The Family name Ziegenfuß, (in the USA also written as Zickefoose, Sigafoes, Sickafaus, Zeigenfuse and so on), can be traced back to the 15th century. It's a quite rare name which is used by about 200 families in germany, especially in the Ruhr area (Castrop-Rauxel), in the Eichsfeld and in the Odenwald. Individuals with this name also can be found in larger numbers in the USA and Australia.

Meaning Edit

Etymologists say that the first part Ziegen- in Family names like Ziegenfuß, Ziegenbein, Ziegenhals and so on stands for thinn, scraggy. So maybe the first person with this namehat thin, white legs or feet so he got this name as a Sobriquet and inherited to his children as his family name.

Another theory says that the first person with this name had a club foot which might have looked like the foot of a goat. [1]


Genealogical researches ended up in the following results:
The origin of all lines possibly is situated in or close to the Obereichsfeld in Thuringia. Several individuals with this name appear for instance in documents of of the protestant reformation time, e.g. 1525 Claus Zcegenfoeß who lost his house when it got burned down by rioting peasants in the German peasants war.

In the "Turkey tax lists" (special tax to finance the war against the turkish) of 1542 and 1548 more individuals in the region are having the name, so again in Beuren, Bodenrode, Heilbad Heiligenstadt and Uder. In 1597 a Ziegenfuss is mentioned as an inhabitant of the town of Duderstadt and 1585-1604 "Ziegenfusses" are mentioned in documents of the town Goslar which is not far away.

The so far known oldest appearance of the name in the origional kind of writing in the mid of germany was found in the Cadastre of the town Mühlhausen in 1470.

More older is a document from 1321 in which a Tyl von Cigenfus is mentioned. He got the village Dittersdorf as a present from his friend Boreš III (owner of Mährisch Trübau). [2]

Family branches Edit

So far the following branches of the Ziegenfuss family are known:

  • Eichsfeld Branch

This line can be traced back to a Hans Hildebrand Ziegenfuss who lived about 1650 in the Eichsfeld area. His descendants mostly live(d) in the villages Silberhausen, Helmsdorf, Dingelstädt and Kallmerode. Several individuals of this line emigrated in the time between 1820 and 1880 to the USA, especially to the Middle West and California. Today more than 31,000 descendants of Hans Hildebrand are known. Most of them live in Germany and the USA but they also spread around the whole world.[3]

The results of this research also was published as an Kindle Ebook which can be purchased by Amazon.

  • Odenwald branch

This line was started during the "Thirty Year War" when the first Ziegenfuss arrived in the Odenwald area. His family settled in towns like Raidelbach, Gadernheim and Beedenkirchen, today local parts of Lautertal (Odenwald). This man originally came from the village Wingerode, located in the Eichsfeld. Until now it could not be reconstructed if and how he was connected to the Eichsfeld branch.

Already in the time of 1750 some families of this branch emigrated and established themselves in the eastern part of Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia. The above mentioned deviating ways of writing are carried nearly without exception by members of the Odenwald branch. In the 18th century the name in the Odenwald also was written Zehfuss (which means toe foot). The american part of the line is partially well investigated and covers more than 4,000 persons, who live mainly in the northeast of the USA. A lof of genealogical research was done in the 1930s by Robert Ziegenfuss. He published his result in a german genealogy book (Deutsches Geschlechterbuch[4]).

  • Ruhr area branch

Around 1850 a goat foot from the village Ecklingerode emigrated to the town Castrop-Rauxel in the Ruhr area. Two sons of him later emigrated to the USA and to Australia. Many Ziegenfusses in the Ruhr district can be assigned to this branch. Also the work council boss Hans Ziegenfuss (in Germany wellknown due to the bankruptcy of the Bremer Vulkan AG in the 1980s) belongs to this branch. A connection to the Eichsfeld line is very possible but until now the missing link still needs to be found.

  • Northgerman branch

In the area of the Lüneburg_Heath since about 1750 individuals with the name Ziegenfuss can be found. This branch was so far only partly investigated. The researches of Robert Ziegenfuss from the Odenwald branch in the 1930s resulted in that connections to the Eichsfeld exist. But until now they could not be verified. A large family which resides particularly in Texas, and whose ancestor came from Weferlingen and Helmstedt could belong to this branch also.

  • Saxonian branch

In the proximity of Bautzen and Dresden a few individuals with the name Ziegenfuss can be found in church records in the 1600s. More exact information to their origin and any connections to the other branches are missing. Maybe they had connections to the manor in Cygusy and to Tyl von Cigenfus.

  • Bohemian branch

In the 1700th a Ziegenfuss from the Eichsfeld was stationed as a soldier of the Austrian-Hungarian army in Bohemia. He got married there and his descendants settled in Bohemia. Some of them went to Austria; others to Argentina. He origionally came from Beuren. The connection to the Eichsfeld line is unkown because the common ancestor lived before the church records start. In this line there are about 250 individuals.

Famous Ziegenfuss people Edit

Common Ancestor Edit

With the help of several yDNA37-Tests (made by the company it could be prooved that the Eichsfeld, Odenwald and Northgerman branch can be traced back to a common ancestor. From all 3 lines at least 2 individuals were tested. Also for the Ruhr branch such a test is planned because from them living individuals are known. If this also is true for the Saxonian branch is unknown.

The tests showed that the 3 lines belong together with an accuracy of more than 99.95 %. The company also used a statistical model to predict the timeframe when those lines split up. Maybe only two more generations of them need to be discovered to find the first common Ziegenfuss of all 3 lines.

Weblinks Edit

References Edit

  1. SWR1 Namenforscher
  2. Dětřichov_u_Moravské_Třebové
  3. Genealogy-Homepage of this branch
  4. Deutsches Geschlechterbuch Bd. 98, 1930 = Hessisches Geschlechterbuch Bd. 11, S. 689-735

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