Revised : 19 Apr 2021
The map shows the emergence of all of the major clans that are presently known. The earliest male ancestors are: Christian Kastler, Swabian Kastler, born ca. 1410; Anthoni Kasteler, Wahlern Kastler, born 1565; Konrad Kastner, Königsbach Kastners, died ~1593; Georg Kasteler, Saarland Kastlers, died 1741; Konrad Kastler, Westhoffen Kastlers, died 1592. The German Government required parishes to keep records around 1540. The earliest surviving Protestant records date from 1524 at St. Sebald in Nuremberg. Catholic church records begin in 1563, and most Reformed parishes started keeping records by 1650. Any earlier information was derived from tax records, castle archives, and city/county archives. The yellow lines on the map show the DNA links between the Swabian Kastlers, the Königsbach-Stein Kastners, and the Westhoffen Kastlers.
There were so many different migrations within Europe of Germans, that many branches of a family are missing from records. The only way to find a connection for some of these individuals is with a DNA test. Several clan members have submitted DNA and the results have added confirmations, and a few surprises to our family histories. You can learn more about the DNA project here.
Around 400 BC Several Celtic fortifications and settlements emerged within today’s urban area and in the immediate vicinity, along the Danube. The Oppidum von Gründberg, in the area of today’s Urfahr, to the west of the Haselgraben, and the Freinberg, west of the city center, lay within today’s city limits as impressive Celtic ramparts (a defensive wall of a castle or walled city).
The settlement on the Freinberg river probably already bore the Celtic name Lentos, which means something like flexible or curved. The name was subsequently transferred to the later Roman fort.
Linz, which is the general area of where these Kastlers lived, was mentioned for the first time in the Roman state manual Notitia dignitatum as “Lentia”. To secure the connection across the Danube, the Romans built a wood and earth fort in the middle of the 1st century, which was replaced by a larger stone fort in the 2nd century. Lentia was destroyed several times after the 2nd century by invasions of the Germanic peoples (e.g. between 166 and 180 during the Marcomannic Wars), but survived the storms of the migrations and thus has a settlement continuity over the late antiquity.
Under the Babenbergs, Linz developed into a city that was laid out according to plan in 1207, including the old settlement core. In 1230 the new main square was created. In 1240 Linz received a city judge and a city seal. Linz had been the seat of the governor since the end of the 13th century, making it the central location of Austria above the Enns. Friedrich III. even chose the city as a residential city and made it the center of the Holy Roman Empire from 1489 to 1493 after Matthias Corvinus had conquered Vienna.
This family history begins in the area around Linz, in Upper Austria. Rudolf Kastler of Gmunden, Austria was one member who gathered the information about his clan In 2003, He was able to join the tree of Franz Kastler of Grünbach, Upper Austria. Franz owns the Gasthof Forellenwirt Kastler Inn. “Gasthof Forellen Wirt” literally means “Trout Innkeeper”. I do recall ponds when I visited in 2003. At the 2003 family meeting (Familientreffen), there were two lines of the family sitting down together to find a common ancestor. The meeting was successful, and the current family tree was born. After that point it was submitted to this website. The oldest member in this tree is Franz Kastler (born in 1788). We know these Kastlers have been in the area for a while since there was apparently a Simon Kastler, father at a wedding, in 1641 in Grünbach, just north of Linz. Perhaps the family name was derived from Kastel, it would make sense since there was a Roman fort at Linz. (see Kastler Surname Origins).
There has been a new group of Kastlers discovered in Northern Burgenland, near the Slovakian and Hungarian borders. Deutsch Jahrndorf (Németjárfalu in Hungarian) is one of the towns where they lived. It is on the border triangle between Austria, Hungary and Slovakia. It is a “tip community”; The most easterly point of the Austrian national territory is located in the municipality. The border changed to Austria from Hungary at the end of World War I and assumed the Austrian name. Other towns include Levél and Tétény in Moson county, Hungary, just over the border from Deutsch Jahrndorf. From Tétény to Deutsch Jahrndorf it’s only 15 kilometers, and from Levél it’s about 8 kilometers. From Deutsch Jarhndorf to Bratislava, Slovakia it is approximately 12 kilometers. This seems to be the most likely path for the Kastlers of Bratislava. The Bratislava Kastlers are supposed to have roots in Upper Austria, in the town of Linz. There is one member of this family that took a DNA test. It was compared to a member of the Austrian Kastler’s DNA results, however there was no match. It is quite possible that this person in Bratislava belongs to the Hungarian Kastler clan. Unfortunately we have no known members of this clan to test at this point.
