Etymology of the Name Sederburg

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Etymology of the Name Sederburg

“Sederburg” is most likely an altered spelling of the Swedish name “Söderberg.”  According to Swedish tradition in the 18th and 19th century, the surname was established by the identity of the father. (Patronymic system)  Thus, Jan’s son Erik became known as Erik Jansson.  Jan’s daughter Maria became known as Maria Jansdötter.

In those days, the home estate or farm was as, or more, important than surname.  Early emigration and church records list detailed information about parents, birth date, home church parish, and home farm or estate.  Thus, it is not unreasonable to assume that “Söderberg” was a combination of “söd,” Swedish for  “south” and “berg” referring to town. For example, the name may have referred to Carl who lived south of the town.

The earliest use of the name “Söderberg” that I could find in my family tree was by Carl Johan Jansson in the 1850s.  He is listed with that surname in the “Husförhörslängd.”   This was the periodic family census taken by the church in behalf of the state.  When Carl Johan used this surname, he had moved from his family farm.  Perhaps he used a surname to refer to his new location?

Surnames were not very important to early Swedes.  Carl Johan used the surname of Söderberg when he settled in Pennsylvania in the early 1870s.  His first two children were baptized as “Söderbergs.”  However, by 1878 he is listed in the county atlas as being Charles Sederburg.  In the 1880 federal census, Car Johan’s brother Alexander is clearly listed as Alexander Sederburg.

One potential reason for the change was the pronunciation of Swedish words.  Swedish contains three extra letters.   In this case,  “ö” was probably converted to an e by English speaking and spelling friends.  The Swedish pronunciation of “ö” is an “er” sound.

The surname of Carl Johan’s brothers varied.  One brother used “Sederberg” throughout his life.  Two brothers spelled their surname  “Soderborg” on their marriage licenses. (they married sisters)  Throughout the years, the surname Sederburg became standardized.

There are many Soderbergs, Sederbergs, and Cederbergs living the United States.  Swedish and German languages are very similar.  The etymology of these family names is likely to be very similar to Sederburg.  Almost everyone having these surnames is Swedish or German descent.  However, the use of “Sederburg” as a surname is very limited to a handful of immigrants from Sweden.

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