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Family history



Family History


The only known ancestor of this family line is my 7th great-grandmother, Anna Maria Heidecker.  Anna Maria was born 1642 at the German village of Sulzfeld.  Today Sulzfeld is a municipality in the district Karlsruhe in Baden-Wuerttemberg.  Sulzfeld lies in the eastern Kraichgau and current mountain area, between Black Forest and Odenwald, Rhine and Neckar.

     In 1664 Anna Maria married Peter Gossner also a native of Sulzfeld.  To this union at least eight known children were born between 1664 and 1682.  It is their son Andreas Gossner, born 1671, through whom I am descended.  It appears that Anna Maria lived her entire life in Sulzfeld.  She passed away in 1692 at the age of 50 years.


Direct ancestors


Ancestral Lineage

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Descendant Register

Generation 1


Anna Maria Heidecker-1 was born on 05 Nov 1642 in Sulzfeld, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany.  She died on 24 Nov 1692 in Sulzfeld, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany. She married Peter Gossner on 02 Feb 1664 in Sulzfeld, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany, son of Christoph Gossner and Mrs.  Christoph Gossner (nee?). He was born on 1640 in Sulzfeld, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany. He died on 1692 in Sulzfeld, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany?.


Children of Anna Maria Heidecker and Peter Gossner are:


·                    Maria Elizabeth Sofia Gossner, B: 04 Oct 1664 in Sulzfeld, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany, D: 15 Oct 1664 in Sulzfeld, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany.


·                    Katharina Barbara Gossner, B: 27 Dec 1665 in Sulzfeld, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany, D: 12 Jan 1666 in Sulzfeld, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany.


·                    Anna Maria Gossner, B: 24 Feb 1669 in Sulzfeld, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany.


·                    Johann Andreas Gossner, B: 31 Mar 1671 in Sulzfeld, Baden-Wurttemburg, Germany, D: 1743 in Sulzfeld, Baden-Wurttemburg, Germany, M: 26 Jan 1696 in  Sulzfeld, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany.


·                    Anna Barbara Gossner, B: 15 Mar 1673 in Sulzfeld, Baden-Wurttemberg,   Germany.


·                    Maria Sofia Gossner, B: 28 Mar 1676 in Sulzfeld, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany.


·                    Johann Peter Gossner, B: 08 Jan 1680 in Sulzfeld, Baden-Wurttemberg,   Germany.


·                    Maria Katharina Gossner, B: 06 Aug 1682 in Sulzfeld, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany.


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Origins of the surname


Origins of the Surname

An Introduction

to the Surname


of the Surname

History of

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An Introduction to the Surname

     The practice of inherited family surnames began in England and France during the late part of the 11th century.   Surnames were first utilized in the Germanic region of central Europe during the second half of the 12th century.  The custom of taking on surnames began in the southern areas of Germany, and gradually spread northward during the Middle Ages.  It took about three hundred years for this tradition to apply to most families and become a constant part of one’s identity. 

     With the passing of generations and the movement of families from place to place many of the original identifying names were altered into some of the versions that we are familiar with today.  Over the centuries, most of our European ancestors accepted their surname as an unchangeable part of their lives.  Thus people rarely changed their surname.  Variations of most surnames were usually the result of an involuntary act such as when a government official wrote a name phonetically or made an error in transcription.  Research into the record of this Heidecker family line indicates that the variations, meanings and history of this surname are most likely linked to that area of Europe where German linguistic traditions are commonly found.



Source(s) & Meaning(s) of the Surname

     Most modern German family names are a means conveying lineage.  For the most part, German surnames were developed from four major sources: (1) Patronymic & Matronymic surnames most common in northern Germany are based on a parent’s first name, such as Niklas Albrecht (Niklas son of Albrecht);  (2) occupational surnames are last names based on the person’s job or trade for example Lukas Fischer (Lukas the Fisherman);  (3) descriptive surnames are based on a unique quality or physical feature of the individual like Karl Braun (Karl with brown hair); (4) geographical surnames are derived from the location of the homestead from which the first bearer and his family lived such as Leon Meer (Leon from by the sea), or derived from the state, region, or village of the first bearer's origin for example Paul Cullen (Paul from Koeln/Cologne).

     Heidecker is a South German and Swiss German geographical or habitational name from any of the various places in Germany called Heideck or from Heidegg near Zurich. Some with this surname may have been descendants of Heidenreich (king of the heath).  All of them get their names from Middle High German heide ‘heath’ + egge, ecke ‘corner’.

