“The name Ziegenfuss is German and means goat foot (alternative spellings include Zickefoose, Sigafoes, Sickafaus, Zeigenfuse, etc.) which is traced back to the 15th century. It is a relatively rare name, which arises in Germany particularly in the Ruhr district (Castrop Rauxel), in the Eichsfeld and in the Odenwald.”[1]


Presently, the oldest known mention of the name took place in 1470 in the land register of the city of Muhlhausen. [2]


In 1525 the home of Claus Zeegenfoess was burned down together with the monastery at Beuren by rebellious farmers in the German Peasants’ War. [3]


Burkhard Ziegenfuss was an epigrammatic poet (spruchtdichter). His poem “A Saying of the Doctors and Lawyers” was published in 1540. A copy is preserved in the German State Library in Berlin. It consists of four sheets in 8 inch format[4].


In the Turk tax lists of 1542 and 1548 more family members are mentioned in the Beuren region.[5]


In 1597 a Ziegenfuss became a citizen of the city of Duderstadt and between 1585 and 1604 “Ziegenfusses” were mentioned in Goslar.[6]


The death of Balzer Ziegenfuss, an inhabitant of Geisleden near Heiligenstat, is listed in 1659[7]. Following the Thirty Years War (1618-1648 between the Catholic and Protestant princes of Germany) Balzer Ziegenfuss and his four sons, from the Catholic Eichsfeld, himself from the closed Lutheran earldom of Erbach, came to the little abandoned village of Raidelbach. His name was written by the clerk of the court in the public papers as “Ziehfuss” and “Zehenfuss” and later as “Zehfuss”. Then, since 1701 the name became known all at once as “Ziegenfuss” in the church records of the pastors of Reichenbach in the region of Raidelbach. It was thought that the change from “Zehfuss” to “Ziegenfuss” was because it was from an unformed dialect which was misunderstood in their new

homeland. “…the change from Zehfuss into Ziegenfus in 1701 was one through readjustment of the primary (original) name.”[8]


According to Wikipedia, “The origin of all lines is in the Eichsfeld area of Thuringia.”   


Five Ziegenfuss lines (branches of the family) are known at present: the Eichsfeld line, the Odenwald line, the Ruhr district line, the North German line and the Saxon line. [9]


The Eischsfeld Line: It traces back to a  Hans Hildebrand Ziegenfuss, who lived around 1650 in the Eichsfeld area. His descendants lived particularly in Silberhausen, Helmsdorf, Dingelstadt and Kallmerode. Some of these persons immigrated around 1850 to the United States, particularly into the Midwest. . More than 8,200 descendants were found, most of them in Germany and the United States. More information about this line can be found at: Descendants of Hans Hildebrand Ziegenfuss (


The Odenwald Line:

The ancestor of this line originated from the Eichsfeld village of Wingerode, however the exact connection to the Eichsfeld line has not been able to be reconstructed at present. In the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) Germany lost about 20 percent of its population. This branch of the family moved into the depopulated Odenwald (Raidelbach, Gadernheim, Beedenkirchen and parts of Laudertal). The name in the Odenwald was Zehfuss (toe foot) and around 1700 standardized to Ziegenfuss. Between 1738 and 1750 some families emigrated to Pennsylvania. Spelling deviations of the name all belong to the Odenwald branch. They originally settled in the northeastern part of the United States, and number more than 4000 persons.


The Ruhr District Line:

Around 1850 a Ziegenfuss from the Eichsfeld place Ecklingerode emigrated to Castrop-Rauxel. Two of his sons emigrated to the United States and to Australia. Many Ziegenfuss’ in the Ruhr District are part of this branch.[10]


The North German Line:

About 1750 this branch of Ziegenfuss’ settled in the area of Luneburg Heath. The genealogical searches of Robert Ziegenfuss  into the Odenwald branch during the 1930’s indicate connections to Eichsfeld exist. A large family of Ziegenfuss’ living in Texas, USA descend from an ancestor from Weferlingen and Helmstedt, and could belong to this line.




The Saxon Line:

In the proximity of Bautzen and Dresden a branch of Ziegenfuss’ settled there before 1700. More exact information about their origins does not exist at present.


