Olivia or Lavinia?

My 2nd great-grandmother’s name is different in almost every record in which she appears.

“Four Pioneer Residents Dead,” The Nonpareil (Council Bluffs, IA), 7 Feb 1917, p.5, col. 5. Accessed on genealogybank.com.
1913 Council Bluffs, Iowa, City Directory. Accessed on Ancestry.com
Iowa, U.S. Marriage Records, 1880-1945, for Lena James and Samuel Hurd, Year 1893, Vol 370 (Keokuk-Ringgold). Accessed on Ancestry.com

Lavina, Lavinia, Lovina, Levina, Lena, Olivina, Olla, Olive, Olivar, and the inscrutable “M”. I eventually found a newspaper article that may account for the inconsistent names.

“Mrs. Louis Clayton James,” The Daily Nonpareil (Council Bluffs, Iowa), 6 May 1890. Accessed on genealogybank.com.

Though the reporter gives some color to my great-grandmother’s words for dramatic effect here, it’s probably safe to assume she didn’t talk like the Queen of England. Based off this description, the assorted clerks and census takers writing down her name had a hard time figuring out what she said.

I got a clearer idea of her name when I received her death certificate.

State of Iowa Certification of Vital Record ordered through the Pottawattamie County Department of Health. Personal records.

I know it’s hard to make out, but according to her daughter, Mamie Greer, her name was Olivia. Viewing mentions of her in newspapers and city directories throughout the years, she was either Olivia L or some spelling variation of Lavina O.

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innatejames

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