Monday, February 1, 2010
NAVIGATING ALONG the RIVER -
Spelling in Research Records
Yesterday we got a new 1 year old Westie by the name of "Ollie" (picture below). I have a grand daughter by the name of "Halle" same name as Halle Berry, the singer. I have the same problem that my father had with certain words, names and pronouncing some words with additional letters added. For example: "wash" is "warsher" as in warsh your hands, warsh cloth & warsher machine. I try to get the "r" out of that word, but I generally do not succeed! Back to names, I have had a very hard time saying "Halle"... I want to say "Holle." Now we have a "Ollie" that I want to say "Allie" - I can not win!!!
Back when Census takers or county clerks were recording information, they had some of these quirks, too, as Dad & I, but probably much worse. They usually tried to spell the name as it was pronounced. If people talked with accents or just plain did not talk clearly, especially with some chewing tobacco or "snuff" in their mouth, it was difficult for the recorder of the name to spell it correctly. A name like "Woodis" easily becomes "Wootes" with names like "Phipps" being "Fips" - "Cruse" = "Crews" or "Kruze!" I have corresponded with many people who would not accept my "Ferguson" because their family always spelled the name "Fergason" or "Furgason" etc. But, the name was generally spelled out by someone else in the records not by the family. Many families adopted a certain spelling of their name mostly in just the last 100 years or so. Which means that two brothers might adopt a different variation of the name (especially if they lived a distance from each other)... are they any less related as brothers - I think not!
Expect names to be sometimes significantly different than you might normally expect. I try to list all of the variations I find for a name and try to think of others. For the name Woodis: Wootis, Wootes, Wootas, Woottis, Woottes, Woottas, Wooddis, Wooddes, Woodes, Woods, Wooddus, Woodus, Wooddas, Woodas, Whoulduss, Woodduss, etc., etc. I have over 50 variations of this name not counting obvious, careless mis-spellings. For several years, I looked for my Amos Phipps in the 1820 U.S. Census Records and could not find him. I found him by accident while looking for some of my Flatt ancestors, he was listed as "Amus Fips!"
Just keep in mind that if they should be there and you can not find them... it might be that the name is spelled a lot differently than you normally search for.
- Written by JGWest