11] Die Auswanderung aus dem Kronauer Amt 1648-1750 by Hans Ulrich Pfister, 1987. From the Regional Library in Affoltern. No surname French listed. Heinrich Schneebeli born in Kronauer Amt, moved to Zweibrücken or Kurpfalz thru Mannheim to Pennsylvania in 1729.