Bavaria, some time after the 12th century, when hereditary surnames were adopted according to fairly general rules, and names that were derived from locations became particularly common. The family name Zelkmann is a local surname. Originally denoting the proprietorship of an estate or influence within a village, the German preposition von, which means from or of, used with local names, was taken as a mark of aristocracy. The surname Zelkmann was given to someone who lived in the place named Zell. This place-name can be found in several areas in Germany, but the most well known town of this name is in the region of Freiburg, which is in the Schwarzwald, or the Black Forest, just north of the Swiss border. The place-name has appeared in several countries where the Germanic people had influence.
Early Origins of the Zelkmann family
Bavaria, where the name could be considered to make a great early contribution to the feudal society which became the backbone of early development of Europe. The name became prominent in local affairs and branched into many houses which played important roles in the savage tribal and national conflicts, each group seeking supremacy in constantly changing power relations. Chronicles first mention Ulrich Zeller of Esslingen in 1282 and Dietrich Czelleman of Muehlhausen in Saxony in 1393. The name originates in the Latin word "cella," which was taken into mediaeval German in the word "Klosterzelle."
Early History of the Zelkmann family
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Zelkmann Spelling Variations
Early Notables of the Zelkmann family (pre 1700)
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Migration of the Zelkmann family to the New World and Oceana
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 Bavaria who wished to escape either poverty or religious persecution. For many Bavarian tenant farmers, the chance to own their own land was a major incentive. So the widespread colonization of the United States began in 1650, when many immigrants from Germany settled in pockets in Pennsylvania, Texas, New York, Illinois, and California. In Canada, German settlement centered in Ontario and the prairie provinces. Among those of this surname listed in various historical records were: Bacshe Zeller, who came with his wife Verena Schaublin and their three children to Carolina in 1749; Heinrich Zeller came to Philadelphia in 1738; Peter Zell came to Philadelphia County in 1734.
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