The Schwenk Family and its Daughters
Laichingen linen ware products are known throughout the land. If one is, however, familiar with this linenweaving city, he is then aware of its second peculiarity, namely of the very great number of certain family names. The families of Schwenk, Mangold and Schmidt in this small city have been here for many centuries in great abundance. It has not previously been possible to write the history of these old families even with broad strokes; and this will be very difficult to do even in the future. However, what the city archives have yielded up to now is presented here in the following work to the public.
1. The earliest mentioning of the Schwenk Family in the year 1383
In a document from the archives in the capitol city (Stuttgart), the first inhabitants of our city are recorded in a list. At that time, all subjects of Württemberg had to appear at the Market Place in Urach to solemnly swear to Count Eberhard of Württemberg and his successors that they would remain forever within the territory of Württemberg -- because of the concerns these subjects might emigrate from this territory into the flourishing Reichstädte (free cities within the Holy Roman Empire). Among the 84 citizens which, with raised hands, on Tuesday, September 21st pledged this oath, is found a Ruos Schwenk. He is the first here named representative of his clan. How he is related to the following Schwenks is not ascertainable.
2. The Schwenks between 1400 and 1500.
The next bearer of this name is mentioned in a June 4, 1427 dated document of the Albans Church of Laichingen. To the honor of the Holy Mother Maria, Saint Katharina and Saint Veit, an eternal mass was instituted. Among the 34 contributors to this fund was a Ruofo Schwenk, whose field of 1¼ acres lay just outside the field gate. He gives 5 Heller in coin to this fund. Further, a Petrus Ruob donates 8 Heller, a yield from his hayfield-pasture, the latter named "swenkun wies". Because this field was in the possession of Petrus Ruob, although being named after a Schwenk, one must conclude that the earlier possessor was a Schwenk.
We learn in 1454 of a Hans Schwenckh, senior and junior. The younger Hans is a full-time farmer. In addition, there is a Hans Schwenckhel. In 1457 we hear of a Cunz, Hans and Russ Schwenckh. A tax in 1470, a special tax, lists seven Schwenckhs, whose assets are appraised. They are probably partially the same as those of 1454. Their names, along with their estimated assets based on pounds of Heller (very small denomination coin) are: Schwenckh Russ, 427 pounds; Schwenckh Hans 355 pounds; Schwenckh Peter 177 pounds; Schwenckh Hans 162; Schwenckh Cunz 130; Schwenckh Jacob 88 and Schwenckh Lienhart 55 pounds. Russ Schwenckh with his assets stood in 4th position in the village; Hans Schwenckh in 11th. The tax rate on the appraised assets amounted to 5 percent. Where the individual Schwenckhs resided and how they were related is not indicated in this list. A record book in Blaubeuren (a nearby adminstrative city) specifies the same names.
3. The Schwenks between 1500 & 1600.
An inventory record book in Wiesensteig (city 5 mi. NW of Laichingen) mentions a Hans Schwenckh, Jacob Schwenckh, Peter Schwenckh, Leinhart Schwenckh, and the heirs of Cunz Schwenckh. In another such book from Blaubeuren, a Konrad Schwenckh is listed (all from Laichingen).
The Türkensteuerliste (Türkensteur was a special tax levied to help fund a military expedition under Kaiser Karl V against the incursions of the Turks) of 1545 gives us information of nine Schwenks. It consists of the following family members and their amounts of taxes: Christian Schwenckh 4 Gulden 2 Orth; Alban Schwenckh "uff dem Hof" (apparentlya freely-owned farm) 4 Gulden 1 Orth; Enderlin and Peter Schwenckh each 1 Gulden, 30 Kreuzer; Claus Schwenckh 1 Gulden; Endres Schwenckh, called Beklin, 51 Kreuzer (60 Kreuzer= 1 Gulden; 1 Gulden equaled a little less than 2 Deutsch Marks in 1871. With about 30 Gulden, one might be able to buy a horse. An Orth = ???); Alban Schwenckh 30 Kreuzer; Hans Schwenckh 1 Orth; and Magdalene Schwenckhin 4 Kreuzer. Alban Schwenckh uff dem Hof and Christian Schwenckh take up 5th & 6th position in the tax assessment. There were at that time essentially richer people, as for example the Schultheisses (A schultheiss was an official who combined the authority of a sheriff-mayor-local judge) Schmidt, senior and junior, who had to pay 17 Gulden & 30 Kreuzer in taxes. The kinship connections between these various Schwenckhs are, sadly, not indicated.
