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down’s syndrome # 2
Posted: 18 October 2007 04:14 AM   [ Ignore ]
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I for one am not so very interested in apostrophe or not.

I understand that a Doctor with the name Down was the first to classify the condition that has now his name as its identifier.  But in addition, I have been told that an employee at Ellis Island whose name was Down would label many children arriving with “illness” as having Down disease, thus naming it for himself and that his co-workers aided and abetted this mischief.

Any reality to this story at all?

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Posted: 18 October 2007 06:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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The Ellis Island story is complete bunk. Workers at Ellis Island did not label people. And Dr. Down characterized the disease some 30 years before Ellis Island opened its doors.

But it’s an interesting twist on the standard story of Ellis Island workers changing the names of immigrants (which did not happen either).

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Posted: 18 October 2007 08:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Dave Wilton - 18 October 2007 06:06 AM

But it’s an interesting twist on the standard story of Ellis Island workers changing the names of immigrants (which did not happen either).

But did they change the spelling?  I had always thought (based on zero research, admittedly) that names like “Marcum” and Mitchum” had originally been spelt “Markham” and “Mitcham”, but their bearers arrived in the US illiterate.

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Posted: 18 October 2007 10:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Yes, Dave, could you elaborate on that a little? I know that the idea that they changed names deliberatly is a myth, but weren’t many names simply taken down wrong at times, like ‘Schoenmaker’ becoming ‘Shoonmaker’?

Like bayard, I’m all ‘rumour has it...’
(the scene from ‘the Godfather’ comes to mind, where Vito Corleone got his name)

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Posted: 18 October 2007 11:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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bayard - 18 October 2007 08:32 AM

But did they change the spelling?  I had always thought (based on zero research, admittedly) that names like “Marcum” and Mitchum” had originally been spelt “Markham” and “Mitcham”, but their bearers arrived in the US illiterate.

genealogy.com -

In reality, it is highly unlikely that this happened. The Immigration and Naturalization Service has a good article on immigrant name changes that explains why this wonderful story is a myth: the clerks at Ellis Island didn’t write down names. They worked from lists that were created by the shipping companies. What usually happened was the emigrant bought a ticket from an office near his home. So, the seller probably spoke the same language and transcribed the name correctly. In cases where the name was recorded incorrectly, it likely occurred in the old country, not at Ellis Island.

The link that Genealogy dot com has for the INS didn’t work for me, but that doesn’t mean that the INS doesn’t have such an artcle.

Another good article is here.

edit: The INS has changed its name to USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) and completely restructured their website.

[ Edited: 18 October 2007 01:48 PM by Oecolampadius ]
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Posted: 19 October 2007 02:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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It’s not unusual for surname spellings to be on the random side from the early 20th century and before. Family research on members of my family with Sherbourn (contemporary spelling) as their surname has revealed several variations including Shirbun from the mid/late 19th century - which is actually the best phonetic rendering of the way my rural Oxfordshire family actually pronounced it. Even today it acquires an ‘e’ or loses the ‘u’ when different people write it down.

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Posted: 19 October 2007 06:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Yes, Dave, could you elaborate on that a little? I know that the idea that they changed names deliberatly is a myth, but weren’t many names simply taken down wrong at times, like ‘Schoenmaker’ becoming ‘Shoonmaker’?

The officials at Ellis Island did not take down names at all. They worked off of ships’ passenger manifests. Incorrect spellings in the immigration records are usually the result of errors in the manifests, not the result of officials changing the names.

And if a name did appear incorrectly in the records, it would be of no matter to immigrant. No identification cards were issued (Ellis Island predates “green cards."). Once off Ellis Island, the immigrant was free to use whatever name or spelling they chose to. The only person it would matter to would be the genealogical researcher decades later.

Almost all name changes at “Ellis Island” were the choice of the immigrant, who wanted to assimilate faster or later on when they did acquire official records or documents. My paternal great-grandfather, for example, changed his name from Johannes Johansson to John Wilton when he immigrated because he thought it was more “American.” My maternal grandfather (who was second-generation American) changed his name when he went to medical school because there were two Robert McKenzies in his class--he became Robert MacKenzie so they could be differentiated in the school records. He retained the spelling because that’s what his diploma said.

There’s a fuller explanation in Word Myths.

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Posted: 19 October 2007 07:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Thanks for clearing that up. So it’s quite likley that Mr. Schoenmaker decided himself to “americanize” his name to ‘Shoonmaker’.

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Posted: 19 October 2007 01:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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That’s odd, though, because Schoenmaker is pronounced Skhoon- and usually becomes Schoonmaker or the like (pronounced Skoon-).  Why would somebody choose a version (Sh-) that guaranteed the wrong pronunciation?

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Posted: 19 October 2007 04:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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languagehat - 19 October 2007 01:15 PM

That’s odd, though, because Schoenmaker is pronounced Skhoon- and usually becomes Schoonmaker or the like (pronounced Skoon-).  Why would somebody choose a version (Sh-) that guaranteed the wrong pronunciation?

If you spell it sch-, people are going to say sh-. The schottische is the skotick and not the shotish?
And isn’t oe more like ur? and wouldn’t maker be mocker? Scurnmocker?

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Posted: 20 October 2007 11:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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If you spell it sch-, people are going to say sh-.

Not if they know how it’s pronounced.  As you know, a great deal of English spelling/pronunciation is unpredictable.  Schoonmaker is not that uncommon a name.

The schottische is the skotick and not the shotish?

No, because it’s from German, not Dutch.

And isn’t oe more like ur? and wouldn’t maker be mocker? Scurnmocker?

Again, you’re thinking of German.  In Dutch, oe = English oo.

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Posted: 20 October 2007 12:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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’If you spell it sch-, people are going to say sh-.’

Scheme. Schism, at least as most people pronounce it. Schedule, in the American pronunciation. And I take it you went to school.

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Posted: 21 October 2007 10:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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LH has a point there. I think the Schoenmakers had to take a decission, because there are quite a number of Schoonmakers as well in the USA. Actually they outnumber the Shoonmakers by far.

When they wanted to avoid the hard Sk- sound, they will have favoured the Sh- spelling (and pronunciation), I guess.

-maker is pronounced somewhat like ‘mahker’.

[ Edited: 21 October 2007 10:13 AM by Dutchtoo ]
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Posted: 21 October 2007 12:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Schnieder Schroedinger Schroeder ... SH SH SH I can’t think of a Proper name where sch is pronounce sk.

People are changing the spelling so that Americans who don’t know foreign languages will pronounce it correctly, then you insist that we must obviously know the difference between Dutch and Deutche.  I don’t follow this logic.

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Posted: 21 October 2007 02:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Not person’s names, but, Schenectady and Schuylkill, pronounced skih-NECK-tuh-dee and SKOO-kl, respectively.

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Posted: 22 October 2007 07:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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And if I know the difference between German and Dutch, I probably also know that school, scheme, schism, and schedule are from Greek.

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