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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2014

Where did the German Zabel family come from? When did the Zabel family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Zabel family history?

The distinguished German surname Zabel is derived from the Middle High German word "zabel," meaning "board game." The name may have been bestowed as a nickname on the original bearer, who was most likely someone particularly fond of games. Alternatively, Zabel may be a variant of the surname Zobel, a name derived from the Slavic "sobel," meaning "sable fur." In this instance, the name would have been initially borne by a fur trader.

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Spelling variations of this family name include: Zabel, Zobel, Tzabels, Tzabel, Zabels, Zobels and many more.

First found in the Rhineland, where it first emerged. The earliest known bearer of the name was Thid. Zabel, who lived in Cologne in 1187. The young Zabel family was instrumental during this early period, playing an important role in the development of the society of the Rhineland.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Zabel research. Another 226 words(16 lines of text) covering the years 1187, 1325, 1358, 1382, and 1441 are included under the topic Early Zabel History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 21 words(2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Zabel Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Zabel Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century


  • Christian Zabel and his wife Dorothea Luise Muller, "Old Lutherans" from Pomerania who sailed to New York on board the Barque Rainbow in 1843
  • Christian Zabel, aged 35, landed in New York, NY in 1843
  • Louise Zabel, aged 28, landed in New York, NY in 1843
  • Minna Zabel, aged 6, landed in New York, NY in 1843
  • William Zabel, aged 5, arrived in New York, NY in 1843


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  • Steve Zabel (b. 1948), American football player
  • Franc Zabel (b. 1968), German composer and pianist
  • Erik Zabel (b. 1970), German road bicycle racer


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  1. Garland, Mary and Henry Garland Editions. Oxford Companion To German Literature 3rd Edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997. Print. (ISBN 0198158963).
  2. Kneschke, Dr. Ernest Heinrich. Neues allgemeines Deutsches Adels-Lexicon 9 Volumes New General German Aristocracy Lexicon. Leipzig: Friedrich Voigt, 1859. Print.
  3. Siebmacher, J.J. Siebmachers Wappenbuch. München, Battenberg: 1975. Print.
  4. Bahlow, Hans. Abhandlungen zur Namenforschung und Buchgeschichte. 1980. Print. (ISBN 978-3768690522).
  5. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  6. Jones, George F. The Germans of Colonial Georgia 1733-1783 Revised edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1986. Print. (ISBN 0806311614).
  7. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  8. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  9. Bahlow, Hans (Edda Gentry trns). Dictionary of German Names . Madison, Wisconsin: Max Kade Institute, 2002. Print. (ISBN 0-924119-35-7).
  10. Tobler-Meyer, Wilhelm. Familiennamen der Ostschweiz. Zürich: 1894. Print.
  11. ...


This page was last modified on 12 December 2011 at 08:44.

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