In the inventory record book of 1555, 21 Schwenckhs are listed. Sometime we also learn where they had resided, from their neighbors who are mentioned, but not the streets. On the other hand, their possessions are described precisely. In the local community record book of 1579/80, eleven Schwenckhs are mentioned. The details of the statements are very informative. There was Hans Schwenckh, butcher, who, along with his neighbor Hans Mayer, had to pay a water tax of 3 pound 8 Schilling (apparently they were using water from a small spring which flowed near the church). "Schwenckh Clausen's daughter, along with Egden, for driving across the fields" were fined 3 Schillings. Jacob Schwenckh Macken and Alban Schwenckhen's maid "likewise in Westerlau Kreyttert" (place name? field?) each pay 5 Batzen (another currency denomination). Enderlin Schwenckh receives, as well as another person, together, 17 Schillings as they spoke before a record book examiner in Blaubeuren regarding a boundary marker stone at Weidstetten (name of a field). To have a letter sealed, Wilhelm Schwenckh and the above Enderlin each pay 1 Schilling 6 Heller. In addition, Enderlin receives 2 Schillings for wagon repair work at Blossen Aichhalden. For similar work at dürren Rain and Gappenwinkel, Peter Schwenckh, farmer, receives 10 Schillings. At another time, Enderlin Schwenckh pays 3 Schilling fine because "his horse ran loose in the crop fields." Alban Schwenckh's widow is fined 5 Schillings by the community for Überbauens (planting crop on someone else's land?) and also her hired hand is fined 6 Schillings for damage caused to cultivated fields and vegetable garden owned by an Alban Schwenckh (Alban junior). It appears that the Alban Schwenckh families at that time were well off! --Also, Wilhelm Schwenckh's maid was fined because of weeds in his oat field. Jörg Schwenckh let his geese run loose in the cropfields, and drove over the hayfield of his cousin, Claus Schwenckh. For that he was punished. --Because a Hans Moll had driven his wine wagon through the Claus Schwenckh alley-way, he had to pay a 3 Schilling fine. As was reported above, several different properties were possessed by this Claus Schwenckh. -- In the community record book of 1580, 56 Schwenckhs are listed by name, and this proves the visible growth of this family in Laichingen. The good times prior to the 30 Years War reflect the lively business of farming, which the Schwenckhs pursued.
4. The Schwenks between 1600 & 1657.
From 1610 on, we learn much from the Purchase Books of the community. The first such book, 1610-1626, names 37 Schwenckhs, who required notarization of contracts. The Purchase Book II, 1626-1664, points out 35 entries in which Schwenckhs appear. The remarks in these books are very numerous; in spite of these, the individual persons cannot be identified or connected by relationship because statements of these are lacking. -- The church record books from 1628 on, in their pages regarding personnel, could not previously be examined, however, they bring us very little of what is new.
In 1657, the Kirchenbücher (church books which recorded vital statistics) are reinstituted, and we are from then on well informed about the Schwenckhs, with special thanks to the painstaking precise card index work of Dr. Dieter (a pastor in next-door village Feldstetten at around the time this book was written).
5. Schwenks outside of Laichingen before 1600.
The earliest mentioning of a Schwenckh known to me comes from a gift-grant document in the monastery of Reichenau, wherein a plot of land owned by a Schwenk (Swenconius) was given to the Church of the Saint Elisabeth auf dem Gries in Ulm in exchange for the receiving of a yearly rent on this land. This document comes from the year 1239. Whether this Schwenk had anything to do with our Laichingen line is not determinable.
