SCANLON-L ArchivesArchiver > SCANLON > 2007-05 > 1179698189
From: "John Steitz" <>
Subject: Re: [SCANLON] Spelling of Scanlon
Date: Sun, 20 May 2007 17:56:29 -0400
Thank you for your thoughts on this. I never considered the
immigrant on immigrant scenario but of course that was possible especially
in a town such as Pittsburgh. I thought that in southern Wales the Gaelic
language roots would figure this but I do not know who that census taker
was. In your opinion is Scannell actually Scanlon at the root? I believe
these names were only anglicized 100 years before they began to emigrate.
I never thought of the vowel trick but that makes sense, thank you.
Drop that last slurred vowel and flip the order of the last syllable and
presto, we have the nel or lon.
Thank you also for correcting me in my clearly mis-stated discount
of family oral history. I actually agree 100% with you. The "If there is
smoke, there's fire" principle applies here. Finding the grain as you called
is the key. I have one of those I am working hard to make sense of in my
Again thank you so much for your insight.
John Steitz (yes I am half German and that was easy by comparison)
From: [mailto:] On
Behalf Of Joan M. Wieser
Sent: Sunday, May 20, 2007 2:45 PM
Subject: [SCANLON] Spelling of Scanlon
My husband has a Morris Scanlon in his line born about 1800 somewhere in
County Cork. In the 30 years I've been working in this field I've
learned to keep a list of the various spellings that I find for surnames
I'm looking for. To date I believe I have eight for Scanlon. These
days I have a habit of taking any new surname, deleting the vowels and
go from there. You'd be surprised what you'll find. Remember you may
be dealing with folks who cannot read and write. If the census taker or
government official asks for a name and they discover that these folks
can't read and write, then anything can be written down. How could your
ancestors possibly correct it? Usually doesn't happen until the next
literate generation comes along. I've found many, many errors in
"official" records. We are only human after all. Imagine coming off
the ship and facing an "official" on the dock recording everyone's
name. This "official" is of German descent and has been in the U.S. say
5 years. He still has a fairly heavy accent and he's most likely living
in an area of the city inhabited by Germans and speaking German. Down
come the Scanlon family and the "official" asks for the surname. Mr.
Scanlon, of course, can understand the question but he's speaking with a
heavy accent as well. And just how good is that "official" with
listening and figuring out what Mr. Scanlon is saying when he's faced
with hundreds of folks whose names he must record? My point being,
think outside the box. It comes in helpful if you look at folks with
all their possible human faults.
Also you say you believe what you read. Never, never, NEVER discount
oral family history. In every story that I've been told there has
always been some grain of truth. The trick is to take the story and
check each item given as fact. Good luck with your Scanlons, they are
an interesting lot!
Joan M. Wieser, Certified Genealogist
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