When researching an ancestor, how close is “close enough” when trying to know if that person is really your ancestor?

As you probably already know, census takers did not always spell the names of the residents the same way that we would spell them! It could be that the census taker was hard of hearing, or the resident had an accent, or the census taker couldn’t spell, or something else – whatever it was, the name was not written down as we would have written it.

One time, I was researching the Oliver Girod family. They lived in NE Indiana, and had emigrated from Switzerland. Family story was that they had lived in Tennessee for a period of time – traveled there from Ohio, and then to Indiana. I searched and search for them in Tennessee – I could not find them. I searched for the last name (and other spellings of the name). I searched for them by their children’s names. I had found them in Ohio, and then in Indiana – but they were not to be found in Tennessee.

Then, I decided to search for their neighbor in Tennessee – maybe the two families had traveled there together – they were both from Switzerland.

And, I found them! The Oliver Girod family was listed as O. Jews. The wife’s and children’s names all matched, as did their birth dates and such. And, the neighbor was their neighbor in Tennessee too.

So, I wondered – how did Girod become Jews? I had a friend that lived in the same part of Tennessee where the Girod/Jews family lived. I had her say Girod with various Tennessee accents. And, I could understand how the census taker wrote down Jews.

Oliver Girod was from Switzerland – quite an accent probably since he was 40 years of age when he arrived in the United States 15 years earlier. And, he was saying his name to someone in Tennessee!

Was Jews really the same name as Girod? It was in this case!