A record book of the Merklingen (a town a few kilometers ENE of Laichingen) parish maintenance fund, a military list (of eligible inductees?) of the Ulm Soverignty of 1528, and a Turk War Tax list book from 1544, as well as the Kirchenbücher, which in Merklingen begin in 1567, list several Schwenks. Hans, Peter, Bartholome and Christa. It can be surmized that these had moved there from Laichingen, but it is certain that a son of Alban Schwenckh of Laichingen, by the name of Matthias, in 1573 got married in Merklingen. -- In Scharenstetten (6 Km. E. of Merklingen), around 1540-60, there were Schwenckhs, which most probably descended from the above Merklingen lineage. A further perusal of documents and books in our region will probably bring more Schwenks to the light of day.
6. The giving of names in the early times.
Until 1100/1200, people had only one name. In a Wiesensteiger Foundation letter dated 861, only "single-namedness" (translator's quotation marks) existed; there were the magnificent ringing names of the Old High German Period such as: Otokar and Isanbart, Einhart and Theotlind, Sigibrant and Swanager, etc. And also in Laichingen we find for a long time only single names; there, there was Eberhard, Manigold, Reinhard, Bernold, Reginhard, and so on. It is sad that these old names are now used so little.
On the other hand, a list of inhabitants in 1383 shows almost always double names, that is, first names and family names, as it is today. The reason for double names lay in the growth of the population. One had to be able to differentiate people. Of course, the forename held its rights of the first-born for many more years. Our old community record books from the 16th Century are all recorded according to forenames - given names. All Hans, all Jörgs, all Michaels, etc., follow each other. This is proof that still after centuries, the forename was considered the actual name, and the family name served only to better differentiate. And so it is still today in rural districts.
That however, in a community even third names were given, became established and partially are still used today - that is a rare linguistic practice; this occurred particularly - for the most part - in the time following the 30 Years War. The need to differentiate - identify - persons alone, hardly explains the basis for this third name practice; even more so when one considers the meager population remaining after the war (1648)! Although the clan of Schwenks were here strongly represented, one can still not suppress the question as to why other families with many members, such as Mangold and Schmidt, did not add third names. There are also many clans in our region which had large numbers of members which never developed this practice. One need only to think of the families of Buck in Hülben, Krehl in Münsingen/Auingen or the Schweizers in Deggingen.
Did this have something to do with the Schwenk Clan within itself? Did the Schwenks tend toward giving themselves such added names, or was it the Laichingen residents in general who enjoyed tacking on names? This may often have occurred with the intent and for the purpose of better identifying people, or also however, may have served as a means of teasing (Necklust = pleasure of teasing/kidding). That there were here in the old days enough "Onamen" (nicknames) - and not always pretty ones!! - one sees in the perusal of old documents and books; but the Schwenk nicknames are nearly all innocent; and regarding the "Onamen" of the day....the politeness of the poet requires silence.....
It is also conceivable that this giving of third names during the language-creative period following the Reformation was particularly strong. The school system at this time was flourishing, people were learning to read and write and got a feel for linguistic things. But in order to be able to decide whether the period following the Reformation was here particularly name-creative, one would have to be able to make comparisons with other Alb communities of similar structure; these, however, are lacking.
The continuation, or endurance of house names and house owner names, resulting from considerable trading of properties, must be referred to with emphasis. A few examples from Laichingen will do that. The master baker, Hail, had moved here from Urach. He died long ago, but nevertheless we walk to the "Hailbeck"; of the bailiff, Johannes Holpp from Brucken, a veteran of the War of Independance, 1848, we know nothing, but the successor-occupant of his house is known today as "Holpp Jacob". Similar cases occur with "Kuttelbeck", "Bühler-Länge" and "Strohm Beck" (Beck = baker). Some of our weavers today still work for "Kahn", although the bearer of this name moved away long ago. House names and occupant names obviously have a more tenacious life than one might think.
This class of names has nothing to do with the continuation of company business names - that is done out of strictly business reasons. One might think of the companies such as Pichler, (Schlegel)-Mayer, and Reuttler where the name has been retained out of tradition and business reasons. Also the stating of both marriage names, for example, Bischoff-Luithlen, did not exist in the olden days. Then, just the names of the predecessor were passed on and some puzzles are then solved if one knows the family history of the community.
