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Thread: Where Do These Family Names Come From?

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    Where Do These Family Names Come From?

    I have taken an interest in surname entymology as a part of my genealogical research. Does anyone have some information/knowledge of the origin of 1 or more of these surnames I'm researching? If so, your feedback would be very much appreciated.

    The names are
    Wessel,
    Fuchs,
    Heynck,
    and Oppolzer.

    Most of what I'm searching to determine is: Where/when did these family names originate?, Are they Germanic?

    Then my question will be answered in full.


    Any sort of feedback would be helpful.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Diamond Saw View Post
    I have taken an interest in surname entymology as a part of my genealogical research. Does anyone have some information/knowledge of the origin of 1 or more of these surnames I'm researching? If so, your feedback would be very much appreciated.

    The names are
    Wessel,
    Fuchs,
    Heynck,
    and Oppolzer.

    Most of what I'm searching to determine is: Where/when did these family names originate?, Are they Germanic?

    Then my question will be answered in full.


    Any sort of feedback would be helpful.
    All are German although Wessel seems to be found everywhere from Germany to Scandinavia to England. All are hence Germanic.

    Wessel: "It is either a topographical name from residence near a "halh" to the west of a village, or it is locational name from places called Westhall or possibly Westhill, which derive their name from the words "west" and "halh", the latter describing a civic meeting place or law-court or a west hill, the hill to the west of a village."

    Fuchs: "Fox. From the Middle High German "vuhs" meaning fox. Sometimes used to describe someone with red hair, or someone considered crafty or clever - characteristics attributed to the fox. FOX is the English version of this surname. "

    Can't find Heynck.

    "Oppolzer is a Germanised surname of Slavic origin"

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    Heynk could be an abbrevation of Heinrich, like Hank.
    Looks like a Dutch form.

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    They appear to be German or Dutch. Some German & Dutch surnames acquired spellings that are unique to America. Same with some English names.

    Fuchs is pronounced "Fox". I got in trouble once at a cemetary as a boy, when I was trying to figure out how to pronounce "Fuchs" (it was on a gravemarker) & blurted it outloud using the English rules of pronounciation.

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    Heynck comes from the Dutch name "Henk" (pronounced as Hank). Wessel is also a Dutch name.

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    I can't help you on the etymology of Heynck or Wessel, Fuchs is too obvious. I will look up Oppolzer for you within the week, as I have a vague idea which literature to consult.

    In the meantime I have provided the rough areas where these names can be found.

    Fuchs is a common name here, most common in the easternmost districts of the Tyrol (most "per million" is I believe in district Kitzbühel [KB]). There are also strong pockets in Styria and Western Salzburg. In the FR Germany it is also most common in Bavaria, notably Upper Bavaria and Lower Bavaria; basically it is a typical Mittelbairisch surname. It is relatively common (but not as common) anywhere within the High German (i.e. Upper and Middle German) area, less so in the Lower German area.

    Heynck - and its cognates such as Heynckes (football coach Jupp Heynckes) and Heineke - is a typical name for North-Western Germany, that being basically the Northernmost parts of Northrhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony. The variant Heinicke is typically found in the Thuringia/Saxony/Saxony-Anhalt border region. This appears to be a typical Saxon surname, with virtually no occurence in the Upper German dialect area. Cognate with Dutch names are possible, as has been suggested, as per Lower Saxon/Lower Franconian dialect continuum.

    Oppolzer - this is a typical Eastern Austrian name. There is a small diaspora throughout Germany, but within Austria, where it is more common than in all of Germany, it is essentially found no more Western than Upper Austria. East Middle Bavarian surname, origin unclear but perhaps, as suggested, from an originally Slavic root --- however then one which was Germanised before surnames became standard (i.e. late Middle Ages), perhaps dating to the Slavic marches between the 6th-9th century and before the advent of March Ostarrîchi; it was also relatively common with Bohemian Germans, explaining the diaspora throughout Germany.

