Subject: Re: Last name - Could it be Ornamental Jewish?
Author: Jim Young   (guest)
Date: April 19, 2007 at 6:57 AM
Reply to: Last name - Could it be Ornamental Jewish? by Brett Ohlwine

I don't think it is Jewish. I agree with your translation, which does suggest an ornamental name, but I've yet to find a Jewish connection.
I suppose you are aware of the town of Oelwein in the state of Iowa -
which takes its name from one Gustav Oelwein, whose parents migrated from Lower Saxony, Germany, in 1835. This was before any large-scale Jewish migration to the US from Central and Eastern Europe.
A couple of thoughts:
Might it be an Old Germanic given name, something like the Anglo-Saxon Alwin, "noble friend"? This could have been changed over time by folk etymology.
A metonymic for someone who dealt in these products?
A minor and obscure place-name. I've been on the trail of a Swiss place name, but it might be a false lead.

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