Monday, August 15, 2011

Be Prepared to be Surprised

Once you start looking into your family’s history, be prepared for some surprises. In following my maternal grandfather’s line, I discovered what I considered to be an unusual custom. 
Several generations ago, when large families – 10 to 15 children – were the norm and the child mortality was high, it was common to find more than one child within a family with the same name. This would happen after a child died; the next child born of the same gender would often be given the dead child’s name.
To say I was surprised at this custom would be putting it mildly. My initial reaction was that each child deserved his or her own name. And wouldn’t you get a little superstitious when the child with that name keeps dying?  In my family, my grandfather’s grandmother was Mary #3.
But then I began to run into it more and more often. I have heard these children called “replacements,” but have come to believe the custom was more of a memorial, a tribute to the deceased child.   What will surprise you about your family’s history?
Discover your roots and watch the branches of your family tree begin to grow.
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