Let us now allow the individual Schwenk Clans to pass by and, indeed, initially only those whose names have become established and are still used today.
7. The "Daughters" of the Schwenk Family.
a) Schwenkmetzger. The oldest lineage to mention is the Schwenkmetzgers. In 1580, a Hans Schwenk, Metzger (butcher) is mentioned in the community records and for whom the community had a butcher's block built. A Schwenkmezengütle (Schwenk meat market-store) was declared in 1607. After the 30 Years War, there appears apparently a continuation of the line of Johannes Schwenckh, Metzger (1648-1694) who in fact was also still a butcher. The next bearer of this name was a baker, the following ones were weavers. This lineage, unbroken, can be traced to the present day; our present mayor, Daniel Schwenkmezger, arrived for the first time as a member of the strongest family at the pinnacle of the community's adminstration.
b) Schwenkbeck. Perhaps the Schwenkbecks have older ancestors than the Schwenkmetzgers, though this has not been proven. In the Türkensteuerliste (1545), an Endres Schwenckh, called Beklin, is mentioned; still it is questionable that he was a baker. One can also assume that the expression Beklin is connected to the large family of Beck, which here before the Reformation (here in 1534) played a large role and from which apparently the Beckengäsle (small street-alley) was named. Certain, however, is that this line begins with the baker Georg Schwenk (1669-1739), and continues without interruption to today.
c) Schwenkschuster. The Schwenkschusters show up for the first time with an Andreas Schwenckh (1655-1699), who, like his son, Andreas (1688-1741) practiced the shoemaker's trade. It is only with the succeeding generations of this family that the added name Schuster no longer represents the occupation of the namebearer.
d) Schwenkedel. This line was initially named after its origins in Merklingen. To this line belong Hans, Georg and Jacob Schwenk, who are named in the records in 1580. A son of Hans Schwenk could be Hans Schwenk Merklingen, who in Feb. 1650, bought his "Herberg" (a place of lodging) from Martin Schmidt, the Gasthaus zum "Weissen Rössle", and who traded his previous residence at the Hüle for this inn. Because he carried, at the same time, the nickname, "Edelmännlin", and his son was called "EdelJörg", Hans Schwenk is thus viewed as the founder of the Schwenkedel lineage (Edel =of nobility). This name has provoked much thought. Christof Semle has assumed that the designation "Edelmann" for Johannes Schwenk relates to the services he rendered to the community while he was there, since, 1654, active as a lawyer. In spite of this, the community documents provide no proof for this. Dr. Dieter attributes the name to earlier local nobility in Merklingen. Both meanings are, of course, possible. On the basis of lengthy family research in our region, I prefer to view this name as being one passed down to this Schwenk from a house called Edelmann. Or perhaps this can be attributed to the nickname of the wife of a Georg Schwenk, who was called "Edelanna." Moreover, Johannes Schwenk and his son Jörg never signed their names with the added name, edel; only the later descendants began then to sign their names as Schwenk edel, and then finally, Schwenkedel. In any case, the repeated and traceable movement of the Merklingen Schwenks to Laichingen shows the close relationship to the Laichingen Schwenks; our community is most likely the ancient home of this Alb family.
e) Schwenkglenks. The schoolmaster Schwenkglenks has researched with passion the history of this large family; sadly, he fell in World War II. We meet the first member of this family in a Georg Schwenk "der linkh" in Merklingen (1602-1674). His son Georg, born in Ulm (actually born in Merklingen, village of his Schwenk ancestors) 1648, and died in Laichingen 1724, was Mesner (sexton, caretaker of the church property) and Provisor in Laichingen. This lineage stemming from him exists without interruption to today. -- There is no doubt that this name is connected to the word, links (left), and probably to a lefthander or one with a disabled right hand. Herman Fischer also assigns this same meaning in his Schwäbische Dictionary. It would be interesting to determine whether there are lefthanders in the Schwenkglenks family.
