George Ostertag, Lord Mayor of Nordlingen, who died November 12, 1559, received this coat of arms from Andrew Erstenberger, Count Palatine, an officer possessing royal prerogatives. This graphic was prepared by Joe L. Kropp.
Welcome to the Ostertag-Easterday Association of America By: Dr. Howard G. Lanham, Family Historian, Ostertag-Easterday Association of America Unlike most German surnames which refer to the original bearer's occupation or some physical characteristic, Ostertag refers to a sacred Christian holiday. The name appears to have been adopted independently by a number of individuals living in the western German states. It is common in Wuerttenberg and Baden and also can be found in the Palatinate, the Reis, the Alsace and Switzerland. The earliest use of the surname was by the now-extinct noble Alsatian families which occupied the castles Ramstein and Winstein in the 13th Century. The heraldic Ostertag family founded by Hans der Ostertager during the 14th Century in Noerdlingen, Bavaria is well-documented by a genealogy written in 1803. Ostertags in other localities can trace their origin to the 14th, 15th or 16th Centuries. In addition to Christian Ostertag families, Jewish families were required to adopt a German surname in the part of Poland occupied by Prussia. Some of these families adopted the name Ostertag as an equivalent of Passover (Passah or Peisach).
Christian Ostertag was the first to make his way to the Americas. He established himself as a farmer and innkeeper near what is now Jefferson, Frederick County, Maryland, and died in 1805. Also establishing a family in Frederick County, Md. was Martin Ostertag who landed in Philadelphia in 1765. He died in 1784 and by family legend, was a brother to Christian.
Michael Ostertag landed in New York in 1778 as a member of the Ansbach Regiment in the service of the British. He left the Regiment at Yorktown and also made his way to Frederick County. He moved to the Boonsboro area of Washington County, Maryland, where he died in 1837.
Johannes Ostertag, b. 1744 in Hoehenmenningen, Wuerttenburg, immigrated in 1772, appears to be the same who settled near Philadelphia. Johann George Ostertag who also landed in 1772 settled in Lehigh Township, Northampton County, Pennsylvania. The origins of another Ostertag family mentioned in late 18th century land grants in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, is still obscure.
The number of early Ostertag immigrants approaches one hundred individuals, and it is likely many others are not known to me. They settled all over the United States, particularly the cities of the east coast and also rural areas in the Midwest.
Early Ostertag families tended to translate their name into English when dealing with their English-speaking neighbors and gradually, as their use of German declined, became Easterdays. With westward expansion, a band of families named Easterday spread across the middle of the country with its origins in Maryland and Pennsylvania. Other immigrants corrupted the German name into forms such as Osterday, Osterdock, Osterdoch or Esterday. More recent immigrants retained Ostertag.