When you look at family history, there are a number of mysteries that will turn up. No one remembers why something happened, no one knows how that person was related or no one know the exact details of an event. Family history research is full of lore. Stories that have been told for generations with an origin.
Raymond Moeckel was one of those mysteries. When my father first got in contact with Raymond’s son, he told us that his father changed the family surname in the late 1930s or early 1940s, but he did not know why. After all, he was a little tyke at the time. He thought his older sister knew, but we never were able to close the story.
But, with the help of some friends, a little research in the Bronx court records and a lot of patience, we have solved the mystery. I recently received several pages of the official document filed in the Bronx Surrogate Court to have the family surname changed from Moeckel to Hannigan.
Raymond Moeckel was born as Raymond Hannigan on his New York City birth certificate in June 1903. His father, Dennis Hannigan, was killed in the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railways yard in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx. Shortly after Raymond’s birth, his mother married George Moeckel who raised Raymond as his own son.
As referenced in the image to the right, when Raymond was 26 years old he learned the man he had called dad was really his step-father. That probably did not change the relationship with George, it just provided more information about his early life.
Raymond had lived his life with the Moeckel surname for everything, included Public School and getting married. But when he was required to present his birth certificate for the when he applied for a Civil Service position at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, the questions began.
With the revelation of his birth certificate came many questions. But he lived with both names from 1929 until 1941 when Raymond contacted a law firm of Filardi and Ferri to file a petition with the Bronx Surrogate Court to change the surname for his family. The petition process began on 12 December 1941 with the filing of the paperwork and the judge granted his petition was finalized on January 29, 1942.