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An excerpt from archives copyright © 2000 - 2016

The bountiful region surrounding the Rhine river is the birthplace of the name Dunkelberger. A single name was, at one time, all that people needed. However, increasing ease of travel and the burgeoning populations forced people to adopt a hereditary surname to set themselves apart from others. A common form of surname created in the Rhineland was the local name. Originally denoting the proprietorship of the village or estate, the German preposition von, which means from or of, was used with local names. The surname Dunkelberger was given to someone who lived near a swamp. Ancient records reveal the name Dunkelberger is derived from the Old German word dunk, which referred to a small hill in a swampy area. The surname Dunkelberger 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 Dunkelberger had dark physical features.


The surname Dunkelberger 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.

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 Dunkelberger include Dunkel, Dunckel, Dunkelman, Dunkelmann, Dunkell, Dunkle, Dunker and many more.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Dunkelberger research. Another 162 words (12 lines of text) covering the years 1811 and 1866 are included under the topic Early Dunkelberger History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


Another 24 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Dunkelberger Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


The great European flow of migration to North America, which began in the middle of the 17th century and continued into the 20th century, was particularly attractive to those from the Rhineland who wished to escape either poverty or religious persecution. Many of those who left the Rhineland to seek their fortunes in the prosperous and free New World settled in the major urban centers of the United States and Canada. In the United States, the settlers from the Rhineland passed through immigration centers like that of Ellis Island, most of them moving on to Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, Illinois, California, and New York. In Canada, the majority of Rhinelanders settled in Ontario and the prairie provinces. An examination of passenger and immigration lists has revealed many important settlers to North America bearing the name Dunkelberger, or one of its variants above:

Dunkelberger Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • Clement Dunkelberger, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1728

Dunkelberger Settlers in United States in the 20th Century

  • Robert Dunkelberger, aged 25, who arrived in Ihrie Oaks, Michigan, in 1919
  • Harold Dunkelberger, aged 7, who arrived in Maywood, Illinois, in 1923

  • George L. Dunkelberger, American architect who designed the 69 original bridges of the Merritt Parkway, Fairfield County, Connecticut
  • Isaac R. Dunkelberger, American Republican politician, Postmaster at Los Angeles, California, 1877-85

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    Other References

    1. Rietstap, Johannes Baptist. Armorial Général. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
    2. Crozier, William Armstrong Edition. Crozier's General Armory A Registry of American Families Entitled to Coat Armor. New York: Fox, Duffield, 1904. Print.
    3. Zoder, Rudolf. Familiennamen in Ostfalen. Hildesheim: Geog Olms Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1968. Print.
    4. 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).
    5. Rolland, and H.V. Rolland. Illustrations to the Armorial general by J. B. Rietstap 6 volumes in 3. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1976. Print.
    6. Steed, Henry Wickham . The Hapsburg Monarchy. London: Constable and Company, 1919. Print.
    7. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
    8. Schenk, Trudy. Wuerttemberg Emigration Index Volume I-VIII. Salt Lake City: Ancestry Inc., 1986. Print.
    9. Hildenbrand, A.M. Wappenfibel. Handbuch der Heraldik. Neustadt an der Aisch: 1970. Print.
    10. 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).
    11. ...

    The Dunkelberger Family Crest was acquired from the archives. The Dunkelberger 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 8 April 2016 at 00:23.

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