Although the actual origin of the family name is lost in the mists of time, it appears that the original spelling was Meinzer, Menzer or Mentzer, and the name seems to have meant "One Who Comes from Mainz", or a "man from Mainz". Mainz is a city on the Rhine near Wiesbaden. This interpretation is the source of the title of the family newsletter, The Man from Mainz.
In Saxony, Westfalen and the Rhineland the name appears as Mainzer or Meintzer. In Hesse-Darmstadt it is usually Mentzer, and in the Baden-Wurttemberg area it nearly always is listed as Meinzer or Mainzer. It doesn't seem to appear elsewhere in Germany.
According to one old family legend, the original "Man from Mainz" was a bugler on the stage coach from Mainz to what is now the Karlsruhe area; the graphic you see at the top of this page, and on the Coat of Arms (Family Crest) represents a post horn of the type used by the buglers on the coaches in Germany.
For many years it was assumed by most researchers that Ludwig came from the village of Neureut, now a suburb of Karlsruhe, in Baden-Wurttenburg (see the Neureut controversy), but recent research now points toward the village of Merchingen, in the same state, but a little farther east. See The REAL Ludwig Mäintzger Uncovered for details.
These are the known variant spellings of the family name:
There are undoubtedly other variations on the family name as well, especially in the United States. In an age before universal education, often the family members themselves had only a vague idea of how their names were spelled, and the early census takers became quite adept at rendering the names more or less phonetically. For a good example of this, see the 1850 Lawrence County and Pope County Census transcriptions.
It is also common that new arrivals at Ellis Island in the late 19th & early 20th Centuries were given new surnames that were approximations of their original names, usually based on the sound of the name. This is how the families of Samuel and Hyman Manskirch came to carry the name "Mansker" (See the Manskirch Manskers Page.) There may be several other Mansker families in the US who have also derived their surname this way.
There are also a number of Minskers in the country who are not descended from Ludwig; they also appear to have come out of Eastern Europe, expecially the area surrounding Minsk, Russia (a "Minsker" being "One Who Comes from Minsk").
Researchers into the family name are cautioned that the name Metzger, fairly common in Germany and German-American communities, is not a variation on our family name; it means "butcher" in German. It is likely, however, that more than one early census taker wrote "Metzger" on the census rolls for our family members. Note also that the Manasco family, which appears in the records of several southern states, is not related to the Mansker - Minsker families. Again, however, the census taker could have spelled the family name of our relatives this way. As in everything else in genealogy, take everything you find with a grain of salt, and verify, verify, verify.