Thursday, March 22, 2012

It's All in the Spelling of the Name

In dancing with the ancestors I've learned that it's all in the name, as in the spelling of the name, that can vary. Boy, can it vary. 

For example, my three times great grandmother Delphania O'Bryant or is it O'Bryan, O'Bray, Bryant or just plain unknown. No, seriously!

3 x Great Gran's late name varies depending on the death certificate of her children, including the unknown. Talk about making an ancestor's research more than a wee bit difficult. Ha!

So, I pretty much didn't have a clue as to what Delphania's - aka Della, Fannie, Dafne, and whatnot - last name was, and still don't.

On the 1840 Census, a few doors down from George Washington Hall and his wife Delphania, there lived a Matilda Bryant. In 1850, on the next page of the Census, there is a Matilda O'Bryan. I'm 99.9% positive Matilda Bryant and Matilda O'Bryan are one in the same person, mainly because of the age. Then there's the fact, when doing research, that the O'Bryans were, well, 'thick as fleas' in the Marion/Nelson County areas in the 1800s.

Based on this information, I tend to go toward the name O'Bryan versus Bryant since the O'Bryans were in high concentration in the area at that time.

Then again, it could be Bryant. I probably won't ever know for 100%

So, when dancing with the ancestors, don't let the spelling of the name stop you in your tracks. Census Takers, clerks, etc., often wrote what they heard, and not necessarily how the name was actually spelled. 


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