Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tuesday's Tip: Surname Spellings

One very important thing that I’ve noticed while researching my family histories and other’s as well, is that the surname is not always spelling the way it is now. This could include other family histories, census records, immigration records, etc.

This happens for many reasons but I think one of the main reasons is when a family comes to America. There is such a language barrier, plus accents to deal with.

A few examples from my own tree(s):


My father’s name- Jeckering- this was a very easy name to translate, I suppose, because there was no confusion. The name is spelling the same now as it was in the heritage books in Emsburen, Germany. I have seen the name spelled other ways though, like Jecker and Jackering.
I found a distant cousin on Facebook a couple of years back, who lives in Drievorden, Germany (where my family first originated) and they share the same Gerhard Jeckering (b. 1673) as I do…in fact, he and his wife live on the family farm! One thing that’s interesting, that he doesn’t know why, is that his name is spelled Jackering, not Jeckering. For some reason, the “e” was replaced by an “a”.


The spelling of Mendenhall is pretty universal in America (for the most part), however, I’ve read many times that this name was difficult to say in England, where it originated- when it was Mildenhall. My 10th great grandfather came over from England in 1685 and it was then changed to Mendenhall—I can only assume because of the pronunciation. Mendenhall has also been spelled: Meldonhall, Mewdenhall, Mildenhall, Mindenhall, Minden, Milden, Menold, Mildenhale, and many others!


I have to women in my tree- both from the Mendenhall side-

Susanna Pierson (1687-1765) (my 9th great grandmother)
          Married John Mendenhall Jr. (1688-1765)

Sarah Pearson (1795-1866) (my 5th great grandmother)
          Married Richard Mendenhall (1794-1871)

Even though their last names are different, they are similar and I was able to trace it back to their common ancestor!

Abraham Pierson (1590-1650)

Susanna’s great grandfather- Rev. Abraham Jr. (1616-1678), son of Abraham Pierson, took his father’s way of spelling his name- Pierson.

Sarah’s 3x great grandfather- Lawrence (1620-1673), son of Abraham Pierson, went by Pearson instead of Pierson, and he was still living in England where he was born and died. The reason for this name change is unknown.
The name Pierson originates from England (like my family), Ireland, Sweden and Scotland. The spelling variations include: Peyrson, Pairsone, Peirsonde, Peirsone, Peirsound, Pearsone, and Peyrsoune.


My 6th great grandfather was Johannes Willem Hendricks (1705-1789). The spelling of Hendricks here is how my grandmother spelled her name. However, Johanne’s father- Willem (1671-1711) (who was also born and raised in America) - spelled his name Hendrickson and so did his ancestors before him. Other spelling variations include: Henrick, Henrich, MacKendrick, Hendrie, Hendry, MacHendry, and MacHendrick. I think some of these depend on origin of the name. The name has been originated in Scotland, England and German, but my family name Hendricks, or Hendrickson, came from the Netherlands.

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