Most great cities have developed, thanks to the influence of immigration. Big capital cities have attracted people from all over the world and made them metropolis and melting pots. London is no exception. My own family has had their share of immigration and I am not the first one to have started a new life, far away from the place where I grew up.
My great grandfather Josef Ineichen left his countryside agricultural life in the Luzern Canton for a move to London. I have no record of when this happened or why, but considering he was born in 1875 it should have been sometime around 1895. Josef married in 1899 with my great grandmother Mary Hatchard who was 13 years older than him. They lived in Westminster very near the old Tate gallery.
Like many immigrants of that time he went into catering and worked as a waiter. I was always curious to learn something about the name and its roots. In 1986 I set out to look for the Swiss connection.
We drove to Hitzkirch, a small community, but seat to a strong Roman Catholic center, where priests were trained. I knew that their village was Gelfingen. Somehow I got in touch with the local priest Father Willi Hofsteler, who immediately made a phone call and took us by car up and down some hills to arrive in a farmhouse called Gölpi. This was the place my grandfather had left. It was a return to some of my roots and it became more dramatic as a couple of my grandfather‘s cousins received and talked in Swiss German which is not a language I can understand. Curiously some family traces were recognizable!