Help deciphering change of first name circa 1903

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jwazevedo
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Help deciphering change of first name circa 1903

Postby jwazevedo » 13 Sep 2009, 04:20

I have a mystery that I could sure use some advice on.

My grandfather's sister, Giovanna Bordessa, born in 1877 to Ambrogio, married Andrea Attilio Merga (b. 1873 to Andrea) in 1901. Two years later a child was born to this Andrea Attilio Merga and his wife. The mystery is that the wife's name is listed as Domenica Bordessa, not Giovanna. (See linked image) According to the child's birth record, "Domenica" is the same age as "Giovanna" and has the same father (Ambrogio). I have Giovanna's birth certificate, Andrea's birth certificate, and their marriage record. Everything matches up to that point. But from the birth of that child, "Giovanna" disappears from the records. There's no death record for her, no children born to Andrea and Giovanna, and no marriage certificate for Andrea to Domenica. Over the period 1912 to 1920, five more children were born to Andrea and "Domenica".

The records for this comune seem so carefully recorded that it seems weird that the Ufficiale would consistently write "Domenica" when the woman's birth name was clearly "Giovanna". On the other hand, I can't think of another logical explanation.

Any thoughts??

http://img195.imageshack.us/i/mergamystery1903.jpg/

Thanks,
Jerry

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PeterTimber
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Re: Help deciphering change of first name circa 1903

Postby PeterTimber » 13 Sep 2009, 04:27

Naming customs in Italy might be the culprit here. Sometimes there are many cousins all with the same first name and some are called by a middle name or another first name for a myriad of reasons. It has happened to me personally where some of my cousins (all of whom had the same first hyphenated name (ie Giancarlo)) and were called the first or last portion of the two names ..either Gianni or Carlo to make identification easier when coming up in a discussion. =Peter=
~Peter~

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jwazevedo
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Re: Help deciphering change of first name circa 1903

Postby jwazevedo » 13 Sep 2009, 04:35

Thanks, Peter. I've seen cases in my own research where the first and middle names were switched or where the diminutive was used, and it does make for challenging research. What confuses me in this case is that Giovanna's birth record has no hint of the future use of the name Domenica, though certainly there are precedents in the family. Giovanna's younger brother, my grandfather, was named Domenico. Also, Giovanna's deceased aunt, her mother's sister and her father's first wife, was named Domenica. What I'm hearing from you is that the use of another name was not uncommon? But would that assumed name be allowed on the official records?

Best,
Jerry

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PeterTimber
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Re: Help deciphering change of first name circa 1903

Postby PeterTimber » 13 Sep 2009, 04:47

She or someone else may have furnished that name orally to the clerk or if in a small town they would all know her by that "other" name. I recall where they would refer to someone by their first name and to distinguish one person fromanother make reference to their mother and father in the same breath......' Giovanni of Uncle Francesco. =Peter=
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Re: Help deciphering change of first name circa 1903

Postby jwazevedo » 13 Sep 2009, 04:51

Thanks again, Peter. So here's the question then: From a perspective of genealogy best practices, do I have sufficient cause to enter the children of Andrea and "Domenica" into my family tree as cousins? How would a careful genealogy researcher handle this?

Best,
Jerry

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Re: Help deciphering change of first name circa 1903

Postby PeterTimber » 13 Sep 2009, 05:06

I really can't advise you since it involves degrees of tolerance for accepting variations to your tree which becomes a highly personal matter. If you are convinced that Domenica and Giovanna are one and the same and cannot prove it 100% it falls into the realm of TAC=take a chance?=Peter=
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