All records in the UK , census, marriage and death, used Cohen as did all the ship manifests at Ellis Island. Everyone living with Ellen was listed as Cohen in the 1910 census but they each used Coyne as soon as they moved out. Ellen used Coyne in the 1920 census. I have always heard that the change was made because everyone assumed Cohen was Jewish while in fact they were Irish Catholic. The Utica Observer article of July 24, 1917 , see the Great War section, mentioned that despite the spelling of the name the family was of "the fighting race". This seems to confirm the family story.
I have no information as to why "Coyne" was chosen. At a guess, it sounded Irish and the spelling was similar. On the Irish genealogy web sites, I have seen both spelling as coming from the same root, the name of a ancient king of Connaught. My father suggested someone had cousins who were Coynes, Lena perhaps? There were Coynes living in the Utica and Syracuse areas. Ellen and John made their mark on their marriage registration and John did on all the birth registrations, right up to Joseph. Perhaps by the time they could read and write they were stuck with Cohen.
I have purchased a history of the name Coyne from
the Hall of Names in Kingston. Ontario. It contains the following information.
" We found that the family name Coyne was first recorded in Connacht and Leinster.. The name became confused with Coen, Kyne, and Kilcoyne, all of which have derived from it or were the origin of Coyne. The ancient Coens, descended from the Gaelic Caomhan, the chief of his clan in 876 A.D. who was descended from the Princes of Hy Fiachra and the great General King Niall of the Nine Hostages.
Several spelling varations of the name were found in the archives and mainly these varations were the result of families translating the name from Gaelic into English. Recorded varations of the name Coyne included Coyne, Coen, Cohen, Kyne, Kilcoyne, Coyney, Koyne, Koen, Kohen, M'Coyne, Coyn, Coin, Coine, Koin, Koine, Barracle (a synonym of Coyne by translation), Barnicle, Barnycle, Barnackle, Barnicall, Barnickle, Barnyckle and many more. Frequently a name was spelt several different ways during the lifetime of the same person, when he or she was born, married and died."
The following timeline is constructed from newspaper articles and certificates. The names are as they appeared and a brief description of the article is included.
From UK certificates.
- 11/02/1879 John Cohen and Ellen Craig wed.
- 07/13/1884 Francis William Cohan born.
- 06/25/1893 Austin Cone born.
- 08/24/1895 Bernard Cohen born.
- 12/02/1887 Leo Patrick Cohan born.
- 05/16/1899 Joseph Cohen born.
- 02/09/1903 John Cohen dies.
- All birth certificates were signed by John with his mark. Apprently he couldn't sign his name.
From Ellis Island records and Utica Newspapers
- 10/30/1906 Frank Cohen arrives at Ellis Island.
- 12/22/1906 Frank Cohen, fine baritone
- 03/23/1907 Frank Cohen's family to arrive soon.
- 05/02/1907 Ellen Cohen and family at Ellis Island.
- 10/13/1907 Lena Overend and Mr. (F) Coyne
- 06/06/1908 Thomas Cohen over Scarlet fever.
- 01/28/1909 Lawrence and Frank Cohen sing.
- 05/24/1909 Lawrence Cohen recites.
- 06/12/1909 Frank Coyne ushers at Overend wedding.
- 10/31/1909 L. Coyne and Leo Cohen play football
- 1910 US Census- all Cohen
- 12/11/1910 Miss Annie Coyne performs in Clinton.
- 01/18/1911 Frank Coyne weds Lena Overend.
- 12/13/1911 Lawrence Cohen recites.
- 12/29/1912 Annie Cohen dies.
- 05/25/1913 Frank and Leo Coyne play soccer.
- 09/29/1913 Lawrence Coyne plays left halfback.
- 12/02/1913 Lawrence Cohen recites.
- 04/20/1914 Leo Coyne plays football.
- 04/22/1914 Lawrence Cohen and Leo Coyne play foot ball
- 05/16/1914 Lawrence Coyne breaks leg.
- 06/03/1914 Lawrence Coyne goes to game.
- 06/17/1914 Leo Coyne plays soccer and Lawrence Cohen feels better.
- Both names used in the same column shows that 1914 was in the midst of the name change.
- 11/22/1914 Leo Coyne plays goalie.
- 07/24/1917 Ellen Cohen-4 sons
- 12/26/1918 Vincent Coyne home with Mrs. Ellen Coyne
- 1920 Census Everyone is a Coyne.
Ellen, Thomas and Lawrence never became US citizens and they seemed to use Cohen the longest. Thomas returned to the UK, using Cohen all the while, but he changed to Coyne on returning to the US in 1920. Indeed, one of the documents in his service record uses Coyne while he was still serving. Any letter or news article that may have originated from Ellen used Cohen until very late, she seems to have resisted the change the longest. During the Great War, Cohen and Coyne were used interchangeably.