Maps of Interest to "O" Families
Compiled & Written by K. R. Overholt Critchfield
~ Published May 15, 2014 ~

  This web page brings together a collection of road maps, satellite maps and aerial photographs of places in Europe that will interest those of us who are descendants of the Oberholzer families from Oberholz, Switzerland. Everything seen here can be easily found on the Internet, via search engines and other web resources that offer maps along with history articles. The Wikipedia web sites are particularly helpful, since so much of their content is offered "free and clear" to the public. I have added to many maps the locations of towns, cities and communities that are important to "O" researchers, and when doing so, have endeavored to be as precise as possible in the estimations.

Building confidence through research, we may decide to make our own journeys through physical space, seeking to add our 21st century footsteps to the echoing steps of our ancestors. Along the way, we will be experiencing something of times past, learning to appreciate the complexities of our "O" family tree, and gathering up memories that we can share far into the future. It may be that our journeys, and the pictures we treasure, will awaken genetic memories of living on a high plateau surrounded by snowcapped mountains. That was one of my own memories, taken from scenes dreamed in my youth, and remembered all the days of my life.


Table of Contents

Details From History
Oberholz Village Locations
Maps of Switzerland
Satellite Pictures of Oberholz, Series #1
Satellite Pictures of Oberholz, Series #2
Northwestern Europe
Cities Visited by Carroll & Charles Overholt
Maps of Germany
Oberholtzer Communities in Germany
Frankfurt am Main
30 Miles from Frankfurt am Main
The Rhine River System

Details From History

  Our Swiss ancestors were descendants of the Alemanni tribes, the Suevi, who were just one of many Germanic peoples who entered Europe from the Baltic Sea area. Among them were the Angles and Jutes, who ended up in England. Upon reaching the Rhine River areas of the land we call Germany, the Alemanni became competitors with Romans for control over the best land, although the Alemanni did not contribute to the decline of the Romans in the region. The Alemanni settled in southwestern Germany, the Alsace region of France, and northern Switzerland.

(See Alemanni, by The History Files at Karen's Branches.)



c.1610 Map Showing Religious Divisions of Germany (Portion)
During this era, it appears the Sinsheim valley was Calvinistic,
but the Roman Catholics were not far away.

c.1610 Map Showing Religious Divisions of Germany (Legend)


1619 Map of Germany (Portion)
The Sinsheim valley appears to be part of the Rhenish Palatinate.


1648-1760 War Era - Netherlands & Western Germany (Portion)
Rotterdam, Netherlands was the portal from Europe to England for
our Swiss ancestors, and many others who went directly to America.


1648-1760 War Era - Netherlands & Western Germany (Portion)
This map shows the Sinsheim valley designated as part of the Palatinate.


1648 Europe - Holy Roman Empire (Portion)
Note the hodge-podge of claimed territories in southwestern Germany.


1678 Germany - Lower Palatinate includes the Sinsheim region (Portion)


18th Century Europe - 1700s Central Europe
At this time, it appears the Sinsheim valley is part of Langraviate Hessen-Kassel.


1789 Oberämter of the Electorate of the Palatinate

1789 Oberämter of the Electorate of the Palatinate (Details)


. . .
1801-1819 Baden, Germany - with Inset Map


1806 Germany - Showing Grand Duchy of Hesse & Grand Duchy of Baden
At this time, it appears the Sinsheim valley is split up mostly between these two duchies.


Oberholz Village Locations

Kantonsgrenze (Canton Border); Oberholzstrasse (Oberholz Street); Kapellstrasse (Chapel Street); Gerstrasse (Ger Street)


Maps of Switzerland

Switzerland is nestled between Italy, France, Germany and Austria.


