Re: When Were Surname Changes Made? #general

Lynne Shapiro <lynneshap@...>

In at least one branch of my family, the U.S. surname changes were made by some
before emmigration. That is, as far as I can tell, the first two of my
grandmother's brothers to come to the U.S. (my grandmother had come earlier, but
with her married surname), came with their birth surname.
The passenger list for one shows Moische KABUSCHETZKI arriving January 4,2008, the
other shows Chaim KABUS(Z?S?C?)HATZKI arriving April 4, 1908. But records I
found for later arrivals, those I was able to find - which is not all - show,
e.g.,Kalman KAPLAN and Gittel KAPLAN arriving in the U.S, in 1910 and 1912,
respectively. I was able to find as many records as I did find because they came
from a very small town, and I searched for arrivals >from that town. They all used
the surname KAPLAN in later years. What I surmise is that the first emmigrants
learned soon after their arrival that their surname was "not a good name" for the
U.S., and probably very early on settled on the simpler name, KAPLAN. They then
told the relatives who had yet to come to the U.S., presumably by mail, that their
name in the U.S. would be KAPLAN, so those family members began using that name
when they began their journey to the U.S.

I suspect that many immigrants began using a simpler and/or more Anglicized
surname very soon after their arrival in the U.S. Then, when they became U.S.
citizens, they simply formalized the changes that were already used in everyday
life. I have not tried to find the citizenship documents for the KAPLANs, in
large part because it is such a common name. Perhaps those who came to the
country already using the new surname would not have even mentioned the original
name on the citizenship documents. I would be curious if others have come across
something similar - and if they know what was put on the citizenship papers by
their family members in that type of case.

I was fortunate in that one family member had asked questions many years ago and
compiled a family tree when some people who knew the original family name were
still living. My mother had always told me her mother's maiden name was KAPLAN,
no mention of anything else.

Lynne Shapiro
Western Mass.

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