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


The surname Kirshner emerged in the German state of Silesia. Before the late Middle Ages, people were known only by a single name. However, as the population increased and travelers set out on their journeys, it became necessary for people to adopt a second name to identify themselves. Many people, such as the Kirshner family, adopted the name of their feudal occupation as their surname. However, an occupational name did not become a hereditary surname until the office or type of employment became hereditary. There are two occupations which gave rise to this name. The first is that of a church sexton, which is the meaning of the German word "kirchenære." The other occupation is that of a furrier and, in this case, the name is derived from the word "kuerschner."

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The surname Kirshner was first found in Silesia, where the family was anciently associated with the political and religious conflicts of the area. They declared allegiances to many nobles and princes of early history, lending their influence in struggles for power and status within the region. The family founded numerous branches, many of which acquired manors and estates in surrounding regions, where they contributed to the prosperity of their society. The name probably derives from "Kuersch," meaning pelt, and "Kuerschner" which refers to a furrier. It is not to be confused with "Kirsch," which means cherry. Individual bearers of the name first mentioned in ancient chronicles include Ortlip Hermelin der Kuersener, who lived in Breslau, Silesia around 1360.

Spelling variations of this family name include: Kirschner, Kirschener, Kirscher, Kirschen, Kirsher, Kirshner, Kirshener, Kerschner, Kerscher, Kersher, Cirschner, Cirschener, Cirscher, Cirsher, Cirshner, Cirshener, Kuersch, Kuersener, Kursch, Kuerschner, Kurschner, Kuerssner and many more.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Kirshner research. Another 273 words (20 lines of text) covering the years 1800 and 1854 are included under the topic Early Kirshner History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 33 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Kirshner Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Kirshner Settlers in United States in the 18th Century


  • Philip Kirshner, who arrived in the New World at the age of 28 in 1709 with his wife, daughter, and two sons
  • John Georg Kirshner, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1748
  • J Georg Kirshner, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1750
  • John Kirshner, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1773

Kirshner Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • Henry Kirshner, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1879

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  • Robert Kirshner (b. 1949), Clowes Professor of Science in the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics at Harvard University
  • Don Kirshner (1934-2011), American song publisher and rock producer
  • David Kirshner (b. 1960), American film and television producer
  • Mia Kirshner (b. 1975), Canadian actress and social activist


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  1. Karlsruhe. Badisches Generallandesarchiv Baden Emigration lists 1866-1911. Salt Lake City: Microfilm of Card Index by the Genealogical Society of Utah. Print.
  2. Haverkamp, Alfred. Medieval Germany 1056-1273 2nd edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print.
  3. Schenk, Trudy. Wuerttemberg Emigration Index Volume I-VIII. Salt Lake City: Ancestry Inc., 1986. Print.
  4. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
  5. Bahlow, Hans (Edda Gentry trns). Dictionary of German Names . Madison, Wisconsin: Max Kade Institute, 2002. Print. (ISBN 0-924119-35-7).
  6. Brechenmacher, Josef Karlmann. Deutches Namenbuch. Stuttgart: Verlag von Adolf Bonz & Comp, 1928. Print.
  7. Garland, Mary and Henry Garland Editions. Oxford Companion To German Literature 3rd Edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997. Print. (ISBN 0198158963).
  8. Kapff, Rudolf. Schwäbische Geschlechtsnamen. Stuttgart: Verlag Silberburg, 1927. Print.
  9. Egle, William Henry. Pennsylvania Genealogies Scotch-Irish and German. Harrisburg: L.S. Hart, 1886. Print.
  10. Tarneller, Josef. Zur Namenkunde Tirolen Familiennamen. Bozen: Buchhandlung, 1923. Print.
  11. ...

The Kirshner Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Kirshner 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 16 August 2011 at 11:19.

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