He was christened Johann Michael Trautvetter in Bad Salzungen, Germany, in 1796, but his call name was Michael. He’s never referred to as Johann or John in any records in the Untied States after his immigration–it’s always Michael. The “call name” is the name that a person is called. For many Germans during the time period Johann Michael Trautvetter was alive, their first name was not their call name.

Those who immigrated may never have even used their first name in the United States or wherever they settled. Instead they opted to just use their call name as their actual name.

The 1796 christening entry for Michael (which is what I call him) reminds us not to assume. The underlined name in this christening entry is the father’s name, not the name of the child. Other locations and other pastors or priests may use a different form for their entries. Always pays to not assume that records in point A are just like those in point B.

The Genealogy Tip of the Day book is just about ready! Add your name to be notified when it is ready for distribution. Call names are one of the many things that Jim Beidler discusses in The Family Tree German Genealogy Guide: How to Trace Your Germanic Ancestry in Europe.



2 Responses

  1. Sometimes people, even in the US, had a preferred name, especially if they didn’t like their given name. My grandfather’s half-brother went through life as Loyd and I never heard anyone call him anything else (including his own family). During all my genealogy research he never appeared in any records as anything else. Then not long ago I saw that someone had put Cyrus on as his first name, so I went to his son and asked. He confirmed that Cyrus was indeed his father’s given name, but that he hated it and never used it. And it wasn’t something anyone ever thought to mention until I brought it up.

  2. My German great grandfather went by either of his names Johan Anton Hork, sometimes John, sometimes Anton, and even Andrew. One has to wonder whether the recording clerk just recorded an Americanized version of names.

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