f) Schwenkkraus. Schwenkkraus was originally written also as Schwenk grauss. They appear for the first time in a Johann Georg Schwenk (1686-1750) and a Konrad Schwenk (1683-1757). The way of writing grauss = gross (tall in this sense) and the ancestor of a Schwenk who was called "tall Jörg" (1610-1693) gives a justified reason to translate kraus as gross, especially because in all the years since the beginning of the church books, one never finds the word kraus entered. The clergymen and writers at that time simply wrote the name down, spelling it as it was spoken, "grauss"; one can also trace this (misspelling) in other cases, perhaps the story - already told - about "tall Weberstoffel" from Laichingen belongs here; because of his height - 2.5 meters (8 ft.!?) - appeared in local fairs, and in 1749, as an alleged robber, was arrested at Rusenschloss. Also in this case, it would be interesting, genetically, to know if such traits of tallness were passed on.
All of these nicknames were initially written as a second un-capitalized word behind the principal name, Schwenk; that is, Schwenk metzger, Schwenk schuster and so on (in German, the first letter of all nouns isalways capitalized). Not until in the 19th Century did they merge into one name; but in spite of this, there remained in the consciousness for a long time, that one's name was actually Schwenk, and the second word only provided further identity. This orthography stands in contrast to our written language, where the adjective, as you know, precedes the noun; e.g. Apple-tree, Pear-tree, etc. That shows clearly that initially no real compound word was intended.
There is here (in Laichingen) a nice popular interpretation about the above mentioned Schwenk names. According to it, the first bearers of this name were brothers, who then chose differing trades. It is sad that this version is not tenable!
g) The "unpresentable" Schwenk daughters. There is a great number of other Schwenk lines which did not permanently keep their third names. Most of these disappear after two generations, and often with the death of the name bearer. To those are the:
1. The Schwenk schreiner. The died-out Schwenk schreiner (cabinetmaker) line must be viewed as of the same age as the Schwenkmezger lineage. This begins in 1590 with a Jörg Schwenk schreiner who lived in the upper part of the village. His sons, Hans and Konrad are mentioned in the court records as late as 1661, then the name disappears or continues on simply under the name Schwenk.
2. Schwenk bauer and Schwenk weber. In the purchase books, etc., two curious nicknames are mentioned: Schwenk bauer (farmer), usually written as paur, and Schwenk weber (weaver). It is clear that one can say very little on this subject, this being a community made up of weaver-farmers. A Hans and Peter Schwenk paur could have descended from "Alban Schwenk uff dem Hof". Peter owned the so-called Gänslehen (the name of this leased farm), and resided in the upper village on Westergasse. It is questionable whether this name is connected to that of the old Laichingen family, Baur, and therefore apparently no longer indicated an occupation. -- And that the Schwenk weber had little to do with the weaver's occupation, is fairly certain, for here everyone wove, and making one's name prominent with this nickname would have made no sense. Probably this name goes back to the old family of Weber, which may have left its traces in the name of the street, Webergasse.
3. The Schwenk brey. This has nothing to do with Brei (porridge), but rather with Bräu (brew), or spoken in the Swabian tongue, "Brui". It is namely the innkeeper of the Engel, Christoph Schwenk, who carried this nickname because he was a brewer. The name is lost immediately upon his death.
4. Schwenk heutmann. In the community record books of around 1600, the names of Peter, Konrad and Georg Schwenk are mentioned often, and of which carried the strange name "heutmann." They were probably hide buyers (Haut = skin; hide. Plural of Haut = Häute > heut) and perhaps also tanners, although this immediate area with no streams would have hardly been suitable for tanning of hides. In any case, their hides would not have swum away around here.
5. Schwenk Seissemer. There were further also Schwenk Seissemer or also Seissenler. Several times, Schwenks from Laichingen moved to our neighboring village, Seissen; as early as 1599, then again in 1642, 1657, 1737 and later. Our present day Münsingen District Magistrate belongs to this lineage.
