Unfortunately, there is very little information on our early Sander ancestors. The earliest documentation that is available starts with Gottlieb and Genevieva (née Bernhardt) who immigrated to Russia in 1808. At this time their ancestral origin is unknown. According to records that I have been able to retrieve from the State Archive in Odessa, reveal that Gottlieb was engaged in farming while living in the Kutschurgan enclave village of Selz. Statements within these records also imply that my next in line Sander ancestor, Balthasar, was also engaged in farming. However, a recent retrieved document states that he was a ‘jointer’ (furniture maker). He obviously passed this trait onto some of his sons, as his son Balthasar built a house in Selz in 1900. The younger Balthasar then also made the furniture for his house.

Some of Balthasar’s descendants are still living in this house and have donated some of the furniture which he crafted to the new museum in the village of Selz.

The name Sander with all of its derivatives ranks in the top seventy-five of surnames used in the world.  According to the book Dictionary of German Names by Hans Bahlow, the root of the Sander name is from medieval time, possibly as early as the twelfth century. It may have been taken from Alexander the Noble and shortened from the Greek name Alexander, meaning defender of men or from the Greek alexein, “to defend, help.”

There is some debate as to where the name originated. However, the names of Sander and Xander are very Germanic, which would imply that the name originated in Germanic central Europe.