Building A Bridge


2. Februar 2023


Our goal is to connect the American Carpers and Kerpers with their German ancestors.

To solve this problem, it is necessary to combine European expertise with American expertise. Genealogists from both sides of the Atlantic must co-operate.

The author Joan C. Fraser only relied on her American expertise. Her knowledge of the situation in 18th century Germany was obviously poor. Therefore, she came to a result that has meanwhile proved wrong. In her book she claimed that the immigrant “Niklas Körper” came from a village in the Odenwald region without trying to explain how she came to her opinion. I believe that she did not give an explanation because she had none.

To avoid committing such a mistake again, expertise from both sides of the Atlantic has to be brought together. Then we have a chance to work out a solution that can be regarded as reliable.

So long, no document has been found telling us where the immigrant came from. And it is very likely that such a document will never be detected.

All we can hope to achieve is a narrative that can claim the highest possible grade of probability for itself. It will never be a proof in a strict sense.

As we cannot take the king’s path, we have to be content with the second-best way.

This forces us to concentrate strictly on the normal and on what was taken for granted in the period under view. We cannot include in our story all possible exceptions.

This rule has to be applied both in Europe and in America.

My part of this work is already done. But on the American side reliable information about the early generations is lacking. What is published about this issue seems to be full of contradictions. I am not astounded about this because all American Carper genealogies miss ground contact.

As they all drift in the empty space no one can decide which information is right or wrong.

My German family trees could provide the solid ground needed. On the American side every available historical evidence would have to be collected and evaluated to form reliable family trees. Especially the information about the children and grandchildren of Nicholas Carper, the “Niklas Körper” from the ship list, must be cleared.

A special problem is Jacob Carper who is claimed to have been born in Germany about 1730. Where is this birth year deduced from?

In my family trees there is no one in the former Electoral Palatinate who could be this man.

To look into the development of surname spelling is also a part of family research.

It is certain that the descendants of “Abraham Körper” from the ship list of 1738 changed their surname to “Kerper”. Only a small branch went on to “Carper”.

How did the descendants of “Niklas Körper” from the ship list of 1732 deal with their surname? Is it true that all of them changed it to “Carper”? What about the period before “Carper” was established for good? Is there a period of time when the sources say “Kerper”? Are there branches where “Kerper” remained?



Family research is a small sector of historical research. It has to comply with the same rules as any other kind of such research.

One of the main rules is that one must not transfer the present into the past. If something is true for us in the present it cannot be taken for granted that it had always been valid in the same way. Everything can change in the course of time.

Another basic rule is that everything that happened in the past has to be understood from the respective present and not from our own present.

These rules are violated by all genealogical publications about the Carpers. In each of these genealogies the surname form “Carper” is given to all earlier generations, even to the immigrant although he wrote his own name into the ship list, thus proving that for him “Niklas Körper” or “Niklas Kerper” was his name. This is a kind of disrespect towards our ancestors.

The change of the surname is part of our family history and it has to be a subject of serious research such as the biological heredity and the biographies of the people involved.

As the immigrants of the nowadays’ American Carpers or Kerpers came from Germany they were German speaking people. This has also to be respected in the genealogies. It has to be taken into consideration that they became native English speakers at different times. Perhaps the children of these immigrants were still native German speakers or even the grandchildren. The genealogies have to mirror this reality.