The sur-name Steiger is a local sur-name; to be more pricise, it is a topographic name, derived from a physical location feature of the local geography. The specific derivation of the name Steiger is from the word "steig" which means "narrow, steep path." This makes sense considering that the family name originated in the Alps in Switzerland. Research indicates that it can be traced back to the ancient region of Switzerland. The Celts of this area were named Helvetians by the Romans, who conquered this region by 15 B.C. Between 300 and 500, Alemannen tribes from the north conquered the northern and eastern part of Switzerland. The southwestern part of Switzerland was ruled by the Burgundians, who settled in France. In 600, the Franks took control of almost all of Switzerland, and most of this region then belonged to the Duchy of Swabia, except for the south-west region under Burgundian domination. The Burgandy peoples became romanized, and they now speak French, a language division that remains today.
During the mediaval period, those with the surname Steiger were located in the ancient city and canton of Berne, Switzerland, where the name could be cosidered to make a great early contribution to the feudal society which significantly affected the early development of Europe. The name, which held the baronial title since 1553, became prominent in local affairs. They branched into many houses which played important roles in the regional conflicts, each political group striving to maintain power and status in an ever changing terriorial profile.
As a family name changes and evolves in the course of history, major variations in spelling and pronunciation become commonplace. During the Middle Ages, scribes could only record the name as it sounded, which changed the way the name was spelled from region to region. We found several variations of the name Steiger, and they were Steiger, Steigere, Stiger, Steigel, Steig, Steigler, Steigner, Staiger, Staig, Staigler to name a few examples.
In 1033, the Kingdom of Burgundy joined the Holy Roman Empire, and when it became a part of France in the 1300s, the Helvetian part remainded Swiss. The Austrian House of Habsburg gained control of Switzerland in 1278. Their policies provoked a rebellion among the ancient cantons of Schwyz, Uri, and Unterwalden. They made a famous oath in 1291 to protect their freedom, refusing to "salute the Governor's hat on a pole," and the legend of William Tell tells the story of this revolt.
The takers of the oath (the "Eidgenossen") defeated the Emperor's forces in 1315, and also a superior Austrian force in 1386. The mountains oif Switzerland proved to be a major obstacle to a conquering army, not to mention the Swiss reputation for military efficiency. Byt 1499 a further dozen cantons had joined the Swiss Confederacy, and Switzerland was officially recognized as independent by the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648.