Arms of the town of Heideck


History of the Surname

    Most German names have their roots in the Germanic Middle Ages. The process of forming family names in what is present day Germany began early in the 12th Century and extended through the 16th century.   Heidecker is an old Germanic name and is one of the early names recorded in that region of Europe.   Due to its popularity and duration this name, and its variant spellings, have traveled widely in many forms throughout the continent.       The Heidecker originated in the areas of southern Germany and northern Switzerland.  Today the surname is found in the modern day German state of Baden-Wurttemberg.  The associated coat of arms for Heideck and variant spellings are registered in Germany and recorded in Rietstap’s Armorial General.

     This Germanic surname appeared quite early into the former British colonies of North America, especially William Penn’s Province of Pennsylvania.  One reason for this was that after the prince of the Electorate of Hanover, in Germany also became king of England in 1715, as a result German emigration to America was greatly encouraged from that time on to about 1777.  A resulting factor of this great migration is that the Heidecker German name tends to be confused with the English versions due to the fact that the name from both countries is often in the same or similar spelling, which is perhaps not surprising as they share pre 7th century "Anglo-Saxon" roots.   Many of these German immigrants, particularly those with easy English equivalents, were encouraged and in some cases required to change to an English spelling.  Many German surnames were re-spelled in America because of the close relationship between the English and German languages.     This was the case with many sea captains or their agents who, when making up the ships passenger lists, found it easier to use a more familiar English spelling.   As the general level of education in America increased after the American Civil War many formerly illiterate immigrants and their descendents began to standardize the spelling of their surname.   Also after the start of World War One, Germans in the United States, in great numbers, Anglicized their names in an effort to remove all doubt as to their patriotism.  

     Notable persons having the Heidecker surname or a close variant are: Tim Heidecker (born February 3, 1976) is an American actor, comedian, musician, writer and director.  Dietmar Heidecker mayor of Dill, Germany.  Martin Heidegger (September 26, 1889 – May 26, 1976; was a German philosopher known for his existential and phenomenological explorations of the "question of Being.”  Johann Heinrich Heidegger (1633, Bäretswil - 1698), Swiss theologian.  John James Heidegger, (1659, Zürich – 1749), son of Johann Heinrich Heidegger, Swiss-British noble & theatrical entrepreneur, act in London.   A listing of other prominent persons with this surname can be found at Heidegger (surname).



More About Surname Meanings & Origins

German Surnames

 First Names (Rufnamen) identified specific persons. Over time the first name began to be applied to the bearer's whole family.  At first through verbal usage, family names (Familiennamen) were later fixed through writing.  Until the 17th century, first names played a more important role. The earliest family names derived from the first name of the first bearer (Patronym). Later names derived from the place of dwelling and location of the homestead.  If a person of family migrated from one place to another they were identified by the place they came from.  Of more recent origin are names derived from the vocation of profession of the first bearer. These names comprise the largest group and the most easily recognizable, for they tell what the first bearer did for a living.  Another group are names derived from a physical or other characteristic of the first bearer.  Finally, there are names that tell you the state or region a first bearer and his family came from; the age old division in tribes and regions (Low German, Middle German and Upper German) is often reflected in names.

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Variations of the surname


Variations of
the Surname


Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to unfold and expand often leading to an overwhelming number of variants.  As such one can encounter great variation in the spelling of surnames because in early times, spelling in general and thus the spelling of names was not yet standardized.  Later on spellings would change with the branching and movement of families.  Spelling variations of this family name include: Heidecker; Heideck; Heidegger; Haidegger*; Heidegg, and others.  * Haidegger is the Austrian and Bavarian spelling of Heidegger.


The complexity of researching records is compounded by the fact that in many cases an ancestors surname may also have been misspelled.  This is especially true when searching census documents.   The Soundex Indexing System was developed in an effort to assist with identifying spelling variations for a given surname.  Soundex is a method of indexing names in the 1880, 1900, 1910, and 1920 US Census, and can aid genealogists in their research.  Soundex Code for Heidecker is H326.  Other surnames sharing this Soundex Code: HATCHER | HEDGER | HEIDGER | HOUTZER |.


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Amorial bearings, symcbols and mottoes


Armorial Bearings, Mottoes & Symbols

In the Middle Ages heraldry came into use as a practical matter. It originated in the devices used to distinguish the armored warriors in tournament and war, and was also placed on seals as marks of identity. As far as records show, true heraldry began in the middle of the 12th century, and appeared almost simultaneously in several countries of Western Europe.  Heraldry spread to the German burgher class in the 13th century, and even some peasants used arms in the 14th century.  A German coat of arms is usually referred to by any of the following terms; Wappen, Familienwappen, Blasonierung, Heraldik, or Wappenschablonen.

