My great Grandpa unofficially changed his name, how to add his profile.

+5 votes
Hello, I have quite a mess when it comes to adding my Great Grandpa. I hope i explain this as clearly as possible. He was born Albert De Boer, we don't have birth or baptism record so the first official record of him is the 1900 census where the name is spelled Deboor, but his WWI registration, signed by his own hand spells it De Boer, not to mention later cousins who sent us information spell it DeBoer. On top of this, he left home, sometime between 1917 when he registered for . the Army, and 1925 where he reappears in Muskegon, Michigan as John Ackerman when he married my Great Grandma, he unofficially changed his name by taking the name of a nice man he met on a train. In 1951 when Social Security came into being he met with a lawyer, who told him he had been using the name for 10 years, so he didn't have to worry about it. So i understand that I will put in his LNAB as one of the versions of De Boer, I understand the Dutch Roots policy of using the de Boer version for people born in the Netherlands, but he was born in America, and I understand I will add Ackerman in the name at death area, but because the earliest known record, the 1900 census, is an incorrect spelling, can I use his WWI registration for his LNAB?

Thank you in advance for your kind help!
in WikiTree Help by Cary LaMaack G2G1 (1.3k points)
edited by Cary LaMaack

2 Answers

+5 votes

Hi Cathy,

Welcome to WikiTree!

Based on the data you supplied when you joined the Dutch Roots Project:

Researching de Boer (now DeBoer here in America) from Texel, Noord-Holland, arrived in America in 1890, settled in Paterson, New Jersey

I think this is the birth data (index record and image of birth certificate) for him:

Albert de Boer, born 25 Oct 1873 on the island Texel in the hamlet named Spang, father Albert de Boer (laborer, age 39 years), mother Arendina Catharina van Houten.
by Jan Terink G2G6 Pilot (257k points)


Should have read your question more carefully: I supplied his father's birth data (but nice to have anyway, I guess).

English spoken "boor" is phonetically identical to Dutch spoken "boer", so that probably explains the "Boor" variation.

I agree that Dutch naming conventions don't apply for him. Also to your setting his CLN to Ackerman and his LNAB to one of the "Boer" variations, and I would set the OLNs to the remaining variations (comma separated).

Hello Jan,

Yes! Thank you very much. That is his father and grandparents, lol those fun Dutch names! Albert Jacobsz de Boer, Albert Albertsz de Boer, and then my Great Grandpa, Albert De Boer Jr, which is how he signed his WWI registration, I'm guessing somewhere there is a Dutch Reformed Church baptism record that lists him as Albert Albertsz de Boer also, but I haven't come across it in all these years.

So using his hand written version, De Boer, would be appropriate for his LNAB and then any other variation in census or directory records I would add to the Other Last Names, correct?

Also would I put John as his preferred name? Or a nickname?

Thank you so much for your advice!


Hi Cary,

Last names: yes, correct

First names: I guess you know best, this is the help page on that subject.

Have fun!

+2 votes
What you should do in his profile is what is known as a Genealogical Proof Argument or Statement (GPS). This is essentially the proof of the name change. It may require following multiple lines of sources that show that he started out with one name and ended up with a different one. Document each piece of evidence so that someone in the future can also come to the same conclusions. You have most of what is needed in your question, just write it up and make sure that everything eventually proves the name change occurred. Inline citations help.
by Doug McCallum G2G6 Pilot (425k points)
A lot of the evidence, short of census records, is family recollection. Such as my grandma recalls going to New Jersey and meeting his family after his Dad died, and meeting her grandma when she was 10 years old. Not sure how it inline cite that. Not to mention we just discovered he change his birthdate by 3 days too. My grandma and I both have de Boer dna matches though, so pretty sure her recollections are correct.

Best thing to do is to interview your grandmother about what she recalls and transcribe it as secondary information about the name change. It is secondary because she didn't witness it but was told about it. You would need to include her age at the time. This is information but not evidence. You can then cite the personal narrative that she gave you. Keep in mind that memories can become distorted over time. Some of what my mother told me didn't make sense in light of some of the records I had available but they pretty much all make sense to me now that I have found a more complete picture. I haven't done the GPS for my GGrandfather yet but he had a name change. I dead ended on him until I found that he had confused his mother's maiden name (which he went by as an adult) with it being his father's name. All the records up to his first marriage had a different surname than what was on his marriage certificates (those all varied) and his death certificate (which only had his death date correct). 

Yes, great idea. lol I mean I’ve been interviewing her my whole life, because this story is one we constantly bring up, because of the mystery surrounding why he left and changed his name, but i always tell her this is the types of information I need her to record, because one story always leads to the next.

Thank you!

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