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According to some media (e.g., International Business Times, Washington Times), the grandfather of Donald Trump, Frederick Trump, was originally called Friedrich Drumpf but changed his name after immigrating to the US.

Other sources (the "The Trumps…" book[1], Last Week Tonight (video, which at 18:42 references the book The Trumps)) claim that, while the original family name was indeed "Drumpf," it was actually changed much earlier (in the seventeenth century).

The German media outlet Die Welt says that Frederick Trump was never called "Drumpf" but doesn't address the other claim.

There are therefore two questions:

  1. Was the original family name of the Trump family "Drumpf"?
  2. If so, when did that change occur?

[1] The Trumps: Three Generations of Builders and a Presidential Candidate

  • The book might be (and probably is) more reliable than the online articles, but since I don't know the book or the author (or, more specifically, cannot attest to the expert status of the author), I wasn't sure. I also don't know how she arrived at her conclusion and whether that conclusion was justified or not. – Muschkopp Mar 1 '16 at 10:49
  • I was confused and you are right. Wikipedia also tells both stories and I am betting some politics blogger is working on solving this puzzle right now. German linguistics might be involved. – Avery Mar 1 '16 at 11:25
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  • Probably true. since the term 'trump' means what germans would call a 'trumpf' but ye olde spelling in germany was a mess, so that 't' and 'd' were often misused in regular words as well as names. this spelling shenanigans even went so far as to use letters which aren't even considered standard nowadays like 'Æ' instead of 'A' or 'E'. therefore the wrong spelling of 'drumpf' is likely a result of the time and was changed to trump because that would carry the meaning while getting rid of an erroneous spelling. – garglblarg Jun 1 '16 at 14:14
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    @garglblarg Æ has evolved into Ä in modern German. Older spellings were not so much erroneous as simply predating standardization. Perhaps the local dialect used a voiced D. – phoog Aug 10 '16 at 17:18
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Inconclusive.

While the vast majority of pages citing the Trump-Drumpf link seem to be citing the book The Trumps: Three Generations That Built an Empire by Gwenda Blair, she seems to be saying different things at different times regarding this issue.

This page describes the family as having changed their last name while they were residing in Kallstadt during the Thirty Years' War in Germany. (Transcribed from a screenshot of the preview of the book on Amazon.com.)

In 1608 Hanns Drumpf, an itinerant lawyer, showed up in Kallstadt, then a muddy settlement of fewer than six hundred people. Most were involved in winegrowing and did not welcome newcomers into the vineyards. But soon after Drumpf’s arrival, the Thirty Years’ War engulfed Germany and ushered in one of the worst periods in Kallstadt’s bloody history. The village burned to the ground at least five times—the period was so chaotic that nobody is sure of the exact number—and at one point only ten families remained in residence. By war’s end in 1648, about 40 percent of its inhabitants had died, and economic activity came to a standstill.4 It was a scene of near total devastation; it was also an opportunity, however unbidden, for Drumpf’s family to gain entry into Kallstadt lift. By the end of the century a winegrower named John Philip Trump—the family changed the spelling of its name in the course of the war—was a taxpayer in good standing. Although their holdings were never more than modest, the Trumps had become part of the village’s social elite.

However, the author later reversed her position during an interview with Deutsche Welle, which stated that:

Gwenda Blair: His grandfather Friedrich Drumpf came to the United States in 1885 which was the height of German immigration to the United States when he was 16. His family was from Kallstadt, winegrowers.

Therefore, barring any additional evidence (such as the immigration papers of Friedrich Trump/Drumpf), the originator of the claim has contradicted herself, and is unlikely to be considered a reliable source.

The recent immigration papers that appeared on Wikipedia are also suspect - the original image upload did not cite a source for the image, and scans not produced by actual archival organisations are likely to be at risk of tampering. Without evidence that the papers came from a reliable source, it is unlikely that these papers would settle the issue.

However, another recent addition to Wikipedia has an image of a passport application form signed "Fred Trumpf" which is claimed to come from the paywalled site ancestry.com. If this document is shown to be genuine, it could be possible evidence that settles the issue.

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    Snopes seems to agree: snopes.com/donald-drumpf – JasonR Mar 1 '16 at 19:32
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    @Avery I don't see how these are "immigration papers" by any definition. It merely appears to be an unsourced database entry that may or may not be correct. – March Ho Mar 2 '16 at 11:08
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    @March Ho These are the immigration records from the Wikipedia. The name (Friedr. Trumpf), while difficult to read, can be found at number 133. – Muschkopp Mar 2 '16 at 14:52
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    It looks to me like the narrative might actually be "Drumpf -> Trumpf" in the 1600's, then "Trumpf -> Trump" by the immigrating grandfather. That would reconcile everything. – Bobson Mar 2 '16 at 17:02
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    Immigration records from generations ago are sketchy, at best. My last name got changed because the immigration officials didn't like the difficulty in dealing with the Finnish family name we originally had. Then they spelled it one way on the papers (one "t", and we eventually used two), but we wound up using a different spelling. Using those hand-written, ad hoc records as any kind of authoritative source of information is giving them more credence than they deserve. – PoloHoleSet Sep 14 '16 at 19:38

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