German Genealogy

Same Names! Sigh….

One of the most frustrating parts, for me, of researching German genealogy is names. It seems they name their children with the same names repeatedly. Usually if a baby or young child died and they had another child of the same sex they would use the name over again. I have seen this in several of my lines. They may also use the same first name and different middle name.

One of my favorite name challenges I have found is with my 3rd great grandfather. His name is Johannes Klapp II. When I first started to research, I assumed that his father would also be Johannes Klapp, I assumed wrong, his father is Giese Klapp. So, who is Johannes Klapp I? I still have not answered this question. Maybe as I continue to research, I will find him. I did find a Johannes Klapp III! According to Marie Klapp’s, my 2nd great grandmother’s, baptism record, her godmother was Marie Salzer sister in law to the father of the child, married to Johannes Klapp III. What? Would you really name both of your children, who lived into adult hood Johannes Klapp? I can tell you that it did happen in my family and every document I have, neither Johannes Klapp had a middle name. As I stated earlier, I still have not found Johannes Klapp I, I am still on a search for him.

Johannes Klapp II was born 3 Sept 1833 in Istha, Wolfhagen, Germany (my 3rd great grandfather) and married Anna Gertrude Brustmeier and had four children, Johann Georg, Anna Maria, Maria (my 2nd great grandmother), and Johannes Jacob. I really find it interesting that Maria was used in naming of their two daughters. I have read that family names are really important to German families. I am sure that plays a big role when choosing names for their kids.

Johannes Klapp II Family Group Sheet
Johannes Klapp III Family Group Sheet.

Johannes Klapp III was born in 1837 in Istha, Wolfhagen, Germany and married Marie Elisabeth Salzer, they had 5 children Valantin, Carl, Johannes, Johann and Anna Catherine.

Giese Klapp and Anna Elisabeth Kessler (my 4th great grandparents) were married in Istha, Wolfhagen, Germany on 03 Nov 1832. He was the son of the farmer Johann Heinrich Klapp and Magdalena Dingler. Anna was the daughter of the linen weaver Johannes Kessler and Dorothea Elisabeth Klapp, I see Klapp name on several of my German lines.
Translation of marriage record. Giese Klapp farm servant, legitimate son of the farmer Johann Heinrich Klapp and his wife Magdalena Dingler, 26 year old reformed confession currently residing in Nothfelden. Anna Elisabeth Kessler legitimate daughter of the linen weaver Johannes Kessler from here and his wife Dorothea Elisabeth Klapp, 26 year old reformed confession resident in Istha, Wolfhagen.

If I could sit down with any of my ancestors, right now I would choose Johannes Klapp’s parents, Giese and Anne Elisabeth Klapp. I would love to ask them why they named both of their sons Johannes Klapp? This maybe a mystery that I may never understand. I will continue my search for this family and see what more I can learn about them.

17 thoughts on “Same Names! Sigh….”

  1. Oh that would drive me crazy! When a time machine is invented, you definitely need to go back and talk to them about having some mercy on future genealogists! Thanks for sharing this post.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. There is a lot of German on three of my lines. One thing that I have discovered in my families is that just about every woman had a first or middle name of Catherine or Marie! LOL. In fact, my grandmother’s middle name was Catherine, and she had a sister named Catherine. I was told by some fellow German genealogists that they would name a couple of children the same name because many children didn’t make it to adulthood in those days. So, they increased their chances of a family name being handed down to the next generation.

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    1. Diane,

      I have also seen that in my German lines. It can make it difficult to search for and make sure you have the correct person. I have struggled more with names in my German lines due to they naming them all very similar names.


  3. So frustrating that our ancestors did not consider how challenging same names could be for their descendants — not to mention the confusion that must have occurred for the two Johannes’s during their lifetimes. Best of luck with unraveling this family mystery.


  4. I know how frustrating this can be. In one branch of my English family there were many descendants living around the same time – all called John Bryning. The traditional naming pattern was followed where the eldest son was named after his paternal grandfather – and this continued down the generations. You need a clear head to differentiate the all. Good luck with Johannes Klapp.


    1. Jane thanks for your comment and I am sorry it took so long to respond, I was out of town. Johannes was baptized in 1833 and I see where it looks like he was 15 when baptized but that column is usually the day and hour of birth. I am not sure exactly what it says, as I have my records translated by someone.I am going to work on getting it translated so I know exactly what it says.


  5. I can offer a possible explanation for two children having the same name. My ancestry is Dutch, but the German culture is sometimes quite similar, so the Dutch explanation might also be the reason for the German naming patterns.

    In the Netherlands, there were strict traditions to naming children and although they can differ a little bit in different regions, these were the common rules:
    The first son is named after the paternal grandfather, the second son after the maternal grandfather.
    The first daughter is named after the maternal grandmother, the second daughter is named after the paternal grandmother.
    After that, uncles and aunts were named, usually also in specific patterns.

    Now consider this: if both grandfathers had the same name, two children would end up with that name – one named after the paternal grandfather, one after the maternal grandfather.
    Or, the eldest son was named after the paternal grandfather, and the third son was named after an paternal uncle. However, that paternal uncle could very well have the same name as the paternal grandfather!

    So I’m thinking that your two children that ended up with the same name did so due to the naming rules that the parents followed. It’s worth it to take a look into the naming traditions of Germany, especially since it can also help you figure out family members. But do please keep in mind that there are always exceptions to the rule!


    1. So I knew naming their children family names but had not thought about them using the grandfathers names, which seems to be the case here. The grandfathers names are Johann and Johannes. Thank you for suggesting this I am going to see what I can learn more about naming traditions.


  6. Got a similar case in my family: couple who had 6 children altogether. 4th child was a girl born in 1876, who was named Anna Katherina. The baby died at the age of 3 month. 9 months later, 1 year and 6 days after birth of 4th child, the mother gave birth to a 5th child, which was a girl again. Guess what, they named the girl Anna Katherina (again). Same name, same month of birth, nearly same day, just year of birth different 1876 and 1877. I have mixed both during writing family chronicle a few times.

    Can be very frustrating. And numerous times I have asked myself why ancesters did not have a bit more fantasy in naming their kids.


    1. Frank, I have seen this many times in my family research where a baby or child dies young and they use the name again. In this case, they both lived to adulthood and had the same name with no middle name. It is interesting that they used the names again. Jennifer


      1. This for sure within your family tree, especially when you miss finding the death record of the first born child. (lol)

        J.M. is correct with naming convention. As far as I know it has less strictly used in Germany. In addition there was a rule that after 1st & 2nd son/daughter next children could get first name from there godfather/-mother. -> a new chance to get same first name a third time. Finally, naming conventions allowed that patents could choose their own first names for 1st or 2nd child. When working through these different rules it was possible that all girls in family did get ‘Maria’ either as first or middle name and all boy did get ‘Johannes’. That’s why, regardless of the registered names, nicknames were used in daily living. In found in my lines a case, where because of the repitition of the same names a ‘Heinrich Konrad’ was actually called ‘Kurt’ in the end. Families found always a practical way to handle the situation if older generations (patents, parent-in-law, grand parents, godparents) insisted to adhere to such rules. When doing your interviews in wider family circles you may hear stories about ‘aunt Karl’ or ‘aunt Sophie’ whose names you are not able to find in any written records. Nicknaming can be the reason. And exactly these nicknames can help us to clear confusion of repeating names due to conventions/rules


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