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Origins of

the Surname

Variations of

the Surname

Armorial Bearings,

 Symbols and Mottoes

Locations of

the Surname

Internet Resources

Our Family History



Origins of the Surname

Origins of the Surname

An Introduction

to the Surname


of the Surname

History of

the Surname

More About


An Introduction to the Surname

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. 


Map of European Languages

Research into the record of this THON family line indicates that the variations, meanings and history of this surname are most likely linked to that area of Europe where German, and French linguistic traditions are commonly found. 

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Sources and Meanings of the Surname

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

Most modern Germanic and French 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).

Most of the modern English, Irish, Scottish, and Welsh family names throughout Great Britain have originated as a result of the following circumstances: patronym or matronym, names based on the name of one's father, mother or ancestor, (Johnson, Wilson). Each is a means of conveying lineage; occupation (i.e., Carpenter, Cooper, Brewer, Mason); habitational (Middleton, Sidney, or Ireland) or topographical (i.e. Hill, Brook, Forrest, Dale); nicknames (i.e., Moody Freeholder, Wise, Armstrong); status (i.e. Freeman, Bond, Knight); and acquired ornamental names that were simply made up.

The THON family surname is most likely of German origin from a reduced form of the personal name Ant(h)on or Anthony.  Anthony is described in various directories as being an aphetic form of the famous Roman clan name Antonius, of which Marcus Anthonius (83 - 30 B.C.) was the most famous holder. The origin of the name is not known. Suggestions have been that it derives from 'antistes', a word of status for a high priest or the overseer of a major temple. Whether this is so or not, it is logical. As the Romans held most of Northern Europe under their control for nearly five centuries until the year 412 A.D., it is hardly surprising that they have left many memories of their presence, not the least being 'names'. It is unclear when this surname was first recorded.   The name of Anthony gained popularity as a personal name in Christendom largely due to the cult of the Egyptian hermit St. Anthony (ad 251–356), who in his old age gathered a community of hermits around him, and for that reason is regarded by some as the founder of monasticism. It was further increased by the fame of St. Anthony of Padua (1195–1231), who long enjoyed a great popular cult and who is believed to help people find lost things.

Thon is also a Jewish (eastern Ashkenazic): metonymic occupational name for a potter from German Ton, Polish ton ‘clay’, ‘potter’s earth’, and a Norwegian: variant of Thoen.

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History of the Surname

History of the Surname

Most Germanic Surnames from Central Europe have their roots in the Germanic Middle Ages.  The process of forming family names in what is present day Germany began during Middle High German period in the history of the German language from the early 12th Century to the 16th century The nobility and wealthy land owners were the first to begin using surnames.  Merchants and townspeople then adopted the custom, as did the rural population.  This process took two or three centuries.  In most of the Germanic States of the Holy Roman Empire, the practice of using surnames was well established by the 1500s.

Surnames of the British Isles as we know them today were first assumed in Europe from the 11th to the 15th century. They were not in use in England or Scotland, before the Norman Conquest of 1066, and were first found in the Domesday Book of 1086. The employment in the use of a second name was a custom that was first introduced from the Normans who had adopted the custom just prior to this time.    Soon thereafter it became a mark of a generally higher socio-economic status and thus seen as disgraceful for a well-bred man to have only one name.  It was not until the middle of the 14th century that surnames became general practice among all people in the British Isles

The concept of French Surnames come from the Medieval French word 'surnom' translating as "above-or-over name," surnames or descriptive names trace their use back to 11th century France, when it first became necessary to add a second name to distinguish between individuals with the same given name. The custom of using surnames did not become common for several centuries, however.


The Thon surname was first found in Westphalia and the Lower Rhineland where the name emerged during the Middle Ages.  The earliest mention of this name is Heinz Ton who was recorded at Immenstaadt in 1423, and Johann Tonsing who was recorded in the area of Osnabrück in 1649.  The famous dictionary called 'Etymologisches Worterbuch der Deutschen Familliennamen' published in 1847 lists an Anna Thong of Kassel in 1528, whilst in church registers we found the recordings of Bernhard Thon at Corner, Sachsen-Coburg-Gotha, in 1627, whilst an example of the patronymic spelling is that of Christin Tonnesen who married Berndt van Elst at Cleves, on February 9th 1686.

Some Notable Persons or Places Having This Surname

Some of the best known persons or places bearing the THON name or its close variants are: Dickie Thon, Major League baseball player; Konstantin Thon, Russian architect; Olaf Thon, German footballer; Olav Thon, Norwegian businessman; Ozjasz Thon, Polish rabbi; and Jean-François Thonel, 5 e Marquis Orgeix is an actor , horseman and aviator  , born 1921 in the small town of Cap d'Ail in the Alps Maritimes.

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More About Surname Meanings & Origins

More About Surname Meanings & Origins


Many German names have their roots in the Germanic Middle Ages. The process of forming family names began early in the 12th Century and extended through the 16th century. All social classes and demographic strata aided in the development of names. 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.


