Member of the National Genealogical Society 2018
Member of the New Mexico Genealogical Society 2018

Searching Names For Genealogy - "They Would Have Liked This Name Better!"

Oh, the fun of searching relatives when tracing your family tree. And for this one, I'm going to use my grandmother's headstone which was created in 1991.

My grandmother's name never, ever bore the name "Mark". She was legally Alyce Madeline Bannister upon birth. She became legally Alyce Madeline Patton upon marriage. And eventually, she legally took back her maiden name - a name she will hold through eternity. 

But I was not the executor to the estate and that particular person had sole decision on the creation of the headstone. "She would have liked that better." Really? That was her brother's name - not hers. And this was 1991. 

When creating a family tree, people always wonder why names change on a yearly basis - particularly middle initials. The answer is "because they could."

We improved with the creation of Social Security and governmental agencies forced us to be consistent. We couldn't just change our middle names or the spelling of our last name because we were mad at someone. Name changes had to be done legally through the courts.

I have an ancestor who was most likely born in Massachusetts, but the family chose to change it to Vermont on his headstone. "He would have liked that better." Yippee. It makes tracing correct genealogy a challenge.

When you're tracing your family tree, don't worry too much about the little changes. They were allowed to do it in those days because someone wanted a new life, someone got their nose out of joint, someone really didn't know and took a guess - the reasons are endless. However, you may wish to make a note of it in the appropriate section of the tree.

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