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Surnames of Founding Families

Hutterites Home Page

By Evan Eichler, Ph.D.

© copyright 1997 by Evan Eichler, all rights reserved

Hutterite surnames can generally be divided into three categories based on the history of three different groups which contributed members to the founding population:

1) Carinthian -- The surnames Kleinsasser, Miller, Wurz, Waldner, Hofer, and Glanzer originated from transmigrants who were exiled from the Spittal District of Carinthia, Austria to Siebenbuergen during the Counter-reformation period. Here they came into contact with the remnants of the Hutterite Church and converted to the faith. These families revitalized the nearly extinct Hutterite movement in 1760.

2) Old Hutterite surnames -- The surnames Mandel, Pullman, Stahl, Tschetter, Wipf, Walter and Wollman represent a small fraction of original Hutterite surnames which have survived until present day. The ancestors of these families presumably joined the Hutterite faith in the 16th and 17th century as exiled German Protestants.

Due to extensive persecution of the Hutterian Brethren in Slovakia and Transylvania, most of the descendants of these families were converted to Catholicism by the beginning of the 18th century. The Habaner of Slovakia, Romania and Hungary represent a unique ethnic group, Catholic in faith, which trace descent from these original Hutterite families. In 1760 and 1783, a few "original" Hutterite families managed to flee Slovakia and Transylvania and join the Hutterites in Wallachia and later in the Ukraine.

3) Mennonite -- These include the Hutterite families of Decker, Entz, Fast, Gross, Jansen and Knels. Decker, Gross and Knels were introduced into the Hutterites by conversion of Mennonite families which originated from West Prussia. The surnames Jansen, Fast and Ens were introduced later through intermarriage with Mennonite members of the Molotschna Colony in Southern Ukraine.


GLANZER: Four brothers, Martin, Christian, Veit, and Paul (G1), were exiled to Siebenbuergen, Transylvania in 1755 where they later joined the Hutterite Church. They originated from the Moertlguet, Sankt Peter District, Carinthia where the brothers farmed along with their father Martin Glanzer. Their mother and one sister accompanied them to Transylvania. The oldest brother, Martin, left behind a wife and a one year old daughter on the Wipflerguet near the village of Aich in Carinthia. Martin never remarried. All Glanzers among the Hutterites and the Prairieleut are descended from Christian Glanzer (G2) through his grandson, Samuel Glanzer (1779-1831).

Samuel's two sons, Paul (b.1810) and Samuel Glanzer (b.1814), immigrated to America along with their families aboard the S.S. Mosel (New York arrival: July 21, 1879) and S.S.Pommerania (New York Arrival: July 3, 1877).

HOFER: Two Hofer families were among the religious dissidents exiled to Siebenbuergen, Transylvania in 1755. The first were brothers Mathias and Michael Hofer (H2) who left mother, father and brother in Unteramlach, Carinthia, Austria. These were presumably the sons of Michael Hofer and Maria Gasser (H1), whose daughters Elisabeth and Maria had already married at the time of the deportation into fellow religious exile families of Joseph Miller (M3) and Hans Kleinsasser (K2).

In March 1757, Mathias and Michael Hofer (H2) were imprisoned in Hermannstadt, Siebenbuergen for refusing to accept the doctrine of the Lutheran Church. Michael later perished in prison. Both Michael and Mathias died childless. All Hofers among the Hutterites today are descended from Johann Hofer (H3) through one of his four sons (Jakob, Paul, Christian or Michael). Johann Hofer farmed the Hofergut in Sankt Peter, Spittal District, Carinthia.

Johann's parents, Michael Hofer and Maria Plattner, had both been religious dissidents in this area since at least 1719. A priest reported in 1731 that Maria Hoferin of Sankt Peter had been refused confession for twelve years due to her "heretical" beliefs.

Hofer is arguably the most common surname among the brotherhood and the Prairieleut, today.

