#52Ancestors in 52 Weeks: How Do You Spell That?

This prompt (from Amy Johnson Crow’s #52Ancestors Challenge) immediately conjured up several thoughts.

Typing it, I remembered the old riddle: Railroad crossing, look out for the cars. Can you spell that without any Rs?*

I’m also reminded of people chuckling at me because saying my name and then immediately spelling it comes naturally when you grow up with a name like Auriette Hahn. Even my married surname has to be spelled, because Lindsey can also be Lindsay or Linzey.

My maternal grandmother’s maiden name is Stevens. The death record for James William “Billie” Stevens says his parents were Bill Stevens and Mollie Reed. The marriage record for her grandparents names them as William A. Stephens and Mary Reid.

As I was growing up, Mary Reid was always referred to as Grandma Muterspaugh, her married name from her third husband. That one took me a long time to learn how it was spelled, and I don’t think I ever really understood how she fit into the family until I began this hobby of genealogy.

Billie’s wife, Mary Elizabeth “Mollie” Pittman, was the daughter of Isaac Pittman, sometimes spelled Pitman.

My paternal grandmother was born Malzie Elizabeth Silcox, which in the records of her ancestors is sometimes spelled Sylcox or Silcocks or Silkcox or Silcock or Sillcock.

I have a Stephens or Stevens on my dad’s side as well. John Jordan (or Jurdan) Cooper married Arminta (or Armenta) Stephens in 1857. A doctor wrote about Arminta’s family in a medical journal, spelling the name sometimes with a V and sometimes with a PH in the same article.

And then there’s the Rainey clan. Or Raney. Or Rainy. Or Rayney. Or Raynie. I have them on my mother’s side, and my husband has them on his mother’s side. I tend to think this is why his mother and my mother are DNA cousins (19 cM), although I haven’t found the connection yet.

It occurs to me that looking up ancestors – whether you’re using a genealogy website or Google – is rather like the popular internet game of Wordle. It’s a logic game of remixing the letters until you find the records that can help you fill in the blanks in your family tree.

*For those who never heard that railroad crossing riddle before, the answer is T-H-A-T.

About Taminar

When I grow up, I want to make movies and write books. Now in my 50s, I wonder if I'll ever really accomplish the dreams of my youth. I have made two short films, one for a college film-making class, the other for an MTV-sponsored contest. I have written short plays that have been produced, and a few short stories and reviews that have been published. I also perform and direct for community theatre. My working life has included stints in local TV news, public relations, retail management and cashier, and for a couple of years, I made the rides go at Walt Disney World. I have two cats and a husband.
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1 Response to #52Ancestors in 52 Weeks: How Do You Spell That?

  1. Eilene Lyon says:

    Clever riddle. I like the Wordle analogy!

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