The Kolgraff name appears in records dating back to the year 1150 in Bliesheim, a small village south of Cologne, Germany. The next known record of the Kohlgraf family occurs over 400 years later. Members of the Kohlgraf family have been found in records of a number of Catholic churches in Cologne and surrounding areas. The earliest of these church records appears in Koblenz: a 1621 christening record for Johannes Kolgraff, son of Rutger and Ursula Kolgraff. Records for two other Kohlgraf families are included in the Sankt Kolumba and Sankt Peter churches of Cologne during the mid 1600’s. The Bliesheim Catholic Church records begin in 1653, and include the family of Peter Kolgraff. It is not yet known how these families are related to each other, or to our branch of the family.
At this time, there is no definitive answer to suggest an origin of the name. The German word “Kohl” translates as “cabbage,” or it could be related to “Kohle,” coal. “Graf” translates as a count, or earl, a position just below the rank of duke, and above the baron. There was a time in history when families could purchase a “Graf” title from one of the German princes, thus the name Kohl could have become Kohlgraf.
The spelling of a name may change over time. In early times, few people could write, so a name was often recorded in official documents by scribes who wrote the name based upon its sound. In addition, it is possible that the spelling of a name could be based upon the local dialect. Priests used the same method to record the family name in the church records. Therefore, records for this family have been found as Kohlgraf, Kolgraff, Kollgraf, Kollgraff, Kolegraff, Kolgraiff, Colgraaf, Colgraf, and Colgrad.
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