Ziegler Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Ziegler Meaning
Ziegler is a German occupational name for a brickmaker or bricklayer, derived from the German ziegel,  meaning originally “roof tile” and later “brick,” and from ziegelbrenner meaning brickmaker.  Ziegler and Zeigler have been the spellings in America. Ziegler can also be a Jewish name.

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Ziegler Ancestry

Although the Ziegler name is quite common throughout
Germany, it has been most frequently found in the south and southwest of the
country, in particular in Bavaria.

There was an early reference to Ulreich der
Zigler in the town of Eger on the border between Bavaria and Bohemia in 1340. The theologian and cartographer Jacob
Ziegler was born at Landau in Bavaria in 1470; while Margarethe
Ziegler, the mother of the theologian Martin Luther, was born at Neustadt in Bavaria in
1463. And a noble Ziegler family held estates in the Bavarian
cities of Noerdlingen, Nuremburg and Munich.

The Ziegler numbers are around 65,000 in
Germany today, with an additional 5,000 in Switzerland and 4,000 in Austria.

America. Pennsylvania provided the first landing
point. Indeed, even by the time of the
1840 census, Pennsylvania accounted for 60% of all the Zieglers and Zeiglers in America.

Pennsylvania. Michael Ziegler appeared on “a list of all the poor Germans lately come over from the Palatinate taken on May 6, 1709.” He was recorded as an illiterate 25-year-old cloth and linen weaver who was single and Lutheran. He and later his son Andreas
became prominent Mennonite preachers at Skippack in Montgomery county.

Abraham Ziegler, a great grandson of immigrant Michael, moved to Butler county in 1815 where he had purchased the village of Harmony and established a Mennonite meetinghouse
there. A branch of the family settled in Marlborough township in Montgomery county where they called themselves Zeigler
and developed Zeigler’s Apple Cider.

George Philip Ziegler came with his family from Baden
to Pennsylvania in 1727 and settled to farm in York county:

  • his son Johann Jacob
    was briefly captured and imprisoned during a territorial dispute between Pennsylvania and Maryland in 1736.
  • while Johann Philip later (befitting his Ziegler
    name) was a pioneer in the brick-making trade in York.

This Ziegler line –
tracing fourteen generations, beginning with the earlier family history in
Germany and continuing with later Zieglers in the Midwest – was covered in
Allen Ziegler’s 2010 book
Hans Georg Ziegler’s Progress.

Another early Ziegler
settler in York county was Nicholas Ziegler who arrived in 1748 and made his home in Codorus township. His probable
grandson Peter Ziegler, born around 1760, is considered the progenitor of the
Ziegler family which held their family reunion in Pennsylvania in 1933 (at which more than two hundred descendants attended).  John Ziegler’s 1935 book Ziegler Genealogy dealt
with this family’s history.

Philip Ziegler from Bern in Switzerland came with his family in 1746 and settled in a farm
near Rehersburg in Berks county. There were five generations of Zieglers living in the family homestead where
in the 19th century they constructed a Ziegler meetinghouse.
Here the reference is Jesse Ziegler’s 1906
book The Ziegler Family Record.

Elsewhere. Some Ziegler lines started in Pennsylvania but moved elsewhere.

David Ziegler, for instance, was a professional soldier who
arrived from Germany in 1775 and fought in the Revolutionary War. After the war he was a captain in the US army
and served on the Ohio valley frontier.
He settled in Cincinnati and was its mayor in 1802.
Cincinnati’s Ziegler Park on Sycamore Street was named
after him.

William Ziegler was born in Beaver county in
1843 but moved to Iowa when he was a small boy.
He went to New York where he became an agent and then a
shareholder of
the Royal Chemical Company. In 1899 he
combined three baking companies, including the Royal Chemical Company,
to form the new Royal Baking Powder Corporation.

John Ziegler from York county was a
Union doctor during the Civil War. His
line extended to Maryland and to the Midwest before John Bosley Ziegler
returned to Pennsylvania and pioneered
the use of anabolic steroids
to weightlifters in the late

Some Zieglers of course did not come via
Pennsylvania. George Ziegler from Bavaria, for instance, went to
Wisconsin with
his family in 1845 and later, in 1861, joined a family candy-making business in
Milwaukee. He became its sole owner in
1874 and the company prospered under him and his son Frank. The George Ziegler Company continued in
operation until 1972.

Johannes Ziegler from Baden arrived in New York in
1857 and decided to follow the Gold Rush to California.
This did not work out. So instead
he settled to farm at a German
community in Saginaw county, Michigan.
His descendants are still farming at the original Tuscola Road
that Johannes bought.

