This Dutch surname of VOORHIES was a locational name meaning 'one who lived in front of the Hees or Hess', the name of four places in Holland. The name is also spelt VOORHIES, HESS, HESSE and VOORHEIS. Dutchmen who have surnames from towns, cities or districts, are mostly distinguished by the prefix VAN. In the United States the use of capital and initial letters and spaces is optional with the particular family. The Dutch language is most closely related to Low German, and its surnames have been influenced both by German and French naming practices. The preposition 'van' is found especially with habitation names, and the 'de' mainly with nicknames. Habitation names were originally acquired by the original bearer of the name, who, having lived by, at or near a place, would then take that name as a form of identification for himself and his family. When people lived close to the soil as they did in the Middle Ages, they were acutely conscious of every local variation in landscape and countryside. Every field or plot of land was identified in normal conversation by a descriptive term. If a man lived on or near a hill or mountain, or by a river or stream, forests and trees, he might receive the word as a family name. Almost every town, city or village in early times, has served to name many families. Eva HESSE (l936-l970) was the German born American sculptor, born in Hamburg into a Jewish family. Her family emigrated to the United States in l939 and settled in New York, where she remained until her death. She attended the Pratt Institute, New York, from l952 to l953, and Cooper Union from l954 to l957. From l965 she worked in a variety of unusual materials, including rubber, plastic, string and polythene. These were made into hauntingly bizarre objects designed to rest on the floor or against a wall or even be suspended from the ceiling. Among the humbler classes of European society, and especially among illiterate people, individuals were willing to accept the mistakes of officials, clerks and priests as officially bestowing a new version of their surname, just as they had meekly accepted the surname they had been born with. In North America, the linguistic problems confronting immigration officials at Ellis Island in the 19th century were legendary as a prolific source of Anglicization.
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