Senior, junior, third, fourth, ah!

I understand how it may have been tradition to name your children after yourself as a way to feel immortalized. Perhaps it could also be a way to honor one’s father’s, father. However, to me it’s a pure nightmare to sort through which documents belong to who. Not every document has the luxury of being dated in such a way as to make it easily identifiable for one individual or another.

These times make my eyes twitch. Like the pain that slowly creeps up the back of your spine and reaches the base of your skull, then the dull ache grows stronger and more prominent behind your eyes; as if something inside wants out. God forbid that someone married a wife with a similar name amongst this group of father’s and sons.

My own birth father would have likely named me after him, but instead the half-brother who came after me got that name. He managed to rename himself at the time of his marriage to at least be known as the middle name and not another “John”. Documentation can be trying at times, and these would be one of them that makes things far more complex than they need to be.

The first time you come across a son named after his father it’s almost a novelty. When you come across a name that includes “IV” it makes you wonder if these folks were just too dull to think of any more names. Now, I don’t want to insult someone, but it’s just not fun to sort through this mess. If someone else has constructed a tree that you are working from, it can be somewhat painless, but if you’re trying to validate it then the excitement is just about to begin.

Add to this salad a few poorly transcribed census polls and I sense most genealogists who have come across this begin to shriek. Believe me, the uniqueness of such work grows very tiresome the tenth time you come across this helping dozens and dozens of people with their family trees. While it might remain somewhat fascinating to see if any “nicknames” may have come about during the lifetime of these individuals in your lone tree, the visage for me is just not welcome.

Does this post begin to wear on your patience? Have I gotten the point across, or should I repeat it four more times? Let that feeling sink in. Now work it on a family tree you have only documentation to help validate the truth with, not any common knowledge from a family you know or can ask relatives about. Welcome to the club of adoptee birth relative search. Let the carnies revel and dance in and the circus band begin their haunting tune.

These unimaginative names are usually pretty rare to stumble across for me. Although the more people I help the more likely chance plays a part in how frequently the phenomenon comes up.