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The Origin and Meaning of the Bushong-Boschung Surname 
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The Origin and Meaning
of the
Bushong-Boschung Surname

By Rick Bushong
Published 2012
Updated 2015

A Faux Swiss Bushong Shield

For well over a hundred years, American genealogists, have been documenting and charting the Bushong surname. A surname which is derived from a native tongue that most, if not all of them, are completely unfamiliar with - Schweizerdeutsch or translated, Swiss German. With a lack of understanding of even where the surname originated, many have looked at similar-sounding surnames and wondered if they were related, and over the years, a few genealogists asserted they were. To make things more difficult, books, some over 100 years old, and online resources are plentiful with misinformation about the origins of the Bushong family and its surname. Here's an example from some noted and normally credible genealogical sources....

   "(Bushong) Americanized spelling of French Bouchon, a habitational name from a place in Somme, so named with the personal name Buccius + Gallic duros "fortress", or a topographic name for someone who lived in an area of bushes, from Old French bousche "bush".Possibly an altered spelling of German Buschang, which is of Slavic origin (see Bushek)."
  • The Dictionary of American Family Names, Oxford University Press

But it's all wrong, or at least has nothing to do with virtually all the Bushongs in America. The Bushongs of America are the Colonial immigrant Boschung family who immigrated in 1731 and 1732, and they are the predecessors of the American Bushong Family. Here's what the evidence shows about the immigrant Boschungs.

The Swiss Immigrants arrived as Boschung

Hans Boschung's signature.
Hans Boschung in 1731 - from the Oath of Allegiance

Copy of Johann Nicholas Boschung signature
Johann Nicholas Boschung in 1732 from the Oath of Allegiance.
     The spelling of their name is proven with the ship Britania, 1731 passenger list, where Hans spells his family's name Boschung. Then both brother's names are written Boschung on the Oath of Allegiance, in 1731 for Hans and 1732 for Johann Nicholas. The signed it with their own hand. After they arrived in America, they Anglicized the spelling, but the pronunciation remained the same.2 To hear the German pronunciation, click here. Research, genealogical charting, and DNA evidence has shown that by far, the vast majority of American Bushong and its variant spelling, Bushon descended from the two immigrant brothers, Hans and Johann Nicholas Boschung.3; 4 Read the article, here. From Nicholas' marriage and children's baptisms all in Germany and additionally, from the 1732 descriptions of Johann Nicholas and his fellow passengers, on the Pink "John and William", it establishes, the Boschungs were German-Swiss, or Deutsche Schweiz as they called themselves.5 They are a unique Swiss group, with their own customs and unique German dialect. In the Swiss Canton, Bern, where the immigrant Boschungs probably originated, it is called "Bärndütsch". The Bushong family's German influence is also illustrated in writing on tombstones and documents. The ancestry of the Deutsche Schweiz is German for many centuries back.6

Switzerland has always been a major crossroads of Europe, and we can't know when Boschungs first arrived. But the Boschung surname is well documented there in the two Cantons of Bern and Fribourg as early as the 1520s and 1530s. The country of Switzerland was founded in 1291, though the Swiss culture and people were thriving well before then.7 The region, first occupied by Pagan tribes, was later inhabited by Christian Germanic tribes. These Germanic tribes were the predecessors of the Swiss people and undoubtedly of the Boschungs.8

It was during the late Middle Ages, that familial names were first becoming used in German language areas. From the beginning of the second half of the 14th century to the beginning of the 16th century, the surnames evolved and became accepted.9 The old German names usually began simply and were often single syllables. Their names are generally classified into four groups: given names, job designations, bodily attributes, and habitational or topographical references.9; 10 Later the names were modified with suffixes which are descibed as a patrynomic suffex.13
Pa`tro*nym"ic: A modification of the father's name borne by the son; a name derived from that of a parent or ancestor; as, Pelides, the son of Peleus; Johnson, the son of John; Macdonald, the son of Donald; Paulowitz, the son of Paul; also, the surname of a family; the family name.Source: Webster's 1913 Connoisseur's reference to American English13

An early map of Switzerland
An early map of Switzerland. Simmental Valley with Boltigen and Oberwill is circled (in small image). This is the home of the Bushong Line.[12] Notice Boschen Mt. close by.

