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Document of Johann Ernst Varnbüler

Following is an English translation of a German document that outlines a possible early history of the Varnbüler family. Many of the statements made in the document are not, or cannot, be verified at the present time. Further research is needed to refute or verify the information it contains. However, even though it isn't to be read as documented fact, I thought it interesting enough to present here. Note: the text ran off one side of some pages of the original document, so the translator has indicated missing text, unreadable text, or unreadable parts of words by using a series of dots (...). Also, ue = ü, ae = ä, and oe = ö (For example, Varnbueler = Varnbüler).


The family Varnbueler
1253 - 1908
compiled by nobleman Ernst Varnbueler, born 2 March 1850


Saga has it that our forefathers were Westgoten [Westgoth]. Banished by the Huns from their settlements in south Russia about 375 they wandered through the Balkan peninsula, later Italy, led by Alarich [king of the Visigoths] in the years 396 - 408.

They buried their king and hero on the Busento, continued their exodus to Aquitania where they formed the Tolosamic Empire and subsequently expanded their rule into Spain. Here they ruled for 300 years.

About 711 they were conquered by the Arabs, retreated back to France where our ancestors are said to have been in service to the King at various times. So they came to be in Graubuenden.

Possibly they joined the crusades of Karl the Great, fought in the battles of 787 - 88 against Thassilo of Bavaria and so came into ownership of Burg Greiffenberg.

It has been claimed that Burg Greiffenberg is in Graubuenden: Apparently a false claim, there is no castle by that name in Graubuenden - as far as can be ascertained also not in earlier times. However, there is one such castle near the border of the former statelines of Graubuenden, just to the north of Rapperswyl near Bauma.

It is possible that our forefathers lived there, known as the Greiffenbergs, and that as they were later in Weinstein as well as in Greiffenberg, in service [lessee] of the Abbey of St. Gallen which was the owner of the castle into the late 18th century.

No proof exists to the claims that the Greiffenberg and the Gutenberg, as found in various writings, are identical. However, the Greiffenbergs certainly intermarried with their neighbors from the upper Rhine, the Gutenbergs.

When the Lords of Habsburg, who were unfriendly toward us, came into the ownership of Rapperswyl and therefore rulers over Greiffenberg, it became lost to our lineage.

About 1223 appeared a Ulrichus of Greiffenberg, ... Rodulfi of Rapperswyl and prior to 1321 the castle was deeded to the Knight Hermann of Hinwil.

Into this time period falls the beginning of our lineage with appearance of personal data.

1. Hans Varnbueler of Greiffenberg and Gutenberg: living 1263
Spouse: Agnes von Asch.

The family needed a new home and decided on Gutenberg, the castle near Sargans on the Rhine.

With change of domicile they also changed their name as was custom during those times.

2. Konrad Varnbueler of (Greiffenberg), Gutenberg and Weinstein living about 1300.
Spouse: Elisabetha von Irsingen (or Ersingen).

The family crest of the Gutenbergs consisted of the crossed blue maces on a silver background; helmet decor showed extended arm with empty fist.

Motivated by the old hate against the family of Habsburg, the family united with the lineage of Johann Parricida. The Emperor Albrecht von Aar and Reuss - close to the Habsburg - was murdered on 1 May 1308. Johann Parricida with his family and acquaintances was the subject of rage and persecution of the Emperor's widow, Elisabeth.

In the same year, 1308, the Gutenberg was attacked and conquered by the Archdukes of Austria, our family removed, and the castle was deeded to the masters of Ramschwag. Some of the Gutenbergs settled near Vaduz where they were able to obtain a land lease from the Bishop of Chur ...... A Heinrich von Gutenberg was from 151? - 1526 overseer [tax collector] for the Bishop at Graylang near Flums. Thereafter this family branch disappeared.

Another branch, (maybe the Nr. 2 mentioned Konrad V.) fled down the Rhine River toward Weinstein, where the family supported their livelihood through the Abbey of St. Gallen. To escape the wrath of the last Empress the family changed their former name and chose the non descriptive "Farrenbiel" It was the name of three estates in the mountains near Appenzell: One near Gais, another near Teufen, the third above the Urnaesch near Bruggen.

Whether these estates actually belonged to our fathers cannot be proven, but it can be expected because they are located close to the road to St. Gallen, which was visited frequently and eventually became their home.

So goes the Saga!

Historians may have their complaints and not accept it .... We want to heed it and pass it on to our children and children's' children while still continuing the research for our forefathers.

The first indisputable and documented Varnbueler is:

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