The Origin Of The Family Name, “Jesmer”

The Origin of the name, Jesmer

Link to Jesmer family history page

Link to “Jesmer Mysteries Explained”  page



The original Immigrant ancestor was Louis Laurent Duhaut dit Jasmin. He was a farmer who came to Montreal from Poitier, Poitou, NW France in 1760. His last name literally means, “From above of Jasmin.” I think it meant “The scent of Jasmin from heaven.” In my research I have discovered that “dit” is the beginning of a nic name. “dit Jasmin” means “of Jasmin”. Jasmin is also a suburb of Paris. I believe of original family name was “Duhaut”, meaning “From above” and the “dit Jasmin” was someone’s nic name that stuck to the family name. There are Jesmer’s of Jewish ancestry. One person emailed me this. I think that their ancestor carried the same nic name, “dit Jasmin”. Maybe they lived in the suburb of Paris.

The name Duhaut Dit Jasmin was changed over the years. Around 1760 the English took over Montreal. The Irish and the French began to have a difficult time. Around 1814, when the Jesmer’s started to live in Upper State New York. The name became Duhaut Jasmin, or Jasmin Duhaut, or Jasmin. Jasmin, pronounced with a heavy French Canadian accent sounds like Jesmer to an English speaking census taker or government official. And so, in the early 1800’s there began to be Jesmer’s.  Most of the different variations are related to the original immigrant ancestor, Louis Laurent Duhaut dit Jasmin.

In reference to the 1850 census of Bombay, NY. Some of the names, especially those of French origin are misspelled in the original. The census taker spelled them phonetically, and often not according to the rules we would use today. Consequently, those searching for French speaking ancestors should consider all possibilities when searching this list. It was attempted to correct the most obvious spelling errors, but many are not possible to correct with 100% confidence. One odd fact is that the census taker mistook virtually every “v” sound in the French names for a “b”. As a result, Vivlamore is “Biblamore” and Vincent (pronounced “Vassaw “in French) appears as Bassaw for first names and surnames. It was left as Basaw for surnames because Bashaw is a common name in northern New York today. However, “Basaw” as a first name was changed back to the original “Vincent”.  Franklin Jesmer’s and Levi and Roswell Jesmer’s last name appears as “Jessemin”. In other records it is sometimes given as “Jasmin”, and originally was “Duhaut dit Jasmin”

Let’s talk about “dit names”.

If you’ve done even a little French genealogy, you will have pondered the meaning of “Dit”.  If run through a translator, you get “Said” as the direct translation.  Dit names are difficult to explain, most especially when one is not raised where they are used.  “They are and they aren’t like a nickname,” is as close as I’m going to get.

Alternate spellings happen anywhere you got human beings, often for as many reason as there are people.

There is no one reason for the proliferation of spelling variations and dit names.  There are some we can point at and say, “There’s one!”  Like when the English took over New France in about 1756 and were the guys in charge from 1756 through 1867, when the colonies of Upper Canada and Lower Canada confederated into the Dominion of Canada.

Illiteracy is another.  You got ask an illiterate person his name and he can tell you but he can’t spell it so if the asker wants to write this illiterate man’s name down, the asker must make his best guess at the spelling.  If the two individuals speak different languages, things can get interesting.  One thing that happens is that, at least once, the name May is written as both Maie and Maillé.  (or Jasmin written as Jesmer or Zezmer) To an Anglophone ear, they all sound identical. Sometimes, illiteracy has nothing to do with it.  I know of a fellow who immigrated to the US from Norway.  When the good folks at Ellis Island asked him what his name was, he thought they asked where he was from and the family name was thereafter “Hagbo”.

Yet another reason is that the French have been playing the Nom Du Jour game for a very long time.  Pepin the Short, Charlemagne’s father, was the son of Charles Martell, but many of Pepin the Short’s descendants chose to be called Pepin.  Why…?  Your guess is as good as mine.  Mind you, that far back (the 8th century) neither literacy nor consistent surnames nor surname spelling was a priority.

In fact, consistent surname spelling has only been an Important Thing since right around the beginning of the 20th century.  If we get right down to it, surnames are a comparatively recent human invention, coming into vogue somewhere between the 12th and 14th centuries.

Jessmer – descendants of Francois Dahaut dit Jasmin

Jezmer – German web sites. One German Jazz band, called “Jezmer” appears to be famous in

Eastern Europe.

Jesmer – Elaine Jesmer (writer), (Her father was a Jewish Chicago lawyer) from Russia.

Jessmore – Descendants of Frank Jesmer, son of John Jessmore from France   – Michigan

Jasmer – German descendants. – possibly got name when immigrated.

Jesmar – Lots of Spanish sites and Cabbage patch dolls. One “my Space” in Venezuela. One girl

stated that Jasmer was a girl’s first name.


Jesmaine                            Austrailian girl names.


Jassmer – From St Lawrence County. French.

Lots of German and Chinese web sites.

Jassmor – Lots of Spanish web sites. The Spanish speakers treat Jasmer as a girl’s name.

Jassmore  – carriage business in Oswego 1899.

Jessemer – a few web sites. One lady is from Detroit.


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