Wilber vs. Wilbur

I had seen my Grandpa Dayton’s name spelled Wilber and Wilbur, and it always confused me. Recently I set about to settle,once, and for all time, which way was right.  I wish I hadn’t.  Now I’m more confused than ever.  I remember my dad insisting that it was spelled Wilb(ur). However, Wilb(u)r’s son, Wilb(e)r Junior, always spelled his own name with an “e”, suggesting that Senior’s name must have been also spelled with an “e”. That seems logical, but nothing about his spelling is logical.

There is no document of his name at birth since he was born before NYS required birth certificates.

Three different deeds (1898,1908, and 1909) each show his name as Wilb(e)r.  Yet a purchase of property in 1942, spells it with a “u”. Three news articles, during the early 1900’s, report his name as Wilb(ur). They are a Hadley news article from the Daily Saratogian Newspaper, Nov. 1, 1904; the New York State Department of Agriculture record of his farm being for sale in 1914 as Wilb(u)r; and a 1915 Saratogian Newspaper announcement of the relocation of his household, recorded his name as Wilb(u)r.

Near the end of his life, his name was usually spelled Wilb(e)r. Those included the Town of Corinth registry of Deaths, Jesse Dayton’s obituary, and Wilb[e]r’s own obituary.

A surrogate court judicial settlement, in 1939, spelled his name as Wilb(u)r. His daughter, Flossie’s genealogical notes from 1960, spelled his name with the “u”, yet in a short biography that she wrote about him, in 1986, she spelled it with an “e”. A 1986 correspondence from Wilb(er), Jr. spelled his name with a “u”. His employment record, at International Paper Co., spelled his name with a “u”. His guest signing book at his funeral spelled his name with an “e”.

Where does this leave us? Totally confused!  I bet my grandpa was just as confused as I am. Spell it either way you want. You’ve got a 50% chance of getting it right!

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