12 February 2016

Wallace B. Dixon : Name Changer, Part 2

Where Did "Theodore" Come From?

You may (or may not) recall that last month I was puzzling over the family story of my Grandfather's name change. Family legend says that he was given the name Bernard Wallace when he was born, but later "legally changed it" to Wallace Bernard.

Wishing to settle the matter once and for all, I sent away to the New Jersey State Archives in Trenton for a copy of Wallace Bernard Dixon's birth certificate. (You can order these things on line now, which is the height of convenience when you live a full day's drive from the Archives.)

A few short weeks later, I received not only the original birth certificate, but a copy of a form "For Correcting or Amending a Certificate of Birth, Marriage, or Death." Two for the price of one!

Here, then, is my grandfather's original birth certificate.

Birth certificate for Theodore Wallace Dixon [aka Wallace Bernard Dixon], 2 March 1905.
Birth certificate for Theodore Wallace [a.k.a. Wallace Bernard] Dixon
 So, where the heck did the name Theodore come from? It is amusing to imagine that it went something like this:

The Naming : A play in one very short act.

Midwife: Congratulations on your new son, Mr. Dixon. What are you going to name him?
Mr. Dixon: Why, I believe we'll name him Theodore, after our president, and give him the middle name of Wallace.
Midwife: Theodore Wallace it is!
Some time later...
Mr. Dixon to Mrs. Dixon: Isn't our little boy Theodore Wallace just grand?
Mrs. Dixon: Theodore? Like heck we're calling the boy Theodore! His name is Bernard. Bernard Wallace! And that's final!

And then they forget to let the know about the name change, or just don't even give it a thought.

In the 1905 and 1915 NJ State Census, my grandfather is listed as Bernard. By the time 1920 rolls around, the Federal Census has him going by Wallace.

Another possible theory is that by the time the midwife got around to filing out the certificate, eight days after the fact, she got a little confused about the name.  We'll probably never know.

The Official Name Change

      On 30 March 1942, Wally's brother, John Dixon, filled out the form changing my grandfather's name, officially, from Theodore Wallace to Wallace Bernard.

      Form officially correcting my grandfather's name from Theodore Wallace Dixon to Wallace Bernard Dixon.
      Correcting the Name on a Birth Certificate. One short form, signed by Grandpa's brother, John.

      Affidavit signed by brother, John Dixon, showing his personal knowledge of Wallace Bernard Dixon's correct name.
      Affidavit signed by brother, John Dixon, on 30 March 1942.

      The change form was filled out on 30 March 1942. The following day, this transcribed Birth Record was issued. And just like that, my grandfather was officially Wallace Bernard Dixon!

      Birth record for Wallace Bernard Dixon issued 31 March 1942, showing corrected name.
      Delayed Birth Record for Wallace Bernard Dixon
      issued the day after the name "correction" paperwork was signed.

      I'm guessing that this flurry of paperwork was instigated by the Draft for World War II. The only draft registration records that are currently available are from the Fourth Registration, conducted on 27 April 1942, and including only those men between 45 and 65 years old. My grandfather would have been 37 at the time, so he is not included in that record set. He may well be one of the 10 million men who registered between 1941 and 1946. As far as I know, he never served in the military. When those other records become available I'll be looking for him!

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