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Laws to change names

“Oh,” so many people say, “there’s nothing to be found in those old law books that’s worth the effort of finding them.”

“Oh,” The Legal Genealogist hears time and again, “there’s really not going to be any genealogical information in legislative records.”

Oh, of course not…1 Nobody would ever be genealogically interested in the act passed by the Wisconsin State Legislature on the 6th of March in the year 1856.

It had but one section, and it read in its entirety:

That John S. Folds, commonly known as John S. Langrishe, shall hereafter be known in law, and called by the name of John S. F. Langrishe.2

names1That was just one of the statutes to similar effect that The Legal Genealogist came across last night, poking around in older Wisconsin laws in preparation for this weekend’s Gene-A-Rama 2016 of the Wisconsin State Genealogical Society.

On March 1st, the Legislature provided that “the name of Artemus Ewell George shall hereafter be Ewell George Munn, by which name the said person shall be called and known, to all legal intents and purposes.”3 And, that law went on, the child was to be the child and heir-at-law of Romanzo J. Munn and Louisa S. Munn, his wife.4

On March 7th, the Legislature passed a law that “The name of Mrs. Eliza Lucy Allison, of the town of Linn, in the county of Walworth, is hereby changed to Eliza Lucy Van Orden, and the name of James Henry Allison, her infant son, is hereby changed to James Henry Van Orden…”5

That same day, the name of James Thomas Jones, son of Hannah Jones, deceased, was changed to James Thomas Parkinson, and he was made the child and heir-at-law of Daniel M. and Mary F. Parkinson of La Fayette County.6

On March 20th, William Ramminger of Sheboygan became William Reichel.7

On March 22nd, “The name of Harriet Cowles of the town of Baraboo, in the county of Sauk, is hereby changed to Harriet Chapman, and the name of her infant daughter, Mary Emma Virginia Cowles, is hereby changed to Mary Emma Virginia Chapman…”8

On March 27th, John Dress became John Hubing, and the adopted son and heir of Nicholas and Margaret Hubing of Belgium in Ozaukee County.9

That next day, Ella P. Ward became Ella P. Ward Morris and the adopted daughter of Richard L. and Susan A. Morris of Fond du Lac,10 and Salena Richardson became Salena Wilson and the adopted daughter and heir-at-law of Charles and Elizabeth Wilson of Black Earth.11

Shall I do on? I can… In just this one volume, on just that one day — the 28th of March 1856 — the Legislature passed bills whereby:

• Adolphina Frantz of Grafton, in Ozaukee County, became Adolphina Frantz Downs.12

• Eva Viola Keene, daughter of the late Ephriam Keene, became Eva Viola Gill and the child and heir-at-law of Bolivar G. and Sarah S. Gill of Ozaukee County.13

• Elizabeth Van Antwerpen, daughter of Lovina Austin, became Sally Elizabeth Smith and the child and heir-at-law of Benjamin A. and Sally Smith.14

• Adam Jopst became Adam Jefferson.15

• Frank Edward Sherman became Frank Edward Bontello and the heir-at-law of Robert and Mary Bontello.16

• Emanuel Slade of Eagle in Waukesha County became William E. Slade.17

• Fred Elias Webster became Fred Elias Teetshorn and the adopted son and heir-at-law of Horatio N. Teetshorn and wife of Walworth County.18

• The name of Henriette Selsemeier, daughter of Charles Selsemeier and Fredericka Kirchbeck, formerly Selsemeier, was changed to Henriette Kirchbeck and she became the adopted daughter and heir-at-law of Wilhelm and Fredericka Kirchbeck of Herman.19

• George R. Rockwell and Martha H. Percel became George R. Nulph and Martha H. Nulph, the adopted children and heirs-at-law of Moses Nulph and wife of New Buffalo.20

• Frederick Delmot Gregory became Frederick Johnson.21

• Isabella Mary Maynard became Isabella Mary Rollin, and the heir-at-law of Thomas H. Rollin.22

• Philipp Albert became Philipp Hess, and the heir-at-law of John Hess.23

• Frederick Perry became Frederick Judivine.24

• Joseph Prinney became Joseph Johnson.25

• The entire Lewy family changed its named from Lewy to Louis: Jacob, his wife Rosa and their children Mathilda, William and Clara all went from being Lewy to Louis..26

•And three Hoffmans turned into Beckers: Frederick Joseph Hoffman, Matthew John Hoffman and Christine Leonore Hoffman of Milwaukee all changed their surname to Becker.27

• George Smith became George W. Smith, and the heir-at-law of Adam and Harriett Smith of Farmington.28

• Ella Olivia Hawes became Ella Hoffman, and the heir-at-law of Gilbert and Esther Hoffman of Whitewater.29

“Oh, but there’s nothing to be found in those old law books that’s worth the effort of finding them.”

