Sunday, November 8, 2009

SNGF - Comveldt?

Family oral history (is it still oral history if someone writes it down!?) tells that Michael Camfield came from Germany and his name was Anglicized:
TALES OF OUR ANCESTORS. By Cecil R Camfield, March 28, 1995

This tale starts with Michael Comveldt. (I am guessing at the spelling.) (One day Earl Camfield's wife had a salesman tell her that he came from Alsace-Lorraine and the name was common there.) Mike was born on the German side of Alsace-Lorraine in 1819. Eleven years later he was separated from his family on arrival in New York and bound out as an Indentured Servant to an upstate New York farmer. (The way my father told it, "He was separated from his family on Ellis Island when Mike was 11 and 'bound out'." I have since found out that Ellis Island, as an immigration station, did not exist in 1830. I think the family indentured themselves to pay their way. Anyway, Mike served seven years to pay his indenture.)

The next I know Mike is driving horses on the Tow Boats on the Erie Canal. Sarah Wisner liked to sit on the Canal bank, where it ran through her father's farm, and met Mike, two years her junior. Can you imagine the furor in the Wisner family when Sarah announced she was marrying that Mike Camfield (his Master had Anglicized his name) who couldn't speak passable English. I don't know when they married, but when Fred (my father, Mike and Sarah's grandson) lived with them, 1887 - 1896, he learned a lot of German because Mike's English was so broken.

This week for our Saturday Night when we get around to it fun, Randy at Genea-Musings has tasked us with finding the geographical distribution of our a surname. He suggests we use the World Name Profiler site. I have tried to use the site in the past to try and determine what exactly Mike's surname might have been with no success. But I figured, what the heck, maybe I'll hit on it this time. The site doesn't seem to allow wild cards so I typed in every variation of Comveldt that I could think of and for each and every spelling I tried I got, "We could not found an exact match for "COMVELDT". Please search again."

What I had not tried previously was to actually search for Camfield.

Lots of dark blue in the United Kingdom and exactly what I expected to find. But wait! There is a bit of beige there in France and Belgium.

A closer look at France and I find there are no Camfield's anywhere close to Germany.

I do have Mike's death certificate and on it his name is shown as Mikel Canfield. So I tried that and found:
Again the U.K. is shown in blue but there's a bit of beige there in Germany too!

A closer look shows that some of the beige is actually close to the border with France, near the region of Alsace Lorraine!

So was Mike's name actually changed from Canfield? Was the name changed at all? Was Mike really from Alsace Lorraine? He came to the US in the 1830's and Alsace Lorraine didn't come into being until 1871. On census records his place of birth is shown as Prussia or Germany. Am I any closer to an answer!? I don't know.

1 comment:

GrannyPam said...

My Long/Lang family are said to be from Alsace Lorraine, however, they answered "France" to their birthplace on earlier census returns. I believe the use of "Alsace Lorraine" came when the name of the place they came from changed. I have also found a family among my grandchildren's ancestors who said Bohemia, Bohemian-speaking on the 1920 census, and born Czechoslovakia, both parents born Czechoslovakia, language before immigration Czech, on the 1930 census. They simply adopted the commonly used name for their area of origin.