German Family Naming Conventions: How Many Caspers, Williams and Marys Can One Family Have?

In the course of my research many questions keep coming into my mind. One article I read online this past month is titled “German Naming Traditions Genealogists Should Know by Diane Haddad on the Family Tree Magazine website.

The one item that has been frustrating in researching my Schlick and Daleiden family members is the fact that several of my relatives had the same first names within the same immediate family. When the mom (Margaret Daleiden) would call for “William” I image would get three people responding to her call: her husband, her son and potentially her first born male grandson. What is the deal and what is going on here I thought?

Haddad’s article laid out in plain language how this naming convention took place.The first born son of a family would be named after their father’s father. Example: Joseph Schlick’s first born son was named Casper Schlick. Casper was named after his grandfather Casper Schlick. The second born son was named after the mother’s father. Example Joseph Schlick’s second born son was named Joseph L. Schlick after his wife Mary Anne (nee Armbrust) Schlick’s father Martin Armbrust.

I have also run across two women born within the same family with the same first names. Example: Matthias Daleiden had two daughters listed on the passenger list named “Barbara”. This can be complicated if one does not keep a score card on a three by five index card. It also helps me explaining names and relationships at family reunions. Many of my relatives had issues keeping the two Caspers separated in their minds when discussing the Schlick family. I had to specify that the Casper that “came over on the boat” was different from the Casper Schlick that lived on Mack Road on a farm.

Many Roman Catholics used the names of Saints (Peter, Daniel, etc.). Casper Schlick is named after one of the three wise men who visited Jesus at the nativity. Saint Caspar (otherwise known as Casper, Gaspar, Kaspar, and other variations) was one of the ‘Three Kings’, along with Melchior and Balthazar, representing the wise men or ‘Biblical Magi’ mentioned in the Bible in the Gospel of Matthew, verses 2:1-9.

Caspar being handed a covered beaker – from The Adoration of the Magi (Geertgen tot Sint Jans). Photo: Wikipedia.

To recap I will excerpt a portion of Haddad’s article:

“In German speaking areas, children were almost always named for one or more of their baptismal sponsors. The most common pattern would be for sons to be named in this order:

  • first born, for father’s father
  • second born, mother’s father
  • third born, father of the child
  • four born and on, uncles of the child

About Schlick Daleiden Families - DuPage and Kane Counties of Illinois

Kevin Davis is a retired Public Library Director. He is a Board member of the Winfield (IL) Historical Society. Davis has over 35 years experience working in public libraries. He is deeply interested in local Chicagoland, Dupage, and Kane County History. Davis earned a BA in History and an MA in Library Science from Dominican University. He is a volunteer researcher for the St. James Farm Forest Preserve part of the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County in Illinois. His work includes extensive writing and research on the McCormick family line who were former owners of St. James Farm. He is an avid family historian / genealogist and has done extensive research on the Schlicks and Daleidens of DuPage and Kane County Illinois.
This entry was posted in Casper F. Schlick, Casper Schlick (First in America 1852), Genealogy Sources, German Immigration History, Schlicks, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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