Not every pioneer woman made it to the New World colonies. Some had to prepare their children to go, knowing they would never see them again. Such was the unenviable fate of steadfast Swiss mother, Margaret Wirth Zuppinger. Born in 1666 and raised less than twenty miles northeast of Zurich in Zell, she and husband, Conrad, both devote Mennonites, had faced a lifetime of discrimination, persecution, and deprivation from warfare and Catholics. Margaret bore eight children, including one set of fraternal twins, a boy and a girl, and endured the infant death of two children. Stoic Margaret faced greater hardship when her husband died before their last child was born. Ever the tough survivor, she never remarried, choosing instead to raise her family alone, but in community with other Mennonite families. She lived more than two decades as the head of the family, in a poor, primitive region of the Swiss Republic, every day tending the home farm, maintaining her small shanty, and educating her children. Her son, Conrad, was the first to immigrate to the Colonies. Margaret would have been sad but supportive of her son’s dream and helped his family pack, giving them anything extra from her meager possessions, deep down knowing this is what she prepared him for. Conrad and his family journeyed overland to Basel, then took a crowded, burdened river vessel down the Rhine and eventually to a ship out of England bound for the new world. His wife died at sea, but Conrad would arrive and settle in the Colony of Pennsylvania, eventually giving Margaret numerous American descendants.
American Pioneer Chronicles:
Colonial Women: the heart, sweat, soul—the foundation of our Nation
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