Before Christmas I gave a webinar to a genealogical group in the United States. I was forwarded a question, but noted some weeks later that the email was without the address of the genealogist. I therefore through I would reply, via this site, replacing the name with the initials of the originator. Any questions can be found under the Q & A category.
I have a 2X great-grandfather that came to the US. First record I have of him is Feb 1880 when he marries my 2X great-grandmother. His Americanized name was Frank Hunt. He lists his place of birth as Württemberg, Germany and that he is 24. He lists his parents as Anton and Anna Hunt. On the 1880 census, he states his parents were born in Germany. I do I even begin to figure out what his given name was or any other information?Any tips would be greatly appreciated.S.S
There can be a variety of reasons why a migrant might change their name. What I am going to do here, is to provide a few things that might be worth considering or exploring.
In the first instance, I would go back to the original census you have located him on, which is 1880 and the marriage to your great great Grandmother and see if he signed his name – essentially could he read and write? Those that could not were not in a position to see if their name was spelt incorrectly or not, so the name could have been changed over time.
The other initial focal point would be to have a look into the place he was from, in this case, Württemberg, Germany. Look on a map to see exactly where this is. What was Germany in 1880 might not be Germany now, and was perhaps part of the wider empire. The other thing to consider is what was the occupation given as? Very often migrants settle where there are others, people they knew or knew via others, or those from the same place or working the same job or sharing the same religion.
See if you can locate a naturalisation record. The chances are he was naturalised under his “Americanised” name (if he Naturalised), but the other information might provide clues to his origins. I would also do a wide search online for the name he assumed, or even the place he was from. At the time of the First World War, he would have been in his 50’s but he might have had children who would have been seen as enemy aliens, in which case, if the father or descendants were interned, it might provide a clue in the records.
The German Genealogy Group have a very interesting website, whilst you do not say where the family were at the time of the marriage or census, the indexes and material of the group might be worth exploring.
I hope this helps and if you are the researcher who asked this question, please do contact me.