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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Van Vogt... or just Vogt?

A. E. Van Vogt has been a topic of recent conversation in one of the groups I'm a member of and, in passing, someone mentioned an interview with author Karl Schroeder in which he discussed growing up in Manitoba. The interview includes the following:
Schroeder learned only a few years ago that that the great "golden age" SF writer A.E. van Vogt grew up in southern Manitoba in the same town as his mother. "His family were Mennonites, too, and my mother remembers the Vogts (he added the "van" later in life)," says Schroeder, "So I'm actually the second SF writer to come out of the area." 
With birth, death and census records for Canada now more widely available, I thought it worth checking and, indeed, it seems that the man we commonly call Alfred Elton van Vogt was actually born Alfred Vogt.

This was made clear in his naturalization papers, submitted in 1952, which give his name as "formerly" Alfred Vogt.

His family were Russian, census records recording his family as living in Saskatchewan at the time of the 1916 Canadian census. His father was Henry Vogt, a 30-year-old merchant, and his mother, 29-year-old Agnes; together with their three sons Arthur, Alfred and Edmund, they lived in the village of Neville, in the municipality of Whiska Creek. By 1921, the family had expanded to include Edna and Ira, and Henry was working as a barrister.

In earlier census returns, Henry gives his name as Heinrich, reflecting his ancestry. Heinrich Vogt was born in Manitoba on 9 May 1886, the son of Henry and Ida (or Eda) Vogt, who had emigrated from Russia. Ida was widowed by 1901 and had married again, to Abraham Schmiet, a year or so later. By 1906, they had a combined family of 14 children aged between 1 and 20.

Voter lists show Henry and Agnes Vogt in 1949; by 1962, the two are listed as van Vogt, living at 374 Arlington Street, Winnipeg. Agnes was widowed in the 1960s.

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