    Wessel - very common name found throughout Germany, but most notably in the North. It is relatively rare in the South. Other than this, it has been explained well enough already.
    -In kalte Schatten versunken... /Germaniens Volk erstarrt / Gefroren von Lügen / In denen die Welt verharrt-
    -Die alte Seele trauernd und verlassen / Verblassend in einer erklärbaren Welt / Schwebend in einem Dunst der Wehmut / Ein Schrei der nur unmerklich gellt-
    -Auch ich verspüre Demut / Vor dem alten Geiste der Ahnen / Wird es mir vergönnt sein / Gen Walhalla aufzufahren?-

    (Heimdalls Wacht, In kalte Schatten versunken, stanzas 4-6)

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    One of my family names is Heidenreich and from what I have read it means Ruler over or of Heathens. Some references show the name going back to the Crusades. Any thoughts?

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    More on Fuchs --- Entry from Finsterwalder, K. (1978): Tiroler Namenkunde, P. 285:

    Fuchs - [...] - E: In Buchenstein (Dolomiten) wird 1295 ein Hofbesitzer "...dictus caput Foxutum", der gleiche ein andermal "caput foscum" (Adj. fuscus "dunkel") erwähnt, also nach der Haarfarbe benannt.

    That Latin fuscus be reinterpreted as "fuchsert" by the Germanic ear, and be linked by folk etymology to red hair, rather than dark hair, seems a relatively plausible conclusion, also considering that the name is most common in previously Roman-controlled areas (Southern Germany/Austria, Netherlands, England).
    -In kalte Schatten versunken... /Germaniens Volk erstarrt / Gefroren von Lügen / In denen die Welt verharrt-
    -Die alte Seele trauernd und verlassen / Verblassend in einer erklärbaren Welt / Schwebend in einem Dunst der Wehmut / Ein Schrei der nur unmerklich gellt-
    -Auch ich verspüre Demut / Vor dem alten Geiste der Ahnen / Wird es mir vergönnt sein / Gen Walhalla aufzufahren?-

    (Heimdalls Wacht, In kalte Schatten versunken, stanzas 4-6)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Erich S View Post
    One of my family names is Heidenreich and from what I have read it means Ruler over or of Heathens. Some references show the name going back to the Crusades. Any thoughts?
    Heidenreich-an interesting family name


    You might find this webpage to be helpful. It gives an in detail story of the Heidenreich family.

    http://www.heydenrych.co.za/bespreki...tml?1198687966

    Here is the information summarized.

    The name Heidenreich, is German in origin. You are correct that it means that, because broken down, the first part "heiden", means "heathen", and the latter part "reich", refers to "power" or "rule". Some German etymologists believe that it originates from "Hetterich", derived from the Germanic "Haduric". Broken down, "hadu", means "battle", and "ric" means rule.
    The differences in spelling (Heidenreich vs. Heydenrych), is most likely a variation of the same name, although this website states that the version Heydenrych indicates a descentant of Heidenreich.


    True, the name Heidenreich dates back to the Crusades of the 11th 12th and 13th century, and it was very popular at the time, but it dates back even further to the time of Charlemagne's reign and some references are even beyond that before the establishment of Österreich.

    According to Jim Craig Heydenrych, author for http://www.heydenrych.co.za/bespreki...ges/6/21.html?
    1198687966,

    [QUOTE]"The name has been recorded in Germany since the eighth century. As a surname it is found recorded in the fourteenth century, when one Petrus Heydenrych was documented in Erfurt in 1399". [QUOTE]


    The first instances of the Heydenrych were found in a land called Noricum an ancient Celtic kingdom occupied by Romans, which is in the land known today as Austria.

    The Heydenrych's of the 8th centrury were contemporaries of Charlemagne, King of the Franks, who reigned from 768 to his death in 814. They were living in Noricum when Charlemagne defeated the Avars and paved the way for a Germanic Christian empire for the region, which became known as "Österreich", meaning "Eastern realm", which English speaking countries call Austria.


    One notable holder of the name (or one of its variaitions), is Reinhard Heydrich, high ranked German Nazi official and chief deputy of the Gestapo. It is quite likely that your name Heidenreich may also be where Heydrich's derives from. Who knows? You mignt even find out you're related to him!

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    Thank you wallflower for the additional information and link. The Heidenreich name was my mothers and her ancestry was Bavarian which fits. Best, Erich

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