Alfred Escher - Life - Origins and Family

Origins and Family

Alfred Escher was born into the Escher vom Glas family, an old and influential Zurich dynasty that had produced many prominent politicians. A scandal surrounding Alfred Escher’s immediate forebears had, however, damaged the family’s reputation. His great-grandfather Hans Caspar Escher-Werdmüller (1731–1781) had fathered a child out of wedlock with a maidservant in 1765 and emigrated. His grandfather Hans Caspar Escher-Keller (1755–1831) almost brought the whole of Zurich to financial ruin when he went bankrupt. Finally Alfred Escher’s father Heinrich Escher (1776–1853) made a new fortune through speculative land deals and trading in North America. In 1814 Heinrich returned to Zurich and married Lydia Zollikofer (1797–1868) in May 1815. The marriage produced two children, Clementine (1816–1886) and Alfred. In 1857 Alfred Escher married Augusta Uebel (1838–1864). Their daughter Lydia was born in 1858, but another daughter Hedwig (1861–1862) died while still a baby. In 1883 Lydia Escher married Friedrich Emil Welti, the son of Federal Councillor Emil Welti. In 1890, shortly before the end of her tragic life, she invested the Escher fortune in a Foundation which she called the Gottfried Keller Foundation after the Zurich writer to whom her father gave consistent support. Lydia’s suicide in 1891 brought an end to Alfred Escher’s family line.

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