JewishGen Discussion Group #JewishGen Recording a "Family" Name where none yet existed #general


In a message dated 8/22/2004 10:27:29 PM Eastern Standard Time, writes:

Most of us are familiar with the custom of taking the given name of the
father as the family name, in the period before the compulsory introduction
of family names and where we do not have an established family name
extending over several generations. This Prussian custom is also seen in
early 19th century English synagogue records. For example, Moshe, whose
father was Yaakov ben Yehezkel, would have the patronymic Moshe ben Yaakov
(for synagogue) which was usually simplified in civilian life to Moshe Yaakov,
so that Yaakov became the new "family name" for one generation.. May I invite
comments on a proposal to exploit this custom in order to give family names in
places where they do not exist? Do readers consider it a legitimate procedure?
Harold Lewin - Jerusalem >>>

==Legitimate but not necessarily all that useful to us. You need this name
not just to establish a record for this ancestor, but to make a search
possible. I would use that path only where the patronymic eventually became the
family name. Thus, all my Wolff ancestors are listed as Wolff, even Baruch and
Meir who died before the surname lists.

==Of course, if one branch acquired a family name that was used before the
name lists (e.g., Wassertraeger, Holtzhacker, or Judenlehrer) and did not change
it, I would list that name >from its first occurrence.

==In my Bernet line, the Bernet name first appeared in the naming list for
JontefBer, who was born around 1750. I list all his descendants as Bernet,
unless/until they changed their names (e.g., Barnet[t] in the USA, or Bernert in

==My family, >from the village of Frensdorf near Bamberg (northern Bavaria)
took eightt different names for the naming list. I give each branch the name
they took, but I call their ancestors by the name of the earliest recorded,
Suesslein-Hirsch. True, Hirsch was a patronym but I use it to qualify Suesslein
to differentiate it >from all the subsequent descendants with the given name

==It looks like in every generation one of the branches became known by the
name of our village. To these branches I give the name Frensdorf or
Frensdorff, whichever they preferred to use. Of course, I had the option of
naming the entire family by the name of the village until they took official
names, but I prefer to keep all branches linked by the first known ancestor.

==It might be useful for search/reference purposes to use one "original" name
by which we could name the entire chain, with each branch then designated by
the adopted name. Does anyone have experience with this? Is this an option
with a specific software program?

Michael Bernet, New York

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