The Historical Parts of Swiss Kanton Sankt Gallen (Wikipedia, Marco Zanoli)


Alpine Regions of France, Italy, Switzerland, Austria & Germany




Alpine High Rhine & Swiss Cantons


Obersee Area of Switzerland - Showing Wald & Oberholz


Obersee Area of Switzerland - Aerial Photo


Kanton Sankt Gallen (Canton St. Gallen)


The River Rhine (Rhein) Begins in Switzerland


Oberholz, Kanton Sankt Gallen, Switzerland


From Zurich to Wald to Oberholz


Zurich, Lake Zurich & Obersee - Aerial Photo Map


Zurich, Lake Zurich & Obersee - Aerial Photo


Wald to Oberholz Road Map (1)


Wald to Oberholz Road Map (2)


Oberholzstrasse to Oberholz (1)


Satellite Pictures of Oberholz #1

Oberholzstrasse to Oberholz (2)


Oberholzstrasse to Oberholz (3)


Oberholzstrasse to Oberholz (4)


Oberholz Locations (2)


Series #1 appears to show aerial photos with the current configuration around the new Oberholzer Family home (note the black driveway in front of the house), and must be more recent than those shown below in Series #2.


Oberholz Locations (3)


Oberholz Locations (4)


Oberholz Locations (5)


Ski Lift Oberholz (1)
These aerial photos show the length of Ski Lift Oberholz, from the village to the top of the mountain.


Ski Lift Oberholz (2)


Ski Lift Oberholz (3)


Ski Lift Oberholz (4)


Aatal, Oberholz & Wald (1)

  Note the location of Aatal in the upper left quadrant of this map, near the blue box [15] on Tosstalstrasse. Jonatal is south of Aatal. Oberholz is clearly identified. In the shot below, imagine the terrain being mostly wooded during the Middle Ages, and Aatal being the "Lower House," and Oberholz being the "Upper House," and Wald being a smaller community.  

Aatal, Oberholz & Wald (2)


Aatal & Oberholz (1)
Aatal is in the upper left quadrant, and Oberholz is in the lower right quadrant.


Aatal & Oberholz (2)
Aatal is in the upper left quadrant, and Oberholz is in the lower right quadrant.


Aatal, Switzerland (1)


Aatal, Switzerland (2)


Satellite Pictures of Oberholz #2

Oberholz, Switzerland (1)
Borders of Kantons Zurich & Sankt Gallen


Oberholz, Switzerland (2)


Oberholz, Switzerland (3)


Oberholz, Switzerland (4)


Oberholz, Switzerland (5)


Oberholz, Switzerland (6)


Oberholz, Switzerland (7)


Oberholz, Switzerland (8)


Ski Lift at Oberholz, Switzerland


Wald, Kanton Zurich to Oberholz, Kanton St. Gallen (1)


Wald, Kanton Zurich to Oberholz, Kanton St. Gallen (2)


Northwestern Europe

Northwestern Europe (1)

  The Rhine begins in the southeastern Swiss Alps in the canton of Grisons, and empties into the North Sea in the Netherlands, after running through nine European nations: Switzerland, Austria, Germany, France, Netherlands, Liechstenstein, Luxembourg, Belgium and Italy. Our Oberholzer families would have found travel on the Rhine to be the easiest method of immigration -- first from Switzerland into Germany, and then later to the Netherlands. Their journeys continued aboard ships, mostly from Rotterdam, with whole families crossing over to England, where they sought the means to pay for passage in ships from England to America. Most of the ships that took immigrants from England to Pennsylvania came out of Rotterdam, also. Some of our ancestors were placed in Ireland for a while, until passage could be arranged for them to immigrate to America.  

Northwestern Europe (2)


Cities Visited by Carroll & Charles Overholt

Carroll Overholt's European Tour, plus visits to Omaha Beach and Paris, France.


Maps of Germany





Map of a Portion of Germany's Black Forest (Schwarzwald)
This map is severely reduced in size, so it is difficult to see all the towns and villages among the hills and valleys.




Karen's Note: In most of these maps, the locations of added places are estimations.


Oberholtzer Communities in Germany

Oberholtzer Families Lived in Sinsheim Farming Communities

  In the Introduction of The Oberholtzer Book, Willard E. Overholtzer outlines the European history of our Oberholzer ancestors. During the Protestant Reformation, shortly after the end of the Thirty Years War, a few generations of "O" families were tenant farmers in Germany (where the "t" appeared in the surname), particularly in the farming areas south of Sinsheim.

Will tells us, "Numerous Reformed Church and census records show Oberholtzers living in the villages of Hilsbach, Weiler, Buchenauerholf, Elsenz, Reihen, Fiesenheim, Oppau and Immelhausenhof. Many of these notations were followed with the terms Hofbauer (farmer) and Weidertaufers." The word Weidertaufers, or Taufers, means "re-baptizers."

