Sometimes the Name is Changed

He was born, Fredrick Wilhelm Brisch in 1884 in Cantonberg, Rhine Province, Germany. By 1 Jun 1900 he had immigrated to the United States and was living in Phelps County, Missouri. 1920 Census records show he had immigrated at age 8, with his family in 1892. He was naturalized in 1893 . He had a brother, Wilhelm, born on 29 Oct 1895 in Missouri .


Fred grew up and married Amanda York on 1 Jan 1911. They lived and raised a family in southern Missouri. Sometime prior 12 September 1918 Fredrick Wilhelm had become Fred William Brisch, a farmer in Missouri.


When Fred died in 1973 he was buried in Lebanon, Laclede County, Missouri. His headstone reads Fred W. Brisch.


Some records indicate Fredrick Wilhelm Brisch and others show him as Fred W. Brisch. Still other records confuse him with his brother Wilhelm. (I found a marriage between Amanda York and Wilhelm Brisch. This Wilhelm was the younger brother born in 1895.) Most records identify him as Fred William or Fred W. Brisch.


Fredrick Wilhelm became Fred William. Yet, records confuse him with his younger brother Wilhelm. As noted above, sometimes folks don’t pay attention to dates and make erroneous assumptions.


Jacob Stilgenbauer was born in 1796, in Bavaria, Germany. He immigrated with his family in 1846 to New York. He and his family moved to Ohio and then on to Indiana. He died in 1865 in Bartholomew County, Indiana.


As his children grew and started their own families, worked in their own occupations, and moved to other locations, the Stilgenbauer name was changed. Among the children, the following names are found – Stilgenbauer, Stillgenbauer, Steelgenbauer, Stillabower and Stilabower.


My 2nd great-grandfather was named after Jacob. Jacob W. Stilabower was born in Ohio in 1853 and died in Linn County, Missouri in 1904.


With just these two examples – Fredrick Wilhelm Brisch and Jacob Stilgenbauer – it is easy to see that names (most often surnames) change as we uncover generations of our ancestors.


Too often, beginning family historians or genealogists get “hung-up” on a particular spelling of their surname. They forget or don’t realize spelling in the United States, especially prior to 1900, was not standardized at all. Often our ancestors spelled words by the way they heard them. As folks moved across the country, they experienced unique dialects and this influenced name changes.


As you research your family you may also find relatives who changed their names.
Everyone wins when we can provide proof of our family, their names and life events.

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