Friday, July 25, 2014

Deciphering a Name: Sihu?

For the last 9 months I have been helping my friend Kenny with his family tree. 

The information that he gave me to start with was obtained through interviews with his relatives. I have been searching for documentation to confirm the dates and places of births, deaths, and marriages for him. The accuracy of his undocumented information is quite impressive. Rarely have I found a document that conflicts with the dates he recorded. Nice work.

We obtained the death certificate for his great grandmother, Helen Miller-Hochheim. I am 100% certain that it is his Helen. The date of death matches what Kenny had, as does the location, the cause of death, and the husband's name. The husband, Edward Hochheim, was the informant and his name is indicated on the back of the death certificate. This is Kenny's Helen - no doubt!

BUT - Kenny knows Helen's maiden name to be Miller. This certificate shows her father's name as Henry MULLER, not Miller. Miller, I am sure, is a common Anglicization of Muller.

And Helen's mother's name appears to be Anna Sihu. I have never heard that last name; neither has Kenny. Keep in mind that the informant provided these names. Edward could have been mistaken about his mother-in-law's maiden name. The penmanship looks pretty good to me, though. Maybe I am reading that name "Sihu" wrong.

This document prompted me to search the NYC Municipal Archives Vital Statistics databases for any Sihu. The only document I could find for any Sihu was a marriage certificate. A marriage certificate for an Anna Sihu married to a...drum roll please....Henry Muller. I am pretty certain these are Kenny's great-great grandparents. I want more documentation to substantiate this find though.

According to both documents, Anna was born in New York. A search of for a Sihu living in New York City, though, returned1 hit for a Public Record for a Chi Sihu - obviously of Asian descent; not Kenny's family. No census records, no military records, no immigration records. Who are where are these Sihus???

Could it possibly be something other than Sihu?You tell me!

What do you think these names are?

From Helen Miller-Hochheim's death certificate:

From the marriage certificate of Henry Muller and Anna ???


  1. what a great blog....what great writing!!!! this guy Kenny seems so cool. <thanks for all your help it is amazing the things you can do with dead people.

  2. Definitely Sihu - the only one that is even remotely unclear is the death certificate and if you remove the "y" from Germany from where it intersects Anna's last name, it's still S-i-h-u. What years are we talking about?

  3. Henry Muller and Anna Sihu were married in November of 1888. The document indicates that Henry would turn 26 (born in about 1863) at his next birthday and Anna would turn 22 (born in about 1867). Anna is the daughter of John Sihu.