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About the study
Although still in its early stages, the Stickle surname study aims to locate, document, and record all occurrences of the name and its variants, over time and across geographies. Because I am interested in moving beyond “collecting” to “understanding” I will seek to place individuals within the context of the families and communities that shaped the unique worlds in which they lived.
Like many One-Name projects, the Stickle study has its genesis in an attempt to find a missing ancestor. In the course of more than 30 years of genealogical research I have been consistently frustrated in my efforts to identify and document the parents of my 3rd great grandfather, Thompson Stickle. Over time, I began to record occurrences of the name and its variants wherever I encountered them, hoping to discover a clue or a missing link that would solve my mystery. As this not-quite-random collection of names, dates, and places began to grow they became a source of interest in their own right, even as Thompson’s ‘missing link’ continued to remain stubbornly elusive.
The study builds on my "legacy" database which contains approximately 1100 occurrences of the name and its variants in the United States between the mid-18th century and the current day. Nearly 300 of these individuals are descendants of my known ancestor, Thompson Stickle. A large majority of the others are included in a series of family groups, tied back to ‘patriarchs,’ usually immigrant ancestors from one of the southwestern German states (Hesse or Baden), and in one intriguing case an ethnic German family that moved to the US from Crimea. (Family tradition holds that at least one of the Stickle lines currently residing in the US originated in England, but thus far I have not confirmed that.)
As an initial step beyond the legacy database I have developed a spreadsheet that captures information about the 900 occurrences of the surname and its variants in the US World War I Draft Registration Cards. The series is nearly ideal for purposes of the study: Over 98% of US males born between 1872 and 1900 responded to the call to register; the original records have all been digitized, and are well-preserved and indexed. Most importantly, the questionnaires provide detailed information about both registrants and (sometimes) their families. Approximately 10% of the 900 males who registered for the Draft were already included in my legacy database, and it appears that nearly a fifth of the remainder can be connected to previously identified family groups. The rest will provide valuable information as the study expands beyond the legacy base to encompass the 4,338 bearers of the surname and variants resident in the US at the time of the 1920 federal census.
Other early stage projects include:
1). a schedule that tracks all occurrences of the name and its identified variances in the US census returns from 1790 through 1940, both in terms of absolute numbers and relative frequency;
2). a spreadsheet that systematically records occurrences of the surname and its variants captured by the Google “Alerts” monitoring feature to provide a tool for better understanding present day distribution of the name;
3). a preliminary review at non-US distribution on the name and its variants. focussing first on Canada and then on England; and
4). consideration of a DNA study to support the project.
The variants of the name initially registered are: STICKEL, STICKLES, STICKELS, and STICKELL. The list will almost certainly broaden as the research horizon expands beyond the US. Potential candidates include: Stuckle, Stueckle,Stoeckel, Stiles, Steggals, Stickler, and Stickley.