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Re: CHAT: Schleswig-Holstein (was Re: CHAT: silly names)

From:Lars Henrik Mathiesen <thorinn@...>
Date:Saturday, March 24, 2001, 23:45
> Date: Sat, 24 Mar 2001 16:58:59 -0600 > From: Eric Christopherson <rakko@...>
> Hey, I have ancestors from there. I'd like to learn more about it and its > ties to Germany and Denmark. I know that it was sometimes part of one, > sometimes part of the other. According to my mom, my grandfather was > emphatic that his father was Danish, *not* German, but his name has come > down to us as Heinrich Wehrhane (or something like that), which looks > definitely German. I've looked a little bit on genealogy web sites and found > a discussion list for Wehrhane, and found out that there are Danish people > who spell the same name Verhane. So I don't know if the name we have for him > is German because it was under German control at the time, or what.
Schleswig-Holstein were semi-independent duchies under the Danish king from some time in the middle ages. There was always a mix of 'ethnic' Danes and Germans (speaking Low Saxon) in the area --- more Danes to the north, obviously --- and the local administration was probably as likely to be Standard German as it was to be Danish. Then in 1848, the duchies wanted to secede to either become republics or join the German federation (we never learnt the reason in school). But they didn't get the German support they counted on, so they were made part of Denmark proper after a brief war. Then in 1864, they tried again, and this time the Prussians helped, so now both duchies became part of the German empire. And then Germany lost the Great War, so the Allies decided to hold a referendum to see which country should have each part. Denmark ended up getting back the northern half of Schleswig, in 1920. So if your grandfather emigrated as a very young man (before 1920) or came from south of the 1920 border, his papers are most likely German. The name itself looks like a form of the word vejrhane, meaning weathercock. It's not that unusual to see nicknames like that as family names. I just tried looking it up in the Danish white pages --- nobody seems to be using that name currently, in any form that I could think up. Lars Mathiesen (U of Copenhagen CS Dep) <thorinn@...> (Humour NOT marked)


Eric Christopherson <rakko@...>