Descendants of the Bosch

There are a but a handfull of Boschung lines, but in the case for the majority, it is theorized the prefix is the original name. As such, the act of conjugating the surname into its prefix and suffix, Bosch and ung, reveals its origin. Bosch, is a Germanic topographical surname, derived from the Latin word, boscus which translates to wood, as in forests, or of the woods.10; 11; 13; 14 The name "Bosch" is undoubtedly the root name, making them the predecessors of the earliest Boschung. Further, there was a large presence of the Bosch family, living in north western Switzerland from before the 1500s.15

The entrance to Simmenthal in Canton Bern, Switzerland, by Bartlett in 1836.
The entrance to Simmenthal in Canton Bern, Switzerland,
by Bartlett in 1836.
   It was later, as surnames gained acceptance in Germanic territories, that Bosch was modified with the addition of a patronymic suffix, "ung", which translated, means "descendants of".8 It is quite reasonable to assume it was changed to differentiate a new generation from an original family. The need to differentiate from the Bosch family can only be speculated, but there are several possible reasons. One could be a specific person or a well known or famous family was called Bosch in a region. Or more likely, the change occurred at the beginning of familial names, when Bosch was still considered more of a topographical descriptor in most regions, rather than a family name. So without the addition of the "descendants of" suffix, the generation of Bosch who moved away from the forest would be confused as still living there. Hence Bosch, no longer a proper descriptor, was changed to Boschung. This would have identified them with their parents and ancestors and modified the topographical name to something more meaningful, the completed surname. Then, Bosch-ung, represents a familial line descended from the Bosch family, who gained their name from where they lived - in or near the woods.

Different Names are Different Families

Though there are numerous Colonial immigrant names that sound similar or possibly end with the suffixes "ung" or "ong", confusion can be avoided, if the name is first conjugated in order, to determine what the base surname is. Before any attempt to associate a new surname to the Boschung or Bushong Line, consider this: The Boschung surname has been in continuous existence with unaltered spelling for over 500 years - since the beginning of the 1500s. The Anglicized spelling, Bushong, has existed in America, since the 1730s or before.     
A copy of the Oath of Allegiance signatures from the Pink John and William
A copy of the Oath of Allegiance signatures from the Pink John and William.
That's Johann Nicholas Boschung's signature, middle page, sixth down, below the larger Johann Michael Hofman/Hufman's signature.

It is true, misspellings and mistranscriptions frequently occur in civic records, but usually at the hand of someone unfamiliar with the surname. In the end, thousands spelled or had their surname spelled correctly, at least where it was important. Similar sounding surnames, that if related, could be hundreds of years and many generations removed. If for instance, the Boschangs of Solothurn, Switzerland (assuming it's a correct transcription), were an off-shoot of the Bosch surname and family, it could be difficult if not impossible to say how many years or how many generations back. Certainly back beyond any genealogical time frame, thus precluding any possibility for genealogical evidence.

In other words, all those similar-sounding names are of little genealogical importance. Especially in light of the Bushong line being so thoroughly documented and charted. To give them any more than a passing glance for historical interest can only lead to confusion.

Nicholas' bold signature attesting his loyalty to the English crown
on October 17, 1732. (extracted from the Oath of Allegiance, and two of Hans' signatures.

After arriving in Philadelpha in 1731 and 1732, Hans (IV) and Nicholas and Hans both signed their last names "b" - "boschŭng" with a lower case "b," because, though the Swiss used a capital "B" in their writting, the the German alphabet has no upper case or capitol "B". Instead they use the similar
letter, ß, known as an "eszett" in German or "sharp S" in English, for a different sound.
When spoken, it is pronounced "ess" or like the letter "s".28 The second letter of interest is the ŭ or specifically the mark over the u, is called a A breve a form of the Latin for brevis which means “short or brief”).

also ú

But notice, both did use an ß
on the ends of their first names.

  1. The Bushong Surname
  2. Hear the German pronunciation of Boschung Click here
  3. The Only Surviving Colonial American Bushong Family
  4. The Only Surviving Colonial American Bushong Family Line: Step by Step:
  5. A Collection of Upwards of Thirty Thousand Names of German, Swiss, Dutch, French and Other Immigrants in Pennsylvania, page 85:
  6. Wikipedia, Old Swiss Confederation
  7. Wikipedia, Old Swiss Folklore
  8. Wikipedia, German Family Name Etymology
  9., German Surnames
  10. Surname Database, Bosch
  11. A dictionary for writers and wordsmiths. Patrynomic
  12., Bosch
  13. A dictionary for writers and wordsmiths. Patrynomic
  14. A Swiss Family Bushong
  15. Family Education, Bosch
  16. Wiktionary, Bosch
  17. Search Boschung in Switzerland
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