Kiening: Genealogy Index

Last Name Spelling and Sorting

An official uniform spelling for surnames did not exist until the introduction of the register offices (Standesamt) in the year 1876. Before that time the priest or clerk of the court could only ask the people what their names were and record them by what he heard. Only a few people were able to read and write. Thus innumerable variations of the same name developed.

In this data collection the names are recorded by how they were spelled in the first found source, even if in further sources other ways of spelling were recorded. How to search?

The names are phonetically sorted . That is, all phonetically similar names form a group, which carries all occurring variations in the header on the respective page.

Using the Browser's menu option EDIT, and then FIND you can search for the desired name. When you find it, just click on it. All available records carrying that name will be displayed, sorted by First name, Year of acquisition and/or marriage with the location and house number indicated. By clicking on a person you jump to the directory of houses and there you can find the complete family.

Phonetic Sorting

The phonetic sorting saves the user much search work. If you use the Browser's Menu Function EDIT/FIND, you will not even have to worry about the phonetic sorting. This is how it works: All letters are changed into their soft sounds (please keep in mind that in different languages, letters will make somewhat different sounds than e.g. in English):

Nevertheless not all possibilities can be handled automatically, in particular not the silent h, which stretches the vowel preceeding it. (e.g. mahl = Mall, Whrl = Wrl) and swallowed endings (e.g. Kellerer = Keller). Exchange of B and W is likewise not programmed: Bastian see also under Wastian, Paltl under Waltl etc..

Such possibilities the users have to think about and check all variations in the register themselves. The appendix -in with women is always omitted, e.g. Meierin is always called Meir.

First Name

There are also many variations with first names. The spelling of the first names here is, whenever possible, taken from the current version of the German Duden. For Vitus look under Veit, Hans would be Johann, asf.

The local customs using the first names are regionally very different:

First Names in Oberbayern (Upper Bavaria)

Within a family in the area of Munich first names were only assigned once. If we find a brother or sister with the same first name for the second time, we can be safe to assume that the older child with the same first name had already died. The people in the country (outside the city) only gave their children one first name. A middle name e.g. like Johann Georg is rare. They occur almost only with immigrants or interlectuals. One exception is Maria-Anna.

First Names in the Oberpfalz (Upper Palatinate)

This data collection contains a large quantity of persons in the middle part of the Oberpfalz where completely different customs apply: The boys where always called Hans (=John, Johann) and the girls preferably Gretl or Maria. Finding siblings with the same first names does not under any circumstances indicate that the older brother or sister with that same first name had already died.

The reason for this custom is as follows: The oldest son is called Hans and has a privileged position over his siblings as future heir of the property. With the high number of deaths with children one could not count however on the surviving of the firstborn. Therefore also the later born sons were named Hans (Johann). The question how parents called their children if they all had the name Hans, old people from the Oberpfalz answers as follows: "It is quite simple: The first son is Hans, the second Johann, the third is called Hannes and then comes (Hans) Georg, (Hans) Michael etc.. Further variations are Johann Baptist and Johann Nepomuk.

If the firstborn Hans fails as an heir because of death, moving some place else, or for another reason, the next son was called Hans and received the associated privileged position. That was always possible, because the name Hans was always part of their names and therefore in the baptism records of the church. always.

For the researcher it is very difficult to link a Hans baptism entry to a marriage or death entry. The second first name in the baptism or marriage records is only of little use, since the first names and middle names have also been used alone. Also the age information in death entries can deviate much from the real age .

(C) Josef Kiening, back to the start page