18th Century Pennsylvania German Naming Customs 

I’ve been away this week spending most of my time down in good old New Jersey. I grew up in Tabernacle township, Burlington County, NJ and worked for the state for nearly 26 years. Somehow, even though I’m retired, I can’t seem to stay away.

Anyway, I started going thru some more stored noted & documentation today. The more I look, the more I seem to find in box after box after box of stuff I’ve collected over the last 25 years or so. Today I came across an article entitled, 18 Century PA German Naming Customs by Charles F. Kerchner, Jr.. It’s a good read. The link is: http://www.kerchner.com/germname.htm

The rules he lays out were not hard and fast but knowing them does help decipher some of the naming patters in the Schoenly / Schanely families. The following are a few observations I’ve made … I think they’re interesting to think about.

The ‘Immigrant’ from whom we all descend is: Friederich Schienle. According to Kirchner’s naming pattern, Friederich, who was the third son of Friederich (sr) and Maria Catharina would have been named after the father (Friederich)… and so he was. The first son, Johann Michael, according to this pattern would have been named after his father’s father. Friederich (sr)’s father’s name was Michael Martin Schienle, so the pattern was not followed in this instance. Instead it appears that Johann Michael probably was named after his mother’s father, Johann Michael Lieb. So, these naming conventions apparently were not held strickly.

When it came to Friederich, Jr’s (the immigrant) children it doesn’t look like he held to these rules at all. Friederich & Anna Elizabeth had five daughters and one son. The son, who you might expect to be named Friederic, after the father’s father was named Andreas, instead. That name seems to come out of the blue but it could be that there is a connection but unknown.

The fisrt daughter was named Barbara Schienle …. normally the first daughter was named after either the mother’s mother -or- the father’s mother. Not in this case …. looks like they may have named her after Friederich’s younger sister, Agnes Barbara. The second daughter was Elisabeth, apparently after her mother but not following the Kirchner patterns. The third daughter, Chrstina might have been named after Friederich’s oldest sister. The fourth daughter, who died in infancy, Anna Maria possible was named after still another sister of Friederich. The fifth daughter, Magdolena is a mystery.

A more in depth look at the naming patterns within the generations of family members shows that while Kerchner’s patterns were not strickly used …. generally speaking children were named frequently after other family members.