Gallery of Images

Descriptions of the

Armorial Bearings

Motto(es) of

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More About Hearldic Bearings

Image gallery

Gallery of Images

Fig. 1

Fig. 2

Fig. 3

Fig. 4


Descriptions of the Armorial Bearings

The associated armorial bearings for this surname and close variant spellings are recorded in Burke’s General Armorie and Reitstap’s Armorial General.  The additional information, presented below, is offered with regard to the armorial bearings depicted above:

FIGURE 1: These arms show a blue shield containing a green pine branch with three pine cones.  The crest is made up of three rushes atop a green Lambrquin.  Granted in 1836 to a Heideck of Anhalt-Dessau a principality and later a duchy located in Germany.

FIGURE 2: This coat-of-arms features a gold and black shield crowned with a helmet.  The crest is of a woman wearing an apron fesse of gold and sable and holding two golden arrows between a gold and a sable elephant trunks.  Formerly these arma contained two helmets one having a gold and a sable elephant trunk, the other with a green pine cone. These arms were originally granted in 1844 to a Baron Heideck / Heidegger of Aargau one of the more northerly cantons of Switzerland.

FIGURE 3: A red shield containing a green parrot holding a golden horse-shoe in its beak. The crest shows a parrot.  Granted to a Heidegk of Swabia, a cultural, historic and linguistic region in southwestern Germany. Like many cultural regions of Europe, Swabia's borders are not clearly defined. However, today it is normally thought of as comprising the former German state of Württemberg (with the Prussian Hohenzollern Province) and the administrative region of Bavarian Swabia. 

FIGURE 4: Granted to a von Heideken an untitled nobleman of Sweden. A blue shield containing 6 gold stars topped with a helmet with mantling of gold and blue.  The crest features a golden sword between four ostrich feathers.


Motto(es) of this Surname

     A motto is a word or sentence usually written upon a scroll and generally placed below the shield, but sometimes, especially in Scotland, above the crest.    Many ancient mottoes were war-cries such as the Douglas motto of “Forward.”    Many mottoes refer to the name of the bearer, for example “cole regem” for Coleridge.   In general most mottoes convey a sentiment, hope, or determination, such as the Cotter motto “Dum spiro spero” where the meaning is “While I have breath I hope“.     Mottoes are often used by several successive generations, but may be changed at any time by the grantee. The languages most in use are Latin, French, and English.  Exceptions are seen in Scotland where they are often in the old Lowland dialect, and in Wales, often in the language of the principality.    

It is unusual to find a motto associated with the coat-of-arms of a noble German family.  As in this case no motto has been located that is associated with the Heidecker surname and its close variant spellings.  This does not necessarily mean that the Germanic culture is devoid of mottos.  For example, the national motto of Germany is “Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit”, meaning Unity and Justice and Freedom.  The German word for motto is “Wahlspruch.” 

     Some of the more well known German mottoes are as follows: Alte Wunden bluten leicht Old wounds readily bleed anew;    Blut und Eisen Blood and iron;  Das beste is gut genug The best is good enough;  Ein’ feste Burg is unser Gott Our God is a strong tower of defense;  Ewigkeit Eternity;  Für Gott und Iht All for God and her;  Gott is überall God is over all;  Gott mit uns God is with us;  Ich dien I serve;  Krieg War;  Mehr Licht! More light!;  Nichts zoviel Nothing in excess;  Prosit! Good luck!;    Vaterland Fatherland;  Vertrau’ auf Gott Put your trust in God;  Vorwärts! Forward!;   Zu dienen At your service.

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Heraldic bearings

More about Heraldic Bearings

The art of designing, displaying, describing, and recording arms is called heraldry. The use of coats of arms by countries, states, provinces, towns and villages is called civic heraldry.   A Coat of Arms is defined as a group of emblems and figures (heraldic bearings) usually arranged on and around a shield and serving as the special insignia of some person, family, or institution.  Except for a few cases, there is really no such thing as a standard "coat of arms" for a surname.  A coat of arms, more properly called an armorial achievement, armorial bearings or often just arms for short, is a design usually granted only to a single person not to an entire family or to a particular surname.  Coats of arms are inheritable property, and they generally descend to male lineal descendents of the original arms grantee.  The rules and traditions regarding Coats of Arms vary from country to country. Therefore a Coat of Arms for an English family would differ from that of a German family even when the surname is the same. 

Some of the more prominent elements incorporated into a  coat of arms are :

Crest - The word crest is often mistakenly applied to a coat of arms.  The crest was a later development arising from the love of pageantry.  Initially the crest consisted of charges painted onto a ridge on top of the helmet.

Wreath or TorseThe torse is a twist of cloth or wreath underneath and part of a crest. Always shown as six twists, the first tincture being the tincture of the field, the second the tincture of the metal, and so on.

