Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Too Many Variations: Catherine Smith

How do you find a needle in a haystack?
My 1st and 2nd maternal great grandmothers had the same given names: Katharina Lina. This mother and daughter had their names spelled multiple ways during their life.  What is the correct spelling of Katharina or Catherine?  Your guess is as good as mine, there was no "correct" way, just whatever the writer thought it should be.

So just to make things even more complicated my 2nd great grandmother married a Schmid or Schmidt or Smith depending on the writer.

How  were their names spelled?:  

For my second great grandmother:
  •  in the 1860 census it was spelled "Schund" (Thomas [for Thaddeus] and Catherine),
  • in a newspaper tribute at her death she was Catherine Schmidt,
  • in an earlier article describing a four generation Thanksgiving she was referred to as Catherina Smith, 
  • on her gravestone it is spelled Schmid
For my great grandmother:
  • she was referred to as "Mrs. Katherina L. (Schmidt) Chandler in her obituary, 
  • in a news article about her husband's death so was called "Mrs. Catherina Chandler" 
  • on her baptismal certificate (written in German) from the she was Catherina
  • on my grandmother's death certificate she was Catherine Schmidt
  • on her gravestone it is spelled Schmid 

Fortunately, for me, my mother was raised by Catherina Lina Schmid Chandler and my biggest problem was to guess how the name was spelled in order to find the records.  I  have letters they wrote. I knew where they lived, where they were buried, and where my  great grandmother was born.  It is when I try to go back further that I run into trouble......more about that later.

 This mother and daughter not only shared names; they also died on the same date.
Mrs. Catherine Schmid died 8 April 1926 and her daughter Mrs. Catherine Chandler died 8 April 1944.

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