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Surname Study

Alternative spelling for surnames

As if we don’t have enough stumbling blocks in the search for our ancestors….

Surnames may change over time, evolving as language and accepted practices evolve, or as our ancestors move from one country to another. Sometimes an alternative spelling is due to human error; a census enumerator misspells a name, or, as more records are converted to electronic form, a transcriber misreads a handwritten document.

What does this mean for us amateur genealogists? We need to be flexible and include alternative spellings in the research parameters. Sometimes that seemingly small change will open up new avenues of research.

The most common alternative spelling that I've found for Allison is Ellison but it may also be spelled Alisun, Alanson, Alinson, Aleseson, McAllister, MacAllister, and many more. Our Allison surname is of Scotch and English origin. 

We can trace our Branch ancestors on the Allison side to the 1400s in England, but the surname’s earlier spellings of Braunche and de Braunche tell us the name has Norman origins. 

German ancestors on the Morton side have also suffered surname confusion. Dellenbach can be found as Dallenbach. Bonnttager is nearly as changeable as Allison; Borntreager, Bontrager, Bontreger, Borntrager, Bornträger, Borntreger, and Borntraeger.

I will do my best to list the alternative spellings that I find in my research, however, I will primarily use the modern or most commonly accepted spelling in the database, adding alternative spellings in the Notes section for an individual. There will, no doubt, be exceptions to the rule as I go along. If you have any questions about a surname, check the Notes section for an individual or here.

As time allows, I’ll add surname meaning and origins but for now, it’s just a list.

Surname list

Allison: Ellison

Branch: Braunche, de Braunche

Bonnttager: Borntreager, Borntreger, Borntrager

Chastain: Chastaine

Dellenbach: Dallenbach

LaVillain: LaVillian

LeSueur: LeSuer

 

Updated 1/14/18



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