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”. An equivalent meaning would be “von Kastel”. 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). Sometimes also known as a constable, governor of the castle district, or captain. The word stems from the Latin Castellanus, derived from castellum “castle”. We do know that the Wahlern Kastler clan from Switzerland that migrated into the Alsace region of Germany (now France), began as Kasteler.
According to Genealogist Uwe Porten: “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 might 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”.
This was also the case for the Wahlern (Swiss) Kastlers, where the name was originally written as Kasteler. No ancient map has been located at this time with a town called Kastel near the Wahlern-Rüschegg area.
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 city 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.
The Kastner name in the scope of this Kastler Genealogy is the same as Kastler, because of DNA matches across the Swabian Kastlers, Königsbach Kastners, and Westhoffen Kastlers. The theory being that they started as Kastler near Bavaria, then migrated east. In that area they may have used -ner as opposed to -ler for occupations and the church started writing it that way, or it was simply that they wrote it as they heard it and it was basically changed. From there more relatives apparently went to Alsace (Westhoffen) and established again as Kastler. The following definitions are probably for Kastner families not associated with the Königsbach Kastners.
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.
Die 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”.
There are several theories as to the origin of the Kastler, Kasteler, and Kastner surnames. Some are very easy to connect to a specific clan, some are not. The future guarantees that more information will be discovered and digitized to help in the research.