Thursday, January 06, 2011

To Avoid Confusion

WHENEVER I GIVE a lecture, especially if there are older, life-long Saint Louisians present, I offer a bit of family history.

My surname by the way, is pronounced “A-blen” — and so is not spelled as it is pronounced. I am sure that back in the old country it is pronounced differently. The name means “son of Abel” and rumor has it that the first man with that name was a Viking — Abel is not only a Biblical name, but an ancient Germanic name also.

Abeln is hardly a common name, but there are several Abeln families hereabout with that name, and we know of no common ancestors.  According to an Abeln genealogy website:
The surname Abeln has his roots in north-west Germany.

In a document from the year 1394 "Abele zu Wieste" is mentioned as "freibauer des Hümmlings".

The first Abeln lived round 1600 in the region Emsland + Cloppenburg round the Hümmling.

The surname Abeln was sometimes changed in Abelen or Abel.

There is no proof that all Abeln have one common ancestor.
Abelns today are concentrated in that region of Germany as well as in the nearby regions of the Netherlands. Reading the links, above, I noticed that the Abeln ancestral homeland is quite swampy — and I've always had an affinity for swamps. These Abelns are Catholic, a ‘diaspora’ located in a Protestant region.

As I mentioned, there are several Abeln families in Saint Louis. I am not from the family in construction, nor from the family from the north side, but rather from the family that had tobacco businesses along South Broadway.

I now include my middle name ‘Scott’, although I never used it until adulthood. If you Google ‘Mark Abeln’, you will find an architect, a real estate appraiser, a large political donor, and a race car driver. I am none of these men, and since I don't want to harm their reputations, I use my middle name. But please call me Mark.

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