Sunday, August 22, 2010

Fronika, Fornika Fronia,or Friedrich?

My great great grandmother has captured my attention since I have yet to find two spellings of her name that match. Here is a recap of the records in which I found her listed:

1) My great-grandfather's death certificate lists her as Fronia Gussman. At least that is what I thought her name was when I first saw it in 1983. Now when I look at it, I am not so sure.

2) The 1850 Reinwald census lists her as Fornika (yes, my friends had a good laugh with that one). Footnote 7 after her name leads to the bottom of the page which read, “Cyrillic = ФронИКа. Perhaps Veronika.

3) In the 1857 Reinwald census, she is listed as Friedrich Giesman (?).

Hence, my dilemma. How should I record her name in my family tree?

I decided to use Google to find out how the traditional name Veronica translates. I entered Veronica in English and requested a translation to Russian. It translated Veronica to Вероника. Since I don't read or speak Russian,
this appeared close to the 1850 census
translation of ФронИКа to me.

Next, I used ФронИКа from the 1850 census in Russian to see how it translated to English. It translated to FronIKa.

My instincts leaning to Fronika were definitely reinforced.

When I attended the AHSGR convention in Lincoln, Nebraska earlier this month, I asked my friend, Alex Herzog, for input. Alex, who was born in Russia and escaped by the skin of his teeth during World War II, speaks both German and English. He is acknowledged highly for his translatations done for both the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia and the German Russian Heritage Society. For more information on Alex, please visit

I shared my research with Alex and asked him what he thought her name could be. Alex explained that the V and F in Russian are interchangeable. He believed her name was Fronika which is a shortened version or nickname for Veronica.

That settled it for me. I will call her Fronika unless I uncover evidence to the contrary. As I mentioned in an earlier blog,my next step is to the Urbach censuses starting with the G's since I have Gussman and Giesmann as potential maiden names. But, what if the G isn't the answer?

More questions for another day.

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