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Gerald George Von Colln
Chief Warrant Officer, W4. U.S.S. Navy, Retired
Rapid City, South Dakota

The surname von Colln is a slightly anglicized form of the German ancient and distinctive name von CöLLN, which is locative in origin, having been derived from the name of a place, in this case, the great German city of Cöln or Köln on the Rhine, Better known to the English speaking world by its French name Cologne, from the Latin Colonia (Colony) or Roman settlement. The city originally called OPPIDUM UBIORUM, in Latin, after its German tribal inhabitants, was a Roman garrison in the first century B.C.E., and was made a Roman colony by the Roman Emperor Claudius (Gaius Caesar) in 50 C.E., who then named it Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensis or Colonia Agrippina for his wife who was the daughter of Germanicus, Consul of Rome. Through normal usage over the years the name was shortened to Colonia (Colony). In medieval times, when communities were small and less numerous, a person was identified by a single name only but when the increased in population and the movements of individuals caused confusion, it became necessary to adopt an additional name , which was usually coined form one of four sources: the name of an ancestor, a place of origin or residence, an occupation, or some personal characteristics or nickname. In the course of time the added name became hereditary in what we now call a surname, ceasing to have reference to the bearer’s actual place of origin or to his actual occupation. Although the German preposition "von" means "of" English, when it is used before German surnames, it is, in fact, an indication of nobility. The nobles of the middle ages usually derived their surnames from the land they held or the castles they occupied, so that they were of these places in a special sense. Some of the different von Cölln family lines gave their name to their ancestral seats, such as Cölln near Güstrow in the Duchy of Mecklenburg, Cölln in the Uckermark a part of northeast Brandenburg, Cölln, near Brieg, in the Duchy of Silesia, now a part of western Poland, possibly to Cölln-Reisieck in the Duchy of Holstien, north of Hamburg, and also possibly to Cölln in the Rhine-Palatinate. Also there is a village called Cölln, near Meissen, a short distance from Dresden in present East Germany. In addition, a village on an island in the river Spree, probably a few years older than the village of nearby Berlin, was called Cölln and later shared government with Berlin-the two villages then known as Berlin-Cölln-until expanding Berlin absorbed Cölln and other nearby towns and became known as Greater Berlin. Depending on the culture of the various periods in history, the area in Germany, the education of the writers and the changes, developments and refinements of the German language and dialects, over the many years, there have been a number of written versions of the von Cölln surname, beginning with the Latin de Colonia, then de Colle, de Colne or de Kolne and then von Cöln, von Cölln, von Cöllen, von Colln, von Coelln, von Coellen, von Colle, von Coller, von Collyr, Collner, van Coln, von Colen, von Kollene, von Köln, von Kölln, von Koelln, von Köllen and in some records the French ‘a Cöln or ‘a Colen. However, since the beginning of the 17th century, our family line has generally been recorded as von Cölln or von Coelln, after having been recorded at different times with all of the above listed versions, all of which were derived from the Latin de Colonia. Here in the United States the umlaut-the two dots over the letter o-is not used, the name being recorded as von Colln or von Coelln. There were several von Cölln family lines with several branches in each line, some of which have died out from time to time over the years. All were noble families who were entitled to wear a Coat of Arms. Many, if not all, of these family lines evidently were descended from an ancient aristocrat family of Cologne (KöLN), but the origin is so ancient that there is no definite authentication connecting all the family lines. There is a myth or legend, published by a poet in the 1700’s in Germany, which referred to some early von Cölln participants who fought as heroes under Arminius, the Cherusker- Herman the German-during the battle of Teutoburger Forest in 9 C.E., when members of the several German tribes annihilated 3 Roman Legions, thereby preventing the Romans from advancing eastward fro the Rhine River for about 30 years. The battle and the results are factual but the reference to von Cölln members is strictly a part of a saga or legend. The Latin name Colonia Agrippina was not bestowed upon the village, which later became known as Cologne (Köln), until 50 C.E., 41 years after the above battle.

This text was written by Gerald George Von Colln, and posted word for word.