TIM'S TERRIFIC TIPS ON GERMAN NAMES

© 1996 Tim R. Conrad
May be freely distributed for non-profit/non-commerical purposes.


PREFIX:
The Germans used what I'll call a 'prefix' name in the early 1800's and 1700's (and earlier I suppose). The two common prefix names are John and Maria. The names where used mostly at the child's baptism and some later more formal documents and dropped in other situations. For example, the child baptized John Jacob Conrad would be known simply as Jacob Conrad in other documents. The prefix form was written John, Johan, or Hans. The actual name of John was usually written John, Johan, Johannes, Johs, Hans or Hannes. I haven't seen a John John and the using the prefix form Johannes Jacob doesn't generally occur. [I've since found an interesting article on this naming in the Fall 1995 (Vol 16, No 1) issue of The Berks County Genea logical Society, page 8. Here, in an article by Elaine D. Schwar, the naming practice is called "Rufnamen".]


COMPOUND:
There were other compound first names such as George Michael, or George Carolus. For some reason, the prefix George was more often retained in other documents. The prefixes Mary or Maria and also Anna were used much like John above.


SAME BUT VARIATIONS:

The names Carolus, Charles and Carl are all the same in German.

The names Jurg and George are the same in German. Anthony was Duny, Sebastian was Bastian, etc.

The names Phronica, Euphronica, Fronica, and Veronica are the same in German.

Other names like Margaretha, Gretta, Margaret, etc. are the same as are Elisabetha, Elisabeth, Elizabeth, etc.

Rebecca was used for Margaretha. Peggy was used for Rebecca.


PETNAMES, NICKNAMES, SHORTEN NAMES, INTERCHANGEABLE NAMES:

In order to separate the many girls with the same name Mary and Maria apart, the teachers used various pet names: Molly, Polly, Pally, etc. They are all equivalent to Mary, though sometimes they were given as the 'real' name.

Hanna was short for Johanna.

Dinah and Tina were short for Christina.

Baltzer was short for Balthaser.

Asimus was short for Erasmus.

Felty was short for Valentine (the German 'V' sounding like and 'F' anyways).

Baby was used for Barbara. Sarah and Salome are *sometimes* interchangeable.


MIDDLE NAMES:
In the early middle 1800's and afterwards, a middle name like that used today was adopted. Most often, but not always, it was the mother's middle name. Actually, it seems that simply the letter was used, like Jacob S. Conrad, and the middle name rarely shows up in print. In the latter 1800's, middle names were a little more free form and many 'wild' names were in vogue for both first and middle names.


REUSED NAMES:
It's not too uncommon for parents back then to 'reuse' a name. That is, if they had a child named Jacob Conrad who died young, they might use that name for another child born later.


SAME NAMES, MULTIPLE CHILDREN, SAME FAMILY--NOT SEEN.
However, I've never seen parents have multiple living children with the same name. That includes the above system. They might have children named Johannes, John Daniel, and even Jonathan, but they wouldn't have children named Daniel, John Daniel, and Johannes Daniel (the latter not really used anyway, just for illustration). You wouldn't name your children the same name, why would they back then?


HOWEVER:
Apparently, names might have been reused when a man remarried, in which case two children would have the same names - I haven't actually seen this, but suspect it happened.