Sunday, December 15, 2013

Family Names

Does your family have names—first names—that are handed down generation after generation? Do you know where the names originated?

My mother’s name was Betty Louise. I never thought much about it, until I discovered that my grandma’s name was Ida Louise. Upon further research, I found that my great-grandmother’s name was Louise, and my great-great-grandmother’s name was Louise; four continuous generations of Louise.

My mother skipped the Louise name with my sisters and me (although I was originally supposed to be name Kathryn Louise, but my parents changed their minds after I was born, concluding I didn't look like a Kathryn). But one of my sisters gave her daughter Louise as a middle name. And so the tradition continues.

As most genealogists will attest, researching continuous generations of men with the same first and last names can be very frustrating. In my family, the same line in fact, my great-great-grandmother Louise’s father’s name was Ernst; her brother’s name was Ernst, and his son, her nephew’s name was Ernst. When I find land records for Ernst Landt in Manitowoc County, Wis., which Ernst is it? Census records, birth records, death records, etc., can help make some sense of who is who, but what if those records aren't clear or are unavailable?

Everyone deserves to be recognized and remembered. If you’re going to continue to pass down a family name, at least give your child a unique middle name or middle initial. Trust me, future family genealogists will thank you.

My great-grandmother, Louise Kampf Kniss

LLet me help you find the original “Louise” or “Ernst” in your family.

Discover your roots and watch the branches of your family tree begin to grow.

For more information on my Minnesota Family History Research services, visit and click on Family History Research in the left-hand column.

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