What’s in a Name?

We were on vacation in Door County last week.  I didn’t blog, email, tweet, or [whatever the verb is for Facebook] the entire time.  It was fabulous.

When I got back I had a full mailbox.  One of the great things about being a genealogist is that you get real mail.  I am the only person on my street who is excited to see the mailman every day. 

One of the things in my mailbox related to Dorothy Ann Meyerhofer Smith Ackermann.  I’ve been corresponding with one of her descendants, who found her death certificate, obituary, and headstone…all listed with the first name of Louisa.  This was a bit odd, since every prior record we had of her said her first name was Dorothy, and also because her sister’s name was Louise.  There’s no law that says you can’t name your daughters Louise and Louisa, but it’s not something you see every day.

Since all of the records listing her as Louisa were created at the time of death, I wondered if there might have been a mix-up at the funeral home that led to an error on the death certificate, obituary, and headstone (since they usually do the paperwork for all three at the same time).  So I ordered the SS-5 for Dorothy, which is the form she would have filled out to get her Social Security card.  I figured that would have been completed years before her death, and she would have done it herself.  The name is far more likely to be correct on the SS-5.

Guess what?  It turns out her name was Louise Anna Meyerhofer Smith Ackermann.  It’s not even “Louisa,” it’s “Louise.”  We know her sister as “Louise.”  They appear to have the same first name.  What’s going on here?  I’ve seen families that give a child the same name as a previous child who had died, but both of these women lived well into old age.

Next step:  I’m ordering the SS-5 for the sister, who we know as Louise Meyerhofer Haskell.  I want to know if her first name was really “Louise” as well.

Oh, and the mother’s name?  Mary.  Not Louise. 

Do you have weird names in your family?

Photo by Eugene Hood Photo

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  1. Amy Coffin 5 years ago
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