Families that should be merged, but the last name is spelled differently.

+4 votes
I am running into whole branches of my tree that have another branch with a last name difference, such as Van Hook and Vanhook and van Hook. Why have these not already been merged?  Also, the rule is that the lowest number should be the parent of the merge.  Many of the lower numbers have little or no data to back them up...I try to have at least 3 to 5 sources...not saying mine is right, but the preponderance of data would suggest that is true.
in WikiTree Help by Paul Mason G2G2 (2.4k points)
Figure out what the LNAB should be, according to WikiTree and project rules and policies.

Select the profile with the right LNAB.  If there aren't any, make one.  If there are two, pick the lowest ID.

Merge the others into the one selected, directly not indirectly.  In any order.

Doesn't matter which has the lowest number at that point.  Doesn't matter which is the most correct or complete profile.
Along those same lines, when confronted by this, rather than getting too worked up about it when there's no clear winner, I try to pick the one that is the most likely LNAB and then put the alternate version in the Other Last Names so that when anyone tries to create a new profile, that last name will come up and hopefully prevent future duplicates.

Ideally you'll find the silver bullet that identifies the clear winner, but it's not always possible. If the PM's are active I'll try to get their input (where did they get their info, is it documented, are there sources, etc.) but a lot of times, it becomes a one-man discussion (what is the sound of one hand clapping?) and you may have to make a decision. If a project is involved, you can toss it out to G2G and get some advice as well (like, well... this.) :)
WikiTree's 'rules' require us to use the spelling/form of the name as used by the person, or in that person's time period.

Do not use the now current form it it's different just because it's current.
Not the name used by the person, the person's name at birth.  If you are born John Smyth and its on your birth certificate as John Smyth but you liked Smith better and always went by Smith, your LNAB is still Smyth.

3 Answers

+8 votes
Best answer

In regards to the names, the first thing you will want to do is verify the LNAB to find out which usage is correct, Van Hook, Vanhook or van Hook.

And yes, while we do want to merge to the lowest possible number, that should be the correct lowest possible number. As an example, if the LNAB is verified as "van Hook", you would not want to merge them into "Vanhook" just because the number is lower... you would merge them all into the lowest possible "van Hook" number (if there are multiple of the same spelling).

In regards to sources, this information can be merged along with the normal profile information. As an example, if the profile for "van Hook" contains the correct LNAB, but has no data or biography - the name "Vanhook" has the incorrect LNAB, with sources and a biography - then the merge process will transfer all of the information you choose during the process.

Building on what RJ Horace stated, I would not suggest adding a new profile to make a correct LNAB. If the correct LNAB does not yet exist - you can take the most complete profile and change the LNAB on that profile as long are you manage the profile.

In the event that you do not manage all of the profiles or are on the trusted lists for said profiles - you will need to submit merge requests and wait on a response from the applicable managers of the profiles.

by Steve Harris G2G6 Pilot (431k points)
selected by Lindy Jones
+5 votes
To further complicate matters...sometimes families changed the spelling of theirs name on purpose, for various reasons, even among siblings.
by Dennis Wheeler G2G6 Pilot (535k points)
Welcome to Sweden.
+1 vote

I just went through this with Jenison/ Jennison.  I discovered that the first two generations used Jenison and the third transitioned to Jennison.  I kept nuclear families of the same generation with the same spelling. Nothing more confusing than siblings with different LNABs. If they seemed to use a different spelling as adults I just added the other spelling to the other last names. The Jennison family I was updating had half with one n and the other with 2. Now they all have LNAB two n, and alternate spelling one n.  Also when looking at original records, I could see that sometimes the s was actually ß, or a German double s. (This is the US census.)

by Susan Fitzmaurice G2G6 Mach 4 (42.7k points)

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