Names of All the Grandchildren

Repeated names can be clues to names of earlier family members. Repeated names are not guaranteed to mean that any given ancestor had a particular name, but names used over and over may mean something.

I was looking over a list of heirs of Barbara Haase who died in 1903 and realized that out of her twentysome grandchildren, two were named Kate. I had never noticed that before. Does it mean anything? At this point, I’m not certain. However, if I eventually get “candidates” parents of  Barbara, I’ll work first on any couple where the wife is named Katherine or the name Katherine appears frequently.

Don’t just look in your direct line of descent for name clues.

Nominated for the Family Tree 40

Genealogy Tip of the Day has been nominated for one of the Family Tree Top 40 blogs. Remember that Tip of the Day is not about being long-winded, selling stuff, or dreaming up things we’ve never done or used. Just quick tips.

Give us a vote–and pretend you’re from Chicago–vote often.

That’s it for the plug–now back to the tips!

Thanks for the nomination.

Same Name Does Not Mean Same Person

It does not matter how “odd” the name is, even if one detail fits. A very distant relative of mine claimed online that my aunt died in Chicago in 1935, because he found someone with her same name dying there.

Problem is that the Chicago person isn’t the relative he thinks it is. If he had done research in the local records where the family actually lived (a distance from Chicago), he would have located the person’s probate file which indicated she died in the 1950s.

The same’s the same doesn’t mean the person is. When in doubt, check it out. And if you aren’t in doubt, get that way.

Did They Run Back Home?

While tracking a relative through census records, it appears that she left Missouri shortly before her first marriage. Forty years later, after a divorce, she appears in that county in one census record. If I had not known where her family was from, her residence there would have seemed pretty random. Now I’m reminded that occasionally when a residence seems “random” that there might just be something I don’t know.

First Name Translations

Keep in mind that if your ancestor “translated” his or her name they might have used conventional translations others from their ethnic area used or they might have made up their own. Some non-English names had common translations (Jans and Johann for John, for example) and others did not (the Greek Panagiotis, for example). Some individuals just might take an English name that had the first letter as their original name. I have relatives whose names were actually Trientje. Some used Tena because it had part of the same sound. Others used Katherine as the names have the same original root. It just depends.

People had options of what name they could use if they chose to translate.

Where They Knew No One

We often suggest to researchers that people move in groups and settle where they know someone. And most of the time people do. Keep in mind that once in a while people move where they know absolutely no one. One ancestral couple could not be located. They simply evaporated. They were not near any of their chidlren, any of his siblings, or any of her siblings. They migrated to an area of Missouri where no one they knew lived. Sometimes it does happen.

Unusual Combinations May Just Be A Fluke

Don’t assume that just because the names are “close” that they have to be a match. I was looking for information on a William Bell who married a Martha Sargent in Iowa. Turns out there was another William Bell in the same part of Iowa who married a Lorinda Sargent. Totally two separate couples from two separate families. How many William Bells can marry a Sargent and live a few counties away from each other? Apparently two. Two distinct ones.Remember that sometimes there is a relationship and sometimes there is not.

Are You Reading and Paying Attention?

Are you really reading, thinking about, and interpreting the information you have found? Or are your eyes merely passing over the words, looking for that obvious clue? Sometimes the biggest clues are not “obvious.” Go back and re-read and think about what a document says. Are there clues you bypassed the first time you “sped read” that record?