My brick wall discovery of the immigration of the Jeremiasen family this week made it an easy decision to select this family for my Surname Saturday post.
I haven’t jumped into the deep end of the pool on my Danish ancestors before was because of the confusion in Danish naming traditions. If you find it difficult to trace female ancestors without a surname, try doing research on a family whose surname changed every generation!
Instead of maintaining surnames through each generation, the Danes instead used patronyms.
I’ll use my family to illustrate – my great great grandfather was Peter Jeremiasen. His children took the surname Petersen (Peter’s son). My great grandfather was named Jens Petersen. Had the naming tradition continued in this country, Jens’ children’s last names would have been Jensen (Jens’ son). On the female side, Peter’s wife’s name was Polsdatter – this means that she was Paul’s daughter.
It’s a challenging aspect to seeking my Danish roots – which is probably why I’ve focused on the family after they stopped the traditional naming and stuck with Petersen once they arrived in America.
For further reading, here’s an excellent explanation culled from several authors on the subject:
A Crash Course in Danish Naming Traditions