It is believed that the foundation of the village was in the 6th-7th century by the Alamanni as Bechenheim. The name probably goes back to the Alamannic founder, since the word means the home of a Bacho. The first documentary mention of the name finally goes back to 1269/71 and was already mentioned there with the addition of Brenz (Bechingen an der Brenz). The name Bächingen replaced the original term in the 19th century.
Bächingen a.d. Brenz is adjoined to Sontheim a.d. Brenz. These were Swabian Kastlers. The earliest known person of this line was Simon Kastler, who lived in Bechenheim. His birth date is not known, but he was a magistrate in 1538, and in 1550 a farmer, or “HofBauer”. A “Bauer” is a farmer, but with the prefix of “hof” (farm) this term was used to mean the owner of a farm, as opposed to a worker. In 1621, a Michael Kastler is mentioned in the castle archives of Bechenheim Leopold Carl Baron von Stein grants Marten (Michael as referred to by the following) Castler, citizen of Bechenheim, a farmstead for life. In 1622 it is mentioned that adjoining owners of the farmstead are Peter and Michael Castler.
The database entries for the Bächingen Kastlers is only a subset of the families. There is a document with a more robust listing of the families in the library called “Kastler in Bächingen a. d. Brenz“, which is only in German at this point. Perhaps I will take the time to do this in the future. Even this document is not a full account of the families. It is information contributed by Ernst Fetzer. The family line appears to end in the late 1800’s in Bächingen. Some persons moved to other villages, and the family name ended where no males were born.
Bohemian Kastlers (Kastl)
This is the story from Ambros Kastler. He was born in 1953 and grew up in Klam, Austria, a small town north of the Danube – around 50 km from Linz. After his school days he studied German and geography and was a teacher in a secondary school for 40 years. As of the date of this post, he is retired and currently living with his wife in Baumgartenberg, Austria.
“My family history or the family tree of our family extends to my paternal great-grandfather, Josef Kastl, born on December 27, 1852 in Buchers (Czech: Pohoří na Šumavě). Buchers is a place on the Czech – Austrian border, which at that time belonged to Bohemia, i.e. to the Austrian Empire. This area on what is now Czech soil was German-speaking and the population consisted mainly of Austrians. After World War II, the German population was expelled from Czechoslovakia and the place fell into disrepair. Josef had siblings, however I don’t know how many. According to a chronicle, there were many people in this place who had the name Kastl. See also – Bucherser Heimat Verein“.
“Josef began an apprenticeship as a hammer smith near Freistadt when he was 18 years old. In the following years he worked as a hammer smith in various places in Upper Austria. In 1881 he bought an old hammer forge in Klam, married and settled there. In the course of the marriage, he expanded his name from Kastl to Kastler. Josef died in 1943 at the age of 91. At the beginning of the 20th century, his son, also named Josef Kastler, took over the business until 1946. From that year my father continued to run the hammer mill until 1958. In the same year, the hammer mill was sold by my parents. They moved from Klamschlucht to Markt Klam, bought a house there and started a new life with a general store.”
Another member of this family, Hans Kastler, is a sculptor in Munich, Germany. You can see his website at Bildhauer Hans Kastler.
A DNA test is in progress for this family. It may be that these Kastlers are related to two of the other Kastlers in Austria that have taken DNA tests. There is one Kastler from Bratislava, Slovakia who believes he has roots in the “Austrian Kastlers” clan. Another hails from upper Austria, and does not match the one from Bratislava, so this may be the one who matches this family. A DNA test is in progress to see if there are any matches.
The first official record of Buchers dates back to the year 1524. It only referred to the little creek that emerged from the dense beech forests of the Fagosilvanum. In 1693 the owner of the Gratzen estate, Philipp Emanuel Graf Buquoy, had a glassworks built near Schanz.
In 1758 the first houses were built along the road to Freistadt. Soon thereafter a manorial brewery, a distillery and a hammer mill were built in this “Straßendorf” (a village consisting of a row of houses left and right along the road). During the long winter months, reverse glass painting and glass gilding developed as a sideline to agriculture, which soon spread from Buchers to the towns of Gratzen and Sandl . The glassworks was shut down in 1774. In 1779 a small wooden chapel was erected, which, between 1783 and 1791, was replaced by the baroque church of Jungfrau Mariä des Guten Rates. In 1791 the village was promoted to the status of market town and received a coat of arms.
