May 27, 2012
Census-takers and county clerks often couldn't spell. When they did the writing, you will frequently find the LeValley name garbled. Moreover, modern indexers occasionally mistake the old-fashioned L for an S. Typists sometimes try to indicate the capital V by throwing an extra space in--especially when compiling lists in all capitals (such as telephone books). Some of the early computerized print indexes alphabetized the spaced Le Valley before Lea. As a result, a thorough search should include all of these possibilities:
On rare occasions (such as the LDS index of the 1880 census), the name might even be indexed under Valley.
Most of the censuses between 1880 and 1930 were indexed according to the Soundex system. The code for LeValley is L-140. (Depending on which state you live in, you might recognize that same code in your driver's license.) It will send you through the likely spelling variations--plus a whole lot of unrelated La Bell, Lovell, and Loibl families.
Computer searches get complicated when there is a space in the name. "Le Valley" may get you thousands of examples where the word "valley" occurs (quite often in addresses). "Le+Valley" can narrow the search some, but not enough. And because computer searches are spelling-specific, in addition to the spellings listed above, you may need to try various endings such as LeValey, LeVally, LeVallee, etc. If you are searching a list limited to surnames, and wild cards are allowed, you may be able to substitute an asterisk near the end.
The rest of this
page deals with the way people spelled their own names.
New England schoolteachers apparently thought the capital V was a foreign affectation, and beat it out of their pupils. Many descendants of Peter at Warwick RI eventually spelled their name without the second capital. Those branches who left New England never succumbed.
Recently, some rigid computer programs automatically capitalize only the first letter of any name.
In the late nineteenth century, Canadian workers migrated to the textile mills around Warwick RI, where the LeValley spelling was firmly established. A few of them went along with the change. See Charles F. and Alexander on the list of various families.
In four known cases, descendants of Peter quit trying to correct all of the officious people who told them their name ought to be spelled LaValley:
1. Descendants of David (Peleg's line) at Hancock NY around 1900 listend to a teacher of French who convinced them they didn't know how to spell their own name. Some switched to LaValley and others to LaValle. Once there were many, but nearly all have now died out.
2. Descendants of Martin (Cook's line) at Wilkes-Barre PA also switched around 1900. Only about 15 are living.
3. Descendants of George W. (line of Peter Jr.) in Texas and Oklahoma since the 1850s. There have been about 30 of them, but they were generally the only LaValleys in Oklahoma. The problem in this case was frontier illiteracy. George spelled his name with an X.
4. Descendants of William A. (Benjamin's line) in Arkansas since the 1950s. There are fewer than half-a-dozen so far.
See #1 above.
This happened at Ionia MI. See Joseph in the list of various families.
Some members of the Xenia bunch (especially those who passed through Ionia MI) switched to this spelling. There are probably more than a hundred; they seem scattered through the various branches of the family.
The Channel Islands spelling was LeVallee. Some descendants of Daniel at Valcartier, Quebec stayed there and eventually adopted the popular Canadian spelling. Those who migrated to the U.S. adopted the American spelling.