in 52 Weeks
How Do You Spell That?
This is a good week to review the search for my 4th great-grandparent brick wall with the surname Koontz.  My Koontz ancestors have consistently spelled their surname as it is now for at least 150 years. But, the 4th great-grandparents I am seeking lived 200 years ago and the variant spellings of their surname is a challenge. I suspect these ancestors often heard, “How do you spell that?” However, I also suspect that functional illiteracy kept these ancestors from conveying a consistent spelling of their surname. I believe universal literacy programs over the last 100+ years have made a significant contribution to the standardized spelling of most proper names and surnames.
Koontz 4th Great-Grandparents
For this years’ week 5 post, “Branching Out”, I described using DNA matches to track leads for my brick wall, 4th great-grandparents named Koontz.  Unfortunately, those leads have not led to conclusive proof of who my Koontz ancestors are. One of the difficulties is the multiple spellings of their surname. These various spellings are phonetically very similar and I have leaned heavily on using wildcards (?, *) and the Soundex system when searching databases.
I have identified at least 26 different spellings for Koontz. However, I have been able to group them in such a way to improve search results. One group has the spellings with the “T” sound in the name, the other group does not. To my benefit is the fact “C”, “S” and “Z” all share the same Soundex number, “2”. I did a fairly complete explanation of the Soundex system for the week 41 prompt last year, “Changes.” 
Group 1 – Soundex = K532 and C532
Koontz, Kuntz, Cuntz, Kuntze, Cuntze, Coontz, Counts, Kountz, Countz, Cuntse, Kuntse
Group 2 – Soundex = K520 and C520
Koonce, Coonce, Coonse, Koonse, Counse, Cunce, Koonse, Kunce, Coons, Koons, Coones, Coonze, Koonze, Kunz
So, the next time you wonder, “How do you spell that?” Try using wildcards and Soundex to expand your search. I have discovered many useful records using these methods and being open to the idea that a name can be spelled in unexpected ways.
- Blog post, Family Finds: Brick Wall; https://barblafara.com/genealogy-brick-walls/
- Blog post, Family Finds: Branching Out; https://barblafara.com/branching-out/
- Blog post, Family Finds: Changes; https://barblafara.com/changes/
- Website, Orange County California Genealogical Society: KUHN Family; https://occgs.com/projects/rescue/family_files/files/KUHN%20Family.pdf
- Website, Orange County California Genealogical Society: Rescue the Records; https://occgs.com/projects/rescue/rescue.html
Born Takeo Furukawa on 15 March 1883 in Tottori-Ken, Tokyo, Japan, little is documented of his early childhood. Family oral history stories say that the young Takeo experienced hunger, poverty and the loss of his family. Additionally, the stories tell of friendship, spiritual learning and scholarship.
My great grandfather, David Louis Osborne, lived at over 20 addresses around Indianapolis between 1876 and 1942. I thought it would be interesting to see all the old buildings and homes where he lived in my hometown of Indianapolis.
My great grandfather, David Louis Osborne (1848-1942), was a widower with two young sons in 1886 when he married Jennie Warbington (1857-1918) in Minneapolis on the 27th of May. I decided it was time to put sources to the story.
While working on a family photo project I decided it would be fun to compare side-by-side my father and his parents, at similar ages, to try and discover a family resemblance.
Jesse King was born in Ohio (probably in the vicinity of Chillicothe) in 1805, he was a son of Philip King and Mary Leah Wright, both of Pennsylvania. Philip King was a farmer, he married Leah Wright in 1801 in Somerset, PA, they had six children, of whom Jesse was the third.
A handwritten letter from Sarah Tucker Lafary to the then president of the United States, Grover Cleveland. It was her last appeal for a War of 1812 pension, sadly the pension was denied. The letter gives a glimpse of a woman who had no formal education, a poor farmers wife, then widow, mother of nine, she probably just wanted some independence through an income of her own.
52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 2: Challenge
So much about genealogy research is a challenge, perhaps the most common challenge is the ‘brick wall,’ meet Sarah Smith. 18?? – 1846
52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 3: Unusual Name
The surnames in my tree are typical of common western European names. However, the name that is unusual among these names is MY surname: LaFara.
52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 6: Surprise!
Just when you think you know everything about an ancestor, surprise! I thought I knew most everything about my paternal great grandfather David L. Osborne, 1848-1942.
For all of us who are procrastinating about labeling photos I have one thing to say, “Be considerate of the genealogist of the future!” My maternal grandmother was very good about labeling old family photos, and there is one, in particular, I found very informative.
52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 10: Bachelor Uncle
My uncles are the marrying kind, sometimes more than once!
I had to go back four generations for a bachelor uncle, my great-great-great uncle Conrad Rumple, 1833-1911.
Conrad was an older brother to my great-great grandfather on my matrilineal line, William Rumple, 1839-1912.
My great-great grandparents, George Lafary and Catherine Landon, had a relatively small family, three of their six children survived to adulthood. However, they both came from large families of nine siblings and nearly all survived to marry and have children.
52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 13: In The Paper
It’s fun to find articles in the paper mentioning one of my relatives. Mostly they are birth, marriage, divorce and death events. But, it’s the oddball articles in the papers I like the most.
52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 14: Brick Wall
We all have a brick wall, that one ancestor who defies all research. I decided I would work at my brick walls by generation, I broke through the last of my 3rd great grandparent brick walls, now I am working on 4th great grandparents.
I realized I did not have a date of death for my great, great grandmother, Catherine Landon Lafary. A fresh search uncovered the date and much more. Out of place, but once discovered, everything fell into place.
I have many favorite photos among my collection of family artifacts. Currently, my favorite photo is of two little children from 1916 who were a complete mystery to me until last spring.