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
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I like the way you used Soundex to find new clues for further research! Wishing you luck with those brick walls.