Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Do you want an "S" on that?

Yep - it's true....this really happened. At least I think it did. I've told the story so often I can't remember if it really did happen...or if it happened to me...or if it happened to my sister Jeanne. At any rate, it's a funny story and is a great segue to today's topic: Why do some of our Samuel relatives have an 's' on their name and others don't? Read on to find out.......

Apparently, this is a question that baffles most of us doing genealogy research on the SAMUEL name. I found  posts in several genealogy forums seeking the answer. Here are some examples from our own family:

Benjamin Samuels (b. Oct. 7, 1878 and the subject of yesterday's post) spelled his name with an 's' as did his father before him (Ralph Samuels b. 1859 England). Perhaps it was because Ralph's father, Benjamin (b. 1826 England) appears to have added the 's'. From what I have found, the elder Benjamin's father, Godfrey (b. 1789 England) did not add the 's'. 

Even more perplexing than "now you see it (the 's') now you don't" is this headstone:

Burial plot of Aaron Samuel and his wife the former Phoebe Levy
Washington Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York

This is the headstone for my 3rd great-grandfather, Aaron Samuel and his wife, the former Phoebe Levy.
Aaron and Phoebe emigrated to America in 1857 with their 8 children. Their youngest, John, was only 9 months old when they began their journey. John would become my 2nd great-grandfather.

Notice that when Aaron was buried, there was no 's' added to his name either on the stone or base. Nor was an 's' added to Phoebe's name when Aaron was buried in 1887. So, why would an 's' be added upon Phoebe's death in 1903? Did they all of a sudden have more money and could now afford the extra letter? (just kidding....really can't think of a single reason why that would occur.)

I did find that there was an 's added to their surname on the 1857 passenger list as well as on the 1860 US Census.

Aaron and Phoebe are in good company at Washington Cemetery. Also buried there is the 8th of their 12 children, John Samuel. (Believe it or not - Aaron and Phoebe had 4 more children in America!)

Check out the names on this headstone:

Of course, the only way to be sure of how someone spells their name is to see their actual signature. An entry on a local census or a draft registration form completed by a public official is not sufficient proof. That research will take more time than I currently have, but at some point (June 2104 if I'm lucky!) I'll be retired and can focus on that particular issue.

Oh! Wait....I do have a document with signatures on it!!! I have a copy of John and Fanny's marriage certificate. Check it out.....

Besides the fact that John's name is listed as Jacob (Hebrew name maybe??) we have a bigger problem.....HE DIDN'T WRITE HIS OWN NAME!!! Was he illiterate? No answers for us here...just more questions - and perhaps a little more insight into the life of John Samuel. 

So the answer to question: Why do some of our Samuel relatives have an 's' on their name and others don't? We will probably NEVER know!!! 

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