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An excerpt from archives copyright © 2000 - 2016

The German state of Bavaria is the ancestral home of the Waldo family. Waldo is a local name. Waldo is a name for someone who lived in or near the woods.


The surname Waldo was first found in the Franconian-Bavarian border, where the name emerged in mediaeval times as one of the notable families of the region. From the 13th century the surname was identified with the great social and economic evolution which made this territory a landmark contributor to the development of the nation. Indeed, this family is known to be one of the oldest noble families in all of Germany, as well as one of the largest landowners. They originate from their ancestral castle named Waldau which lies in northern Bavaria on the border to Franconia. Because of this proximity to Franconia, family members were listed in both Bavarian and Franconian chronicles of chivalry. Besides the castle Waldau, the family owned the castles Pleystein (Bleistein) and Waldthurn in Bavaria. In the 10th century the family extended into the Lausitz (Lusatia) after the Serbs of this region were conquered by Kaiser Heinrich I. They built the castle Waldau in the Upper-Lausitz three miles from Goerlitz. Without a doubt, the most famous of the family in early times was Peter Waldo, Valdo, Valdes, or Waldes ( c. 1140 - c. 1205), the founder of the Waldensians, an early Christian spiritual movement of the Middle Ages.

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 Waldo include Waldau, Waldauer, Waldov, Waldauw, Waldowe, Waldow, Waldo (English), Waldaw, Walde, Zumwalt, Zumwald, Zumwalde and many more.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Waldo research. Another 285 words (20 lines of text) covering the years 1352, 1413, 1735, 1742, 1700, 1754, 1714 and 1801 are included under the topic Early Waldo History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


Prominent among members of the name Waldo in this period include Johann von Waldau, who was the bishop of Alt-Brandenburg in 1413. Sigismund Rudolph von Waldau, the Lord of Gottberg and Haselbusch, died in 1735 as a Prussian major general and chief of the regiment "von Waldau", while Arnold von Waldau...

Another 86 words (6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Waldo Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


European migration to North America began in the mid-17th century and continued unabated until the mid-20th. Many Bavarians made the long trip to escape poverty or persecution based on their religious beliefs. The chance for tenant farmers to own their own land was also a major drawing card. They settled all across the United States in Pennsylvania, Texas, New York, Illinois, and California. Many came to Canada also, settling in Ontario and the prairie provinces. Analysis of immigration records has shown some of the first Waldos to arrive in North America, and among them were:

Waldo Settlers in United States in the 17th Century

  • Richard Waldo, who landed in Jamestown, Va in 1607
  • Cornelius Waldo, who landed in Ipswich, Massachusetts in 1654
  • John Waldo, who arrived in New England in 1675

Waldo Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century

  • Volney Waldo, who arrived in Canada in 1831

  • Janet Marie Waldo (1920-2016), American radio, television and voice actor, best known for her voice of Judy Jetson, Nancy in Shazzan, Penelope Pitstop, and Josie in Josie and the Pussycats
  • Samuel Lovett Waldo (1783-1861), American painter
  • Samuel Waldo (1695-1759), American merchant, land speculator, soldier and political figure in Massachusetts
  • Rhinelander Waldo (1877-1927), former U.S. Army Captain who served as the Fire and later the Police Commissioner of New York City in the early to mid 1910s
  • Janet Waldo (b. 1924), American actress and voice artist
  • Dwight Waldo (1913-2000), American political scientist
  • Daniel Waldo (1800-1880), American legislator in the Provisional Government of Oregon, eponym of Waldo Hills, Oregon
  • Daniel Waldo (1762-1864), American clergyman
  • Professor Clarence Abiathar Waldo (1852-1926), American mathematics professor best known for his role in the Indiana Pi Bill affair
  • Campbell Waldo, American politician, Member of New York State Assembly from Cayuga County, 1826
  • ...

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    Other References

    1. Bahlow, Hans and Edda Gentry. Translation Dictionary of German Names 2nd Edition. Madison: University of Wisconsin, 2002. Print.
    2. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
    3. Bahlow, Hans (Edda Gentry trns). Dictionary of German Names . Madison, Wisconsin: Max Kade Institute, 2002. Print. (ISBN 0-924119-35-7).
    4. Rietstap, Johannes Baptist. Armorial Général. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
    5. Brechenmacher, Josef Karlmann. Deutches Namenbuch. Stuttgart: Verlag von Adolf Bonz & Comp, 1928. 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. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
    8. Neubecker, Ottfried. Wappen-Bilder-Lexikon der bürgerlichen Geschlechter Deutschlands, Oesterreichs und der Schweiz. Battenberg, München: 1985. Print.
    9. Nied, Edmund. Fraenkische Familiennamen urkundlich gesammelt und sprachlich gedeutet. Heidelberg: C. Winter, 1933. 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 Waldo Family Crest was acquired from the archives. The Waldo 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 June 2016 at 12:45.

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