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I've run into an odd situation. Catharine Elisabeth Schweitzer was baptised in Weiterode in 1822. She is the first child of the parents. However, the next birth record for the same parents is from 1826, recording what appears to be the exact same child. The text and details read almost identically between the two entries, down to the days, godmother, etc. The only difference is the month.

There is no record of a Catharine Elisabeth in the death record during that period, and the death records in this case are pretty clean and readable, and appear to be complete (the period from 1822-1826 only covers 4.5 pages). Additionally, the birth dates/times are the same in each record. Therefore, I doubt that it is a case of the same name being reused.

Does anyone see anything here to indicate anything other than that she was, for some reason, baptised a second time in 1826?

January 1822: enter image description here

November 1826: enter image description here

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Note that the record of January 1822 has a small cross beside it. This usually means that the child did not survive very long, and I have seen instances (in Southern Germany) where a separate burial is not recorded. Recycling of names under these circumstances is not uncommon, because there used to be a fairly strict selection process for first names: name of father or mother for the first-born, paternal grandparents for the second, etc.

There are other discrepancies between the two records (although the parallels are truly astonishing): The first records a birth on the 15th of January 1822 (clearly marked "eiusdem") at midnight ("12 noct."); the second has the birth on the 15th of September 1826 (again clearly marked "eiusdem") at noon ("12 merid.").

Also (incorporated from my earlier comment), the godmother Catharine Elisabeth Ehrhardt is identified as the child's grandmother in the first record and as the mother's sister in the second.

The two records describe two different children, and the only reasonable explanation that I can come up with is that the first child died prior to January 1826.

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  • I agree with this, the cross mark and the context so far indicate that the first person died early. I've seen several records (Protestant, from North Frisia and West Prussia, late 18th and 19th century) where there is no separate burial entry when the child was stillborn or died shortly after birth. I vaguely recall also some instance where there was no baptism record, but a burial one (for a stillborn child).
    – jadepx
    Nov 17, 2021 at 20:06
  • In this area, around this time, it was common for later priests to go back and mark baptism records with crosses to indicate that the person had died; occasionally they also added the death date. However, I've not seen it used to indicate the death of a child, and would not interpret it as such, without at least an accompanying entry in the death record.
    – BrianFreud
    Nov 17, 2021 at 20:21
  • That does not explain that there is /no/ cross on the second record. A second baptism of the same person is pretty much unheard of, and I would read the fact that there is no death date as an indication (perhaps not a very strong one) that the first Catharine Elisabeth died shortly after she was baptized. One other thing caught my attention: The godmother. The first record identifies her as the child's grandmother Catharine Elisabeth Ehrhardt, the second record states that the godmother is the mother's sister (same name)! Nov 17, 2021 at 20:33
  • Thanks; I'm still not convinced by the crosses; they were used to indicate deaths, but inconsistently, and I've not seen any other case of it indicating a child's death without a matching death record. The godmother, however, is quite useful; I thought there was something different about that word, but was unable to read it clearly in each record.
    – BrianFreud
    Nov 18, 2021 at 1:55
  • Another possible explanation: the child was buried in a different place. Do you have any indication that the parents moved at some point? Did you look in the neighboring parishes?
    – jadepx
    Nov 18, 2021 at 11:05

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