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Probsts Families of Haut-Rhin, Alsace, France

Translation by Bill Brobst July 4, 1999
(Published with the permission of the CDHF)

The following information was found on the world wide web in the URL, published by the Archives Departementales du Haut-Rhin:

The following translation combines several different sections from those webpages. Translation courtesy of, and William A. Brobst, Curator, Brobst Family Historical Registry, who further translated babelfish's computer version into readable English. Added text is in brackets to indicate that this text is not found in the original French. Some sections have been rearranged in order to put them into a more logical sequence for purposes of identifying the various Probsts involved.

[The Probsts originated in Switzerland as early as in the 1400s.] The Historical and Biographical Dictionary of Switzerland shows that Probsts were present in the 1400s-1600s, and are still present today, in the cantons of Soleure, Bern, Basel-Countryside, and Basel-City.

[Stories of the Probst family of Oberseebach, Bas-Rhin, France, are well documented elsewhere. From this family came three children of Christophel Probst: Philipp Jacob Probst, Johann Michael Probst, and Elisabetha Margaretha (Probst) Vossellmann, all of whom emigrated from northern Alsace and the German Palatinate to America in 1732 and settled in eastern Pennsylvania, in Berks and Lehigh Counties. But there were Probsts in the southern part of Alsace, in Haut-Rhin, as well.]

The surname Probst is very frequent in the area of Haut-Rhin, Alsace, France. There were several of those family branches who were not obviously related to each other. The etymological dictionaries are unanimous as to the origin of this family name. Indeed, the name Probst comes from the Latin "praepositus", which translates to "pr�vot" or "provost". The title of "provost" was given to various magistrates of a civil or legal nature under the "Ancien R�gime". Also, one can understand very well that in other areas of France, the family name "Prevost" is extremely well represented.

The name Probst is also rather common as a toponym or place name. Thus, the Topographic Dictionary of Haut-Rhin reveals the existence of (1) Probstmatten (Probst Meadow) in the commune of Durlinsdorf, (2) Probstwald (Probst Forest) of Hagentahl-le-Haut, and (3) Probstweyer (?) of Hirtzbach, Largitzen, and Moernach.

[The Probsts settled generally in the valleys of St. Amarin and Thur, near the villages of Rouffach, Mulhouse, Brunstadt, Traubach, Rimbach, and Goldbach, all in the Haut-Rhin district of southern Alsace, just west of the Rhine in northwest France. Note that the names of those towns are as much German/Swiss sounding as French sounding. The Swiss and French populations in that area around the Rhine were in themselves very mobile.]

In today's cemetery of M�mliswill, in Haut-Rhin, Alsace, into which area emigrated very many people from Switzerland, we find there many of the old family names of Walter, Probst, Baschung, Eggenscheiller, Flury, Rubitschung, etc.

In Basel-City, a certain Jean Probst, stock-broker, carried on his coat-of-arms: "of money to a castle which has three towers with faces positioned on three degrees of same ".

[The Probsts who emigrated from Switzerland some 50-100 miles northwest into the Haut-Rhin were mostly glass-makers. In fact, one of the villages in which they and other glass maker settled was named "Glassh�tte"] These glass-makers had to be mobile, because of the need to follow the furnace installations near the forests (most furnaces were fueled by charcoal). But sometimes they settled and stopped their nomadic moving, stopped sometimes for certain members. They became sedentary then by cultivating the grounds opened up by the tree-cutting, or while marrying into the local families.

Probsts of Rouffach

This Probst family is extremely well represented in the medieval historical notes of Rouffach. The first mention of the family name, as shown in the parochial registers which have been kept since 1580, is that of Jean Probst coming from Balstal in the Canton of Soleure of Switzerland. He married Christine Rubrecht in Rouffach in the year 1586.

It is most interesting to note that seventy years later another family branch of Probsts coming from the same Canton of Soleure will be located first in Rimbach and then in Goldbach.

A short time after this initial arrival of Probsts, Marie Probst, born in Rouffach, is linked with a Jacques Wurdt. Along the same lines, the display of the inventories and sharings of Rouffach, mention the existence of an inventory after the death of a certain Pierre Probst. This document drawn up in 1595 states that, regarding the sharing of his goods between Anne Heinler, his widow, and of his four Probst children with the names of Jean Probst, Thiebaut Probst, Marie Probst, and Madeleine Probst (this document may be reviewed in the files of the notarial office of Rouffach in the Archives of the Department of Haut-Rhin.)

Area of Mulhouse

The extracts of the Mulhousien land records,, published in the BERGHA 49, show the existence of three persons with the family name Probst: Paul Probst and Blaise Probst in Brunstatt, and Simon Probst in Mulhouse.

