We are anxious to find the origins of
the Riehle name within Europe. Certainly we ask for, and
have received, input from our European namesake, but we would
welcome input from anyone with information.
One reference, without verification,
suggests that names ending with "...hle" generally
originated in the Baden area. More specifically, Joan
Riehle Ruse references information from the Church of the
Latter Day Saints that the surnames without the "le"
suffix, (RIEHL or REEL) are from Northern Germany, or at least
north of Baden/Württemberg. Whether or not these various names
originally emerged from a common family surname is unknown.
In Vol.3 of the "die Familie Riehle"
newsletters, Joan Riehle Ruse mentioned that "a recently
consulted source" states that the Riehle name means "a
hairy man". We have no idea if this reference
is accurate, but anyone who has seen this publisher's younger
brother without a shirt might well be inclined to believe it!
We had a suggestion, from a Riehle
relative living in Achern, Germany, indicating that before
Riehles settled in that area (near Wagshurst) they were in the
Kinzig-Valley area of the Blackforest where many Riehles still
live. But he also suggests that more than 500 years ago
the name Riehle came from "Rumania or the Balkan area".
While we certainly have not been able to
confirm that the name originated in Eastern Europe we have
receive other email that again indicated that the name has
roots in the Kinzig River Valley. Dennis Riehle sent the
From: Dennis Riehle (Dennis.Riehle @ t-online.de)
Sent: Friday, December 26, 2003 4:56 PM
To: admin @ riehle.net
Ich bin aus dem äußersten Süden Deutschlands, aus
Baden. Ich habe die Information, dass ein
erster Ursprung der Familie Riehle im Schwarzwald
gewesen ist, in der Region des Kinzigtales. Dort
leben viele Verwandte.
Sie können mich auch gerne duzen, immerhin sind wir
ja doch irgendwie alle ein wenig verwandt...
I am from the extreme south of Germany, from Baden.
The information I have is that the origin of the
family Riehle was in the Black Forest, in the region
of the Kinzigtales. There many relatives still live.
We always enjoy hearing from our German
relatives, but I could not find "Kinzigtales" on
MapQuest. Google pointed me to a site where I found the
following map however and there it was, the valley of the
Map taken from
It should also be noted that two of the
three areas identified as major Riehle population centers are
just to the northwest (Wagshurst/Offenburg area of Baden) and
just to the east (Mähringen/Kusterdingen area of Württemberg)
of the area shown above (see observations). In fact, as shown, Offenburg is on
the Kinzig River, not far from where it flows into the Rhine.
How the surname got to or from Berlin / Brandenburg remains a
complete mystery to us.
Further input on the
origin of the Riehle name came form David Riehle who sent the
david riehle [mailto: djrie @ visi.com]
Sent: Tuesday, October 26, 2004 4:00 PM
To: admin @ riehle.net
Subject: Riehle name origin
take on this question is as follows: "Riehle"
is a Swabisch spelling of "Rühle".
(reference: A Dictionary of Surnames Patrick
Hanks and Flavia Hodges, Oxford University Press
1990) This is consistent with the statement that "Riehle"
seems to have origins in Baden, near Swabia. My
immigrant grandfather Jacob Riehle came from Nordrach
in the Schwarzwald.
and numerous other cognates are listed in Dictionary
of Surnames under the primary entry of "Rollo,"
defined as "from a Latinized form, common in
early medieval documents, of Rou(l), the usual
Norman form of ROLF". ROLF is "composed of
the Germanic elements hrod, renown + wulf, wolf".
St Paul Minnesota
Thinking through what this might mean,
under a Norman (or Nordic?) linguistic influence, someone may
indeed have taken the surname of “Roul”, the “renown wolf”.
Subsequently a priest would have converted this to a more
Latinized "Rollo" or "Roulo", which over
time might have been transformed to Ruhle, Riehle, etc. Since
the German pronunciations of these names are more like “Rula”,
and “Reela” that's not much of a stretch.
Moreover, if "Riehle" is a
Swabisch spelling of "Rühle", then "Rühle"
likely originated elsewhere. Given the flow of the Rhein to the
North Sea, and that there was significant Nordic influence all
along this coast, one might speculate that a name of Nordic
origin might have worked its way up river over time to Swabia,
evolving over the centuries as it moved south. Of course
this geography is highly speculative, even if the derivation of
the name is as David's sources suggest.
Indeed, we want to stress that the above
suggestions are all at least somewhat speculative. We are
looking for more information on this subject so if you have any
such information to contribute, please contact us.
is certainly welcome!
We are also trying to learn what we can
from the migratory information available from the genetic code
within each of us. Please see our discussion on the Riehle.Net