Illinois Ancestors: Acclaimed genealogist writes new book

Illinois Ancestors: Acclaimed genealogist writes new book

Noted genealogist Lloyd de Witt Bockstruck has just written a fascinating little book with an interesting title: "The Name IS The Game: Onomatology and the Genealogist."

The author notes that the study of onomatology "is one based on records over centuries and requires an awareness of a multitude of changes in names."

At first glance, one might think that such a book may not be relevant. Wrong! Anyone who has consulted an index knows that various spellings of a name can challenge even advanced researchers. Many times a surname would be deliberately misspelled.

"Andrew Jackson said a man who could not spell his name more than three ways was not worth knowing." (Page 39)

Even forenames (given names) should be carefully studied. For example, a girl born to a man's second wife may be given the name of the first wife who had died (called an uxornecronym.)

"Ignorance of this practice could lead to the wrong interpretation of the data." (Page 26)

The chapter titles in this helpful reference cover Introduction, Forenames, Surnames, Toponyms (geographic names) and Bibliography of Legal Change of Names. The longest chapter, dealing with surnames, covers such topics as misinterpretation of letters, the unaspirated initial letter, pronunciations, the terminal "G," nee, alias and genanut (a German equivalent of alias); adoption of a step-parent's surname; from one European language to another; abbreviation of surnames; and many other relevant situations.

This book clearly illustrates why some researchers' ancestors seem to have "disappeared" because of a lack of an understanding of onomatology. Such researchers now have this new tool to approach research problems.

"The Name IS the Game: Onomatology and the Genealogist" is an 88-page, softcover book, ISBN 978-0-8063-5627-3, that costs $16.95 plus shipping ($5.50 first book; each additional book, $2.50) and can be ordered as Item No. 8006 from Clearfield Co., 3600 Clipper Mill Road, Suite 260, Baltimore, MD 21211. MasterCard and VISA orders can be placed at 800-296-6687 or on the publisher's website at

Bockstruck, an Illinois native, is a nationally known professional genealogist, author and columnist, lecturer and educator. He recently retired after 36 years as supervisor of the Genealogy Section of the Dallas Public Library.

Several of his previous works are listed on the publisher's website above. An informative presentation he has given, "Follow the Paper Trail to Find Colonial American Ancestors," can be read online at His newest book on names is sure to become a standard resource for researchers.

Genealogy pointers

The Genealogical Publishing Co. offers a free online newsletter, Genealogy Pointers, with expert genealogy tips and shortcuts as well as special sales on books and CDs. Visit, the online home of the Genealogical Publishing Co. and the Clearfield Co., and click on the link to recent articles in the Genealogy Pointers Archives. For example, the issue dated March 12 includes an article by Denise R. Larson called "The Challenge of North American Indian Genealogy, Part Three: Tribal Movements and Bibliography."

To sign up for this newsletter, click on the link in the middle of the home page, "FREE! Genealogy Pointers."

Free online Irish magazines

A digitized version of the current issue of Irish America (February/March 2013) is available online at

I personally found it helpful to scroll through the entire issue and become familiar with the various tools/icons to enlarge or maneuver within the pages.

"The Genius of Day-Lewis Brings Lincoln Alive" is an interesting account of this actor's portrayal of our beloved president. Five of the articles in this issue pertain to genealogy — all worth reading.

For example, noted genealogist Megan Smolenyak was interviewed for one of the articles. Dermot McEvoy has a most interesting article, "My Mother the Imposter," which offers hints for researching one's own Irish ancestors.

The March edition (Issue 10) of Irish Lives Remembered Genealogy Magazine is now free to read/download at, with 23 pages devoted to genealogical research in Tipperary, a 16-page Irish-Australian supplement, and much more.

Queries, genealogical questions from researchers and genealogical materials readers would like to share will be printed in this column free. Joan Griffis may be reached via email at or by sending a letter to Illinois Ancestors, c/o The News-Gazette, P.O. Box 677, Champaign, IL 61824-0677.

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