52 Ancestors – Week 2018-29
By Don Taylor
I have come to expect considerable flexibility in the names of individuals. They are reliant upon the hearing of clerks, the penmanship of those clerks, and the interpretation of various records written by many individuals over the years. However, this is only the second time I’ve seen a person’s birthdate change. (My mother’s birthdate was the first I encountered.) The German records I have found all indicate Henriette was born on 30 October 1887, while all of the United States records indicate she was born on 28 October 1887.
I was recently asked, “Are there any people left on Earth with the surname Hopfe?” As far as the asker knew, her Hopfe line had daughtered out with her.
Certainly, surnames go extinct. I’ve read how Hugh Bonneville’s (famous for playing Robert Crawley in Downton Abbey) surname is on the “near extinction” list, while surnames like Bread and Chips are supposedly extinct.[i]
My go-to site for looking at surnames is forebears.io. It provides lots of really interesting information about any surname and, in particular, the approximate number of people who have that particular surname. Worldwide, there are approximately 1,118 people with the surname Hopfe, which makes it the 275,936th most common surname. According to the site, there are approximately 841 people with the surname in Germany and 179 in the United States. (in 2014).
Forbears also allows you to drill down into the US and see the distribution by state. There are no Hopfes in Maine and only seven people with the surname in Massachusetts. Interestingly, the largest number of people with the Hopfe surname are in Hawaii. They have twice the number – 46 – of Hopfe surnamed people than the 2nd most common Hopfe state, Texas, with only 23. I know if it were me, I’d like to figure out how those Hawaiian Hopfe’s were related so that I could visit them. (Ha ha – just kidding.)
There are a couple surnames similar to Hopfe that may be variations of the name, including Hopf, which has more than 10,000 individuals worldwide, and Hoepf.
Another site I like regarding surnames is Ancestry.Com; they have a name origin page. It is really cool because it shows the distribution of a surname during three different US Censuses. In the case of Hopfe, the 1920 Census shows there were 7 Hopfe families in New York (including some of her ancestors).
The bottom line is that there are many more Hopfes in the United States and the world but, none left in Maine.