Origins of the OHMER surname

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By Gerard E. Ohmer – from his OHMER Genealogy book



What does the OHMER name mean?

  • from an agent derivative of Middle High German ?ame?ome ‘standard measure’, hence an occupational name for someone who checked and sealed weights and measures.
  • (Öhmer): topographic name (mostly Swiss), for someone who lived or owned a farm in a wider, flat part of a valley, a variant of Ebner.
  • status or occupational name from Middle High German ebenære ‘arbitrator’, ‘judge’.

Dictionary of American Family Names, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-508137-4

Is there a basis for the OHMER name? The information is neither definitive nor satisfactory. Quite understandably my contacts have frequently asked concerning the origin or meaning of the OHMER name. Neither the origin nor meaning of the name has been determined. I believe the name is unique because it is without meaning and was the creation of various notaries using phonetics as their basis. Also, I believe it was originally “AUMER” and from the immediate area of Munich, Bavaria (München, Bayern).

The earlier form of “Aumer” would have no meaning in the German language. The difference between “Ohmer” and “Omer” is only old high and old low, German. The form “Omer” appears in the area near Belgium. AUMER does appear in parts of the Bavarian Alps. A similar name, ALMER, in Switzerland is described as a dairy farmer from high pasture. In French, Aumer would mean “From (or to) the sea.” This makes no sense for a name in the Rhine Valley. Further research through 1998 leads me to assume that prior to about 1650 the name was AUMER or AUMEIER. There may have been no difference in the pronunciation. Of necessity, I must resort to speculation. One unlikely theory has to do with the name OHMER being the occupation of the noun “ohmen” where an obscure meaning is an oaken beer barrel with a capacity of 159 liters. From this, an OHMER would be a man who calibrated such barrels. One reason this interpretation might have occurred is that AMER can have the meaning “to measure” or “to gauge.”

One AUMER from the immediate area of Munich suggested it had the meaning of a broad, high meadow near a river. This could be a valid since AU (and similar words such as awa, ouwa, and ouwe) originally meant water or stream and later wetlands. I must choose the judgment of two multilingual persons from Alsace, the area where the name seems to have first occurred. By multilingual I mean individuals who are fluent in German, French, Latin and English. It is complicated and the name must be deconstructed.

The name starts with two elements. “AU” meaning a meadow and “MEIER” meaning the head of a farm, that is the supervisor or manager of a farm or farmland depending on situation or location of the farm property. AU combined with MEIER can have the meaning of “manager of the meadow property.” AU phonetically became OH in the Pfalz. MEIER was contracted to MER. Thus the name became OHMER in the Pfalz and Lorraine.

My multilingual contacts agree that OHMER, AHMEIER, AUMER, AUMAYER, AUMEYER and similar surnames are all derived from AU and MEIER. There is no reason to believe that persons with these names are related; only that their names were derived from the same occupation some 300 years ago. Ins Strasbourg, one reference book on names in the genealogy library mentions a Laurent AUMEIER from about 1300.

In France —

Pierre Lechrist, of Lyon, is a descendant of Johnannes Michael in the 5th generation.  Jean Michael married in Epianl, France in 1790.  His contact to that area is as yet unknown.
There are other OHMERs in France, but they are not now connected with Peter Aumer.
There is another branch of the french OHMERs centered in Dayton, Ohio.  These OHMERs are believed to be the descendants of Nichola OHMER, husband of Maria Ann Thuillier.  Look for this family tree to be up on the site soon thanks to Susan Ohmer of  Petersburg, Alaska.

Anthony – born ?
Peter – 24 August, 1845

Nichola – born ?

In Germany —

Karl Ohmer of Freiburg, Germany is a descendant of Johannes in the 5th generation.  Johannes is also the ancestor of  most of the Cincinnati OHMERs.

In Holland —

No direct contacts are yet available to the Holland string of OHMERs.


