Americanized spelling of German Ehrhardt.
Dictionary of American Family Names, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-508137-4Ehrhardt
German: from a Germanic personal name composed of Old High German era ‘honor’ (compare Ehrlich) + hard ‘brave’, ‘hardy’, ‘strong’. The name was popularized by the cult of an 8th century bishop of Regensburg of this name; hence the present high frequency of the family name in Bavaria. The form Erhard has also been adopted by Ashkenazic Jews.
Dictionary of American Family Names, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-508137-4More information:
The ancestral home of the Earhart family is in the German province of Bavaria. Earhart is a German nickname surname. Such names came from eke-names, or added names, that described their initial bearer through reference to a physical characteristic or other attribute. It is a name for a courageous or honorable person. The surname Earhart is composed of two German words meaning honor and bravery.
In the medieval era, many different cultural groups lived in the German states. There are thus many regional variations of German surnames from that era. Westphalians spoke Low German, which is similar to modern Dutch. Many German names carry suffixes that identify where they came from. Others have phrases attached that identify something about the original bearer. Other variations in German names resulted from the fact that medieval scribes worked without the aid of any spelling rules. The spelling variations of the name Earhart include Ehrhardt, Ehrhart, Erhart, Erhard, Erhardt, Errheart, Errhart, Errhard, Errhardt, Earhart, Airhart and many more.
First found in Bavaria, where the name emerged in mediaeval times as one of the notable families of the region. From the 13th century the surname was identified with the great social and economic evolution which made this territory a landmark contributor to the development of the nation.
The great European flow of migration to North America, which began in the middle of the 17th century and continued into the 20th century, was particularly attractive to those from Bavaria who wished to escape either poverty or religious persecution. For many Bavarian tenant farmers, the chance to own their own land was a major incentive. So the widespread colonization of the United States began in 1650, when many immigrants from Germany settled in pockets in Pennsylvania, Texas, New York, Illinois, and California. In Canada, German settlement centered in Ontario and the prairie provinces. Among those of this surname listed in various historical records were: Henrich Ehrhardt, who settled in New York in 1709-1710; Heinrich Ehrhart, who settled in Philadelphia in 1766; Johan Ehrhart settled in Philadelphia in 1749.
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