Hirsch Surname Genealogy

Hirsch derives from the Old German word hirsch
meaning “deer” and described either someone who was a game hunter or
who was a
keeper of deer. It began as a first
name, first recorded in 1170, and had become a surname by the 14th
century. Hirsch can also be Jewish. The deer meaning had associations with the
Hebrew name Naphtali and Hirsch was often adopted as a Jewish
ornamental name.

Hirsch Resources on

Hirsch Ancestry

name was particularly prominent in Bavaria, which is perhaps not
surprising as
this region is heavily forested and famous for its hunting. Today the Hirsch population numbers about
20-25,000 in Germany, with a concentration around Nuremburg, and a
further 2-3,000
across the border in Austria.

In 1765
Johannes Franz Hirsch started a small leather workshop for shoes and
saddles in
lower Austria and his descendants still run the company today. Baron Maurice von Hirsch was a
19th century
Jewish philanthropist from Munich whose grandfather was the first
landowner in Bavaria and whose father acted as banker for the Bavarian

America. Hirsch
immigrants came mostly from
German-speaking lands, early into Pennsylvania and later, mainly Jewish
here, spread
all across the country. There were Jewish Hirsches from Lithuania
as well, such as Rabbi Mayer Zvi Hirsch who came
to San Francisco in 1907.

Pennsylvania Simon
Hirsch from the Rhine Palatine arrived
sometime in the 1750’s and settled initially in Montgomery
county. Many descendants later adopted the Harsh or Hersh
spelling. David
also came from the Rhine Palatine but left there at a
much later
time, following the failed revolutions of 1848.
He settled at first in Erie county, Pennsylvania before moving
to Ohio
where he acted as the spiritual leader of the German community in

South Some
Jewish immigrants arrived before the Civil War, finding business as
merchants in the

  • Aaron
    came from Alsace in 1852 and set up a general store
    with partners in Batesville, Arkansas. He spent the Civil War
    smuggling on the Confederate side.
  • Samuel
    Hirsch came from Germany to America in
    1853 and later made his home in Memphis, Tennessee.
    He became a successful cotton merchant.
    E.D. Hirsch, born in Memphis in 1928, made
    his name as an English professor in cultural literacy.
  • Joseph
    Hirsch from Germany started with his brothers a clothing shop in
    Atlanta in
    1863. The store, burned down by Sherman
    in the following year, later grew into a successful department store. Joseph was able to win election to the city
  • Jules Hirsch from Alsace came to Houston from Alsace in 1871
    to make his
    fortune. He prospered as an investor in
    the Humble oil field. Part of that land
    is now the Hirsch Memorial Park. His son
    Maurice served with distinction during World War Two.
  • while
    Emile Hirsch, also from Alsace, came to Plaquemine, Louisiana in the
    1880’s, opened a furniture store, and later became a successful real
    estate investor.

West Coast Others
headed West. Five
brothers from Wurtemburg were drawn to California by the Gold Rush, but
by 1852
had moved north to Portland, Oregon where they prospered as Jewish
and later as politicians:

  • Solomon
    was a
    state senator in 1872 and almost became the US Senator for Oregon in
  • while
    Edward was appointed State Treasurer in
    1878, a post he held for nine years.

Hirsch, representing a later generation,
arrived from Germany in 1886 and, together with his son Harold, built
up their
White Stag skiwear company in Portland to be one of the largest skiwear
companies in the world

Hirsch from the Black Forest area of Germany came to Irvington,
(near San Francisco) in 1867. He was one
of its first settlers and opened a general store there.
Hirsch family

has remained in Irvington, now part of the city of Fremont.

England. The
Hirsch numbers in England were few in the
19th century, as there was little Hirsch immigration at that time. A few came in the 1930’s escaping the
Nazis. Kurt Hirsch left Berlin for
London in 1934 for these reasons. He was
interned in England during the war as an alien but flourished
afterwards as a
mathematics professor.

Canada. John Hirsch survived World War
Two in
Hungary but lost both his parents in Auschwitz.
He subsequently arrived as a child refugee in Canada and was
adopted by
a family in Winnipeg. He became the
legendary co-founder of the Manitoba Theater Center.

Hirsch Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Hirsch Names

Baron von Hirsch was a wealthy philanthropist from Bavaria who founded in
1881 a benevolent trust in America for Jewish immigrants.
Joel Hirsch
was an award-winning racing columnist and founding
of the National Turf Writers Association.  

Sy Hersh
is an investigating journalist best known for his
exposure of the My Lai imassacre in Vietnam in 1969.

George Hirsch
is a magazine publisher and co-founder in 1976 of the New
York City

Select Hirschs Today

  • 7,000 in America (most numerous in New York)
  • 3,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)





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