INNERWINKLER: The Innerwinkler family originated from the Innerwinklerguet in the Staggenboi district of Carinthia, where members of this family had been operating the family farm since the mid-15th century (oldest known ancestor Rueppl Innerwinkler, 1499). In 1719, a branch of the family moved from Paternion to Amlach where Thomas Innerwinkler acquired the Freysasslhuebe in Oberamlach, Spittal district of Carinthia.

Three of his granddaughters (I1), Ursula Innerwinkler Nagler, Christina and Elisabeth Innerwinkler, were exiled in 1755 to Siebenbuergen, Transylvania for religious beliefs, counter to the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. Christina and Elisabeth both joined the Hutterite Church in Transylvania marrying Joseph Kuhr and Peter Mueller, respectively. The eldest sister, Ursula, remained among the Transylvanian Saxons where she presumably accepted the Lutheran faith. The surname no longer exists among the Hutterites.

KLEINSASSER: The family originated from the Kleinsasserhof (Kleinsasser farm) near Sankt Peter in the Spittal district of Carinthia, Austria. All Kleinsassers among the Hutterite and Prairieleut trace their descent from the Catholic Hans Kleinsasser (born 1689 circa) (K1). Hans Kleinsasser was considered one of the wealthiest farmers of the Sankt Peter region.

All four of Hans' sons (Johann, Stephan, Mathias and Joseph) and one daughter (Dorothea Kleinsasser Nagler) were exiled in August 1755 to Deutschkreuz, Siebenbuergen and later joined the Hutterite Church by 1765. Five of Hans Kleinsasser's daughters married Roman Catholics in Carinthia and remained in the Sankt Peter district. The Kleinsasserhof in Austria was eventually passed onto one of these son-in-laws, Thomas Gasser, and remains in the hands of his descendants to present day.

Among the Hutterite Kleinsassers, only Johann and Mathias Kleinsasser had offspring which survived beyond infancy, and it is from the descendants of these two that the family name has been carried to the prairies of North America. Johann Kleinsasser (born 1723, K2) was ordained minister of the Hutterite Church in 1763. Johann's nephew, Joseph Kleinsasser (born 1775, K3), was, likewise, ordained minister of the church in 1818 in Raditchewa, Ukraine.

NAGLER: A Hutterite surname of Carinthian origin which persisted only one generation among the Hutterites. Christian Nagler immigrated with his wife Dorothea Kleinsasser to Grosschenk, Transylvania in 1755. Christian died shortly thereafter in 1757 and his wife and three daughters moved to the home of Johann Kleinsasser (presumably a brother of Dorothea) where they later joined the Hutterite Church. Christian Nagler heralded from the small village of Unter Alpen (Unter den Alben) in the district of Paternion. In this area, Nagler is an extremely common name and has existed in various forms (Nageler, Nagler, Nagel) since at least 1499.

MILLER (MUELLER): Two Carinthian emigrant families originally brought this name to the Hutterites.

1) Joseph Miller (M3) a resident from Lonsach was descended from a long line of
judges in the district of Weissenstein in Carinthia. He was exiled with his family to Siebenbuergen in 1755 and later joined the Hutterites, where his son Joseph (M4) was appointed "Diener des Worts" in 1779. This Miller family name presumably disappeared among the Hutterites in 1856 with they death of Zacharias Miller, the grandson of Joseph Miller and last descendant to carry this surname.

2) Peter Miller (M1) was a single day labourer from Unteramlach. His ancestors had worked as fishermen and farmers on the Uellehube since the 1670's (The Miller family prior to 1650 resided in the Staggenboi district). Peter Miller along with many of his uncles and cousins were exiled from the Unteramlach between the years 1730-1755. Peter Miller alone joined the Hutterite Church where he married a fellow Carinthian exile, Elisabeth Innerwinkler in 1763. In 1819, two of Peter's grandsons, Andreas and Mathias Miller, left the Hutterite Church and joined the Mennonite colony of Chortitza. All Millers of Russian Mennonite descent can trace their ancestry to one of these two brothers.

A third brother, Joseph Miller, remained among the Hutterites. His son immigrated to America aboard the S.S. Lessing (1878, July 17) and settled with his family in Freeman, South Dakota. Descendants of this family which carry the Miller surname are found among the Prairieleut of South Dakota today.

