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Cities that share provincial, county, or state names

City of York in YorkOne of the more common problems with places of origin relate to those places which are not just the names of a city or town, but also serve as the name of a larger jurisdiction, such as a state or province. Almost every country has such situations. Often it is the capital city that shares its name with that of the larger area. In many cases it is a large city, even if it is not the capital. In almost every such case, the place name is a great clue, but it seldom means that the immigrant came from the city of that name. Indeed, immigrants seldom left large cities (see the discussion below under that topic). Therefore, if the family tradition has your immigrant coming from Hanover, Germany, then it is best to assume that the German state, not city, of Hanover is meant.

Perhaps one of the most perplexing cases of this situation relates to the German state (duchy) of Baden (on the east side of the Rhein river). One of the localities in this beautiful area is the small town of Baden, today a resort known as Baden-Baden. However, many families whose ancestry comes from elsewhere in this duchy believe their family came from the town of Baden. While many residents emigrated from the state of Baden, if all those who are believed to have come from the town of Baden actually had lived there, this small, quaint town on the Rhein river would have rivaled the larger city of Freiburg as the largest in the state. There were simply not enough people in the entire town of Baden to account for all the persons believed to have come from there. The only explanation is that they came from elsewhere in the duchy of Baden.

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