Thursday, March 26, 2009

Sticks and Stones

A few years back, when I was first getting excited about studying my family's history, I mistakenly asked German speaking folks to tell me how "they" pronounced my mother's maiden name.  I'm not sure how long it took me to realize that the only reliable pronunciation would have had to come from my grandfather, Albert Fuhrwerk, through my mother and her sister.  I did.  Now, I find it interesting that through the years census takers have attempted "phonetic" spellings of the family name.  That is one thing that can screw-up anyone's genealogy searches.

My Fuhrwerks left West Prussia shortly after the unification of Germany in 1871.  Through letters exchanged with Fuhrwerks still in Germany, I discovered that the name may be traced to Saxony.  One family informed me that an uncle was required to verify his lineage for the then Nazi Government in order to advance in the officer corps and that his search led to Saxony.  That was useful information.  Unfortunately, as with all things Bipolar, my interest in genealogy was sporadic and subject to my many moods and life-long habit of leaving projects incomplete.  I could probably spend more time in research since time is what I have an abundance of while living in paradise.

Anyway, I am still trying to figure out where my Kivel family originated.  The Fuhrwerks (pronounced- fur wick) are somewhat accounted for and the name seems to be becoming more rare in the United States.  That is, the correctly spelled name.

Now, imagine that you had been given the name Cockshott, Balls, or Death.  I'd be interested in changing it regardless of the love I had for any former Cockshotts.  Reuters has an interesting article about the decline of "odd" names.   And, they do decline.

A study found the number of people with the name Cock shrank to 785 last year from 3,211 in 1881, those called Balls fell to 1,299 from 2,904 and the number of Deaths were reduced to 605 from 1,133.

People named Smellie decreased by 70 percent, Dafts by 51 percent, Gotobeds by 42 percent, Shufflebottoms by 40 percent, and Cockshotts by 34 percent, said Richard Webber, visiting professor of geography at King's College, London.

"If you find the (absolute) number goes down, it's either because they changed their names or they emigrated," Webber, author of the study, told Reuters on Wednesday.

Now, about my first name...................... (the photo above is of a fuhrwerk)


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