Researching Regular and/or Repeating Names


Previously I posted a blog “Thanks Heavens for Unorthodox Names”. It discussed the benefits an ancestor’s unusual name can give to your family history researching.

But of course, not everyone in your family tree will have irregular names. Most will have regular and common names that are sometimes repeating generation after generation.

Searching those parts of your family can be more difficult. However there are some keys I have found to helping with these ‘regular’ family names:

1. It is always important to keep all main info known with each of the family members names. But even more important with regular and/ or repeating names:

  • birth date (year at the least, but day and month is best)
  • middle name or at least middle initial
  • birth place (state and country is good, but city as well is best)
  • death date and place (with details as noted above for birth)
  • marriage date and place (w/ details as noted above for birth)
  • spouse name (first name good, but maiden name best)

2. When searching on-line put in all the main info known with the name, including the middle name or initial, key places and dates.

Most search engines on-line with genealogy sites are smart enough to then show you their best finds first – based on the name with all key date and then next finding and giving listings without some of the key data.

3. Having a regular name repeated generation to generation can be a sign of a bigger family connection and something to be proud of about your family genealogy.

For example on my mother’s side they are all of Russian Mennonite descent. And my family tree has about 15 ‘Paul Tschetters’ in it. In fact when I was young I remember people calling my maternal grandfather ‘Paul P’. and I did not understand why they did not just call him Paul.

I found out later that my g-grandfather was named Paul J. Tschetter and other great uncles and distant cousins were named: Paul A. Tschetter and Paul K. Tschetter and Paul S. Tschetter and. Paul J.P. Tschetter and so on…

It was little annoying as most of them were born, lived and died in the same part of eastern South Dakota.

I really had to focus on their middle initial AND their key birth, marriage and death dates. To keep them all straight.

It was years later when researching the migration of the Tschetters to the U.S. that I discovered the name Paul Tschetter was key to their family history.

This excerpt is from the “Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia On-line”:

Paul Tschetter (1842-1919) – In 1873 he was a member of the delegation sent to St. Petersburg Russian to meet with Alexander II in the matter of continued exemption from military service.

Because the answer was not entirely satisfactory a delegation of twelve Mennonites and Hutterites visited the American frontier later in 1873 to investigate the possibilities of emigration. Among the twelve were Paul Tschetter. Tschetter appeared before President Grant to plead for exemption from military service for his people who were to settle in America. In 1874 Paul Tschetter brought his family to America and settled in South Dakota.

Ok, so that is why they named so many generations Paul. It is a name with a lot of family history to be proud of!

Good luck in your family search. It is very likely you will find something as well to be proud of in your family tree when you shake it up.




2 thoughts on “Researching Regular and/or Repeating Names

  1. I noticed you do see a lot of people with the same name and in some cases a name that sticks around in the family for generations and generations. It is really interesting that there are so Paul’s in your family history. I like how you didn’t know why before, but after doing some research you found out why Paul Tschetter was key to family history. I wish I had more time to look into my family history. It would be very interesting to learn about past generations and the changes and similarities that are still present today.

  2. That is crazy that you have so many Pauls in your family! They must have really loved that name! haha. For some reason a lot of people in my family have irregular names. Just looking at my grandparents: Edwin, Janet, LeRoy, and Shirley, they aren’t exactly common! Haha.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s