German Emigrant Origins

The following email was received a number of years back from Hans-Martin Riehle in Germany who has researched relatives of ancestors who emigrated to the United States in the nineteenth century.  Herr Riehle provides a number of interesting observations that are based on his investigations.  Please note however that he acknowledges his comments are without firm statistical support and certainly Riehle.Net has not attempted to verify the statistical accuracy of these observations. 

That said, in our experience, the clear majority of Riehle’s here in the US originated from the Baden-Württemberg area. We have not encountered any from the northeast of this area, which is not to say such families don’t exist. This likely reflects to some considerable degree our origins and the origins of many other Riehle’s in the US midwest, from where word spread back to Baden in the mid-nineteenth century that social, climate and soil conditions were good.

We have also identified a number of emigrants that came out of Württemberg, but again, this reflects at least to some extent the considerable assistance we have received from Hans-Martin and his origins in that area. A number of our Württemberg Immigrant Ancestors were discovered by Hans-Martin or in the extensive family tree he provided to us.

We have one Riehle contributor whose’s ancestor came from an unidentified area to the north, but one of his more recent ancestors changed the name from “Riehl” to “Riehle” such that the German emigrant in this case did not actually carry the Riehle surname.

In any case, we appreciate Hans’ significant and early contribution to our understanding of the family origins and we encourage Riehle’s with Immigrant Ancestors from other parts of the Old World to tell their story. Feedback can be provided in the “Comments” section below.

From: Hans-Martin Riehle
Sent: Sunday, November 30, 2003 9:07 AM
Subject: Riehle-emigrants

(Map prepared by editor)

Dear Sirs,   
My name is Hans-Martin Riehle, I am German and I am living near Stuttgart in Southwest-Germany. I am 46 years old and I am doing family research for many years. Two brothers of my great grandfather emigrated from Mähringen, Germany to New York City in 1866 and 1887. I am still trying to find their descendants. In 1997 I travelled to New York and visited the archives. What I found out about the Riehles, their origin and their emigrants – and what every Riehle should know- is following:

1 – The name Riehle is not very common in Germany

2 – As far as I know, there are at least three Riehle-origin-areas:
– a:  The area Berlin / Brandenburg ( East Germany )
– b:  The area Sasbach / Wagshurst / Achern (Baden /
– c:  The area Mähringen / Kusterdingen; Tübingen county

3 – There is no known connection or relationship between those areas.

4 – People of those areas have different confessions:  people of area “a” and “c” were evangelic,  people of area “b” are Roman Catholics (few exceptions are possible).

5 – There had been emigrants from every three areas.

6 – Most emigrants went to America (17-19 century), but some Riehles also emigrated to East-Europe and to Switzerland.

7 – Until the present day many Riehle-families live in the areas “a”, “b” and “c”. 

8 – My ancestors came from Mähringen (area “c”). In this village the name Riehle was first mentioned in tax-lists of the year 1545 . Starting with the year 1652 and up to the present day birth-, marriage-, and death-records were made by the parsons- and can still be seen in the archives.

9 – Dr.Walter Schmid did great research concerning emigration from Mähringen and surroundings. He published a book about the emigration.

10 – Some Riehles do family-research here in Germany, and some do publish their family-trees in the Internet.  See:

Greetings to the Riehle-families in America from
Hans-Martin Riehle

See more contributions from Hans-Martin Riehle here.

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