Hunziker is a surname from Switzerland. The name most likely originates from the name of a small village in Canton Lucerne. Within Switzerland, the family expanded with a large presence in the Kulm, Zofingen, and Aarau districts of Canton Aargau and smaller concentrations in Cantons Berne, Lucerne, and Zürich. Significant emigration to the United States and Canada has occurred over several centuries. In the U.S., the name has commonly been anglicized to Hunsaker, Hunsicker, Hunsinger, Huntsinger, Hunsucker and many other variants.


Origin of Name

While several explanations exist for the origin of the surname Hunziker, the following appears to be that stated by most, if not all, Swiss historians. In the 13th and 14th centuries, surnames often indicated a person's hometown. Hunzikers originated in the 13th century from a very small village called Hunzingen (today called Hunzikon, Geuensee, Canton Lucerne). In the 14th century, the family was also found in large numbers in the Wetzwil neighborhood of Schlierbach, Canton Lucerne and then spread throughout the Suhrental (Suhre River valley). In the 15th and 16th century, Swiss surnames were derived by appending the syllable –er (this largely replaced the practice of using the "von" prefix).

Several Hunzikers living in Aargau have expressed a belief that the surname descends from the traditional occupation of dog breeder (hund züchter) and have indicated that Hunzikers have been involved with the development of several dog breeds. This belief is supported in part by the rampant hound regularly found in Hunziker coats of arms. Another possible origin raised by some genealogists is a reference to a valley in which a Hun army camped. A valley or part thereof might be referred to as a corner or "ecke" in German and hence the Hun's valley would be "Hunsecke". However, these explanations appear to be speculative.

Early History

During the 15th and 16th centuries, most Hunzikers belonged to the reformed protestant (Calvinist) denomination and lived largely in and near Unteraargau. From 1415 to 1798, this part of Aargau belonged to the old state of Bern, from 1798 to 1803 to the mini-canton of Aargau and in 1803 was merged and made part of the modern Canton Aargau.

By the early 16th Century, records demonstrate that a master named Hans Hunziker lived in Aarau. His sons, Niklaus and Hans, became significantly involved with the urban upper class. Niklaus was a member of the Court in 1547 and City Council in 1566. His son was an Aarau Schultheiß and his brothers also held offices. In the 17th Century, family members were influential Schultheiß, councilors and pastors. In the 18th century, Hunzikers became heavily involved in the Aargau textile industry. About 1780, Johann Jakob Hunziker founded a textile firm in Aarau. The factory erected in 1821 still stands. Johann Jakob's grandson, Guido Ulrich Hunziker ran the firm until 1873.

Before 1800, persons with the surname Hunziker lived primarily in: Canton Aargau (Aarau, Bottenwil, Gontenschwil, Hendschiken, Kirchleerau, Leimbach, Moosleerau, Muhen, Oberkulm, Oftringen, Reitnau, Staffelbach, Unterbözberg, and Unterkulm); Canton Berne (Schwarzhäusern, Wynau); and, Canton Basel-Landschaft (Arisdorf).

Hunziker Diaspora

Hunzikers in their traditional homeland of Unteraargau were particularly impacted by civil strife, natural disaster and cultural upheaval. Battles of the Kappelerkriegs (1528–1531) and Villmergerkriegs (1656, 1712) occurred largely in and near modern Aargau and reinforced significant religious conflicts in the region. Famine and plague were common during the 1700's. Also during this period, Argovite cottage industries (cotton and silk weaving, cigar production) were devastated by industrialization in England and elsewhere. As discussed below, Berne engaged in a ruthless repression of Anabaptists during the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. From 1798 to 1805, modern Aargau was created from four distinct areas (Baden, Freie Ämter, Fricktal, and Unteraargau). Different regions had been forcefully converted to Protestantism or Catholicism with even further re-conversions, while others were allowed religious freedom. Government in the different regions also differed significantly. Fricktal had been outside of Swiss control altogether, having been controlled by the Hapsburgs. As a result, the new union was not stable. Conflicts driven by rural-urban conflict resulted in the Freiamtersturm revolt of 1830, which was resolved in large part by Aargau canton president, Johann Georg Hunziker. A change from a 50% split of cantonal representation for Reformed and Catholic resulted in bloody conflict in 1841. In 1845, potato rot spread. The 1847 Swiss civil war resulted in further Argovite casualties. These cultural and economic pressures drove many Argovites, including Hunzikers, from Switzerland.


