A Case of Mistaken Identity

I received several condolences from local people these last couple of weeks on the death of my mother. This was rather surprising, as my mother died in 2014.

There was a death notice in the local paper a couple of weeks ago for a Marilyn Boomgaarden. Well, the last name is correct, but the first name is not my mother’s, and I understand the confusion. Local folks thought she must be my mother because we have the same last name and there aren’t any other Boomgaardens in southwest ND. Marilyn was the wife of my dad’s cousin Irwin, and was briefly here in Dickinson to be close to her daughter, my third cousin. She moved here from Dell Rapids, SD.

My grandfather had eleven brothers and sisters, and if you encounter a Boomgaarden in Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, or North Dakota, chances are really good they are my kin, especially if their last name has two a’s in it. It is a pretty odd name, although in Ostfriesen/Dutch it means orchard. The family was fairly close knit, and cousins kept track of each other, so I heard all about all Dad’s cousins growing up. I have yet to write to the person who sent a sympathy card to me and donated three bibles to the Salvation Army in my mother’s memory. Oh, to live in a small community!

Have you ever been mistaken for someone else? Do you have any close or distant relatives who live nearby you? What does your last name mean?

77 thoughts on “A Case of Mistaken Identity”

  1. Are you kidding? With a name like Bill Nelson in a Scandinavian-infested place like Minneapolis I get misdirected communications frequently. There is (or was?) even another Bill and Robin Nelson here in town.

    Ironically, Nelson in my case only goes back two generations. My grandfather’s name in Sweden was Nilsson. My father’s only brother had no children so any Nelsons outside of my immediate family are not directly related to me.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Birch wood.
    The few other Birkholz relatives I have had were not the only ones with their names . But I am the only Clyde, not counting Clydela who lives out Dickinson way. When the name Birkholz comes up in the news everyone assumes it is a relative. Now if I were Clyde Cartwright, I could be more of a wallflower in the name department.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. I am often mistaken for Brad Pitt. People then ask about Angelina and Jennifer. That makes me uncomfortable.
    As with many Scandinavian names, son of so-and-so necessitates understanding the first part.
    Hagen, in several languages, relates to a protected area, enclosure. The family history reveals that my forebears cared for the cattle of Danish royalty. One branch had the name Bullock. The “sen” instead of “son” ending narrows identity to Danish. I’d use a diacritic over the “a” but haven’t mastered that part of the keyboard.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. If the diacritic you have in mind in this case, Wes, is the two dots over the a, that would suggest Swedish rather than Danish. Danes don’t use it. Danes simply added three letters to the alphabet, æ ø, and å., whereas the Swedish dink around with the umlaut also used in German.

      Liked by 6 people

        1. This is actually quite interesting, I think. The Swedish vowels Å, Ä, and Ö are added at the end of the alphabet, in that order. In the Danish alphabet they’re in this order: Æ, Ø, and Å.

          The letter Ä arose in German and later in Swedish from originally writing the E in AE on top of the A, which with time became simplified as two dots. In the Icelandic, Faroese, Danish and Norwegian alphabets, “Æ” is still used instead of Ä. Finnish adopted the Swedish alphabet during the 700 years that Finland was part of Sweden.

          For an approximation of Swedish pronunciation, see below. It sounds quite different in Danish and the other Nordic or Scandinavian languages. Finnish, as you probably know, does not belong to that group of languages, but a lot of Finns speak Swedish as a second language.


          Liked by 3 people

  4. Apparently, I have a doppelganger both here in the Owatonna area and also in the NW suburban Chicagoland area (Roselle, Carol Stream, Bartlett). I’ve never met these men, but have been assured that they exist.

    No close or distant relatives other than Mom, bro, and sis in the Twin Cities and a cousin in Cottage Grove.

    “Norbury” means “North Borough.” Not too glamorous, just a reference to a location.

    There are a few Chris Norbury’s who appear on Google searches whose *ahem* “fame” rivals my own. 🙂 One is a professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Penn State, and one is a former professional snooker player in England. It’s safe to say we’ll never run into each other at a restaurant or grocery store.

