Anna Hitz was born 16 October
1825  in Saas im Prättigau, Canton Graubünden, Switzerland,
to Heinrich Hitz and his wife Luzia Ruedi. The family undoubtedly
spoke Schweizerdeutsch, a regional dialect of German.
On 6 July 1845, she married Martin Risch
of nearby Conters im Prättigau. He was the son of Christian
Risch and Anna Mathis . The couple established a household in
Saas and, in due course of time, they became the parents of seven children
(the first was stillborn). The Risches were probably farmers; daughter
Anna told of taking the cows up to the mountain pastures during the summer
When Martin Risch died on 6 March 1866 ,
the widow Risch decided to emigrate with her brood of six to the United
States. Although no one seems to know exactly why the Risches
decided to leave Switzerland, perhaps Martin's death was associated with
some economic misfortune, or maybe their small farm was no longer sufficient
to support the family. And why did they choose Wisconsin as their
destination? Possibly they had friends or relatives who had previously
Switzerland being a landlocked country,
the German-speaking Risches had to journey overland to Hamburg, Germany,
where they embarked for America on the ship Allemania . Conditions
for third-class (steerage) passengers aboard the Allemania  left much
to be desired, but probably it was all the widow Risch could afford.
After the Risches disembarked at New York's port of entry, Castle Garden,
on 29 October 1866 , the older daughters sought work as maids.
This again suggests that the Risches were in dire straits financially.
The census of 1870 records Anna Hitz Risch
and her younger children living in Fountain City, Buffalo County, Wisconsin
. Fountain City is built on a steep hillside overlooking the
Mississippi River, a landscape very like that the Risches had known in
Switzerland. Both Swiss and German farmers had previously settled
in the area, so the Risches would have had no difficulty communicating,
even though they didn't speak much English yet.
In 1870, their household property was valued
at a mere $100 . The older boys, Christian and John, had found work
on the farm of Florian Danuser, a wealthy Swiss immigrant whose property
was reported to be worth $8000! . Lucy, aged 19, was not at home
either; she was working in Winona, Minnesota, as a 'hired girl' in the household
of Judson and Hannah Wells . But there was a new member of the
family--a little girl named Mary, born 1867 in the United States .
Since Martin Risch died in March and Mary
could not have been born until the following year, it is not possible
for Martin to have been her father. Throughout her lifetime, Mary
evidently believed that Anna Hitz Risch was her biological mother, although
it's possible that she could have been an orphaned infant whom Mrs. Risch
took in and raised as her own. For whatever reason, Mary is not
mentioned in a Risch family history written in 1979 , although she bore
the Risch name and grew to adulthood in the widow Risch's household.
By 1873, Anna’s daughter Lucy was married
and living on the other side of the Mississippi in Minnesota .
Christian Risch, the oldest Risch son, married Elizabeth Kammueller
 around 1875 and remained in Buffalo County, Wisconsin. Although
the Dittrichs’ farm was not geographically far from Fountain City, the
Mississippi River was a formidable barrier for most of the year. The
nearest tiver crossing was at Bluff Siding, Wisconsin. To save
traveling several miles out of their way, the Risch siblings used to
cross the frozen Mississippi in the dead of winter to visit Lucy on the
other side .
In 1879, son John departed for South Dakota
with Peter and Jacob Schneller, sons of a neighbor. There, they
all took up homesteads .
The federal census of 1880 shows widow Anna
Risch and her 13-year-old daughter Mary living near Minneiska in a
dwelling adjacent to that of her daughter Lucy and son-in-law Ernest
on the Dittrich farm .
Daughter Anna married Anders Gustav Carlson
on 26 January 1884 . Mary wed around 1892; she and her husband
Frank Janisch later moved to North Dakota and then on to Washington state
. Nellie married Sylvester James Shelton in 1896  and
eventually moved to the plains of Saskatchewan, Canada .
During the last years of her life, Anna
Hitz Risch moved across the Mississippi River and lived humbly in a
little house next to the county 'poor farm' near Minneiska, Minnesota.
