My maternal grandfather was born 106 years ago today. I never called him anything other than Granddad, but that name is obviously not listed for him on any actual record.

His baptismal record indicated his name was Johann Heinrich Frederick Ufkes and that he was born on 27 January 1917 to Fred.[sic] and Trientje (Janssen) Ufkes. His birth certificate gives his name as John Henry Ufkes and indicates the same date of birth.

The only other item showing two middle names is his tombstone which only includes them as initials. Seemingly ironic that the two records providing both names (or references to them) are ones created at the beginning and ending of his life.

Which name should I call Granddad by in my software and other records? I use John Henry as that’s what he used during his entire lifetime (other than going by John H. to distinguish himself from a cousin with the same first name). Other than occasionally being referred to as Johnnie by some who had known him his entire life, I never heard him referred to as anything other than John.

I transcribe the baptismal entry the way it is written. I transcribe the tombstone the way it is written. I make a notation regarding his name in my software and indicate “first hand knowledge” of the name he chose to go by and why.

Records will not always be consistent. People may choose to use names other than the ones they were given at birth. Transcribe things as written and explain differences when you know reasons.



One response

  1. Thank you for this post. I come from at least one family where middle names rather than first names were used by many people. I knew my mother’s first name but she almost never used it & disliked it. Two days before she died at 92+, she asked me to go to the nurse’s station in the hospital & tell the staff that they should only address her by her middle name. If they called her by her first, legal name, she would think they were speaking to someone else.

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