The name in this 1880 census enumeration does not look like Henry Herzog, but that’s what it is. This entry from Hancock County, Illinois’ Walker Township (family 193, dwelling 195)  looks like Henry something or other.

The census taker was a German native and wrote in a handwriting that was difficult to read. It is very possible that he wrote “Herzog” the way it sounded to him. Henry Herzog was a German as well, but if he and the census enumerator were from different areas and spoke differing dialects the rendering of the last name could be very creative.

Always consider how your ancestor said his name.

Always consider how the keeper of the record heard the name and what biases he may have had.

Always consider sloppy handwriting.

Because sometimes all three are playing a role. henry-herzog1880



4 Responses

  1. EXACTLY!! My original Faulkner was a Scot who was illiterate. His surname was written Faulkender in his will and has caused mountains of confusion for decades. Say Faulk(e)ner with your best heavy Scottish accent and see if it does not, indeed, sound like Faulkender.

    • It’s easy sometimes to forget that our long-deceased relatives did not say their name the way that we would say it.

    • I can see how it appears to be that way. Based upon the other members of the household (and Henry’s first name), the reference is clearly to Herzog. Part of it was probably how the name was pronounced. The other thing is that I’ve spent a fair amount of time reading this census taker’s handwriting as I have numerous families enumerated in this township in 1880. It’s one of the most difficult to read handwritings I have come across.

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