Barking Up the Wrong Tree

The name was Barksdale Sledd.

Unique first names are great as they help distinguish the individual in records and make identification easier–usually. One should not assume that there are no contemporaries with the exact same unusual name as often names of this type are passed down from one generation to the other.

Unusual first names should be analyzed for clues as they may actually reference maiden names of ancestors, surnames of ancestral associates, surnames of political or pop figures revered by the family, references to geographic locations, etc.

Unusual first names also get butchered by record clerks, census takers, and other officials. Genealogists should always be considerate of alternate spellings and remember that any name that falls within the reasonable realm of “sounds like the name I want” could actually be a reference to the name that you want.

Barksdale gets written as “Basdel” and other references without the “r” and the “k.” Those references are actually good clues as to how the name was likely pronounced.

It’s better than looking for John Sledd because there are entirely too many of those already.


3 thoughts on “Barking Up the Wrong Tree

  1. Sharon Howell says:

    My daughter legally changed her first and middle names when she was 21 and no longer living with me. I wonder how someone would be able to connect us in 72 years? We did live next door to each other in the 2010 census, but that’s no clue.

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