Friday, November 27, 2020

Ask The Questions – While You Can

Hindsight is 20/20. Never was a truer statement ever spoken. I wish that I’d asked my parents and grandparents more about our family histories. I really regret not doing that while I had the opportunity.

Charles Ash as an infant
So much knowledge has been lost because of that, knowledge that I will never be able to obtain. However, during my family research, I have learned a few things that I did not know before.

My grandfather, Charles Ash, always told me that the family was of German origin. I’d raised an eyebrow at the time, but did not argue with his claim. He seemed quite certain of his facts. To me, the surname Ash seemed very English sounding, not German at all. But that little bit of information was stored away in the back of my mind until I needed it years later when I started to investigate and record the family history.

Charles Ash as a

I discovered that my three times great grandparents, Johann and Rosina, immigrated to Canada sometime between 1843 and 1845 from Alsace, France with two (possibly three) small children. They settled in York County in the area today known as the City of Vaughan. Wait a minute, did I say France? Isn’t that interesting?

By doing further research into the history of Alsace, I found that the territory has long been disputed over by France and Germany and ‘possession’ of it went back and forth many times over the centuries. 

Charles Ash as a
young man
Now the pieces are starting to fall together. Apparently, the surname was originally spelled Esch, as well.. It also explains the first names that parents chose for their children, some very French and some very German sounding. 

During World War 1, there was a lot of anti-German sentiment around the world and many families with German sounding names Anglicized them to avoid persecution. Hence, Esch became Ash

So it turns out that my grandfather was right all along. The family does have German origins.

NOTE: You used to be able to attach a document to your blog but that does not seem to be an option anymore. If anyone in the family would like a copy of the file containing the Esch/Ash genealogy back to the 18th century, let me know and I will send it to you.


  1. Interesting how the name evolved but does make sense considering events at the time.

    1. Some branches of the family did maintain the 'Esch' spelling while others did not, I imagine it all depended on the community they lived in.