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How would a family change their name in 1800's America?


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My boyfriend's mum is curious about her family history so as I'm laid up ill I thought I'd spend some time on it - she tells me that she was always told that her fathers side adopted the surname St Julien and that their name before this was Eberhart or Aberhart (not sure of exact spellings).

Having used census records etc the only thing I've found is that her great grandfather Paul Francis St Julien (born approx. 1860) according to the 1901 census records his birthplace as America and further digging showed him as being born in Charlestown/Charleston South Carolina and that his father had the exact same name and was born in about 1830's - but that's as far as I've got ..... if the family rumour is true and they did change their name - I guess a French sounding name would have fitted in better in South Carolina...but in those days - how did you go about changing your name? Would there have been records or would one name simply have disappeared from records and the new name popped up?!

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