A few weeks ago, I noticed that one of my cousins had a friend reply to her in a post on Facebook. I told him that he was probably related to my cousin. He replied that no...that wasn't possible because the name wasn't spelled the same. This reminds me how many people who do genealogical research of any sort who get caught up in name spellings and neglect to look at the other possibilities.
I have a several families that most likely all descend from a common immigrant ancestor - no matter how the name is spelled. Here are a few of them.
Pitsenbarger: I have seen the name spelled Pitzenberger, Pittsenbarger, Pitsenbarger or Pittsonbarger - however it is spelled, most people in this country with that name in their ancestry most likely descend from the immigrant ancestor Abraham Pitzenberger He was born before 1750 in either Switzerland or Germany I have never seen any documentation as to when he immigrated exactly - but the first record that I know of is his marriage to Elizabeth Teysinger on 22 Apr 1766 in Lancaster Co., PA. So, I would assume that he was probably born about 1740 because men were generally older when they got married - 16 seems an unlikely age for a male to get married for the first time. I know that Abraham served as a Private in the Revolutionary war in Michael Reader's company from Virginia and seemed to die before the end of the war in 1781 - when his will was recorded in Shenandoah Co., VA. I know that my ancestor, Abraham Pitsenbarger, Jr ended up in West Virginia and some of the other descendants later ended up in Ohio and Missouri. I have often wondered how many Pitsy cousins might have changed the spelling of the name to distinguish themselves
My grandfather was Oliver Richard Tannahill. When I first starting researching the family, I found that it seemed to spelled primarily two ways - Tannehill and Tannahill. Later on, I came across the work of James Tannehill "Genealogical History of the Tannahills, Tannehills and Taneyhills". I soon learned that many of the different spellings came from honest mistakes and legal documents. We all know that there are numerous misspellings that occur with census records because of the creative spellings of census takers. If you were to inherit land or money in a will and the name was misspelled – would you argue about it. Most likely not…so sometimes the misspellings came from wills or deeds. Sometimes the names change because of personal preference. My Tannahill line’s name was spelled with “e” until the mid-1800’s. Most likely all Tannahills came from a Thomas Tannahill who lived in Scotland in the 1500’s. Immigration for some occurred in the 1650’s because they were essentially indenture servants. Some came through Canada later on in the 1800’s I would be interested in seeing more DNA research with these branches to see if we truly are all related which is what the current research shows
My ancestor, John Gallop immigrated in 1630. Most Gallup descendants descend through his son who went by John Gallup. It is interesting that when you come across someone who spells their Gallup name as Gallop almost all descend from Nathaniel Gallop, the older son of John Gallop (the immigrant)
There are other examples in my family lines…but it is an obvious mistake that is made by many researchers. If a researcher doesn't research alternative spellings, they are possibly missing some important research leads.