Her granddaughter Mabel Carlson Jacob remembered visiting her once, sometime
between 1893 and 1897. There being no meat in the house, the widow
Risch walked to a neighbor's house to borrow a couple of eggs for their
Following her death at age 72, Anna Hitz
Risch was buried in the cemetery at Minneiska, Minnesota. Her
grave marker reads "Anna Hitz--Martin Risch--born 16 October 1824--Died
2 October 1897" . Perhaps time has obliterated the words "wife
of". Her daughter Mary is buried in an unmarked grave next to her.
Children of Anna Hitz Risch
|Christian, born 5 November
1847 in Saas im Prättigau, Canton Graubünden, Switzerland
|Luzia "Lucy" M., born
23 February 1850 in Saas im Prättigau, Canton Graubünden,
|John, born 7 June 1853
in Saas im Prättigau, Canton Graubünden, Switzerland 
|Anna, born 31 July 1858
in Saas im Prättigau, Canton Graubünden, Switzerland
|Barbara "Nellie", born
10 June 1863 in Saas im Prättigau, Canton Graubünden,
|Johann Heinrich "Henry",
born 16 July1864 in Saas im Prättigau, Canton Graubünden,
Switzerland . Moved with his brother John to Richland
Township, Brookings County, South Dakota, where he became a naturalized
citizen. Later, he moved to Watertown, South Dakota, where he
worked as a stagecoach driver in the Black Hills. He never married
. Upon his retirement he moved to Lloydminster, Saskatchewan,
Canada. He was living there in 1940 .
|Mary, born 1867 in Wisconsin
|Records of the Evangelische
Kirche in Saas im Prättigau, Canton Graubünden, Switzerland.
Microfilm available through LDS Family History Centers. Pages scanned
by Chris Duggan of St. Paul, Minnesota, February 2011.
|Informant, Mildred Hansen
of Galesville, Wisconsin.
|Germans to America: Lists of Passengers Arriving
at U.S. Ports, by Ira A. Glazier and William P. Filby. Wilmington,
DE: Scholarly Resources Inc. First series published between 1988 and
1996. Volume 18, covering the period of June 1866 to December 1866.
|The Allemania was built in 1865 by C. A.
Day of Southampton for the Hamburg-America Line. It was 315
feet long and 41 feet wide at the beam. It had one funnel,
two masts and was rigged for sail. Its average speed was 12 knots
per hour. The transatlantic crossing, therefore, took about 21
days. The Allemania
was equipped to carry 60 first-class passengers, 100 second-class passengers
and 600 third-class (steerage) passengers. Description of the
ship Allemania taken
from insurance records. Accessed 22 May 2003. http://www.theshipslist.com/ships/descriptions/ShipsA.html
|Federal Census of 1870,
Wisconsin, Buffalo County, Fountain City, sheet 17.
|Federal census of 1870,
Minnesota, Winona County, Winona, 3rd Ward. National Archives microfilm
series M593, Roll 719, Page 477.
|Informant, Verna Johnson
Risch of Brookings, South Dakota, The John and Sophia (Hoffman) Risch History,
8-page booklet written 1979.
|Obituary, Lucy Risch Dittrich,
Plainview, Minnesota, newspaper, November, 1916.
|Informant, John Leonard
Riesch of Middleton, Wisconsin.
|1880 Federal Census of
Minnesota, Winona County, Mount Vernon Township, Family History Library
Film 1254637, NA Film Number T9-0637, Page Number 120D. Entry from
transcribed by Donna C..
|“Funeral Services for
Mrs. Carlson Friday”, Plainview, Minnesota, newspaper, published 29 December
|Obituary of Mary Risch
Janisch, published 1954 in a Winona newspaper.
|Federal census of 1900,
Washington state, Lewis County, Pe Ell Township.
|Postcard dated 1978 from
Shirley Boyle Hoehn of Leask, Saskatchewan, Canada, to Donna C.
for Anna Hitz Risch, Minneiska Cemetery, Wabasha County, Minnesota,
as transcribed by Mildred Hansen of Galesville, Wisconsin.
|Informant, Eleanor Risch
of Minneapolis, Minnesota.
|Obituary, Anna Risch Carlson,
Plainview Minnesota newspaper, December, 1939.