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Old 03-29-2013, 04:51 PM
 
5,368 posts, read 4,866,204 times
Reputation: 3302

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Okay. So whats the deal with this website? When doing my family history (or spying on other people's), I love to research the origin of surnames (which countries the surnames come from).

This website is wrong or is straight up lying on so many occasions!!

I will use my own examples.

On my father's side, my g-g-grandfather (direct paternal line), is from Germany. As far as I know (I don't speak to my father and do not even bear his surname. My sister fills me in on the family history details), the name did not undergo any anglicizing. There are two ways to spell his last name. One way is spelled with the starting letter being a K and the othe way is spelled with a starting letter of C. The rest of the name is completely identical. The surname is 'Krist'

Well, my father has the version spelled with a K. Putting the name into houseofnames.com gives an English origin. Spelling it with a C gives it a german origin. This is totally wrong. Firstly, I know from family that the name came from a recent ancestor from Germany. Secondly, the wikipedia article on the name 'Krist' lists several people who lived in America, Austria, and Czech Republic. The name 'Crist' on the other hand lists several Americans of unknown ancestry.

Now, onto mom's side! My g-g-grandfather on mom's side was from Austria. I am extremely close to this side of the family and know the geneaology extensively due to my countless hours researching and asking distant relatives for information.

The last name of this ancestor is also listed as English on the houseofnames website! Firstly, from grandma's account, her grandfather was from Austria, and her mother was even conversiant in German from him teaching her. I have the man's immigration records right here in my ancestry file along with several census records stating that he was born in Austria. And, to add to it, if you scroll down this website to the most common names in Austria........

List of the most common surnames in Europe - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

My g-g-grandfather's name is SO similar to almost all names on the list. This ancestor of mine had the surname 'Bodner'. (Sorry g-g-grandpa. I revealed your name. lol).

I know the Germans and English tend to have very similar surnames (often, it is only a single letter that seperates them), but I think it is just wrong of the website to advertise something that is just not true. It can also confuse others about their ancestry!

Now! The website isn't ALWAYS wrong! For instance. On dad's side, I have a g-grandfather from Germany who had a very German name. Houseofnames correctly recognizes this one as being German. Also, on mom's side, my mom's dad's mom had a very German name and houseofnames correctly identifies this name as being of German origin (though this line of German ancestors came to America much earlier, after the 1848 revolutions).

I proudly have my mother's surname, which is of English origin. It is in fact one of the Norman names that has a beautiful French twist to it. But when I tell my kids not to forget their German roots I don't want them googling our ancestors last names and getting false leads!

Has anyone else noticed that houseofnames crossmaps surnames to incorrect countries?
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Old 03-29-2013, 05:45 PM
 
Location: Pacific NW
6,415 posts, read 10,035,247 times
Reputation: 5779
The problem is not just with the website, but with what you're even trying to do.

You cannot do research on a surname, because they simply are not things that are set in stone. There is no such thing as "this spelling" or "that spelling" indicating where they're from. Names are fluid things. They changed spelling all the time, based on who it was that was writing it down.

So how can any website give you the answer about the origins of a name? They're just there to take the money from unsuspecting people who don't really know a lot about genealogy.
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Old 03-29-2013, 06:44 PM
 
11,427 posts, read 19,438,504 times
Reputation: 18124
Actually -- they don't care about your name, they only care about selling you stuff with family crests they've made up.
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Old 03-29-2013, 06:53 PM
 
Location: Little Rock AR USA
2,457 posts, read 6,088,918 times
Reputation: 1863
You are so right Enrico. Through the ages my surname has been spelled five different ways and even here in "The States" there are two spellings, but the genealogical linkage in firm; we all are of the same family.
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Old 03-29-2013, 07:03 PM
 
Location: Little Rock AR USA
2,457 posts, read 6,088,918 times
Reputation: 1863
Oh, another thing; I just went back to look and they have a beautiful Coat-of-Arms/Crest for our surname. One minor problem; We have never been awarded one but I have found four different ones on different Websites.
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Old 04-02-2013, 03:56 PM
 
5 posts, read 8,768 times
Reputation: 15
enrico you are right
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Old 04-05-2013, 11:50 AM
 
Location: Colorado (PA at heart)
8,216 posts, read 12,805,062 times
Reputation: 10446
I use Last Name Meanings and Origins | Search Surnames at Ancestry.com for name meanings. Enrico is right that name spellings are not set in stone but I like to include name origins in my written family history and Ancestry.com's name meaning look up is pretty good.
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Old 04-05-2013, 11:55 AM
 
Location: Colorado (PA at heart)
8,216 posts, read 12,805,062 times
Reputation: 10446
Quote:
Originally Posted by ArkansasSlim View Post
Oh, another thing; I just went back to look and they have a beautiful Coat-of-Arms/Crest for our surname. One minor problem; We have never been awarded one but I have found four different ones on different Websites.
Most names never had a coat of arms, they were typically only given to nobility. In fact, in some cultures a coat of arms was specific to an individual, not the surname.
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