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Home: Surnames: Larson Family Genealogy Forum

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Re: Johanson Larson Name Change
Posted by: Judy Baouab (ID *****7724) Date: March 23, 2011 at 10:44:06
In Reply to: Johanson Larson Name Change by Lisa Larson of 1336

Well, did he really change his name or is someone assuming that he had the same last name as his father in Sweden? Since Swedes used patronymic naming customs, you can't assume that.

As a child in Sweden, he would have been listed with given names and no last name. As an adult in Sweden in the early days, his patronymic last name would have consisted of his father's given name plus (usually) a possessive s and then "son". Johansson (the Swedish spelling of Johanson) literally means son of Johan something. Larsson (the Swedish spelling of Larson) literally means son of Lars something.

It was the given name of the father which passed down to his children and not the last name of the father.

Of course we have no birthdates at all in this query, so I don't know the time period. Near the end of the 1800s and the start of the 1900s, the old patronymic customs were starting to change from patronymic to a fixed last name for a family. This started earlier in cities and later in the countryside.

During this transitional period, we don't know what last name a child would have taken as an adult. The last name the person wanted as an adult might not be the name the priest wrote on his moving out papers. Also, it became clear to the emigrant that people in the U.S. thought he was illegitimate when his father's last name was different from his last name. Therefore, many emigrants changed from their own patronymic last name to their father's patronymic last name.(Some Swedes left Sweden with both their own and their father's patronymic last names.)

Look at this interesting and informative article by Ingela Martenius about Swedish naming customs.

You need to read the entire article but look at this part in particular.

"Another reason for changing surname was that patronymics were not understood in America: if you filled out a form where you had to state your fatherís name, it would appear that you were illegitimate (a grave social handicap, also in America) since you did not share a family name. It is
therefore not uncommon to see emigrants who used their fathersí patronymic when emigrating or changing into it shortly after immigration."

Perhaps we can find this man in Swedish records and answer your question in better detail, but you need to have a full birthdate and try to find a year or years of immigration in the U.S. Federal Censuses for 1900-1910-1920-1930. The 1900 census also has a month and year of birth. Those dates might not be perfectly correct, but they are certainly better than no dates at all.

Where specifically did he live in Michigan? Was he only in Marquette or do you also have other locations for him?

Once you know exactly where this person came from in Sweden (and there are ways to help you with that if you have enough details), then you will know the full name of the father. I suspect the father was either a Johan Larsson or a Lars Johansson, because why would your Carl Albert falsely announce (in effect) to the whole world (or at least the Swedish Americans he knew) that his father was Lars and not Johan because his mother had just figured it out? I think he was just switching from his own patronymic last name to his father's patronymic last name, or vice versa.

At any rate, his naturalization records are the best possibility for finding this name change. (not the certificate; the actual files). If he naturalized in a federal court, then the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in the area in which he naturalized should have those files. If he naturalized in any other court which wasn't a federal court, you will have to look locally in those courts.

The Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center is an excellent archive which has helped many of us find where our ancestors lived in Sweden and even helped us learn about their lives in the U.S. until about 1930. They have a website (Google it.) but their extensive collection of records is NOT online. We need to go there to research or pay them to research for us. They have records which are difficult or even impossible to find elsewhere.

The Swenson Center has, for example, these microfilmed Swedish American church records for Marquette County, Michigan. Some are actually for the city of Marquette.

HIST = congregational history, MINS = minutes of church meetings, MEMB = membership records, M/A = ministerial acts (baptisms, confirmations, marriages, funerals, etc.)

STATE       COUNTY       CITY       NAME OF CONGREGATION       D       F       FILM #       REEL#       NOTES

MI        MARQUETTE        CHAMPION        CHAMPION FINNISH                      234               SEE OUR REDEEMER LUTH.CH, CHAMPION MI
MI        MARQUETTE        CHAMPION        OUR REDEEMER LUTH CHURCH        L        1877        234               MINS1881-1930;MEMB1877-1968;M/A'77-68
MI        MARQUETTE        ISHPEMING        BETHANY LUTHERAN CHURCH        L        1870        220        2        MEMB1870-1926;M/A1873-1927
MI        MARQUETTE        ISHPEMING        BETHANY LUTHERAN CHURCH        L        1870        220        1        MINS1870-1928;HIST1870-1945
MI        MARQUETTE        ISHPEMING        EVANG COVENANT CHURCH        C        1879        S-8        2        MINS1879-1931;MEMB1880-1931;M/A'80-31
MI        MARQUETTE        MARQUETTE        MESSIAH LUTHERAN CHURCH        L        1881        228        1        MINS1881-1930;50TH ANNIV
MI        MARQUETTE        MARQUETTE        MESSIAH LUTHERAN CHURCH        L        1881        228        2        MEMB1881-1928;M/A1885-1929
MI        MARQUETTE        MICHIGAMME        BETHLEHEM SWEDISH LUTH        L        0        234               SEE OUR REDEEMER LUTH.CH, CHAMPION MI
MI        MARQUETTE        NEGAUNEE        BETHANY LUTHERAN CHURCH        L        1886        229               HIST1886-1936;MEMB1886-1929
MI        MARQUETTE        NEGAUNEE        MISSION COVENANT CHURCH        C        1891        S-8        1        30 YRS1891-1921;MEMB1891-1950;M/A'91-50
MI        MARQUETTE        SKANDIA        EMANUEL LUTHERAN CHURCH        L        1894        224               MINS1894-1933;MEMB1894-1965;M/A'94-65

If you have DETAILS about this man that could be checked in Swedish databases, please provide them here.


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