WALDNER: Waldner (Waltner) is a common family name among the Hutterian Brethren of South Dakota and the Swiss Mennonites of Kansas. Both branches share common descent from Georg Waldner (Wa1), a farmer of the Ertlguet homestead in the Amlach district of Carinthia, Austria, who was exiled in 1755 along with his wife and three children to Siebenbuergen, Transylvania.

The Waldner family originated from am Egg, Staggenboi where Peter Wallder/Walder resided in the 1490's. In 1655 Michael Waldner, (a great-grandfather of Georg) assumed the "Baumannsgerechtigkeit" (a peasant's permission to farm the lord's land) for the Ertlguet and moved from am Egg, Staggenboi to Unteramlach. After Georg's exile in 1755, the Ertlguet was sold to Georg Amlacher for the substantial sum of 909 Gulden, of which it is doubtful that Georg Waldner or his descendants ever received a portion.

Two of Georg's sons, Christian (Wa2) and Johann (Wa3), survived to adulthood and are the forefathers of all Waldner/Waltner Hutterite and Swiss Mennonite families. Johann Waldner in 1783 was elected "Diener des Wortes" and in 1793 was appointed Elder (Aeltester) minister of the Church. Johann's son, Andreas, married a Swiss Mennonite, Kathrina Schrag.

After the death of her husband, Kathrina returned with her family to Volhynia to live among the Swiss Mennonites. Among the Swiss Mennonites, the name was changed from Waldner and Waltner, which is carried by Andreas' and Kathrina Waldner's descendants in Kansas. Minister Michael Waldner, a great-grandson of Johann Waldner, helped establish in 1874 the Bon Homme Bruderhof, the first Hutterite colony of South Dakota.

WURZ: The Hutterite Wurz family traces its descent from Andreas Wurz (Wu1), a farmer from the Mayerguet, Sankt Peter, Spittal District, Carinthia Austria. The Wurz family was not native to the Sankt Peter region. In the year 1743, Andreas Wurz moved from the Weissenstein parish, married the widow, Elisabeth Strauss and assumed the Mayerguet.

In 1755, Andreas, his wife Margareta, his five children (Christian, Elizabeth, Magdalena, Christina and Anna) and two step-daughters (Christina and Elisabeth Strauss) were exiled from Carinthia for refusing to accept Catholicism. Andreas' stepdaughters were imprisoned in Hermannstadt in 1759 as part of the persecution against those transmigrants who refused to accept the Lutheran faith. In 1761, Andreas Wurz and his household joined the Hutterite Church, with the baptism of Andreas by Peter Miller.

Andreas's eldest son, Christian, was sent by the Hutterite Church to Gluchow in 1780 to work as a physician's apprentice for the Prince Romanzow in Ukraine. The church hoped that Christian would return to the Hutterite Wirschinka colony to serve as a physician. Christian, however, became "worldly" in dress and manner and never returned to the colony nor to his wife and three young children (Wu2) who remained among the Hutterites. He eventually died in Moscow in 1792. In contrast, Christian's younger brother, Andreas (Wu3) became a minister of the Hutterite Church in Wirschinka. All Wurz families in America and Canada are descended from one of these two brothers.


KUHR: This family name is recorded among the Hutterites for only three generations. Joseph Kuhr, "Diener des Wortes" of the Alwinz Hutterite Church, immigrated with his son and daughter to Wallachia in 1767. Joseph's oldest son remained in Alwinz where he had married a native Hungarian. Later in 1783, Joseph's namesake and grandson, Joseph Kuhr, left Alwinz and joined the Church in Wischenka. The family name disappeared among the Hutterites by 1820. All of Joseph Kuhr's great-grandsons among the Hutterites apparently died as infants.

MAENDEL (MANDEL): According to the Kleine Geschictsbuch, the surname was originally Mandelig and was of Bohemian origin. The surname became Germanicized to Mandel. Paul Mandel converted to the Hutterite faith in Sabatisch, Slovakia and was baptised by Rev. Kuhr on Dec. 10, 1783.

