A Couple of Odds & Ends

Just a few words about some things that seem to pop up in many families starting out on genealogy:

I noticed then, as my former sister-in-law has since, that her mother’s paternal grandfather changed his name and location a few times before he ever got to America. He lived very near the border between Poland and Belarus; so near, in fact, that on successive census reports he appeared to move from Poland to Belarus and back again.

All of her great-grandparents were immigrants, and all had their names changed at the Port of Entry either by will or the pen of whomever recorded their entry. I have also noted that many names are spelled differently from accounting to accounting. It occurs to me that many of our ancestors were not what we’d call literate; they might have had no more idea of how to spell their names than the census taker whose best guess made it into the historical record.

We have the family name of Kellett, or Kellet. The last name is usually recorded as Kellett; but, when it’s a first name, it varies between the two spellings from person to person and from census to census. My mother’s maternal grandmother’s name is commonly presented as Adelaide; but, when she was the enumerator in 1910, it was Adalaide. My maternal grandfather’s name was said to be Laurence, but his military records and a signature I’ve found indicate it was Lawrence. (No worries, son; you were named as much for your uncle, Porky, as for your great-grandfather.)

The issue of potentially embarrassing stories: I have at least two. I had no idea that the Babb family held slaves; however, at that time, I knew next to nothing about the Babb family. The other, on my mother’s side, was that we had always been led to believe that our Wallace ancestors were Scots (possibly from William Wallace), and they were, in fact, not; they were apparently Hessian (Wallis), and that branch of the family spent a generation or two up in Canada after the Revolutionary War before coming back as Wallaces.

That’s it for today, I think.

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