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The Meanings of Several Wiesenmuller Names

by Betty Miley Ashley

Meanings of surnames has been an interesting subject to me as far back as I can remember. My dad's mother was of English ancestry and her maiden name was PULLEN. I thought it was hilarious when I learned that our remote Pullen ancestor probably was a chicken farmer. My mom's maiden name was SCHAFER, the meaning of which, of course, is shepherd.

Changes in spellings of names is a whole different subject. Causes of changes are numerous including dialects and so on. I will just briefly mention the spellings and pronunciations of our names.

I remember hearing that Grandpa Schafer always put the two little dots (umlaut) over the "a" in Schafer, and that other relatives spelled the name "SHAFFER", "SCHAEFFER", and so on. Dr. Jones mentions in his chapter on changes of German names into English, that the letter "e" after the vowel takes the place of the umlaut.

However, according to a general phonetic rule, the spelling of our name "Schafer" without the added "e" is okay (in American English). More often than not, a vowel followed by a consonant which is then followed by another vowel is "long" (or says its own name). Examples: In tiger, gate, cite, you hear the vowel "say its name." The umlaut "0" and umlaut "u" make very different sounds in German than our names for the letters. Therefore, more often than not the name Mueller became Miller because of the difficulty in saying the umlaut "u". For these reasons I feel justified in continuing to spell Schafer as my grandpa did, but I can't bring myself to spell Miller with a "u". It would seem then that the name should rhyme with duller.

My maiden name, MILEY, which is a Swiss-German name, has gone through a series of changes in spelling since my remote ancestor left Switzerland. In the canton of Zurich, today, it is pronounced more like "MAY-LEE" while here in the U.S. it sounds like "MY-LEE". The present spelling firmed up about 1840 in Pennsylvania and Virginia. And as for the meaning of the name, researchers have guessed that since the name is spelled "MElLI" in Switzerland, its origin must have been from the Latin word mille which means the distance of a mile. However, I corresponded with a Swiss-German who has a more believable theory. His conclusion is that this name is a contraction of the name MEYER plus the "Ii" ending, which designated a younger Meyer - dairy farmer. Minus the letters "er" it becomes MEYLI - one of the spellings of the name in Germany and also colonial Pennsylvania.

I've been thinking about making a list of meanings of Wiesenmueller names for several years.  MEIER, MILLER, SCHMIDT can be looked up in the dictionary. But what in the world does PENNECKER mean? And how about FABRICIUS? Read on.

I was thinking of buying a book on the subject when one was advertised in the magazine, Everton's Genealogical Helper. What an interesting book! It is called German-American Names and could only be better if it were more about German-Russian American names! The author is George F. Jones, published by the Genealogical Publishing Co. And although Jones does not include all our names, quite a few are on his list. Professor Jones is a philologist - one who studies the roots of words. He has lived and studied in Germany. The first part ofthe book concerns origins, pronunciations and changes brought about by various elements. The subject is fascinating. I'd love to tell you everything he wrote, but this essay is getting too long!

Even though Prof Jones is an expert, keep in mind, anybody can make mistakes. If you don't agree with his definition of a name you know, write your ideas to me. I'm planning to write to him about one of my ancestral names which he has analyzed WRONG! The name is FUNKHOUSER (one of my Swiss names). Descendants of the first "FANGHAUSERS" still live on the same land in the hills of Berne, Switzerland, where they lived when names were first used.  They still keep animals in pens for themselves and the villagers below. We can all guess what the meaning of HAUSER is, but "FANG" means "pen", and the verb means "to catch", even today.  In the chapter preceding the name list Prof Jones goes on about the shift in sound ofthe letter "g" in German to the letter "k" in English. He forgot when he defined Funkhouser. (In America the "fang" became "funk"). By mistake he has selected the German work "Funk" meaning "spark" to be the root of this name. When surnames began to evolve in the 1200s I don't think that anyone would come up with "sparkhouse" (which might be what a radio station is called).

I'd like to mention that many people are under the impression that if two families spell a name in two different ways, they are not related. This mayor may not be true. The sound of the name is what counts, not the spelling. For example I have found my maiden name spelled forty ways. All lines which have been researched and are known to me go back to Zurich, Switzerland where the name first occurred in records in the 1400s. Of course in the case of very common names, this statement cannot be made with such certainty.

