Our Konrad Trockenbrot, has been mentioned 1281 in Vogtland (southern part of Saxony), was a free farmer with a 'complete farm' in Oelsnitz, which had an extent from 30 to 35 hectares (= from 74 acres to 86 acres). He was NOT a poor man. What's the meaning of the term 'complete farm' in the year 1281 and how I can deduce the answer from the document, you can read under the menu item document 1281. Unfortunately to this day the article is only in German language available. But I hope, that I can translate it soon.
We can assume that in those days people were born into their social class and they have never left it all their life. So Konrad's father and grandfather may have been farmers. Perhaps he or his ancestors were forced by the real division of an estate in Franconia to leave their home. At that time the law of succession in Franconia provided that the farm had to parcel out between the children, i.e.the lots got smaller and smaller, and any time you couldn't live no longer from your small lot. In the Vogtland at this time there was the colonisation (cleared woodland and new settlement on easy terms). Here too I refer to my article under the menu item document 1281.
How a wealthy person gets a sobriquet (nickname) "for a meager living, which eat only dry bread"? Also the Druckenbrots from Constance at the Lake Constance and from the Hegau near by in the 14th and 15th century were no poor persons. All those early evidences of the name Trockenbrot/Truckenbrodt/Druckenbrot (all spellings) seem to defeat the whole interpretation. Still before a final evaluation is made, here may be a small selection of supposable interpretations. I have found its in "Förstermanns Altdeutschen Namenbuch", 3.Auflage, Bd. 1 von 1913 (Jellinghaus). [Means "Förstermann's old german name book", 3. edition, volume 1 of 1913]
This stem, used in names for persons only initial, belongs to the Gothic "drauht" and to the Old Nordic "Volk". In the Old High German the word "truhtin" = lord is still remained (see too "Truchsess", for this old word I couldn't explore the correct translation, but I think "princely butler" may be a good interpretation). But the names conserve the meaning of the root.
this Old High German word is related to the Gothic "driugan" and to the Anglo-Saxon "dreogan" = armed man, knight. Prof. Truckenbrodt (TH Munich) designates too an Old High German word "truho" = hero.
Old High German "druh, druch, thruch, druoh" = trap for wild animals and for fishes or footcuff too
Old High German "druckan" = dry
The Low German word "Drucke" means chest.
The Slavic "drug" = tribe (old Slavic = comrade) can't be excluded as root.
The Old Nordic "bordh" or the Anglo-Saxon "bord" means shield.
This word could be connected with the Old High German "prodi" = weakness, frailty
Initial "brot" has meant the leavened bread, which was produced with brewer's yeast, later in the Middle High German, so to the times of Konrad, it has took over the meaning of "laib" = azyme
Prof. Truckenbrodt TH München designates still a Old High German "brord" = spear.
You could believe, the name "Trockenbrot" is a malapropism (corruption) of one or of both parts of the name. A "truhobrord" = spear hero would still be wonderful for a family history. But such an interpretation is absolute bizarre and wrong.
The temporal distance between the name's developement and the first being mentioned in a document is to small, that the linguistic developement had could corrupt the words so significant. Why you should use Old High German words, which nobody knows and speaks in this period, to create a name?
Why the name should be corrupted after 100 to 200 years beyond recognition, in order to get no significant modification the next 700 years? And for a developement of the name in Lower Germany there aren't any facts.
I stick to it, Trockenbrot respectively Truckenbrot (all spellings) is made up of the words "trocken" = dry and "brot" = bread. The first Trockenbrot has got this name as nickname. He was a meager living, a man, who ate by astonishment of his people only and/or often dry bread. This wouldn't has been a significant feature for a man of a lower social class. Therefore is "Trockenbrot" not a characterization for a man of the underclass.
Bondmen, menials, maidservants and other people of the lower class possessed till to the 15th century only a first name. Our first Trockenbrot must has been living for his people in a extremely conspicuous meagerness. In this age it was a courtly-knightly convention at table to serve the meat on slices of bread or flat breads. The bread was left for the dogs, the servants or the paupers in front of the door.
If you ask yourself to which German tribe belongs the bourgeois virtue of austerity, you remember immediately the hard-working Swabians. According to Adolf Bach's "Geschichte der deutschen Sprache" (= History of German Language), page 115, is "trocken" = dry a Upper German (Southern German) word, which wasn't still in general use at this time in Franconia. We should no longer search the original home of the Trockenbrots/Truckenbrodts (all spellings) in the border area between Franconia and Thuringia. The original home lies at the Upper Rhine in the center of the Stauferland (Alodium of the Staufers, a princely family, which has produced many German Emperors e.g. Frederick I. Barbarossa).
The sobriquet (nickname) can be developed only there, where that word was in colloquial use. If you consider, that the custom of family names was born in the town civilization of Upper Italy in the 8th/9th century, came across the Romanic Switzerland in the 10th/11th century to Upper Germany 12th century, you can conclude, that our first Trockenbrot has lived as a Alemannic-Swabian cheapskate (skinflint) near the year 1100 in a town at the Upper Rhine.
But how and why the Truckenbrodts came to Franconia? Let us remember all early evidences of Truckenbrodt (all spellings), in the 13th century in the Vogtland (southern Saxony), in the 14th century in Speyer, in the 15th century in Constance and in the Hegau (all Upper Rhine), in the 15th/16th century in Eisfeld (border area between Thuringia and Upper Franconia). All these German regions were regions of interest for the imperial and territorial politics of the Staufer. However the center of their imperium was the cultural wide-progressive Upper Rhine Valley. From there the lines of forces of their politics proceeded across the old crown landscapes at the Rhine and Main to the Middle German East and there its lead to a focus of the old imperial land block in Upper Franconia and the Ore Mountains (Erzgebirge). The Staufers founded numerous towns and castles and settled on cleared woodland free men as farmers on easy terms. The prosperity of trade and commerce, the large number of officials in palatinates, fortresses, castles and towns and the colonization of the German East caused a considerable internal migration namely upstream the Rhine and the Main till to the Slavic East. I'm convinced hardly the Truckenbrodts came from the Upper Rhine upstream the Main to Upper Franconia and to the Vogtland.
But he who emigrated, hoped for more prosperity. At first the social status was of course low, therefore you couldn't find any evidences of Truckenbrodts in Franconia. Our Konrad is an exception. There are studies about family names in the Vogtland from the beginning of the german colonization to the 16th century and there isn't no other Truckenbrodt (all spellings) to
find. The real division of an estate, above already mentioned, may has prevented the social ascent. The Truckenbrodts, remained at the Upper Rhine, are supported by documents, because they were wealthy.
If the family of our Konrad Trockenbrot has come straight from the Upper Rhine to the Vogtland, or at first has settled in Upper Franconia and then one of the sons is trekked to the Vogtland, must remain unanswered.
I summarize: The genealogical sources, historical and social arguments and linguistic reflections argue for a developement of the name at the Upper Rhine.