Clever (But It Wouldn’t Work Today)

The most recent issue of the Ostfriesen “NeuesBlatt”, the quarterly newsletter of the Ostfriesen Heritage Society, Richard Behrens has an informative article titled “Adoption of Surnames.” He describes how the use of surnames came about in the Ostfriesen (Northwest)  area of Germany and why some particular names were chosen.

There was much resistance to altering this long tradition of patronymic names and the article relates how some of the resistant (and cunning) Ostfriesens coped: many of them bore the same name as their grandfather. So when the grandson was called to present himself for military service, the grandfather would report, accurately claiming that was his name. Of course, the older man was excused from being enlisted and the French, under the emperor Napoleon, were outwitted.

I have heard tales about the stubborn and obstinate character of the Ostfriesens (and probably inherited it as well), but this tale demonstrates they were immensely clever, too!


About maryjlohr

Avid genealogist.
This entry was posted in German Ancestry, Ostfriesen Ancestry and Culture. Bookmark the permalink.

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