Paul was among those who fled Sabatisch and joined the Hutterites in 1784. He died in Hutterthal, Ukraine in 1846. The chronicles mention that Paul Mandel never managed to master the Hutterite Tirolean dialect and always spoke with a heavy Bohemian accent. Mandel is a relatively common surname among the Lehrerleut, Schmiedeleut, and Prairieleut.

PULLMAN (POLLMAN): The history of this old Hutterite surname from Sabatisch, Slovakia is obscure. Three Pollman families joined the Wischenka Hutterite Church from Sabatisch between the years 1783-1784, namely; that of Tobias (P1), Andreas (P2) and Joseph (P3). According to the church records, Joseph had no sons, Tobias' sons died as young children and Andreas' two sons, Johann and Adam, supposedly died without marrying. The records, however, indicate that two new Pullman families appear in the next generation, Adam and Jeremias Pullman (P4).

These are possibly the sons of Andreas (P2). All of Adam Pullman's children died as infants. Only Jeremias had children which survived beyond infancy. All Pullman's are descended from this founder. When the Pullman families immigrated to America in the 1870's, they refused to adopt communal living and became members of the Prairieleut and later the Mennonite Church. Descendants of Jeremias Pullman are still found among the Mennonites today.

STAHL: The Stahl surname is first recorded among the Hutterites in 1663, when a Johannes Stahl of Zobelhof, Slovakia was captured and enslaved by an invading band of Turks. He was never heard from again.

Descendants of this family settled in a variety of Bruderhofs in Romania and Slovakia. After the extensive persecution of the Hutterite Church, three families remained associated with the Hutterites by 1750. This included two brothers (Johann Stahl of Alwinz and Andreas Stahl of Sabatisch) and a cousin (Joseph Stahl of Sabatisch). Both Johann and Andreas eventually immigrated and joined the Hutterite Church in Ukraine. Joseph, however, rem ined in Sabatisch, recanted and accepted the Catholic state religion.

1) All Hutterian brethren which carry the Stahl surname are descended from the elder brother Johann Stahl (S1), a ceramic potter from Alwinz. In 1765, Johann was imprisoned in Aiud for refusing to convert to Catholicism. In 1767, Johann Stahl and Joseph Kuhr were exiled to Poland, where they remained for over a year. Johann Stahl later returned to Deutschkreuz in Sept, 1768 and a month later fled with his family and other members of the Hutterite Church to Wallachia. The descendants of two of Johann Stahl's sons, Johann and Benjamin Stahl, carried the name to America in the 1870's.

2) Andreas Stahl and his family joined the Hutterite Church in Wischenka in 1783. Andreas' only son, Mathias, a tailor by trade, died from consumption without children.

TSCHETTER (Czeterle): Several different members of this family joined (rejoined) the Hutterite Church between the years 1750-1795, originating from the villages of Sabatisch and Alwinz. This suggests that the family name likely existed among the original Hutterite Church for several generations prior to the exiles/migrations of the mid-18th century. An Abraham Tschetter was imprisoned in 1760 for opposing the Jesuits of Sabatisch. He was incarcerated for several years in a convent outside of Erlau until he gave up his Hutterite faith and joined the Catholic Church.

In 1765, the bachelor Lorenz Tschetter (T1) fled from Alwinz to Deutschkreuz to preserve his Hutterite beliefs. Between 1783-1784, the family of Paul Tschetter (T2) and the bachelor, Jakob Tschetter, fled from Sabatisch to rejoin the Hutterite Church in Alwinz. Despite the large number of Tschetter founders, only Lorenz Tschetter (T1) had grandchildren which survived beyond infancy. All Tschetters among the Hutterian Brethren and Prairieleut are descended from one of Lorenz's three sons: Lorenz, Jacob or Paul.

