Updated: January 23, 2021
True German surnames are primarily going to be a product of the ancestor’s personal attributes, where they came from, or their profession. 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 the last names got their final spelling.
Kastler / Kasteler
According to The Dictionary of American Family Names ⁽¹⁾, Kastler or Kasteler can be a habitational name for someone from a place called Kastel or Castel. see Kastner. Le dictionnaire des noms ⁽²⁾ has an entry for Kastel or Kästel. “Carried in particular in Moselle, also present in Alsace, it is the equivalent of the French castel (castle). Rare variants: Kastell, Kastl, Kastle. Derivatives: Kasteller, Kastler (= Châtelain/Castellan).” A castellan was the governor or captain of a castle, and it’s castellany (the extent of land and jurisdiction). The word stems from the Latin Castellanus, derived from castellum “castle”. Sometimes also known as a constable, governor of the castle district, or captain. We do know that the Wahlern Kastler clan from Switzerland that migrated into the Alsace region of Germany, (now France) actually began as Kasteler. It could also be a topographic name for someone living near a castle or fort, from Kastell ‘fort’, ‘citadel’ (Latin castellum). Equally, the surname could come from any of the numerous places in Germany so named (more usually written Kastell).
Saarland Kastelers / Kastlers
It is most likely that the progenitor of the Saarland Kastlers came from the village of Kastel, near the area where they began in church records. When he moved to any other place, people would have called him “first-name von Kastel”. In the Saarland area, this happened probably during the 1500’s. Soon the “von” was dropped, and the family name was Kastel only, or Kasteler. The “er” at the end of Kastel has the same meaning as “von”; Kasteler = from Kastel. Then you find all the different variations, written with “C” or “K”, with “Kasteler”, “Kasteller”, “Kastler”, or just “Kastel” – all these are variations of the same name. The branch that is called “The Saarland Kastlers” came to America as Kastler, however the spelling started as Kasteler, and there are still several related families in Germany with one or more alternate spellings.
Ulrich Mayer, Castler
Pastor Siegfried Kastler from Heuchlingen, Germany made an interesting discovery while researching his ancestry. He found an inscription in an old “Lagerbuch” (contains information on farms, taxes, etc.) from circa 1540 of the abby of Söflingen, pertaining to a village called Burlafingen near the town of Ulm. The inscription reads: “Ulrich Mayer, genannt Castler” – “Ulrich Mayer called Castler”. Siegfried states: “This means: The former name was Mayer and Castler was a profession, which changed later to a surname”. “The surname Kastler is similar to Kastner. It means the person who has to do with the money of a chief”. It appears to be an accounting of property given by the church to Ulrich via tenure. There’s no other reference to the name as it is used here. The surname Kastler was in use at least to the early 1400’s.
German (also Kästner): from Middle High German Kastner, Kestner, an occupational name for the steward of a granary (Kornkasten) and hence, since general taxation developed from taxes on grain, a steward or treasurer responsible for financial matters at a court, monastery, or other institution. German (also Kästner) and Jewish (Ashkenazic): metonymic occupational name for a joiner or furniture maker, from South German Kasten ‘box’, ‘chest’. Compare Kistner.
Die deutschen Familiennamen⁽³⁾ says: “The administrator of the granary, i.e. the granary, then because the taxes developed from the grain and fruit interest. A bailiff of all income or “rent master”. At courts, for example, there was a court Kastner, at monasteries a priest Kastner.”
Dir Deutschen Familiennamen also says: “Keller III. mhd. kellaere from lat. cellarius 1) ,,cellar master”, conductor 2) chamber official; like from the manorial box a Kastner, so from the manorial cellar a cellar [Keller] (waiter) got his name as a rent official (cellarii at the court of Charles the Great), who originally had to administer the vineyards and vineyards together with the other incomes, which were to be delivered into the cellars; with spiritual founders the official, who administers the incomes, which are arranged for the table – often with the Kastner one 3) Owner of a “cellar yard” of some kind in some parts of Swabia and Switzerland.”.
The Kastner name in the scope of Kastler Genealogy is the same as Kastler, because of DNA matches across the Swabian Kastlers, Königsbach Kastners, and Westhoffen Kastlers.
There are several theories as to the origin of the Kastler, Kasteler, and Kastner surnames. Some are very easy to connect to the specific clan, some are not. Some we may never know, but the name remains.