Those Essex County Pronunciations

I was looking through the 1851 Census for Rochester Township the other day to see who was around way back then.

One of the names I saw was “Tripany”. And I said to myself (spelled phonetically) “TRIP-a-nee. Who the heck were the TRIP-a-nees?). Then I started to laugh and laugh.

Tri-PANNY. A misspelling of Trepanier. My Grandma Fenner, who lived across the road from Bill and Shirley Trepanier, called them Tri-PANNY’s until the day she died.

The census tends to be like that. Especially the earlier ones. Names were spelled phonetically. It is really interesting to see that some of those old pronunciations still exist in the local dialect. Another case in point — my dad, whenever he referred to where his inlaws are buried, said “in McDole Cemetery”. I thought it was just his way of saying it. But in the 1851 Census, there was a McDole family was listed. Makes me think it was a local pronunciation – they were probably the McDowells, but the census taker didn’t check for the correct spelling.

Wondering what other Local Pronunciations you’ve noticed in Essex County? (I’ll do a separate post about French pronunciations … that’s a whole subject in itself. Peery Street? Good god. How is it possible to mispronounce Pierre?)


Posted on January 30, 2012, in society and culture and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Victoria, you’ve stumbled across one of the great (and most frustrating things) about doing family research. Years ago I exerted a great deal of effort trying to trace the “Vetor” family of Woodslee back to Germany, but my search always came up short. I had given up when I met a woman of German descent who told me the German spelling – “Wieder”. The ‘w’ is pronounced ‘v’. I had seen many Wieders in the passenger lists of immigrants but I had ignored them.

    Census takers were probably not instructed to ask for spellings, and even if they had I’m sure many people had no idea how to spell their own names. Plus, if a census taker was, say, of German origin, chances are they’d spell names according to their German conventions. Case in point…

    My husband’s last name is Rhyno, an odd name to be sure. There are many Rhynos, Rinos, Renos, etc. in Nova Scotia, dating back to the 1750s. But Art’s genealogical research shows that the first “Rhyno” in Canada was French – Joseph Renaud. How could Renaud become Rhyno? Because the census taker was probably of German descent, from the Lunenberg Dutch settlement of German farmers. Funny that!

    • Yes, I was surprised by the number of names in Essex County that were of German origin but don’t look like it now. My Grandmother’s books referred to the anglicization of Vetor. And I didn’t know that Wigle was also a German name .. Weigel was home it was originally spelled, I believe. Or maybe Weigle. The most memorable name change that I heard about was the name Fox, which I always assumed to be English. Not so. The original family name was “Fuchs”. (I’ll bet their descendants are glad that somebody was thinking ahead on that one 😉

      I’m finding that there hasn’t been much history written about the Germans in Essex County, which is surprising since I am now finding out there were more of them than I had ever thought there were. My own family really downplayed our German ancestry … I always wondered if that was because of the wars. But also, I’ll bet those early Germans felt a lot of pressure to blend in and become English .. immigrants who weren’t French, English, Scottish or Irish were not very plentiful. Especially because of their language differences, they must have felt very different from everybody else.

      I wonder how long ago it was when the last German words were spoken in The German Settlement (aka Ruscomb). Some of the Woodslee Germans, being UELs, probably lost their language before coming to Canada since they had been in the States for at least a generation. (Laurie, were the Wieders UELs? The Fuerths and Diemers were, which is what makes me wonder. And were they Catholic? That’s often a clue as to which part of Germany they were from. Ruscomb was all Lutheran when they arrived, a further indication that they were from the North of Germany. They all turned Methodist after settling)

      I’m looking for an article written by the late Dr. Rudy Helling of UofW — he did some writing on the Germans of Essex County but I can’t find the article. There may be some answers contained there. It’s not in the UofW library. If anybody out there knows where I can find it, can you please let me know?

    • My last name is also Rhyno, I moved to Kitchener 6 years ago from Nova Scotia. I’ve been searching trying to find if there’s a Rhyno family crest but have come up short each time. Would you have any info? My dad has always said our name started as Renaud as well but has stated we are of german decent…. so am I french or german? lol…hope to hear from you

    • Rhyno is one of the more unusual names I’ve seen in Essex County. I haven’t found it in any of the research I’ve done but I’ll keep my eyes open. Do you know what part of the county they lived in?

  2. I am also a Rhyno from Nova Scotia. Whenever I asked my grandparents where the Rhynos came from I was told it was a French or Belgain name, never did find out but I would also like to find a crest.

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