My Great-grandfather was Wilhelm (William) Wenger. He was born in
Burgestine, Switzerland in 1855. He married Maria Luisa Wittwer from Spiez,
Switzerland. They came to America in 1889. Their children were,
Wilhelmina, Ernst, Wilhelm, Alfred, Frieda, Franz, Hulda, Bertha, Emma,
Lora, Alma, Joseph, Wanda, Emil, William, and Erma and lived in Wisconsin.
I have a family tree and in the beginning pages of the book is an excerpt
from another book, "The Wenger Book, A Foundation Book of American Wengers"
by Samuel S. Wenger, Editor-in-Chief, published by the Pennsylvania German
Heritage History, Inc., Lancaster, PA, 1976 . I do not have a copy of said
book but would like to have one. The page taken from it states:
"The answer to the question, "Who are the Wengers?", is readily given.
The Wengers were Bernese Swiss. With a few exceptions, American Wengers can
trace their ancestors to the area of Bern, Switzerland, which is known as
the Upper Emmanthal, a region that is some twenty-five or more miles
northeast of the Jungfrau mountain peak. The original Swiss homeland of the
Wengers, let us say in the thirteenth century, may have been in the area
very close to the Jungfrau in the neighborhood of Wengen and Wengern Alp.
But, being a farming folk, they later settled around nearby towns to the
northeast like Eggiwil, where the Wenger name is still common.
"Until about the forteenth century famly names in Switzerland and south
Germany were not used. The Christian name was used, sometimes with a
designating addition regarding occupation, origin, or personal appearance,
for example, 'Lame Karl,,' 'Miller Hans,' etc. During the early forteenth
century family names began to appear; however, in many cases fixation was a
slow and irregular process. In Bern, family names were finally definetely
fixed in the early sixteenth century when parish records began to be kept.
"According to Mr. Kurz, the origin of the name Wenger is to be explained
as follows. In Switzerland are located a number of villages: Wang, Wangen,
Wangi, Wengi, and Wengen. These names originally had the same significance:
'wide-extended meadows.' In most cases these meadows are located on
hillsides. In early times, when a man moved from Wengi or Wengen he was
often calles Wenger at his new residence; in other words: the man from
Wengi or Wengen. Sometimes he was simply so designated, e.g., 'Uolrich of
Wengi,' and 'Christan of Wengen.'"
I hope this helps someone.