6. Other Schwenk lineages. Before the year 1618, there were seven Schwenk henlin on the property of the died-out family of Henlin or Henle; then likewise, Schwenk bangelin (1545 Hans Bangelin, 1610 Stefan Bangelin), as well as a master builder Bangelin. -- A Jacob Mackh, called Schwenckh, was mentioned in 1573 as he had to deliver Leibhennen (laying hens, an annual tribute imposed on the peasant farmer by the House of Württemberg) to Urach (another adminstrative city). In 1579, he is then called Jacob Schwenckh mackh. Likewise mentioned in around 1615 is Anna, Georg, Hans, Jacob and Peter Schwenckh mackh. A Georg and Enderlin Schwenk heinkelin indicates relationships to the old family of Heinkel, likewise Hans and Jörg Schwenk lepplin to the died-out family of Lepplin (1615 Michel and Melchoir Lepplin).
Hans Schwenk geygenback and his widow are mentioned circa 1590. A Hans Schwenk koch (cook) probably had a relationship to the first ducal high magistrate in Laichingen, Stefan Koch, who officiated here 1579-1598. Perhaps the remarkable nickname of a woman, "Köchinen-Coles" (female cooker of cabbage) belongs to this family.
Countless are the other Schwenk nicknames-surnames, which one can clearly view simply as "one day flies" (translator's quotation marks). There is a Johannes Schwenk Berholer (Beerensammler) (berry gatherer) 1646-1698; a Georg Schwenk staud, who had property in front of the "Haubüchle" and perhaps is connected to the Staudenmaier family; a Schwenk Pfeiferlin, who probably resided in the house of Pfeifer (maker of pipes), Jacob Wegst, and after whom the Pfeifergasse was named. Then there are Schwenks with the nicknames Gaisslin, Weberle, Göggele, Pfunder, Bunzel, Schulschneider, Bubenwillem, Geiger and Bassgeiger. The musicians' names (the last two above) may lead back to the church music of the day, which according to church records, such instruments were played. In the Geislingen region (20 Km NE), there was a Schwenkrist and Schwenkreis. In later times, we come across here the names of Schwenk Factor and Schwenk Zunftmeister (head of guild), the last through three generations. A Georg Johann Schwenk (1734-1817) was purchaser for the Leinenhandelkompagnie of Urach. These names clearly show the bond with the local linen weaving industry in Laichingen.
All these Schwenk names mentioned in the above 6 groups failed to remain in permanent linguistic usuage; They remained limited to individual persons, then ceased to exist. The linguistic abundance which poured over the Schwenks is nevertheless almost unbelievable. The 30 Year's War surely must have prevented the further rooting of many Schwenk lineages, and it is completely possible that such names survive elsewhere.
A blossoming tree with countless large and small branches is probably the best image for this Schwenk family. Of course, some buds and some twigs did not come to growth. There is still lacking a comprehensive, clarifying clan book of this family, nor is there any survey done of its widely scattered members, although some genealogical work is partially prepared and some has been completed. If there were any Alb family worthy of description, it is this one!
7. The occupations of the Schwenks.
The Schwenks did everything, but above all they were weavers. This is known with wearisome uniformity in the church books; a large part of the economic development of this at-one-time linen weaving village rested on their shoulders. That later no large Schwenk firms arose here, has good reason; the Schwenks were only small weavers who worked in their cellars. They lacked initially the means for the development of a large industry. Only in the period after 1900 did middle-sized industries (weaving)arise. The firms of Seemann, Hofmann, Kahn and Pichler came here from outside the community. In addition to the weaving profession, we find Schwenks in those of the butcher and backer, shoemaker and tailor; they were innkeepers in the five local inns. Many occupied the office of a communityofficial, were judges and church financial adminstrators, vinegar makers, bleachers, shipping agents. The first postmaster here was a Schwenk; storekeepers, merchants, firemen and cement company owners of world wide reputation come from their ranks as well as doctors and teachers; the only post not held by a Schwenk in this village was that of pastor. The miscellaneous list of occupations would be inexhaustible.
