Swiss in New York, 4th of July Parade (Library of Congress)
Long before I ever started researching my family or even knew the term genealogy, I was inquisitive about where my ancestors came from. One of the longest lasting uncertainties had always been my paternal grandmother's maiden name, Mender. We knew it was Mender, the question was where the Menders had come from. Due to the nature of my shyness and/or the irregularity of visits to my father's parents I did not have the nerve to search farther until I got the genealogy bug.
I asked my father to ask my grandmother for any information they had a few years ago. He brought home a photo copy of a Swiss passport. At the time I hadn't realized what was in my hands. I was excited but if that happened today I would be on a high for a week.
My 3rd great grandfather, John Mender (Jean Minger), Swiss Passport
I recently got around to trying to transcribe it. I wasn't sure where to start, having no idea what language they used in Switzerland. A quick Google search led to finding out German and French are the languages predominantly used. After playing with Google translate a bit, it was clear that the document was in French. I transcribed nearly 90%, with the rest being unclear due to either document clarity or user error, surprise!. I have since skimmed a few books on calligraphy and plan on taking another look in the future.
The name reads "Minger, Jean". As I have a John Mender in my tree with an unconfirmed age match, I'm making some level of assumption that Jean Minger is John Mender. It may not be iron clad, but with the document coming from family it is something I am comfortable with. The passport reads that John was 24 at the time of this document, 1840. He had brown hair, eyes, beard and a long face. I believe the name of his boat is on here but that was one of the rough parts of the transcription.
I have since tried to find John in Switzerland with the help of the Register of Swiss Surnames , owned by the foundation HDS, Historical Dictionary of Switzerland. No luck as of 21-01-2014, but I am motivated by the Swiss brick wall in front of me.