The Gaßmann surname ("ß" is equal to "ss" in English) is a South German, Swiss, and Jewish (Ashkenazic) derivative: a topographic name for someone who lived in a street in a city, town, or village—the Middle High German term gazze, German Gasse, or Yiddish gas meaning ‘street’ or ‘side street’.
   The surname was first recorded in Hamburg, where the family contributed greatly to the development of an emerging nation which would later play a large role in the tribal and national conflicts of the area. The Gassmann coat of arms is red, which celebrates military achievement, and white (or silver), showing peace and sincerity. A silver duck adorns the shield, which signifies a man of many resources.
   As you will soon see, we are not Wenks by blood; our ancestor was adopted into the Wenk family. Our only proven bloodline through Ignatz Wenk, our ancestor, is through his mother's line—the Gaßmann family.

   This line can be traced back to a man named BERNHARD GAßMANN, who was born in 1650 in Rotzel, a small, predominantly Catholic village in Baden.¹
   In the Holy Roman Empire of the Seventeenth Century, a child was given a name for very specific reasons. In a typical Catholic village, two-thirds of all sons were named Johann or Jakob and two-thirds of all daughters were named Maria or Anna. The rest were named after saints—especially the local ones. Sometimes the children were named after the landlord, or (infrequently), after the present or deceased sovereign, provided he was respected or beloved. The latter method was most popular in Baden, where the most popular names were Burkhard, Bernhard, Friedrich, and Hermann. And in this manner, our oldest known ancestor in this line, Bernhard, was named.
   Bernhard Gaßmann married ANNA GÄNG, daughter of BENEDIKT GENG and FIDES THOMAN, in 1674 in Hochsal, Baden, Germany.
   Their children were:


  • JOSEPH GAßMANN was born on 3 Feb 1675 in Rotzel and died on 15 Sep 1676 in Rotzel.
  • JOHANN GAßMANN was born on 27 Jun 1677 in Rotzel.
  • MARIA GAßMANN was born on 14 Aug 1680 in Rotzel.
  • JOSEPH GAßMANN was born on 6 Oct 1681 in Rotzel.
  • MICHAEL GAßMANN was born on 5 Oct 1683 in Rotzel and died on 1 Jul 1705.
  • MATHIAS GAßMANN was born on 25 Feb 1686 in Rotzel, died on 16 Nov 1726 in Rotzel, and was buried in Hochsal.
  • FRIDOLIN GAßMANN was born 21 Mrz 1688 in Rotzel and died on 12 Jul 1708 in Rotzel.
  • JOHAN GAßMANN was born on 10 Jul 1689 in Rotzel and died in Hänner.
  • MARIA GAßMANN was born on 17 Jan 1691 in Rotzel.
  •    Our ancestors were not a product of this marriage, as Anna died in 1699, and Bernhard became a widower. Fortunately for us, Bernhard was still able to have another crop of children at age fifty. He married a second time, to MARIA SUTTER, von OBERHOF (Oberhof, in Amberg-Sulzbach, Bayern) on the fifth of May, 1699, in Hochsal, Baden.
       The children from this marriage were:


  • BERNHARD GASSMANN II (family listed below).
  • JOHANNA GAßMANN was born on 23 May 1701 in Rotzel and died on 20 May 1742 in Albert.
  • JOSEPH GAßMANN was born on 1 Sep 1702 in Rotzel.
  • Ucker
       Their son, BERNHARD GAßMANN II, was born on the 29th of March in 1700 in Rotzel, Baden, Germany. His parents both died while he was a teen: Maria Sutter, von Oberhof, died on 31 Jan 1714 in Rotzel and was buried in Hochsal. Bernhard Sr. followed her that same year, on 11 Feb 1714, and was buried in Hochsal, too. Who raised the children after this is unknown—but according to custom it would've been either an uncle of Bernhard or one of his eldest siblings from Bernhard I's first marriage.
       When Bernhard II reached adulthood, he married ELISABETH TRÖNDLE, daughter of JOHANN TRÖNDLE and MARIA GERTEIS, on the sixth of July, 1727, in Hochsal. Our line of the family seems to have trouble with first marriages. Once again, we are not descended from this first union, which remained childless.
       Then Bernhard married again, to VERENA ÜCKER on the fifth of May in 1728 in Hochsal. Verena was also raised by people other than her parents. She was the daughter of JOHANN ÜCKER and MARIA SCHLAGETER, and was born on the 14th of January, 1705, in Willaringen. But Verena's mother died that same year, in March. Her father died on the ninth of January, 1710, in Willaringen.
       But the marriage of Bernhard and Verena would be a long, happy one. Their children were:


  • JOSEF GAßMANN was born 18 Mar 1729 in Rotzel.
  • BERNHARD GAßMANN was born on 10 Aug 1730 in Rotzel.
  • JOHANN GAßMANN (family listed below).
  • JOSEPH GAßMANN was born 25 Mar 1735 in Rotzel, died on 17 Nov 1798 in Rotzel, and was buried in Hochsal.
  • CASPAR GAßMANN was born on 2 Feb 1737 in Rotzel and died on 20 Jul 1808.
  • ANTON GAßMANN was born on 6 Jan 1739 in Rotzel.
  • MARIA GAßMANN was born on 28 Sep 1741 in Rotzel, died 26 Mrz 1743 in Rotzel, and was buried in Hochsal.
  • JACOB GAßMANN was born on 10 Jul 1744 in Rotzel.
  • MARIA ELISABETH GAßMANN was born on 19 Nov 1746 in Rotzel, died on 16 May 1806 in Rotzel, and was buried in Hochsal.
  •    Verena lived into her seventies, and died on the fifth of January, 1777, in Rotzel. When Bernard II passed away is unknown. But their son JOHANN GAßMANN was born on the fifth of May in 1733 in Rotzel.
       Johann married ANNA SCHRIEDER, born in Görwihl, on the the 27th of April, 1761, in Hochsal.
       They had TEN children:


  • MARIA EVA GAßMANN was born on 18 Dec 1761 in Rotzel, died on 23 Dec 1761 in Rotzel, and was buried in Hochsal.
  • THADDÄUS GAßMANN, Bauer was born on 4 Jan 1763 in Rotzel, died on 9 May 1840 in Rotzel, and was buried in Hochsal.
  • IGNAZ or IGNATIUS GAßMANN was born on the 29th of May, 1764, in Rotzel. He married AGATHA HÜBER from the same town on the sixth of August, 1792, in Hochsal (family listed below). Ignaz died on the 17th of March, 1814, in Rotzel, and was buried in nearby Hochsal.
  • JOHANN GAßMANN, Bauer, Schuster was born on 14 Sep 1765 in Rotzel, died on 4 Feb 1844 in Rotzel, and was buried in Hochsal.
  • BERNHARD GAßMANN , Bauer, Vogt was born on 25 Jun 1767 in Rotzel, died on 19 May 1845 in Rotzel, and was buried in Hochsal.
  • MARIA ANNA GAßMANN was born on 18 Feb 1769 in Rotzel, died on 25 Apr 1835 in Rotzel, and was buried in Hochsal.
  • AGATHA GAßMANN was born on 4 Feb 1771 in Rotzel.
  • URSULA GAßMANN was born on 12 Aug 1772 in Rotzel, died on 27 Nov 1842 in Rotzel, and was buried in Hochsal.
  • CATHARINA GAßMANN was born on 26 Oct 1775 in Rotzel and died on 25 Oct 1847.
  • BARBARA GAßMANN was born on 17 Feb 1778 in Rotzel, died on 3 Dec 1858 in Rotzel, and was buried in Hochsal.
  • Hüber
       Johann died on the ninth of August, 1808, in Rotzel, and was buried in Hochsal, Baden. The date of Anna's death is unknown.
       Their son, IGNATIUS or IGNAZ GAßMANN, was born on the 29th of May, 1764, in Rotzel. When Ignaz reached adulthood he married AGATHA HÜBER from the same town on the sixth of August, 1792, in Hochsal.
       Agatha was the daughter of FRITZ HÜBER (1718 - 12 Jul 1788) and ANNA MARIA TRÖNDLE (14 Jul 1735 - 1773) of Rotzel, Baden. She was from a family of ten children, as well.
       Ignaz and Agatha's marriage was not as fruitful as the previous generation's. You see, while their parents on both sides had ten children. Ignaz and Agatha had a measly nine!
       Here is a listing of all of them:


  • AGATHA GAßMANN was born on 12 Jan 1794 in Rotzel.
  • ANNA GAßMANN was born on 17 Feb 1795 in Rotzel and died on 29 Sep 1798 in Rotzel.
  • MARIA GAßMANN was born on 9 Sep 1796 in Rotzel and died on 7 Sep 1801 in Rotzel.
  • IGNATIUS GAßMANN, Bauer, Thauner was born on 23 May 1798 in Rotzel and died on 18 Sep 1849 in Rotzel. "Dear Jeff, I though it might be interesting for you to know, one of Ida Gassmann's nephews, named Gregor Gassmann (son of Ignatz Gassmann and Catherina Rüdi) came to Argentina in 1865. He is my great, great grandfather. He was a smith at the Reconquista town (Santa Fe province) ... actually he was one of the founding pioneers of the town. In case you feel curious you can see my data in Regards, Silvana Geuna; Buenos Aires, Argentina."
  • AMBROSIUS GAßMANN, Landwirt, Kübler was born on 3 Apr 1800 in Rotzel and died on 4 Dec 1866 in Harpolingen.
  • FRANZ GAßMANN was born on 6 Oct 1801 in Rotzel and died on 6 Oct 1801 in Rotzel.
  • IDA GAßMANN (family listed below).
  • JOHANN GAßMANN was born on 4 Apr 1805 in Rotzel and died 30 Mrz 1811 in Rotzel.
  • KATHRIN GAßMANN was born on 3 May 1807 in Rotzel and died on 25 Sep 1833 in Rotzel.
  • Wenk
       Their daughter IDA GAßMANN was born on the second of November, 1802, in Rotzel. She was married to a man in town, but once again, the first union of a Gassman ancestor was not a long one. Ida's marriage dissolved in 1822. But she had a child, IGNANZ (or IGNATZ) GASSMANN, on the 30th of July in 1823. Apparently with no father, Ignanz kept Ida's family name. Being born out of wedlock in Baden was a common but stigmatizing occurance. The parents of illegitimate children were punished heavily. Both mother and father were subjected to a painful interrogation by the village judges and fined (the maximum allowable fine was about 12 guilders). A worse fate was to be exposed publicly on Sunday in front of the church, where the woman was displayed with a straw garland on her head, and the man with a straw sword at his side.
       Ida was spared all of this when on the 26th of February in 1829, she left town and married JOHAN WENK, of Oberwihl, Baden, Germany. Johan was probably poor, too, because marriage between the classes was nearly impossible. At best, a mixing of classes only took place after disasters like war or plague. As a result, families were stuck in a particular class of a village and its neighboring villages as long as they belonged to the same noble lord (landlord). At this time in Baden, marriage was allowed only with the permission of the noble lord (landlord). First of all, the engaged couple had to pay the lord for his permission (2-10 fl). Secondly, the couple had to prove to him and to the community that they would be able to support themselves and their children without any outside help. A minimum net worth of 100-200 fl. (guilders) was required for marriage. Since many engaged couples could not come up with this sum of money, a large number of the people remained unmarried. Illegitimate births were a frequent occurrence, so Ignanz wasn't alone in being born out of wedlock.
       But Ignanz wasn't fatherless for long: Johan Wenk adopted young Ignanz as his own, and Ignanz changed his last name to "Wenk." Then Johan and Ida had more children:


  • IGNANZ (IGNATZ) GASSMANN (b. 30 Jul 1823) changed his name to WENK after being adopted by Johan, Jr. He emigrated to the United States in 1849, and his story is detailed in the next chapter of this genealogy. Ignatz married twice, to Anna Maria Essig, and then to EVA CATHERINE MANZ (4/23/1837 - 1923). Ignatz died on 27 Jun 1897 in Washtenaw Co., Michigan.
  • JOHAN WENK III was born on 30 Nov 1829 in Oberwihl. He became the Principal Teacher at Eschach, and died on 01 Jan 1914.
  • FRIDOLIN WENK was born on 04 Mar 1832. He died on 18 Nov 1856.
  • MARIA GOLDMAN WENK was born on 11 Oct 1834. She lived well into her eighties, dying on 06 Mar 1923.
  • KATHARINA FALLER WENK was born on 18 Dec 1836. She died of pneumonia, date uncertain. But it was probably after 1897, as Ignatz' obituary in 1897 reports that he has two living sisters.
  • WILHELM WENK was born on 01 Mar 1840. He died on 06 Mar 1865.
  • JOSEPH WENK was born in 1843. He joined his half-brother, Ignatz in Michigan in 1870, and married ANNA ADELHEID "OLIVE" NIEHAUS (1839 - 1946) of Prussia, and had nine children: Adolph, Emil, Frederick, Albert, Edwin, Herman, Ida, Anna, and Clara. Joseph died on 13 Jan 1920 in Chelsea, MI
  • Click here to see Joseph and Olive with their family.
  • Click here to see Joseph and Olive on their farm.
  • PETER WENK was born on 22 Jun 1848. He died on 26 May 1849.
  •    Ida died on the 23rd of December, 1854, in Rotzel, Baden. By that point, her son, Ignatz, had sailed to America. Ignatz' emigration papers, recently uncovered by family historian Ernst Wenk, read as follows:

    Ignatius Gaßmann von Oberwihl

    heute Gemeinde Görwihl Hotzenwald
    Kreis Waldshut, Baden-Württemberg, BRD "Bundesrepublik Deutschland"
    Wandert 1849 nach der USA aus FRG

    today Community Görwihl Hotzenwald
    County Waldshut, Baden-Württemberg, BRD
    Migrated 1849 to the USA from FRG "Federal Republic of Germany"

    Wohl Namensänderung oder Adoption,
    Kaum eine Legitimation!
    Ignatz Gaßmann bzw Wenk ist darum
    lediglich Namensträger und nicht Blutsverwandter.

