Research Thoughts

What is in the Spelling of a Name?

My great-great-grandfather had one of those names that could be spelled several different ways, depending on the time of day, the person putting his name down onto paper, or the weather. His name was Lewis Herman Cook or Louis Herman Cook. The name sounds the same when spoken, no matter how you spell it. 

The question is, how did my great-great-grandfather spell it? What was his preferred form? Below is a list of ways that his name is spelled, minus Wausau newspaper spellings which almost always used the form, Louis. 

  • His maternal grandfather’s name was Lewis Phelps Blood
  • 1880 United States Census – Lewis H. Cook
  • 6 Aug 1906 Letter written to him by his father, Alfred – Louis Cook
  • 1912 Wausau City Directory, p. 90 – Louis H. Cook
  • 12 Sep 1918 WWI Draft Registration Card – Lewis Herman Cook, signed as Lewis Herman Cook
  • 1918 Wausau City Directory, p. 137 – Louis H. Cook (125)
  • 15 Nov 1918 Marathon County Resolution – Louis H. Cook
  • 1919 Army Transport Service, Neal returning home – Louis H. Cook (125)
  • 1920 Wausau City Directory, p. 178 – Louis H. Cook (125)
  • 20 Dec 1920 Evangelical Lutheran Church marriage record for Neal Jasin Cook and Clarice Ovedia Weik – Louis Cook
  • 30 Jun 1923 Appointment of U.S. Postmasters – Lewis H. Cook
  • 1925 Wausau City Directory, p. 223 – Louis H. Cook (325)
  • 1928 Farmer’s Directory, p. 673 – L. H. Cook
  • 27 Apr 1928 – Margaret’s Marriage Announcement – Lewis H. Cook
  • 10 Jan 1928 Re-Appointment of U.S. Postmasters – Lewis H. Cook
  • 1929 Wausau City Directory, p. 141 – Lewis H. Cook (325)
  • 1931 Wausau City Directory, p. 127 – Lewis H. Cook (325)
  • 28 Jun 1932 – Anola’s Marriage Announcement – Lewis H. Cook
  • 1933 Wausau City Directory, p. 108 – Lewis H. Cook (125)
  • 1934 Gravestone – Lewis H. Cook

His maternal grandfather spelled the name Lewis, his WWI Draft Registration Card, his Postmaster appointments, Marriage announcements, and his Gravestone all using the form “Lewis” suggest to me that this is the spelling given to him at birth. The preferred spelling.

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