Surname Saturday – Hablawetz

William Hablawetz and his
daughter, Mary
(date unknown)

Not very long ago, I would have told you that the Hablawetz surname is my biggest brick wall (yes, the surname as a whole, not just one person) because I just couldn’t seem to find a lot of information on the family.  Now…now researching this surname has become a bit more like playing hide and seek.

Surname: Hablawetz

Variations:  Hobawentz (1860 Census), Heblewaits (1870 Census), Hablawitz, Hablerwitz (possible immigration records), Hoblewetz

Origins:  The family appears to have originated in Austria or Germany, and first settled in the United States in Plymouth Township in Richland County, Ohio.  From there, my line of the family moved to Wilmington Township in DeKalb County, Indiana.  I have been able to trace some of the family up to Michigan and it appears that there were other lines of the family that moved further west, but I have not been able to make a definite connection between those lines and mine.

Notable Facts:  My great great grandfather, Anton Hablawetz, built one of the many one room school houses that served DeKalb County through the late 1800s and into the 1900s.  It stood until the 1990s.

Challenge:  As you can see from the variations in the surname, my biggest challenge with this family has been to find the variations of the name!  Once I began to realize that there were so many odd variations on the name, I started finding little trails to follow, but I still have not jumped that hurdle of finding any definitive immigration information for the family.


Surname Saturday – Paessler

Herman Julius Paessler – date unknown

The Paessler family name is one of my “primary” surnames that I actually know the least about.  My great grandmother, Clara Augusta Paessler, was the daughter of Herman Julius Paessler and the entire family came to the United States sometime prior to Clara’s birth.  I have yet to find any immigration records short of one possible note on a passenger log that matches Clara’s mother, Theresa, as far as birthdate and a possible misspelling of the surname (Passler vs. Paessler).  Beyond that, this is one of my genealogical brick walls…and probably the one that I am most enthusiastic about breaking down.

Surname: Paessler

Variations: Not many known to date… Passler, Paesler and Pasler are the possibilities I have seen so far.

Origins:  I have confirmed that my great great grandfather, Herman Julius Paessler, was born in 1839 in Altenburg, Saxony Germany near the Czech border.  Beyond that, I have not been able to trace the name back any further.  The only records I can find of the family up to this point, are of them living in Wyandot county in Ohio, so at this point, I am working under the assumption that this was where they first immigrated to.

Challenges:  The Paessler surname will be the one that most likely is my first “international” research effort since it is one of two that are the closest to me as far as immigration into the United States.

Surname Saturday – Washler

For my first “Surname Saturday” post, I thought I would start off with the surname that started me on my quest…

Surname:  Washler

Variations: The Washler name actually has just a few variations, but the root of all of the variations is the original German: Wuerschler.  The other German variation that I have found is Wörschler.  From the originals, the variations that have developed are Washler, Warshler, Wastler and most prevalent – Warstler.

Origin: The furthest back that I have traced the name is to Johann Andreas Wuerschler (1620-1665) in Germany.  Much of the information that I have from the German roots is sketchy right now, but the name came over to American around 1752 with Johann Heinrich Wörschler.  The name first appears in Ohio in the Stark County around Canton.

From Stark County, the Wörschler/Washler/Warstler family has spread to several counties in Ohio and Indiana.

Surname Saturday – Nicholls (A path to royalty?)

This Saturday, I’m highlighting one of the family Surnames that I know the least about so far, yet it has the possibility to be one of my more interesting roots – if I ever get there.

Surname: Nicholls

Variations:  Really the only variation that I have found so far is Nichols, though I imagine that I am going to find more before this hunt is over.

Origins:  As I said earlier, this surname is the one in my family that I seem to know the least about.  I have traced it back as far as my 3rd great Grandfather, John B. Nicholls (1791-1858).  Having said that, I don’t have enough evidence to say I have a definitive connection to John Nicholls.  Assuming that connection proves to be solid, the family appears to have started out in Maryland in the United States.  From there, they migrated west through Virginia and Ohio and finally settling in Indiana (at least my branch of the family).  The family “legend” says that the family came possibly from Great Britain, but as I said, that is purely “legend” at this point.

