An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2016
Origins Available: German, Portuguese, Scottish
The prestigious family surname Barnhart originated in the territory that eventually became the German state of Prussia. In the 19th century, this state was virtually unrivalled militarily, and its rapid industrial growth made it a contender for economic superiority in Europe as well. However, in the medieval era, Prussia was fragmented and inhabited by numerous barbarian tribes, who fought amongst themselves for control of the land. The borders of the barbarian kingdoms, which were established after the fall of the Roman Empire, changed repeatedly. The region that came to be known as Prussia was roughly divided between the territories of Brandenburg-Prussia, West Prussia and East Prussia. The Barnhart family emerged in Brandenburg- Prussia, which is essentially the birthplace of modern Germany. By the 19th century, Brandenburg-Prussia had incorporated East Prussia, West Prussia and many other German territories. Moreover, in the late 19th century, it led the German states in the unification of Germany.
In the medieval era, many different cultural groups lived in the German states. There are thus many regional variations of German surnames from that era. Westphalians spoke Low German, which is similar to modern Dutch. Many German names carry suffixes that identify where they came from. Others have phrases attached that identify something about the original bearer. Other variations in German names resulted from the fact that medieval scribes worked without the aid of any spelling rules. The spelling variations of the name Barnhart include Bernhard, Bernhardi (Alemannic), Bernhardy (Latin genetive form found along Rhine and Danube rivers), Bernardt, Bernhardt, Bernehard, Bernehardt and many more.
First found in Brandenburg, Mecklenburg, and throughout the lands that would later form the Prussian Empire, where the name became noted for its many branches, each house acquiring a status and influence which was envied by the princes of the regions. In their later history the name became a power unto themselves and was elevated to the ranks of nobility as they grew into this most influential family. In its mediaeval context, the literal meaning of the name was "baerenkuehn," that is, "bear-brave." The name began its rise to prominence as one of the most popular first names of northern Germany in the Middle Ages before becoming firmly grounded as a surname.
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Barnhart research. Another 343 words (24 lines of text) covering the years 1604, 1623, 1639, 1728, 1762, 1763, 1769, 1810, 1818, and 1820 are included under the topic Early Barnhart History in all our PDF Extended History products.
Another 98 words (7 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Barnhart Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.
Since medieval times, the state of Prussia has played an important part in the history of Germany. The state's military powers were historically very strong, and endured until after the Second World War, when the territory was broken up and divided between the Soviet Union, Poland, East Germany and West Germany. A spurt of migration followed, with some Prussians going elsewhere in Europe and many others crossing the ocean to North America. Most entered the United States through Philadelphia. Some remained there, while more moved on to the states of Ohio, Texas, Illinois, California, New York, and Maryland. Others traveled to Canada and settled Ontario and the prairie provinces. Research into the origins of individual families in North America revealed records of the immigration of a number of people bearing the name Barnhart or a variant listed above:
Barnhart Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
Barnhart Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
Barnhart Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
The Barnhart Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Barnhart Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.
This page was last modified on 15 January 2016 at 12:55.