What to do when your ancestor changed their names?

Do you ever really feel like your ancestor out of the blue appeared on Earth from one other planet? Or maybe they disappeared with no hint? Whereas it is potential your ancestor went right into a type of witness safety program, they doubtless modified their names.

Why Did Our Ancestors Change Their Names?

Once I was youthful, I did not just like the identify, Devon. It was eternally mispronounced and at all times related to males. My center identify Noel wasn’t higher. Texas slurred the 2 Christmas syllables collectively to type the phrase Nol.

I wished to alter my identify many instances, however I like the best way Devon Noel Lee sounds, so I am holding it.

Nevertheless, our ancestors modified their names for their very own causes:

  • They did not like their identify.
  • They’d the identical identify as many others in the identical city.
  • They found they weren’t the kids of who they thought they had been.
  • They wished to simplify their identify after they immigrated.
  • To avoid discrimination. Many Germans in America modified their surnames throughout WWI and WWI to keep away from anti-German sentiments.
  • They had been utilizing a nom dit name that was used to inform totally different households with the identical surname aside.
  • They wanted to cover from the legislation, ex-wives, or adversaries when going into exile or looking for asylum.

Within the US at present, altering your identify entails a variety of paperwork and charges. In contrast, people dwelling in eras earlier than formalized identification and record-keeping might discover altering their names as straightforward as altering their shirts.

This leaves many a family tree researcher to tug their hair out and curse these name-changing kin.

What, if something, can we do?

Watch this video.


Search For Data That Doc An Ancestor Who Modified Their Title

When you won’t discover the doc that definitively identifies a reputation change, generally it’s important to put in your detective hat. Listed here are few steps to work via a reputation change case.

  1. Overview Oral Historical past – Lisa Lisson wrote about a disappearing ancestor the place oral historical past helped her determine the identify adjustments of William Haley. A easy sentence like “We’re by some means associated to the Tribble household” could be a superb clue.
  2. Overview Beforehand Obtained Data – Overview all information you could have for an ancestor. Maybe you could have marriage and demise information following a reputation change. Maybe you could have delivery and census information of your ancestor within the house of their dad and mom. Search for clues in names, locations, and dates.
  3. Analyze the Names of Household Members – Once you’re researching identify adjustments, you HAVE to know the prolonged household. Maybe you may discover a potential ‘stranger’ within the houses of kids, siblings, and cousins, who’re truly the relative you search. Maybe you may discover naming patterns between the recognized relative and a possible particular person of curiosity.
  4. Get to Know the Neighbors – Take note of the neighbors to your ancestor. Analysis the neighbors of the ancestors. Does a ‘new’ neighbor have the identical traits as your ‘lacking’ ancestor? Did a gaggle of neighbors migrate and an individual matching your ancestor’s description (however not their identify) journey with them?
  5. Examine Surname Utilization Patterns – Significantly with adoptees and folk who use nom dit names, research the surname utilization patterns.
    1. My distant relative Michael Bowers/Kirchner grew up considering his surname was Bowers. He married with this final identify and had kids with this final identify. All of a sudden, he stopped utilizing the Bower surname and started utilizing Kirchner when he realized his surname at delivery was Kirchner, not Bowers. I needed to seek for each surnames to observe his paper path.
    2. Search every mixture of a nom dit. Suppose your ancestor’s surname seems as Deguire dit Desrosiers. Seek for surnames Deguire, Desrosiers, Deguire dit Desrosiers, and Deguire Desrosiers
  6. Develop a Principle – As you dig deep into descendancy analysis and looking out the neighbors, you might have a principle. Write out that principle after which try it out. Do the “Similar Title Rule Out” principle, however as a substitute of utilizing the identical names, analysis the potential relative match to remove people with that identify that may not be the identical and your name-changing kin.
  7. Analysis Data – Take a look at the information listed under and extra information to search out proof to your principle.
  8. Check with DNA – Relying upon how far again the name-changer seems on your loved ones tree, you possibly can evaluate your DNA matches to find out in the event that they relate to the relative with a distinct surname. You will not essentially have the ability to use Ancestry ThruLines or MyHeritage Principle of Household Relativity to resolve the difficulty. You could possibly check out totally different names to see what occurs, however you may doubtless need to use Chromosomes Browsers, What Are The Odds, and different instruments to puzzle out the reply.

Andy shared how DNA and family tree information helped him establish his name-changing ancestor’s historical past on this webinar DNA 40 Yr Thriller.

Search For Data That Doc An Ancestor Who Modified Their Title

Be suggested that this family tree analysis course of could be VERY painstakingly sluggish. However, in lots of circumstances, it is potential to resolve. I’ve recognized a number of conditions the place names have been modified with decision.

  1. Pension Data – When a veteran, or widow, wished to acquire a pension file, they needed to show their identification and enlistment. In lots of pension recordsdata, the index card can have an “Additionally Identified As” identify recorded. In different circumstances, the names are included within the packet.
  2. Passport Functions – I’ve listed Passport Functions for FamilySearch. Many of those paperwork document the varied names a person makes use of. These information recurrently doc immigrants who simplified their names after they moved to the US.
  3. Naturalization Data – Whereas looking out unsuccessfully for the Naturalization information for my German Immigrant Ancestors with the final identify Geiszler, Hoppe, and Mack, I paid consideration to the information I browsed. Many of those information recognized the identify of a person looking for citizenship beforehand used and the brand new identify they had been utilizing within the US.
  4. Newspaper Data – Newspapers may make it difficult to find out identify adjustments. Nonetheless, obituaries, police studies, court docket circumstances, and even way of life options could document the ‘beforehand often called’ names of your ancestors together with the brand new names they used. Remember to discover ethnic newspapers for the unique variations of your ancestor’s names.
  5. Court docket Data – Whether or not your ancestor performed land transactions underneath totally different names or turned concerned in felony circumstances. Courthouse information could aid you uncover a reputation change.
  6. County Histories – Consider some county histories as brag books or the “Who’s Who of _____ County.” Many biographies in these county histories have recorded “Additionally Identified As” names for our kin.

Did you discover that this listing does not embrace researching Ellis Island information for identify adjustments? A family tree delusion that should die means that employees on Ellis Island modified your ancestor’s identify. Quite a few articles and movies have dispelled the explanation for the parable, nevertheless it persists.

Do analysis Ellis Islands to your immigrant ancestors, however do not use these as a technique for locating your name-changing ancestors.

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