In the 16th century, many Hunzikers (especially from the Emmental) became involved with pacifist Anabaptist movements, especially the Swiss Brethren. The Anabaptist movements typically propounded believer's baptism, voluntary church membership and other positions that contradicted those of the Catholic church, Martin Luther and Ulrich Zwingli. Anabaptists' properties were confiscated. Berne in particular attempted to eradicate all Anabaptists from the canton, sentencing them to galley slavery, flogging, branding and expelling Anabaptist ministers, and, in 1699, established an Anabaptist Bureau specifically to persecute the Anabaptists. Many Anabaptists were imprisoned and tortured at Trachselwald Castle, Thun Castle, and other Swiss sites. Anabaptists were held in cells known as death-boxes. Executions of Swiss Anabaptists were not uncommon during the 16th and 17th centuries. In the late 16th through early 18th centuries, many Anabaptists were expelled from or otherwise left Switzerland for the Palatinate, Alsace, Moravia, Hesse, France, Luxembourg, Lorraine, Bavaria, Galicia, Volhynia, Tyrol, Austria and the Netherlands. Hunzikers in particular emigrated to the Palatinate, Bavaria, and Alsace. Ongoing persecution in those locations led to further emigration to Poland, Russia and the U.S. William Penn invited some to settle in Pennsylvania and, starting in 1683, numerous Anabaptist Swiss settled in Pennsylvania. After continued persecution in the 17th century, some Swiss Anabaptists joined the Swiss state church. In 1693, Anabaptists who remained in communion with those in the state church became known as Mennonite and those who rejected communion with those in the state church were known as Amish. Hunzikers were found in both camps. One of the earliest Hunzikers to reach the United States was Valentine Hunsicker (1700–1777). Valentine was born in Switzerland (apparently in a Reformed household), moved to the Palatine, arrived in Philadelphia in 1717, and became a prominent U.S. Mennonite. In the early to mid 1700's, a number of Mennonite Hunzikers were released from the dungeons only upon intercession from the Netherlands and their promise to emigrate to the United States.

North America

American Hunzikers have played a critical role in the U.S. Mennonite church. The name is typically anglicized, such as Hunsaker, Huntzinger, or Unsicker. Some genealogists have speculated that the surname Honeysuckle, found among Cherokee and Seminole tribe members, may be a variant created by marriage of Swiss immigrants with native Americans and transformation of the surname to match an item found in nature.

According to the name distribution tool, the following number of families were listed in the 1920 U.S. census:

  1. Hunsaker (430 total, 74 in IL)
  2. Hunsicker (408 total, 224 in PA)
  3. Hunsinger (316 total, 108 in PA)
  4. Huntsinger (202 total, 29 in IN)
  5. Hunsucker (197 total, 67 in NC)
  6. Hunziker (173 total, 25 in MO)
  7. Huntzinger (164 total, 55 in PA)
  8. Unzicker (67 total, 26 in IL)
  9. Hunsecker (54 total, 24 in PA)
  10. Hunzeker (46 total, 15 in NE)
  11. Hunzicker (32 total, 6 in KS)
  12. Huntzicker (31 total, 6 in WI)
  13. Unsicker (23 total, 12 in IL)
  14. Hunzinger (20 total, 6 in IL)
  15. Huntsucker (18 total, 4 in MO)
  16. Honeysuckle (12 total, 5 in LA)
  17. Hunsiker (8 total, 3 in NY)
  18. Hunsacker (5 total, 2 in OH)
  19. Huntziker (5 total, 1 in CA, IL, NY, OK & PA)
  20. Hunsanger (3 total, 2 in MI)
  21. Hunzecker (3 total, 2 in NE)
  22. Hunsuker (2 total, 1 in KS & KS)
  23. Huntsicker (2 total, 1 in MN & WA)
  24. Unziker (2 total, 1 in KS & NE)
  25. Hunseker (1 total, 1 in TN)
  26. Hunsoker (1 total, 1 in CO)
  27. Hunsonger (1 total, 1 in MI)
  28. Huntsecker (1, 1 in PA)
  29. Unsiker (1 total, 1 in IA)


  • Dick Hunsaker, college basketball coach
  • Fred R. Hunsaker, Utah State University V.P., Utah state representative
  • Jerome Clarke Hunsaker (1886–1984), aeronautical educator and designer
  • Kevin T. Hunsaker, HP corporate attorney
  • Nicholas Hunsaker, San Diego County Sheriff, 1875–1876
  • Tunney Morgan Hunsaker (1932–2005), West Virginia police chief, boxer
  • Walter S. Hunsaker (1906– ) Lt. Colonel, officer and director of Hunt companies
  • William Jefferson Hunsaker (1855–1933), 4th mayor of San Diego




  • Louis Hunsucker, World Series of Poker player


  • Bruno Hunziker (1930–2000), Swiss politician
  • Christian Hunziker (1926–1991), Swiss architect and professor of architecture
  • Emil Hunziker (1869–1938), Swiss mechanical engineer, designer of large generators and hydropower plants
  • Fritz Hunziker (1845–1908), Swiss industrialist, educator, humanitarian
  • Hans Hunziker (1879–1951), Federal Director General of the Swiss rail administration, Director of international rail transport association
  • Jakob Hunziker (1827–1901), Swiss educator and author, advocate of German language and culture
  • Johann Georg Hunziker (1774–1850), Swiss industrialist and philanthropist, first Grand President of Canton Aargau, resolved the Freiamtersturm without bloodshed.
  • Karl O Hunziker (1841–1909), Swiss educator and politician
  • Max Hunziker (1901–1976), Swiss painter
  • Michelle Y Hunziker (born 1977), Swiss media personality
  • Otto Hunziker (1879–1940), President of Canton Aargau, member of National Council, historian
  • Otto F Hunziker (1873–1959), Swiss American dairy educator and innovator
  • Richard Overton Hunziker (1916–1971), U.S. Air Force Major General, 200 combat missions in WWII. Headed Project Crested Ice.
  • Ruppert Rudolph Hunziker (1923–2003), American soil chemist, Purple Heart recipient


Fictional Characters


External links

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