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Home: Regional: U.S. States: West Virginia: Marion County

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Re: Dudley Run Cemetery, Marion Co., WV
Posted by: Jade (ID *****8954) Date: June 12, 2007 at 14:23:03
In Reply to: Re: Dudley Run Cemetery, Marion Co., WV by Fran Braley of 736

You are welcome.

But be aware that name-spelling variations are very common, and almost never due to a family's 'changing' the spelling.

Not until the 1870s did large numbers of people begin attending school to the extent of learning to read and write with proficiency. Before then, whoever was making the records spelled names they way they sounded to them.

It's very common to find that even into the 1930s a record-keeper such as census enumerator might spell a name differently from the way the family thought of it. And with the various waves of immigration since WWII the process starts all over again -- who indeed knows how to spell Hmong or Xhosa names in English (which has no symbols for 3 different 'click' sounds!)?

It is true that in the late 19th century one family branch or another would adopt a spelling that differed from the way the branch in the next county over spelled it; not because someone 'changed' the spelling, just because it was a spelling that made sense to them.

In the late 19th century consistent spelling by a family became more important, as Civil War veterans and widows applied for pensions and overall more paperwork was required: registration for the draft, new laws about recording births, deaths and marriages, and so on.

One should also be cautious about interpreting a spelling-change that appears because some latter-day genealogist did not really look into the records. For example, one of my ancestors signed his will with his first name spelt 'Hynson', but late 20th-century genealogists spelled it 'Henson', 'Hinson' and even 'Hanson', and made absurd speculations as to the name's origins.

So while Schneider, Snider and Snyder are all the same surname, spellings will differ by time, place and record-maker. The person who ordered your relative's grave marker might not themselves have been literate, so it could have been up to the stone-carver how to spell the name.

Good hunting,
Jade


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