In 1890 the entire community consisted of 186 houses with 1,323 residents, of which 1,077 were Germans and 276 Czechs. In 1910 Buchers had 706 residents (without suburbs), which increased to 1,055 by 1921. Most of these were Germans. In 1923 the Czech name Pohoří na Šumavě was invented and officially introduced, which, from a geographical point of view makes no sense, since the town is not located in the Böhmerwald (Šumava).
After the annexation to the “Deutsche Reich” in 1938, it came as part of the Landkreise Kaplitz, to the Reichsgau Oberdonau. In 1945/1946 all Germans were expelled, and in 1947 Slovaks from the area around Miskolc were resettled here, but the town was largely demolished over the following years. In 1950 there were only 72 residents left in Pohoří na Šumavě, as well as a mere 23 houses of the original 172 (1921). In 1955, the Iron Curtain completely isolated the town and it was abandoned. In 1978 Pohoří na Šumavě did not have a single permanent resident anymore, and most of the remaining houses had been destroyed by the army.
Königsbach (-Stein) is a municipality in the district of Enz in Baden-Württemberg. The name Königsbach indicates the former seat of a royal family. 1150 “Chunnigepach” is mentioned in a document of the Reichenau monastery. 1252 appear the Lords of Königsbach, who lived in the former castle on the Steinhausberg. In 1650, Colonel Daniel Rollin of St. André received ownership rights in Königsbach. His descendants still live in the well-preserved former moated castle. Traces of settlement from the Iron and Bronze Ages as well as traces of the Romans can also be found in the (Königsbach-)Stein district. Stein, whose name simply means castle, was first mentioned in 1150 in the Hirsau Monastery donation books. At that time the village was probably ruled by the Lords of Stein, who built a moated castle in the 10th or 11th century.
A summary from Glen Kastner:
“The earliest known Königsbach-Stein Kastner family was first documented in Stein around 1520. The record includes the names of three siblings, but does not name either of the parents. The three named were Agnes Kastner b. before 1520 who married Max Deg, Konrad Kastner b. cir. 1520 d. cir. 1590, and Apolonia Kastner b. after 1520 who married Johann (Hanß) Ziegler. It is not known where this family came from. It has been surmised that they immigrated from a place East of Königsbach-Stein or possibly from Bavaria. To date, the DNA of descendants of the Königsbach Kastners match no other Kastner family lines, but do match several Kastler/Castler descendants. Based on this fact, it is very likely that the ancestors of the first Königsbach Kastners were named Kastler. The surname Kastner was common in SW Germany and since few people at that time could read, write or spell, it is probable that the name Kastler was changed to Kastner. This chance may have been intentional or inadvertent.”
In 2009, I asked André Kastler of the Westhoffen Kastlers to take a DNA test. Mostly because I wanted him to represent the clan in the Family Tree DNA group, and to have proof that the family tree would at least verify the lineage of the two or more individuals against the database. Around the same time Glen Kastner also took the test. About a two months later the results were in. All three of us were related. This was a monumental discovery. The oldest person in the Kastner family is Konrad, who died ca.1592. The oldest person in the Westhoffen Kastlers was Conrad Kastler, who died on 17 Sept 1593. This seems to conclude, at least by my standards, that they are the same person. In the Swabian Kastler family tree, there are several early lines that have no history. As of the writing of this document, none of them have a church record of leaving for another land. As is summarized in Glen’s information above, I theorize that one of the members of the Swabian Kastlers left in the late 1400’s or early 1500’s for Königsbach. Since Konrad is common to both families, it is reasonable to assume that one or more Kastners left for Westhoffen, Alsace, and again assumed the name Kastler. There is another line of Kastners at kastner.info, however they are a different family, not related. If you are interested in learning more contact Kurt Kastner at that website.
Saarland Kastlers (Kasteler)
The Saarland Kastelers started near Trier, in the south-west of Rhineland-Palatinate near the Luxembourg border. The oldest traceable ancestor of this family is Georg Kasteler, who died 29 September 1741, in Wehingen, Saarland. The name could also be the “Saarland Kastelers”, but there are no Kastelers to be found in this area presently. The oldest family information was provided by Bernard “Bud” Kastler of Utah, USA. Subsequently information was provided by Sheridan Kastler of Arizona, and William V. Kastler of New Mexico. I visited Bernard at his home in Utah in 2003. I brought a scanner to his home and scanned all of his family photos. He also provided information about his family tree. Thanks to the three members of the clan, we have a nice family tree to share.
