What's her real name?

+4 votes

(English follows) 

Le certificat de naissance de Paul Morrill Jr, émis au New York en 1841, indique que sa mère était Poline Defonot, née en France. Évidemment <<Defonot>> est une anglicisme mais quel était son nom actuel? Nous aimerons trouver des sources pour pauvre-Pauline-sans-parents, et vos idées sur des noms de famille possible nous aideront à démarrer.


The 1841 New York birth certificate for Paul Morrill Jr states that his mother was "Poline Defonot", who was born in France.  Defonot is clearly an anglicized or phonetic spelling, but what was her real surname?  We'd like to find sources for Pauline's profile, and your suggestions could help us get started.

WikiTree profile: Poline Morill
in Genealogy Help by Laurie Giffin G2G6 Mach 9 (94.7k points)


I can't see how Defonot would be Defont anglicized though.
Pourquoi pas DUFFENIEUX ?

4 Answers

+3 votes

Do you have any idea where in France she came from?  

These are the surnames that start with D that are even remotely close from the Alsatian database http://ddebus.free.fr/alsanom.php3?fl=D



This from https://surnames.behindthename.com/names/usage/french
by Laura Bozzay G2G6 Pilot (713k points)
Thank you Laura, Unfortunately, we have idea where in France she came from at this time, but hoping to discover more!  

I'm looking at the same lists, and was hoping for your fresh perspective.  I was stuck on the Fornault, which seems obvious but isn't a name I can really find anywhere.

What you're suggesting is that someone could have mis-read an "r" to be an "n".  I've added names like De Foret and De Fournier to my list of possibles.  And I welcome any other fresh thoughts!
Laurie what I do is close my eyes and say the name.  Then write down all the ways it might have been spelled.  

Keep in mind that French monks wrote down Festor when they heard Feisthauer.  So you need t be a bit forgiving.  

Then think about typos or bad hand writing.  in French I have seen d t and p interchanged.  I have seen c and s,  b and p and v.  v and w.  I and y f and ph or pf   

is the ot said with a long o or a short o?  It can make a difference.  

if long it could be eaux or eau not ot…  

So many things to try...
Innovatrice!  J'imagine un verre de vin, un jardin, le coucher du soleil.
+3 votes

On his death record (found on Ancestry) they have transcribed it as Defonst, but looking at the document it looks like it could be Deforst.

Paul Morrill

 in the Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966

ViewPennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966

    Name: Paul Morrill
    Gender: Male
    Race: White
    Age: 70
    Birth Date: 9 Nov 1841
    Birth Place: New Jersey
    Death Date: 24 Sep 1912
    Death Place: Shippen, Tioga, Pennsylvania, USA
    Father: Paul Marrill
    Mother: Poline Defonst
    Certificate Number: 83399
    by Deb Durham G2G Astronaut (1.0m points)
    Also, keep in mind that just because she was born in France doesn't mean she was ethnically French. Her name is stated as Poline rather than Pauline in two documents. She could be of Scandinavian or Dutch descent.
    Thank you Deb!  That's a very good point.
    Paul was born in 1841 and we know that by 1845 his father had already married someone else. I'm wondering how much was remembered about her by 1912 when Paul died.

    I don't know how US death certificates were filled. Who provided the information / where did it come from? In other words, how accurate is the death certificate likely to be in such a case?
    It varies by state and time period.  Generally the "informant" is listed.  It might be a relative, neighbor, doctor, coroner, friend.  But often the later ones are tied into vital records databases and the info is more accurate.
    +1 vote
    OK just a thought...

    What if she wasn't born in France but just French? What if she was from Quebec? How much of a stretch then would it be to say that the "De" was actually "dit"??

    Phonetically, could the spelling go something like 'de' or 'dit', 'fau-nault'?

    Have you been able to track the family through the Censuses?
    by Christine Daniels G2G6 Pilot (131k points)

    That's an interesting thought. The father had two other wives and one of them had the last name Bodine.

    +1 vote
    Laurie kindly posted this querry in aid of my family tree, so I felt

    I should answer some of the questions posted here.  I must have mis-wrote when I correspond with Laurie, because it is Paul JR’s Death Certificate that caries the name of Poline Defonot, the only instance I have ever found of that name.  His wife was the informant for the info on the DC and she would have had no first hand info.  Paul SR does not appearin the 1840 or 1850 census. By 1860 he was with his final (third or fourth) wife.

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