I like your question . For me, I have found two ancestors so far that have totally changed their names .
Boy, has it been a hunt and peck to find the answers as to WHY did the ancestors change their name and who were they really ?
I don’t know how to answer your question as to how you find out. I found out through my crazy long paper trail.
Get this, I have one relative try to tell me she was only going to add relatives that had Her exact surname spelled like hers, with no exceptions.
I told her, good luck.
Over the years families change the spellings of their surnames for many reasons:
1.) They could change their surname because they got mad at part of the family for leaving them out of the will. They think they can disassociate with the family by changing the spelling of the name. I guess back then families knew nothing about DNA and that DNA binds you together for life.
2.) Families change the spelling of their name, or changed their name totally, because the head of the house left the military and that would be considered a crime. The family starts fleeing from town to town,& state to state.
3.) Families change their name because they live outside the US and and they Americanize their name.
My husbands surname changed so much over the years from McGeehee , Mcgee, McGhee. People say, oh that can’t be my family they spelled it differently. Of yes, it can be their family.
I guess I don’t have a good answer for you, unless you have a Social Security Number, maybe you can find the person that way.
Terri Solomon McGhee