Saturday, February 6, 2010

Surname Saturday: Kleylein

Well, while the blizzard of 2010 rages outside, I guess I have no choice but to stay inside cozy doing one of my favorite things: wearing clothes that clash. I admit, I get an inexplicable pleasure over clashing, but I try to keep it only to weekends, and only when not going out. Once I hit 70 years old though, I am absolutely heading outside wearing whatever I want, because at that point, you've so earned it, not to mention the fact that you really don't give a crap what other people say anymore. It's one of the absolute best benefits of getting older, and I enjoy every moment of caring less about other people's opinions!!! :-)

And now, back to our story:

The surname KLEYLEIN is a pretty rare one. I don't usually talk about my KLEYLEIN line because my dad researches that line, while I do my maternal genealogy.

It is German, but there is no literal translation for it. It does have the diminutive of -lein; in German you typically see either -lein or -chen as diminutives, so that is a hint. Perhaps "Kley" was a given name? That's still a mystery. It is pronounced "KLY-line".

You might think, since it's German, that it was originally KLEILEIN, and you will find records with that spelling here in the US. It seems it was a matter of choice and mood as to whether my ancestors here in the US signed their name using the "y" or "i". They went back and forth.

Also, in records back in Germany, it is in fact spelled "Kleylein". This makes it a rather unusual name for German. My father has had several German colleagues comment that it didn't make sense as a German name.

All that aside, it originates from a village in the state of Bavaria in Germany. Bavaria ("Bayern" in German) is in the southeast of Germany. The village is centered around the river Rodach and is divided into 2 villages really, Unterrodach and Oberrodach ("under" and "over", respectively). It is within the Franconian Forest (the "Frankenwald").

Back in the day, the main industry in the village was logging and the men would cut down the trees, and ride the logs down the river, tying them together into huge rafts, and they'd connect with larger rivers where the sawmills were. There is a wonderful little museum in Unterrodach on this topic that I was lucky enough to go to several years ago when visiting Germany.

Most Kleyleins who came to the US came through the Port of Baltimore in the early 20th century. And then most settled in Baltimore, although there were a few outliers in other areas. At this point, we are very spread out, just a handful here and there in various states. There are still Kleyleins back in Germany, and just like with the states, there are very small handfuls of Kleyleins all over the world. So there aren't a lot of us, but we're really spread out!

Here is my Kleylein ahnentafel:

1. Leah KLEYLEIN - me!

2. Rich KLEYLEIN - my dad!

4. Leon David KLEYLEIN , born 29 Jun 1903 in Baltimore, Baltimore Co., Maryland; died 29 Dec 1992 in Tonawanda, Erie Co., New York. He married Sophia Eleanor Tekla PAWLAK.

8. Peter KLEYLEIN-WELTDICKER, born 12 Oct 1873 in Unterrodach, Oberfranken, Bayern, Germany; died 07 Jun 1925 in Baltimore, Baltimore Co., Maryland. He married Hallie Violet HARRISON and his profession was baking. (in his research, my dad has found that many of the Kleyleins in Unterrodach and the area added suffixes to their names, presumably to identify exactly which Kleylein they were. I guess the land was teeming with us back in those days!)

16. Johann Andreas KLEYLEIN-WELTDICKER, born 04 Oct 1829 in Unterrodach, Oberfranken, Bayern, Germany; died 26 Feb 1886 in Unterrodach, Oberfranken, Bayern, Germany. He married Katharina SCHALLER.

32. Johannes KLEYLEIN-WELTDICKER, born 31 Mar 1790 in Unterrodach, Oberfranken, Bayern, Germany; died 13 Jul 1854 in Unterrodach, Oberfranken, Bayern, Germany. He married Margaretha EBER-STUMPF.


And that's the quick overview of my last name! Oh and by the way, isn't "Kunigunda" the best last name EVER????


  1. Very accurate rendition, but I still think Eber-Stumpf trumps Kunigunda. ;->

  2. That's one eery-looking snow pic! And I like the idea of wearing clashing clothes on a snow weekend.

  3. Leah,
    I for one am glad that the bad weather, cozy inside and weekend clashers brought forth this really interesting KLEYLEIN history. Enjoyed it thoroughly.