The land records for the year 1573, preserved at the Files of the Town of Mulhouse, indicates that the house of Simon Probst, located in Mulhouse "by the Fountain of Youth", was used as guarantee for a revenue.

In the same way, examination of the marriages of Brunstatt between 1584 and 1789 (Book Alexsys number 2 per Michel Schmitt) several Probst marriages. Thus, on January 18 1585, Conrad Probst, son of Georg Probst of Brunstatt, join in a wedding with Marguerite Neiger, native of Dornach. A few years later, Ulrich Probst of Zillisheim linked himself with Madeleine Roholzmann, a girl coming from Blotzheim. Also is noted the marriage of Roch Probst and Henriette Colin of Munster, celebrated in Dornach on June 29 1632.

One learns, thanks to the general inventory of the monuments and the artistic richness of France, of the existence of a house number 76 of the Street of the Republic in Guebwiller. Unfortunately, this residence has been destroyed. It formerly contained three panels of stained glass located in the tower of the staircase. The second panel represented a " meal of festival and women to the bath with the inscription: "JERG PR(O)BST", which could be the name of the owner.

Not far from Guebwiller, a Probst family settled in the locality of Orschwihr. Indeed, Gabriel Probst, a wet cooper native to the area of Constance, married Catherine Higelin in the year 1761. After she died and left him a widower, he married on January 22, 1770 in the church Saint Nicolas d'Orschwihr, Francoise Bieler, a single girl, daughter of Jean Beiler, middle-class man [journey-man] of Ensisheim.

In Issenheim, on February 1728, Daniel Probst was buried. His widow, not knowing how to write, affixed her mark with the mark of a religious sect.

Traubach was also a land of welcome for the Probsts. In the year 1703 , a marriage contract was drawn up between Anne Probst, daughter of Jean Jacques Probst, journeyman of Traubach, and Caspar Stuber who was born in Ballersdorf. A short time later, there was a marriage contract between Jean Jacques Probst, a blacksmith, and Marie Geiger, native of Granges, in the Canton of Soleure, Switzerland. [This may have been a second marriage for Jean Jacques.] On December 13, 1726, with the death of Jean Jacques Probst, there was established an inventory of his goods between its widow Marie Geiger and their six children. Among them was Madeleine Probst, wife of Jacques Baker, and Anne Marie Probst, wife of Caspar Schaffelmann of Gommersdorf (Notarized by the Prevost of Traubach, Louis Tschaenn).

In 1698, Duke Mazarin drew up a census, showing the state of his subjects corv�ables in his Alsatian territory. This census established for the lordships of Thann and Altkirch inquiries about the two heads of the Probst families. It was learned that Durs Probst, resident in Hausgauen, was then a craftsman, while Conrad Probst living in Brentzwiller was an operator.

From Rimbach to Goldbach

Jacques Probst of M�mliswil in the district of Balstal came, with his wife Barbe; he was one of the glassmakers of Glassh�tte. He undoubtedly took part in the startup of this glassmaking in Rimbach. Four of their children married in Soultz, a parish linked to the glassmaking of Rimbach. The three girls linked themselves with glass-makers: Marie Probst, married in 1654 with Jean Mathis, Agnes Probst also in 1654 with Christophe Kohler coming from Welschenrohr, and finally Elisabeth Probst, in 1665 with Urs Engel. Those three families are interesting in themselves.

Mathis The glass-making Mathis family originated in Switzerland (Erschwil, in the canton of Soleure) emigrated to Alsace in the late 1600s. After a brief stop in the glassmaking village of Lucelle, the MATHIS family arrived in Glassh�tte, in Rimbach near Soultz. Certain members of this family MATHIS left to found the glassmaking works of Ribeauvill� at the end of the 1600s, and then continued on to start the glassworks of Hang. The glass-makering MATHIS family of Ribeauvill� produced the famous minister of those times, Andr� Edge.

But let us return to Rimbach from where two branches of the Mathis family emigrated to the Valley of Thur. This emigration was facilitated by the fact that the ancestor of the Mathis family, Urs Mathis, had already settled well in Goldbach (very near to the glassmaking area of Soultz by the mountain) in April 1655. This property in the meadows and fields was sold to him for the sum of 100 pounds from Henri Simon.

In 1657, the Mathis glassmakers obtained their journeyman licenses for the payment of ten pounds. Of those Mathis children who were baptized in the Soultz parish, and who depended on the glassmaking effort in Rimbach, two settled in the valley of the Thur. The first of those, named Urs Mathis after his father, settled in Goldbach with the firm Goutte in the small valley which goes down from Neuhausen in Willer. There is no information on the ancestry of his wife Marie Fortsacker. The second, Melchior Mathis, married in Oderen in 1664 to Agathe Rieth; they lived in Fellering and had several children.

