You Can Call Me Wally
In a previous post regarding a birth record for my grandfather, Wallace B. Dixon, I raised the question of his name change. I had been told many times by a variety of people that he had been given the name Bernard Wallace when he was born, but legally changed it to Wallace Bernard when he became an adult.
Since this whole genealogy thing revolves around Proof, I've been looking for sources that confirm that he did, indeed, change his name.
Here's the birth record that I have for him
|1942 document recording Wallace Bernard Dixon's birth in 1905.|
While this is a certified copy of birth information recorded in official documents, it was created nearly 40 years after the event, and is a derivative document. On a scale of 1-4 for reliability, I'd give it a 2-3.
In the 1905 New Jersey State Census he is recorded as Bernard. The same is true in the 1915 New Jersey State Census. (Sorry, no images yet. These were index only records.)
We can see here that in the 1920 Federal Census, he was being called Wallace.
|The Census Enumerator spelled the last name wrong, but this is Wally's family. Note the absence of his father, William A. His mother is claiming that she is widowed, but William was still very much alive in 1920. Another mystery.|
Of course, it is entirely possible that he was named Wallace Bernard when he was born, and the family just used his middle name. Perhaps, somewhere between the ages of 10 and 15, he decided that he much preferred to be called Wallace or Wally.
Next StepsIn order to prove my grandfather's birth name and possible name change I will need to do a few things.
- See if I can get a photocopy of the original birth record.
Where can I find that? How do I procure a copy?
- If the original birth record shows that he was named Bernard Wallace at birth, then I will have to find a source for records of legal name changes in NJ. Is that information even available?
Citations"New Jersey State Census, 1905," database, FamilySearch (https://beta.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KMHK-VXD : accessed 23 November 2015), William A Dixon, , Union, New Jersey, United States; citing p. 6, line 44, Department of State, Trenton; FHL microfilm 1,688,625.
"New Jersey State Census, 1915", database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QV9W-WW8H : accessed 23 November 2015), William Dixon, 1915.
1920 United States Federal Census (Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2010), Ancestry.com, Year: 1920; Census Place: Elizabeth City Ward 10, Union, New Jersey; Roll: T625_1070; Page: 10A; Enumeration District: 97; Image: 823. Record for Wallace Dickson.