Zeiglers in South Carolina and Alabama.
David Zeigler had come with his large family to
South Carolina from Wurttemburg in 1753 and was among the founders of Orangeburg. Many of his descendants
remained in the Orangeburg district. Some went by
the Seigler name.

But a line from Jacob Zeigler, a Revolutionary War veteran who had received a land grant in what is now Elmore county in Alabama, moved there in the late 1810’s.

“Large numbers of the Zeigler family from Orangeburg, together with other settler families, followed the old Federal road into what was
Alabama territory in a train of more than sixty wagons with an army escort.”

Jacob’s son William operated a
cotton plantation at Robinson Springs
His house, built around 1825, remained with the family until
2005 (it has recently been torn down). William
also helped found the Robinson Springs Methodist church where nine generations
of Zeiglers have been christened.

By the early 1900’s the
Zeiglers were very numerous in the area.

“There were so many Zeiglers by the name of William that it was difficult to keep up with them – William Zeigler, Billy Zeigler, ‘Sawmill’ Billy Zeigler, Will Zeigler, and ‘Leatherhead’ Will Zeigler. They were all what we might call characters. There also was also the family of Tom Zeigler and, on the other side of the road, the family of Judge Zeigler and his wife Belle.”

A more recent arrival has been Aaron Zeiger from Galicia in Austria who came to New York in the 1920’s and was a restaurant owner in Brooklyn.  His son changed his name to Larry King and became a well-known TV talk show host.

Canada.  Various Zieglers from Baden made the journey from Germany to farm in
Waterloo County, Ontario in the 1840’s.
The first to arrive was probably Jacob Ziegler who came with his
Elizabeth in 1844. John D. Ziegler was
there by 1845 and Henry and his wife Catherine by 1848.
Moses Ziegler, grandson of Jacob, was born
there in 1868. He was a Mennonite and
farmed in Arran township, Bruce county.

Gustav Frederick Ziegler was first
recorded in Didsbury in the 1880’s when German and Jewish immigrants
coming to this middle-class area of south Manchester.

His son Colin Louis Ziegler had
a distinguished
World War One record, before retiring to his new home at Picket Orchard
in the
New Forest after the war. He and his
wife Dora raised two sons there, Oliver and Philip.
Philip Ziegler joined the Foreign
Office. He later became a well-known
historian and biographer.


Ziegler Miscellany

Ziegler and Zeigler.  The German spelling is predominantly Ziegler.  But both the Ziegler and Zeigler have
appeared in America.  In fact the early
Pennsylvania records showed a greater number of Zeiglers.
The table below shows the Ziegler/Zeigler
breakdown from US census records.

1840 1920 2000
Ziegler    40%    55%    67%
Zeigler    60%    45%    33%

The Ziegler share grew during the 19th century and now is
much more common.

Michael and Andreas Ziegler, Early Mennonite Leaders in Pennsylvania.  Michael Ziegler, who was born in the German Palatinate around the year 1684,
migrated to Pennsylvania in 1709, marrying and settling down in the Perkiomen
township in Montgomery county.  He was
affiliated as a minister with the Skippack congregation where Henry
Kolb was
bishop and was one of the subscribers to the Dordrecht Confession of
Faith in
1725.  Michael died in 1765.

His son Andreas, a son-in-law of Preacher
Kolb, was ordained a preacher in 1746 and bishop in 1762.
He too served in the Skippack congregation
and preaching circuit.   He and Bishop
Swartz deposed Christian Funk from his office of preacher and
bishop in
1778 for Funk’s favorable attitude toward the American colonies during
rebellion against the British Crown.

Andreas Ziegler was one of the three
signers and possibly the chief author of a letter of March 1773 from
to Holland, giving much valuable information on the Pennsylvania
Mennonites.  He died in 1797.

Zieglers – from Civil War Doctor to Purveyor of Anabolic Steroids.  John Bosley Ziegler was a
fourth-generation doctor. His great grandfather John from York county, Pennsylvania had served in the Civil War as a physician for the Union
Army.  He himself was a Civil War buff
with a large collection of medical paraphernalia from that era.  He often dressed up in garb to attend some
Civil War convention or re-enactment.

From the Civil War, the Ziegler line went as

  • to John S. Ziegler (1859-1943), a country doctor in
  • to Mark V.
    Ziegler (1891-1871), a research scientist in the Midwest
  • and to John Bosley
    Ziegler (1920-1983) who returned to Pennsylvania.

