Surname: Did he have one?

Started by Private User on Tuesday, May 17, 2011


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Private User
5/17/2011 at 5:34 AM

It is possible that Mendel lived prior to the general adoption of surnames. According to an old tree, Mendel & Rahel had 3 sons: Two were called PICK, and the third was Michael (or Mischl) who took the surname KORNFELD and had three wives.

5/18/2011 at 1:15 AM

Surnames for Jews in Bohemia became mandatory in about 1790. Until then, some families had no surname at all.

I added the last name "Kornfeld" because geni doesn't allow to add people without surnames. We may change to Chone's and Mendels surname to "<none>" or something like that.

no problem at all to add profiles without last-names. Just go into Edit Profile and delete the field. The TWO drawbacks to this that I am aware of, are
1) the "Go To" feature in the Tree view, which indexes by last name, will not list such people.
2) if you later merge with another profile that has some value in this field, that value will automatically be accepted (so you'll need to remove it again). This is only really an issue in lines that get merged OFTEN.

In the Biblical Tree we use the convention of using a period (.) as a "last name". This solves both of the above issues.

Shmuel-Aharon Kam,
Geni Curator

5/18/2011 at 6:55 AM

Interesting about when Jews (or anyone for that matter) adopted last names. According to the Simon Rosenbacher family history (which is by no means authoritative), Jews in Bohemia were "permitted" to take last names in the year 1813.

pretty much MOST "common-people" did NOT have Family-Names until Napoleon forced the issue to improve taxation. Other countries followed him, in a general west to east direction across Europe.

This was even more so with Jews, with regard to "official" records, as many countries considered us "non-people" who simply were not recorded, let alone have citizenship and rights. My grandmother, born 1922 in Romania, only received her citizenship after WWII.

Private User
5/19/2011 at 2:48 AM

In Bohemia, the critical date for adoption of surnames was 1788. The 1783 Jewish Bohemia census typically shows patronymic names, whereas the 1793 Bohemia Jewish census generally shows "inherited" surnames. The Familiantenbucher shows the surnames, and if you are lucky also the name that they used before adoption. As the books cover nearly 40 years of family changes (from around 1790 to the 1830s), there can be confusion when listing people who died before the general surname adoption in 1788.

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