Although the Domesday Book compiled by William the Conqueror required surnames, the use of them in the British Isles did not become fixed until the time period between 1250 and 1450.  The broad range of ethnic and linguistic roots for British surnames reflects the history of Britain as an oft-invaded land. These roots include, but are not limited to, Old English, Middle English, Old French, Old Norse, Irish, Gaelic, Celtic, Pictish, Welsh, Gaulish, Germanic, Latin, Greek and Hebrew.  Throughout the British Isles, there are basically five types of native surnames. Some surnames were derived from a man's occupation (Carpenter, Taylor, Brewer, Mason), a practice that was commonplace by the end of the 14th century.  Place names reflected a location of residence and were also commonly used (Hill, Brook, Forrest, Dale) as a basis for the surname, for reasons that can be easily understood.  Nicknames that stuck also became surnames.  About one-third of all surnames in the United Kingdom are patronymic in origin, and identified the first bearer of the name by his father (or grandfather in the case of some Irish names). When the coast of England was invaded by William The Conqueror in the year 1066, the Normans brought with them a store of French personal names, which soon, more or less, entirely replaced the traditional more varied Old English personal names, at least among the upper and middle classes. A century of so later, given names of the principal saints of the Christian church began to be used. It is from these two types of given name that the majority of the English patronymic surnames are derived and used to this day.  Acquired ornamental names were simply made up, and had no specific reflection on the first who bore the name. They simply sounded nice, or were made up as a means of identification, generally much later than most surnames were adopted.   Source:


Suffixes & Prefixes - While not in common use as in Italy or Sweden, some French surnames are formed by the addition of various prefixes and suffixes. A variety of French suffixes including -eau, -elet, -elin, -elle, and -elot, mean "little son of" and can be found attached to a given name to form a patronym. Prefixes of French surnames also have specific origins. The prefixes "de," "des," "du," and "le" each translate as "of" and may be found used in patronymic and geographical French surnames. Some French-Norman patronymic surnames will have the prefix "fritz," from the Old French for "son of" (Fitzgerald - son of Gerald). 

Alias Surnames or Dit Names - In some areas of France, a second surname may have been adopted in order to distinguish between different branches of the same family, especially when the families remained in the same town for generations. These alias surnames can often be found preceded by the word "dit." Sometimes an individual even adopted the dit name as the family name, and dropped the original surname. This practice was most common in France among soldiers and sailors.

Germanic Origins of French Names - As so many French surnames are derived from first names, it is important to know that many common French first names have Germanic origins, coming into fashion during German invasions into France. Therefore, having a name with Germanic origins does not necessarily mean that you have German ancestors!

Official Name Changes in France - Beginning in 1474, anyone who wished to change his name was required to get permission from the King. These official name changes can be found indexed in: Jérôme, archiviste. Dictionnaire des changements de noms de 1803 à 1956 (Dictionary of changed names from 1803 to 1956). Paris: Librairie Française, 1974.   Source: French Surname Meanings & Origins

Use this LINK to find the ethnic origin and meaning of last

names. Surname dictionary and

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genealogy helps include names of Irish, German, English, French, Italian, and Jewish descent.

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Variations of the Surname

Variations of
the Surname

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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. The complexity of researching records is compounded by the fact that in many cases an ancestors surname may have been misspelled.  This is especially true when searching census documents. 

Spelling variations of this family name include: Theng, Theun, Thones, Thonges, Tonsen, Tonnesen, Tonsing (German, Swiss, and Austrian), Thonsen, Thonason (Scandanavian), as well as Theunissen, Teunissen (Dutch), and many more, (as noted below). 

Spelling variations of this family name may be ascertained through the utilization of several systems developed over the years.  The most prominently known are Soundex, Metaphone, and the NameX systems.  Of the three we recommend NameX as the most accurate for family historians.

Click on the button to find the variants of this or any other surname by utilizing The Name Thesaurus a ground-breaking technology for finding Surname and Forename variants.

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This useful genealogy research tool has identified 385 million variants for 5,929,000 Surnames and 26 million variants for 1,246,000 Forenames, as well as gender identification for more than 220,000 Forenames.

NameX matched 76 spelling variations of the THON surname. The top 20 are:

Metaphone is a phonetic algorithm, first published in 1990, for indexing words by their English pronunciation.  It fundamentally improves on the Soundex algorithm by using information about variations and inconsistencies in English spelling and pronunciation to produce a more accurate encoding. Later a new version of the algorithm named Double Metaphone was created to take into account spelling peculiarities of a number of other languages. In 2009 a third version, called Metaphone 3, achieves an accuracy of approximately 99% for English words, non-English words familiar to Americans, and first names and family names commonly found in the U.S.  The Metaphone Code for THON is ON.  There are 175 other surnames sharing this code.


