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One of my ancestral surnames is Ziesenis and I'd like to know what it means. They were Prussian immigrants to the US back in the 1800s.

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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it belongs on genealogy.stackexchange.com – Ingmar Apr 18 '15 at 4:40
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    @Ingmar: Please see this Meta discussion. – Wrzlprmft Apr 18 '15 at 6:31
  • Do you know any more about the part of Prussia they were from? Maybe they were from East Prussia, which would mean their name is likely of Slavic origin. (The way the name looks suggests it.) Prussia at its peak extended from Eupen in the West to Lyck (today: Ełk) in the far East and from Rödding in the North (part of Denmark) to Sigmaringen in the South (although the area around Sigmaringen was a pretty remote exclave of Prussia). – Jan Apr 18 '15 at 10:27
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    @Jan You're right that the name doesn't look very German. I had conjectured that it might be Baltic, but then I checked gen-evolu.de and Wikipedia. It turned out that the name occurs almost exclusively around Hanover, and that a familiy of painters and sculptors named Ziesenis lived in that region already in the middle of the 17th century. That doesn't exclude an East Prussian/Baltic/Slavic origin, but it makes it somewhat less likely. – Uwe Apr 18 '15 at 16:08
  • I'm explicitly voting to keep this question open due to the results of the meta discussion. – Jan Apr 24 '15 at 9:26
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Zieseniss is a family sur-name meaning 'found on the Ziese (a small stream once found in Germany)'

Most of my family tree can be traced back to two German brothers that lived near the Ziese'

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We definitely can't give you concise directions on the genealogy of German surnames within the scope of this site dedicated to language.

Nevertheless some hints on the language aspect of this name may help:

  1. Ziese f. / Ziesen pl. This used to be a name for taxes in Preussia, similar to the sales taxes today. It is unclear as to why the suffix -(n)is was added, but from common understanding of this suffix in other nouns it may have had a meaning roughly like "who was attached to taxes".

  2. Ziese f. This is a name of a small stream in the north-east of Germany. As names often come from locations we can speculate that somebody added a latinising suffix -nis to indicate "of origin near the Ziese".

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