There's one thing that no one in this conversation has considered. That was the fact that most of the time the names you are examining for the spelling were seldom written by the person themselves. If you have an exact signature from a will, etc. you can consider that as being the way they learned to spell the surname BUT if the one you're looking at was written by someone else....like a census taker...the exact spelling could be questionable. All surnames have alternative spellings. For example my maternal Hembree surname has 10 or 11 different spellings. The Rev. War Pension apps has two on those...Emory-Hembree. I've often told that the name has so many different spellings because it depended on how much terbaccy pap had in his jaw when the census taker came around.