Reading the Writing on the Brick Wall

Wordle: Names

I had intended to move on today and discuss the plantations that we’ve come across in our long way around the brick wall of my great-grandfather, Richard William Gines.  But I want to share an issue that has hindered our search and is not all that uncommon.    The Wordle graphic above tells the story!

To put the issue into genealogical research terms, watch as we follow my presumed collateral ancestor Rebecca Gines through her lifetime via the census.   She was enumerated each decade in  Tensas Parish, Louisiana.

(click on any image to enlarge)

1870

beck-guines-1870

Ancestry.com transcription:

Beckey Guines

Heritage Quest Transcription:

Beckey Guines

1880

reb-guines-1880

Ancestry.com Transcription:

Rebecca Guions

Heritage Quest Transcription:

Rebecca Guions

1900

beck-gioms-1900-cropped

Ancestry.com Transcription:

Beckie Gions

1910

rebecca-sines-lines-1910

Ancestry.com Transcription:

Rebecca Sines

Alt.: Rebecca Lines

HeritageQuest  Online Transscription:

Rebecca Lines

1920

[No record found]

1930

reb-gines-1930-cropped

Ancestry.com Transcription:

Rebecca Gines

Then at her death in Madison Parish:

rebecca1

Louisiana State Archives Death Index

In addition to the examples above, I found Gines family members indexed as “Genes,” “Gaynes,” and even “Sims.”  So I have not one surname to check, but really about a dozen.

How can it be determined that two spelling are the same name and not just different names?  One clue is the length of time the different spellings persist.  A short time for a spelling differential may suggest a mere mistake in spelling or transcription.  A lengthy period may suggest that there are different names involved.   Then, of course, one should check other records.  So where “Oscar Gines” appears on the census living in Shreveport and “Oscar Gimes” has the same address on his World War I draft card, a reasonable inference may be drawn that they are the same person.

There are myriad permutations of most names when one considers spelling, misspelling, mistranscription, mispronunciation, accents, and the lack of standardized spelling until the 19th or 20th centuries.

One thing that I do is examine the census pages some distance before and after my targeted individual.  I find a lot of related people, sometimes with names spelled differently, by this method.

Thanks to Wordle.net!

OFF
Craig


May 2009
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