    Probably Name Change or Adoption,
    hardly one Credential!
    Ignatz Gassmann respectively Wenk is therefore
    only name bearer and not related by blood.

       Many of the Gassmann family emigrated to the Americas in the mid-to-late 1800s. Ignatz's cousin, Gregor Gassmann (son of Ida's brother, Iganatius), was orphaned at the age of eight and raised by his eldest brothers, then joined the army as a Dragoon; he sailed to Argentina in 1862, and lived in Buenos Aires for four years. Gregor (called "Jorge" in his new home) heard about the opportunities in Argentina's Agricultural Colonies, and went to Santa Fe working as a smith—first at Helvecia (1866), and then at Reconquista (1872). Many of his descendants live there today.²
       But Ignanz chose instead to make the perilous journey to North America and the United States, where he himself would adopt a child as his own, and then call for his brother, Joseph, to follow him to a more prosperous future, in a place called Michigan.


    BERNHARD GAßMANN (1650 - 1714) married MARIA SUTTER, von OBERHOF (d. 31 Jan 1714) and they begat...

    BERNHARD GAßMANN (1700 - 1746) married VERUNA UCKER (1704 - 1777) and begat...

    JOHANN GAßMANN (1733 - 1808) who married ANNA SCHRIEDER (1736 - 1796) and begat...

    IGNATIUS GAßMANN (1764 - 1814) who married AGATHA HÜBER (1766 - 1822) and begat...

    IDA GAßMANN (1802 - 1854) who married JOHAN WENK (1801 - 1867) and begat...

    IGNANZ GAßMANN WENK (1823 - 1897) who married EVA CATHERINE MANZ (1837 - 1923) and begat...

    MARTIN WENK (1876 - 1964) who married MARTHA CAROLINA GRIEB (1880 - 1937) and begat...

    ERWIN WENK (1910 - 1982) who married DOROTHY PRITCHARD (b. 1918) and begat...

    MARTHA WENK (b. 1940) who married CARLETON MARCHANT HAUSE, JR. (b. 1939) and begat...

    JEFF (who married LORI ANN DOTSON), KATHY (who married HAL LARSEN), ERIC (who married MARY MOONSAMMY), and MICHELE HAUSE (who married JOHN SCOTT HOUSTON).


    ¹—The earliest reference to Rotzel was in 1266, as "Rotsol." In July of 1972, Rotzel was incorporated into Laufenburg in Baden-Württemberg, Germany, followed in January of 1975 by Hochsal. Laufenburg now includes the previously independent municipalities Binzgen (1,160 inhabitants), Grunholz (625 inhabitants), Hauenstein (to the incorporation of the smallest city in Germany, now 97 residents), Hochsal (555 inhabitants), Luttingen (1,102 inhabitants), Rotzel (518 inhabitants) and Stade Hausen.

    ²—Information provided by Gregor's descendant, Silvana Geuna of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Her line can be viewed at Some photos:

    L-R: Ignatius Gassmann's son, Gregor Jorge Gassmann (11 Mar 1841 - 24 Apr 1920) and wife Elisa Inés Schnell (3 May 1861 - 30 Apr 1910); Their daughter María Gassmann-Kaufman (b. 29 May 1880); Son Emilio Benjamin Gassmann (20 Aug 1887 - 19 Nov 1963); Emilio's children Ana Elisa Gassmann-Sager (29 Oct 1910 - 29 Jan 1999), Esther Clara Gassmann-Cetrangolo (30 Apr 1916 - 13 May 1999) and Oracio Pablo Gassmann (7 Oct 1917 - 28 Oct 1994); Source: Collection of Silvana Geuna of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Álbum de familia Sager Gassmann (María y Carmen Sager Gassmann).


  • Family history done with the help of Andreas Gundlingen, another descendant.
  • "A Brief Description of a Typical Southern German Village in the Past Centuries," by Dieter Joos Ueberlingen, Germany ( April, 2006.
  • "Germany and the Americas: Culture, Politics, and History: a multidisciplinary encyclopedia, Volume 3" by Thomas Adam. ABC-CLIO, 2005.