I recall once seeing the name Hasselbacher on a list of possible Jewish surnames. However, with the exception of myself who is half-Jewish by marriage, and some of my descendants; I have not been aware of any individual Jewish Hasselbachers. Recently however, while searching the web, I found the name of Sophie Hasselbacher on a wonderful website related to the history of German Judaism:

The excerpt below is part of the extensive family tree: "Our Family" by Heinz and Thea Ruth Skyte

Sophie Hasselbacher was born 31 July 1837 in Vestenbergsgreuth, Franken. She married Abraham Saemann of Rödelsee in 1871 at the age of 34. Abraham died four years later in 1875.   Sophie remarried Herman Schloss in that same year at the age of 38.   It appears she had two children with Herman in Rödellsee: Max, and Bertha. Sophie died before February 1883 when she would have been 46.

What can we make of this? Presumably this information came from synagogue records.  There were small Jewish communities and cemeteries in both Sugenheim and Rödelsee associated with the larger community in Kitzingen. A quick internet search reveals that there was also a small Jewish community in Vestenbergsgreuth and in nearby Mühlhausen.  In the map below, the communities associated with this family are highlighted in orange.

The village of Vestenbergsgreuth is only 16 km north of Neustadt, well within the geographical distribution of the original Franconian-German Hasselbachers of that period. Is it possible that Sophie Hasselbacher was not born Jewish, or that she or an ancestor converted to Judaism? I am currently unaware of what precedents there might have been in this geographic region in the late 19th century, but I will ask my expert friends. Perhaps I will be able to find church or synogogue records from Vestenbergsgreuth. For now, I cannot completely dismiss a conversion hypothesis. Sophia was born in the Hasselbacher heartland, and there are currently no known alternative Hasselbacher families other than those of the original Exulanten from Austria.

Connected or not, this is a Hasselbacher family and I want to keep track of it!


Addendum: 26 Dec 2010.
I did a search in Google Books for "Hasselbacher."   By an amazing coincidence, I found another Soph Hasselbacher, age 21 who immigrated to America in 1864.  Her residence in Germany is listed as "Vessenbrggult."  I tried to do a Google map search for various permutations of (what I think is) this abbreviation and transcription error and could only come up with Vestenbergsgreuth.  It would not be surprising to see the same names used in a family in a small village.

This finding led me directly to the source passenger list.  Sophia Hasselbacher, age 21 from Vestenbe*gu*  arrived on the Steamship Bremen from Bremen to New York on 5 Aug 1864.  It appears she was travelling alone.

Following the natural law that information attracts other information, I also found immigration documents for Johann Andreas Hasselbacher of Mühlhausen who comes to America in 1848, and a Karolina Hasselbacher of Vestenbergsgreuth who comes to America in 1855.   Clearly there is a Hasselbacher family on the east end of the Aischgrund.  I want very much to know more about them.

Addendum: 27 Nov 2011.
During a trip to Germany in October, I found wonderful information that begins to clarify these families.  The Hasselbachers of Leutershausen and Mühlhausen were Christian families.  The former are definitely my cousins, and the latter likely to be so.  The Jewish Hasselbachers of Vestenbergsgreuth are descendants of Isaak David who was born in 1792. How they came to have the name Hasselbacher is a simultaneously wonderful and terrible story that I will tell elsewhere.