Saturday, March 4, 2017

What's the Most Unusual Name on Your Family Tree?

The only Hedwig my American ears have ever heard of was Harry Potter's owl. I thought the owl was a male. Imagine my surprise when I discovered my 4th great grandmother's name was Hedwig!

Snowy Owl photo by Michael Gäbler, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://
commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22773653
I did research the name online and discovered it is a feminine name. And, Harry Potter's owl was a female, though she was played by a male in the show. Evidently, Snowy Owl males are smaller and whiter and they decided they liked the look better.

My American ears have trouble with Hedwig's surname, too: Borgward. And, when I put her name together—Hedwig Borgward—it has to be the most unusual name on my tree. Although, again, I'm sure it is because my American upbringing!

On November 14th, 1814 in Behren u Lübchin, Mecklenburg in present day Germany, Hedwig Borgward, who was 29 years old, married Jacob Eckhard Peters, who was 28. They had at least three children including Joachim Carl Otto Peters, my 3rd great grandfather, who was born on June 27th, 1815.

6 comments:

  1. Did Hedwig get passed down in the family or was she the only Hedwig that you know of in the tree?

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    1. Good question! So far, I've only been able to follow my direct line, and there's no Hedwig. But maybe one of the other lines continued the name.

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  2. The strangest name in my tree would have to be my 3rd great grandmother's last name. Her name was Maria Death! Death-it just sounds creepy for a last name. I haven't been able to ascertain exactly who her parents are, but her father was an Edward. A few ideas of the last name origin- it could mean the family was from a Belgian villiage name Ath (De'Ath). Or it could be an Middle English occupational last name to mean collector of firewood and/or kindling.

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    1. Wow, Raul! That is an unusual, and kinda creepy, last name. I hope you are able to find her parents and track down the origin of her surname.

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  3. I'm not sure I have anything as strange as Hedwig or Death but my grandmother's last name was Gunzendorfer. It's always the first name I use when trying out some new site. I've learned that there were only two Gunzendorfer families in the U.S. - mine in California and another family in New York. I'm about 95% the two families "belong" to each other but just haven't been able to prove it.

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    1. My Kaechle family is similar to your Gunzendorfer. I also try it on new sites and have found only a few people with that surname that are not known relatives.

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