I was probably in the third grade when my Grandma Neill asked me how to spell “Trautvetter.” It was her maiden name. I rattled it off like a trooper; it made an impression on Grandma.
My certainty of how to spell “Trautvetter” ended the minute I began researching Grandma’s family. There were apparently three branches of the family and they spelled it in different ways.
My branch used Trautvetter–as consistently as any one can use the spelling of a name in official records. They always signed “Trautvetter.” How it occasionally was spelled in official records is a separate matter. Of course that spelling was the “correct” version as that’s the way Grandma’s immediate family spelled it.
A cousin’s family who lived near Hamilton, Illinois, used Troutvetter fairly consistently--again when they signed their name. It was rendered in a variety of ways in official records, but the majority of the time Troutvetter was used. To add to the confusion, members of my “immediate” Trautvetter family lived near Hamilton making for neighbors who were distant relatives with slightly different spellings of the same name.
The cousin who homesteaded in Kansas in the late 1870s used Troutfetter. That spelling is used by his descendants today and was used by his son Philip Troutfetter, world traveller, who was wanted by officials in Colorado for embezzling money in the 1890s, the United States Post Office for questioning in a stamp fraud scandal in Cuba, and was also wanted by several women while still married to his wife for not making them aware of his marital status. For a time he dropped Troutetter entirely and used Taylor as his last name for reasons that should be obvious to the reader.
In my records, I use the spelling preference of the individual–when I know it. The rendering of the name in most German records where the family originated is Trautvetter. That’s what I use when I have no evidence of a spelling preference.
Sometimes one has to pick a spelling.
Of course records are always transcribed using the spelling actually contained within the record. That’s not a place to change the spelling.
So if it seems like I use differing spellings of Trautvetter depending upon the day of the week, I don’t. It all depends upon the branch of the family I’m talking about.