This John was a big, fleshy former Marine who answered to
the nickname of
Montana Jack.  He loved to pump
iron.  During his long sessions at the
gym, he befriended many bodybuilders at the York Barbell Club in

He was the doctor who promoted the anabolic steroid Dianabol which
was released in the US in 1958 by Ciba.
He it was who pioneered its athletic use as an aid to muscle
growth by

He administered it to the US weightlifting champion Bill March of
the York Barbell Club in 1959 when he was the physician to the US
Bill March made gains that
seemed unbelievable, going from an average light heavy to becoming a
champion in the 198-pound division in only a couple of years.

But Ziegler’s dream
turned into a nightmare as evidence increased of the damage done to
athletes who had taken more than the proscribed dose.
Dianabol was later banned by the US Food and
Drug Administration and John became outspoken against its use in sport.

The Zeigler Cotton Plantation in Alabama.  Some memories of the Ziegler cotton plantation at
Robinsons Springs in Elmore county, Alabama came from an ex-slave there, Frank
Zeigler, recorded in 1939 by a WPA worker when Frank was a very old man.

“William Zeigler had died in
1845 before Frank was born.  After his
death his wife Nancy Zeigler ran the plantation.  There
were around five hundred acres of land
and about fifty slaves. These slaves lived in log cabins a short
distance from
the home of the owner.

Frank did not remember very much about the life on this
plantation because while he was still very young ‘old Miss’ died.  He then went to work for their son Billy
Zeigler.  But Billy was too young to
handle the property. So his slaves were
rented out to the smaller plantations whose owners did not have enough
but were unable to buy more.

When the war started, Billy Zeigler sent for Frank
to come home to go to war with him.
However, when Frank got there, he found his master was sick and
to go.  So Frank went back to work for a
neighbor Mr. Sales.  He stayed with Mr.
Sales during the war and for a year after it was over.
The slaves were not told what the war was all
about and thus did not know that they were free until about a year
after it was

Frank was not the only African American who took
the name of Zeigler.  The graves at the
former Baptist church nearby bear the names of other Zeiglers.

Colin Louis Ziegler in the New Forest.  Colin Louis Ziegler, born in 1884, had been educated at the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich and graduated
in 1903, joining the Royal Artillery.  He
served in India and Ireland as well as at home and went
to France with the British Expeditionary Force at the outbreak of the Great War.  He saw out the war, reaching the
rank of Major and receiving the DSO medal in 1917.

Perhaps tired of soldiering,
he resigned his commission the following year and entered into a new
life.  He married Dora Barnwell in London
in 1922
and they moved to Picket Orchard near Ringwood in the New Forest where
raised two sons, Oliver and Philip.

Picket Orchard had originally been a small
cottage, built around 1800 by a New Forest squatter and expanded over
years.  Colin loved the place.
Oak beams, paneled walls, and a large open
fireplace created an old-world atmosphere.
From the large bay-windows there was a wonderful view of the New
Forest.  Not a single house nor building
marred the scene.  Just green foliage in
the foreground with rolling hills reaching to the horizon.
It was his ideal home.

Colin died there in
1977.  The crossing at Foulford Brook near
his home is now called Ziegler Passage in his memory.


Ziegler Names

  • Calvin Ziegler was a German-American poet who flourished in the late 1800’s. He wrote in his native Pennsylvania Dutch and did much to spur a revival in Pennsylvania Dutch writing. 
  • John Ziegler was the American physician who pioneered
    the use of the anabolic steroid Dianabol for weightlifters that was released in 1958. 
  • Philip Ziegler is a distinguished English historian and biographer.

Select Ziegler Numbers Today

  • 16,000 in America (most numerous in Pennsylvania)
  • 1,000 elsewhere (most numerous in UK)


Select Ziegler and Like Surnames 

The first wave of German immigration into America came in the early 1700’s from the Rhine Palatine and Switzerland.  They were fleeing religious persecution at home.  Most ended up in Pennsylvania, bringing their Mennonite church with them.  Some went to the Mohawk Valley in upstate New York.  Their Germanic names often changed under English rule to English-style names.  Thus Fischer became Fisher, Schneider Snyder, Hubner Hoover and so forth.

The reasons for immigration were different in the 19th century – in search of a better life, sometimes to avoid the draft.  They came from all German states and went not just to Pennsylvania but all over as the middle and west of the country was opening up.  And they brought German skills with them, notably beer-making.

Here are some of the notable German surnames in America that you can check out.




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