Surname Saturday – Lawhead or is it Laughead?

Open Court sound spelling cards

Open Court sound spelling cards

My great grandmother’s maiden name was Lawhead or most likely Laughead. Lawhead is one way to phonetically spell  the name and it is how I see the name spelled most often, especially in written records like censuses. If you know anything about teaching children to read, as I do, the Open Court reading program (which we use in my school district) has a card for the /aw/ sound.  It’s called the Hawk card and it gives two spellings for /aw/: aw and au. There have been a few occasions where I have seen the name spelled Laughead which leads me to believe that Laughead is the proper spelling of the name. I can also easily picture semi-literate people spelling Laughead as the more phonetic Lawhead. Some instances of the name being spelled Laughead are on my grandmother’s birth certificate and my Great Uncle Jim’s middle name.

A quick search on the internet has provided virtually no meanings or crests for the name Lawhead/Laughead. It is actually quite funny when landing on the meaningofnames.com website, they have posted “the meaning of Laughead has not been submitted”. So what’s a girl to do? I have deduced that Laughead is probably related to the Irish Loughead or the Scottish Lochhead and left it at that for present.

Marriage record of Joseph Laughead & Cassandria Harden, 1838, Belmont County, Ohio

Marriage record of Joseph Laughead & Cassandria Harden, 1838, Belmont County, Ohio

I lose the trail of this family pretty early in the 1800s. The last Laughead I have is Joseph, my grandmother Gladys’s great grandfather. According to census records, he was born about 1817 in Pennsylvania. In 1838, he makes his first appearance in written records on his marriage certificate in Belmont County, Ohio. Coincidently, the surname is spelled Laughead. There are several other Laugheads and Lawheads living in this region of Ohio at that time as well. I seem to keep circling around them trying to figure out how they all fit together.

1850 Census Seneca, Belmont County, Ohio for the family of Joseph Lawhead

1850 Census Seneca, Belmont County, Ohio for the family of Joseph Lawhead

On the 1850 census, Joseph, Cassandria and their 5 children lived in Seneca, Guernsey County, Ohio. Enumerated with the household is an older woman named Basheba Lawhead. She was aged 60 years and was also born in Pennsylvania. Because of her age, I have always gone under the assumption that Basheba was possibly Joseph’s mother. I have yet to find any evidence of this, either way.

Joseph and his family moved further west and settled in Greene County, Indiana for a time. Along the way, another family of Lawheads always seemed to be around. This family had a son Elijah G. Laughead who was about the same age as my James Henry Lawhead. In 1860, both young men worked as farm hands for the family of William McNabb. Elijah eventually married Mr. McNabb’s neice, Mariah. And many years later, one of Elijah’s daughters married James Henry’s oldest son. I have always felt that there is a familial relationship between Elijah and James beyond being in-laws, perhaps they were first cousins. And just to let you know, Elijah’s name was spelled Laughead on his gravestone.

Joseph & Cassandria, photograph provided by a long lost cousin, circa 1860s

Joseph & Cassandria, photograph provided by a long lost cousin, circa 1860-70s

©2012 copyright owned by Deborah Sweeney
Post originally found: http://genealogylady.net/2012/12/29/surname-saturday-lawhead-or-is-it-laughead/

2 thoughts on “Surname Saturday – Lawhead or is it Laughead?

  1. Ms. Laughead

    I myself and a LAUGHEAD, born in Chester Pennsylvania in the early 1950s. I do not think that our ancestors are of the same lineage, but I would enjoy hearing from you anyway. It’s always exciting to see your surname especially if it is an odd one such as ours in print, I always look into it further because you never know. Please get in touch with me at your convenience I would love to hear from you. Thank you and have a great day

    Reply
    1. Genealogy Lady Post author

      Hello Ms. Laughead,

      We may actually be related. My Laugheads go back to Pennsylvania but I am still trying to figure out how they fit into the bigger picture.

      Deborah

      Reply

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