The Heckenbach Surname
Before the end of the 14th century, things were on such a small scale that common people in Germany had no need of last names. About that time, however, the population grew, the need for taxation increased, and people began to trade and settle in other places. So the citizens acquired last names. This trend had begun with the wealthier families but now filtered down to the lower classes. These new names came from a man's trade, from some physical characteristic, or from his father's name. There are two explanations of place-names as surnames. Since ours was never a family of lords, it must be that some medieval ancestor of ours moved from the village of Heckenbach, out to a neighboring village. He thus acquired his name. It was a local name, an Eifel name, tied to one geographic location, not one like Miller that could have originated anywhere.The earliest record I've found was in Frankfurt in 1597, although the spelling was a little different, but that was only because of early record-keeping there. Church records in the Eifel were kept only after the Reformation, beginning around 1650, but much later in some towns. The books for the town of Heckenbach begin in 1654, but there were no Heckenbachs in it by then, although a couple of families lived there for a time in the 1800s. There are several records from Ahrweiler from the 1600's. By 1720, there were more instances of the name Heckenbach in Niederzissen, Wehr, Ober-and Niederdürenbach, and Niederlützingen, wandering eastward to the Rhine. There was also a large family in Wittlich on the Mosel River.
Our first direct ancestor shows up in 1735. He moved to Brohl from Niederlützingen and the municipal record states that he was a well-to-do man.
There were other Heckenbachs in a dozen towns in the area. They may have been distant relatives of this one, or descendants of others who had wandered out of the village of Heckenbach years earlier. They have fanned out ever since, even if originating at one location.
In 1977 I found 26 Heckenbachs listed in the Rhineland's telephone directories. There were others in scattered parts of Germany. For most of them, any kinship with us would evidently go back very far, and be impossible to prove, although I sometimes find some more closely related.
I'm interested in all of these family lines and would like to
ask for contributions of information.
Christian and John Adam were the ancestors of about 50 US Heckenbach households a generation ago, and surely more today, virtually all the Heckenbachs in the US.
There are a number of exceptions however, who are unrelated:
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This Page was created May 5 1999, and last
updated October 21, 2016