Richter Family Name History

Started by Ken Richter on Monday, November 21, 2011
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11/21/2011 at 10:53 AM

Richter Family History
A surname, often referred to as a last name or family name, is a name passed down through a family from generation to generation. Though each culture has its own norms, in the West the surname is typically inherited from the paternal (father’s) line. In ancient times, people were often referred to by their given name and place alone. Hereditary surnames developed to distinguish individuals with the same first name, a necessity as world populations grew—it wasn’t until the 11th century that surnames began to be used throughout Europe.

Perhaps you’ve wondered, ‘What does my last name mean?’ In fact, the answer may be right in front of you. Most surnames were originally derived from a father’s given name, e.g., “Hanson” (the son of Han); from places or geographical features, “Hill”; occupations, “Fisher”; or personal descriptions like “White.” Please bear in mind, surnames may have changed spellings or been replaced entirely over time.

This report will provide you with a rich introduction into the history of your surname, deepening your knowledge of and connection to your ancestors.

Surname Statistics
Concentration of "Richters" in the United States

900 - 1,798301 - 8991 - 3000 .Surname Variants
After centuries of use, surname spellings may have varied drastically over time. This may be the result of an intentional or unintentional change made by your ancestors. It means you should incorporate typical surname variants or misspellings into your ancestor search, to ensure you don’t miss an important piece of the puzzle. Here are some common Richter surname variants:

Soundex: R Stuart, Rachdorf, Racheter, Rackstraw, Racster, Ractor, Ragder, Raghter, Ragotero

Metaphone: Rachdorf, Ractor, Ragder, Raghter, Ragotero, Rauchwater, Rechter, Rechterman, Rechtermann
.History And Origin
1. German: occupational name or status name for an arbiter or judge, Middle High German rihtære (from rihten ‘to make right'). The term was used in the Middle Ages mostly to denote a part-time legal official. Such communal conciliators held a position of considerable esteem in rural communities; in eastern Germany the term came to denote a village headman, which was often a hereditary office. It is in this region that the surname is most frequent.

2. Jewish (Ashkenazic): occupational name for a rabbinic judge, from modern German Richter ‘judge' (see 1 above). See also Dayan.

Dictionary of American Family Names, Oxford University Press, Inc. © 2006 Patrick Hanks

U.S. Census Statistics
Records collected by the government about the U.S. population, like the census, allow us to compile interesting statistics about the Richter surname. The U.S. government began collecting official population records in Virginia in 1632, and established the federal census in 1790. In recent times, researchers have found that 1,712 surnames cover 50% of the U.S. population, demonstrating that most of us share our surname with a great number of other Americans.

Using the most recent data available, we are able to tell you the concentration of people with your surname in the United States, their average lifespan compared with the national average, and the surname’s rank in popularity. Here is what we can know about Richters, derived from the U.S. Census and Social Security Death Index.

"Richter" is 1,338th most popular name in the U.S.
73 year average lifespan
National Average: 75
Military Records
Many of our ancestors served and fought bravely as members of the U.S. Armed Forces. These men and women are truly the pride of this nation, and we can honor them by remembering their service and sacrifice through military records. The U.S. government has kept personnel records since the first national conflict, though not all are available online. Military records like enlistment records, service records, and pension applications can help to paint a vibrant picture of your ancestor’s life. has found Richter military records to share with you. These may help you to locate your ancestors who fought to defend and protect this nation.

•Military Records: 1,085 Richters found
The American Revolutionary War (1775-1783) was a conflict between Great Britain and the 13 British colonies of North America. Also known as the War of Independence, the colonies united to overthrow British rule, and formally declared independence in 1776.

Richters were among the group who fought to secure U.S. freedom.

•Revolutionary War Records: 38 Richters found
The American Civil War (1861-1865) stemmed from an ideological and political rift between the Northern and Southern states. Led by American president Abraham Lincoln, the United States or “Union” fought the secession of 11 Southern or “Confederate” states. More than 3 million soldiers fought in the conflict on both sides, and 620,000 deaths were reported, making it the deadliest war in American history.

Richters were among millions those who participated in this historic conflict.

•Civil War Records: 66 Richters found
The Second World War (1939-1945) began with the German invasion of Poland in 1939, the first gesture in what would become a German effort to establish an empire through forcible conquest. The event evolved into a global military conflict, recorded as the deadliest war in world history. Sixteen million Americans heroically served in the armed forces, and 400,000 American deaths will be forever mourned.

We have records that Richters fought with the Allied forces.

•World War II Records: 981 Richters found
Immigration Records
Anyone with European bloodlines is descended, at least in part, from immigrants. Looking back generations, we’re almost certain to encounter one. From the colonial period onward, waves of immigrants have traveled to the United States searching for a better life, and prosperity. In the 17th and 18th centuries, historians estimate nearly one million immigrants crossed the Atlantic Ocean, settling in Colonial America—including more than 175,000 Englishmen. Millions of Europeans immigrated to the United States in the 19th and 20th centuries; 30 million from 1836 to 1914 alone.

Before the 1930s, ship was the only viable mode of transport before trans-Atlantic flight was possible. Ship passenger lists therefore provide information we can use to find out more about where our ancestors came from, and tell us about their voyage. You may learn your ancestor’s place of birth, the ship name, their age, height, eye and hair color, and profession, to name a few.

A quick search reveals that Richters were among the millions that immigrated to the U.S. over the past several centuries.

•Immigration Records: 5,315 Richters found
In the News
Do you have a famous musician in the family? A patent holder? A politician? These are just a few of the things we can learn about our ancestors from historical newspaper pages; facts that may be documented nowhere else in the world. The U.S. newspaper is a long tradition, stemming back to the first colonial newspapers published in the 17th century. Much as they do today, local publications captured not only national headlines but the day-to-day happenings of American communities.

Preserved newspaper pages enable us to step into the shoes of our ancestors, and not only learn about them personally, but also immerse ourselves in the current events of their day. And it turns out Richters made the headlines quite a bit.

•Newspaper Records: 492,729 Richters found
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11/22/2011 at 11:30 AM

Hi Ken Richter! Thanks for sharing all this valuable information on the origins of your surname. Did you know that we have surnames section of our site where users can share their surname research? You could participate by heading over to and entering in some of your findings.

Hope that you're enjoying Geni!

11/22/2011 at 6:02 PM

Ken Richter

What do you knw about your Richter ancestors? I have tracked mine - they name changed to Rector - back to original settlement in Virgina's Germanna Colony, and from there, back to around 1400 in Bavaria.

Here's a quick over view of Germanna:

11/22/2011 at 7:10 PM

I'm a Richter! :) My Richters (through Dr. Johannes Kaspar Richter von Kronenschieldt) were Danish, and before that Swedish. They ended up (back?) in Germany during the Thirty Years' War. But my evidentiary trail goes cold shortly before Johannes. My branch moved around too much and had too few children to leave good records. :/

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