The Early Ziegenfuss Line of Descent from the Deutsches Geschlecterbuch[11]

     After the Thirty Years War ended in 1648[12], the depopulated Odenwald was re-settled with many new people. Among them was a man from Eichsfeld who settled in the small abandoned village of Raidelbach.  The clerk of the courts first wrote his name as Ziehfuss and Ziehenfuss, and later as Zehfuss in the church records. His name was Jacob Zehfuss.  The date of his birth and the name of his wife are not known at present. He is listed as a “bauer” in German, which referred to someone who was a peasant, husbandman, /and or owned a small plot of land. In 1651 he purchased one deserted proper hide of land (a unit of  land area equal to 120 acres) near Werningerode near Gross=Bodungen in the earldom of Hohenstein am Eichsfeld. He had four sons and one daughter:


                 1. Heinrich, born …, died …(before 1703).

                 2. Hamert, born …, died …; married Anna …; had three children.          

                 3. Hans

                 4. Hildebrand, born 1640, died 1701; married twice and had 2 children.

                 5. Anna Katharina, married to Christian Bitsch at Raidelbach Feb. 6, 1666.


1. Heinrich Zehfuss born …, died …(before 1703) lived at Raidelbach since 1651 and in

   1654 bought one hide of land.     His wife’s name was Anna, born …, died …. They

    had ten children:

                 1.a. Michel, son, born at Raidelbach Oct. 29, 1653, died 1691.

                 1.b. Christoph, , son born at Raidelbach May 3, 1655.

                 1.c. Wilhelm, son, born a Raidelbach June 25, 1657.

                 1.d. Anna, daughter, born Aug. 4, 1659  and died  …1659 at Raidelbach.

                 1.e. Margareta, born Jan. 27, 1661, died …

                 1.f. Johann Jacob, son, born at Raidelbach July 25, 1663, buried Dec. 9, 1724.

                 1.g. Gabriel, son, born  Feb. 5,1666,  buried Jan. 22, 1668.

                 1.h. Otilla, born Sept. 13, 1668, died …

                 1.i. Apollonia, born …1671, died …

                 1.j. Barbara, born Aug. 9, 1674, died …


1.c. Wilhelm Zehfuss, was born at Raidelbach June 25, 1657, and died … He was a

      “bauer” at Raidelbach and married Anna Elisabeth …, born 1654, and was buried 

       March 5, 1723. They had one son, Jacob.  (We know him as “Hans Jacob”.)

           “Hans” Jacob[13] Zehfuss was probably named for his great-grandfather. He was

      born at Raidelbach near Gadernheim (in the Bensheim  area) on Dec. 20, 1691.        

      By trade he was a baker and lived in the village of Beedenkirchen near Reichenbach

      in the Odenwald. He married three times:

        first,  with Anna Elisabeth …, born …, died at Beedenkichen March 13, 1730.


        second, with Anna Apollonia Rettig, born at Knoden near Gadernheim …1698 and

                   died at Beedenkirchen Nov. 11, 1734.


        third, with Anna Elisabeth Mund, (“Anelies”[14] in the ship’s record[15]) born Sept. 27,

                 1708,  died …,


Children, first marriage, 2-9 born at Beedenkirchen near Reichenbach in the Odenwald:

1.      - 4. (deceased) born…, died…,

5. (deceased) Cristoph, born Jan. 28,1727, died…*).

6. (deceased) John Jacob, born Jan. 9, 1729, died…*).

             * “Drawn into the new land”, probably the whole family migrated out.[16]



      Any additional substantive information about Ziegenfuss German ancestry,     (or corrections) are always welcome and important to us.



















1. Deutsches Geschlecterbuch, Genealogiches Handbuch Berglicher Familien,

    Ochtundneunziger Band, p.689-694, Druck und Verlag von C. A. Starke,

    Goerlitz, 1937.


2. Pennsylvania Dutch Pioneers: The Original Lists of Arrivals in the Port of 

    Philadelphia from 1727 to 1808, compiled by Ralph B. Strassburger, edited by

    William J. Hinke, 3 volumes; published by the Pennsylvania German Society,

    Norristown, PA, 1934.


