October is Family History Month and Lisa Lee, Got Genealogy?, has
devised a clever way for us to squeeze a little genealogy in every day this month.
Since I was a bit behind on reading some of my e-mails, I didn't realize that Lisa was doing this until yesterday. So, I'm going to have to play catch-up for a few days.
Lisa's activity for Day 1 of the 31 Days of Genealogy is as follows:
Speling Dusn't Cownt
The first Golden Rule of Genealogy is "Speling Dusn't Cownt," mainly because, back in the day, most folks could barely read or write, plus spelling standards weren't what they are today. Can't find a missing ancestor? Perhaps his/her name was just misspelled, so today's task is to "re-spell" their name based on the following tips:
a) N = U or V - In cursive writing, the lower-case letter “n” often looks like a lower-case ”u,” and there are, quite literally, thousands of instances on Ancestry.com, alone, where these surnames have been mis-transcribed. Names like ANDERSON, HANSEN, JONES, LANHAM, HENDERSON, MONTGOMERY, STONE, etc. can become Auderson, Hausen, Joues, Lauham, Heuderson, Moutgomery, and Stove.
b) REVERSED CONSONANTS - Reversed consonants account for far more unfindable relatives than most people even imagine. In many cases, it’s just due to bad spelling, but in others, it’s poor penmanship or sloppy transcription. Pronounced, bor-DOE, has a Soundex code of B630, sharing that Soundex code with surnames like:
Barrett Breed, etc.
However, if the middle consonants (“r” and “d”) were reversed, the name would be Boudreau, pronounced BOO-droe or boo-DROE. Boudreau has a Soundex code of B360, sharing that Soundex code with surnames like:
Beaudry Beiter, etc.
With a Soundex search, you are searching within one unique Soundex code, so even if you do a Soundex search for Bourdeau, you can’t get from BOURDEAU to BOUDREAU using Soundex. It will never happen. So, you decide to do a wild card search for Bourdeau. You might try:
Because the middle consonants were swapped, it’s going to be next to impossible to get from Bourdeau to Boudreau using a wild card search, either. Can’t find your missing relative, try swapping middle characters.
c) MISSPELLED or MISPRONOUNCED NAMES - If a name is mispronounced, chances are, it will also be misspelled. Some surnames commonly mispronounced:
GROSVENOR - The “s” is silent, but this name is often mispronounced as GROVES-ner.
WOOLSEY - This surname is often mispronounced as WOOS-lee.
LAHSER - Anyone from the Detroit area is quite familiar with Lahser Road (LA-sir), but for decades, it’s been mispronounced as LASH-er.
MAUGHAN - Both the “g” and “h” are silent, making the correct pronunciation MAWN, but it’s often mispronounced as MAWG-in
JULET - I used to work with a delightful man named Tim Julet. Assuming his surname was French, I pronounced it, zhoo-LAY, only to find out that it’s actually of German origin, and pronounced joo-LET, just like it’s spelled. Too funny.
LEICESTER - I’m going out on a limb here, but I think the correct pronunciation of this is LISS-ter, rather than the commonly used LIE-ces-ter.
Looking for Grosvenor relatives, it would be wise to act as though the silent “s” isn’t even there, and try to track them down as though the name was spelled GROVENER or GROVENOR, and also look for them with the hard "s.". How far a leap would it be for a sloppy clerk to change GROVENOR to GOVERNOR? Not hard at all.
For today's task, try re-spelling the names of your missing ancestors using the above tips.
Using the above tips from Lisa, I once again tried to locate my 2nd great grandfather, Jasper Pierce, on the 1870 Federal Census. Although, I'm fairly confident that he's just not enumerated on the 1870 census, I still try to locate him on it. I have tried some of the techniques that Lisa mentioned and have been unsuccessful but am giving it another try, so I used various spellings of Pierce such as Pearce and Piers. I tried reversing the i and e, I tried leaving the final e off, and for the fun of it I tried reversing the r and c but so far I still wasn't able to locate Grandpa Jasper on the 1870 census.