Remembering that the word Hof means "farm," Oberholtzer families lived in Immelhäuser Hof, Buchenauer Hof, and the communities of Weiler, Reihen, Hilsbach, and Elsenz. The story becomes clearer with data now available from the OFA, which adds Steinsfurt to the list of places where just a few generations of our ancestors lived.

Internet maps show us that Buchenauer Hof has become the Golfclub Sinsheim Buchenauer Hof. Two other villages in Germany where our ancestors lived were identified as Oppau and Fiesenheim. Oppau is near Frankenthal, which is northwest of Mannheim. A search for Fiesenheim only brought up the name Friesenheim, which happens to be the very next community southeast of Oppau. I did locate another Friesenheim, which is close to the Black Forest near Strasbourg, but I am betting the one next to Oppau is the correct one.


The Neckar & Rhine Rivers


Farming Communities Near Sinsheim


Farming Communities Near Sinsheim Terrain


Immelhäuserhof Road to Immelhäuser Hof, also showing Steinsberg, Reihen & Steinsfurt


Immelhäuserhof Road to Immelhäuser Hof (1)


Immelhäuserhof Road to Immelhäuser Hof (2)


Immelhauserhof Road to Immelhäuser Hof (3)
Carroll's Downtown Immelhäuser Hof


Neighboring Community Hammerau

  Above is Hammerau, which is very close to communities where Oberholtzer families lived. Providing this village dates back to the 1600s, the inhabitants may well have known some of our "O" ancestors. I am including it, just in case there are some genealogical ties.  

Hammerau Terrain


Immelhäuser Hof, Buchenauer Hof, Weiler & Steinsberg

  Buchenauer Hof has been transformed from a farm to a huge golf course, but beyond the manicured greens surrounded by forest, there is more farmland to tell the tale of its original purpose.  

Immelhäuser Hof, Buchenauer Hof, Weiler & Steinsberg


Golf Club Sinsheim Buchenauer Hof (1)


Golf Club Sinsheim Buchenauer Hof (2)

City of Sinsheim & Communities of Rohrbach & Steinsfurt


City of Sinsheim & Communities of Rohrbach & Steinsfurt Terrain


City of Sinsheim to Weiler


City of Sinsheim to Weiler Terrain




Reihen Terrain


On the Northern Edge of Weiler is Steinsberg & Burg Steinsberg (Steinsberg Castle)


Steinsberg Castle Terrain
Weiler Community & Vineyards Hug Steinsberg Castle Mound


Weiler & Vineyards of Berg Steinsberg (Steinsberg Castle)


Berg Steinsberg (Steinsberg Castle) Close Up


Immelhäuser Hof is Near Burg Steinsberg (Steinsberg Castle)


Hilsbach, Weiler & Steinsberg

Hilsbach, Weiler & Steinsberg Terrain


Weiler & Steinsberg Terrain


Weiler, Steinsberg & Reihen


Community of Hillsbach


Communities of Elsenz & Hilsbach


Community of Elsenz


Elsenz Terrain


Oppau & Friesenheim are near Frankenthal on the western bank of the Rhine River


Oppau and Fiesenheim are given as communities where Oberholtzer families lived. I found a Friesenheim right next to Oppau, as seen here. It occurs to me that if our Oberholtzer ancestors were leaving the Sinsheim area, they would consider meeting up with family living in Oppau or Freisenheim, where they could find shelter before boarding a ship (or another ship) to continue their journey to the Netherlands. Notice the unusual loop in the Rhine at that point. I do not know if the loop is manmade or natural to the river, but if it was present at the time of the immigrations, the sector must have been used as a natural dock, shipyard and loading area back then, just as it is used now.


Frankenthal, Oppau & Friesenheim, near Mannheim at the Rhine River


Frankenthal, Oppau & Friesenheim Near Mannheim


The Rhine River at Oppau


Oppau & Friesenheim Terrain


Community of Oppau Terrain


Community of Friesenheim Terrain


Another Friesenheim Near Strasbourg


Above, near Strasbourg, you will see another Friesenheim near a place named Oppenau, which is not far from Renchen, which is not far from a place called Sinzheim. This is just one example of many ways to get lost in German place names.