Comments by genealogist Uwe Porten:
“Until the middle of the 1800’s, it was not very important to write a name “correctly”, but it was taken down as the writer heard and understood it and according to his preference. Often you find two or even three different spellings of a name in the same record. Only during the 1800’s did the last names get their final spelling. It is quite sure that the progenitor of the Saarland Kastlers came from the village called Kastel. He moved to any other place where people called him “firstname von Kastel” (example: Georg von Kastel). In Saarland area, this happened probably during the 1500’s. Soon the “von” was dropped, and the family name was Kastel only or Kasteler. With this regard, the -er at the end of Kastel- has the same meaning like “von” (= from). Kasteler = from Kastel. And then you find all the different variations, written with “C” or “K”, with “el” or just “l” – all these are variations of the same name, there has not been a real change in the name. In Saarland, the final spelling was Kastler, as it is found today.”
The Swabian Kastlers started life as the Asselfingen Kastlers, named after the birthplace of Christian Kastler (~1410 †1475). Asselfingen is approximately 20 kilometers from Ulm. The main concentration of Swabian Kastlers lived mostly in the towns and villages a north-east of Ulm. it is approximately 30 kilometers directly to Heidenheim, and 40 kilometers to Dillingen, for about 260 square kilometers. Swabia as understood in modern ethnography (the study of) customs of individual peoples and cultures) roughly coincides with the Swabian Circle of the Holy Roman Empire as it stood during the Early Modern period, now divided between the states of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg. Swabians (Schwaben) are the natives of Swabia and speakers of Swabian German. Swabian is one of the dialect groups of Alemannic German that belong to the High German dialect continuum. It is mainly spoken in Swabia which is located in central and southeastern Baden-Württemberg (including its capital Stuttgart and the Swabian Aps (Schwäbische Alb) and the southwest of Bavaria (Bavarian Swabia). The Swabian Aps are not true alps as one would think, but rather low mountain ranges with sloping lands to the south-east.
Most of the information about the Swabian Kastlers came from Pastor Siegfried Kastler. He worked throughout the areas where the ancestors lived, studying the church books as he went. He also consulted early tax records and castle archives for information that went beyond the Lutheran (Protestant) church records, usually around the early 1600’s, but sometimes into the late 1500’s. He compiles a large amount of data, which can be found by searching for his line in the Family Tree, then the database for those persons. An easier way however is to check out the document “Early Swabian Kastlers” (in German). We owe a huge amount of gratitude to Siegfried for allowing this to be shared.
The known and unknown family members seem to have mostly stayed in the same area that spawned Christian Kastler. From Asselfingen, near Ulm, to Günzburg, to Giengen, to Heidenheim, to Geislingen, and back to Ulm. Villages and towns such as Brenz, Stotzingen, Bissingen, Langenau, Heuchlingen, Hermaringen, Hurben. Most of them were farmers (farmer is “Bauer”). Some were called “Bauer”, or someone who is a farmer, but owns the “Hof” or farm. The next would be a “Sölde”, meaning a small farm even less than the frequently mentioned “Halbbauer”, which was too small to yield enough for the farmer to make a living, so that he had to take on additional work as a day-laborer or handyman and earn his “sold” = income. A “HalbBauer” was a farmer who owned half a farm.
This family tree starts as Kasteler in Wahlern, Switzerland, with a man called Anthoni Kasteler, born in 1565. The tree follows one Anthoni line eventually into Belmont, France in the Alsace. There have been several sources of information for these families. There are two compilations of family history; “Kastler Families – Norma Triebel-LaDuke“, and “The Kastler Family Tree – Descendants of Ulrick Kastler“. These trace slightly different branches of the clan into the United States. There is also a microfilm of family sheets I located from the LDS church called “Kasteler Families of Switzerland” that has the family history of the Kastelers, starting from Anthoni. It has an immense amount of data, but it appears that this information has not been recorded in any online database. While the two compilations indicate that Anthoni Kasteler was born in Wahlern or Guggisberg, the microfilm indicates the municipality of Rüschegg as his birthplace. There are many Kasteler lines in this family record. While one line follows the Kasteler->Kastler family into Alsace, there are many other lines. The origin of the Kasteler name here is not known at this point. It can be strongly assumed that it is related to the theory that Kasteler was the governor of a Roman fortress (Kastel) . Castle in German is Schloss, so the likelyhood
Ulrich Kasteler (*1707 – †1756) moved his family from Switzerland to Belmont, Alsace, France (Elsass, Germany). There he had a son named Ulrich who married Katherine Banau (*1707 – †1766) in 1731.y were married in Belmont, Alsace in 1731.Their children all became Kastler at that point, because that was how the person writing the church books thought it sounded. Three generations later, Jean Henry Kastler (*1758 – †1814) was married to Paisable Charite Muller (*1807 – †1896). Unfortunately Jean Henry met with an untimely death. Paisable then married Jean’s cousin Jean David Kastler (*1802 – †1854). Jean, Paisable, and their children, including her daughter Paisible Charite came to America. In 1844 they went from their home in France to a port by wagon. Then they took a sailboat on which they had to cook their own meals. After landing in America they went by wagon and boat to Illinois. Settling near Sandwich, and three years later near Leland, they homesteaded land at $1.25 an acre. The land was sold out of the Kastler family in 1947.
