Three Rivers
History From America's Most Famous Valleys


A Family History donated by: Harry Windecker


Origin of the name.

The name Windecker has its origin from German, meaning "sheltered from the wind", probably someone who lived on the lee side of a mountain or in a protected valley. Alternately, the suffix -er means from or of, therefore, a person from Windeck. In German, "Ich bin ein Berliner" means I am a Berliner or I am from Berlin. Similarly, "Ich bin ein Windecker" means I am from Windeck.

The earliest reference of Windecker is from the Vogelsberg and Taunus areas of Germany, north of Frankfort am Main, and from the Rhein region of southwest Germany. At least three villages in Germany contain the name Windeck. Windeck or alt-Windeck is located east of Bonn, and is probably related to the origin of our name; Kappelwindeck is located in the Black Forest area of southwest Germany along the Rhein River; and Windecken is located north of Frankfurt a. M.

Windeck is a village located about 20-miles east of Bonn, Germany along the Sieg River. Windecker family members currently do not reside there, however, the Graf (Count) von
Windeck is known to have resided in the Windeck Castle in the 1200s. The earliest known resident is Heinrich von Windeck, born 1263 and Agnes, Countess of the Marck, born 1265. Their daughter, Elisabeth von Windeck was married to Walram, Count of Sponheim. The Windeck Castle was built in the 1100s, and destroyed during the Hundred Years War (1600s). The castle lies in ruins outside the village, but is still a tourist attraction, and the home of the Windeck Burg Markt, a crafts fest held each October. A Palace in Windeck was destroyed during World War II.

Kappelwindeck is a village located in the Rhein Valley and in the Black Forest (Schwarzwald) area of Germany, about 10-miles southwest of the City of Bühl. Kappelwindeck is now incorporated into the City of Bühl. It is the home of another Windeck Castle, a palace on a hill that was occupied by the Windeck family prior to the 1600s. The male line of the Windeck's died out in 1592 and the Windeck's lost political and economic influence. "The last Windecker to reside in the castle" participated in the Strasburg civil service. (This is the first use of Windecker and Windeck in the same passage. As Windecker means from Windeck, an error in translation may have occurred.) Strasburg was at the time, part of Germany. Now it is Strasbourg, France.

According to this report, the castle went into decay until it became the possession of the Frauenhalb Cloister and turned into a hereditary fief. (This does not make sense, as it was probably a hereditary fief under the Windeck's.) This hermitage possessed the right to sell wine, and in the 14th and 15th centuries, the land around the castle was primarily, a vineyard. By the 16th century, Kappelwindeck was the largest winery in the region.

The Windeck Castle (in Kappelwindeck) was rediscovered in the 19th century, and the village developed a resort industry. The Kaiser's Linden Tree, the Kaiserlinde, is located in the center of the village and is the site of music and festivals. A linden tree is mentioned in the literature as early as 1430. The Burg Windeck is now a hotel.

In addition to Kappelwindeck, it appears that the Lords of Windeck acquired considerable property in the Rhein Valley. For instance, " von Windeck was awarded Buehlertal by the Ebersteins (a Duchy) before the year 1300." The Knight, Reinhard von Windeck, is referenced with respect to a Windeck Castle near Weinheim, which survived the Thirty-Years War, but did not survive later invasion by French troops under Turenne.

This area has had its share of warfare, as considerable devastation has historically occurred along the Rhein River, dating back to Roman times, when it was part of Gaul (inhabited by Celts), to the present, as recent as World War II.

Windecken is a small village north of Frankfurt a. M. and is one of the earliest locations found for the Windecker family name. Friedburg (same area of Germany) also is the home of early Windeckers. Windecken is a plural form of Windeck, but may originate from other names, and evolved to the current name. A brief history of Windecken presented (in German) by the Windecken Historical Society indicates that Windecken has been in existence since 1288 (700-years) and had several names before the current one. Names of this village include: Wonnecken, Wuneckin, Wynecken and Windecken. It is unknown at this time if these names represent a transitional form of our name or if we truly originate from Windeck.

Copyright 2001. Harry Windecker. All rights reserved.

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