From Meredith to Marredeth–How Does A Name Change So Much?

December 1, 2014 in Meredith

George Meredith.  He was a mystery to me for many years.  All I could find was his death certificate, which stated he was divorced, and a marriage record from Canada to a woman named Almira Bagley.  So I just put the information I had from his death certificate down and moved on, as I’m wont to do when I run into a brick wall.  Sometimes the best thing to do is just move on to more easily found people.  I have found that when the time is right, those brick wall people will break their way through no matter who you’re working on.  Today must have been George Meredith’s time.

On his death certificate it says that George was the father of 4 children, 3 of whom were still living at the time of his death in 1905.  I couldn’t ever find him with any children, or even with a wife.  In 1900 he was living with his sister Sarah Hawksworth’s family in Austin Township, Sanilac county, Michigan.  The census record stated he was divorced.  Then today I was searching for another family in Sanilac County and ran across George Meredith and his wife, Elizabeth, and two children: Elizabeth and Abram.  I looked at all the George Merediths in my tree (and there were quite a few), but the only one that even came close was my 2nd great grand uncle George, he who was living with his sister in 1900, and who died in 1905.

So I started a whole new tree, “Another Meredith Tree”, on ancestry.com and started digging.  Hmm…there were other trees that had him listed with Elizabeth, and they had the same death record I had for him.  I found him and Elizabeth in the 1870 and 1880 census records, with 4 children.  Then I found a Find A Grave memorial for Abram, in Sandy Beach, Huron County, Michigan, which was where George and Elizabeth were last found together…with Abram.  I haven’t been able to find a death record for Abram, who died in 1887 at the age of 20, but I’m as certain as I can be without a record that he is George and Elizabeth’s son.  I fired up Family Search and started finding birth records for Meredith children with George and an Elizabeth Cunningham listed as the parents.  The Cunningham is incorrect.  Her name was Elizabeth Carnahan, which I found spelled correctly in a few public trees.

It appears that George and Elizabeth split up sometime after the 1880 census and none of the children stayed near George, but went wherever Elizabeth went.  My first break was finding a marriage record for their daughter, Estella, to one William L “Heddaugh”.  Heddaugh was misspelled.  It’s Meddaugh.  William and Estella moved to Wisconsin after their marriage in 1892 in Au Sable, Iosco county, Michigan.  She was easy to trace.  George and Elizabeth also had another son, George Eber Meredith, but he changed the spelling of his name to Marredeth.  I don’t know when and I don’t know how the name got changed.  He’s listed as “Marredeth” in his marriage record to Anna Kinast in 1906 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  I don’t know how he got there, but he’s listed as living there in 1906, and his mother’s maiden name is spelled correctly for probably the first (and last; even on her death record in Illinois the name is mangled.) time.

It’s been a long day of searching, correcting, merging, combining and sitting.  I’m going to take a nap.