This surname of MIZELLE was an Austrian, German and Jewish (Ashkenazic) surname of two-fold origin. It was a nickname for someone supposedly resembling a mouse, in appearance or timidity, or else a metonymic occupational name for a catcher of mice and rats. The name was derived from the Old German word MAUS. In the Jewish instance of the name it was one of the unflattering surnames imposed on Jews by non-Jewish government officials in the 18th and 19th century. The name has numerous variant spellings which include MAUSER, MUSER, MUIS, MAUSEL, MEUSEL, MEISEL, MEISSL and MYZSKA. When traditional Jews were forced to take family names by the local bureaucracy, it was an obligation imposed from outside traditional society, and people often took the names playfully and let their imaginations run wild by choosing names which corresponded to nothing real in their world. No one alive today can remember the times when Jews took or were given family names (for most Ashkenazim this was the end of the 18th century or the beginning of the 19th) although many remember names being changed after emigration to other countries, such as the United States and Israel in recent years. A notable member of the name was Peter Paul von MAUSER (1838-1914) the German fire-arm inventor, born in Oberndorf, Neckar. With his brother Wilhelm (1834-82) he was responsible for the improved needle-gun (adopted by the German army in 1871) and for the improved breech-loading cannon. He produced the Mauser magazine rifle in 1897. Many people left Austria and Germany for the New World after 1650, and the highest density of population has been found in Pennsylvania, Ohio, California and Illinois, while in Canada, German speaking settlers centered around Ontario and the Prairies. Amongst the early settlers were Hans Mathaus MAUSER, who arrived in Philadelphia in 1751, and Peter MEISEL arrived in 1782. Conrad MEUSER, and George MEUSELL arrived in Texas in 1854. In the Middle Ages heraldry came into use as a practical matter. It originated in the devices used to distinguish the armoured warriors in tournament and war, and was also placed on seals as marks of identity. As far as records show, true heraldry began in the middle of the 12th century, and appeared almost simultaneously in several countries of Western Europe.
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