 

GEORGE F. JONES' PARTIAL LIST OF NAME MEANINGS
 
ABEL, ABELL, ABELS (brother of Cain)

AHRENSFELD, (eagle field)

AICHMANN, EICHMANN (dweller among the oaks)

ALBRECHT, ALBRACHT, ALBRAECHT (noble and bright)

AMBRISTER, AMBRUST, AMBRUSTER, ARMBRUST, ARMBRUESTER, ARMBREASTER (crossbow, from Latin arcuballista)

ARNDT, ARND (from the name Arnold, eagle plus loyal or eagle plus rule)

Dr. Jones mentioned in the previous chapter that sometimes "B" and "P" are interchanged

BACHER, BACHERT, BACHNER, BACHART, BACHMANN (dweller on a brook)

BACKERT, BACHER, BECKER, BACKMANN (as above, also baker)

BARRINGER (bear plus spear)

BEHRINGER, BERIG people of Behr

BAD, BATH might include BOTT, BATT (bath or from the word for swamp water BATTEN)

BAUER, BAUERS, BAUR, BAUERDT (farmer)

BALSER, BALTER, BALTZAR, BALTZER, BALZER (from Balthasar, one of the three kings;also see Palts, Paulser, Baldwin)

BElL, BEILER perhaps BILL (ax maker or seller)

BERGER (mountain man) BIER (brewer)

BOHL, BOHLE, BOHLEN, BOHLS, BOLSEN (plank)

BOTE, BOTH, BOTHE, BOTT (messenger) BRACH (fallow land)

BRAND, BRANT, BRANDT (forest clearing)

BUCH, BUCHS, BUCHLER, BUECHER, BUECHNER, BUCHSMAN (dweller near the beeches)

BUSCH (bush, tavern keeper. Jones explains that tavern keepers often placed a bush outside as a sign of the establishment)

BUSSMAN (heavy drinker)

BUXBAUM (boxwood) Most German American names beginning with "C" were spelled with "K" in Europe. Also a few names beginning with "C" began with "G" in standard German.

CLAUS, KLAUS (from Nikolaus)

CLAUSE, KLAUSE (hermitage, cell)

CREBS, KREBS, GREB (crab, crab catcher, sign of Zodiac)

A name beginning with "D" in one dialect may begin with a "T" in another

DAHMER, DAMER, DOM, DOHM DOHMER (dweller near a cathedral or from Dohme derived from Thomas)

DIEHL, DIEHLE, DIEHLMANN, DIEL (wall or floor of planks) DIEL (swamp or brook)

DIETEL, DIETLE (from Dietrich which evolved from folk plus rule)

DOELL, DOELLE, DOELLER (marsh water, dweller in a marsh)

DORSCH (codfish seller)

EHRENFELD (field of honor)

EICHER, EICHERT,

EICHLER, EICHMANN (dweller near oaks)

EIRICH, EURICH, EYRING (sword plus rule)

ELFENBEIN (ivory)

ENGELMAN, (occupant of Engelhaus)

ERHARD, ERHART, ERHARDT (honor plus strong)

ERICH, ERICHS, ERIG, ERICK (law plus rule)

FABRICIUS, FABRITZIUS (Latin name for Schmidt)

FAHL, FAHLE, FAHLER (pale swamp)

FOGEL, FOGAL, FOEGEL, FOGALER, FOGLER, VOGEL, VOGLER (bird)

FOOS, FOOSE, FUSS (foot, leg, foot of mountain) VOSS, FUCHS (fox)

FRANK, FRANKE, FRANKEN, FRANKS (Franconian or short for Frankenberg, etc.)

FREISE, FREISEN, FRIES (Frisian - not the plural of Frey)

FREUDENBERG, FREUDENBERGER (from joy mountain) FREIDENBERGER

GALL, GALLE, GALLEN, (from St. Gall) GALLOWA possibly a form of this name

GECK, GECKEL (fop, dandy) KECK (lively)

GERRlNG, GERRINGER, GEHRING, GOERINGER (from Gerhard) ger means sword

GRAB, GRABE, GRABEN (grave, grave digger)

GRASMICK, GRASMUECK (hedge sparrow)

GRAU, GRAUE, GRAUER, GRAUMANN (graybeard) GRAUBERGER must be a gray bearded mountain man.

GREB, BREBE, GREBER, GREBNER (official of a free community)

GROSS, GROSSE, GROS, GROSE, GROSZ, GROOS (large)

HART (stag)

HARTWIG (strong plus battle)

HEID, HEIDE, HEIDT (heath, heathen)

HEIL, HEILL (fortune, prosperity, blessing)

HELWIG, HELWICK, HELVIG (from Hiltiwic, battle)

HETZ (beater on hunt)

HORCH, HORCHER (listener, hearer)

HUCK, HUCKEL, HUCKER (marsh dweller)

HUHN, HUHNER, HUHNER(GARDT) (poultry dealer)

