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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2016


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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The surname Zabel was 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.

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


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Zabel research. Another 287 words (20 lines of text) covering the years 1187, 1325, 1382, 1441 and 1358 are included under the topic Early Zabel History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 25 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 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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  • John O. Zabel, American politician, Representative from Michigan 2nd District, 1896; People's Candidate for Presidential Elector for Michigan, 1900; Candidate for Circuit Judge in Michigan 38th Circuit, 1914, 1918
  • Steve Zabel (b. 1948), American football player
  • Mr. Max Zabel (1908-1937), German Navigator  from Walldorf, Germany, who worked on board the Hindenburg LZ-129 and survived the Airship Fire on May 6, 1937
  • Erik Zabel (b. 1970), German road bicycle racer
  • Franc Zabel (b. 1968), German composer and pianist


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  1. Rupp, Daniel L. A Collection of Upwards of Thirty Thousand Names of German, Swiss, Dutch, French and Other Immigrants to Pennsylvania from 1727 to 1776. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 2000. Print. (ISBN 978-0806303024).
  2. Tobler-Meyer, Wilhelm. Familiennamen der Ostschweiz. Zürich: 1894. Print.
  3. Strassburger, Ralph B. German Pioneers The Original Lists of Arrivals in the Port of Philadelphia 3 Volumes. Baltimore: Picton Press, 1992. Print. (ISBN 978-0929539980).
  4. Preuss, Otto. Die Lippischen Familiennamen mit Berücksichtigung der Ortsnamen. Detmold: Meyer'sche Hofbuchh, 1887. Print.
  5. Neubecker, Ottfried. Wappen-Bilder-Lexikon der bürgerlichen Geschlechter Deutschlands, Oesterreichs und der Schweiz. Battenberg, München: 1985. Print.
  6. Filby, P. William and Mary K Meyer. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index in Four Volumes. Detroit: Gale Research, 1985. Print. (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8).
  7. Gritzner, M. Handbuch der heraldischen Terminologie in zwölf Zungen. Nürnberg: 1890. Print.
  8. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  9. Bahlow, Hans (Edda Gentry trns). Dictionary of German Names . Madison, Wisconsin: Max Kade Institute, 2002. Print. (ISBN 0-924119-35-7).
  10. Samuelsen, W. David. New York City Passenger List Manifests Index 1820 - 1824. North Salt Lake, Utah: Accelerated Indexing Systems International, 1986. Print.
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This page was last modified on 15 January 2016 at 14:24.

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