    Chris in Owatonna

    *BSP* Deep Valley Book Festival this Saturday, 9 am to 3 pm. Venue is the WOW Zone in Mankato–near River Hills Mall, just south of US 14.
    Keynote speaker Curtis Sittenfeld gives an address at 3:30. 65+ authors from all genres will be selling and signing books and talking to readers, book lovers, literati, and anyone else who wanders in thinking they’re going to bowl a few frames but gets distracted by all the brilliant writer minds in the festival room. 🙂

    Of course, I’ll be there and would love to meet you or say “hi” again if we’ve already met. Weather won’t be an issue for driving, and it’d make a great day trip to go to the book festival, have some lunch at one of the many restaurants in Mankato, and perhaps stop at one of the local wineries–Chankaska or Indian Island come to mind–and sample some Minnesota wines. Trust me (the former wine expert), MN wines get better every year. Winemakers finally figured out which grapes grow well in our climate and don’t try to compete with vinis vinifera strains like chard, cab, & merlot.

    Hope to see you there. For more details, go to http://www.deepvalleybookfestival.com/ *END BSP*

    Liked by 5 people

  5. I have cousins without a few hours of here, but we only see each other at funerals, and I even missed one of those this year. All my aunts and uncles are now gone. Husband has tons of cousins all over southern Minnesota.

    Ingebritson got shorted to Britson, my maiden name. at Ellis Island? So Son of Ingebrit is all I know. I kind of wish I’d come from one of the Daughter derivatives, as in Kristin Lavransdatter…

    Sterling from my mom is Welch/Scottish, perhaps Stirling at some point, which appears to mean “genuine, of high quality”. I’ll take that… : )

    Liked by 5 people

  6. Apparently, like a lot of people, I have a doppelgänger running around. I used to hear this more when I was growing up in Duluth. Haven’t heard about him lately. Maybe he met with a tragic fate… [wrings hands in Snidely Whiplash fashion]

    My folks moved down to the Cities about 5 years ago to be closer to me for assistance and better medical care. My sister followed the next day.

    According to my genealogy-interested sister, our last name is a derivation from the French word for ‘strawberry.’ Apparently, our ancestors were strawberry farmers in the Normandy area of France before old Francois was tapped to help found Montreal and Quebec.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. Carter is very very common, meaning a person who transports things on carts. Or in the day on the other side of the pond someone who sold their wears off of a cart occasionally used Carter as well. I don’t have any close Carter ties; my grandfather on my dad’s side died when my dad was young and my grandmother didn’t keep any connections on that side. Long story. My few other Hall/Carter relatives mostly live in the northern Wisconsin area but again I’m not in touch with very many of them.

    On my mother’s side I think I’m related to all of the Von Rumps there are in the world. The surname was Rumpf, and when they came through Ellis Island , the story is that they wanted to distinguish themselves so they took off the “F” and added the “Von” in front. If you look up a map of Von Rumps in the world, there are only a handful — you can even see where my cousin Stephen lived in Sweden for several years is represented. Almost all the Von Rumps are located in the St. Louis area. My mother still to this day jokes that she married my father because he had a plain ordinary name.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. A piece of history: when people went through Ellis Island their names were taken off ship manifests and not changed there by anyone. They could maybe have changed it on boarding I suppose.

      Liked by 3 people

        1. Not a Godfather fan. Neither read nor seen it. I assume it is the oft repeated story vehemently denied by immigration that a clerk changed someone’s name when they said it. But as I say and they say the name was taken off the manifest. If your name was not on the manifest, you were not allowed in.


      1. Entirely possible. Like I said, this is a family story — I don’t have any proof at all. The only bit of information that suggest this is true in some fashion is that there are no other Von Rumps except the ones that are related to me.


  8. I was reading old posts and discovered that I’d actually told you all my original last name, along with a lot of embarrassing humour. I still don’t remember writing it, but however, my birth name is Stewart Fenton Basil, and I am now legally called Stewart Fenton. Fenton means “a marshland farm.” Stewart means “steward or keeper.” Lending credence to my claim that Stewart is the correct spelling of my first name, royal clans notwithstanding.
    Anyway, what I was getting at is, that I am the keeper of a marshland farm. I probably told you that already, as well.

