Sunday, August 5, 2018

How to Trace the Changing Surname


The Lincoln - Lancaster Genealogical Society (Nebraska) specifically asked for this presentation.  It's an eyeopener. We click, and click and click and never find that elusive ancestor.  I suggest you pull away from the redundant clicking and attack this issue with a plan. 

Women and Surnames
We know that in 1866 there was an article on Keeping Their Maiden Names in Addition to the Husbands Surname. Wow! Our ancestors were progressive.  You did it, didn't you? You just googled what actresses in 1866?  Then you realized, oh....stage!  

Norwegian Surnames
Well, surnames have always been a pain. This early writer attempted to make sense of Norwegian Names. 
 
 So when someone says to you...the records just don't exist.   Think about it! Our ancestors even had their names legally changed through the courts, or in the military.  
1917, Inquirer, PA, Vol 176, Issue 25, pg. 10
I mean really how did: 
  • Ber become Berkowicz (and many other variations)
  • Banham became King
  • Samuelsson became Tinberg
  • Sadorkiewicz become Weinstock
  • Whitaker became Bagshaw.  
  • And, where did Cuplin even come from? All of the close DNA matches were Copelands.   Yes, we have to pull out all the stops, including DNA to solve this surname changing issue! 
So Where Are the Records?
In all the usual spots, repositories, historical collections. But, we must have a keen eye on the documents. Here are a few: 
  • National Archives especially for 1) Native American Indian to Enrollee Names, 2) Prisoner aliases 3) Military Records
  • Court Records for alias prisoners
  • State Archives: especially for early Americans where name changes were noted in minutes
    1754, Pennsylvania Archives, fold3.com
    • Prison Records: State prison records, and Attorney General Criminal Records (for some reason, duh, men and women criminals had lots of names). 
    • Naturalization and Declaration of Intent Records (be sure to study them and pair with ship manifest. 
    • Social Security Applications and Claims
    • Marriage Records
    That's where we start! Of course there are so many more resources we must scour to identify and verify!

    Kathleen Brandt
    a3Genealogy.com
    accurate accessible answers