This Swiss and Ashkenazic Jewish surname of ZAHNER is a nickname for someone with a large or peculiar tooth or a remarkable defective set of teeth. The name was derived from the German word ZAHN (tooth) and is also spelt ZANDT, ZANHNLE and ZEHNLE. It was not until the 10th century that modern hereditary surnames first developed, and the use of fixed names spread, first to France, and then England, then to Germany and all of Europe. In these parts of Europe, the individual man was becoming more important, commerce was increasing and the exact identification of each man was becoming a necessity. Even today however, the Church does not recognise surnames. Baptisms and marriages are performed through use of the Christian name alone. Thus hereditary names as we know them today developed gradually during the 11th to the 15th century in the various European countries. A young man by the name of David Graeff, born on February 18th, 1821, a descendant of a family of Swiss emigrants, who formed a portion of a colony of thirteen families that settled in Pequea Valley in 1702, was put in the care of a guardian Daniel ZAHN after the early death of his parents. A Michael ZAHN owned an establishment of watch-making and jewelry at 30 North Queen Street, Pennsylvania, circa. 1832. During the Reformation, Switzerland was not affected by the religious strife that devastated most of Europe; cities such as Geneva were in the middle of the Reformation and John Calvin became prominent as a Protestant reformer, founding Protestantism. Many people of Swiss origin emigrated from there to seek their fortune in other parts of the world. In the United States they particularly populated the states of Pennsylvania, New York, Illinois, Ohio, Texas and California.
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