Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Redcay Family

So I'm researching my brother-in-law's family tree so my niece and nephew will have their family tree. Whether they'll be interested in this information is another story, but I'm taking a chance that one of them, or maybe one of their kids, will appreciate my thousands of hours slaving over a hot keyboard.

Redcay is a great name. The best part of it is that you can get it as a tattoo if you wanted to. A big red "K". Like the superman logo. I've tried to tell my brother-in-law for years now that I think getting a red "K" as a tattoo is a great idea. Unfortunately, the fact that I can't help but grin every time I say it takes away from the impact of my opinion I think.

So most of the Redcay's swarm within Pennsylvania, specifically within Berks and Lancaster counties. They were probably part of the big rush of germans that came over for religious freedom in the 1700s.

One of the things I like best about genealogy is watching the evolution of families over time. Favorite names for kids, who moved to another state, stuff like that. And I like seeing how little things like spelling have changed over time. Being picky about spelling is a relatively recent phenomenon, people were much more, shall we say, flexible, in the past.

For instance, in a 1930 census, maybe your name was written down as "Susan". But the 1920 census has it written as "Susanah". And the 1900 census has it as "Susannah". That's a pretty easy example though. I have one person whose name is "Letitia". In some places her nickname is listed (Lettie). In other places, clearly the person writing it down was not familiar with such a la-dee-dah name. They wrote "Ledisha".

So as I researched the Redcay surname, I eventually ran out of Redcays. What happened to them? They had done a spelling change. Lots of people with non-english names changed the spelling of their surnames to what matched the pronunciation.

Eventually I found one of them: "Retga". You might think that "Retga" sounds nothing like "Redcay" but if you do what I did, it actually does. Sit in front of your computer and pronounce "Retga" with a german accent, (Yes, this is what I do in my spare time, I'm not even making it up) the way it would have been as the census taker in 1880 heard it. Imagine going from door to door, getting some annoyed wife and making her tell you the names, ages and occupation of everyone in the house. Or maybe that's just me projecting, maybe they would have welcomed a chance to speak to someone different for a time.

But anyway, "Retga" actually sounds a little like "Redcay". And then I found others spellings, like "Retge" and "Ratge".

I have no idea what this surname means, I don't speak german. But I did find a word "ratgeber" which means counsellor or advisor. Whether it relates or not, I don't know.

Yep, this is what I love doing with my spare time!!!!! :-)

1 comment:

  1. Genealogy is the best hobby or vocation or distraction or passion or distraction EVER!