JAECK, JAECKS, JAECKEL, JAEKEL, JAECKLE, JAECKLI, JAECKLEIN, JAEGLI, YAKEL, YEKEL (little Jacob)

JORAN, JOHANN, JOHANNES (John)

JUNG, JUNGE (young)

KAHL, KAHLE, KAHLER, KAHLERT (bald, from Latin calvus)

KEIL (wood chopper)

KELLER, KELLERS, KELLNER (cellar, cellar master from Latin cellenarium)

KERNER, KOERNER (carter)

KINDSVATER, KINDERVATER (baptismal sponsor)

KNAUS (niggardly)

KOCH, KOCHE (cook, from Latin coquus)

KOHLER, KOHLERMAN (collier, charcoal burner)

KRUEGER, KRIEGER (tavern keeper)

LACHMAN, LACHMANN (leech, incanter, dweller at a pond)

LANGHOFF, LANGHOFFER, LANGENHOFFER (long farm)

LAUB, LAUBE, LAUBER, LAUBNER (leaf, foliage, arbor)

LENHARD, LENHARDT, LENHART, LEONHARD, LEHNER, LEONHEART (lion plus strong)

LINEBAUGH, LEINEBACH, LINENBACH (clay brook)

LICH, LICHT, LICHTER (light, clearing)

LICHTENWALD (cleared forest)

LOOS, LOOSE, LOOSE, LOOSER (lot, fate, or from Ludwig)

LUTZ, LUTZE, LUTZEL, LUTZENS (from Ludwig)

MAl (the month of May)

MAUS (see Mous)

MEIER, MEIERS, MEYER, MEYERS (dairy farmer from Latin major domus, major villae)

MEIL, MEILE (mile, Latin mille passum)

MICHAEL, MICHAELS, MICHAELIS, MICHAELES, MICHEL, MICHELE (St. Michael)

MORN (poppy)

MOHR, MOHRMAN, MOHRMANN (Moor, possibly in miracle play)

MORGANTHAU (morning dew)

MOUS, MOUSER, MAUS, MAUSER (mouse, mouser)

MUELLER (miller from Latin Molinarius)

MUTH, MUTHE (courage, disposition, mood, possibly Helmuth which meant helmet)

NAAB, NAEB (river name) The sound of the letter "B" often found in replaced "P" as Busch/Pusch, Bitman/Pitman

PENNECKER (little bear)

ROHRIG (swampy, covered with reeds)

RUBI, RUBE, RUBY, RUBIN (ruby)

RUPP, RUPPEL (from Ruprecht)

SCHAEFER, SCHAEFERS, SCHAFER, SCHAFFER, SCHAFFNER (shepherd)

SHELL (bell, manacles)

SCHIEL, SCHIELE (squint),

SCHULE (school from Latin Scola)

SCHIMPF, SCHIMPFF (play, amusement, entertainer)

SCHMIDT, SCHMIDE, SCHMIDS (smith)

SCHMINK, SCHMUNK (make-up, cosmetics)

SCHNEIDER (tailor)

SCHREIN, SCHREINER (cabinet maker from Latin scinarius)

SCHUCH, SCHUCHARD, SCHUCHART, SCHUCHARDT (shoemaker)

SCHWAN (swan)

SCHWARTZKOPF (blackhead)

SCHWEIN (swine, swineherd, swamp water) Jones does not list SCHWIEN

SEELMAN (swamp dweller)

SPAETH, SPAET, SPAETE, SPETH (late, tardy)

SPENGLER, SPENGEL (tinsmith)

STRECK, STRECKER (stretcher, stretch ofland, torturer)

STENTZ, STENZER, STENZEL (from Polish: Stanislaw)

STRICK, STRICKER, STRICKERT, STRICKLER, STRICKMAN (knitter)

STUCK, STUCKE, STUCKER, STUCKERS, STUCKERT (dweller on stump-covered land)

TRAGER (porter)

TRAUT, TRAUD, TRAUDT, TRAUTH (dear)

VELTE, VELTEN (from St. Valentin)

WEABER, WEAVER, WEBER, WEBERT, WEBBER, WEBNER (weaver)

WEIDEMANN, WEIDERMEYER, WEIDMANN (meadow man)

WEIGAND, WEYGANT (warrior)

WElL, WElLE, WEILL, (village from Latin villa)

WILL (determination)

WINDER, WINTER, WINTERS (winter)

WITTMAN, WITTMER (manager of church property)

WUENSCH (wish or Wendish)

WUEST, WUESTE (desert, wasteland, abandoned farm)

ZAHL (number)

ZANDER (from Alexander)

ZELLER, ZELLNER, ZELLMAN (dweller near a shrine or cell)

ZIMMERMAN  (carpenter)