Zink Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Zink Meaning
Zink, with its earlier
spellings of Zinck, Zincke and Zinke, is a German-origin surname. The root here is likely to be the German word
zinke meaning a “tip,” “point,” or
“prong.” Here the name may have
developed as a nickname for someone with a singularly pointed nose. Zinken
today is German slang for a hooter. Alternatively,
the name may have derived from the personal name Sink, a Frisian form
Signand meaning “victory.”
Zink as a surname has no relationship with
zinc. This metal was not discovered and
named until after the Zink surname was in use.

Zink Resources on

Zink Ancestry

Zincke has been found in Prussia, Zinck in Denmark,
while Zinke spread across northern Germany.
Zink has become more common in Germany than Zinke, accounting
for 70% of
the 18,000 Zinks and Zinkes today. Zincke is little found now.

England. Christian Zincke from
Dresden came to London in 1706 and established himself there as the
most successful miniaturist enamel painter of his era.
His English descendant line in the 19th
century represented a varied bunch:

  • from
    a literary forger in London who ended
    up in poverty
  • to
    a plantation owner in
    Jamaica whose financial position deteriorated. His
    son was a clergyman who married well and lived a
    gentleman’s life in

America. The
surnames here have been Zink and Zinke, with Zink predominating at
around 90%
today. The early arrival point, as for
other Germans, was Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania. Gottlieb Zink arrived in
Philadelphia in 1752
and owned considerable property there by the time of the Revolutionary
War. After the war he moved to Abingdon,
Virginia where he died in 1802. His line
in America was covered in Dora Zink Kellogg’s 1933 book The
Zink Families in America

Gottlieb’s son Jacob was a Lutheran
minister who died in 1829 in Indiana; another son Daniel
Zink had four wives
. The line from
Daniel and his son Andrew led
from Virginia through Indiana and Illinois to Missouri.

Other early Zink arrivals into
Pennsylvania were:

  • Hiram
    Zink who came in 1755 from Baden and started an iron foundry, machine
    shop and
    later a gunpowder factory at Germantown, Philadelphia.
    His son Philip settled in Augusta, Virginia.
  • and Leonardt
    and his
    wife Ester who arrived sometime in the 1750’s and made their home in
    county. The family name changed to Zink
    with the next generation.

Enoch Zink moved from Bedford county, Pennsylvania to
Highland county,
Ohio in
1813. And Samuel Zink
left Pennsylvania for Ohio in 1841 and later settled in Fulton county,

Samuel Zink of Lancaster county who had
served in the War of 1812 was an early settler in Clarion county,
there around 1816. He was the father of
eleven children. Joseph
who grew
up in Clarion county had a mixed bag of jobs there.
He fought in the Civil War and subsequently moved
to Greene county, Missouri.

Elsewhere. There were two Zink arrivals
into upstate New York in the 1830’s:

  • Francis and Bridget Zink who came to
    Buffalo from Germany with their family in 1831, settling in Erie county. Francis and his son William, just three when
    they arrived, were farmers there.
  • while John and Mary Zink from the Rhineland
    Palatinate came in 1837. They initially
    settled in the Niagara region of New York state, subsequently moving to
    county and, much later with many of their children, to Monroe in
    Michigan. Starting in 1912, their
    descendants began to
    hold annual reunions.

In 1844 Nicolaus Zink and his wife emigrated to Texas from
Bavaria. Three years later he founded a
new German settlement at Sisterdale on the banks of Sister Creek in
Kendall county. Many liberal Germans
were attracted there after the failure of the 1848 revolutions in

Zinke. Zinkes appear to have arrived
later in
America. They were mainly to be found in
the Upper Midwest, the largest number being in Wisconsin in the 1920
census. August Zinke
arrived in Wisconsin from
Prussia in 1866 and settled in Portage.
John Zinke, born in Limora, Wisconsin in 1866, moved with his
family to
Walsh county in North Dakota in 1882.

Ryan Zinke, who was the US Secretary of
the Interior from 2017 to 2019, had his roots in North Dakota and

The Zink name in Canada has been very much associated with the
town of Brandon in Manitoba:

  • William Zink was
    recorded there in the 1901 census.
  • William Zink and his family left Brandon for
    California in the 1920’s
  • and William Zink closed Zink’s Food Store in Brandon
    after his father’s retirement in 1980


Zink Miscellany

Christian Zincke and His Descendants.  Christian Zincke, whose grandfather
Paul and father Christian were both goldsmiths in Dresden, trained in that
profession as well.  But he also studied
with the portrait painter Heinrich-Christoph Fehling.

In 1706 he moved to England
at the invitation of the Swedish enamellist Charles Boit to collaborate
on a
large enamel commemorating the Battle of Blenheim.
Zincke continued in London as Boit’s pupil,
but soon outstripped his master and set up on his own as a miniaturist. He went on to become the
most successful enamel painter of his era. Zincke
was twice married. He had one son and one daughter by his first wife.  He died in 1767.

His grandson Paul Francis
Zincke practiced in London as a copyist and forged various portraits of
Shakespeare, Milton, and other celebrities.
However, he died in miserable circumstances in London in 1830.

Another line led to
Frederick Burt Zincke, born around 1786, who trained as a doctor and married
Mary Lawrence in 1811.  He succeeded to
the Lawrence sugar plantation at Eardley in Jamaica eight years later.  However, the family’s financial position
declined in 1833 after the emancipation of the slaves and Frederick’s son Foster returned to England.

became a clergyman and in 1853 was appointed one of the Queen’s
chaplains.  He later married well and
enjoyed an active
life in travel and in local politics in Suffolk until his death in 1893. 

