Same Names Are Not Always Related

It can be tempting to think that individuals with the same last name are related to each other when they end up settling in the same area. That’s not necessarily true.

My maternal grandmother’s maiden name was Habben. My maternal grandfather’s grandfather’s sisters both married men with the last name of Habben. They were from the same general area of Germany and some of them lived in the same area of Illinois for a time in the late 1800s. They were not related to each other at all.

It can be tempting when two individuals with a somewhat unusual last name live in proximity to each other to assume that they are related–that they have to be related. They do not have to be related. Sometimes names that are rare in one area are common in the location where the family is actually from (and where the last name originated).

It’s a good idea to research families that settle in the same area and share an unusual name. Just don’t force them to be related when there is no evidence of that connection.