Louis A. Kastler, a well-known farmer of Woolstock township, Iowa, was born in Alsace, France on September 16,1826. He lived in his native country until 1865 when he came to America. In his native country Louis was a farmer, but he had also been a soldier of the French Army for fourteen years, during which time he served in the Italian and Austrian wars of the fifties, as well as having served in the French army in Africa for four years. Following his arrival in America Louis located in Dekalb County, Illinois. where he engaged in farming until 1872, when he came to Wright county. Iowa and bought eighty acres of land in Woolstock, a place which Mr. Kastler developed from raw prairie into a well improved and highly cultivated farm of five hundred and eighty acres. There are many Kastlers in this area today.
To date, two members of the Wahlern Kastler clan have submitted DNA samples to the DNA project. They have confirmed that two different lines in the records match the paper. DNA testing would be particularly interesting if a sample could be taken from a Swiss Kasteler to see if they match both of the Wahlern Kastlers. The origin of the Kasteler name in Switzerland is unknown.
Pictures of the Wahlern Kastlers can be found in Media.
The favorable location with the water-rich Seebach springs invited Stone Age and Bronze Age settlers to establish homes. Traces indicate that fire ceramists, Celts, Romans, Vangions, Alemanni, Franks and others already settled here. The Franconian settlement was
grouped directly around the Seebach spring and was first mentioned in 744 in a donation to the Lorsch Abbey under the name “Seeheim im Wormsgau”. The name Westhofen comes from the royal (castle) Saalhof “Westhofen” which was founded nearby, around today’s market square. The Saalhof, its farm association and the settlement were donated to Weißenburg Abbey in Alsace around 850. The noble families, who were later enfeoffed (under the feudal system) give (someone) freehold property or land in exchange for their pledged service) with sovereign rights by the abbey, successfully endeavored to promote the economic importance of Westhofen, which is documented in 1334 by the granting of market rights. In the 16th century, Westhofen was still “triple” because there were three lords: the Count Palatine, the Count of Nassau and the Barons of Hohenfels-Reipoltskirchen. The latter resided in their castle on the market square, where the local rulers owned a joint press house for making tithe wine. With the extinction of the noble house, the properties fell into disrepair. In the Middle Ages the place was surrounded by a tower-reinforced wall with six fortified gates and a rampart. In 1615 Westhofen came into sole possession of the Palatinate. During the Peasants’ War (1525) and the Thirty Years War (1621) there was great devastation. The few Westhofen families who survived the war were joined by immigrants from southern Germany, France and above all from the Netherlands.
I first met André Kastler in 1991 through a phone call he made while searching through phone books from his employment in San Francisco. Since then we have become good friends and cousins. The earliest Kastler that André found in Westhoffen is Konrad Kastler, who died in 1593. He had two sons: Konrad and Jakob. Jakob was a wine grower, and married Anna Berthold on January 14th, 1595 in Westhoffen. Together they had one son, Konrad, who in turn married in 1639. From there records are missing from war and fires, so the link between Konrad and where André picks up the family is not at this point traceable.
The Westhoffen Kastlers are related to the Swabian Kastlers and Königsbach Kastners via DNA testing. The summary is in the Swabian Kastler notes above. Myself, André, and Glen Kastner have a proven relationship via DNA. As is mentioned in the Königsbach Kastner notes, there is a Konrad Kastner, who died in 1592. These two Konrads of these clans are theorized to be the same person.