Saturday, December 15, 2012

Surname Saturday - Dork

One of my maternal lines is Dork - really. My great grandmother Lucy who, as a kid, I always thought was Lucille but is really Louise, was born Louise Wilhelmina Dork in Lansing, Ingham, Michigan in 1895. She is of full German descent, and more specifically, from a tiny village in Kreis Rosenberg in the eastern edge of West Prussia. It took me a long, long time to pinpoint her family, but it became a wonderful case study in my personal genealogy lessons.

Lucy's father, Otto Carl Dork, came to Michigan as a child in 1882 with his mother, grandmother, and siblings on the ship Braunschweig (see, really German!). They settled immediately in central Lansing, among many other Prussian families.

The surname itself has many iterations, which I suspect vary due to spelling and pronunciation differences from the German language. I've seen:
  • Dork
  • Doerk
  • Dorke
  • Derk
  • Durk
I tend to stick with "Doerk" in my database, only because that seems to be the most encompassing spelling. My intuition is that it was spelled D-o-e-r-k and pronounced "Derk" but in America with the "o" first, just became "Dork".

Of course "Dork" has an unlikable connotation in today's society. My own children are at least vaguely familiar with their backgrounds and know that there is a Dork lineage. I tell them that if anyone ever calls you a dork, you can reply, "Yes I am"!

reprinted from 9 June 2012
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© 2012 Sally Knudsen

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