Different Spellings of Zollinger

Over the past ten years the research into the history of the Zollinger family first focussed on finding old family history books, and later on the contacting of present-day Zollingers through their listing in phone books worldwide. Now that this task is almost complete, another topic, which up to now has been neglected, requires some attention. At different points in time, and under different circumstances and motivations, some Zollingers have decided to change the spelling of their name. Clearly, from a historical as well as a genealogical point of view, they too are Zollingers through and through.

Some new spellings were motivated by trying to adjust the name to a different language or culture, and so it is not surprising that most of these are found in the USA. Here, upon arrival, immigration officers had a tendency to misunderstand the name, or to decide on their own to simplify the spelling. This however was not the case with Zollingers, but later-on, documents often show different spellings of the name, sometimes on the same page. It was then the decision of an individual to for whatever reason change the spelling of his name. This was for example the case with the Zollingers of the Mohawk valley in upper New York State, who decided to shorten their name to Zoller. On the other hand, some early immigrants to southern Pennsylvania changed the “o” to an “u”, and from there a large branch of the family evolved under the name Zullinger. But in this particular family only some of the children changed to the new spelling, and so their family tree shows different branches with either spelling. And one branch of the earliest Zollinger immigrants decided to change the spelling to Sollinger, and they can even today still be found in the same counties north of Pittsburgh, PA, as well as in adjacent counties of Ohio. And finally a less well researched branch uses the spelling Sulenger.

In Switzerland different spellings can also be found, and one of them went through a similar evolution as their USA relatives, by adapting the name to a different culture. This is a Zollinger who moved to the eastern-most mountains of Switzerland, where the local language is Romansch. Over time the name changed from Zollinger to Sollinger to Solinger. But the most interesting different spelling here is actually a historical remnant. The earliest documentation of the name Zollinger shows a low aristocracy with the name “von Zollikon”. Over the centuries the aristocratic “von” had to be dropped, and the name “Zollikon” then quickly evolved into “Zolliker”. Yet within two generations the name changed again to the permanent form of Zollinger. Yer a few generations later several individuals living on the original family property in Lautikon then changed back to Zolliker, and maintained that spelling to this day.

Finding family members with these various spellings has been very difficult, because the approach we used to find their names in telephone listings does not work here. This because the majority of persons with these different spellings are not descendants of the Zollinger family, and so calling all of them would not be productive. The exception are the Zullingers which have been thoroughly researched by Janice Roden, and the Swiss Solingers, which can all be traced to the same origine. For the rest, it is now time to carry out more research into these branches. A start has been made with the name Zoller, because many of the branches with that name still live in the ancestral area of upper New York State. There, several family members had written extensive family trees, and recent research has further expanded that work. The main challenges now are to find the Sollingers in the USA, and the Zollikers in Switzerland. That is where the focus of the next phase of research will have to concentrate.

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