Mantling – The mantling is a drapery tied to the helmet above the shield. It forms a backdrop for the shield.

Helm or Helmet - The helmet or helm is situated above the shield and bears the torse and crest. The style of helmet displayed varies according to rank and social status, and these styles developed over time, in step with the development of actual military helmets.

Shield or Arms - The basis of all coats of arms.  At their simplest, arms consist of a shield with a plain field on which appears a geometrical shape or object.  The items appearing on the shield are known as charges.

Motto - The motto was originally a war cry, but later mottoes often expressed some worthy sentiment. It may appear at the top or bottom of a family coat of arms.

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of a wide variety of arms, crests, and badges.  They may also feature additional heraldry resources as noted in the accompanying descriptions.

Ancestral locations



by Location


Researching the locations where our ancestors lived has provided us with valuable evidence needed to fill-in the gaps in our family trees.  It has also led us to many interesting facts that enhance the overall picture of each family group.

Locations of

Direct Ancestors

Locational Distribution

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Where In the World

are my Ancestors?


Locatiof Direct Ancestors

Locations of Our Direct Ancestors


The names of states and counties on the following list were derived from the known places where the Direct Ancestors in the “Ancestral Lineage” (see above) were born, married, and / or died.







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Locational distributionstors

Locational Distribution of This Surname

     Knowing the geographical areas where the surname you are researching is clustered and distributed is an indispensable tool in deciding where to focus your research.  We believe that the “Public Profiler” and “” websites will open you up to a wide range of solutions which implement current research in spatial analysis.  These sites provide an array of local spatial information tools useful to the genealogist, see links below.

          The information presented below shows where the Heidecker surname is distributed within the United States as well as in Germany, the country of origin of this family.      Statistics show that there are approximately 8.34 persons per million of population with this surname, within Germany, and 2.5 persons per million within the U.S.A.  Austria is found to be the country in the world where this surname is the most highly clustered having almost 20.24 persons per million of population.

United States of America


European Country of Origin

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greater detail for any of the following maps by clicking on the area, i.e state, county that you are interested in.

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display the absolute distribution of  names in a county, as well as the relative distribution of that name indicating how many persons there are in proportion to the population of a county.

Wjere are my ancestors Ancestors

Where in the World
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that will assist in discovering Ancestral Locations.  These web sites comprise only a small portion of what is available for researchers interested in learning more about where their ancestors lived.

Migration routes


Migrations of the
American Family

       Tracing our own family’s paths of migration can prove crucial in identifying previous generations and eventually, figuring out where and how they arrived in the “New World” as well as where they eventually settled.  Knowing the network of trails American pioneers traveled can help you guess where to start looking.  The trail map(s) provided below may assist you in understanding the routes that our direct ancestors of this family may have taken to find new homes and opportunities in the vast area now encompassed by the United States.

      During the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries hundreds of thousands of Europeans made the perilous ocean voyage to America.  For many it was an escape from economic hardship and religious persecution.  For most it was an opportunity to start over, own their own land, and make a better future for their descendents.  Immigration records show a number of people bearing the name of Heidecker, or one of its variants, as arriving in North America between the 17th and 20th centuries.    Most of these immigrants came from Germany, where many of them originated in the southwestern part of the country.  Some of the first settlers of this family who came to America were Veltin Heidecker who arrived in 1732, and Johan Georg Heidecker who came to Pennsylvania in 1742. 

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Source documents




The documents contained within this “Source Documents Archives” have been located during our research of this family, and used as evidence to prove many of the facts contained within the database of this family’s record.   We have source documents related to the following persons within our database with this surname.





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You are welcome to download any of the documents contained within this archive that does not cite a copyright.  Should you encounter a problem obtaining a copy you may get in touch with us via the contact information found at the end of this web-page.

     Most of these documents can be considered as primary or secondary evidence.  Primary evidence is usually defined as the best available to prove the fact in question, usually in an original document or record.  Secondary evidence is in essence all that evidence which is inferior in its origin to primary evidence. That does not mean secondary evidence is always in error, but there is a greater chance of error.  Examples of this type of evidence would be a copy of an original record, or oral testimony of a record’s contents.  Published genealogies and family histories are also secondary evidence.

     Classifying evidence as either primary or secondary does not tell anything about its accuracy or ultimate value.  This is especially true of secondary evidence.  Thus it is always a good idea to ask the following questions: (1) How far removed from the original is it, (when it is a copy)?; (2) What was the reason for the creation of the source which contains this evidence?; and (3) Who was responsible for creating this secondary evidence and what interest did they have in its accuracy?

SOURCE:  Greenwood, Val D., The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy, 2nd edition, Genealogical Publishing  Co., Baltimore, MD 21202, 1990, pgs. 62-63

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