Picture of Dennis Prue

Dennis Prue

Dennis has been researching family trees for more than 30 years. His expertise has been invaluable in helping to break through brick walls.


This Old Tree, February 2018

Name Changes over Time

And How to Find Them

Most people seek to find who their first known ancestors in North America are and where they came from back in the old country. For some people, that is all they really care about.

I, myself, enjoy finding who was the first person in each of the various lines I have in this hemisphere? Also, I like to see if I can find anything back in Europe.

One of my lines is to Sabina Levina Schnattenly who was born 1735 in Swatara, Lancaster, Pennsylvania to George Philip Schnattenly and his wife Sabina Burkhard.

I found that Georg Phillip (Jorg Filip) Schattenly came in 1732 on Oct. 11 into Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

George Philip was 28, his wife Sabina was 24 and they had a child. George’s brother, Hans Michael who was 25, came with them.

A few years ago I found George Philip Schattenly age 24 married on Jan. 28 1728 in Richen, Baden to Sophia Burkhard age 20 and one child that came with them was a daughter Catherina b. Nov. 26 and christened on Nov. 28, 1728, in Richen, Baden. Sophia Burkhard always goes by Sabina when her children were born both in Pennsylvania and in Richen, in the Grand Duchy of Baden.

The author of a book on early German immigrants stated that Georg & Sabina had three children but only Catherina was still alive in Oct. 1732 when they came to Pennsylvania.

Within the last three weeks, I decided to start looking for this family in Germany. I did not know where Richen was in Germany. I just googled it and found it was Baden-Wurttemberg section of southwestern Germany. Ancestry has many files for various German states.

Found one that covered Baden, Germany.

I typed in Schnattenlty and found nothing. So I searched for Catharina b. in 1730. Found her under Schnasterlin. But no other children showed up. So I tried just mom & dad’s first names, Gorg or (Jorg) and Sabina. I had better luck using Jorg & Sabina. I found under Schnatteste Regina b. Sep. 30 & d. Oct. 19 in 1731.

Found only death record for Anna-Maria born 1730 d. Aug. 9, 1730, under Schnattenley. Dad was called Hans Gorg instead of Georg Philip.

The key in searching German baptisms records is using the parents’ first names and see if you can find anything close to how the surname was spelled when they came to America.

In Pennsylvania the name is Schnattenly but when some of George Philip & Sabina sons move into Virginia it is now spelled Schnatterly and later on in North Carolina and Kentucky.

The surname variations of Schnatterly include but are not limited to the following:

1. Schnatterly and Schnatterle who mainly settled in the Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, Indiana, Ohio areas

2. Schnatteree in Pennsylvania

3. Snatherly, Snotherly who appear in West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina.

4. Snodderly, Snodderley, Snoderly, Snoterly who mainly settled in North Carolina, Tennessee,

5. Snotterly who appear in various southern states.

6. Southerly, North Carolina

7. Suntherly, North Carolina

The above information is from a web site on the Schnattenly Surname and history.

Surnames are not set in stone; it’s gone from Schnasterlin to Snoddery. The name changes as different people tried to spell the name.

When families came from southwestern Germany to various English colonies under English rule in the Mid-Atlantic and Southern colonies, the name kept changing as foreign people i.e. English speaking people who had no clue how to spell a German surname they never hear of before.

Another example for me is the spelling for Sabina Levina’s husband Hans Kasper Schnebeli became Casper Snavely. The surname had been spelled Schnebeli for 500 years in Switzerland but totally changed in Pennsylvania.

Creative Commons License
This Old Tree, February 2018 by Dennis Prue is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at ac-gs.org.