The name "Seidenstricker" means "silk-knitter."
Seidensticker means silk embroiderer. These names belongs to the category of
German surnames derived from an occupation. Moreover, there are a number of
similar-sounding names derived from related occupations such as Seidenbinder, silk-maker;
and Seidenspinner, silk-spinner.
The secret of making silk thread and cloth was known in China some 4,000 years ago, but
for hundreds of years, the Chinese guarded the secret of raising silkworms and making
silk. About 550 A.D., Justinian, Emperor of Byzantium, is said to have sent two Persian
monks to China to bring back eggs of silkworms in a bamboo tube. This small beginning
started a silk industry in the region around Constantinople. From there the raising of
silk spread slowly throughout southeastern Europe.
Adoption of surnames in the various small states which ultimately joined together to form
modern Germany began in the middle ages. Thus, there is no common ancestor from whom
all Seidenstrickers or Seidenstickers are descended since the art of silk making,
spinning, knitting, and embroidery was well developed by that time and many unrelated
silk-knitters, embroiderers and spinners may have chosen their trade as their surname.
On the other hand, American descendants of the original Seidensticker or Seidenstricker
immigrants may be using any one of a number of spelling variations, including the English
variant of "Silknitter", which we have found in the various records we have
searched in the course of compiling this family history.
Today we are sticklers for uniform spelling to such an extent that the ability to spell
"correctly" has become a criterion for the amount of culture and education a
person is considered to possess. In the 18th and early part of the 19th centuries,
however, people had a genial disregard for uniformity in spelling, and many a
German-speaking person, who may have been capable of signing his name, spelling it, or
even quite literate in his native tongue, found that English speaking clerks and ministers
wrote his name on deeds, wills, tax, and church records as they thought it should be
spelled based on their interpretation of the name as pronounced in the dialect the
German/American learned as a child.
Thus, the initial in Pearl S. Buck's name stands for "Sydenstricker", her
father's name. Other common variations include "Sydonstricker",
"Sidenstricker", "Seydenstricker", "Sitenstricker and such
English translation variants as "Silknitter", "Silkniter",
"Silknetter", and "Silkneeter". Particularly troublesome are those
cases where the "r" was dropped and the name became "Seidensticker" or
"Seidenstick", which are theoretically different surnames.
Anyone searching records should be aware that there are many more spelling variations
which have probably not resulted in permanent name changes. Some examples of those we have