Select Strauss Surname Genealogy

Strauss is a Gernanic surname made famous by the 19th century composers Johann Strauss with his Viennese waltzes and Richard Strauss with his operas such as Der Rosenkavalier.

The surname seemed to have started out as a nickname, either as an awkward or belligerent person (from struz meaning “to quarrel”) or as a person who might wear a hat with ostrich feathers (from struze meaning “ostrich”).

Strauss can be a German or a German Jewish surname.  A Strauss came to South Africa in 1723, to America in 1732, and was recorded in England in 1790.  Sometimes the surname has been spelt Straus

Select Strauss Resources on The Internet

Select Strauss Ancestry

Strauss surname is found mainly in Austria and in southern and eastern Germany.  The numbers today are about 20,000 in Germany as a whole and another 5,000 in Austria. 

.  The earliest Strauss arrivals in America were probably two brothers from Wurttemberg, Albrecht and John Philip Strauss, who arrived in Philadelphia in 1732 and settled in Berks county.They left their name to Strausstown (where a subsequent John Strauss had a large farm and distillery).  Some of these Strauss descendants changed their spelling to Strause. 

A later example of a spelling change was Strauss becoming Strouse in Indiana in the 1860’s.  Another Strauss in Indiana changed his name to Stross. 

Raphael Strauss came to Ohio from Bavaria in 1858.  He was a portrait and miniaturist painter by trade.  Six of his paintings are displayed in the Cincinnati Art Museum.  His son Joseph was the chief engineer in the building of
the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.  Ludwig Strauss meanwhile arrived in Milwaukee in the 1880’s.  His sons started the Strauss Brothers meatpacking business in 1937.  This business is now run by the third generation of Strausses. 

Jewish Strausses
.  The majority of the Strausses who came in the 19th century were Jewish, however.

The most famous of them was Levi Strauss, the inventor of blue jeans.  Growing up in Bavaria, he joined his older brothersin New York in 1848.  They operated a small dry goods business there.  When he heard about the California gold rush he headed West and started his own dry goods business in San Francisco.  It was in 1873 that the Levi Strauss Company patented a new denim work overall and blue jeans were born.  Levi himself died unmarried in 1902 and his legacy was passed onto his four nephews. 

Lazarus Straus meanwhile had come to America in 1854 from the Rhineland Palatinate, settling first in Georgia and then, after the Civil War, in New York.  His three sons all made their mark there – Nathan and Isidor as co-owners of New York’s biggest department stores (Macy’s and Abraham & Straus) and Oscar who in 1906 became the first Jewish US Cabinet minister. 

Isidor Straus died with his wife when the Titanic sank in 1912.  His son Jesse served as US ambassador to France in the 1930’s.   Nathan Straus gave away most of his fortune to Jewish projects in Palestine.  Meanwhile Roger Straus, the grandson of Oscar, was the co-founder and chairman of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, a New York book publishing company.  

Other notable 19th century immigrants were: 
  • Raphael Strauss from Baden-Wurttemberg who came to upstate New York in the 1850’s and ran a dry goods business there.  His son Joseph was a naval officer in World War One and later commanded the Asiatic fleet, the first Jewish Admiral of the US Navy.  
  • and Leopold Strauss from Alsace who fought on the Confederate side in the Civil War and whose son Leopold became a civic leader in Montgomery, Alabama.  
Charles Strauss came to the US from Germany in 1915, hoping to become a concert pianist.  Instead he opened a dry goods store in rural Texas.  But he had two remarkable sons who were each to make their mark in very different areas: 
  • Robert Strauss, the legendary Washington insider who was to serve Presidents from Carter through Reagan to Bush.  Bush appointed him ambassador to the Soviet Union in 1991.    
  • while Ted Strauss became a Dallas entrepreneur, well-known in his own right and also via his wife Annette who served as mayor of Dallas.  
Arnold Strauss arrived in Virginia in 1935, escaping Nazism.  Sadly both his parents were trapped in the Netherlands when the Germans invaded that country in 1940. 

England.  The Strauss name in England is not that common, although one Strauss line has been traced back to Charles Strauss in London sometime around 1790. 

Alphonse and Arthur Strauss arrived in London as Jewish merchants from Mainz in the 1860’s.  Both prospered, Alphonse as a general merchant in London and Arthur as a wealthy tin merchant in Cornwall (known as the “tin king”) and Liberal MP there.  Both had illustrious sons: 
  • Alphonse with Henry Strauss, a Conservative MP who became Baron Conesford  
  • and Arthur with George Strauss, a long-time Labor MP who became Baron Strauss.  
The recent English cricket captain Andrew Strauss has South African heritage, having been born in Johannesburg. 

South Africa
.  Georg Friedrich Strauss emigrated from Strasbourg to the Cape Colony as a midshipman on the Adelaarin 1723.  His descendants in South Africa, via his sons David and Johannes, are numerous. 

One line from Johannes led to J.G.N. (or Koos) Strauss from the Northern Cape who was leader of the opposition United Party from 1950 to 1956 at the time that the pro-apartheid National Party was on the rise

Select Strauss Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

Select Strauss Names

Levi Strauss was the US West Coast immigrant at the time of the California Gold Rush who founded the Levi Strauss Company which became world-famous for the manufacture of blue jeans.
Isidor Straus
was the New York businessman who co-owned Macy’s department store and died on the Titanic when she sank in 1912. 
Joseph Strauss
was the chief engineer for the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco that was completed in 1937.
Koos Strauss
was the leader of the opposition United Party in South Africa from 1950 to 1956.
Robert Strauss
was the legendary Washington insider, serving Presidents from Carter through Reagan to Bush

Select Strausses Today
  • 600 in the UK (most numerous in London)
  • 6,000 in America (most numerous in New York) 
  • 2,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 1,000 surnames.

Click here for reader feedback
Click here for return to front page