Sep 262013
 

A map of Bremen, showing Vegesack. Bremen is in north central Germany near the North Sea.

My whole life people have been asking me about my last name. “Seek” is how most people first pronounce it. At one point I was counting the number of people who had pronounced it correctly the first time (you pronounce the final ‘e’). I stopped when I was thirty, and the tally was thirty seven.  The only reason I stopped was because it was tedious trying to remember. People have been mispronouncing my name my whole life.

After being corrected, most people then ask where my name is from. I’ve heard guesses ranging all over Europe. Some people thought Switzerland, some Scandinavia. Until last month, I could only say “Germany.” But my Dad has been researching our family, and he found out where we are from. My ancestor John Gerhardt Seeke was from Vegesack, a district of Bremen.

Once I found that out, I reached out to a German friend who helped me find the website of the Lutheran church in Vegesack. I sent them an email asking if they had records of any Seeke’s. They told me they did not, but that they are a new church. I chuckled when I read that they had been founded in 1938 because I’ve been part of eight churches and only one was older. They were kind enough to forward my email to a local genealogist. Not only was he willing to help, but he said the name Seeke is quite common in Vegesack.

That blew me away. All my life my name has been weird. People can’t pronounce it, they don’t know where it’s from, and I never felt like my name belonged here. It feels great to know that there is a place where my name is normal. Common, even.  Someday I hope to meet one of my German relatives, hopefully in Vegesack. I don’t know why it feels so good knowing that my name is normal, but it definitely does. It feels great.

Comments

  1. Sarah Livengood Baker says:

    Is Bremen where the musicians story takes place..something about a donkey traveling with other animals? Am I crazy?

  2. Janel Seeke Brooks says:

    I can honestly say I feel the same way. Knowing our last name is "normal" somewhere makes me feel like I belong somewhere.
    We need to go meet our family together!!

  3. I never had a problem with your name but I agree with you that many people could not pronounce it properly.