8. Coat of Arms of the Schwenks.
There is a large number of Schwenk coat of arms; most of these have been taken on in recent times and therefore prove nothing. Here one finds in the Purchase Book III 1665-1686 a small hand seal of the court scribe and schoolmaster, a Peter Schwenk II from the year 1681, which bears the initials P.S., and a clock face, which signifies his other occupation as that of sexton. A hand seal of Endres Schwenk from 1670 shows a heart, out of which 3 blossoms sprout, perhaps flax blossoms (linen is made from flax). Both seals are, however, undoubtedly not old. Heinrich Schwenk (brother of our Andreas and son of our Conrad 1601), Heiligenpfleger (church financial administrator) and judge (1645-1718) sealed, on the other hand, in the same year with the Laichingen community seal. Only this one time could this seal mark be found (in the community records). Some Schwenk lines later chose the swan as the animal of their coat of arms, for example, the Schwenks in Nürtingen. Only one time in the Laichingen books is found a seal which makes direct reference to the name Schwenk. In the second volume of our Purchase Book we run across a hand seal of schoolmaster Peter Schwenk I in the year 1662, which shows a bird with wing extended. But a swan it most certainly is not.
10. The occurrence of the name.
The name Schwenk is spread throughout North and South Germany and indeed already in the Middle Ages, for which the language researcher, Brechenmacher, can list many examples. But there are certain points of concentration in Württemberg where this names is numerous; one lies in the Blackforest around Freudenstadt (ca. 100 Km due west of Laichingen) and the other here on the Alb. Whether a relationship exists between these two, one cannot say. In spite of that, there is no doubt that the Schwenks of the Alb region came from the Laichingen area According to the last addressbook of Münsingen district in 1941 (for Laichingen), there were here 36 Schwenks, 4 Schwenkbecks, 26 Schwenkedels, 22 Schwenkglenks, 8 Schwenkkraus and 3 Schwenkmezger, altogether 103 members of the Schwenk family. Of 1094 here mentioned families and individual persons, almost 10 percent were members of the Schwenk family. Just think: every 10 Laichinger is a Schwenk!
In Münsingen in 1941 there were 7, in Feldstetten 5, in Sontheim and Ennenbeuren 10, in Machtolsheim and Suppingen none. The 1927 6 lived in Geislingen, 1 inWesterheim, while Wiesensteig, Hohenstadt and Drackenstein had no members of the Schwenk family. In 1922, Urach had 2, Kirchheim/Teck 5, Nürtingen 6, the city of Ulm, however, listed 26 Schwenks. The numbers prove clearly where the Laichingen Schwenk moved to.
11. Meaning of the name Schwenk.
The scholars argue over this. Rudolf Kapff surmises in the name Schwenk a military type of command or order and considers an origin of military life not to be excluded. There are, for sure, many names, e.g., Schitt-en-helm! Stich-auf! Schwing-en-hammer! Heb-en-streit! Streck-den-finger! Hab-dank! Grat-wohl! Muss-genug!, etc. One thinks also of the flag twirler, as we see them today at festivals, particularly in Swizerland. There they are even perpetuated on postage stamps. Kapff declines a connection of the name to the swan. There are nevertheless in the Wiesensteiger Foundation letters the name Swanager mentioned several times, which indicates that perhaps he was the patriarch of our Schwenks.
Brechenmacher believes that the names is a derivation from swan in the area of Northern Germany. In the Germanic Heroic Age, the swan as the symbol of purity, bravery and loyalty is well known. One thinks of Lohengrin and its swan virgin. For the Southern German area, however, Brechenmacher assumes a relationship to swinging and swirling (schwingen and schwenken) whereby naturally the actual motive for the giving of this name can no longer be ascertained. Did it come from the swinging movement of the arms, from the gait of the first bearer of this name, or was it from some type of activity of the Schwenk,whereon one does not necessarily have to immediately think of an innkeeper (schwenken = rinsing a glass or tossing as in cooking).
There are naturally still other meanings of the name. What, once upon a time, resulted in this family name being formed, who can say? We must join in with a poet who despairingly, but humorously cries out: Wo kommt der Name Schwenk wohl her? Was geits net, des zom Schwenke wäre? (left untranslated with rhyme intact. DES).