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38225Re: [S-R] Ellis Island

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  • William C. Wormuth
    Aug 12 12:28 PM

      On Tuesday, August 12, 2014 2:42 PM, "Anabeth Dollins anabeth@... [SLOVAK-ROOTS]" <SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com> wrote:

      Kurt and Tim --

      Here's one of many articles explaining that names were NOT changed by immigration officials at Ellis Island: http://www.nypl.org/blog/2013/07/02/name-changes-ellis-island

      I have observed that there seem to be several reasons for name changes by family members. I'll use one of my family names as an example. The name was Plac~ko in Brezova pod Bradlom, pronounced PLACH-koh.

      - to force American speakers to pronounce a name the way it was spoken in Slovakia (US spelling: Plachko)

      - to spell the name the way Americans seem to want to pronounce it (US spelling: Placko; pronounced with short a and long o; sometimes pronounced with long a, despite American pronounciation rules about vowel followed by two consonants)

      - to translate an impossible-for-Americans-to pronounce name into an American equivalent (Belohlavek changed to Whitehead)

      - one part of the family gets mad at another and changes the spelling. My husband's list of ancestors includes people surnamed Dollins and Dollens.

      The Latin-Hungarian-Slovak (with a bit of Czech and German mixed in) spellings simply add to the fun of doing genealogy. Dorothea-Dora-Dorota, Elisabetha-Beta-Alzbeta, Stephen-Istvan-Stefan and those blasted Czech month-names (quick now: which month is Srpen? Listopad?) just make our lives more interesting.

      Anabeth Placko Dollins

      On Tue, Aug 12, 2014 at 2:12 PM, Kurt Misar kurtmisar@... [SLOVAK-ROOTS] <SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com> wrote:

      I can only attest to learning less than 4 weeks ago that our Americanized name MISAR was spelled MISZAR in Slovakia.

      It appears all 4 children of my great grandfather, who stayed in Slovakia, retained that spelling and all five children who moved to America took the new name. I conclude that this may have been an Ellis Island process, although not all five came over at the same time, but rather in two waves.

      My grandfather, then, was born in Valca' as a  MISZAR in 1888 and became MISAR upon emigrating via NYC to Chicago in 1901 at age 13.

      Unless evidence otherwise shows the US name was adopted in Slovakia, I assume the change is an American one - perhaps collectively chosen by the family.

      On a pronunciation note, our midwest family properly pronounces the name "Mee-sar."  My fatehr chose to acept the most common, west coast pronunciation, as "MY-sar."  This is minor evidence that sometimes the name change is made by the family and not the bureaucrats.

      Kurt Misar

      On 8/12/2014 10:35 AM, Timothy Kotsay marytimkot@... [SLOVAK-ROOTS] wrote:
      Surname spelling variations appear in my family as I found in the Church records for their Baptism and marriage, i.e.  Kocai, Koczai, etc.  and I wondered why.   As you will note it was changed in America (by the immigration official I presume) to Kotsay.

      I found a cousin living in Kosice who pronounced the different spellings and they do sound similar which explains to me the Americanized spelling.

      As for the “SZ” thing, I am interested in learning more about it.

      Thanks to all of you who have the answer.

      Timothy Kotsay

      On Aug 12, 2014, at 10:38 AM, Margo Smith margolane61@... [SLOVAK-ROOTS] <SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com> wrote:

      In my experience with Slovak church and tax records, the spelling of names reflected the language in which they were written:  Latin, Hungarian, Slovak.  The 1840s reflected a period in the Turiec Valley when Hungarian spelling was used more.  One way I sorted it out was via pronunciation -- a name could be spelled differently, but pronounced more or less the same, e.g. Mac (with diacritics), Matz, Macz.

      On Tuesday, August 12, 2014 11:13 AM, "Tom Kukuk takukuk@... [SLOVAK-ROOTS]" <SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com> wrote:

      Just based on the facts that you're researching Slovakian records makes you a detective like most of us.  Surname spelling variations happened from priest to priest, before America was even on their radar... Then it mattered what language was spoken... Magyar variations.  YIKES.

      We have some very talented people in this group that can speak to the "SZ" thing but believe it's more a matter of "pronunciation" that it might have become Americanized when they arrived here.

      Sent from my iPad

      On Aug 12, 2014, at 10:14 AM, "laura@... [SLOVAK-ROOTS]" <SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com> wrote:

      I've been going through baptismal and marriage records page by page over at familysearch. I'm noticing that there was a significant change in spelling around 1840s. Names in America may have been simplified ("Americanized") a bit by dropping a few letters here and there. Well, names after ~1840 look like they were CZified or simplified by dropping extra sz combos, leaving only the s. I don't know what shift caused this or what the base language may have been before that. I'm guessing that, at some point, people immigrated to Slovakia from somewhere else ;I think genetic testing suggests we are of Norwegian descent-blond/blue eyed). Anyway, it would be nearly impossible to expect a search engine to match up my ancestors that far back because of the difficult spellings. Heck, I feel like a detective looking at the records, trying to figure out what the name may have converted into. Any resources for understanding this? Thank you!

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