Friday Funny: Bitchy in Ontario

Bitchy Family In the 1881 Census - I'd be cranky too if they spelled my name this way

It’s true, I laughed when I saw “Bitchy” in the census. A giant, “Oh, man, I wonder what their name was that made the enumerator write that down” snorty laugh. I try not to make fun of people’s names, because most of the time they didn’t have a say in the matter. That doesn’t mean I won’t poke fun at a census enumerator’s mistake, or something obviously outrageous the enumerator was told and dutifully wrote down. (Maybe when I’m in my 90s, I’ll look up the 1981 Canada Census and find a Jedi Knight named Luke Skywalker or someone who called himself Heywood Jablome and cackle until my throat hurts.)

In the 1881 Canada Census, there were twenty-one people enumerated with the surname of Bitchy. There is a woman listed as Bitchy, Sophia and it made me think of The Golden Girls. Too bad it wasn’t an Italian name. The Bitchys were all German. (“Picture it, Alsace, 1852…a young girl with legs that wouldn’t quit and a recipe for Pfeffernusse leaves for America…”) There are also sixteen people enumerated in Waterloo as Bitschey or Bitschy, which is most likely the original spelling.

Bitschy researchers (I feel kind of mean typing that, as I am sure that they must be okay people if they are sharing their research for free) on the ancestry forums say that the Waterloo Bitschys are from Alsace and Lorraine. There is a town called “Bitche” (French, pronounced “Beech”) or “Bitsch” (German, pronounced something like “Kitsch” with a B). A lot of Ontario Bitschys became Beechie or Beechey, around the same time that anti-German sentiment during World War I made Berlin, Ontario into Kitchener.

What I’d like to know is if any Bitschys changed their names because they hated having that “s” dropped, making the misspelling seem like a self-fulfilling prophecy if they complained.


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