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