Willy-nilly Surname Spelling

Most people are quite particular about spelling these days (I won’t mention the new millennials and their texting dialogue, but I digress). There is a right and a wrong way to spell every word, but there was a time in the not so distant past where this was not the case. United States Census takers regularly spelled names as they thought they should be spelled and not necessarily how a particular family spelled a last name. We can only guess as to whether the census takers were in a hurry or perhaps they weren’t especially concerned with spelling, but were just more concerned with getting a name written down. They often spelled names the way they sounded and not necessarily how the family spelled the name.

Most names changed spelling frequently on official documents during the 1800’s, then finally at the beginning of the 1900’s, spelling standards became an important occurrence. During this time, you will frequently see brothers go with two different variations of the same name.

Below is a list of the variations of the last name Stierwalt.


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