The Schliesser Surname Project
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For more information, please contact project administrator, Martha (Schliesser) Hicks,
at the email address available to the left.
According to the book German-American Names by George F. Jones, the Schliesser surname means:
'Keeper of the Keys.'
The Schliesser Surname Project is devoted to studying the origins of those who share this distinctive and uncommon surname. Anyone, worldwide, with this name (or similar spellings, including: Schliessman and Schlietzer) is encouraged to have Y-DNA testing of himself or a male relative in the direct paternal line and join this project. (A woman may join on behalf of a male relative with the surname if she is managing his account.) Consideration for membership will also be given to individuals with a different surname if their Y-markers are a very close match to those of a Schliesser project member. I encourage all Schliessers to include their lines in this project, by taking at least a 12-marker test, which will reveal the main haplogroup and provide a set of matches within the FTDNA database. Please contact the project administrator for greatly reduced pricing.
Currently, we know of eight groups with the surname, four of which are genetically distinct lines as evidenced by DNA testing. These four lines are: (1) Schliessers with the earliest known origin of Arriach, Austria, who moved to Germany in 1650 and belong to Haplogroup J2a1 (SNP branch: J2a-FGC17750); (2) Schliessers with the earliest known origin of Hungary who moved to Italy and the U.S.A. and belong to Haplogroup R1b1a2 (SNP branch: R-M269); (3) a Schliessman line with the earliest known origin of Germany, belonging to R1b1b2a (SNP branch: R-PF7580); and (4) another Schliesser line with earliest known origin of what is now the Czech Republic--moved to England and changed the name to Sheldon--belonging to Haplogroup G-M201.
Below is a summary of what we know at this time about the existence of eight groups:
(1) Schliessers from Austria/Germany who belong to Haplogroup J (Subclade J2a-FGC17750):
According to research by the late Rev. Emil Schliesser (Lutheran minister, born 1911 in Germany, who had direct access to parish records), the earliest known ancestor of this group is Jacob Schlietzer/Schliesser, Sr. (c. 1625-1667) from Arriach, Kärnten (Carinthia), Austria. In the year 1650, Jacob emigrated from Austria to Württemberg (Germany) where many of his descendants remain. Jacob, a weaver, settled in the village of Auttagershofen, near Wain, Württemberg, and he died in the town of Balzheim. He married Rosina Wieser. Early German records spelled his surname as Schlietzer and Schliezer. Later German records spelled the name as Schließer, which with English letters is Schliesser. /Many of these findings have been confirmed by research that I (Martha Jane [Schliesser] Hicks) have conducted, having located Jacob's 1667 death record in church records of Balzheim, which lists Jacob's birth place as Arriach, Kärnten (Carinthia). It further confirms that he was a weaver and was living in Oberbalzheim (part of Balzheim) at the time of his death. It is very likely that Jacob's father was Christian Schlietzer (c. 1598-1668) who also came from Arriach and lived along with his wife and several grown children in the same German community as Jacob. / Jacob's descendants mostly remained in that vicinity of Württemberg, residing in the towns or villages of Unterbalzheim, Unterführbuch, Auttagershofen, and Bethlehem, which are near Wain. In the mid-1800s, three Schliesser brothers from this line immigrated to the United States and settled in the state of Ohio. These brothers were: (1) Johann Georg Schliesser (1803-1871) who immigrated with his wife, Barbara Stetter, and their children in 1851; (2) David Schliesser (1820-1882) who came with his wife, Catharina Kopenhöfer, in 1848; and (3) the youngest brother, Jacob Schliesser (1825-1882), who came in 1848. More than half of the hundreds of Schliessers in the United States are descendants of these three brothers. While many descendants have remained in Ohio, others are found throughout the U.S.A., including the states of Texas, California, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma, Colorado, and West Virginia.
(2) Schliessers from Hungary who belong to Haplogroup R (Subclade R1b-M269):
This group of Schliessers is represented by John Michael Schliesser (1874-1952) who was born in Hungary and immigrated to the United States in the early 1900s. He resided in New York and California. Two of his sons immigrated to Italy in the 1920s. Descendants of this line of Schliessers are known to live in Italy and the United States.
(3) Schliessmans from Bürgstadt, Bavaria, Germany - Haplogroup R (Subclade R1b-PF7580):
This Schliessman line traces all the way back to Markus Schliessmann (d. 1575) of Bürgstadt, Lower Franconia, which is in the German state of Bavaria. There are indications that an earlier origin may be Strasbourg, France. Some Schliessmans have remained in Germany, while others are in the U.S.A.
(4) Schliessers from (what is now) Czech Republic - Haplogroup G (Subclade G-M102):
This line had the surname Schliesser and lived in what is now the Czech Republic. They moved to England before World War II and changed the surname to Sheldon. Descendants in that line are also in the U.S.A.
(5) Schliessers from Germany who settled in Nebraska, U.S.A. - Haplogroup Unknown:
One or more small groups of Schliessers live in Nebraska. About 1883, a Fritz Schliesser emigrated from the area of Hamburg or Havre, Germany, to the United States with his wife Emma. In 1900, they were in Nance County, Nebraska, with two sons, Fritz and Herbert. Many, if not all, of their descendants remain in Nebraska.
(6) Schliessers with early settlers on the East Coast of the U.S.A. - Haplogroup Unknown:
A group (or groups) of Schliessers immigrated much earlier to the United States than the previously mentioned groups, probably during the 1700s. They settled on the East Coast, most notably in Pennsylvania and New York. There are indications that this line of Schliessers may be from the area of Bremen in northern Germany. It is unknown at this time whether or not they are related through the direct paternal Schliesser line to other groups of known Schliessers. Y-DNA testing can answer these questions.
(7) Schliessers of Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany - Haplogroup Unknown:
There is a branch of Schliessers whose direct paternal line directly or indirectly goes through Johann Gottlieb Schliesser (1780-1807). He and his wife, Dorothea Sophie Schulze, had a son, Johann Christian Schliesser (1806-1875) of Cröchern, Ohrekreis, Sachsen-Anhalt, and a grandson, Johann Christian Schliesser, Jr. (1833-1896). This information was provided by Kevin Curran, whose immigrant ancestors were Louise Anna Schliessser and husband Johann Gottfried "August" Herms, who settled in Brainard, Nebraska. It is not yet known whether this line of Schliessers is connected to other Schliessers in the United States or elsewhere.
(8) Additional Schliessers & Schliessmans - Worldwide - Haplogroups Unknown:
Worldwide, there are additional Schliessers, including some living in France. Through Y-DNA testing, we can find out whether they are genetically separate groups or if they share a common direct paternal ancestor.
FTDNA has lowered its price for Y-DNA testing, but check with me on the availability of further discounts.
If you are a Schliesser, please consider having your branch represented in this project. Feel free to contact me with any questions at the email address shown in the upper left of the page.
Thank you for your interest!
--- Martha J. (Schliesser) Hicks / 2011-2019
NOTE: It is possible for two distinct Y-DNA groups with the same surname to be related autosomally. For example, a male Schliesser might have taken in and raised his sister's orphaned children who then used and passed down the Schliesser name. This situation could account for finding more than one Y-DNA haplogroup in the Schliesser clan. The members could still be related, sharing a common Schliesser ancestor, but just not in a purely patrilineal manner.
Schliesser Surname Project: Background by Martha Jane (Schliesser) Hicks is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.