“Oh, but there’s really not going to be any genealogical information in legislative records.”

Oh, of course not…

Unless your ancestor Joseph Prinney disappeared from the records in 1856…


SOURCES

  1. Yes. Yes, indeed. Tongue firmly in cheek.
  2. “An Act to change the name of John S. Folds to John S. F. Langrishe,” Chapter 11, General Acts Passed by the Legislature of Wisconsin … 1856 (Madison: Galkins & Proudfit, Printers, 1856), 9; digital images, Google Books (http://books.google.com : accessed 5 Apr 2016).
  3. §1, “An Act to change the name of Artemus Ewell George, and to constitute said child an adopted son of R. J. and Louisa S. Munn,” Chapter 14, in ibid., at 18.
  4. Ibid., §2.
  5. §1, “An Act to change the names of Eliza Lucy Allison and James Henry Allison to Eliza Lucy Van Orden and James Henry Van Orden,” Chapter 16, in ibid., at 20.
  6. “An Act to change the name of James Thomas Jones to James Thomas Parkinson, and to constitute the said James Thomas heir-at-law of Daniel M. Parkinson and Mary F. Parkinson, his wife,” Chapter 17, in ibid., at 20-21.
  7. “An Act to change the name of William Ramminger to William Reichel,” Chapter 25, in ibid., at 29.
  8. “An Act to change the name of Harriet Cowles and her infant daughter Mary Emma Virginia Cowles,” Chapter 29, in ibid., at 35.
  9. “An Act to change the name of John Dress, and constitute him the adopted son of Nicholas Hubing and Margaret Hubing,” Chapter 33, in ibid., at 38.
  10. “An Act to change the name of Ella P. Ward to that of Ella P, Ward Morris,” Chapter 34, in ibid., at 38-39.
  11. “An Act to change the name of Salena Richardson to Salena Wilson,” Chapter 37, in ibid., at 41.
  12. “An Act to change the name of Adolphina Frantz to Adolphina Frantz Downs,” Chapter 38, in ibid., at 42.
  13. “An Act to change the name of Eva Viola Keene, to Eva Viola Gill, and to constitute the said Eva Viola, heir-at-law of Bolivar G. Gill and Sarah S. Gill, his wife,” Chapter 44, in ibid., at 47.
  14. “An Act to change this name of Elizabeth Van Antwerp to Sally Smith, and to provide for her as the child and heir-at-law of Benjamin A. Smith and Sally Smith, his wife,” Chapter 46, in ibid., at 49.
  15. “An Act to change the name of Adam Jopst to Adam Jefferson,” Chapter 50, in ibid., at 62.
  16. “An Act to change the name of Frank Edward Sherman to Frank Edward Bontello,” Chapter 57, in ibid., at 67-68.
  17. “An Act to change the name of Emanuel Slade to William E. Slade,” Chapter 58, in ibid., at 68.
  18. “An Act to change the name of Fred Elias Webster to Fred Elias Teetshorn and constitute him the adopted son and heir of Horatio N. Teetshorn,” Chapter 59, in ibid., at 68-69.
  19. “An Act to change the name of Henriette Selsemeier to Henriette Kirchbeck,” Chapter 60, in ibid., at 69.
  20. “An Act to change the name of George R. Rockwell and Martha B. Percel to those of George R. Nulph and Martha H. Nulph,” Chapter 61, in ibid., at 70.
  21. “An Act to change the name of Frederick Delmot Gregory to Frederick Johnson,” Chapter 62, in ibid., at 70-71.
  22. “An Act to change the name of Isabella Mary Maynard to Isabella Mary Rollin, and that the same may be made the heir-at-law of Thomas H. Rollin,” Chapter 63, in ibid., at 71.
  23. “An Act to change the name of Philipp Albert to Philipp Hess, and make him heir-at-law of John Hess,” Chapter 64, in ibid., at 71-72.
  24. “An Act to change the name of Frederick Perry to Frederick Judivine,” Chapter 65, in ibid., at 72.
  25. “An Act to change the name of Joseph Prinney to Joseph Johnson,” Chapter 66, in ibid., at 73.
  26. “An Act to change the names of the persons therein named,” Chapter 67, in ibid., at 73.
  27. “An Act to change the names of the persons therein named,” Chapter 68, in ibid., at 74.
  28. “An Act to change the name of George Smith to George W. Smith, and to authorize his adoption as the child and lawful heir of Adam Smith and Harriett Smith,” Chapter 72, in ibid., at 77.
  29. “An Act to change the name of Ellen Olivia Hawes, to Ella Hoffman, and to constitute her the adopted daughter and heir-at-law of Gilbert Hoffman,” Chapter 105, in ibid., at 107-108.
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