[if the version of this page you are seeing lacks the navigation header, click here.]


Family Origins.

     The Kunde Family is German in origin, and most Kundes are still inhabitants of countries where German is spoken, including Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. The name is also found natively in countries speaking other Germanic languages, such as the Netherlands and the Scandinavian nations.
     Various authorities claim the name originated as a variant of Kuntz or Kuhn, or as a nickname derived from Middle High German kunde, meaning "native." According to one statement I have seen the family is first attested in Bohemia and Silesia during the Middle Ages, though it is unclear whether Kunde is meant or some variant (of which the source lists twenty-four). I know of at least two different Kunde coats of arms, the validity of which I am unqualified to pronounce on.
     Whatever its antecedents, Kunde means "Customer" in modern German, and is pronounced koon-dah in the old country. In America my branch of the family anglicized the pronunciation to kun-dee. Doubtless other variations are also current.
     Kunde is also an ethnic family name found in some parts of India and Africa, but in those regions it springs from different roots, and its bearers are unrelated to the Kunde families of German derivation.

The Kundes in America.

     Individuals styled Kuntz arrived in America as long ago as the early 1700s, but immigrants actually called Kunde did not appear until much later. In the second half of the nineteenth century and the first quarter of the twentieth, a large number of Kundes emigrated from Europe seeking better lives elsewhere. Those who left appear to have come primarily from the region bisected by the present German-Polish border, most of which was ethnically German prior to World War II. From there they dispersed to various destinations in the New and Old Worlds, including Canada, Latin America, and Australia. The majority, however, came to the United States.
     From these immigrants nearly all of the current American Kundes are descended. They were a diverse group, coming at different times and to different places. Few of the families that established themselves in this country appear to be related to each other, unless the connection goes back to Germany.
     The earliest American Kundes I know of were a certain Johann Ludwig Kunde with his wife and six children, ages 6-12, who came to Texas in 1850. They were from Polzen, Prussia, and sailed from Hamburg October 12, 1850 on the ship John Frederick, arriving in Galveston on December 21 of the same year. They settled in New Berlin, Guadalupe County, Texas, where the family's original log cabin still stands on land that has remained in the same family for seven generations.
     Most Kundes came later, in the final third of the century, with the northern Midwest as their destination -- particularly Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan, which together with Iowa remain the heartland of Kunde settlement. From this base they spread gradually throughout the rest of the country, until today few states in the nation are without one or more Kunde families. Outside the heartland, California, Florida and Texas have emerged as the states with the heaviest concentrations of Kundes.
     The accompanying maps should make the spread of the family clear. The first two, from 1880 and 1920, are based on U.S. Census data; the others, beginning a century after the first, are from nationwide compilations of address information from 1980 (the actual data is from 1979), 1990 and 2000. Note that the data is approximate, and in some cases known to be incomplete; for instance, no Kundes are shown in Texas for 1880, though people of that name have lived there from 1850 through the present.

Kundes in the USA - 1880.
Fig. 1. Kundes in the USA - 1880.
From the federal census for the year; the count is of all individuals with the surname Kunde.
Amber shading = 0 persons; light blue, 1-9; dark blue, 10 and up.
Kundes in the USA - 1920.
Fig. 2. Kundes in the USA - 1920.
Based on a Kunde population distribution map by Ancestry.com. Counts lacking because the source data is in ranges.
Amber = 0 families; light blue, 1-12; dark blue, 13-72.
Kundes in the USA - 1980.
Fig. 3. Kundes in the USA - 1980.
From a nationwide compilation of Kunde addresses for the year 1979; the count is of adult individuals with the surname Kunde.
Amber = 0 persons; light blue, 1-19; dark blue, 20 and up.
Kundes in the USA - 1990.
Fig. 4. Kundes in the USA - 1990.
From a nationwide compilation of Kunde addresses for the year; the count is of adult individuals with the surname Kunde.
Amber = 0 persons; light blue, 1-19; dark blue, 20 and up.
Kundes in the USA - 2000.
Fig. 5. Kundes in the USA - 2000.
From a nationwide compilation of Kunde addresses for the year; the count is of adult individuals with the surname Kunde.
Amber = 0 persons; light blue, 1-19; dark blue, 20 and up.

My Branch of the Family.

     My own ancestors were relative latecomers, setting out from Stettin in Pommern (Pomerania) in the 1890s to homestead in Minnesota, whence they migrated to the Central Valley of California in the early twentieth century. We are likely the largest clan of Kundes in the state, although not the most well-known -- that distinction would go to the wine-making Kundes of the Kenwood area, an unrelated family (at least as far as I know) deriving from Saxony. My own branch of the family is the focus of the remainder of this work.

     For more on the pioneering generations, see the Kunde charts in my family trees pages, which provide access to their biographies. Later generations are omitted from the trees and biographies to protect the privacy of living persons.
     Similar data on the allied Hunke and Traudt families can be accessed through the Hunke and the Traudt charts, also among my family trees pages.

This page was established 4/1/2004, and last updated 8/31/2012.