The Heinsohn Family in Texas

– Miscellaneous –

Family Names

German-speaking families in Texas, like the Heinsohns, often attended church services that were conducted in German. Baptismal, marriage, and also burial records for those churches were recorded by the pastor in old German script. The Heinsohns in Fayette, Colorado, and Austin Counties were primarily served by the pastor of the Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church at Frelsburg. Transcripts of many of these records can be found at the Nesbitt Memorial Library website.

Early baptisms were not necessarily held in a church building. The pastor served several communities and it was common for several cousins or neighbors to be baptized at the same time. Moody William Heinsohn was baptized the same day in 1883 as his cousins, Meta Kasten, Josephine Heinsohn, and Robert Theodore Heinsohn. Anton Heinsohn, Jr. was baptized the same day in 1865 as four of his brothers and sisters, Mary, Charlie, Reinhart, and Helene.

In the Heinsohn family the child's middle name was often taken from his godparents. For instance, Felicia Elfrieda Ida Heinsohn's godparents were her aunt, Elfrieda Schroeder, and a family friend, Ida Szillat. At least five little girls carried the name of their prosperous and childless godmother, Therese Heinsohn Henniger. A German name given at baptism was often anglicized as the child grew older. Johann Heinsohn was later known as John. Heinrich would become Henry, Friedrich became Frederick or Fred, Margröthe became Margaret, and so forth. Feminine names that ended in "e" were pronounced as though they ended with an "a": Emilie was pronounced as "Amelia", Wilhelmine was pronounced "Wilhelmina", Helene was pronounced "Helena", and there are many other names that followed this pattern. Many women with these names changed the spelling to the "a" version by the end of their lives.

It was also common for the child to be known by his second name. Wilhelmine Nancy Heinsohn was more commonly known as Nancy and her sister, baptized as Charlotte Sophie Wilhelmine, was known as Wilhelmine or Minnie.

As in families today, there were many nicknames: Wübke Margröthe Harfst Heinsohn was known as Meta and Pauline Heinsohn was known as Lena. This can be confusing because Lena was also used as a nickname for Helene and Caroline.

To help you differentiate between the various names, the following scheme has been devised for this web site: If the person was known by his second name, rather than his first, the second name is written within quotation marks. If the person was commonly known by a nickname (a name other than that given to them at birth or baptism), the nickname is within parentheses. For example, Maria "Wilhelmine" (Minnie) Heinsohn Schweke was baptized as Maria Wilhelmine Heinsohn. However, she was known as Wilhelmine or Minnie. Although the spelling of names vary in different source material, an effort has been made to use the spelling most frequently documented.

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