|Eberhardt Family History|
|A brief essay covering nearly 800 years|
|The Eberhardt, Eberhard, Everhard, and Everhart families are indeed all related. One must look back nearly 800 years in German speaking lands to find the origin of this family line.
Surnames first began to be used about the year 1100. Prior to the use of surnames, people were simply known by their given name (first name) and where they were from including perhaps a title held. It was rather common in German speaking lands for last names (surnames) to have come from existing given names (first names). Some examples of given names later being used as surnames include: Rudolph, Carl, Friedrich, Heinrich, Ludwig, etc. The family name Eberhard(t) arose in such a manner.
The Eberhard(t) family name appears to have developed in the Wuerttemberg area about the year 1265 (perhaps earlier). Looking at maps showing concentrations of various surnames in Germany, it appears like this was the only location where the Eberhard(t) surname developed.
The Eberhard(t) name was used as the family name for the Counts and Dukes of Wuerttemberg. This was a hereditary line dating back to Eberhard I, Count of Wuerttemberg who lived from 1265 to 1325 and ruled from 1279-1325.
In a hereditary line, only the eldest male son would inherit the top job. They would be known by their given name (first name) and their title (i.e. Eberhard, Graf/Count of Wuerttemberg). Families back then would have multiple children. It is from these younger sibling males (cadet lines) that all the Eberhardts, Eberhards, and Everharts (and other spellings descend). As they migrated from the very center of power in Wuerttemberg (Stuttgart and earlier Tuebingen), they would resort to using the Eberhard as the family name as they were often without title. These individuals would go on to have occupations in the military, ministerial capacity - governing to the population, jurors, members of the clergy, educators, tradesmen, and farmers.
If there were no male children from a previous eldest male, then the title would transfer to a nephew and remain with his lineage.
There were many, many generations with many younger male siblings. It only takes a relatively simple math equation to figure potentially how many descendants are possible from a single pair of individuals. In this case the formula would be 2 to the 27th power or 2x2x2x2 twenty-seven times. There are approximately 27 generations (of 30 years each) in the last 810 years. This equals approximately 134.2 million total descendants. This is assuming that each person only produced two offspring! So this is a very conservative estimate. Realizing that only the most recent two generations are currently living, this would still be 100.6 million potential living descendants - assuming all had survived the many wars, disease, periods of famine, etc.
Just a couple of examples to ponder...It is estimated that 40% of the population of the German speaking lands was lost during the two years of the plague 1348-1350. It is estimated that 40-50% of the population of Germany was lost during the Thirty-Years War from 1618-1648 - reducing the population from approximately 23 million to 13 million. We will not even mention the wars under Frederick the Great, Napoleon's conquests, the rise and conquests of the Prussian Empire, or the wars of the 20th Century.
It is safe to assume that there are at least 70,000 living today (worldwide) with the Eberhardt surname or one of its variant spellings. A larger number, due to marriages, etc. would no longer carry the Eberhardt surname.
Click on the following link to view a map of where Eberhardts reside today in Germany. If the link is not active, simply cut and paste into your browser.
To search for other spellings simply type in new surname. If one types in Everhart spelling, one realizes that this spelling is virtually non-existant in Germany which indicates that it is an anglicized spelling of Eberhardt.
Ray Haupt - Aug. 2009
Mother is an Eberhardt descendant