Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Few Quick Words on Name Changes

                       Recently I have had several discussions about name changes taking place as immigrants enter the United States through Ellis Island.  Let’s bottom line this: it didn’t happen.  The Immigration Service maintained a staff of bilingual clerks at Ellis Island in order to accurately record the names of immigrants as they passed through the various check points.  In addition, ship Captains kept a very accurate passenger list or manifest with the names of passengers.

After immigrants entered the country, it is very likely they may have anglicized or simply changed their names.  A case in point here is Sherburne County is the man who decided there were too many Andersons in the area.  He went through the county court and legally changed his name.  Later his son went through the same process because the son was born before the name change and so also had to legally change his last name to fit the new name of his father.

Furthermore, don’t let a different spelling of a last name discourage your family history research.  I don’t know who said it first, the quote has been credited to Mark Twain, or Benjamin Franklin and a host of other men, but it is worth remembering (and forgive the paraphrase):  A man who spells his name only one way is obviously not a gentleman.

In the case of Brubaker, I was recently introduced to an alternate spelling of “Brubacher” in the 1850s.  I guess the family is slowly working itself towards the title of Gentleman.

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