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This Site is published and sponsored by the members of the group •Cousin-Treffen•(grandchildren
of Franz and Katharina Werlen-Jost, from Muenster, Switzerland)
The idea of this site is to bring all Werlen from around the world closer together by providing a history of the family as complete as possible.
Silvia Beck-Werlen, CH-3006 Bern
Contact and webmaster
Franco Werlen-Winkler, CH-4153 Reinach
The name's origin
As languages know many dialects and evolutions, there is a large variety of explanations (e.g. dialect-German Werl = grasshopper, Werlein = a small dike, Werlin = a face with a tumor). I prefer the following more romantic version (source: "Geschichte des Wahlfahrtsorts Werl am Hellweg") : In the 9th century the Emperor Charles the Great persecuted not christianised Germanics. Documents written in the year 802 named their hidden resistance camps CASTRUM WERLENSE.
CASTRUM = Latin for Camp
WER = Germanic for Man (e.g.Wer-Wolf / Werewolve)
LEN = Germanic also LEH, LOH or LAON = Holy grove (Hain) or meadow = Mystic places of positive power, generally near to an environment with an evil aura (swamps, sinister woods, timberlines and rocks). E.g. OS-LO = Odins holy meadow.
WER-LO / WER-LEN = Man at holy meadow or grove
From this origins we know today places like WERL, VERLE, WERLENBURG,
WARLO, WERLAON etc. / About 1100 - from the same origin -
the first names WERLI, WERLE, WERLIN, WERENLIN became popular / About
1600 - still from the same origin - the evolution to the first name WERNER.
We will never know, if the origin of a familyname Werlen was the first name of an ancestor or if an ancestor had a link to the mentioned places
The first Werlen Family was documented in the Valley of Obergoms (Canton Wallis, Switzerland) in 1340.
In the medieval time other Werlen lines are documented in Loetschental and Schattenberge (both Canton Wallis) and also in North- and Middle-Germany. (e.g. in Hamburg a family von Werlen). As far as I know, the German lines are spend. We read in the Walliser Wappenbuch that all Swiss-Lines came from the Obergoms-Line. Up to now I found no evidence for dependencies between this lines.
Up to the middle of the 20th century the Swiss - Werlen generally remained in their homeland and lived there as free, brave Swiss mountain-farmers / cultivating their own land / dedicated to collect in the short-summertime enough hay to feed in the long, dark wintertime their pride: The milk-cows!
They were also very proud of their homes, the sun-darkened timber houses / and last but not least, their children / and among them - an extraordinary large number of sons and daughters, that served the church. E.g. in the 1690ties from a single family 3 priests / In the 1940ties 5 brothers were at the same time Swiss-guards. Remarkable also the latest Werlen-contribution: Abbot Martin. He has been nominated in 2001 at the age of 32. He is worldwide the youngest Roman Catholic Excellency since the 18th century.
The Werlen had also the privilege to live in one of the most beautiful landscape of the world! Furthermore they were very lucky, that their homes were never victims of real misery or devastating war-events. In the time-range of Werlen Family History their native country Obergoms saw a war in 1419 and in 1799. But no Werlen was hurt and the only damage was in 1799 when French soldiers tried to cool down a stone-oven with cold water!
From 1340 to about the 1950ties a small minority left the valleys where the ancestors lived and mountain-farming and traditions were dominant. Then within one generation, all changed: The large majority of the Werlen-community is no longer living in the homeland of their ancestors. The majority of them is working at a desk …. from the cow to the mouse!
But wherever they live and whatever they do, they still have a strong emotional connection to the homeland of their ancestors and they will not forget their roots.
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