This week’s theme is “Name’s the Same.” Is there a name that keeps popping up in your family tree? Have you had to sort out multiple people with the same name?
Anyone with Swedish ancestry struggles with this one! Prior to about 1900, most men in Sweden were named Anders, Karl, Erik, Johan, Nils, Lars, Petter, Gustav and Olov (with a few spelling variants). With the patronymic naming traditions, that means most of the male surnames were variants of Andersson, Carlsson, Eriksson, Johansson, Larsson, Pettersson, Gustafsson and Olsson. Same for the women, with common first names being Anna, Britta, Catarina, Christina, Elisabet, Ingrid, Kerstin, Margareta, and Maria and female surnames being Andersdotter, Carlsdotter, Ericksdotter, Johansdotter, Larsdotter, Pettersdotter, Gustafsdotter and Olsdotter.
That means over the 200-300 year span of church records and three-fourths of my heritage being Swedish, identical combinations of first names and surnames can appear over and over again but for different people.
My favorite example of this is for Peter Anders Johansson, my great-great-grandfather and father of Gust Rudeen. Both of Peter’s grandfathers were named Måns Persson and both lived in the same small community of Marbäck. Boy is THAT confusing!
This sort of illustrates why Swedish children refer to their grandparents as “farfar” (father’s father), “farmor” (father’s mother), “morfar” (mother’s father), and “mormor” (mother’s mother). They just give up on names entirely and refer to them by the relationship!
I looked through my family tree and found at least 8 “John Johnsons”, 4 “Andrew Andersons” and 3 “John Nelsons” (names americanized) and I’m not sure I even found them all.