Genealogists who have research interests in the LEIBUNDGUT [LybundGut] families of the parish of Melchnau, Kt. Bern, Switzerland should include, in addition to the church registers, the following records in their research:
1)KONTRAKTENMANUALE.These records contain mortgages and transfers of property, including division of inheritance as well as sales, although such documents do not exist in every case.For Melchnau and the neighboring community of Gondiswil there is a 4-volume set covering the years 1681-1728, and the earlier contracts are probably found in a 3-volume set for the whole district of Aarwangen, covering the period 1672-1681.No such records for Melchnau survive from before that time, and average situation.The contract registers are the richest source of lineage-proving data in the canton of Bern, but will not solve every problem, even in the time period for which they exist.
2)GERICHTSMANUALE.These are the civil court minutes.According to the invtory, those for Melchnau are in a set also covering the communities of Gondiswil, Lotzwil, and Thoerigen.The earliest volume covers 1668-1697.Then there is a gap faollowed by a volume dated 1708-1728.
3)CHORGERICHTSMANUALE.These are the morality court minutes.Those for the parish of Melchnau are still housed in the parish archives.The old surviving volume deals with the years 1668-1722; then there is a gap until 1744.The next surviving volume happens to also contain the marriage entries for the period 1744-1753.And, as if to balance things out, one of the baptism registers contains the Chorgericht minutes for 1628-1629.The court minutes, both ecclesiastical and civil, may resolve some research questions, but their major value is family history.They should not be searched until after the Kontraktenmanuale.
4)URBARE.These are registers of feudal dues encumbering property.The most recent Urbar for the castle of Aarwangen dates from 1674, and earlier it kept separate volumes for its income in Melchnau dated 1571, 1579, and 1610.Urbare are of genealogical value only to the extent they show transfer of property or, more precisely, tax responsibility over generations.The long interval between 1610 and the next renewal, 1674, may cause problems.It will depend on whether or not transfers were entered directly into the Urbar of 1610, and for how long.Often these were instead recorded in separate HEISCHROEDEL or ZINSBUECHER, which were not preserved.Other than a HUEHNER-ZINSBUCH for 1683, the inventory does not list any such books for the castle of Aarwangen in the 17th century.
The monastery of St. Urban, just across the border in Catholic Kt. Luzern, also collected some feudal dues in Melchnau.Bern possesses volumes prepared in 1692; earlier ones would be found aat the state archives in Luzern.The search of the Kontraktenmanuale will probably reveal to which institutions the LYBUNDGUTs were paying feudal dues.There may be other possibilities.
A number of LYBUNDGUT families fled Melchnau ca. 1653 due to the Peasants' War, many migrating to what is now Bas-Rhin (Alsace) France.