Hutterite Family Names

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The Hutterite Brethren of 1954, numbering close to 10,000, belonged to not more than 15 different families as follows: Decker, Entz, Glantzer, Gross, Hofer, Kleinsasser, Knels, Mändel, Stahl, Tschetter, Waldner, Wipf, Wollman, Wurz, Walter. These 15 families may be divided according to their origin into (1) the "old" Hutterites, (2) the "Carinthian" Hutterites (since 1756), and (3) former Prussian Mennonites who joined the brotherhood in the Ukraine in the 1780s. (This article does not deal at all with the New Hutterites or "Arnold-Leut.")

  1. "Old" Hutterite families may again be subdivided into those (a) who lived in Transylvania (Alvinc) ever since 1621, and from there moved to the Ukraine 1767-1770, and (b) those from Slovakia (mainly Sobotište) who joined the brotherhood only after the 1780s. The assignment, however, to either group is not absolutely certain. (i) From Transylvania come the Stahl and the Wipf families. A Stahl is mentioned in the small Chronik as early as 1663 when he was killed by the Turks; of the Wipfs the Chronik says nothing, mainly because the writers of this Chronik lived in Slovakia and somewhat neglected the story of the Transylvanian Bruderhof. (ii) From Slovakia (Sobotište and perhaps Velky Levary) come the families Walter, Wollman, Tschetter, and Mändel. The Walters are no doubt the oldest family of all. One Franz Walter (of Oetisheim, Württemberg: see Bossert, 685, 891 f.), a barber-surgeon, was made preacher in 1597; in 1621 he led a group to Transylvania (Alvinc), where he died six months later. His family continued in Sobotište. A Zacharias Walter (1700-1762), head bishop from 1746, is the ancestor of all the Walters of today. His son, Jacob Walter, went to Russia in 1782 (see Walter). As to the Wollmans we read of one Jacob Bollman, Vorsteher 1724-1734; in the "Väterlied" (Lieder der Hutterischen Brüder 1914: 878) the same brother is named Wollman. It appears that the names Wollman, Bollman, and Pullman (still today in Slovakia) indicate the same family. A Tobias Pullman, the husband of the daughter of Jacob Walter, came to the Ukraine in 1784. Also the name Walman in the Chronik, may be of the descent. The Tschetters of today come from a family originally named Zeterle or Cseterle. It is possible that they were of Slovakian origin; however, the name Zeterle (Zieglschmid, Klein-Geschichtsbuch, 247, note 3) could also be of German origin. They must have joined the brotherhood late, since their name appears only in the Klein-Geschichtsbuch. There were Tschetters both in Slovakia and in Transylvania; it is uncertain from which branch the family of today derives, as no family tradition has survived. Finally there are the Mändels. Apparently this family has nothing to do with the old Tirolean Anabaptist name (Hans Mändel martyred in 1561). It originates rather with a Slavic family, mentioned in the Klein-Geschichtsbuch as "Mändelig." In 1784 a Paul Mändelig arrived in Vyshenka. It is interesting to learn that still today the Mändels are called among the Brethren the "Bohemians" (die Behm). The Klein-Geschichtsbuch lists (373-374) all those who had managed to leave Slovakia and to rejoin the brotherhood in Russia. All told there were 56 souls. In this list also an Andreas Stahl is mentioned; whether the Stahls of today go back to him or to Johannes Stahl of Transylvania can no longer be ascertained.
  2. Hutterites of Carinthian origin who joined the brotherhood in Transylvania in 1756 are Waldner, Hofer, Kleinsasser, Glantzer, and Wurz. The Klein-Geschichtsbuch (268-270) gives a list of all those who left Carinthia in 1755, with at least 14 names; only 5 names have survived to this day.
  3. Hutterites of Mennonite origin: contacts with the Mennonites of East Prussia began around 1780-1781 (see Hofer). Today four families exist of that Mennonite extraction: Decker or Dekker (in 1782, one Els Deckerin joined with her children), Entz (no further information), Gross (joined the Vyshenka group in 1781), and Knels (like Els Deckerin, also one Liset Knelsin with two children, joined the brotherhood in 1782, Klein-Geschichtsbuch, 369). It is said that the family name of Knels will soon die out among the modern Brethren. A fifth Mennonite Hutterite family name, Jantzen, died out in 1927. Any Mennonites of today who bear a Hutterite name (except for the four names just mentioned, deriving from Mennonite background) are certain to be of Hutterite background, and most likely transferred from a Hutterite group after its arrival in North Dakota 1874-1877.

It might be valuable also to record that in Slovakia today among the Habaner, the following family names have become known: Walter, Pullman, Baumgartner, Tschetter, Bernhauser, Miller and Müller, and Roth.

Another "old" Hutterite family of high standing, the Kuhr family (active in Transylvania), seems to have died out in the Ukraine at an early date.


Clark, Bertha W. "The Hutterian Communities." Journal of Political Economy 32 (1924): 357-374, 468-486. She was the first to list all existing family names (16 at that time).

Author(s) Robert Friedmann
Date Published 1956

Cite This Article

MLA style

Friedmann, Robert. "Hutterite Family Names." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1956. Web. 11 Aug 2022.

APA style

Friedmann, Robert. (1956). Hutterite Family Names. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 11 August 2022, from


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, pp. 865-866. All rights reserved.

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