I think I'm about to shake up the family tree....
I located the birth record of my great-great-grandfather. Great! But the name listed in the birth record is not the name he used later in his life.
His name, Lauritz Marinus LARSEN, is printed in all the family books and even hangs on my office wall as part of the large, custom-framed wall chart of my ancestry. His death certificate even identifies him as Lauritz LARSEN.
His real name
I already had his family's genealogical information, but I wanted to verify it by locating the original documents. Legacy Family Tree's Research Guidance tool provided the link to the Denmark State Archives' parish register collection. After a little searching, I located the birth record of Laurits Marinus STEFENSEN, who was born on the same day and in the same place as my Lauritz Marinus LARSEN.
Laurits Marinus STEFENSEN, born 14 Sep 1869 in Elling, Hjørring, Denmark - birth record
Lauritz Marinus LARSEN, born 14 Sep 1869 in Elling, Hjørring, Denmark - family records
As Danish researchers well know, patronymic naming was the custom in Denmark where the child's surname was composed of the father's given name followed by the addition of the suffix of -sen (son) or -datter (daughter). Therefore, if patronymics were still used in 1869, we could usually assume that according to his birth record, Laurits' father's name was Stefen.
So where did the LARSEN surname come from? I don't yet have all these answers, but I do know that after the family emigrated to America, they used LARSEN as their surname.
How should this be recorded in Legacy?
I know that Laurits STEFENSEN and Lauritz LARSEN are the same person. But for as long as I have been doing genealogy, his name has been recorded in my family file with the LARSEN surname. Good researchers will record every name variant, nickname, and alias and add its proper documentation. These names can then optionally be printed when creating any lists or reports. Following this advice, we should use Legacy's Alternate Names form to record the newly-found name.
- In the Individual's Information screen, click on the Alternate Names icon. (It's the first in the row of icons at the top, and just to the right of the surname field.)
- Click on the Add button and fill in both the given name and surname. Click Save.
- Finally, click on the newly-entered name to highlight it, and using the Source button, add its documentation.
So which of the two names should be his "primary" name? My rule of thumb is to:
use the name as it was earliest recorded.
So in this case, in the Alternate Names form, I would highlight the Laurits STEFENSEN name and click on the Swap Alternate Name with Main Name button. Doing this simply switches the highlighted alternate name with the name in the Individual's Information screen. Of course, there are always exceptions to this guideline - just use your best judgement.
The real problem
Now that I've updated his primary name in my Legacy family file, do I now reprint the family group records, books, and even the large wall chart in my office? Maybe I'll work on documenting the rest of the family first.