They Really Did Not Care How It Was Spelled

In modern society for a variety of reasons, we are concerned about how our name gets spelled. Our ancestors were not so concerned. They didn’t worry about the various agencies, companies that had records on them that needed to be correct. I’m typing an 1820 era Kentucky court case and the last name of Bonham is spelled Berham, Benham, Burham, etc. There are times where the same last name is spelled several ways in one document.

The key is that the name should sound the same. Another thing is when transcribing documents of this type, transcribe the name how it is spelled. Do not standardize the spelling. One reason is that the variant spellings give insight into how the name was pronounced by your ancestor. Another reason is that if someone sees you “correcting the spelling” when you transcribe a document, they might wonder what else you fixed along the way.