Dunkel History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Dunkel comes from the Rhineland, an ancient region of Germany. In pre-medieval times, the Germans used only one name, but later they were forced by a growing population to adopt hereditary surnames, so as to remain distinct from others using the same personal (first) name. Local names derived from place names, were often chosen. They originally indicated land ownership, and frequently carried the prefix von, meaning "of" or "from", which is often taken as an indication of aristocratic lineage. Dunkel was a name for some one lived near a swamp. Ancient records reveal the name Dunkel is derived from the Old German word dunk, which referred to a small hill in a swampy area. The surname Dunkel is also of nickname origin and derived from the word dunck, or dunkel which means dark. One must assume that the original bearers of the surname Dunkel had dark physical features.

Early Origins of the Dunkel family

The surname Dunkel was first found in the Rhineland, where the name was closely identified in early mediaeval times with the feudal society which would become prominent throughout European history. The name would later emerge as a noble family with great influence, having many distinguished branches, and become noted for its involvement in social, economic and political affairs. The earliest individual member of this family to be mentioned in chronicles was Georg Dunckel who lived in Cologne on the Rhine river around 1186.

Early History of the Dunkel family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Dunkel research. Another 80 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 1811 and 1866 are included under the topic Early Dunkel History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Dunkel Spelling Variations

Many cultural groups lived in the German states in medieval times. Each had its own dialect and traditions, and unique variations of popular names. Low German, which is similar to contemporary Dutch, was spoken in Westphalia. German names are characterized by additions such as regional suffixes and phrases that tell something about the origin or background of its original bearer. Further contributing to the variation in German names was the fact that there were no spelling rules in medieval times: scribes recorded names according to their sound. The recorded spelling variations of Dunkel include Dunkel, Dunckel, Dunkelman, Dunkelmann, Dunkell, Dunkle, Dunker and many more.

Early Notables of the Dunkel family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Dunkel Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Dunkel migration to the United States +

Between the 17th and 20th centuries, hundreds of thousands of Europeans came to North America, and many Rhinelanders were among them. They had many various reasons for making the choice: to escape poverty and persecution, for adventure, and for the opportunity to own their own land. Ellis Island, one of the main American immigration centers, saw many settlers as they moved on to the states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, Illinois, California, and New York. In Canada, they found homes in Ontario, and on the great plains of the Midwestern provinces. The Dunkel were among of the early German families that came to North America:

Dunkel Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Johannes Dunkel, who landed in America in 1730 [1]
  • Hs. Dunkel, who arrived in Carolina in 1738 [1]
  • Jacob Dunkel, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1739 [1]
  • Jerg Dunkel, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1742 [1]
  • Barbara Dunkel, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1742 [1]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Dunkel Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • John Dunkel, who arrived in Mississippi in 1841 [1]
  • S Dunkel, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1850 [1]
  • Joh Michael Dunkel, who arrived in America in 1851 [1]

Contemporary Notables of the name Dunkel (post 1700) +

  • Paul Lustig "Eugene" Dunkel (1943-2018), American flutist and conductor, music director of the Westchester Philharmonic (1983 to 2008)
  • Vernon Dunkel, American politician, Prohibition Candidate for U.S. Representative from Indiana 11th District, 1952 [2]
  • Harry F. Dunkel (b. 1898), American Republican politician, Member of New York State Assembly from Fulton and Hamilton counties, 1932-35; Member of New York State Senate 35th District, 1935-38 [2]
  • Daniel R. Dunkel, American Democrat politician, Postmaster at Hamburg, Pennsylvania, 1915-23 [2]
  • Dieter Dunkel, East German bronze medalist lightweight boxer at the 1967 World Championships
  • Arthur Dunkel (1932-2005), Swiss director-general of General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade between 1980 and 1993


  1. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  2. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, December 11) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html


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