Lidija Sambunjak, professional genealogist

Why do grandma and grandpa have the same surname?

A few months ago a family from the United States asked me to help them out with finding their ancestors who were born in Slovenia. When I looked into the data that I received from the family, I realized that their grandfather’s surname and their grandmother’s maiden name were the same, although they were not born in the same parish.

So I followed both of their lines and have realized that the father of the grandfather came from the same parish as the father of the grandmother. But that wasn’t all. They came from the same village.

An information caught my attention

This piece of information caught my attention. In Slovenia there are parishes where you can find people with the exact same surname who are not directly related. But is that the case here?

When the family accepted by offer for the extensive genealogical research, I had to visited the parish of Metlika, where older Vital books were kept. Both of the priests I worked with were very kind and I could search all the books I needed to.

The result was intriguing! Great-grandparents of that family were indeed cousins! Their fathers for whom I had known to be born in the same village turned out to be born to the same parents! Status Animarum book in the parish of Metlika proved this, and then birth books as well.

A family lore

This was highly unusual matter. Then the question came: how to tell the living family? How will they react to the revalation? It is not an ordinary experience to realize that someone’s set of great-grandparents were cousins. So I emailed them and here is what I got back as a response: “A family lore tells that Joseph and Katharina were cousins, I just didn’t know how far back the relationship extended. They were married in Wisconsin, USA, where obviously no one questioned their family relationship.”

This is an interesting story for those who do the genealogy research, because sometimes we need to be prepared for the unexpected.