In some families the spelling of the name generates much gnashing of teeth.
It is that way in the Trautvetter family.
Generally speaking, my personal “how do I spell their name” when referring to them in writing decision is based upon:
- how the person signed the name
- how the person’s name appeared on their tombstone
- which name was used a majority of the time
The approach is not perfect and it’s just as much art as it is science in some cases. The problem exacerbated in those families who have names with origins in languages other than that they speak and the country in which they live. And then there’s always problems such as:
- Some individuals never sign any documents.
- Some individuals do not have extant tombstones.
- Some clerks use creative spelling.
This 1869 document is the only one I have that is signed by Hinrich Trautfetter and was signed as a part of the settlement of his brother Michael’s estate. Hinrich appears in other records, but this is the only signature of his I’ve been able to locate to date. Hinrich died while this estate was being settled.
His sister Mine Kraft spells her maiden name as Trautfetter and his brother George spells his name as Trautvetter.
And that’s pretty much what their descendants did. Most of Hinrich’s descendants used either Trautfetter or Troutfetter and continue to do so to this day although there are a handful who use Trautvetter. George’s descendants almost entirely use Trautvetter.
This is the first actual signature I have providing evidence of a difference in spelling. George’s signature appears in other documents and he is consistent in how he spells it.
Hinrich’s son Christian’s signature appears twice in this probate file. Once he writes Troutfetter and once he writes Troutvetter. Apparently by the time Christian went to Kansas in the 1880s, he had made up his mind to use Troutfetter. Individuals were not always consistent in how they spelled their name.
My prime directive: transcribe it how it is spelled in the actual document and pick one “standard” spelling to use when referring to the individual in other writing. And somewhere make reference to why that standardized “spelling to use in writing” was chosen.