    Liked by 4 people

  9. I’ve got one set of cousins, all of whose names I don’t remember. I know that Martin was born the day after me. And Ashley came to Mum’s funeral in 2005,which was nice of him. He said he lived at Lymington now, which was not so far from us in Southampton. Jane has sometimes worked in Lymington hospital. Not so far. Anyway, I didn’t give it another thought.
    I spent the last year before we moved to Spain in 2015, driving trucks with brick grabs, delivering building materials out of depots belonging to a firm named Jewson. I got sent to the Lymington depot occasionally, not a terribly busy place. They loaded me up with just one bag of sand one afternoon, that was it, the whole run. (Do you have those ton bags of sand, gravel, etc, over there? Quite handy, and I find the bags handy too). I got the paperwork and looked at the name and address. A. Basil. That’s a shock, because there really is no one else called Basil. It couldn’t be Dad, because he died in 1990. And it couldn’t be Angus, my brother, because he doesn’t live round there. AHHH! Got it! I said, “that’s my cousin!”
    So it was nice to catch up. You don’t really expect your long lost cousin to show up unannounced, with a ton of sand, do you? And his son’s middle name is Fenton, that was a surprise too.

    Liked by 5 people

      1. Thanks Barbara, and as I know you tend to come back later, I’ll tell you a bit more. My Dad did a lot of sculpting and wood carving, and occasionally painting or pottery. One time he carved a big piece of a tree into a full length nude woman, his main obsession. He got it outside when he was finished, and said it didn’t look right now he could see it properly, and chucked it it in the old quarry that the neighborhood used as a dump. That was in the seventies. So I was surprised to see that same sculpt in Ashley’s back garden in the year 2015. He’d seen it on some visit that I don’t remember, then missed it on a later visit, long after I’d left home, and doggedly tracked it down. The feet were rotted off, and he and his wife were referring to it as “she”, two things that made me feel squeamish. Inanimate objects, including vehicles of course, are “it”, not “she”.
        He also told me interesting stuff about my grandfather, which I hadn’t known, and I feel generally guilty for not keeping in touch. A nice guy, but we’re just chalk land cheese really.


        1. Not sure I agree with you, Fenton, about inanimate objects being “its.” Michelangelo’s “David” is very much a “he” in my book. And the “Mona Lisa” is very much a “she.”

          It’s often hard to separate our feelings about the art created by some artist whose ethics and behavior we don’t approve of. I struggle with that a lot. I know that a lot of artists whose work I greatly admire led less than exemplary lives, at least measured by the human traits that I value. Too many to single out any one of them. Perhaps you need to cut your dad some slack? Perhaps his art and his person need to be considered separately? He may have failed miserably as a father and a husband, but it may be that he succeeded in other realms? Who am I to judge?


  10. One of my maternal great grandmothers was a Hellwinkle. A literal translation of the name means Bright Corner. I have no idea what it might mean colloquially. There are quite a few Hellwinkles in Pipstone County in MN. They are known for their red hair and cluttered, messy farm yards.

    Liked by 4 people

  11. Many long years ago, a man in a bar approached me and told me I looked just like Suzanne Pleshette. He said he knew it for a fact because he had met her. I never saw the resemblance, but I was happy to be compared favorably to someone who wasn’t hideous.

    OT Sorry, back to my Keepers obsession. I have contacted MPR and found out that I am still missing Time Keepers. If anyone on here has a disc that I could copy, I would be very grateful. There are a few used copies available on Amazon but I thought I’d check before I buy one.

    ~Thanks and you may now return to your regular blogging experience.

    Liked by 6 people

  12. Sandra’s Maiden name means snail in Russian and many eastern European languages. Supposedly given as an insult way back when. My mother’s maiden name means weather in German. These days that would not be a good name to have, but very few people would see weather in Wetter. Sandra’s Swedish/Norwegian roots are all Andersons and Johnsons of various spellings from up Lindstrom area way.
    Through my mother I have many relatives scattered all across southwestern Minnesota and western Washington. When the reun they can gather by the several hundreds. Went to one west of here many years ago. Sandy said it was like looking at a hundred of me. There is a relative in Sandy’s nursing home who wants nothing to do with the family and hasn’t for many years.
    Sandy’s Russian relatives rejected her for not being all Russian, for which two uncles aplogized as they approached death. One aunt was very good to her in her childhood. An orthodox prinest told her he had spent a lifetime fighting that attitude with little impact.

