MODERATOR NOTE: The following message states an opinion which is contrary to
general belief. The opinion is based on personal experience with one family.
The writer did not even provide us with the relevant family name(s).
No information is offered to explain the reason for this exception to the rule.
I am approving this message with mixed feelings. Perhaps a well-informed
member who knows how to cite authoritative sources will respond with solid
information either in support of Ms. Weinthal's opinion or contrary to same.
Citations of sources of specific data on the recording of Jewish surnames by
governments in "Germany" will be welcomed.
Please direct personal opinions to firstname.lastname@example.org by private email.
Messages such as "I agree with Roger Lustig. None of my ancestors had last names
until 1810." will not be accepted. MOD 1 ================>
With all due respect, the oft-repeated statement that very few Jews had
surnames before 1800 simply isn't the case in Germany. *All my
ancestors* - in both Bavaria to the south and in Hannover to the north
- had stable surnames dating back at least to the early 1700s and
mid-1600s. The various surname registration acts >from the late
1700s-early 1800s codified last names, but did not necessarily impose
them where none existed previously! German-Jewish children were given
the father's name as a middle name.
It is important to bring this out, because this assertion really jammed
me up when I first started researching my lineage. I took this claim as
fact and it greatly perplexed me as I went further and further back in
time and found that ancestor after ancestor in all branches had
surnames. My research would have progressed a lot faster, if I hadn't
accepted this erroneous claim that few Jews had surnames before the 1800s.
With respect to the Pennsylvanian Pfanzler family, I recommend
focusing on Pennsylvanian family history resources. Germans were so
numerous in pre-revolutionary war Pennsylvania that German was almost
declared a second official language in the colony. Early
German-American genealogy resources are exceptionally well-documented
and a specialty in itself. The place to start is with a reference
librarian who can locate the specialized guides to German-American
reference books. German-American colonial period researchers are
well-represented on the web, too. If any of your ancestors fought in
the war, you may find information in the Index to Revolutionary War
Pension Applications or in the records of the Daughters of the American
Revolution (DAR). At the National Genealogical Society's conference in
Pittsburgh, PA, German heritage groups and publishers were well-represented.
Pat Weinthal Boston, MA email@example.com
Thu, 15 Sep 2005 <firstname.lastname@example.org> Roger Lustig wrote:
Remember: very few Jews were referred to by surname before around 1800.
Jews were generally called by their given name and a patronym. What
documents give his name?