Re: "His name was changed at Ellis Island" #names


karen.silver@juno.com
 

Yes, parents and grandparents lied to their children and grandchildren for a great many reasons.  My grandmother who came in 1904 told me she was born in Kiev, that they had their own house and their own cow.  And believe me she left a lot out of that story!  Many who came as children themselves had no idea what names were used on the manifests or back home.  They had no birth certificates.  Those who came before 1907 did not have to prove what ship they arrived on or what name was used.  Acquaintences and family vouched for them on naturalization papers.  Women who gained their citizenship through marriage never needed to know any of this either.  One of my great grandmothers even lied about the ages of her twin sons on the manifest so as not to arouse suspicion about the smallness of one of them with the Ellis Island inspectors.  Spellings of names on different documents also varied due to the transliteration from the Yiddish  to Russian to Polish to English alphabets and gradual evolution of spelling and some of those variations did not follow Soundex patterns.  Using "my name was changed at Ellis Island" was an easy excuse that cut off a great many uncomfortable conversations. 

Each and every family has a different story and in my 23 years of doing this I can tell you that part of the joy of genealogy is the search for the truth.  Sometimes the truth is good and sometimes it is awful, but in the end it is just the truth.  Our ancestors were complicated people who did their best to thrive in America and yes, they did lie!

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