This surname OBERST was derived from the German word OBER, a topographic name for someone who lived at the upper end of a village. In some cases the name may have denoted someone who lived on an upper floor of a building with two or more storeys. The name has numerous variant spellings which include OBERTH, OBERER, ZOBRIST, OBERMAN, OBERMANN, OVERMANN, AVERMANN and Van BOVEN. The name was also an occupational or status name taken by a rabbi. Habitation names were originally acquired by the original bearer of the name, who, having lived by, at or near a place, would then take that name as a form of identification for himself and his family. When people lived close to the soil as they did in the Middle Ages, they were acutely conscious of every local variation in landscape and countryside. Every field or plot of land was identified in normal conversation by a descriptive term. If a man lived on or near a hill or mountain, or by a river or stream, forests and trees, he might receive the word as a family name. Almost every town, city or village in early times, has served to name many families. A notable member of the name was Hermann Julius OBERTH (1894-1990) the Hungarian born German astrophysicist, born in Transylvania at Sibiu, called the father of German rocketry. Abandoning a medical career for mathematics and astronomy, he published his first book 'By Rocket to Interplanetary Space' in 1923. In 1928 he was elected president of the German Society for Space Travel. Surnames which were derived from ancient Germanic personal names have the same meaning in many languages. The court of Charlemagne (Charles the Great, king of the Franks (742-814) was Christian and Latin speaking). The vernacular was the Frankish dialect of Old High German, and the personal names in use were Germanic and vernacular. These names were adopted in many parts of northwest Europe, particularly among the noble ruling classes. Hereditary surnames were found in Germany in the second half of the 12th century - a little later than in England and France. It was about the 16th century that they became stabilized.
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