3. Encyclopedia of German-American Genealogical Research, by Clifford Neal Smith  

    and Anna P.C. Smith, R.R.Bowker Company, A Xerox Education Company, New  

    York & London, 1976, pages 99 & 140. (cites “Studien uber die Namengebung in

    deutschen  Seit dem Anfang des XVI Jahrhunderts” (“Studies regarding Garman

    Namegiving since the 16th Century”) by Karl Heinrichs, Strassburg: Karl J. Trubner,



4. Bill Ensor ( Oct. 2002 email.


5. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (online).


To learn more about what your personal DNA indicates about your earliest ancestral history, you may want to have it tested by a reputable company such as 23 and me ( “Ancestry composition tells you what percent of your DNA comes from each of 31 populations worldwide. The analysis includes DNA you received from all of your ancestors, on both sides of your family. The results reflect where your ancestors lived 500 years ago…” As of July 2015, 23 & Me tested the DNA of 1 million people.

                                                                               August 1, 2015                                                                                                      


                                                                      Rev. Dr. William J. Ziegenfus

                                                                      4230 Stourhead Lane

                                                                      Jacksonville, Florida 32225


                                                                      Land line:  904-672-7109

                                                                      Cell: 904-888-2667







1  Wikipedia

2. Wikipedia

3. Wikipedia

4. Wikipedia

[5]  Wikipedia

[6]  Wikipedia

[7] Deutsches Geschlechterbuch, page 690 footnote.

[8] Robert Ziegenfuss, Deutsches Geschlecterbuch, Genealogisches Handbuch Burglicher Familien, Bande 98, pages 689-735, C.A. Starke Verlag, Limburg an der Lahn, Germany 1937.

[9] Wikipedia

[10] Ruhr work council boss Hans Ziegenfuss in Germany during the 1980’s in the context of  the Brenner Vilkan bankruptcy belong to this line.

[11] The remaining part of this section is a translation of the information on the Deutsches Geschlecterbich. During the 1920s and 1930s German families were invited to send their genealogies to C.A. Starke & Co. for publication in what become a large collection of volumes called the Deutsches Geschlechterbuch (German Book of Family Lines: Genealogical Handbook of Middle Class Families). Thanks to Robert Ziegenfuss, Senior Assistant Headmaster Teacher in Dresden the Ziegenfuss family was published in volume 98 in the series in 1937. Although the volume has been out of print, copies can be obtained from C.A. Starke & Co. in Germany ( It is printed in Sutterlin script.

[12] After 1681 all territories west of the Rhine River were merged with France; the territories east of the Rhine were secularized  and absorbed by Baden.

[13] By 1660 thirty percent of the male names were double, nearly always using Hans as the first of the pair;     

   the most popular double name was “Hans Jacob”, followed by Hans Diebolt , Hans Jorg, Hans Conrad,

   Hans Martin, Hans Ulrich, Hans Wilhelm, Hans Andreas, and Hans Heinrich to mention a few examples.

[14] Some names were elided (abridged) “Annalies” is the elided form of Anna Elisabeth. Other examples are    

    Anna Maria “Annamarei” or “Annamei”; Maria Anna “Marianna”; Franz Joseph “Franzsepp”; Johann   

    Baptiste “Shambetis”, adapted from Jean Baptiste; Johann Peter “Shambiar” (adaped from Jean Pierre)     

    to mention a few of the more popular elided names.  

[15] The ship records of the Bilander Thistle, October 28, 1738 from Rotterdam.

[16] Fortunately the ship records of the Bilander Thistle listed Hans Jacob and Anna Elisabeth’s children  

     more precisely than this final listing in the Deutsches Geschlecterbuch. See Chapter 2 “Our Voyage to          


[17] German personal names are of two main types, the ancient ones of Germanic tribes and the biblical ones. 

  Use of these names has varied considerably in place and time. The only general comment which can be

  made is that Lutherans and Catholics have diverged somewhat in name giving, and this divergence can 

  occasionally be useful to the genealogical researcher seeking to determine the religious affiliation of an