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Old 02-19-2011, 04:28 PM
 
Location: SoCA to NC
1,935 posts, read 7,394,152 times
Reputation: 1322

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Hi I am JUST starting our family tree. My husband bought me a subscription to Ancestry.com for valentines day. I have started on my fathers side as I think it will be easier to trace. My sister has passed along to me a sheet of notes that she took based on what my Aunt told her of what she knows about the family. This aunt has since passed away. Immediately I have hit a snag on my Great Grandmother. We were told her name was Josephine Stoddard. That she was adpoted by the Stoddard family......According to the records I find that my grandfather was married to a woman (presume to be my grt grandmother) and her name was Ardinusey Stoddart. Similar last name. But way different first name. My question is are these misinterpretations common? DO I discard this and think I have linked up to the wrong couple or is it just too similar of last name and then assume my Aunt didn't know her own grandmothers name? I don't even think in this case with the first name that the Census taker could have mixed up spellings etc.

What is the general rule of thumb to follow on spellings of names and incorrect names? The surname I am researching also seems to have many different spellings as I go through the records which makes it really hard to know if I have the correct person or not.

Lastly is there a way to find info on an ancestor who was adopted? All I would have would be the family who adopted her name.
Thanks!
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Old 02-19-2011, 05:19 PM
 
Location: Pacific NW
6,413 posts, read 11,256,853 times
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The rule of thumb to follow is, don't get too hung up on them. They're VERY flexible. And remember, with most records, what happened was that the name was told to someone, who then wrote it down. They wrote what they heard. They wrote what they were told. And you don't know who told them. It could have been a neighbor, a child. People sometimes are listed by their middle names, sometimes by their first, sometimes by a nickname. I once searched for a family with a common surname, I could not find in a census between two others. They were in the same location in the 1910 and the 1930, but I couldn't find 1920. I had to search for every member in the family (of like 8-10 people). Only ONE child was listed the same name as the other two years. But the ages, etc. all fit. So I knew it was the same family.

Add to that the problem of someone today, trying to read and interpret what was written. A lot depends on the handwriting. Ancestry (and other people who transcribe records) often get it very wrong. I say wrong, because I, who know the name, can clearly see that's what's written. But they don't know the name, so they're doing the best they can.

Add to that all the names that one may use in their lifetime. My grandmother had no middle name. But sometimes, she used her aunt's name as a middle name. A story about her engagement called her Susie (which is NOTHING near any name I've ever heard for her). My grandfather was called Jake. Again, NOTHING I've ever heard for him. I had an uncle whose name was Walter. The family called him Shorty. Friends called him Bud. No one called him Walter.

But as for family stories, which is what your sister got from your aunt. They are very often true, but are mixed up in some way. Like it wasn't the mother's family but the father's. Or it's not the maiden name, but the name of the grandmother's second husband. Things like that. Use them for the clues they provide, but don't take them as gospel.

As for Stoddard and Stoddart not being the same name. They are. Spelling never counts.

Remember. We're researching people, not names. You're researching the woman who was the mother of X children; who was the wife of Mr. Stoddard; who was the daughter of someone; who had a sister named Y. That woman was called many things in her lifetime. So don't get hung up on it not always being the same name.

Which is easier said than done, when records are all indexed by name. So, always, be flexible.
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Old 02-19-2011, 06:45 PM
 
Location: Dalton Gardens
2,855 posts, read 6,021,415 times
Reputation: 1688
Finding the birth name of an adopted relative or ancestor can often be easier than what one is usually led to believe. It all depends on the era, the circumstances of the adoption and the age at which the child was adopted.

You will find that names are frequently not what we expect, nor how we would have spelled them. Check for your ancestors in all available census records to check out any differences. Also search for newspaper articles about them at Genealogy Bank.

Family stories have caused some major problems and confusions for most of us. By the time a story gets to us it has been retold and altered countless times, with only a very small amount of truth left to it.

Last edited by Cyanna; 02-19-2011 at 06:45 PM.. Reason: correction
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Old 02-19-2011, 11:40 PM
 
Location: Little Rock AR USA
2,457 posts, read 6,813,253 times
Reputation: 1889
EnricoV and Cyanna both have very good advice and suggestions. Bottom line; Cross check everything and accept nothing at face value unless you know personally it is correct. We all can tell stories about problems with names and I'll pass on a couple. The last name of my paternal grandmother and her dad were "Cox" but her dad's brother was "Cocke" as well as all the other ancestors. After many brick walls I found out that when her dad joined the Union Army during the Civil War the enlisting officer spelled his name phonetically "Cox" and it stuck. My step-dad was "Sam [Blank]" but family called him "Sammy". When he registered for the WWII draft they said he had to have a middle initial/name, which he didn't. So he was registered as "Sam E. [Blank]" and that was his legal name from that point on.

So, repeating what has already been said; Don't get hung up on a particular name, keep checking, and enjoy this great hobby. It's a wonderful ride
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Old 02-19-2011, 11:48 PM
bjh
 
Location: Memphis - home of the king
42,968 posts, read 26,765,951 times
Reputation: 129216
Lots of names have variant spellings. Don't let that throw you and DON'T DISCARD IT!

One of my great grandmothers is recorded in one census with a first name that didn't match any other records of her, ever. But on that particular census her place of birth and age did match. For some reason it was just recorded wrong. Could be that the census taker spoke to a neighbor who accidentally gave a wrong first name. Or maybe another reason. Who knows?

Last names were less standardized than first names and are often written according to how people heard them.
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Old 02-20-2011, 04:19 AM
 
Location: Pacific NW
6,413 posts, read 11,256,853 times
Reputation: 5838
I can't remember the county, district or year, but there is one county in Oregon that one year, the census enumerator gave all the women the same first name (can't remember what it was). Must have been his wife's name or something.
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Old 02-20-2011, 08:29 AM
 
5,656 posts, read 18,297,588 times
Reputation: 4070
You need to check actual census names, mispellings are rampant. Esp amongst (in my case) the polish side and the french canadian sides)
The census will illuminate many family issues, you need to verify your information through these it is very helpful.
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Old 02-20-2011, 01:53 PM
 
Location: Little Rock AR USA
2,457 posts, read 6,813,253 times
Reputation: 1889
gardner34 is absolutely correct. Check the actual census record, and you can do that with Ancestry.com, and you can print a copy for your paper files if you choose.
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Old 02-20-2011, 02:26 PM
bjh
 
Location: Memphis - home of the king
42,968 posts, read 26,765,951 times
Reputation: 129216
Quote:
Originally Posted by EnricoV View Post
I can't remember the county, district or year, but there is one county in Oregon that one year, the census enumerator gave all the women the same first name (can't remember what it was). Must have been his wife's name or something.
Blimey!
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Old 02-20-2011, 06:31 PM
 
Location: Not where you ever lived
11,543 posts, read 28,140,773 times
Reputation: 6373
I have a Dutch ancestor that was married in 1695. I reserached her for several years before I discovered her "native" or baptismal name was taken from the family bible. The "name" included her fraternal family history. Her alleged surname (which did not exist, yet) was actually the area where her grandfather was born. This small misunderstaning has been repeated to this day as a fact since Bergan penned it in the year 1889.
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