In Louisiana —

All the OHMERs in this area trace their lineage back to a single immigrant:

  • Tobias Ambre Ohmer – born 18 March 1832, Neupotz, Pfalz, Germany – migrated to New Orleans 15 Apr 1851

Tobias is the 4th great-grandson of Peter Aumer. Tobias was born in Neupfotz, Pfalz, Germany, on 18 March, 1832. He migrated to the United States by way of  La Harve, France on the Ship Carrack and arrived in New Orleans on June 16, 1851.  The ship’s passenger list states he was 19 and a farmer, was travelling with only a single trunk.  He made his way to Assumption Parish, and settled in an area called Four Mile Bayou.  There he met and married Jeanette Suzanne Acosta around 1852.  He filed for naturalization in 1892, and became an American citizen.  Descendants are now in Napoleonville, New Orleans, Thibodaux, Denham Springs, Westwego, Amelia, Morgan City, and Dulac.

In Michigan —

There are two groups:

  • Carl – 6 April, 1839 – first located in Girard, PA
  • Clara, widow of Wilhelm – 1 January, 1807

Clara arrived in NY with 4 to 6 children.  (One of which is believed lost at the port of entry).  She is believed to have migrated from the Duchy of Baden.
Clara is said to have been born on 1 Jan 1807 probably in Baden. She was the widow of Wilhem Ohmer at the time she arrived in the United States. She migrated in 1852 and settled in Michigan. It has been impossible to make a proper linkage to established Ohmer lineages.

In Missouri —

Three known immigrants:

  • Karl – 16 May, 1869 – migrated 1885
  • Gustave – 29 November, 1885 – migrated 1885
  • Eduard – 19 July, 1873 – migrated 1889

These are three brothers.  All came to the US about the age 16.  Their parents married late and there were two older girls who died in infancy.  Their uncle Jacob married much earlier and had 3 sons and 2 daughters.  The eldest son (whose name is not yet known) migrated to the US.
Jacob’s son, who would have been an older 1st cousin of the three brothers, may have settled in the St. Louis area, and may be the reason for the boys’ location.  At his death, he left a legacy to his brother’s descendants in Germany.

In Ohio

There are OHMERs in Cincinnati who are descendants of the Peter Aumer lineage.  Most are descended from:

        Michael OHMER – 4 June, 1839 in Herxheim, Pfalz, Germany

    Michael was a brewmaster born in Germany, and the first reference in Cincinnati is in 1862. His descendants are now centered in Cinicinnati and across the river in Kenton and Campbell counties near Covington, Kentucky.

In Pennsylvania—
Four OHMERs are known to have migrated from Herxheim to this area:

  • Carl – 6 April 1839 – migrated ??
  • Theodor – 22 June 1843 – migrated 1863
  • Apollonia – 27 June 1843 – migrated 1863
  • Jacob – 1869 – migrated 1884

    Carl and Theodor were 1st cousins, their fathers having been born in 1798 and 1796 respectively.  However, Theodor was the youngest child and it is believed Carl migrated earlier.
Theodor and Apollonia married in Erie, PA in November of 1863.
Jacob was a nephew of Theodor.  He was raised in Erie as if her were the 10th child.

In Alaska

This string of OHMERs are descendants of the French OHMERs, particularly :

  • Earl Nicholas OHMER – born in Dayton, Ohio 17 Nov 1882

Earl migrated from Dayton after spending the first years of his life on his parents’ wheat farm, and is a descendant of the Dayton (French) OHMERs. He arrived in Alaska in 1915. operator of a shellfish cannery and was Mayor of Petersburg 1920, 1930 and 1931. For 20 years he was president of the Chamber of Commerce, and was Chariman of the Alaska Fish and Game Commission for 23 years. Thus, I’ve understood that as being the reason several Parks and Lakes in Alaska bear the OHMER name.
Earl’s Grandson Dave now manages a shrimp cannery that he founded in Petersburg, Alaska in 1916.  Earl is son of Charles Thomas OHMER, and is of the yet unconnected french line of Andoni OHMER.

Earl had four children:

  • Robert Charles “Bob” OHMER (deceased)
  • David Paul OHMER (deceased)
  • James Lewis “Jim” OHMER (deceased)
  • Patricia Henrietta “Patti” OHMER (still residing in Petersburg, AK)

     A contact had been made with a direct descendant of this line, but further information from her never came.  This new info is courtesy of Dave OHMER, Katelyn OHMER Markley and Roberta OHMER.  THANKS for the info, guys!

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