Match Score


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The Soundex 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.  The Soundex Code for THON is T500.  There are 2275 other surnames sharing this Code. 

If The Name Thesaurus doesn’t adequately address the name you are looking for check out the following link:

Top 10 Tips for Finding Alternative Surname Spellings & Variations

Searching for more Information about this and other surnames?

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Use LINK button to view our Surname Locator & Resources page.

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Locations of the Surname

Locations of
the Surname

Locational Distribution of this Surname

Historical Distribution of this Surname


Locational Distribution of This Surname

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” website will open up to you a wide range of solutions which implement current research in spatial analysis.  This site provides an array of local spatial information tools useful to the genealogist. 

The information presented herein shows where the THON surname is distributed within North America as well as in Europe the location of origin for this surname.      Statistics show that the country were this surname is the most highly clustered is Norway with approximately 132.9 persons per million of population.  The density of population in the within the United States is 5.45 persons per million of population.  The top region in the World where this surname is the most highly clustered is Oppland, Norway with 423.22 persons per million, and Oslo, Norway is the top city where this surname is found.

North America


THON - North America

THON - Europe

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Click on the LINK to the right to see more information about the World distribution of a surname.  You can

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

Looking for more information about the distribution of this surname in GERMANY?
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Looking for more information about the distribution of this surname in the UNITED KINGDOM?
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LINKS to more websites that compute distribution maps for any surname.

·        Database of Surnames in the Netherlands

·        Database of Surnames in Belgium

·        Names Distribution in France

·        Map of the surname: Austria

·        Distribution of Surnames in Spain

·        Map of the Surname: Switzerland

·        Distribution of Surnames in Italy

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Historical Distribution of this Surname

Historical Distribution of This Surname

The main value in historical surname distribution databases and maps is that they enable genealogists to pinpoint the predominant location of a surname. This can quickly narrow down your search for a BDM certificate.  Knowing where to look is half the battle to finding ancestry records; if you can narrow down the search field it can save you a lot of time and trouble.  The core of historical surname distribution is that most people stayed within a fairly close locale.  Concentrations of surnames are clearly visible on Surname Distribution Maps, and name distribution tables (along with an atlas) make it quite likely that the origin of that name is from the area of its highest concentration.

The following “historical locations” for the THON surname and some of its close variant spellings have been primarily extracted from either Burke’s The general armory of England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales, or Rietstap’s Armorial General.   Both books were first published in the 1860’s and revised over the next two decades.  The information therein is relevant to that period as well as earlier times as far back as 1500.   Most of the locations cited by Riestap are on the continent of Europe such as Germany, France, Switzerland, etc.       






Franche-Comté, Normandy, Yverdon, Bavaria, Luxemburg,




Pays de Liége




















Neufchâfel (see below, description of arms)



(2) = the frequency with which this place occurs.

We recommend that you utilize our Tools for Finding Ancestral LocationsIf you have an elementary knowledge of heraldry you may wish to use this practice to trace your founding forefather.  For more information about this approach to seeking out your ancestral locations see our Using Heraldry as a Family History Research Tool.  

LINKS to various websites that compute surname distribution maps within an historical context.

·        Great Britain Family Names - 1881 Census

·        England and Wales: 1891 Census

·        Scotland: 1891 Census

·        Distribution of surnames in Ireland in 1890

·        Family Name Distribution in Germany: 1942

·        Nom de famille en France: 1891-1915; 1916-40; 1941-65; 1966-90

·        United States: 1920

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Armorial Bearings, Mottoes & Symbols

Armorial Bearings, Mottoes & Symbols


An Introduction to

 European Heraldry

Gallery of Images

Descriptions of the

Armorial Bearings

Motto(es) Associated

 With This Surname

Heraldry as a Family

History Research Tool

More About

Armorial Bearings


An Introduction To European Heraldry

An Introduction to European Heraldry

The seeds of heraldic structure in personal identification can be detected in the account in a contemporary chronicle of Henry I of England, on the occasion of his knighting his son-in-law Geoffrey V, Count of Anjou, in 1127. He placed to hang around his neck a shield painted with golden lions. The funerary enamel of Geoffrey (died 1151), dressed in blue and gold and bearing his blue shield emblazoned with gold lions, is the first recorded depiction of a coat of arms.

       By the middle of the 12th century, coats of arms were being inherited by the children of armigers (persons entitled to use a coat of arms) across Europe. Between 1135 and 1155, seals representing the generalized figure of the owner attest to the general adoption of heraldic devices in England, France, Germany, Spain, and Italy.  By the end of the century, heraldry appears as the sole device on seals.  In England, the practice of using marks of cadency arose to distinguish one son from another: the conventions became standardized in about 1500, and are traditionally supposed to have been devised by John Writhe.