Legend to be chased:  The most interesting family “legend” that I have found so far relates to the Nicholls family.  According to one of my Aunts, somewhere back in the line of my Great Grandmother, Nettie Nicholls, the family line can be traced back to royalty.  The story says that somewhere back through the roots of the Nicholls family, we are related to Mary Stewart, also known as Mary, Queen of Scots.  I have no doubt that once I begin following that line, it should be easy enough to prove or disprove a connection to such a prominent line.  Only time will tell!

Surname Saturday – Farver

Ah, it’s Surname Saturday again!  I know you’re probably thinking, “Why on earth is this guy excited about something called Surname Saturday??”  Well, for me, this topic gives me a chance to go back and look at the surnames that I am researching and look at how deeply I have dug out these roots and where the roots lead me.

This week, I decided to check out one of my families that I have been able to trace back to when they first came to America – the Farvers.

Surname –  Farver

Variations –  To date, I’ve only found a couple of variations on the Farver surname in my family.  The variations are Farber and Faber.  Faber seems to be the most prominent and appears to be the variation that was in use when the family came to America in the 1700s.

Origin – To date, I’ve not been able to conclusively trace the origin of the Farver family name.  The furthest back that I have been able to conclusively trace the Farver name is to Valentine Faber, Sr. and his sons who all came to America in 1767 on the ship Minerva.  After being naturalized in Philadelphia, my 4th Great Grandfather, Jacob, moved to Maryland.  From there, over the next couple of generations, my line of the family moved to Ohio and then on to Indiana.

Notable Family Facts – The one notable fact in the family lineage that I have found to date is that my Great Great Grandfather, Isaac, served as a Private in the 35th Indiana Infantry Regiment of the Union Army during the American Civil War.

Immigration, Migration and Name Changes

When I first started my genealogy digging, I thought that the greatest challenge I was facing was the fires that seemed to ravage so many Midwest courthouses in the late 1800s and early 20th century.  It seemed at every turn, I was being told, “Those records were destroyed in the fire of…”

Lately, the courthouse fires seem to be at best a minor challenge compared to the daunting challenge thrown up by having so many German and Austrian ancestors whose names were changed, misspelled or somehow morphed.  I have seen lineage lines seemingly disappear into the mists of time all because of name changes that happened during their immigration to the U.S. or even during their migration from state to state.

One of the strangest ones so far is the Hill line.  I have been able to successfully follow the line back to my Great Great Grandfather, Samuel P. Hill, and then the line just vanishes!  For the first few generations, I have census records, birth and marriage records – all of those little nuggets of proof that genealogists love!  When I reach Samuel Hill, it’s as if he just fell out of the sky one day!  My suspicion is that this disappearance is all due to a name change.  One of the family “legends” is that when the Hill family came over from Germany, their surname was dramatically different than “Hill.”  All my mother was ever able to remember was that it was something like “Hillfinker” or “Hillfiger.”  So now, my challenge is to find the mysterious original surname.

Another wonderful example of this has been the Washler line of my ancestry.  This one, thankfully, has been MUCH easier to follow through its many iterations.  The original surname, as it came from Germany, was Wörschler.  From that good German name, it has taken many twists and turns…Warstler, Wastler, Warshler and Washler.  While many of the changes have been generational or regional (the name changed as the family migrated), the most interesting instance of this change that I have found all happened within one generation and all in the same county.  My Great Great Grandfather, John Warshler, moved to DeKalb County sometime between 1860 and 1870.  When he arrived here, all records point to him using the surname of “Warshler.”  His sons, however, did not stick to that apparent family name!  My Great Grandfather, Curtis, is listed in almost every public record as “Washler” but his siblings seem to be divided between “Warshler” and more predominantly, “Warstler.”

The lesson learned from all of this…I have had to learn to think “outside” the name box and think of and look for more creative spellings and variations of each and every surname.  In some cases, the creative thinking has paid off, and in others, I seem to have to just keep digging further!