What’s In A Name? Actually, quite a bit. I want you to meet Andrew A. Dahl, from Danetown, Santiago Township, Sherburne County, Minnesota. He was born in Denmark, in 1857. His father was Anders Jorgenson Dahl. As was the custom in Denmark, Andrew’s last name then became Anderson. Andrew immigrated to the United States in 1879 and quickly settled in Sherburne County.
All of this back story is important because Andrew and his wife Mary settled in Danetown. There was an abundance of Andersons living in the area. So much so, that produce checks from the Minneapolis markets to the farmers often got mixed up and delivery became very confused.
The story goes: Andrew, in an effort to simplify his life and insure that he received his produce checks, legally changed his name to Dahl. This name change occurred sometime after 1900. The court record continues for a generation when at least one of his four surviving children had to again visit the court and petition for a name change on the birth certificate. Frank Dahl, born in 1901 under the name Frank Anderson, received a court order to change his name on all documents, beginning with a birth certificate and continuing forward.
This is an interesting story for a variety of different reasons. For the benefit of family historians and local historians, keep in mind that name changes are an important consideration in the research. It also puts an end to the assumption that every Anderson, Olson, Peterson, and every other common name individual is related. Names are vital to historic study, but we can’t accept, or reject, every name based on a first read glance.