Quick tip – Hiding under another name

If your ancestors were from a small town and you can’t find their parents, perhaps they’re hiding under another name.

There wasn’t a great influx of new people in a small town, so don’t automatically assume that people came from elsewhere if you can’t find them. They could be hiding under a different farm name, or their last name could be a patronymic referring to the first name rather than the last name of the father. Or maybe they were the first in their family to use that particular name and their parents used different names.

By expanding your research and studying baptismal witnesses, neighbors, and naming patterns, you may identify candidates for the parents. Court and notarial records may provide additional evidence.

boy hiding in a box

Hidden boy is found. Credits: Gillis Bernhard Mulder, collection Rijksmuseum (public domain)

About Yvette Hoitink

Yvette Hoitink, CG®, QG™ is a professional genealogist in the Netherlands. She holds the Certified Genealogist credential from the Board for Certification of Genealogists and has a post-graduate diploma in Family and Local History from the University of Dundee. She has been doing genealogy for over 30 years and helps people from across the world find their ancestors in the Netherlands. Read about Yvette's professional genealogy services.


  1. Jantina Wetting says

    My maiden name is Van der Scheer. My father, Hendrik, was born in Emmen (Drenthe in 1904.
    Research has shown there was a farm property named “De Groote Scheere”, later split up, resulting in a smaller property, called “De Kleine Scheere”
    As far as I know, both properties are still there, somewhere in Drenthe.

    I live in New Zealand and read all genealogy messages with interest

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