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Whisler Coat of Arms / Whisler Family Crest

Whisler Coat of Arms / Whisler Family Crest

The surname of WHISLER is a German and Ashkenazic Jewish occupational name for a money-changer. The name was originally rendered in the old German form WECHSELN, meaning 'to exchange'. Many of the modern family names throughout Europe reflect the profession or occupation of their forbears in the Middle Ages and derive from the position held by their ancestors in the village, noble household or religious community in which they lived and worked. Variant spellings of the name include WESSEL, WESSELMANN, WEKSLER, WEXLER, VEXLER, WECHSELMANN, WEKSELMAN, WESSELER, WISSLER, WEXELBAUM and VEXELBAUM. The first hereditary surnames on German soil are found in the second half of the 12th century, slightly later than in England and France. However, it was not until the 16th century that they became stabilized. The practice of adopting hereditary surnames began in the southern areas of Germany, and gradually spread northwards during the Middle Ages. 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. The first member of the WISSLER family in America sailed from Germany to Philadelphia with his wife in 1720. An infamous member of the name was Horst WESSEL (1907-30) the German national socialist, born in Bielefeld. He was the composer of the Nazi anthem 'Die Fahne Hoch' known as the Horst Wessel song. Tom WESSELMANN, born in 1931, is the American painter. He studied psychology at Cinicinnati University before taking art classes. In 1961 he moved to New York, and turned to Pop Art. His series of works are known as 'The Great American Nude'.

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Last Updated: Dec. 1st, 2021

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