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...

1 comment:

  1. I knew a woman whose name was Hore and she and her sisters changed it to Horn. There are just some names that are better changed because of the harassment the children would get.