Casefile Clues

26 April 2013

Was He Focke or Fokke?

What name to "use" for an immigrant ancestor is often a dilemma for the genealogist. It can be made worse when the ancestor is a native of an area whose names are not readily "translatable" or for ancestors who decided not to change of Anglicize their names.

Such is the case with Focke J. Goldenstein. Sometimes he is Fokke, Focke, or Foche, and other times he is Frank. What name should be used as his actual name? Once in a while, we are told by our ancestors what they prefer to be called.

In an affidavit made in his 1880 era homestead application file for parcel of land in Dawson County, Nebraska, Fokke's preference is clear: Focke. 


The image above is part of an affidavit made by Focke J. Goldenstein in his homestead application for property located in Dawson County, Nebraska. Not all applications contain such statements, but there were irregularities in the transcribed names for Goldenstein in several of the documents and this affidavit was made in response to those inconsistent spellings. It is not often that affidavits clearly spell out exactly the name that our ancestor preferred. I'll have to go back and see exactly what is on his tombstone.

Of course, when transcribing documents the spelling on the document is used. One does not "correct" records when transcribing them. Notations or comments can discuss any irregularities on the document in regards to names.

I once had a genealogist tell me I was spelling "Focke" wrong and that  I should use "Fokke" instead. Based upon this record, I'm using Focke.