     In the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance, heraldry became a highly developed discipline, regulated by professional officers of arms. As its use in jousting became obsolete, coats of arms remained popular for visually identifying a person in other ways – impressed in sealing wax on documents, carved on family tombs, and flown as a banner on country homes. The first work of heraldic jurisprudence, De Insigniis et Armis, was written in the 1350s by Bartolus de Saxoferrato, a professor of law at the University of Padua.

    In the Germanic areas of Central 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.

     In the British Isles the College of Arms, (founded in 1483), is the Royal corporation of heralds who record proved pedigrees and grant armorial bearings.  In Scottish heraldry, the Lord Lyon King of Arms in the Act of 1672 is empowered to grant arms to "vertuous [virtuous] and well deserving persons."

     Although heraldry in France and the lowlands of Belguim and Holland had a considerable history, like England, existing from the eleventh century, such formality has largely died out in these locations. The role of the herald (héraut) in France declined in the seventeenth century.  Many of the terms in international heraldry come from French.

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Gallery of Images

Gallery of Images 

Our galleries contain full-sized images of oats-of rms that pertain to the surnames of our direct ancestral lineage.   As most surnames have many variant spellings we suggest that you view the galleries of our other two sub-sites as they make have a surname that is similar or has a slightly different spelling that the one you are researching

Use this LINK to find images of many unique coat-of-arms in a wide

MMPS Coat-of-Arms Images

variety of surnames many of them not found anywhere else on the internet.

Descriptions of the Armorial Bearings

Descriptions of the Arms

Descriptions of the Armorial Bearings

Heraldry symbols such as the colors, lines and shapes found on coats-of-arms are generally referred to as charges.  Although there is some debate over whether or not the charges have any universal symbolism many persons do believe they may represent an idea or skill of the person who originally had the armorial bearings created.  If this assumption has any validity charges may provide clues to early family history of that person.  The associated armorial bearings for this surname and close variant spellings are recorded in Burke’s General Armoire and Rietstap’s Armorial General.  The additional information, presented below, is offered with regard to the armorial bearings depicted above.   

When reading the following descriptions of these armorial bearings you may come across a term that you would like to know more about. 

Glossary of Heraldry Terms2

As such we recommend you utilize this LINK BUTTON to locate additional information within the classic resource book originally published by James Parker and Company in 1894.

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Thon de la Franche-Comté

Thon de la Franche-Comte

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About the Proprietor:  These arms have been attributed to a Thon of the Franche-Comté.

Blazoning the Arms:  A red shield with a white fess and a white greyhound in the base.

Interpreting the Arms: The greyhound is a symbol of courage, vigilance, and loyalty.  The fesse represents a military belt or girdle of honor and represents readiness to serve the public.

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Thon de le Theil

Thon de le Theil

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About the Proprietor:  Rietstap has attributed these arms to a Thon of the Theil in Luxembourg.  It is most probable that the Theil is not a populated place but rather a locale such as a forest, valley, etc.

Blazoning the Arms: The shield is blue with three gold bends.  In the upper left corner is a white canton holding a sprig of three red leaves.

Interpreting the Arms: The canton hold the sprig of three leaves is the charge on these arms that may speak of the owner.  Unfortunately the Reitstap’s description does not state the type of leaf.  Examples of the heraldic meaning of a linden leaf  is life, vitality, energy, or resurrection.   The bends represent the scarf or shield suspender of a knight commander and signifies defense or protection

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Thon of Normandy and Yverdon

Thon of Normandy

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About the Proprietor:  These arms have been ascribed to a Thon of Normandy France, and Yverdon, Switzerland.  This person is most likely Jacob Thon 1678 - 1724, doctor of law and Lieutenant of Justice of Yverdon,  He married Julie Cornillat of Nyon, daughter of M. Cornillar, Seigneur  of Dullit.  Before his return to Switzerland from Normandy he fought in the armies of the King William III of England, and in those of Louis XIV (a company of the Swiss Guards).

Blazoning the Arms: The blue shield contains three golden crescents, two at the top back-to-back and on the bottom the horns of the crescent are down.

Interpreting the Arms:  The crescent stands for one who has been ‘enlightened and honored by the gracious aspect of his sovereign’. It is also borne as a symbol of the hope of greater glory.  The heraldic crescent has a very deep base and curving horns that quickly sharpen to point close together.  The reversed crescent is a crescent with the horns turned down. The term increscent indicates a crescent with the horns facing the observer’s left, and decrescent is a crescent facing the observer’s right. Knights returning from the crusades introduced the crescent, the badge of Islam, into the language of heraldry.  This may be why Jacob Thon utilized the crescent as the only charge on his arms.

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Thonar du Pays de Liége

Thonar du Pays de Liége

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About the Proprietor:  This coat-of-arms most likely belonged to Charles-Ignace Thonar, the Lord of Bassine, a place in the historical Principality of Pays de Liége. His father Nicholas Thonar was a Legal Adviser, and Special Deputy of State for Liége.

