Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Phend Surname

The "Phend" surname, as you might imagine, is not a common one. The index to the book on the Phend Family that was published in 1991 only includes 331 people with the surname, and that included everyone that I had found since the family came from Switzerland to the United States in 1832. Johannes Phend, the progenitor of our family, had two daughters and two sons, John and Jacob. John didn't have any children. Jacob had seven children, six sons and one daughter; there were 43 grandchildren, 29 grandsons and 14 granddaughters. In the next generation the numbers flipped and girls outnumbered the boys by about 2 to 1.

According to my Grandpa Vic, his grandfather, Jacob, pronounced the Phend surname as "pay-hend" and said that it was spelt pay-hay-a-n-day. He also told me it was originally spelled with a B instead of a P but that the B was pronounced softly like a P and that is how it got changed from B'hend to Phend. However, in Swiss records the surname has been found spelled as B'hend, Bhend, Fend, Fendt and Pend. In the United States, the surname has also been found in records as Fend, Fiend, Fin, Phind, Pheud, Phena, and Phent.

Considering that names were often spelled phonetically, and the fact that many record keepers and census takers wrote so poorly, the variations are not all that surprising. It just sometimes makes it a bit challenging to find the right records.

Johannes Phend was recorded as Jean (or Sean?) B'hend on his 1832 passport.

The signature of Johannes on his passport.

The Land Record from Carroll County, Ohio (Deed Book 11, page 367) showed John Phend and his wife Susan selling their land in 1849 - and his signature!

The family was found in census records the "old fashioned" way - by turning the crank and going through the reels of microfilm image by image, before indexes were widely available, and before the internet. Lucky for me, from other records, I knew where to look and the townships they lived in were relatively small.

1840 Carroll County, Ohio (Brown Township page 192)

1850 Greene County, Indiana (Taylor Township page 409b)

1860 Marshall County, Indiana (German Township page 56)

1870 Kosciusko County, Indiana (Scott Township page 434)

1880 Kosciusko County, Indiana (Scott Township page 33)

In 1900 and 1910, Jacob was livng with his daughter and her husband, Sophia and John Ernest, in Elkhart County, Indiana. (Nappanee, Locke Township page 232 in 1900 and in Concord Township page 56b in 1910)

Three other recent posts highlight some family records from Switzerland, the christening record of Johannes Fendt, and the family's emigration to the United States.

1 comment:

Janice said...


I enjoyed your article on the PHEND surname. Looking at the handwriting in the censuses, it is a wonder that indexers ever got ANY of the names right.

I, like you, remember doing through the censuses on microfilm machines. Research certainly has been made easier.

Janice Brown