Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Surname Spelling Variations

The Dutch brothers Myndert & Carsten Fredericksen (sons of Frederick Van Iveren) immigrated to the US in the 1600s. Most if not all with the surname Vanevery are descendants of Myndert. Most if not all with the surname Vanavery are descendants of Carsten. 

My second great aunt, Katie Newmark, married Philip Dzeikops, which he changed to Jacobs. 

My wife has some Wallace and Wallis ancestors who are likely related. 

These spelling variations are slight. Even Dzeikops to Jacobs which appears to me to be an Anglicized Yiddish spelling. 

My kin with ancestors from the town of Kruvandai Lithuania probably have the surname with the most spelling variations in my tree. To date, these are the six variations I’ve found:


These are just the spellings in recorded documents. It doesn’t include additional interpretations by census takers or database indexers.

The most intriguing spelling to me is the last one. Some might try to argue it is almost a name change, not realizing that in Hebrew the V and B sound are made with the same consonant. They are only differentiated by a diacritical mark. Similarly - the O and Oo vowels are differentiated by the position of a diacritical mark. The system of diacritical marks, known as Niqqud, was invented in the Middle Ages. Ancient Hebrew didn’t have them. I don’t know the rules of Hebrew that dictate when the letter Bet is pronounced Vet, or when certain vowels are appropriate, but it is my understanding that the originator of this spelling was trying to Hebraicize the name. 

In genealogy we are taught to ignore spelling, or be creative with spelling, in our searches. Names can be recorded or indexed in multiple ways. But differences in spelling can also sometimes tell us something about our ancestors and why they may have chosen that spelling. 

Saturday, November 20, 2021

My great grandfather’s birth record

A few years ago I found the below “birth record” on Ancestry. It is for my great grandfather. However, Ancestry doesn’t have the images, and FamilySearch has the images, but no index. 

The problem with browsing the images is I’m pretty certain this isn’t a birth record. The title of the database is Hungary Civil Registration 1895-1973. 1861 is not in that range. However my great grandparents were married in the late 1890s. The marriage records do provide dates of birth, places of birth, and parent names. I think Ancestry created a birth record from a marriage record. Why they don’t have the marriage record in their database I’m uncertain. It’s possible the record page was damaged in some fashion and the bride’s information was not legible. It’s supposition until I find the record. 

So I browse the marriage records, right? They’re divided by location, naturally. I did look at all the Vitka marriage records. I can’t read the Hungarian, but it’s not too difficult looking for the names on each document. The record wasn’t there, so I suspect my great grandparents were not married in Vitka. So what town were they married in?

I don’t know. That’s the problem. And there are a lot of towns in the database.

My great grandmother was born in Margitta. She doesn’t turn up in the Ancestry search, and there are no Margitta records in the FamilySearch database. I suspect they were married in some town nearby one of their births. 

I did search for the birth records of my grandfather and his siblings - without success. I have a copy of my grandfather’s birth certificate which he had in his records. But I don’t have that for his siblings. I also searched for the record of death for one of his siblings. Browsing through the images I couldn’t find the town of Nagyalmas where they were born. Those records may not have survived. 

It would be really nice if FamilySearch could index this database. 
Or I have a lot of records to browse through.