Blazoning the Arms: The black shield contains a gold cross with four gold stars between.  The crest is a gold star.

Interpreting the Arms: The star symbolizes honour, achievement and hope.  In British heraldry stars have five points unless another number is specified. In France, a star (mullet) has no less than six points as seen on these armorial bearings. The color gold signifies generosity and elevation of the mind.

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Thon-Dittmer of Bavaria

Thon-Dittmer of Bavaria

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About the Proprietor: These armorial bearings were originally bestowed upon Georg Friedrich of Dittmer in 1800.   Around 1760 Dittmer married the daughter of a Bavarian merchant named Thon.  As a result of his business and political successes he became a Baron of the Holy Roman Empire.  His grandson Baron Gottlieb Friedrich von Thon-Dittmer,1802-1853 was from 1836 to 1848 the mayor of Regensburg, and in 1848 the  Minister of the Interior for the Kingdom of Bavaria

Blazoning the Arms: The shield is divided quarterly. The 1st and 4th quarters are black each holding a silver anchor.  The 2nd and 3rd quarters are white each containing a green palm tree on a green mound.  Located in the center, over all, is a gold escutcheon enclosing two black hammers in saltire on a green mound.  The crest is made up of two crowned helmets.  The first helmet is topped with a gold and black lambrequin and two proboscides cut alternately gold and black.  The second helmet is topped with the figure of a man (issuant) dressed in part gold and black, His arms outstretched and raised holding in its dexter hand an anchor and in his sinister hand a green palm.  

Interpreting the Arms: This interesting coat-of-arms combines the elements of Thon and Dittmer.  The palm tree symbolizes righteousness and resurrection; victory; creative power and peace.  The anchor signifies hope and religious steadfastness.  The most interesting element within the arms is the escutcheon in the middle of the shield which appears to be holding tools of a tradesman.  This may speak of Dittmer’s apprenticeship as a young man c. 1750.

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Thondörffer of Nuremberg

Thondörffer of Nuremberg

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About the Proprietor: This coat-of-arms has been recognized as belonging to a Thondörffer of Nuremberg, Germany.

Blazoning the Arms: The shield is composed of six bendys red and white.  The crest is a flight of wings red and white.

Interpreting the Arms:  The bend is a broad, diagonal band across the shield representing either a scarf worn like a sash, or the shield suspender of a knight or military commander.  A charge half the width of a bend, as is the case with these arms, is termed a bendlet, and if six or eight of these pieces occurs on a shield it is termed ‘bendy’.  The bend signifies defense or protection, and is a bearing of high honor. Unless it is specified otherwise the bend is assumed to go from the upper right corner of a shield to the lower left.

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Thone of Liége

Thone of Liége

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About the Proprietor:  This coat-of-arms was bestowed upon a Thone from the city of Liège.

Blazoning the Arms: The shield shows a gold field holding three red hunting horns. The crest is the same horn as on the shield.

Interpreting the Arms: The utilization of the hunting horn as the sole charge upon these armorial bearing indicates that the owner is a person who is fond of the chase, of high pursuits.

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Thonel d'Orgeix

Thonel d'Orgeix

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About the Proprietor: These armorial bearings were granted to Jean-François Joseph de Thonel d'Orgeix of the County of Foix located within the historic French region of Languedoc.  Thonel held the titles of Marquis d'Orgeix, Master of Forgers, and Knight in the National Order of the Legion of Honour.  This Thonel Family gained prominence in the mining industry dating back to 1555.

Blazoning the Arms: The blue shield is charged with two silver towers of stone, with black windows, and topped with three crenellated turrets.  Between the towers are three golden ears of wheat laid in rows.  

Interpreting the Arms: The tower is very similar to a castle in that it was often granted to one who had faithfully held a castle for his sovereign, or who had captured one by force or stratagem. It is an emblem of grandeur and society. It is also a symbol of defense and of a steadfast individual.

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Thonen of Flanders

Thonen of Flanders

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About the Proprietor: These interesting arms were bestowed upon a Thonen of Flanders. 

Blazoning the Arms: The shield is partitioned quarterly.  The 1st and 4th are red and contain three small gold houses each. The 2nd and 3rd quarters are gold each with a black lion with red tongue.

Interpreting the Arms: The charge as seen in the 2nd and 3rd quarters is the “Flemish Lion” which was originally derives from the arms of the Counts of Flanders.

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Thoney of Neufchâtel

Thoney of Neufchâtel

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About the Proprietor: Rietstap attributes these armorial bearing to a Thoney of Neufchâtel.  This location may apply to any of the following  places: Canton of Neuchâtel, Neufchâtel-Hardelot, a French commune in Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Neufchâtel-sur-Aisne, a French commune in Picardy, or Neufchâtel-en-Bray, a French commune in Normandy

Blazoning the Arms: The blue shield contains a white chevron between three white escallop shells. Within the gold chief is a black eagle (displayed).  The crest features the same black eagle.  

