Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Sorry, Grandma

Dave at OakvilleBlackWalnut noticed a request for volunteers to administer RootsWeb message boards for certain surnames.

The thing is, the surnames are apparently acceptable in the United Kingdom but potentially "dirty" in American English. The example offered was CRAPSTER.

I know it's juvenile, but I wish the whole list was posted. I don't think any of my surnames are as interesting.
Since I don't have the whole list either—and since I am irredeemably juvenile—I've made a list of my own: Assmann, Dinkhoff, Fuckens, Humplik, Shitler, and the ever-popular Buttafuoco.

The Fuckens board is a special case, and perhaps should be removed entirely. It has only two messages, both from Julie Baxter. The first asks for info on one Wilhelmina Fuckens who married Peter Kiistner. The second—posted two years later—is a retraction of sorts:
Finally, after several years being horrified at my great grandparents name, we got hold the written name. The German was difficult to discern - their name is Frickens. [Link]


ASSMANN is a German surname I've come across several times in St. Louis-area records, as well as church records in northern Nordrhein-Westfalen (not surprising since a lot of people here immigrated from that area). And I think my brother either works with or dealt with a customer/supplier by that name.

I once read that one immigrant with the name FUCHS went to court to have his name legally changed after hearing how Americans were pronouncing it and implying that it meant something other than FOX in German. Needless to say, I was amused by that anecdote since that name *does* appear in my family tree.

Regarding FUCKENS, this opens a huge can of worms. First, keep in mind that in some parts of Germany suffixes were added to the names of females in church records. "En" and "s" are two such suffixes I usually find. Had the original transcription been correct, well, do the math. :) Second, anyone researching the name FRICKEN(S) should probably also look for phonetic matches in American records. FRIGGEN(S) and FRIGGIN(S) could be possibilities. Finally, I do believe I've seen the name FUCKS in German church records. I'm a tightwad when it comes to printing collateral records or frivolous items -- waste of paper, file storage and a dime -- so I can't offer you a scan. I believe this name was found in either Bockhorst, Borgholzhausen or Halberstadt Lutheran/Evangelical records.


By the way, nice use of Ralphie.


Yeah, I couldn't find any Frickens, though there were a few Frickenschmidts and Frickensteins. Come to think of it, "Frickenschmidt" sounds kind of dirty too.

Anne McAllister

And then there is my very own BASTARD family back in 18th century Cornwall. Lots of them there.

Some English genealogist gives a talk called "Where have all the Bastards Gone?" because, as you might imagine, the name seems to be "dying out." In fact, it's apparently just been "orthographically modified."


To paraphrase Jesus, "The Bastards will always be with us."

Check out James Pylant's "Weaselhead, Devil and Drunkard: Surnames Originating As Insults" for other surnames "orthographically modified."


Chris, thanks for the great post. It is interesting also that there is only one post on the Schitz message board.

Now that family is an interesting study. They went from over 100 names in the 1880 U.S. Census, and strangely dropped off like flies, with 87 in 1900, down to 27 in 1930.
What do you think happened... some strange malady killing them off?

I suspect the name change bug. I think we may need to look under "Sheets" for some of them.



I wonder if there was ever a Schitz couple named Colin and Anise. Who lived with their little Baby Schitz in Flushing, N. Y.

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