What’s in a Name Part 1: John, Jacob, and JD Douglas

31 Days to better GenealogyI recently discovered the 31 Days to Better Genealogy challenge from Amy Johnson Crow and decided I need some motivation to get moving with my research again. Over the next several weeks, I will be sharing my own progress with this challenge. It will take me longer than 31 days – but you will hear from me a few times a week. Tag along, help me out, and have some fun!

Day 2 

Well … I asked a couple of questions on day 1, so I’m writing about each in separate parts. I’ll focus on JD Douglas in part 1, and his wife in part 2.

Let’s take a look at all of the sources I have on JD Douglas. Early on in my genealogy adventure, I realized that my 3rd great-grandpa’s name showed as John and Jacob in various (and different) places. Between US census records and vital records, I don’t know which way to turn. I call him JD because that ALSO shows on historical documents. I’m partial to JD – that’s what I call my husband – but is JD for J. Douglas or J. D-something Douglas or is he John Jacob or Jacob John Douglas!?!? See. More questions! A person could go batty.

So, I created a table. 

Genealogy Sources I Have

I descend from JD Douglas through his son, Winfield Scott Douglas (Scott). I have located JD in four census records. He appears in 1850 and 1860 with family members, so I know it’s the right man. I am slightly less certain of the 1830 and 1840 census records. That said, the name JD is on the 1840 census and the ages of the people in his household fit then and in 1830. 

The 1850 census has JD born in 1795 in North Carolina, while the 1860 census has him born in 1795 in Tennessee. Either could be correct, quite honestly. 

Genealogy Resources JD Douglas Resources


It’s all conjecture, but … 

I could conclude that his name is John and that JD was a nickname or a way to distinguish him from a father or grandfather named John. However … and it’s a big however … I would think his own son would know his name to put it on a marriage license. They were together at least 14 years that I can track, so … Jacob?

I also looked for other Douglas men in Hickman County, KY in both 1830 and 1840 to see if I could put a family together. I found Jesse (possible birth 1791-1800) and Martin (possible birth 1801-1810). Could these be brothers to JD? See … more questions. This is why a genealogist’s work is never done.

Jesse has a female aged 15-19 in his household. This might suggest that he is older than JD by at least a few years to have a daughter – if it is a daughter – that age. 

Genealogy Sources I Need

To help see the full picture, I really need to find additional sources with JD’s name. 

  1. Land  or tax records
  2. Birth, death, marriage records for JD or for his other children 
  3. Probate records
  4. Military or pension records
  5. Non-population census records – JD was a farmer

Remember I said JD was born in 1795? That makes this hunt all the more difficult. However, I will figure it out … it’s not my first brick wall!

Let me know if there are other records you’ve had success with that might help!



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