Evolution of the Zehler name:
Finally, after the family came to America, their name was rendered in various spellings, usually reflecting the writer's guess based on the sound of the name.  The first recorded use of the name occurs in the baptism record of Franciscus [Frank], son of Petrus Zoeler in 1856.  Over the next decade or so, various spellings were used in the church register and the federal census.  However, by 1870, these records consistently use Zehler; as the standard spelling.  This my reflect the "French" spelling shown above.  However, it is also clear that family members knew how to spell their own name.  This is well illustrated by the will of Peter Zehler, written in 1886.  The will begins "I Peter Zoehler", and is signed, in German script, "Peter Zöhler".  Characteristically, the Petition for Peter's estate uses the new spelling, Zehler, throughout.
Two isolated changes have occurred in the spelling of the Zehler name since the family came to America.  The first came in the descendants of Frederick Zehler; his descendants bare the name Zahler.  After the death of Frederick, his widow, Alice, moved from Michigan back to Western New York.  Family members relate that Alice became paranoid about her Zehler in-laws, fearing that they would try to take away her son Floyd.  Thinking it would help protect him, she changed his name to Zahler.  This small branch of the family has retained that name ever since.
The other usual name change occurred with Jacob Zehler, one of the Zehler twins.  Jacob reached adulthood in the mid 1870's, a time of poor economic conditions in the U.S.  So, according to descendants, he decided to change his name to Sailer, hoping that an English sounding name would make it easier to get a job.  He ended up as a saloon owner in Buffalo, New York.
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