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About This Page

All genealogy seems to be a work in progress, and this page is no exception. We are listing here links that we have found to be useful in our research. We leave the task of compiling comprehensive lists to others, and simply provide links to the fruits of their labors.

 

German Names

Many of our ancestors were Pennsylvania Dutch, a term that itself demonstrates a problem of Germans living in an English-speaking land. The Anglophones, upon seeing the German word for German, "Deutsch" (properly pronounced doitch), misinterpreted it as "Dutch." The Pennsylvania Dutch aren't Dutch at all, but of German extraction.

English-speaking officials don't deserve all the blame for changing the spelling of immigrants' names, either. As we look back to the spelling of the surnames of our old-world ancestors, we observe that changes from generation to generation are common. We ask how the person spelled his own name. But let's not forget that universal literacy is a recent phenomenon. In an agrarian society there was often time for school only when there was no work to be done in the fields. So the answer to how the person spelled his own name may frequently have been "X." What we see is often how the parson wrote the name in a baptismal record based on how it was pronounced by a parent.

We have observed mutations of our ancestors' names and have a few to share:

bulletBachman -> Baughmann (pronounced "buffman") -> Buffum
bulletHinterleitner -> Hinterleiter -> Hinderliter
bulletHochwarter -> Howerter -> Howarter
bulletLangenbach -> Longabaugh

We obtained the following information about the LANGENBACH surname on the Web, but sadly have lost the source:

 

The original spelling for this family name was LANGENBACH. Early 18th century maps of Germany show a number of towns named Langenbach in the Rhineland region. The people from these towns were known as Langenbacher's. The Geman dictionary shows lang as meaning long or tall, and Bach as meaning stream or brook.

Early recorded documents in America use the spelling LANGENBACH, or a slight variation: LANG a BACH or LANG e BACH. This includes ship arrival documents, and early Pennsylvania church and civil records, such as George Paul LANGENBACH (1753) and John Jost LANGEBACH (1772). Michael's surname appeared as LANGENBACH in the early church and county records obtained at the Easton City Library, Easton, PA.

Over time, several variations of the spelling have come into common use by some family lines. LONGenbach is common in the Bethlehem, Pennsylvania area, with a Longenbach-Billheimer reunion held there annually since the early 1920's. Other common forms now include LangenBAUGH, LONGenBAUGH, LONGABAUGH, etc. Some family branches (including the Jacob Tilman line) have maintained the "original" spelling, LANGENBACH.

 

There is useful information about German names at the Berks County Registry of Wills web site, including a list of Anglicized German names. The author points out that among the Pennsylvania Dutch the letters "p" and "b," "t" and "d," and "k" and "g" were sometimes used interchangeably. Also worthy of note is the frequent appearance of the name Johann as the first name even though the individual was never referred to by that appellation.

A very useful source of information regarding German naming conventions is Charles Kerchner's 18th Century PA German Naming Customs. Also note the links at the bottom of this page. Mr. Kerchner has a more extensive page about his surname. It contains additional interesting links, with personal links at the top and general links at the bottom.

 

Longswamp Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania

Several of our ancestors settled in eastern Pennsylvania, particularly in Longswamp Township, Berks County, near the town of Mertztown. Following are links that may be of interest to others researching this area:

bulletBerks County Registry of Wills
bulletDonna's Berks County Genealogy Page Note the wonderful Amish buggy graphic.

 

Interlinking Families

The following genealogy sites include individual in our family tree or include information that we have found particularly relevant in our research:

 
bulletThe Henshaw, Riggenbach, Thomson, Treece, and Tuin Families Susan's Cherry ancestors.
bulletGreg Price's Genealogy Web Site Jan's Howerter ancesters.
bulletThe Hinderliter/Playford Home Page Jan's Hinderliter relatives.
bulletThe Marilyn Miller Home Page Extensive Fulton County, Illinois listings.

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Last modified: March 11, 2009