Interpreting the Arms: The escallop is one of the most widely used heraldic symbols in all countries. Before the days of heraldry the symbol was the emblem of St. James, the patron saint of pilgrims and consequently the escallop was introduced into heraldry to signify a soldier who had make long journeys or voyages to far countries, borne considerable naval command, or gained great victories.  It is an emblem of safe travel and is found on the shields of many families during the time of the crusades. Because its shells, once separated, can never be rejoined, the escallop is also an emblem of fidelity.

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Thonn of Bavaria

Thonn of Bavaria

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About the Proprietor: T his coat-of-arms belonged to a Thonn of Bavaria.

Blazoning the Arms: The shield is divided quarterly. The 1st and 4th quarters are blue with a gold bend.  The 2nd and 3rd quarters are partitioned with a half red eagle on a field of silver on the left and bands of black with separated by a silver band on the right.  The Crest has two helmets over the 1st are two proboscides the right is blue with a gold band and a gold with a blue band. Topping the other helmet arms of the 2nd and 3rd quarters flanked by wings.

Interpreting the Arms: It is obvious that these armorial bearing was developed to represent the union of two families. It appears that the arms of one family was a blue shield with a gold bend.  The partitioned shield with the eagle and silver bands is believed to represent the other family arms.  The original description refers to these as the “ancient arms”.   The eagle in the “ancient arms”  symbolizes a man of action, occupied with high and weighty affairs. The wings signify protection, and the gripping talons symbolize ruin to evildoers. The eagle is believed to represent a noble nature, strength & bravery. The eagle is also associated with the sun. As a Christian symbol, the eagle represents salvation, redemption and resurrection.  

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Thonys of Brussels

Thonys of Brussels

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About the Proprietor: These arms may have belonged to Anton Thonys who was the Mayor of Brussels in 1470 or a descendent.

Blazoning the Arms: Sable five  six pointed stars (6) arranged in rows of gold cross

Interpreting the Arms:  These rather simply designed arms employ only two colors.  Gold signifies the qualities of generosity and elevation of the mind, while black constancy or grief.  The five golden stars, also known as mullets, have six points which is common in French heraldry.  In England, mullets have five points unless another number is specified.  Stars symbolize  honor, achievement and hope.  In some cases, a star may represent a falling star and denote a divine quality bestowed from above, whereby men ‘shine in virtue like bright stars on the earth’. 

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Mottoes of this Surname

Motto(es) Associated With This Surname

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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 of the European continent especially a German family.  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.


French phrases adopted as mottos, have a certain air of chivalry and perhaps a distinctly feudal sense of duty and allegiance. French mottos are more indicative of the warrior culture of the Middle Ages. Some of these phrases, however, are translations of better known Latin mottos, such as Toujours fidèle for Semper fidelis. Some of these phrases are often found in Old French spelling.  Examples of some well known French mottoes are as follows: Aimez loyaulté - Love loyalty;  Boutez en avant - Push forward;  C’est la seule vertu qui donne la noblesse - Virtue alone confers nobility;  Droit à chacun - To each his right;  En Dieu est ma foy - In God is my faith;  Foy pour devoir - Faith for duty;  Garde la foy - Keep the faith;  Inébranlable - Not to be shaken;  J’ai bonne cause - I have good reason;  Loyauté sans tache - Loyalty without defect;  Maintien le droit - Support the right;  Ni dessus, ni dessous - Neither above nor below;  Oublier ne puis - I cannot forget;  Parle bien ou parle rien - Speak well or say nothing;  Rien sans Dieu - Nothing without God;  Suivez raison - Follow reason;  Tachez surpasser en vertue - Strive to surpass in virtue;  Un Dieu, un roy, un foy - One God, one king, one faith;  Veilliez et ne craignez pas - Watch and fear not.

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Heraldry as a Family History Research Tool

Using Heraldry as a Family History  Research Tool

Wondering whether you are descended of the nobility*?  Are you aware of an ancestor who held a prominent political position or had a title such as Sir, or Esquire?  If so you just might be descended from royalty.   If you are of European descent, you are probably a descendant of Charlemagne.  Once you are able to prove your line of descent from him, you will then find thousands of links to other royalty in your list of relatives.  It is rare indeed that the genealogy of a person of European descent, when traceable, doesn’t hit nobility somewhere.  And once it hits one European noble, whether you like it or not, hundreds of new names will become a part of your family.

*The nobility is a class of people who had special political and social status. Nobility is inherited or granted by the Crown as a reward to people who perform a heroic deed, achieve greatness in some endeavor, or hold a prominent government position.


