Surnames in the project
The Kur(t)z(e) Family Project surname comes from a composite of the more common form of the surname Kurtz, Kurtze and Kurz, which are the standard forms of the surname but some of its' variants are: Brevis, Coert, Coerts, Coertsen, Coertsz, Coertze, Coort, Cort, Corte, Cortum, Cours, Curti, Curtius, Curtse, Curtze, Curtzius, Kleen, Klein, Klene, Koers, Koert, Koerts, Koertse, Koertsen, Koort, Koorts, Koorzen, Kort, Korte, Kortum, Kortüm, Kortz, Korzer, Kurtz, Kurtze, Kurtzen, Kurtzius, Kurz, Kurze, Kürzel, Kürzl, Lutke, Lutteke, Parvus, Van Someren, Van Zomeren, etc.
My own family surname was written as Van Zomeren when living in the North-eastern Dutch province of Groningen from the early 19th to the 20th century; but earlier in the 18th century when they were living in Zwolle in the province of Overijssel their surname was written as Van Someren. The progenitor of my Van Someren family was a man called Christian Kurtze and it was his children who adopted the surname Van Someren sometime in the early 18th century; for more details see my website www.kurtze.co. Hence my interest in the surname Kur(t)z(e) and from my personal perspective the hope that this project will find my more ancient ancestors through the Y-DNA of living descendants.
Etymology of the surname
The Germanic surname Kurtz is a commonly found written version of the surname, which means 'Short' in English; although it has also been conflated with the forename 'Konrad'. Other principal versions of this surname are Curtius, Curtze, Korte, Kurtz, Kurtze and Kurz; with many other variants as illustrated in the surnames list above. The surname Curtius is used in legal, clerical and official documents written in Latin as an interpretation of the German surnames Korte, Kurtz, Kurtze and Kurz etc. and is often associated with the educated burger (citizen) class in Germany. For example; the Curtius family of Duisburg living in the 21st, 20th and 19th centuries' were surnamed Curtius only, but their ancestors in 18th and 17th centuries' living in Lippe, Eschwege, Kassel and other places were surnamed Kurtze as well as Curtius in official documents. Earlier still, their ancestors living in Bremen and elsewhere in the North of Germany used the surname Korte, but were still found with the surname Curtius in official documents. So Curtius in the international language of the day which was Latin, was a translation of the vernacular Curtze, Korte, Kurtz, Kurtze and Kurz etc. The surname Curtius could therefore be found all over the Germanic speaking world disguising the vernacular form of the surname. The surname Korte is confined to northern Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium; Kurtze seems to be found generally in the middle and eastern parts of Germany; and Kurtz or Kurz are found in the central to southern parts of Germany, Switzerland and Austria. Of course there will be exceptions such as the learned Curtius alias Kur(t)z family of Lübeck and Copenhagen; also the Kurtz, Kurtze or Kurz family found in various parts of Württemberg.
The above list of Kur(t)z(e) surnames includes many variants, some can be readily identified as being phonetically similar to Kur(t)z(e), but some are not so easily recognizable as having a relationship. I have already mentioned the circumstances of my own Van Someren alias Kurtze family and the surname Curtius, but Kur(t)z(e) or Korte (which in English means Curt or Short) could be conflated with the Lutteke [Little] or Klene / Kleine [Small] family surnames and I have found this in the ancient Urkundenbuch [Deed books] where someone surnamed Korte was also called in the Latin language Brevis [Brief] and also Parvus [Little]. I also found the Lutteke and Lütke families using the Latin version of their surname Parvus [Little]. There is a Parvus family living in Bremen in the 12th century through to the 14th century. Gerbertus Parvus was a Bremen councilor in 1251 and he was also known as Garbert Korttes = Gerbert der Kurze = parvus! Ancient early medieval deeds written in Latin generally use the surname Parvus (and later medieval documents use Curtius), which has been translated into German as meaning Lutteke. But Parvus in other Latin documents can be found translated from the words Lutke / Lutt(e)ke / Kleen / Klein / Klene [Little or Small] or Korte / Kurtze / Kurz etc. [Short] all meaning diminutive; a size that is less than normal or usual. It seems that the distinctive meaning of each word may have been less defined than in modern script or parlance for people who were 'little', 'short', 'slender', 'small', 'stocky' or 'stout'; today we have so many specific condition words whereas in medieval Germany perhaps they were less defined and hence my inclusion of surnames that are not strictly Kur(t)z(e) but have a chance of being so!
So the Kur(t)z(e) surname means Short or does it? It could be an antonym! An example is the name of Little John or John Little from the tales of the 12th century outlaw Robin Hood in merry England; Little John was reputed to be over 7 feet tall and his purported grave lies in the graveyard of St. Michael's church, Hathersage, Derbyshire, England; where in 1780 James Shuttleworth claims to have unearthed a thigh bone measuring 72.39 centimetres (28.50 in). This would have made Little John 8.08 feet (2.46 m) in height - not so 'little' after all!
For more details on the history of the surname, the families and their coats of arms (if they are lucky to possess one) see my website: www.kurtze.co.
In addition to my website mentioned above, there use to be the Kurtz Surname Project which collated Y-DNA data to encourage DNA analysis of Kur(t)z(e) families at WorldFamilies.net. This website was founded by Terry and Marilyn Barton to provide free websites for Surname Y-DNA projects in order to display their test results, family pedigrees and share information with forums for family discussions: www.worldfamilies.net/surnames/kurtz/. This site is taking voluntary early retirement from the 23 May 2018, due to the European Union's new data protection law known as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) with its' onerous responsibilities and potential penalties that take effect from 25 May 2018; this will be a grave loss to the Y-DNA genealogical community.
Also essential visiting was the Y-search website which collates Y-DNA data with the aim of finding matches; this is a free public service from FTDNA: www.ysearch.org. This site is defunct from the end of May 2018, also due to onerous responsibilities and potential penalties of the EU’s GDPR; another very sad loss! With all the great leaps forward in DNA helping to explain our genealogical and origin mysteries, the loss of related websites as the aforementioned is a retrograde act!
FTDNA will continue to provide their excellent Surname Project facility and the above mentioned www.kurtze.co website contains internet links to many other websites to aid you in your genealogical or DNA research as does the following International Society of Genetic Genealogy (ISOGG) www.isogg.org.
This project is open to all males with direct paternal Kur(t)z(e) and Van S/Zomeren ancestry, with any variant spelling. Hopefully female descendants can find a Kur(t)z(e) or Van S/Zomeren father, brother, or male cousin who can act as a Y-DNA donor for their line. Participants are asked to make sure that the project administrator has the genealogy information on their ancestral line.