Tips from the Pros: Same Name Blues, from George G. Morgan

George Foreman isn’t the first person to name more than one child in by the same name. Seasoned genealogists find this again and again, especially in cases where the first child given the name died early in life. In other cases, the use of the same name could have been used to honor persons from both sides of the family who shared the same given name. In other cases, it is possible that two persons were called “John”–one may have been named John while the other may have been named Jonathan. Family members may have referred to them as “Young John” and “Old John,” but official primary source documents may have made no such distinction. Study the events of these contemporaries’ lives and look for anything that can help distinguish one from another.

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9 thoughts on “Tips from the Pros: Same Name Blues, from George G. Morgan

  1. I have one of those “John”s in my family that I am researching and in fact, I am having a very difficult time of differentiating which John Rowland is my 3rd great uncle or my 4th great grandfather ! Census records and headstones are making my problem confusing, in addition, there is only a four year gap between the two of them. Neither left a will.

  2. I have the same thing in my family only the common name is Ann. My mother Ann’s eldest sister was named Ann. She was the second of 10 children, eight of whom survived to adulthood. She died in 1920. My grandparents still wanted to have an Ann in the family so my mother;the youngest of the 10 received the name. The realy cool, part was I found the first Ann on the 1920 census before she died.

  3. In my mother’s family there’s a great-uncle who confounded me for awhile. He married, named his first son after him (call him Junior #1). His wife left and went back to her Mama and “John” re-married. You guessed it, he named the first son from wife No. 2 “John” (Junior #2). There are news stories in Ancestry’s “Historical Newspaper” collection and initially I couldn’t figure out whether they were talking about Daddy, Junior #1 or Junior #2. It turns out that Junior #2 was drowned at age 15 early one morning while driving a mule on the Erie Canal. But Junior #1 grew up, married, and you guessed it– named HIS first son “John”

  4. I have multiple instances of duplicated names.

    1700′s Granville Co NC, every Robert, Francis, Thomas and William Hester has sons and grandson’s names Robert, Francis, Thomas and William – who was father, son, cousin etc in the same county? Court records, taxes, marriage bonds and wills haven’t helped much.

    I also have 3 Jonathan/John Segraves in mid=1800′s and have come to believe there were at least 2 Thomas, all died young except one. It’s a burned county and trying to figure out the widow’s, children, and the difference between the men is challenging. Few owned land, and if so it was less than 150 acres and most were renters. Tax records don’t help much , no wills exist and no marriage bonds exist.

    In my Hargis lineage, every Abraham, Shadrach and Thomas had sons and grandsons named Abraham, Shadrach and Thomas. And cousins of the same name tended to migrate together with very little difference in ages.

    Where possible this is where tracing the siblings with the unusual names is important, especially when an uncommon middle name or given name appears in various generations.

  5. Having been a Junior, I remember well being called “Little Andy” whenever my father was around. My grandmother Willemina Braak had a much more difficult situation. Her Dutch mother and father had 11 children: 4 boys named Hendrik or Hendricus and two girls named Hendrica. None of whom lived to maturity. Oh yes, and there was anothe Willemina, but she also died young.

  6. After many, many years my mother finally got around to do some heavy duty sorting of papers. Knowing I was tracing her Weiser family tree she told me she was almost breathless when she came across a particular piece of paper. It gave actual proof to what before had only been family lore.

    When my grandfather, George Henry Weiser, was born in 1895 his mother called him George Henry, and so he was known. In 1901 his brother Elwood Lamison Weiser was born, and so by known. Flash forward to the year 1942 when my grandfather needed to obtain a Social Security card. No record of his birth could be found. With some digging, instead what the office worker found was two children of Elwood Lamison Weiser and Louisa Virginia Little born in 1895 and 1901 both named Elwood Lamison Weiser. My grandfather went home and brought his mother in tow back to that office.

    Both children’s names were correct. Apparently my great- grandfather had told the nurses that my grandfather was to be named after him, Elwood Lamison, without consulting his wife. My great-grandmother, not ever knowing that happened, just assumed her first born had been named after her father, George Henry, and a second son named Elwood Lamison after her husband, as she had wished. My grandfather immediately applied for that name change.

    The paper my mother found was the original Social Security name change certification that finally gave confirmation to what she had been told.

  7. I am looking for the parents of my great-greatgrandfather, William Nichols. He was married in 1837 in Scott County, Kentucky. There are two documented William Nichols from Scott County, KY, neither of whom are my William. Checking deeds, etc. is not productive since the William Nichols I find might me any of these Williams. He died after 1895 in Olathe, Kansas, and I know of at least one other William Nichols who was living there at that time. Some day I will figure out how to get the info on him.

  8. Alas! In my family there are multiple generations of men named John Smith. I almost gave up searching for this family as there were just too many John Smiths in the broad geographic area where I thought they might have lived. It took some kind genealogy angels who were not related to finally make the break through I needed to research this major line.

  9. My 3 Great Grandfather named his first born son REUBEN(wife’s fathers name) BROWN(wife’s maiden name) DYKE family name. After the death of his first wife he remarried and had another son naming him Reuben Brown Dyke. Can you imagine the second wife’s reaction having to name HER son after the 1st wife’s father, and using the 1st wife maiden name as a middlename. Wonder how many days my 3 Great Grandfather had to sleep in a different room. No wonder they never had anymore children.

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