    If you have an elementary knowledge of heraldry you may wish to use this practice to trace your founding forefather.  If you know the geographical place (country, county, city) where the family coat-of-arms was first identified, you may well search its history for the family name in question in order to find your direct ancestor.  Remember that most noble European family pedigrees have been thoroughly researched and published.   By putting together the family surname with the known location you may find a treasure trove of valuable information about your ancestors.  Upon pursing your research you should be aware of the possibility of variant spellings of the surname.  See Variations of the Surname for more information about variant spellings of the surname.


Many family historians who have not connected with a noble ancestor may just want to know what their family coat-of-arms looks like.  If this is the situation you must know that except for a few cases, there is really no such thing as a standard "coat of arms" for a surname.  A coat of arms 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.  As a result you are advised to seek out a coat-of-arms for the locale where your ancestor resided.

For example: we have an Arnold ancestor who is known to have emigrated to America from the town of Erlangen, in Bavaria, Germany.  Current research shows Erlangen is located in the area of Bavaria known as Middle Franconia.  Upon review of the historic locations for Arnold as noted in one source of armorial bearings we find places in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, The Netherlands and others.   One coat-of-arms is listed as belonging to an Arnold of Franconia, Bavaria.  As such we may conclude that this is the coat-of-arms having some relevance to our ancestor.  He may well be a blood relative of the aforementioned noble Arnold.   He or his ancestor may have been employed by or a serf of the noble Arnold family of that locale.  In some cases the name of the noble family becomes the name of the locale resulting in the ancestor appropriating it a as surname, see Sources and Meanings of the Surname to ascertain whether the surname you are interested in is a locational name.

Some Resources for Locating Nobility

·     Austria-Hungary - untitled nobility

·     Austrian nobility

·     Baltic nobility

·     Bavarian noble families

·     Belgium noble families

·     Croatian nobility

·     Dutch noble families

·     Dutch Noble Family Names, 1814 to Present

·     France – House of Bourbon

·     French nobility – present remaining families

·     Holy Roman Empire – German nobility

·     Holy Roman Empire - nobility (1)

·     Holy Roman Empire – nobility (2)

·     Holy Roman Empire - noble families

·     Hungarian noble families

·     Lithuanian nobility

·     Medieval European Nobility

·     Normandy nobility

·     Norway Aristocracy

·     Polish nobility coats of arms

·     Polish noble families – Barons

·     Polish noble families - Counts

·     Polish noble families - Marquess

·     Scottish nobility

·     Swedish noble families

·     Swiss nobility

If you are interested in the armorial bearings of a particular surname we strongly advise that you utilize the resources provided within this area of our web page.  If you have any questions or need any assistance with regard to using heraldry as a means to further or widen your family history research you are welcome to contact us, see About This Webpage.

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More About Heraldic bearings

More About Armorial 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 Torse – The 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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Searching for more information about heraldry? Click on the button at the  right to look at our webpage featuring links   to   websites   with  

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

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·             Our Surname Locator And Resources web page contains the following: (1) links that will take you to an updated listing of all surnames as posted in our three databases at the Rootsweb WorldConnect Project; (2) the Surname List Finder a tool that finds sound-alike matches for a given surname from among RootsWeb's thousands of surname lists; (3) the Soundex Converter that can be used to find the soundex code for a surname, plus other surnames/spellings sharing the same soundex code;  (4) Surname Message Boards the world's largest online genealogy community with over 17 Million posts on more than 161,000 boards; (5) Surname Mailing Lists of all surnames having mailing lists at RootsWeb, as well as topics that include (6) Surname Heraldry, and  (7) Mapping a Surname. 

·              Your genealogy research of this surname can be facilitated by use of Surname Web. This website links to the majority of the surname data on the web, as well as to individual family trees, origin and surname meaning if known, and many other related genealogy resources. 

·              Surname Finder provides easy access to free and commercial resources for 1,731,359 surnames. On each surname specific "finder" page, you can search a variety of online databases all pre-programmed with your surname.

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Family History

Family History

     Our Thon family lineage dates back to the birth of our 10th great-grandfather Jean Thon around 1595.  Jean was born in the village of Fouday which is located in the Alsace region of France.  It is most probable that Jean Thon lived his entire life at this location. 

     Marie Thon, daughter of the aforementioned Jean Thon was born at Fouday, circa 1620. She married Jean Neuvillers of the nearby community of Bellefosse.  To this union at least five known off-spring were born between 1653 and 1663.  Our lineage continues through Marie’s daughter Margueritte Neuvillers born at Bellefosse in 1663.  Marie (Thon) Neuvillers passed away at Bellefosse on 21 May 1679.

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Ancestral Lineage

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Additional information about the persons in our database  as   well  as   a   complete  listing   of

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Generation 1

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JEAN1 THON was born about 1595 in Fouday, Molshiem, Bas-Rhin, France.