WALTER (WALTHER): This is the oldest Hutterite name still in existence today. In 1580, the Anabaptist, Franz Walther, a barber-surgeon from Maulbronn near Wuerttemberg, left his home and joined the Hutterite Church being established in Moravia. In 1597, he was elected Elder of the Hutterian Brethren in Pribitz, Moravia. Nearly two hundred years later, in 1746, a Zacharias Walter was chosen elder of the Hutterite church in Sabatisch, Slovakia. A few years later he was imprisoned for his faith and eventually was forced to accept Catholicism and renounce his Hutterite faith.

His son, Jakob Walter, however, fled with his family (W2) in 1784 and joined the only practicing Hutterite Church in Wischenka, Ukraine. A son of Jakob Walther, Darius Walther, became the leader of a group which split the Hutterian Brethren in Raditchewa over the issue of communal living. In 1817, he led a small group of anti-communiterian Hutterites to Chortitza where they briefly resettled among the Mennonite villages of this colony.

Although most from this group later returned to Wischenka Hutterite colony in 1819, the Hutterites continued to disagree about communal living until they arrived in America in the 1870's. Another Darius Walther, a grandson of Jakob Walter (W2), became the founder of the Dariusleut Hutterian sect which founded the Wolf Creek Colony near Freeman, South Dakota in 1874.

WIPF: Wipf is an old Hutterite name. It appeared first during the 1690's with Michael Wipf who served as the head preacher (Elder) of the Hutterite Church in Alwinz, Siebenbuergen from 1694 to 1717. During intense persecution at the hands of the Jesuits, the family name was almost eliminated among the Hutterian Brethren, with the exception of the widow Anne Wipf and her children (Wi1) who joined the Hutterite Church in Stein in 1765. Anna Wipf's three sons, Elias, Johannes and Samuel are the ancestors of all Hutterite / Mennonite Wipf's who immigrated to America between 1874 and 1880.

WOLLMAN (WALEMAN): Between the years 1783-1784, three Wollman founders from Sabatisch, Slovakia joined the Hutterite Church in Wischenka, namely; the family of Jacob Wollman (Wo1), the bachelor, Andreas Wollman, and the widow Katherina Wollman and her two children Joseph and Gretel Wollman. Andreas Wollman, apparently, died childless and the Joseph Wollman family line eventually died out by 1864.

All Wollman's among the Prairieleut and Hutterites are descended from Jakob Wollman's son Andreas (Wo1lman). One member of this family, Andreas Wollman (b.1787), a grandson of Jacob Wollman (Wo1), founded an implement factory in the Ukraine and became a millionaire. The Wollman surname is commonly found today among all three Hutterian sects.


DECKER (DEKKER): Decker is a Mennonite surname of Flemish origin. The name was introduced to the Hutterites in 1780 when Elsi Decker (D1) of Franztal, Prussia immigrated with her family to Wischenka where she joined the Hutterian Brethren. Her son, Benjamin (D2), is the ancestor of all Deckers found among the Hutterites today.

ENS, FAST and JANSEN: These three families were introduced to the Hutterites between 1850 - 1870 through intermarriage with or conversion of Mennonite families which lived nearby in the colony of Molotschna. An A.W. Fast married a Hutterite woman (possibly Susanna Wurz). After her death, her four sons were adopted by family members among the Hutterites. Descendants of brothers John and Jacob Fast live among the Hutterites today.

Similarly, a Jacob Jansen left the Mennonites of Molotschna and married a Hutterite. He lived in Hutterdorf and his descendants immigrated to America and settled among the Hutterites. The Mennonite founder of the Ens (Entz) family is unknown. Four Entz families immigrated to America. One of these John Entz was elected preacher of the Elm Spring Colony in 1892.

GROSS: It has been postulated that this name is of Mennonite origin. An Andreas Gross came with his wife and son Jerg (G1) to the Hutterites in 1782. Before he could be baptised, Andreas died. His son and widowed wife, however, joined the church. Jerg married Julianna Lausner (a step-granddaughter of the founder Andreas Wurz) who was born in prison in Hermannstadt, Transylvania.

KNELS: This surname is of Mennonite origin. The widow, Liset Knels, from Pschehofka, West Prussia joined the Hutterites in 1783 with her two sons Abraham and Johannes. In 1958, there were only two families with this surname among the Hutterites of North America.

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