    Liked by 3 people

  13. I’m sure some of the baboons remember the origin of my baboon handle, and equally sure that some don’t. So here goes:

    Back in the summer of 1968, before I started at SIU in the fall, I was working as a waitress at a small steakhouse in Carbondale. Just down the street, the Varsity Theater was showing “Rosemary’s Baby” starring Mia Farrow.

    For weeks people would come in and tell me how much I looked like Mia Farrow, a resemblance that I couldn’t see, but like OC chose to accept as a compliment.

    One lone diner, however, managed to knock me off that pedestal. He was a younger man, and I caught him repeatedly staring at me while he ate, but didn’t say anything till he came back to pay for his dinner. That’s when he said to me: “I know you must have heard this many times before, but I know what I’m talking about, you look an awful lot like Mia Farrow.” Then he added, “I just returned from California where I happened to be staying at the same hotel as Mia Farrow. You are a lot taller than she is, and she has more freckles than you do, but without make-up on, she’s a real Plain Jane too.” I have no recollection of whether or not he left me a tip.

    Liked by 5 people

  14. Just to make my life easier received a letter denying coverage for Sandra to be in care for 905-908. I have 30 days to appeal. I assume that is a code for something.


  15. When I was younger and had super short hair, I was devastated after someone said I looked like Miss Jane, the banker’s secretary on “The Beverly Hillbillies”.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. OT: Cats.
    We’re in business. The mother of the four kittens Jane and I have had in our house, was caught yesterday, and Chelo took her to be sterilised. I picked her up from the vet this evening and I took all five, plus a fibreglass kennel donated by Sheri, to our new Cat City. After some messing about, we got the kittens in the kennel, then the mother, who shot inside, shot back out again, then after a couple of practice runs, disappeared over the wall into the concrete works. After a minute, I said, the best thing we can do is go, so we did. Let’s hope she’s back by now.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. OT – Apropos absolutely nothing.

    Considering the number of baboons who have experience in marching bands, I thought you might enjoy watching this video. It’s long – 24 minutes – so I don’t expect that you’ll watch it all, but it is fun to watch the Norwegian Royal Guards march through Oslo on their way to the palace.

    Maneuvering through cobblestone streets too narrow in places to accommodate their formation, around parked delivery trucks, buses, large planters, and whatnot, they never miss a beat.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I don’t know how many, if any, baboons have watched this? I’ve just watched the whole thing again, and I’m just amazed. Starting at about 15 minutes in, there’s some serious maneuvering around obstacles. It’s almost hypnotic to watch. The arrival at the palace is really pretty anti-climactic.


  18. I have a fairly unusual last name, but there are at least a half dozen people in the U.S. who have the same name, first and last. One lives in South St. Paul. I have had a couple of medical clinics who mixed us up, and a pharmacy that tried to give me a prescription that was not mine. Having an unusual last name doesn’t mean much if you have a very common first name.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My last name, acquired through my first marriage, is rather unusual, too. Wasband is still in the area – we live roughly six or seven miles apart as the crow flies – but as luck would have it, we don’t travel in the same circles, and I haven’t run into him in about thirty years. I have, however, taken a car I previously owned to the local dealership, and had to straighten out that my first name isn’t Colleen. I have never laid eyes on her – to my knowledge – but I know she’s also in the “system” of Cooks on Crocus Hill, so it’s possible we’ve been in the same cooking class at some point. Possibly she has had to explain that’s she’s not to be confused with Margaret.

      Liked by 2 people

  19. I have a hard time getting these posts in before they expire my life these days warrior if I can Jones the grace of God and or a welsh equivalent for John’s son
    People are most often yet sent to look like were Phil Jackson coach of the Chicago Bulls Michael Jordan and Bradley black guy on 60 minutes

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I always look too. Something about Ed Bradley…Jones by the grace of God and or a welsh equivalent, not certain what the intention that released this poetic fragment into the world might have been, but I will think about it for awhile.


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