. . . . Follow Me on Pinterest

Monday, June 28, 2010

What's In A Name?

What’s In A Name?

Researching a surname with multiple ways of spelling is always difficult. Some surnames are completely changed for many reasons. I’ve heard stories of names that have been changed at Ellis Island because the immigration clerk had no idea who to spell a last name (for example Duke basketball coach, Mike Kryzewski’s ancestors could have easily been renamed "Smith or Jones" or whatever the clerk felt like writing).

I have several Shelby County ancestors who have last names that were spelled multiple ways, which makes researching them very challenging. I’m sure everyone does.

One of my ancestral names that was completely changed is LISHER. The Lishers lived in Van Buren Township and owned large tracts of land in the early history of Shelby County. They migrated to Indiana from Ohio in the late 1820s to early 1830s. However, when they came to Ohio, the name was LARCHER. Why the name was changed while they lived in Ohio is a mystery (probably a county clerk wrote down the name in the manner that it was pronounced…..who knows?).

My cousin, Kitty, has done extensive research on this line. Many years ago, she went to Ohio and discovered that the LISHERS were originally LARCHERS. She was able to do this through court, deed and marriage records. She did this before records were available online and I doubt that she could have accomplished this without going to Ohio. (Finding those original documents is the BEST and only real proof of lineage.)

Why do I think this is important? Why put this in my Shelby County blog? Because the Larchers were an important link from Shelby County to New England. They were sea captains and lived on Martha’s Vineyard, then Providence, Rhode Island. Our ancestor, John Larcher, piloted the French fleet into the Newport harbor when they arrived to help the Americans during the Revolutionary War. He also supplied housing for French officers during the war. The family has an extraordinary history -- dating back to the founding of Providence.

I have wondered if the Lishers who lived and farmed in Shelby County knew about their ancestors who helped to shape America's freedom of religion, beginning at Providence Plantation which was established by Roger Williams. They were brave and hardy American pioneers. The Larcher / Lisher pioneer spirit prevailed as they moved westward from Rhode Island to Ohio to Indiana.

It is so important to investigate every possible way a surname can be spelled. Think of the different ways a name SOUNDS and keep digging. You might just find a genealogy gem!

I could not write this without telling you about the Lisher Cemetery, near Fountaintown. It is a wonderful memorial to these hardy pioneers. Once in ruin, the cemetery is now restored to its former beauty. Sitting on a hill, overlooking endless green fields, it is surrounded by a lovely antique black iron fence. The grave stones have lovingly been repaired. It is a small piece of heaven in Shelby County and a fitting monument to those brave pioneers who played an important part in the religious freedom of this great country and the growth of Shelby County.

THANK YOU to Jon and Julie for your hard work and for caring! It is GREATLY appreciated. The beauty and serenity of the Lisher cemetery could never have been re-created without you.

As an addition to this story, Julie told me that the deer in the photo of the Lisher cemetery were her wildlife rehab patients from last year. She felt the deer who were at the cemetery conveyed the feeling of the serene resting place that is truly is.

If you have family buried in the Lisher cemetery and want information on how to find and visit it, please email me and I will pass your email on to Julie. She is very interested in meeting the descendants of the Lishers.

Photo courtesty of Julie Bielefeld -- many thanks!