Clerks in courts and parish officials frequently spelled names phonetically and as a result, it appears as Gatward, Gattward, Gatwood, Gattwood, Gatwort and Getwood. I even found a tombstone with Catwood. I have seen my grandfather’s signature and it does look like E is the second letter (Getwood) and old records are all hand written, so many errors are made as we copy and rewrite what we see. I have read that the spelling Gatwood persisted in the Maryland branch of the family until Dr. Wesley Emmet Gatewood had his name cut in the stone lintel of the drug store he built in Stockport, Ohio, where he practiced medicine. Wesley is my first cousin three times removed. My 2x great-grandfather, Joseph Gatwood and Wesley’s father, Thomas Gatwood were brothers. I have a copy of Joseph Gatwood’s military records with his signature, there is no E in his name. My name is Gatwood without the E, just as my 2x great-grandfather spelled the name, therefore I have used that spelling throughout my work. There are other cases where I have seen brothers use the two different spellings just as Joseph and Thomas did. It seems that most Gatwoods I have found are related to me, but many Gatewoods are not.

The moral to this story is: If you are looking to do a little genealogy of your own, look for different spellings. It is always possible just a letter copied wrong or transposed will give you a big reward of finding a whole branch of your family that you did not know existed.


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