Rumored to have been of Irish stock, the Elias family was actually German in origin. The first Elias in America was Heinrich Christian Elias, who originated in the former Electorate of Hesse (a.k.a. Hesse-Kassel) in central Germany. It is not difficult to see how the origin of this family could have been confused. Elias is a patronymic surname found in many cultures and areas, Heinrich gave English names to his children born in America, and they and their descendants married into families with more established English, French Canadian, and Dutch roots. Heinrich first settled in Fulton County, New York, but migrated with this family, as did many New Yorkers, to southern Minnesota.