The German surname Geier has different and somewhat inconsistent origins and meanings. German family names were introduced during the late Middle Ages. The German surname Geier can derive from three sources:
- The surname is traceable to the Middle High German term “gir” which denoted a vulture. Geier is a modern form of this medieval German term.
Alternatively, this name can be of local origin, deriving from the name of the region from which the original bearer hailed. In this instance, the surname denoted a resident or native of Geiersberg or the Swiss town of Geyer. A man named Gyr is listed therein in 1197.
It could also be a Jewish occupational surname from Yiddish geyer ‘peddler’ or in some cases perhaps an unflattering name from German Geier ‘vulture,’ bestowed by non-Jewish government officials in central Europe at the time when surnames became compulsory.
The research on my Geier family has just begun. I will be focusing on:
Johann Gotfried Wolf (born 1835) and wife Margareta Anna Henrietta Geier
Johann Henrich Geier (1867-1931) and wife Anna Lina Kutsher
Kurt Willy Geier (1908-1945) and wife Anna Marta Lipsdorf