Saturday, December 29, 2012

What's in a name? Redux

I am now convinced that my Schipp family was originally named Sip in Poland. That the Michael Sip married to Elizabeth Jusczynska in 1872 are my great grandparents.

 I have found no documentation regarding the change in spelling but I have a theory.

The Polish pronunciation probably sounded like “ship” and therefore the Prussian authorities gave it a Germanic spelling. At that time, the area where they lived was in the province of Posen in the Kingdom of Prussia. All civil authority was Prussian and their goal was Germanification of the region that was once Poland.

It might be that civil birth records of their children would help verify my theory if they match first names and dates that I already have. Unfortunately, civil records don’t exist before 1874 and I’m still unsure of which LDS films would have the information I’m seeking for later births.  At $7.50 a pop, I cannot order films unless I’m pretty sure I’m on the right track so I’ll have to study my dates a little more.
The LDS film from the Grabow nad Prosna church baptism records corresponds with the dates I have for my grandmother, Stanislawa born in 1874, and her older sister, Rosalie born in 1872.  Along with a baptism record for my great great uncle Stanislaus, this has convinced me that these are my ancestors.

I think that I have also found my 3rd great grandfather Sip, but I’m still waiting for the film that should confirm that.

It’s exciting to finally find one of my ancestral villages.  With any luck I’ll continue to uncover details of my family history.

I’ll be grateful for any suggestions and/or comments as to how to confirm or refute my findings.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Unexpected Successes

The LDS films finally arrived and I've been able to spend a few hours with them.  I didn't find the marriage I was looking for but I did find items that I'd not expected to be there: Baptism records and other marriage records.  And I'm pretty sure that I've resolved the Schipp/Sip surname issue. A nice Christmas gift from some ancestors.

I'll elaborate when I have the info more organized.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Focus! Focus! Focus???

I’m bouncing off the walls.  My ex used to say that when I couldn’t focus, I bounced around like a fart in a bottle. That’s me just now.

Problem is that I don’t wait well, and I’m now waiting for LDS microfilms to arrive so that I can search for my great grandparents in Poland. Seems to take FOREVER.

So I though that I’d use this time to do some work on another line. Nope.  I’m just too distracted and cannot concentrate on anything other than my Polish quest.

Hurry up and get here, films!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

What's in a name?

Shakespeare’s Juliet asked Romeo that question.  It is also a question asked many times in a genealogy project.

Tracing ancestors back to European roots can involve many questions about names.  Emigration and Immigration officers often wrote down their interpretation of a name – and that became that person’s official name.  Many immigrants to the U.S. altered their spelling to make a name more comprehensible in America. Some translated a European name in it’s English counterpart – a Mroz family from Poland became a Frost family in the U.S. for example.  Others may have adopted an American/English name to try to avoid prejudice. And in current times, spelling may be altered by a transcriber's difficulty reading the handwriting on the original documents.

So, were my ancestors who carried the name Schipp in the U.S. the same people called Sip in Poland? If so, how and when did the name change? 

My maternal great grandparents, Michael and Elizabeth Schipp, came over separately. The appropriate arrival passenger lists show their name as Schipp. Michael is shown on the Hamburg departure passenger list as Schipp.

And I know they came from Posen, Prussia which once had been Poznan, Poland.  It is now, again, Poznan, Poland.  And Polish genealogists are very active in the Poznan area as they are in all of Poland.  The Poznan Project ( ) currently has an online database holding all marriages in Poznan (Posen) that took place during the 19th century.

My search of the Poznan Project began with a search for Michael Schipp’s marriage to Elizabeth. Zero results were returned. No male with that last name was married in Poznan between the years 1800 – 1899. Yet I know that is where they came from.

But there were plenty named Sip – including Michael Sip married to Elizabeth Jusczynska in 1872. The timing is in the right range and Elizabeth’s name is close enough to any other version I’ve encountered. I think they’re my ancestors but more research is needed.

The name/spelling change will probably always be a mystery but I have a pet theory. The Polish pronunciation of Sip may very well have sounded like “ship”. The Prussian goal was the Germanization of Poland. Schools were required to teach in German rather than Polish.  Germanic spelling replaced many Polish city and village names.  I suspect that Sip may have become Schipp according to the Prussians.  The Roman Catholic church, however, did it’s best to remain steadfastly Polish - recording names in their original Polish form.  I wonder if I’ll ever learn what really happened.

Is there a story behind your name?