Where does the surname Ernewein originate?
In almost all instances, families with the surname Ernewein can be traced back to the commune Soufflenheim in the Bas-Rhin Département of Alsace, France. However, the trail goes cold there. A theory about the actual origin is outlined below in the context of the etymology of the surname.
Why is so little genealogical information available?
Perhaps the answer is that very little genealogical information is available due to destruction of church records during the French Revolution.
“After the Thirty Years War (the 1618-1648 religious war between the Catholics and the Protestants) Soufflenheim was destroyed and its inhabitants were almost all murdered. There was almost nobody remaining in the village, as it was in all the region. After this war the villages of the plain of Alsace were repopulated by German families and especially Swiss.
After the French Revolution of 1789, there was the period of the Reign of Terror, where many of those who belonged to the church were ostracized, and it is during this Reign of Terror that the churches were plundered and in part destroyed. It is said of Soufflenheim that it had a monastery which was totally destroyed; today nothing very much of it remains. It is during this period that the missing records were destroyed. It is a pity because in the majority of other communities one can travel much farther back in the research.” – Taken from: http://members.cox.net/smithgen/places/souff/destruct.htm
What is the etymology of the surname?
One can’t be sure. The following is an educated guess… feedback is welcome.
Erne is a surname unto itself. And, it is more prevalent especially in the Rhine region.
“The Erne surname has three sources: it is a short form of “arn ahd” or “arnold” (“adler” in German) which translates as “eagle” in English. Also in German there are the words “Aehre” (English “ear” = part of crop) and “Ernte” (English “harvest”). The Erne surname originated in several small villages in the Canton-Aargau region near the Rhine River.” – Taken from: http://www.habersack.net/erne.htm
Wein means grape, vine, wine in German language.
- According to Nelly Weiss, Wein- style family names are originated from signboards (house sign, house shield, herald)
Given that; one could guess that the etymology of the name is an offshoot of the Erne name that originated in several small villages in the Canton-Aargau region near the Rhine River. It is easy to see how the name may have morphed based on signboards or heraldry. This seems to fit with a German / Swiss migration to Soufflenheim post Thirty Year War. Erne is also more common and the heraldry and meaning are universal.
If this theory holds true, Ernewein is a truly Alsatian surname rooted in Alsace. It is neither German, Swiss or French. Rooted in Soufflenheim for perpetuity.
What is the Ethnicity of the surname?
Clearly the Ernewein surname itself has a Germanic feel. Not so long ago, this would have been enough to say that it is a German surname. There is a movement afoot to separate Alsatian culture from that of Germany and France. If the etymology theory espoused above holds true, then Ernewein would be a truly Alsatian surname. However, it is more likely that Ernewein’s have fraternal Swiss heritage than German or French.
Geographical Distribution of the Surname: (click image for expanded views)