09 July 2006

The Devil's in the Details

Meryl Streep reports that "Streep was a name taken by Jews in Holland in the fifteenth century." In a 1998 interview, she told us that the Streeps were originally Sephardic Jews from Spain.

That may well be true. The name Streep is Dutch. And Jews from Spain did go to Holland in the 15th century.

But when we check out the details -- by, of all things, starting with her father and working backwards -- we find that her branch wasn't even named Streep so we don't care about the origins of the Dutch Streeps.

Streep's father is Harry Streep, Jr. In the 1930 census he is with his parents Harry and Lena in Newark, NJ.

Harry Sr's WW I draft card says he was born February 5, 1884. In the 1900 census, Harry, born February 1884, is in Newark with his parents Frederick and Elizabeth who are both born in New Jersey. Their parents were from Germany and the surname is spelled Streeb. (Those of you familiar with German pronunciation are nodding right now.)

In the 1870 census, Frederick is in Elizabeth, NJ with Godfrey and Christian Streep who are both from "Whertenburg." Records from Madison Street German Presbyterian Church in New York City, where their first child was born, include the marriage of Christine Zeltmann to Gottfried Streebe in 1851.

The Wuerttemberg, Germany Emigration Index says Christine Zeltmann, who sailed in 1846, is from the town of Loffenau. Her husband may be the Gottfried Streeb reportedly born in Loffenau in 1815.

Maybe the Streeps living in Holland today descend from Spanish Jews. And maybe they think they are related to Meryl Streep. But they are not kin unless, long ago, some Dutch Streeps moved to Germany's Black Forest. Maybe the Streebs living in Loffenau today would know.

There once was a women in Prada,
Who sailed with the Spanish Armada.
She says she is Dutch.
I think - not so much.
So it turns out the devil wears nada.

You can view the draft card, emigration index, census records, and more records for Meryl Streep at Ancestry Ancestry.com

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