I Am an Abelhauser

Arguably one of the rarest names in the world.

Recently I had dinner with a distant cousin. So distant, in fact, that our first common ancestor was our great great great great grandfather. This got me thinking about my name and my ancestry and my legacy. So I’m sharing an open letter with you, Dear Readers, that I’m sending to NPR’s Radiolab. I’m hoping they may be able to help me with a subject that becomes increasingly urgent for me with each passing year. My last name is so rare that it will most likely disappear by mid-century, so I’m looking for ways to immortalize it. If I get any response, I’ll be sure to let you know in the comments below!

Dear Jad, Lulu, and Latif,

My pitch to you, in broad strokes, is about legacy and what it would be like if an animal were self-aware enough to know that it’s going extinct. What would it do? I am that animal. Can you help me before I disappear?

My name is Barbara Abelhauser, and I’m 56 years old. I am one of only 3 Abelhausers in the United States. The other two are my uncle and his wife, both in their late 80’s. There are only 10 Abelhausers in the entire world, and only one of those is a male of childbearing age, and his name is hyphenated with another (as if Abelhauser isn’t enough of a mouthful!)

The name originates in the Alsace Lorraine region of France, where for centuries our family owned a hotel called La Pomme d’Or. We were hoteliers, or “hausers”. I’ve never met my European cousins face to face, but one of them has traced our family tree back to the 1700’s.

My last name is so rare that it will likely disappear by mid-century, so I am always looking for ways to immortalize it. Not the genetic line. I couldn’t care less about that. I believe all of us are related within 100 generations.

And I’m not looking for personal immortality. I have a daily blog that you can find here. I’ve self-published a book, which you can find here. My interview has even been made into an animated short by StoryCorps, which you can find here. That’s plenty.

What I want, more than anything, is for the Abelhauser name to continue on in some form or fashion. I’d like something to be named Abelhauser. I heard an episode where you said there are thousands of species of flatworms needing names. I’d even go for that. I’d go for it being carved on a rock in the middle of nowhere. Anything. Preferably multiple quirky things. I want there to be some sort of message in a universal bottle that says, “There once was a family named Abelhauser.”

Any ideas?

Do I wish my name were Smith? No. I like being one of a kind. I just want to know that, long after we Abelhausers are gone, someone will stumble upon the name in whatever odd context and think, “Huh. I’ve never heard that name before. I wonder who they were?”


Barbara Abelhauser, of the nearly extinct Abelhausers

Check this out, y’all. I wrote a book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5


Author: The View from a Drawbridge

I have been a bridgetender since 2001, and gives me plenty of time to think and observe the world.

16 thoughts on “I Am an Abelhauser”

  1. Your heart will go on and on. I feel certain you will figure this out. And I am betting it will make an impact…and another great post!

  2. You are in thousands of hearts and minds. And I always say “I have a friend named Barbara Abelhauser.” then there is the Library of Congress, am I wrong in saying they have a copy either hard copy or digital of every book ever written? And there is the Internet where once posted is forever there.
    Seriously, you are only 1/2 a century young and at the rate you are going, I’m sure you’ll finish your quest and make your mark. Carry On!

    1. Sadly, no. They have a book by a cousin of mine, but it isn’t in English. I inquired about my book, and got a curt response that they can’t keep up with all the published books, and if the librarian at the time had deemed it of any value, they’d have gotten a copy then. So nope. No Library of Congress for me. But I’m not really worried about making MY mark. I just want to immortalize the family name somehow, even if it’s just in flatworm form. 🙂

  3. You need to come up with or invent something unique or indispensable we can label as an Abelhauser. With your creative imagination you will come up with something worthy. Or maybe it’s best to just let it’s immortality evolve organically. Either way, it’d be interesting if you wrote a book highlighting the journey of your family name as it travels to it’s inevitable fate.

    1. Definite food for thought. I have invented many things over the years, but I tend to lack follow through. I invented sanitary napkins with wings about a decade before they came out, but I don’t think my fellow Abelhausers would want to be connected with that. 🙂

  4. So would I, but would your relatives or the average person? You and I might find it an honor but most would rather have a star named for them. Those names might be obscured because all the names we could create wouldn’t be enough to label all the 200,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars that exist in just our known universe.

    1. Wow. I needed this. It makes me so happy. You know I always appreciate blog fodder. I don’t know which is better, the subject of the article itself, or the way a nematode got linked to me in your mind because of something I wrote. 🙂

      1. Your writing leaves a lasting impression. Most people don’t take the time to let you know, but I have the time to give you feedback. Wouldn’t want you to feel you aren’t being heard. You might decide to quit blogging. We need your honest voice to inspire and motivate us through the daily mayhem facing our weary souls.

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