Dreyfus Surname Genealogy
the German town of Trier on the Moselle river, close by the border with
France. Jews driven out from there in
the 16th century found refuge in Alsace.The spelling variants, Dreyfus and Dreyfuss,
have tended to correspond to the country the family was living in at
the spelling was standardized. Dreyfus was
more common among people of French origin; Dreyfuss among those of
descent.The Dreyfuss name was also
found in Bavaria. Here it appears to
as a nickname from the German dreifuss,
meaning a “tripod” or “cooking pot with three legs.”
Dreyfus Resources on
- Louis Dreyfus
History of the trading compnay Louis Dreyfus.
- Charles Dreyfus. Charles
Dreyfus in England.
Although Alsace is in present-day France, Jews there may
have had either a French
or a German cultural background. Two famous Dreyfuses from Alsace have been:
- Alfred Dreyfus, a young
French artillery officer who was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1894
allegedly communicating French military secrets to the Germans. What came to be known as the Dreyfus Affair divided
French society sharply. Alfred’s ancestry
in Alsace has been traced
back to Mathias David of Trier in the 17th century.
- and Leopold Dreyfus who was
born in Sierentz, Alsace
in 1833. At the age of eighteen he began trading wheat from neighboring farms
and founded a company under his father’s name of Louis as he was too
use his own. That company is now the
global commodity trading company Louis Dreyfus. In
the early 1900’s he changed his own surname and those of
descendants to the hyphenated Louis-Dreyfus. His line goes back to the marriage of Marx and Mindel
Dreyfus in Sierentz
The Dreyfus and Dreyfuss numbers in Alsace are small
today. They total less than 700 for the
France. There is also a smattering of
Jewish Dreyfuses in Switzerland.
England. Charles Dreyfus, said to have been distant relative of
the man caught up in the Dreyfus Affair, arrived in England in 1869. A chemist by training, he became the manager
and owner of a chemical plant in Manchester which manufactured DMC wire. Charles employed the Zionist Chaim Weizmann
at the plant and remained a friend of his until his death.
Edmund Dreyfus who came
to England in 1895 was also from Alsace, although from a branch of his
that had started a bank in Switzerland.
His son John Dreyfus
well-known internationally as a typographer and historian of letters.
early arrival was Abraham Dreyfus from Bavaria who came in 1849 and
US army in the West. He enlisted in the
Utah expedition in 1857 and was based in Arizona and New Mexico during
Civil War. After the war he spent some
time in Mexico before settling down in San Bernardino, California.
Henry Dreyfuss came to
Shreveport, Louisiana from Alsace in 1855 and started up as a merchant
there. His son Jules owned a sugar cane business in New Iberia.
(and thus they could not technically be married). Although
he was white and she was black, he
sent their daughter to some of the finest private schools.”
It was said that
this Jewish family also took on the name of Threefoot (an English
their name) when they arrived in America.
Theodore Dreyfus arrived in New Orleans from Mannheim in Germany in the
1880’s. He started up a general store
which has now passed through four generations of Dreyfus management. In 1989 the store became Joe’s
Dreyfus Store restaurant.
Samuel Dreyfuss from Baden had come to America in
1860 and made a fortune before the Civil War selling spirits to Native
Americans. His son Barney who arrived in
1881 owned the Pittsburgh Pirates
baseball franchise from 1900 until his death in 1932.
He is often credited with the creation of the
baseball World Series.
A Dreyfus family from Alsace arrived in
Mississippi around the year 1880. By the
early 1900’s Jonas Dreyfus and his brothers had established a candy
manufacturing business in Montgomery, Alabama.
Jonas’s son Jack Dreyfus,
born there in 1913, was the founder of the Dreyfus
Funds and is widely credited for having invented the commonplace mutual
through direct marketing to the American public.
Otto and Lillie Dreyfus were German
immigrants who came to Wisconsin in the 1890’s and ran a tavern on
South Side. Their son Woods joined
Milwaukee’s WISN radio station in 1927 and over a twenty-year period
singer, announcer, program director, and finally as its General Manager. Woods’ son Lee
Dreyfus was Wisconsin’s Governor from 1979 to 1983.
The Louis-Dreyfus family was described as one of
the “top five biggest fortunes of France.” However,
as a Jewish family during the
Second World War much of the family assets were confiscated by the
government. Gerard Louis-Dreyfus, a
great grandson of the company founder Leopold, came to America with his
in 1940. He was the father of the actress
If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:
Leopold Louis-Dreyfus was the founder of the global commodity trading
company Louis Dreyfus.
Henry Dreyfuss was one of the
foremost American industrial designers of consumer products in the
was the founder of the Dreyfus Funds. He
is widely credited with having invented the commonplace mutual fund
direct marketing to the American public.
is an American actor who won the Academy award for Best Actor in the
1978 film The Goodbye Girl.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus is a well-known American
actress in both TV and film roles.
Select Dreyfus Today
- 1,000 in America (most numerous in California)
- 200 elsewhere (most numerous in UK)
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