Re: Brothers with different surnames #general

Peter Zavon <pzavon@...>

Surnames were _not_ changed at Ellis Island. Under US law, it was illegal
for the inspectors to do that intentionally. Since the inspectors were
working >from the Passenger Manifest, which was prepared by the ship's
officers, those greenhorn stories of name misunderstandings leading to names
like Ferguson are also most unlikely. And there were many volunteer
organizations providing translation services for the inspectors, should they
need it.

Since most of the Jews migrating >from Eastern Europe spoke Yiddish, a
language with basic German roots, and many if not most ships officers spoke
- or at least understood - basic German, it is most unlikely that language
problems caused simple discourse like "what is your name" or its answer to
be misunderstood in the port or on the ship when the Manifest was compiled.

Of course, we know that names changed during the migration, but this was
most likely done informally as they left Ellis Island, or in the initial
period after that as they began to interact with American culture.

Peter Zavon
Penfield, NY

"Warren Kohn" <wkohn@...> wrote in message
My grandfather Isaac MIEDZYRZECKI and his brother Abraham Miedzyrzecki
came to this country together >from Poland in 1913 and arrived at Ellis Island.
There, their surnames were changed. My grandfather became Isaac Cohen;
his brother became Abraham Goldberg.

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