Re: Why Various Spellings of A Family Name #names

Sally Bruckheimer

"My great-grandfather's surname was Hoffert. However, looking at records for his newly discovered siblings show various spellings of the surname, Hoffort and Hoffart. Given they all lived in NYC, I am curious if anyone has ever heard WHY this happened."

My second rule of genealogy is that spelling doesn't count. People, up into the 20th century spelled what they heard, and immigrants couldn't spell English, even if they thought one spelling was right. My grandmother's birth record in NYC had her mother's maiden name Livingston - but it was Löwenstein; say it with a German accent and listen with an English ear, you get Livingston. You have to consider all the variants of your surname when you search, so use 'Sounds Like' or wild cards whenever you can. Soundex was made because of this as well.

Sally Bruckheimer
Princeton, NJ

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