Since the start of of my site I´ve received a couple of emails other “Pechers” who are tracing the root of their family. Most request for information came from the United States. In the following text I´ll summarize some information about the origin our family and its name. Since we haven´t done any systematic genealogic research, I cannot guarantee 100% scientific accuracy of the statements below. Thanks a lot to Filip Pecher from Canada who has provided some of the information below, and also to Konrad Pecher from Austria for providing me with extensive background material.
Where did they come from?
The origin of all Pechers seems to be in Bohemia, in today´s Czech Republic. The different Pecher lines that I´m aware of can all trace their root back to this area. My family´s branch resided in the town of Chotieschau/ Chotesov, near the famous beer town of Pilsen/Plzen. However, there are reports that the Pechers may have come from today´s border region between Saxony and the Czech republic, and even of a line that can be traced back to the upper Rhine area in the 16th century.
After WWII, nearly all (German-speaking) Pechers - among them my grandmother and my father - had to leave the area, as was true for the whole German-speaking part of the population in Bohemia. Only very few (e.g. my grandfather´s brother, who had been a member of the Social Democratic Party prior to the Nazi regime) were allowed to remain. Nowaday, most Pechers live in the German-speaking countries, with the highest concentration Austria and the German state of Bavaria.
There were also a couple of Pechers who had left for America, in particular during the 19th and early 20th century, and whose descendants are living in e.g. the US or Canada. And there are several Czech-speaking Pechers who still live in the Czech Republic, some with different spellings like Pechar, Pecha or Pechr.
It seems that there is also a second origin of the name Pecher in the Clermont-Ferrand region of France. In French, our name means (depending on the accent on the first e) “Peachtree” or “Fishing”.
What does our last name mean?
It seems likely that the first carrier of this last name was a Pecher by trade. This occupation (I don´t know whether there´s an English translation) had been in existence since the Middle Ages. Each Pecher had leased a couple of hundred trees from the forest owners. During summertime, the Pechers lived in the forests to collect the resin from the trees. The resin was used to produce pitch. (The German word Pech stands for both “bad luck” and “pitch”).
The Pecher´s occupation did not have a very high reputation. Since they spent the whole summer on their own in the forest, the Pechers often appeared to be of a somewhat eccentric character. Their faces had assumed a black color from the resin they collected. However, the Pechers were very popular (as kind of “gay birds”) with the children who played in the forests.
Are we all relatives?
There´s not just one single answer to this question. We can trace our roots back to about the early 19th century - the last names were given several centuries before that time. Furthermore, it cannot be taken for granted that there was only one original source of our last name.
If a tale by my grandmother during her last years was correct then an adopted child was among our ancestors. Under this aspect, we´d be relatives with most other Pecher lines from a legal perspective only.
On the other hand, it is almost certain that we are remote relatives, since our ancestors lived in the same region. If there had never been weddings among remote relatives, the number of our ancestors would have doubled with each generation (going backwords). If one generation meant 25 years, then there would have been more than a million great-great-...-grandparents of mine of the same generation living in the 15th century.
In case you have any further or more accurate information I´d appreciate if you could send me a note. Also please feel free to let me know in case the English of my text needs improvement. Any feedback from your side is welcome!
The Pecher Family Tree
Filip Pecher has started the project of the Pecher Family Tree. So far, it contains four different branches of Pechers. You can download the attached file and view it using Acrobat Reader or another viewer. (For optimal legibility, increase viewing size to >100%).
Another tree was submitted by Steve Frank (thanks!), whose wife is a descendant of Pechers from the Chotesov area in the 18th century. Due to its size, this tree is in a separate GEDCOM file for all those who have the Family Tree Maker software. It is well possible that the Pechers in this tree are ancestors or closely related to the Pechers in the other file.
Download Pecher Descendants.ged here.
All your additions to the tree are welcome. You can send your information via email to Filip Pecher and myself. If you’ve got the “Family Tree Maker” software, you can obtain a copy of the original file from us.