For most of American history, people could change their names or alter the spelling of their names relatively easily–without going to court. Among the places where you may find evidence of those name changes are probate and pension records. The court may notice that deeds of property acquisition do not quite match with the name of the deceased. Pension application examiners may notice that the name at marriage does not match the name on the application. There may be affidavits about the name differences in the record, or a judge or clerk may make some notation about it.