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An excerpt from archives copyright © 2000 - 2016

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.


The surname Schwenk was 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.

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.


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 and printed products wherever possible.


Prominent bearers of the family name Schwenk during this time period were Michael Schwenke (1563-1610), was a German sculptor from Pirna, Saxony. Theodor Schwann (1810-1882), who was one of the most important biologists of the 19th century, mainly...

Another 37 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Schwenk Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


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
  • ...

  • M. J. Schwenk, American Democrat politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Ohio, 1916
  • Edwin M. Schwenk Jr., American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from New York, 1972
  • Bud Schwenk (1917-1980), American professional football quarterback and punter
  • Thomas L. Schwenk, American professor of Family Medicine and chair of the department of Family Medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School
  • Zane Schwenk (b. 1975), American professional wakeboarder
  • Theodor Schwenk (1910-1986), American anthroposophist, engineer and author of Sensitive Chaos
  • William "Tripp" Douglas Schwenk (b. 1971), American Olympic eight-time gold medalist swimmer

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    Other References

    1. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
    2. Brechenmacher, Josef Karlmann. Deutches Namenbuch. Stuttgart: Verlag von Adolf Bonz & Comp, 1928. Print.
    3. Nied, Edmund. Fraenkische Familiennamen urkundlich gesammelt und sprachlich gedeutet. Heidelberg: C. Winter, 1933. Print.
    4. Garland, Mary and Henry Garland Editions. Oxford Companion To German Literature 3rd Edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997. Print. (ISBN 0198158963).
    5. Strassburger, Ralph B. Pennsylvania German Pioneers The Original Lists of Arrivals in the Port of Philadelphia 3 Volumes. Baltimore: Picton Press, 1992. Print. (ISBN 978-0929539980).
    6. Crozier, William Armstrong Edition. Crozier's General Armory A Registry of American Families Entitled to Coat Armor. New York: Fox, Duffield, 1904. Print.
    7. Bentley, Elizabeth P. Passenger Arrivals at the Port of New York 1820-1829. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1999. Print.
    8. Götze, Alfred. Familiennamen im badischen Oberland. Heidelberg: C. Winter, 1918. Print.
    9. Bahlow, Hans. Deutschlands geographische Namenwelt Etymologisches Lexikon der Fluss- und Ortsnamen alteuropaischer Herkunft. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1985. 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 Schwenk Family Crest was acquired from the 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 13 October 2015 at 11:43.

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