I enjoyed Sharon Dirlam's story about her family roots (Aug. 30). It appears that her un-Germanic sounding surname is not a common one despite the fact that a place name exists in Germany.
You don't have to be Irish to agree that my surname, Gillen, is also an uncommon name in Ireland. I am nearly 80 years of age and born in Carbondale, Pa., which is 16 miles from Honesdale, where the Dirlams settled.
My grandparents left Ireland about the same time as her ancestors, but I will never know when, simply because I neglected to inquire when my parents and grandparents were alive. In the middle of the 19th Century, Honesdale was populated mostly by Germans, but Carbondale attracted Welsh coal miners, followed by their Celtic cousins, the Irish.
The Irish, next to the Germans, are the second most numerous (surnames) in the United States.
Incidentally, Ellis Island didn't exist in 1854.