Joseph Fibel <jfibel@...>
Although I respect Michael Bernet's encyclopaedic knowledge of German
history and culture,
I find that I have to disagree with one of his recent postings in which he
said that toponymic surnames were taken by German families only after their
owners had moved >from those communities. ,
I commend to all Genners the excellent book called The Memoirs of Glueckel
of Hameln, published by Schocken. Glueckel was born in 1645-she died in
1724, She wrote her memoirs in 7 books over a period of several years. She
wrote them in Judeo German, that is, in German words but in Hebrew
characters. The first English version was only published in 1920.
Glueckel had 14 children, 3 of whom did not live beyond their first year.
She assisted her husband in his extensive business dealings throughout
Europe and when he died she ran the family business by herself, traveling
throughout Western Europe visiting Mercantile Fairs, buying and selling
many types of merchandise at the fairs, and selling through her own retail
store in Hamburg. She also started and owned a small factory manufacturing
She married off her children to wealthy merchants in many cities. Glueckel
tells of her negotiations with these families for doweries and we find that
several of her daughters' spouses had toponymic surnames for the very cities
they lived in. Here are a few examples:
Daughter Zippora married in 1675 Kossman Cleve (>from Cleve)
Daughter Hannah married Samuel Hameln (>from Hameln)
Son Moses married 1685 daughter of Samson Baiersdorf (Samsnon was HofJude of
Freundchen married 1700. Mordechai ben Moses Altona (>from Altona)
Another example: Samuel Stuttgart, who lived in Stuttgart was Parnass of all
Glueckel's father was >from Hameln and so his and her surname became Hameln.
Frequently, these important men also had another hereditary name which they
used interchangeably with their toponymic. Eventually, of course, many of
these toponymics did persist after the families left their communities but
sometimes they reverted to their heriditary non toponymic names.
Judeo German was a West German precursor to Yiddish so in fact this book is
the first Yiddish book vy a women.