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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2015

Where did the German Schwenk family come from? What is the German Schwenk family crest and coat of arms? When did the Schwenk family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Schwenk family history?

A multitude of prestigious family names, such as the surname Schwenk, were formed in the lands which became the modern German state of Prussia, known for its beauty, industry and military power. 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 Schwenk 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.


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 Schwenk include Schwan, Schwann, Schwahn and others.

First found in Mecklenburg, in the western Baltic region, where the name was closely identified in early mediaeval times, as early as 1202, with the feudal society which would become prominent throughout European history. Old Mecklenburg chronicles mention Carston von Schwan in 1202 and Heinrich von Schwan, court tutor (Hofmeister) to the Duke of Mecklenburg, in 1248. In 1413 the Knight, Carl von Schwan, accompanied the Bishop Sigismund to Camin to the historical Council of Costnitz. The name would later be associated with a noble family with great influence, having many distinguished branches in the eastern provinces of Pomerania and Meissen. They became noted for their involvement in social, economic and political affairs, giving the name Schwan to a city near the port of Rostock.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Schwenk research. Another 249 words(18 lines of text) covering the years 1679, 1563, 1610, 1810, 1882, 1729 and 1760 are included under the topic Early Schwenk History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 125 words(9 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Schwenk Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


The state of Prussia was a great influence on the shape of modern Germany. After the Second World War, Prussia's land was divided among the Soviet Union, Poland, East Germany and West Germany and the state was abolished. Some Prussians remained in those countries after the war, while many others migrated to North America in search of a new start. Philadelphia was their primary point of entry to the United States, after which many of them moved on to Ohio, Texas, Illinois, California, New York, and Maryland. A large number of Prussians also migrated to Ontario and the prairie provinces as United Empire Loyalists. Analysis of immigration records has shown some of the first Schwenks to arrive in North America, and among them were:

Schwenk Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • Esther Schwenk, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1741
  • Lorentz Schwenk, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1741
  • Martin Schwenk, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1749

Schwenk Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • Philipp Karl Schwenk, who arrived in North America in 1842
  • Andreas Schwenk, who arrived in Texas in 1846
  • Philipp Jakob Schwenk, who landed in North America in 1854
  • Nicolas Schwenk, aged 37, landed in New York in 1854
  • Joh Schwenk, who arrived in America in 1854


  • William "Tripp" Douglas Schwenk (b. 1971), American Olympic eight-time gold medalist swimmer
  • Theodor Schwenk (1910-1986), American anthroposophist, engineer and author of Sensitive Chaos
  • Zane Schwenk (b. 1975), American professional wakeboarder
  • Thomas L. Schwenk, American professor of Family Medicine and chair of the department of Family Medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School
  • Bud Schwenk (1917-1980), American professional football quarterback and punter


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  1. Bahlow, Hans. Deutschlands geographische Namenwelt Etymologisches Lexikon der Fluss- und Ortsnamen alteuropaischer Herkunft. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1985. Print.
  2. Garland, Mary and Henry Garland Editions. Oxford Companion To German Literature 3rd Edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997. Print. (ISBN 0198158963).
  3. Fogleman, Aaron Spencer. Hopeful Journeys German Immigration, Settlement, and Political Culture in Colonial America 1717-1775. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1986. Print. (ISBN 978-0812215489).
  4. Jones, Henry Z. Palatine Families of New York 2 Volumes. Rockland, ME: Picton Press, 2001. Print. (ISBN 978-0961388829).
  5. Hildenbrand, A.M. Wappenfibel. Handbuch der Heraldik. Neustadt an der Aisch: 1970. Print.
  6. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  7. Gottschald, Max. Deutsche Namenkunde unsere Familiennamen nach ihrer Entstehung und Bedeutung. München: J.F. Lehmanns Verlag, 1932. Print.
  8. Siebmacher, J.J. Siebmacher's Grosses Wappenbuch 35 Volumes. Germany: Bauer & Raspe. Print.
  9. Egle, William Henry. Pennsylvania Genealogies Scotch-Irish and German. Harrisburg: L.S. Hart, 1886. Print.
  10. Rolland, and H.V. Rolland. Illustrations to the Armorial general by J. B. Rietstap 6 volumes in 3. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1976. Print.
  11. ...

The Schwenk Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Schwenk 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 4 March 2015 at 16:14.

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