Origin Of The Name Kradel

Kradel is not a common surname. Before the internet opened up, I could have safely said that I was related to anyone and everyone with the last name of Kradel. Now, I’m not so sure. Probably, but not sure.

I once had a phone conversation with an Editor or an Assistant at a small publishing house in New York City who called me not because she had a job opening – I had sent in a blind resume – but because her last name was Kradel. Her family came from Russia, was Jewish, and she grew up in Brooklyn. She knew that her last name was shortened during the family’s immigration process from something like Kradelovich or Krakalovich to Kradel. She didn’t know of any other Kradels and just had to call me after she picked her jaw up off of the floor after she had seen my last name on the resume. She invited me to lunch, but I never made an effort to meet up with her, and am a little sorry now that I didn’t. But during that phone conversation I did tell her a little bit about us. Enough to know that we probably, almost certainly, weren’t related. Unless of course our family really is Jewish and Russian instead of Lutheran and Prussian/German … hmmmm …

During my recent chases through history, I found something interesting about the surname Kradel. There are at least three versions of the name: Kradel, Credel, Grädel. Which may explain why we are having such a hard time getting beyond George and Barbara Kradel – with no dates, but realistically born around 1780 – in Prussia/Germany.

I found one website that puts both surnames Kradel and Grädel in the mid-late 1700s in Königsberg, which was the capital of East Prussia from the Late Middle Ages until 1945. It was renamed Kaliningrad in 1946, after the death of Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR Mikhail Kalinin, one of the original Bolsheviks. The city then became the western most frontier town of Russia. The old city of Königsberg was almost completely destroyed during WWII. Which makes me wonder if any town records survived?

But still, I’m not sure if this is a lead to where the Kradels came from in Germany. At this point it’s only an uneducated guess.

Stay tuned …

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Reference: Family Names refer to Kradel and Grädel – in German
Reference: Königsberg on Wikipedia
Reference: Kaliningrad on Wikipedia

6 thoughts on “Origin Of The Name Kradel

  1. I have been trying to find the connectivity of my maternal grandfather, Gustave Gottlieb Kradell, (1864-1951) to his ancestors for the last five or six years with very little luck. The earliest confirmed data-point I found on him is the NJ state census of 1895. His DC provided his DoB, 26 Jul 1864, DoD, 24 Feb 1951, and mother’s name, Mary; father’s name remains unknown Grampa Gus spent his life in/around Newark, Essex, NJ. I wondering if your research has any data that mignt help me find the trail back to Germany; probably Alsace-Lorraine area. Or, could you recommend any areas to search for additional data points?

  2. Well … none of our Kradels settled in the New York/New Jersey area that we know of. We came from Hessen-Darmstadt in the 1830s and went directly to the Pittsburgh area.

    Hessen-Darmstadt is not far from Alsace-Lorraine. But I have as yet to find any solid evidence or records of my people in Hessen-Darmstadt other than my third great-grandfather John Kradel being born there in 1803.

    Was his name spelled with two ll/s?

  3. A little more research on the name spelling yields somewhat of a trend; the earliest dox I have found, 2 from 1895 and one from 1899, all copies of originals, use the one “L” spelling. After ’99 the other spellings take over, i. e., Kradle and Kradell. This suggest to me that the original spelling might have been Kradel. I have also found a NJ state census doc from 1885 for a Gustave Cradle, living with a non-Kradel family and working as a farmhand in Union, Union, NJ; age given as 20-60 which fits Gustave’s profile. Unfortunately, not much to go on, but I’m still working on additional d/p’s from that area.

    I believe Gustave was the first generation of his family born in USA, as several census sheets show both him and his wife, Amelia L Ochsner, parents were born in Germany. There is no geographical reference to where in Germany but I can remember my mom telling me Grandpa Gus’ family came from A-L. Accurate?? I don’t know.

    I have looked at the Kradel’s from Butler, PA (via census data) but can’t find any direct connection. If there is a connection, believe it was in Germany. Also, saw the census data on the Kradel’s of Brooklyn, NY, but I don’t think that works for my family either.

    Did your family enter the US via NYC or Philadelphia?

    I’m assuming Gus’ family entered through NYC since they settled in nearby NJ; but I really need to check that out.

  4. There could be two theories and paths to research:

    The first is the one path that I am interested in, which has my third great-grandfather John Kradel being born in Hessen-Darmstadt and his father George Kradel being from Prussia. So I am wondering if the trail actually does come down from Konigsburg to Darmstadt – then in your case, maybe on to Alsace-Lorraine, in my case to Pennsylvania.

    The second, for you, one theory which is highly plausible, is that during the World Wars I & II, American Germans often said their descent was from Alsace-Lorraine, when in actuality they were descended from Hessen-Darmstadt. Because Alsace-Lorraine has been disputed land between Germany and France, currently in France, often times the ancestors of this state are seen as being their own nationality rather than German, or French. Therefore, rather than being potentially aligned with Hitler during the second world war, they could safely be seen as having been refugees (at some point) themselves.

    In the US, descent location meant a lot – think of the Japanese Americans that were sent to concentration camps. The American Germans could have easily gone down that path as well, and probably didn’t only because there were so many of them,

    I’m not sure if we entered through New York or Philadelphia, but I think it was Philadelphia. You might want to check ellisisland.org.

  5. My name is Paul Kradel and my entire Kradel family was born in Butler, PA. My grandfather’s name was Paul Calvin Kradel and his sister was named Anna. This father was John Kradel who had a brother named Adam Kradel. I have never met another Kradel ( other than direct relatives) in my life time. Family gemology has always been of interest to me. I would be pleased to correspond with you. My email is paulkradel AT aol DOT com.

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