That Wasn’t My Ancestor’s Name!

I see it time and time again.  Maybe I was more open to believing that records could be all screwed up, I don’t know.  I was helping someone research her family history.  However, the more that I brought to her attention for review, the more I heard, “That’s not how my ancestor spelled it”.Hello my name is

Anyone who has gone looking through Census records probably understands why her statement has a lot of entertainment value.  I wish she was right, but unfortunately, record keeping is only as good as the record keeper.  You need to be on the lookout for all sorts of discrepancies and alternate spellings.  There is also the ancestor’s accent, mother country, etc. that plays a part as well.

Case in point:

My husband’s 2nd Great Grandfather’s name was Peter Olaf Johnson…or was it?  It seems harmless enough.  I start researching this man.

Census Records:  Check.  Nothing unusual.  All show Peter Johnson, Peter O Johnson.  I’m feeling pretty lucky so far.

Now is this a signature?  “Olaf Petter Johanson”

For those that think this stuff is just a quick look up on Ancestry, some shaking leaves, and instant family, guess again!

My head hurts.  I decide to give old Olaf a rest for the moment.

I know – I’ll go after Peter’s son, my husband’s great grandfather.  He was born in Minnesota.  After a little sleuthing, I come across this index entry:

Jansen Birth Certificate


Birthdate.  25 Oct 1893. Check.

Father’s Name:  Pedder Jansen.  Ugh. Check? Really?  Another variation.

Mother’s Name: Raynhild Jansen.  At least her first name was unique enough – this is a pretty good bet. Check…for now.

Those are probably the right parent’s names, even if not spelled how they spelled them later on.


I have hardly done any research on this family and I already have several variations on the name.  This is going to take many deep dives to prove/disprove if I’m on the right track or not.  Peter’s Death Certificate states his father’s name as John Johnson.  Yeah, I’ll get right on that.

Posted in Genealogy | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Year, New Start



There has been quite a bit of stir on Facebook regarding Thomas MacEntee’s Genealogy Do-Over.

I have had a rough 2014 and am glad to see much of it go.  I haven’t really been blogging or into my genealogical research during the last half of the year.  Now I am ready to get back to the passion that has kept my interest for over 20 years!

This week’s schedule has the following recommended tasks:

  • Setting Previous Research Aside
  • Preparing to Research
  • Establishing Base Practices and Guidelines

I have started a new family tree file – from scratch and will be whittling away at it over the coming weeks.  I have not gotten rid of all my previous research, but it is now only going to be used to extract vital records or other such evidence.  I will not be using it for much else as I do not want to be tempted to “cheat” and take information from there without the necessary due diligence.

When I have gone back and reevaluated a particular family line in the past, I have been pleasantly surprised (and sometimes frustrated) at clues or information that I had overlooked way back when.  Starting over, taking my time, will help me find even more hidden gems!

If you decide to join the Do-Over, please remember to take it slow!  Quick is what results in missed information and hap-hazard tree members.

OH – and don’t think that after 13 weeks you will have your family tree back to 200 A.D. with thousands and thousands of ancestors and source citations!!

Consider this:  Genealogy is very similar to the game of golf.

Happy Ancestor Hunting in 2015 and I look forward to getting back to my weekly blog posts!



Posted in Genealogy | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment