History of the Brubaker Name

What’s in a name?

Over the centuries, there have been numerous spellings of our name, some of which endure to this day. The surname “Bruppbacher” first appeared in Fluntern, near Zurich, Switzerland, in 1580. The name is believed to have originated on the eastern shore of Lake Zurich, (Zurichsee in the local dialect) near the village of Zollikon, south and east of Zurich. There, a wild mountain brook flowed from the mountains into Lake Zurich. It was said that a bridge was constructed over the brook, and it was named “Brugg-Bach”, meaning “Bridge-Brook”.

Near the brook stood a mansion, whose proprieter chose the surname “Bruggbacher” to distinguish himself better from other prominent families of the area. In time, his family adopted the surname as their own. The townspeople of the nearby village, desiring to create a smoother, more flowing dialect, convinced those in the surrounding countryside, including the household of Bruggbacher, to alter the spelling and pronunciation of their names. Hence, “Bruggbacher” was modified to “Bruppbacher” with the double “g” changed to a double “p”.

Another source similarly tells us that”Bruggbach” is a brook with a bridge, and the persons who lived near this brook got the name Bruggbach, which evolved and later changed to Bruppbacher.1

Over time, the name changed again upon the arrival of Bruppbachers to England and North America. To this day, the name has evolved so as the most common spellings in North America are “Brubaker” or “Brubacher”, while spellings such as “Bruppbacher”, “Brubacher”, and also “Brubpacher” are more prevalent in Eastern Switzerland.

So, what does it mean?

Roughly translated, the name means “The people who live by the bridge over the mountain stream.” This is consistent with the aforementioned history of the name’s origin.

A listing of some of the various spellings

Here is a list of the various spellings of the name over the years, some of which remain to this day:

  BrugbachBruggbacher

Brubpacher

Bruppach

Bruppacher

Bruppbacher

Bruebaker

BruggbachPupather

Prowbaker

Prubecker

Brewbaker

Brubacher

Brubaker

The three most common spellings of our name in North America today are Brubaker, Brubacher, and Brewbaker. Brewbaker originated in Franklin County, PA. Brubacher is commonly used in Lebanon County, PA and in the Kitchener, Ontario area, as well as in Juniata County, PA, some parts of the western US, and elsewhere in Canada.


Note:
1. Phister, Hans Ulrich. “Earliest Known Bruppachers” Brubaker Family Tour booklet, 1985, pg. 66.