[APG Public List] Newborn Given Temporary Name?

Noreen Manzella nalexmanz at yahoo.com
Sat Jul 31 14:05:30 MDT 2010

I can't answer your question definitively, but I can share a family story.  My father was born as a 7-month premature baby in 1912. He never had a birth certificate until he needed one for the Army in 1939.  His name was (he died in 1997) Gerald Harrison Alexander.  Imagine his surprise to receive his birth certificate from New Jersey with the name "William Alfred Alexander" on it.  His father had died inthe flu epidemic of 1918, and his mother died in 1936 without ever mentioning this name discrepancy.  He phoned his one remaining aunt who explained that his parents did not expect him to live and gave him "family names" that were expected to be used, but that they didn't like.  Seen as they expected him to die, they thought that would fulfill their family obligations, but they wouldn't have to use them. (my, they sound self-serving in this light).  Within days, it was clear my father would survive, and they baptized him Gerald Harrison.  He
 provided his baptismal certificate to the Army and they accepted that as proof that he was one and the same person....can't imagine they would today, but with impending war perhaps they were more lenient.  If those few days/weeks that he bore the name William Alfred had been census taking days, I can see that it might have caused a lot of confusion!

--- On Sat, 7/31/10, Donna McR <donna316 at tx.rr.com> wrote:

From: Donna McR <donna316 at tx.rr.com>
Subject: [APG Public List] Newborn Given Temporary Name?
To: "APG Assn of Prof Genealogists" <apgpubliclist at apgen.org>
Date: Saturday, July 31, 2010, 4:59 PM


Hello Friends------
I often come across a baby recorded as "Nameless" 
in censuses.  I realize the reasons for doing this.
This situation is not "Nameless," but I think it 
may be something akin.
The 1880 census of the household of Frank and 
Sallie Fuller [names changed for privacy] records a baby named 
John Fuller as born May 1880.
A John Fuller of this age never appears again, 
as far as I can tell from a thorough census search and search of other family 
I need to determine reasonably that 
William Albert Fuller, also born in May 1880 according to his tombstone, is the 
son of the couple above.  His parents' will and probate are not 
available, and their 1900 census is nowhere to be found (even after a thorough, 
downright obsessive search---definitely exhaustive).
In the 1880 census also appears Lena Fuller.  
In 1910, I find William Albert (and wife) in the next dwelling listed 
after Lena, and a known brother to Lena recorded 
two dwellings down.
I have scoured the census of 1880 for another baby 
named William Fuller and find none that matches.  I have considered that 
William Albert Fuller may have been adopted from outside the family and even 
re-named, but I find no other male child born that month and year in the 
county or surrounding counties.
A file on the extended family held by the local 
genealogical society lists William Albert as Frank and Sallie's son, 
does not mention a birth for John Fuller, and makes no note of adoption 
(although the creator of the list might have just omitted that).
I have also looked for a William of the right age 
living with other family members in the counties and state from which they 
came.  No William there.
The infant John Fuller is recorded in this 1880 
census as having been born in May 1880.  William Albert Fuller was born 25 
May 1880.  The census was taken 2 June 1880.
This infant's grandfather was named John, and there 
were many in the extended family named John, although this particular couple 
never had another child named John.
For William Albert Fuller to be the biological son 
of Frank and Sallie, they would have to have changed his name from John Fuller 
to William Albert Fuller----or given the eight-days-old baby a temporary name to 
satisfy the census taker.
Do you know of cases when the parents just gave a 
child a temporary name for such a record as a census taken a few days after the 
child was born?
Warmest Regards,

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