German Genealogy Tip #25: There are Multiple Towns with the Same Name

One thing you must learn quickly, when doing genealogy in Germany, is that there are multiple towns with the same exact name. Often there can be multiple towns in the same province with the same name, and sometimes there are multiple towns even in the same county with the same name.

Some towns have the same exact name, and some towns have very similar names: compare Rotenberg (Stuttgart, Württemberg) to Rotenberg (Rauenberg, Württemberg) to Rotenburg (Sachsen) to Rotenburg (Hessen) to Rothenburg (Bayern) to Rothenberg (Hessen) to Rothenburg (Oberlausitz, Sachsen) to Rothenburg (Sachsen-Anhalt) to Rottenburg (Baden-Württemberg) to Rottenburg (Bayern).

I soon found out, when researching my ancestral hometown–Machtlos (bei Ronshausen) in the Hersfeld-Rotenburg district of Hesse–that there was another town not far away called Machtlos bei Ziegenbain. Both Machtloses are of similar size and both are in the same county (Kreis Hersfeld-Rotenburg). It can be very easy to get two towns confused so make sure you account for all of the other towns that have the same name as the town you’re researching and then fastidiously investigate any records you find in order to make sure that you’re working with the right town.

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