Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Name Change

Do you know, that not knowing the name your ancestors came over to the new country with makes it very difficult to find them?

I was 36 when I found out that Schell was not my grandmother's original maiden name!! Imagine that!! And, of course, I found this out after she died. Guess that explains why I could not find anything for her prior to 1920, doesn't it?!

Once I found out about the name change, which even my dear old mother never mentioned to me, it was all kinds of fun. NOT!! The name signed on my great-grandfather's naturalization papers was spelled "Shittkowski". Do you know what people can do to a name like that???

I have a listing, on my website, of about 14 or so spellings including Schell, and it makes life so hard! Sometimes I think they did it on purpose!

I could find no birth records, of course, Ohio didn't start requring them until about 1910 or so. Maybe a bit earlier, I don't honestly remember. Anyway, they didn't require them in 1893 when Gram was born. And it's a darn good thing I've got "nose trouble" or I wouldn't have found the paperwork on the name change!

You see, my grandmother was one of 7 living children. And when I was coming up empty on any further information on her and my grandfather, I started digging around with her siblings. And their children... That's when I struck gold!!

Seems that grandma's brother, Herman, had children when they were going through the name change. And on one of the birth certificates, BINGO!! There was the case number for the name change!! You never saw a "fluffy" gal move so fast in a county building as I did that day!!

I beat feet to the probate department, and lo and behold, once we found the film, and I had more information, I was actually holding the original documents in my grubby little paws!! You have no idea how hard it was for me to turn those papers back over to the folks in the file department after I got my copies!!! (My mother told me that my grandmother burned most of my great grandparents papers in the old coal furnace, because she didn't want it to get out or some such.)

But, not only did my grandmother and the rest that were of age, change their last name, but my grandmother and great grandmother, who had both been Wilhelmina, changed, legally, their first names to Minnie. Not only that, but I realized that at that time, in 1918 when they did the name change, my great grandmother could not write. She signed with "her mark" on the papers.

As it turns out, I have found all these variations on this name, but I'm still no further. Sure, I found census records, and all that good stuff, but I still haven't had enough time to check out LDS records for Prussia. That will come in time. But with a surname like this, it's so unusual, it might as well be Smith. Why? With Smith, you have a zillion different ones, and it's almost impossible to figure out which is yours. With Schittkowski (which is the one used most, and yes, I've tried soundex and all the variations), it's so unusual, I can't find anything on it.

Guess ya win some, lose some, but with me, most are rained out...

Friday, March 13, 2009

What My Mother Taught Me...

When I had my children, I swore I would never "sound" like my mother. You know what I mean, all those little tidbits of knowledge that have been passed down since the beginning of time... "Keep making that face, and your face will freeze like that!" And the ever popular: "You're just like your father!" Boy oh boy, if I only had a nickle for every time I heard those things... (You see, I didn't listen any better then than I do now!)

Well, as it turned out, I did sound like my mother. My boys will testify to that! I know we all say we will "never, ever" sound like our mothers, but we do. It's a sad fact of life. There is no way around it...

One year, for Mother's Day, I decided to let her know that I really did appreciate all these little gems, and had this creation made up for her. You would have thought I gave her the sun, the moon and the stars!! she was so happy with it!! If I would have known it was that easy, I would have done it years ago, and given her one each year with new gems on it!! To make it just a bit more personal, I found a picture of her and myself about the same ages, in close poses. She's on top, of course, and I'm at the bottom. She set that framed thing in her living room, and it sits there still.

I almost put that with her when she passed. I'm kind of glad I didn't. I hope that when it's time, I'll be able to put that in my living room, where-ever I end up.

Miss ya, Mom.