In families where the same name was used repeatedly, it can be easy to:

  • merge two different people with the same name into being the same person
  • confuse two different people with the same name and assign the wrong record or event to the wrong person
  • overlookyet another relative with the same name–there could always be one more

Correctly sifting out people with the same name can be difficult. Look at records that mention:

  • age
  • middle initials–if they even have them
  • spouse
  • occupational clues
  • specific residence or residential clues
  • relatives

And look at every record you can get your hands on in the area where all these people with the same name lived.



2 Responses

  1. I have a 4th great grandfather named Ambrose Ship (later Shipp) who had a son in 1807 or so who he named Ambrose. When his first wife died, he remarried quickly, and he and 2nd wife also had a son they named Ambrose. I know this sometimes happens in families where a deceased older child’s name is given to a child born later. Unfortunately, especially concerning the father and his first son named Ambrose have been mixed up together with the son being connected as husband of the wife that was his dad’s second wife and vice versa just due to both having the name Ambrose. The marriage records, for example, do not contain identifying information to let one know which Ambrose it referred to. There was a Shipp family tree written and I believe published in 1946 that contained the errors that have been copied and recopied. I believe it is a bit more straight now, if only in what I’ve compiled and written about them. I’ve seen some changes in information added to websites about Ambrose and son Ambrose as to who they married after posting on Ancestry a written article about each and items that help prove the ideas presented. The widow’s pension application based on a son’s Civil War service and death gave the marriage date and her husband Ambrose’s death date, plus, a transcription and an abstract of an 1830 affidavit gave 1st wife’s death date, which was a month before he remarried. It seems the older son married in Indiana in 1832 and had 4 daughters, then died, as his wife remarried in 1838, and there are no records about him after that. The father Ambrose is listed on the 1850 census for Taylor County, KY, with the 2nd wife and their children. Her pension statement that he died on 11 Jun 1850 and a look at when the census was completed showed he was deceased when enumerated on the census. Instructions for census takers available on the census website said that persons who died after 1 Jun 1850 were to be listed and described as if living. His son born about 1807 was not there, so the husband Ambrose who died 11 Jun was the older man.
    If this is too lengthy, just edit or delete. Thanks! I have followed your writings for a number of years, and they have been very helpful to me in becoming more accurate in doing my tree. Thank you!

    • Not too lengthy at all! Pension records are great records to help sort some of these things out.
      Glad to hear that my postings have been helpful to your research!

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