Family Stories

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Americanized Surname

My grandfather came to the USA at age 12. He taught himself to read, write, and speak English without an accent. He was born Karl Robert Müller but became Charles R. Miller. Although he was born in Speyer-am-Rhein, Pfalz [Spires-on-the-Rhine, Rhenish Palatinate] in 1870, he claimed he was born in Cleveland, Ohio, as is shown on the U.S. census. He did this to protect himself from going to war. He had a wife and children to support at the time. During WWI he was a translator for the U.S. Army here in the States, helping to translate the German spoken by German prisoners held in the USA. There were many German prisoners here at the time. Later, he again became, although still somewhat Americanized, Charles R. Mueller.

Judy Christopher (

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My maternal grandmother was full-blooded German, and my grandfather was full-blooded Irish. They were married in 1910; I was born in the early ’50s.

I often remember Grandpa’s talking about the Irish and Ireland, but I never heard Grandma talk about the Germans. My mother said Grandma was so embarrassed by what the Germans did that she never really spoke about them.

I'm sure that some of her reasoning had to do with how others would view her, even though her German ancestors came to America in 1834, long before either World War.

Mike & Linda Brewer ('

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