Daniel Zink and His Four Wives.  Daniel Zink was born in Pennsylvania in 1767 and died in Edgar county, Illinois in 1841.  He was married four times.

His first wife was Elizabeth (Betsy) Shelley whom he married in Abington, Virginia in 1791,
his brother the Rev. Jacob Zink officiating.
They moved in Indiana in the early 1800’s.  Daniel
was to suffer two deaths there, his son
John being killed during an Indian raid in 1812 and his wife Betsy
passing away
in 1817.

A short while later, he married his second wife Jane
Shields.  However, this marriage did not
long.  She was said
to have burst her bladder after she had alighted
a horse which she had ridden all day.  Daniel later went back to Virginia to
marry Elizabeth
Cline. They journeyed to their new home in Edgar
county, Illinois in
the winter of 1827.

Daniel’s fourth marriage
was to a woman,
Margaret Stivers, that he had met
on a steamboat trip.  The
marriage was of short duration. This elderly couple
separated because of their age, each going to live with their
children. Daniel and his youngest son Andrew (born to Elizabeth
Cline) lived with his daughter Susan Zimmerly.

Reader Feedback – Leonardt Sink in Pennsylvania.  
Leonardt Sink is not the grandfather of Enoch Zink. Enoch is the son of a John Sink who raised his family on a small plot of land across the river from what became Saxton,
Hopewell Township in Bedford county, Ohio.  John was buried with his wife
in the Old Saxton cemetery which was originally a Native American burial
ground.  This John is only recorded in Bedford county
records.  His parents are unknown.

A number of early Pennsylvania records are for Sink/Zink families living along the east coast as well as in the backcountry.  The 1800
Federal Census lists a John Sink and family in Elk Lick, Somerset
county, just
west of Bedford county.  Two adults enumerated in this record are
both 24-44 years of age, meaning they could have been of the same age as Enoch’s father John.  Numerous Sinks are listed in the Chester Co. Pennsylvania and Philadelphia 18th century records.  There are Sink/Zink households in Frederick county, Maryland and in Augusta county, Virginia named in the 1790
census and in early 1800 deeds.

While Leonardt Sink of Berks county,
Pennsylvania had a son named John, the 1790 Berks county census for
this John
states he had three sons under the age of 16 and one son over the age
16.  Enoch’s father John had only three sons all under the age of
16 in
1790.  In fact they were all under 10
years of age.

Leonardt Sink was not the father of Bedford county John
Zink.  They do not match.  I have had extensive Ydna testing
through a direct male descendant of John Zink.  A direct male
of Leonardt should test at FTDNA.  At the moment there is no
record of Leonardt.

Tina Zink, direct descendant (cliffbox101@aol.com) 

Joseph Zink’s Struggles in Clarion County, Pennsylvania.  Joseph Zink, born in 1822, grew up in Clarion county, Pennsylvania.

At the age of nineteen he learned the cabinet maker’s trade, and
worked three years for $37.50 per year, being able to cloth himself.  At the end of that time he had saved enough
money to buy a suit of “store clothes.”  He then went into partnership with a man in the cabinet business.  However, within a year they were cleaned out financially and Zink was left without a dollar.

He then, with the help of a friend, started in trade and within two years was able
to work five journeymen.   His health was
later not so good and he engaged in the hotel business.

When the Civil War broke out, Joseph enlisted in
Company F, 103rd Regiment of Pennsylvania volunteers, and during the
course of
the war was promoted from private to captain (he had been a major in
the old
state militia).  He was discharged in
1863 for disability.

After the war he moved with his family to Greene county, Missouri where he farmed.

August Zinke in Wisconsin.  August Wilhelm Zinke, born around 1814, had owned a large tailor shop in his native Prussia.
He immigrated to America in 1866 and made his
home in Portage, Wisconsin.

In Portage he was an ultra-stylish, stern, rather
arrogant gentleman who was always stylishly dressed and who always
carried a
fine walking stick.  This was more for
show than for use.  He was usually seen
after his wife Dorothea died with his friend, a wealthy man, who had a
whom the two gentlemen thought would be a fine match for August’s son
Herman.  But Herman had other

August told stories about his Zinkes in Prussia and how they were supposed to have descended from the Kaiser’s court of noble blood lines.  He had a picture of Kaiser Wilhelm over the
fireplace in his home as well as a sword with engraving on it.

Zinks in Brandon, Manitoba.  William Zink had immigrated into Canada in 1893 and was recorded in the 1901 Brandon census.

A William Zink later departed Brandon for Burbank, California where his two sons Ralph
and Clarence became well-known Hollywood actors under the names of Donald Woods and Russ Conway.

There was a Zink who remained in Brandon – Albert Zink who
started Zink’s Food Store in 1932 at the height of the Depression.  It remained a neighborhood landmark until
Albert’s retirement in 1980.

Meanwhile another Zink had arrived in Brandon.
Lubor Zink had fled his native Czechoslovakia when the Nazis invaded in
1939.  He went to Canada in 1958 with his wife and son and became the
editor of the Brandon Sun.  His
editorials won him a National Newspaper
Award in 1961 and he moved onto the big-cityToronto


Zink Names

  • Christian Zincke established himself in
    London in the early 1700’s as the most successful miniaturist enamel painter of his time. 
  • Nicolaus Zink founded a new settlement for
    German colonists at Sisterdale in Texas in 1847. 
  • Jack Zink who died in 2005 built up a major business in Oklahoma in the manufacture of oil and gas combustion units. He was also well known for his involvement in Indy car racing and was inducted into the Auto Racing Hall of Fame.

Select Zink Numbers Today

  • 6,000 in America (most numerous in Ohio)
  • 600 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)


Select Zink 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.




Click here for return to front page

Leave a Reply