Frankfurt am Main

Frankfurt am Main & Frankfurt (1)


Frankfurt am Main & Frankfurt (2)


Cities & Towns From Mainz to Frankfurt


Mainz & Frankfurt Terrain


30 Miles from Frankfurt am Main

We are told in the A. J. Fretz genealogies that Martin Oberholtzer, son of Marcus Oberholtzer (c 1664-1726), was "the progenitor of a family numerously represented in Bucks, Montgomery and Westmoreland counties," who was born in Germany "thirty miles from Frankfort-on-the-Main." It is obvious that Fretz is quoting from a source other than himself. In the OFA's The Oberholtzer Book, Barbara B. Ford gives us a birthdate for Martin as "c1709 (England?)." Barbara Ford was a descendant of this Martin Oberholtzer, and she was very careful about publishing details that were not verifiable by some sort of paper trail. In the most recent compilation of OFA data on our "O" families, the following is given.


MC7 Martin Oberholtzer 4/5/1709 near Frankfort-on-the-Rhine - 1744 Bedminster Twp, Bucks Co PA [& Jacob] Oberholtzer, sons of 1709 immigrant Marcus, settled at Schuykill, The Nash family emigrated to America about 1730. Settled  in  Bedminster soon after manhood,  m 11/2/1736 Agnes Kolb 4/8/1713  - 2/15/1786  d/o  1709 Immigrant Henry Kolb & Barbara (2nd m William Nash), both bur Deep Run East.

REF: Phila Adm Bk E/33, 1744; Fretz: Martin Oberholtzer; History of Bucks Co, 1905 pg 144-147; Oberholtzer & Nash Family Histories


The name "Franfort-on-the-Rhine" is curious, though. Clearly, Frankfurt is located on the banks of the river Main, and I could not find any other place along the Rhine that had the name Frankfort or Frankfurt. There appears to be only one place named Frankfurt, so I believe the authors intended to use the name Frankfurt-on-the-Main, which in Germany is called Frankfurt am Main.

Okay, let us speculate on where Martin was born, shall we? After a great deal of trial and error, I managed to create the map shown below. I used a Bing map that measured one mile to one inch, and created a ring depicting a 30-mile radius with Frankfurt am Main in the center. If our "O" ancestors were leaving Germany via the Rhine River (Rhein) or one of its tributaries, perhaps three different locations are interesting. You will see below that the numbers 3 and 5 point to locations on the Rhine River, and number 7 points to a section of the River Main, which flows northward toward Frankfurt am Main, then turns left and flows into the Rhine. Or maybe it is a case of Rhine River waters taking a right turn into the Main?

Anyway, the city Mainz is located at the point where the Rhine meets the Main, and is about 20 miles from Frankfurt am Main, or more, depending upon where in the Medieval part Frankfurt a person puts a "pin." Historians tell us that the Alemanni coveted the Roman city built at that juncture of the river Main, but it was another tribe that finally supplanted the Roman stronghold. Nevertheless, the Alemanni people pretty much controlled the whole River Main area, once they settled there and before they pressed onward into the south and southwest. The language and customs brought by the Alemanni became the German language and customs. Some Alemanni families reached the place we call Switzerland, and settled on the tops of the mountains. One of those families called their mountain home Oberholz, and became known as the Oberholzers. It is truly a fascinating thread of European history that is woven into our DNA.

Take a look at the maps below, and add your conjectures to mine. Maybe somewhere along these two great rivers in Germany was the place where our ancestor Martin Oberholtzer was born.


Thirty-Mile Radius


Thirty Miles From Frankfurt am Main (1)


Thirty Miles From Frankfurt am Main (2)


Thirty Miles From Frankfurt am Main (3)


Thirty Miles From Frankfurt am Main (4)


Thirty Miles From Frankfurt am Main (5)


Thirty Miles From Frankfurt am Main (6)


Rhine River, City of Mainz, the River Main & Frankfurt am Main


Rhine River, River Main & Frankfurt am Main Terrain


The Rhine River System

Rhine River - Full System


Rhine River - Delta & Lower Rhine


Rhine River - Middle & Upper Rhine


Rhine River - Upper, High & Alpine Rhine


End of Page . . . Return to Karen's Branches


. . .