family history, History

Week 15: How Do You Spell That?!

I am catching up with my posts with week 15 of 52 for the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks genealogy blogging challenge! This is one I’ve been wondering about a lot, and it’s why in the heck my family has so many different spellings of the FREDERICK last name.

Frederick, Fredrich, Freedrich, Fredrick, Frädrich–these are all of the ways I’ve seen my last name spelled. Heck, I’ve got cousins that spell their last name FREDRICK–no second “e”! How is this even possible?! Well, I’ve learned a couple reasons why. First of all, sometimes it was someone else writing the name down. They may have just spelled it how they heard it. They wrote it how they thought and butchered it slightly. Understandable, right?

Then there are cousins that spell it differently. We spell it with the second “e” and they omit it. Turns out one of my granduncles had a trucking business and he omitted the second “e” because he couldn’t fit the last name on the door, or so one of his sons told my folks. I really wouldn’t put it past anyone in my family–frugal Prussians. I am sure that extra “e” cost more money to have labeled on the truck. Haha!

Granduncle Clarence and his truck

I’ve found two documents with my x2 great-grandpa Frederick’s signature which confirms the old spelling- Frädrich. Many of the old Prussian records with my ancestors’ names have this spelling, too. However, his headstone in the cemetery is spelled “FREDRICH”. Maybe “ä” was a premium character to be engraved! hahaha!

The name sort of morphs into what it is today after that. My great-grandpa Arthur spelled it FREDRICH and FREDERICK. His headstone name has the latter spelling, so that is what our line carried on.

I wonder about the spelling being changed due to World War I. Maybe the family attempted to tone down the German-ness of the spelling to blend in a bit more. That could very well be the case. Or they preferred not to spit profusely when telling people their last name. I remember my grandpa telling me how they pronounced the old way it was spelled. If you don’t curl your tongue and spit while you say it then you are not pronouncing it right.

The spelling presents some challenges in my research, but it’s also fun to see how we are all family and spell our names differently. This will for sure get a page in my family history book as I continue to write it.

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