Jean Thon had the following child:


                  i. MARIE2 THON was born about 1620 in Fouday, Molshiem, Bas-Rhin, France. She died on 21 May 1679 in Bellefosse, Molsheim, Bas-Rhin, France. She married Jean Neuvillers, son of Joseph Neuvillers and Anne Ringuelsbach about 1652 in Waldersbach, Molshiem, Bas-Rhin, France. He was born in 1625 in Canton Berne, Switzerland. He died about 1707 in Bellefosse, Molsheim, Bas-Rhin, France.

Generation 2

MARIE2 THON (Jean1) was born about 1620 in Fouday, Molshiem, Bas-Rhin, France. She died on 21 May 1679 in Bellefosse, Molsheim, Bas-Rhin, France. She married Jean Neuvillers, son of Joseph Neuvillers and Anne Ringuelsbach about 1652 in Waldersbach, Molshiem, Bas-Rhin, France. He was born in 1625 in Canton Berne, Switzerland. He died about 1707 in Bellefosse, Molsheim, Bas-Rhin, France.


Jean Neuvillers and Marie Thon had the following children:


i.        DIMANCHETTE "MOUGEATTE"3 NEUVILLERS was born in 1653 in Bellefosse, Molsheim, Bas-Rhin, France. She died on 19 Nov 1704 in Belmont, Molshiem, Bas-Rhin, France. She married Claude Claude on 14 May 1679 in Belmont, Molsheim, Bas-Rhin, France.


ii.      CATHERINE NEUVILLERS was born on 19 Aug 1655 in Bellefosse, Molsheim, Bas-Rhin, France. She died on 03 Jan 1721 in Haute Goutte, France. She married Balthazar Kommer before 1690.


iii.     JEANNE NEUVILLERS was born on 08 Sep 1657 in Bellefosse, Molsheim, Bas-Rhin, France. She died on 03 Oct 1710 in Bellefosse, Molsheim, Bas-Rhin, France. She married Christophe Banzet on 31 May 1681.


iv.     MARIE NEUVILLERS was born on 14 Jul 1661 in Bellefosse, Molsheim, Bas-Rhin, France. She died on 24 Dec 1712 in Bellefosse, Molsheim, Bas-Rhin, France. She married Pierre Kommer on 31 May 1692.


v.       MARGUERITTE NEUVILLERS was born in 1663 in Bellefosse, Molsheim, Bas-Rhin, France. She died on 18 Mar 1708 in Belmont, Molsheim, Bas-Rhin, France. She married JOHANN WERLI (AKA. JEAN VERLY). He was born in 1655 in Wahlern, Schwarzenburg, Berne, Switzerland. He died on 02 Jan 1721 in Belmont, Molsheim, Bas-Rhin, France.

Source Citations

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The WorldConnect Project continues to grow, as it now contains several hundred million records thus it offers researchers the single largest collection of family trees on the Internet.

Use this free genealogy site to help you get the best genealogy searches from Google™ by using your family tree, for your research. It will create a series of different searches using tips or "tricks"

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that will likely improve your results. The different searches will give you many different ways of using Google and the Internet to find ancestry information about this or any other Surname. 

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Resources 22

Source documents



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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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     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

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.

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Migration routes

Migrations of the
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       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 THON, or one of its variants, as arriving in North America between the 17th and 20th centuries.  Some of these immigrants were: Ferdinant Thon who landed at New York in 1782; Charles Thon, a native of Switzerland, who arrived at New York in 1880; and Mary Thon who came to Boston aboard the ship “Two Friends” in 1821.

Use the following links to find more early immigrants with this surname:

$ Search Immigration Records; or Free Ship’s Passenger lists at

The Development of an Historical Migration Route

It is understood that in many if not all cases we do not know exactly what routes our ancestors took as they migrated throughout the United States.   As such certain assumptions have been utilized to re-create the migration path presented above.  With regard to 18th and 19th century land routes we assume that they travelled along few trails and roads that were in existence at the time.  Research shows that a great many of these old paths and trails are today designated as U.S. Highway Routes.  For example, a major east-west route of migration known as the National Road is now U.S. Route 40, and a primary north-south migration route of the 18th century followed the Great Indian War and Trading Path is now U.S. Route 11.  In some situations the re-created migration route may travel along state routes that connect or run through the seat of a county as that populated place is probably the oldest settlement in the area. The use of water as a migration route is also likely.  For example, during the late 18th and early 19th centuries many families travelled west on the Ohio River as they moved on the new lands in Missouri or the Old Northwest Territory.  As such when applicable water routes have been included as the possible migration route.   

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Ancestral locations



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 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.






Molsheim (Bellefosse, Fouday)




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Resources which enhance our knowledge of the places inhabited by our ancestors are almost as important as their names. The LINK to the right will take you to Maps, Gazetteers,   and  other  helpful   resources 

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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.

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During our research we have collected images and photographs that are of general interest to a particular family.  Some of them are presented on this website because we believe they tend to provide the reader with additional information which may aid in the understanding of our ancestors past lives.  We have images related to the following persons within our database with this surname.

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About this webpage

About This Webpage



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