A third Mathis family, perhaps also descending from Urs Mathis, is that of journeyman Jean Mathis of Goldbach who, with his wife Marie Probst, had 5 children baptized in Willer (in the Thur Valley, parish of Goldbach), between 1661 and 1669.


The Kohler family draws its name from the occupation of coalman (charcoal manufacturer), an occupation which existed before the discovery of the " pit coal " and of oil. The family name Kohler (or Koller) is often confused with that of Keller, also current in that time, and whose definition relates to the function of cell�rier (keeper of storerooms). Although in 1553, we find mention of a Thomas Kohler in Bitschwiller, the most prominent Kohlers arrived in the valley a hundred years later. Kohlers who were glass-makers from the canton of Soleure (in the village of Welschenrohr), emigrated in the middle of the 1600s to the glass-making village of Glassh�tte, above Rimbach and close to Soultz. In addition to Glass�tte, the family settled at nearby Goldbach near the Amic Pass.

Christophe Koller, who had married into 1653 in Soultz to Agn�s Probst (originating in the same canton of Soleure, in M�mliswil), received his journeyman papers from Goldbach into 1657. For that license, he paid the sum of over seven pounds. Their children settled the valley of the Thur: :

1. Catherine Kohler married first Mr. Dietrich, and later to Mr. Luttringer of Altenbach,

2. Jean Kohler who settled in Willer with his wife Agathe Haffner (also born in Switzerland),

3. Christophe Kohler who married Miss Munsch of Fellering; one of their grandsons became a schoolmaster in Goldbach, and

4. Jean-Thi�baut Kohler who will marry in Soultz to Miss Wermelinger of Jungholtz.

Other KOHLER families appeared later:

1. Pierre Kohler and his wife Anne Marie. Pierre was a charcoalman in Thannerhubel between 1721 and 1725.

2. Jean Jacques Koller coming from Friesen in Sundgau.


The Engel family of Goldbach were mobile glassmakers. Just like the Mathis family, they crossed by Kohlschlag the short distance separating Glasshutte from the mountain village of Goldbach. Born in 1652 in Soultz,, Martin Engel, son of Pierre Engel, had married Marie Probst of Goldbach.


Zimmerman is a common name in Alsace since it comes from the trade of carpenter. In the valley of the Thur, several families with this name have lived there for centuries. A significant Zimmermann family of the low valley comes from Stoffel: Christophe Zimmermann of Altenbach, with his son, Johannes. Johannes Zimmerman married in 1683 in St Amarin to Margaretha Schnetz of Orschwihr, daughter of a journeyman of Orschwihr. The couple had several children; Oswald Zimmerman married in 1714 in St Amarin to Cladina (Claudine) Grunenwald, and Joseph Zimmerman married in 1726 in Willer to Barbara Probst.

Also is noted the presence with the family Mertzen in the valley of Loose in 1719 of Urs Probst, a native of M�mliswil. Remaining in the forest of Rossbrunn, whose name points out the memory of a disappeared village, he married in that same year to Anna Winninger of Strueth.

Other Probsts

Two Probst boys, Jean and Jean Jacques, assured the continuity of the Probst name. Jean Probst married in 1653 in Soultz to Anastasie Gebel of Goldbach.

The second son, Jean Jacques Probst, married Maria Christine Rudler who came from a very old family of Goldbach-Neuhausen. He was a middle-class man of Goldbach, and left posterity by his children. His daughter, Anne Marie Probst, married in 1692 in Willer on the Thur with Jean Perrin. His son Jean-Thi�baut Perrin married in Willer in 1690 to Brigitte Engel of Glassh�tte, and his other son, Laurent Perrin, married in 1705 to Brigitte Zimmermann of Altenbach.

Probsts Across the Atlantic Following the example of other Alsatian families, some of the Alsatian Probsts left their native soil to emigrate to the United States, hoping to find a better life.

Thus, Joseph Probst, born on October 20, 1812 in Rouffach, made his request for a passport in the year 1843 for the destination of the land of Thomas Jefferson. [Note: Jefferson had a few decades earlier been the envoy to France, and was well respected there.] The same year, Jean Probst, then 18 years old and a farmer, left Rouffach for the State of Kentucky. (Other Probsts also emigrated to America in the mid-1800s and settled in Kentucky, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania.)

This page was last updated on Monday, 21-Feb-2011 18:18:55 MST
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