I love my mother dearly, but her paternal and maternal lines have led me a merry chase because they were spelled (or misspelled) in a number of different ways. I have written before of the difficulties I had researching the Minarcik’s, my mother’s maternal line as the last name was spelled a couple of different ways---( See #6 How Do You Spell That Name? Joseph Munarzik). That problem pales in comparison to the trouble I have had with her paternal line—Eitelbach.
My greatgrandfather, Louis Eitelbach came to New York from Germany in 1896. So naturally I looked for him and his family in the census records. Louis along with his six sons and wife appear with no problem in the 1900 census on Greene Avenue in Brooklyn. His son, Walter, my grandfather married Regina Minarcik in 1908 so I looked for them in the 1910 census. When I searched on Ancestry, they did not appear. So I needed to get a little more creative. When I tried searching using Walter with a birth date of 1886 in Germany and a wife named Regina, up came the Citelbachs on Ridgewood Avenue, in Brooklyn. I used the same technique on the 1920 census when Eitelbach did not work. This time they were listed as Latelbath on 86th Street, in Woodhave, Queens. The 1930 census was close enough to come up in a routine search as Eitelback at the same address as 1920. My search for them in the 1940 census did find them. I knew they were at the same address in 1940 so this time I searched for the family that lived next door as I knew that they had been neighbors for a long time. This time they were listed as the Estelbachs. Interestingly, in each of the New York 1915 and 1925 census, the name is spelled correctly.
Since the Eitelbachs were from Germany, I thought it would be interesting to see how the name was spelled in the baptismal records there. Using Family Search, I found the following variations—Eidelbach, Eydelbach, Eitelbeck, Eitelback, and Eytelbach. Those were not variations from different parts of Germany, but from Koblenz, where they originally lived.
I would really like to ask my grandfather or grandmother if they spelled the name for the census takers. I also would like to know how much difficulty they had with other people misspelling their last name.